For a while, Samsung had the best smart TV experience around, thanks to the huge number of available apps, and also to the great smart remote included with higher-end TVs. 2015’s update saw Samsung create a new smart OS, based on its Tizen OS, in an effort to improve the user experience to something more along the lines of LG’s WebOS. It improved in several ways, but the app selection is more limited than Samsung’s smart platforms from years past.
Picture quality of Samsung smart TVs
|Smart TV||OS||Remote||Our Reviews|
|J6200||Tizen (2014)||Basic||See review|
|K6250||Tizen (2016)||Smart||See review|
|KU6300||Tizen (2016)||Smart||See review|
|KU6500||Tizen (2016)||Smart||See review|
|KU6600||Tizen (2016)||Smart||See review|
|KU7000||Tizen (2016)||Smart||See review|
|KU7500||Tizen (2016)||Smart||See review|
|KS8000||Tizen (2016)||Smart||See review|
|KS8500||Tizen (2016)||Smart||See review|
|KS9000||Tizen (2016)||Smart||See review|
|KS9500||Tizen (2016)||Smart||See review|
Generally speaking, Samsung’s smart TVs have really good picture quality, so people looking for a good smart TV would do well to pick this brand. We reviewed a lot of Samsung smart TVs in 2015. Check out our individual in-depth reviews to get an idea of the picture quality of each model.
The rest of this article reviews the smart features only, that are common with all of Samsung's smart TVs. We used the Samsung JU7100 UHD TV for this review, but will point out differences between models where applicable.
The remote that is included with this TV is great. As with previous Samsung smart remotes, it offers point-and-click capability, making entering text, browsing the web, and selecting apps a breeze. New this year is that the remote is slim, and curved to fit your hand. From an aesthetic and ergonomic standpoint, it’s a welcome change.
There is a catch, though. To maintain that slim form factor, the Samsung remote had to do away with several buttons. Some of the buttons perform multiple functions – holding down the Menu/123 button, for example, will enable Voice Recognition – but this is not immediately obvious. If you don’t read the manual or watch the tutorials, it’s likely that you’ll find browsing on the TV to be more of a chore than it should be.
The cheaper Samsung TVs – the 6 series and lower – have a regular remote that will require you use arrows to navigate, which is slower and less natural. If you plan to use your TV’s smart features a lot, you should get one of the TVs with the smart remote.
Press the Smart Hub button on the remote and a toolbar will appear at the bottom of your screen. Recently-used apps populate the main bar. A separate option to the left opens the ‘Featured’ app selection, which leads to the ‘Apps’ and ‘Games’ stores, as well as shows off apps Samsung is currently highlighting.
A new problem this year is that there are way fewer apps than are available on older Samsung smart TVs. The ‘Sports’ category, for example, only has a handful of apps, and the ‘Kids’ section only has three. Some apps appear in multiple categories.
What’s more, many of the available apps are pretty niche. This will likely be just a temporary situation, and most common apps are available, so the average person will be fine with the selection.
The web browser works pretty well. The motion control is very handy, though the scrolling doesn’t work quite well enough. It’s quicker and smoother to click and drag the bar on the right side of the page.
It got a speed test of 796 on Peacekeeper, which is just a bit slower than an iPhone 5, and about equal to the LG TV we tested. It was only able to perform 3/7 of the HTML 5 tests, though, whereas the LG TV completed all of them, and much more smoothly.
It is currently unable to play Flash video.
As with most smart TV browsers, it’s no replacement for a computer or smartphone browser. Light pages and streaming video work fine, but heavy pages with lots of images can take a while to load.
Voice commands work fairly well. You need to hold down the “Menu 1/2/3” button to activate them, and you can use them to switch between apps, adjust volume, and search with Bing.
You need to be specific with which commands you issue. “Open Netflix” doesn’t work, for example, whereas “Go to Netflix” does.
Camera & Privacy
Most Samsung TVs do not come with a built-in camera, but the high-end Samsung JS9500 does. It allows for Skype calling and for hand motion control of your TV. You can also purchase a separate camera to add Skype capabilities to other compatible Samsung TVs.
The Samsung JS9500 is also the only Samsung TV that can accept voice commands without the viewer needing to push a button on the remote. Like most devices that are waiting for voice commands (Xbox’s Kinect, Motorola Moto X, Amazon Echo, etc), it has to actively listen to everything it can hear people saying. That doesn’t mean that anybody is actually listening to you speak – just that the data is all being captured by the TV.
You can disable that feature by switching ‘Voice Recognition’ off, and you don’t need to worry about your video content. That isn’t being stored anywhere.
Initially, we were only able to connect one Samsung smart TV to our WiFi. Any time we tried to connect a second, the connection would fail. This issue appears to have been addressed by a firmware update.
Sometimes, the TV will be connected to the WiFi, and apps that are already downloaded to the TV will work fine, but the Smart Hub will claim that the TV is not connected, and the directory of apps will not be browsable.
There are users who report that the Smart Hub crashes with some frequency. We have not experienced this issue ourselves, but it appears to be fairly widespread, and is in keeping with similar issues from years past.
Occasionally, the video on our TVs does not work. Instead, the screen goes pink and green. This most frequently occurs while trying to play files off of a USB drive, but occasionally happens with Netflix as well.
Samsung's 2015 smart TV platform is a good improvement over last year in term of user experience, even though the app selection is very limited at the moment. So far this year, our favorite Samsung smart TV is the Samsung JU7100. To compare that with the rest of Samsung’s lineup, head over to our list of all the Samsung TVs of 2015.
Questions & Answers
If Samsung can't, can you recommend another brand with really smart SmartTV features?
Update: The 2015 Smart Hub now supports HBO Go.
Before asking a question, make sure you use the search function of our website. The majority of the answers are already here.