The 4k UHD Samsung KU6500 offers good picture quality when viewed from directly in front, but this degrades when viewed at an angle. It is almost exactly the same as the Samsung KU6600, and the Samsung KU6300 (but with a curve). It performs best in a dark room due to the good native contrast ratio. Unfortunately it is average at handling fast motion and although it supports HDR10, it doesn't really benefit from the extra information.
The KU6500 has the iconic Samsung design, with a central stand which supports the TV well. The stand has a fairly small footprint and is the only visible difference from the KU6600. The back of the TV has corrugations which look OK, but not as nice as some of the higher end models.
The central stand supports the TV well and has a small footprint which is ideal for those with smaller tables. It looks the same as the KU6300.
Footprint of the 55" TV stand: 12.6" x 33.1"
The back of the TV is textured with plastic corrugations. This doesn't look as good as higher end models but the inputs on the side are fairly easy to access, even if wall mounted. It is the same back as the KU6600.
The picture quality is good on the Samsung KU6500. Dark room performance is very good thanks to the high native contrast ratio and also the very good black uniformity. For a room with a lot of lights or even some windows, performance is a bit worse though, since the TV can't get very bright and the screen can't deal that well with reflections and glare. The gray uniformity is average, but dirty screen effect is not too noticeable luckily. Viewing angle is also average, but still reasonable when compared to other VA panel TVs. HDR performance is average for movies, since it can get highlights very bright as there is no local dimming. Colors can't get more saturated since there is no wide color gamut feature. These two factors are important to make HDR stand out versus any ordinary SDR content.
The native contrast ratio is good on the KU6500. The blacks look deep and should provide a very good dark room viewing experience.
There is no local dimming feature on the KU6500. The 'UHD Dimming' which is advertised is a frame dimming feature, which can only be disabled by activating PC mode. It reduces the whole screen brightness when the scene is mostly dark.
The SDR peak brightness is bellow average for the KU6500 and remains almost the same whether in SDR or HDR mode, which is a good thing, especially for watching normal TV content. At this level of peak brightness, this TV would be best if situated in a darker room.
The peak brightness of small windows is reduced by the 'UHD Dimming'. The effect of this is reduced in 'Movie' mode but the only way to completely disable it is to switch to a 'PC' icon. When in PC mode, the screen brightness is 400 and remains the same at all size windows
The peak brightness stays relatively the same whether HDR is active. This can be seen as a good thing since most of the TV content is in SDR.
The gray uniformity is average and the result is very similar to what we had on the KU6300. All borders are darker leaving the center a bit more warm than the rest of the screen. Some horizontal bands are visible, but overall the center of the screen is smooth. Dirty screen effect is visible, but should not be so distracting.
When viewed at an angle, the contrast of the image is reduced and colors lose accuracy. This is a very similar result to other VA TVs, even the high end Samsung KS* Series. This is okay for fairly narrow seating, but may be distracting for those who regularly watch from an angle.
Update: We have changed the methodology of testing. Since this is an old TV which we don't have anymore, we extrapolated the results.
Black uniformity is very good and is comparable to what you get on the flat version, the KU6300. Some really faint clouding can be seen on our test picture, but nothing at all can be seen when watching movies or normal content.
The KU6500 can display a 10 bit gradient smoothly, which is the same as the other Samsung TVs released this year. Some minor issues can be seen in the darker shades, mostly in the green, but this should not be visible while watching normal content.
Prior to calibration, the white balance is a bit off as the image is slightly too warm. The gamma tracks close to the desired 2.2 value, which is good. For most people a calibration is not necessary.
The TV adjusts quite well using the inbuilt 2 and 20 point white balance. All minor issues are resolved, and the colors appear very accurate. You can see our recommended settings here.
Unlike the KU7500, this TV doesn't have a wide color gamut. The colors of this TV are suitable for SDR content, but cannot display more saturated images for HDR content.
Similar to the other Samsung 6 series TVs, the KU6500 can't produce a wide range of colors for HDR content.
The TV is average at dealing with reflections. It has a semi-gloss finish which diffuses reflections on the screen. This does make them appear larger, but reduces their intensity. The curve of the TV also distorts the reflections, which can be a good thing depending on where the ambient light is coming from. It is not a problem for a room with some glare but may be an issue in a bright room.
The KU6500 doesn't support 3D.
The motion blur of the tv is better than average, due to the relatively low response time. Short trails can be seen following moving objects but should not be an issue for most content. Unfortunately, those sensitive to judder will notice it when watching movies from any source. This is not an issue most of the time, since most people don't notice it and it doesn't occur for TV shows or other uses. Fans of the soap opera effect can enable the motion interpolation feature for 30fps content.
The response time of the KU6500 results in below average motion blur following moving objects. This is better than most TVs and should be ok for most people, but may be an issue for fast paced content. It is also about the same result as the KU6600 and KU6300 TVs. The PWM flickering of the backlight can be seen in the duplications following our moving logo.
The KU6500 uses PWM to dim the backlight. This can be seen in image duplications following the motion blur moving logo. It is possible to enable black frame insertion to clear up motion, but not when in game mode.
Judder is experienced when watching movies from any source. This is generally not an issue, as most people aren't sensitive to the small 3:2 pulldown judder.
The KU6500 has a 60Hz panel which is able to interpolate lower refresh rate content. Those who enjoy the soap opera effect can enable it for a 30 fps input.
The KU6500 has low input lag across a wide range of content. This is great for anyone who needs a responsive TV. It also supports a wide range of resolutions, and chroma subsampling for PC use.
The input lag is low across all sources when using the 'Game' picture mode, which is good. Changing the input icon to 'PC' to enable chroma subsampling increases the input lag, but this is still quite a good result. This is similar to other Samsung TVs such as the KU6300.
To accept a high bandwidth signal such as 4k @ 60Hz @ 4:4:4, it is necessary to enable 'HDMI UHD Color'. This is only possible on HDMI1. Change the input label to 'PC' to accurately display chroma subsampling for PC use.
For 5.1 passthrough it is necessary to select the correct format in the sound options (DTS or Dolby Digital). It does not change automatically.
The sound quality is average. Frequency response is average for a TV, but performs worse at louder volumes. Distortion increases as the volume increases, but is not as bad as some other TVs. As with most TVs, even a cheap soundbar would be an improvement for someone who cares about sound quality.
Note: Sound Quality test for TVs reviewed before 2017 was performed at 75dB, 85dB, and Max SPL. Starting 2017, the target SPL levels have been changed to 70dB, 80dB, and Max dB SPL.
Average performance. Frequency response is decent, although at higher volumes pumping and compression will be present. Low-end cutoff is rather poor, even for a TV, but it does get loud enough for most situations.
Average harmonic distortion performance. The amount of harmonic distortion produced at lower volumes is decent, however, at higher volumes there is a notifiable increase in distortion, mostly in the mid-range.
The KU6500 has the newest version of the Tizen operating system. It is one of the most stable smart platforms, which works well for general use. It is more limited in app availability but all the major apps are present and should satisfy most people out there. When connecting a new device via HDMI, the smart interface will set it up automatically, rendering the use pretty easy. Content like pictures and movies store on USB drive can easily be accessed via the USB port.
When a new device is detected (such as when a computer is woken from sleep while plugged into an HDMI port) the TV automatically switches to this device. This may be an annoyance if you are watching other content at the time.
We tested the 55" (UN55KU6500), version FA01. For the most part, we expect our review to be valid for the other sizes.
If someone comes across a different type of panel or if their Samsung KU6500 doesn't correspond to our review, let us know and we will update the review.
The Samsung KU6500 provides good picture quality, especially in a dark room, but unfortunately it is priced well above the competition. As a result it is up against some higher end TVs, with additional features to improve the picture quality. Keep this in mind when viewing our recommendations below.
The Samsung KU6300 is the same TV, but without a curve. It offers the same good dark scene performance and low input lag. The curve is a personal preference and doesn't help to improve the picture quality so we recommend going with the cheaper Samsung KU6300.
The Samsung KU7500 is the next model up in the curved TV range. It offers a wide color gamut to improve HDR performance, but is otherwise almost the same TV. Just like the Samsung KU6500, it is priced above the competition and there are better TVs available.
The Vizio M Series 2016 has excellent picture quality, and especially leads the mid-range TVs with great local dimming to improve the dark scene performance. Unfortunately it doesn't support chroma subsampling for PC use. With a price lower than the Samsung KU6500, the Vizio M Series 2016 is a clear winner for an all-round TV, but for PC use go with the Samsung KU6500.
The Sony X700D is a great mid-range TV, with better than average picture quality that is retained at an angle. It performs best in a bright room due to the low native contrast ratio, and bright screen. It is also good at dealing with reflections and provides excellent motion handling. Go with the Sony X700D if you have a brighter room, or wide seating.