SAMSUNG AIRTRACK HW-F850
Slim and slender, the HW-F850 sound bar’s design is undoubtedly designed to be harmonious with aesthetics of Samsung’s extensive line of HDTVs. Its fine black grill and mirror finished side panels give the unit an industrial feel which should easily complement the other devices in your home theater setup. The horizontal speaker itself sits at a low height, but it is also easily the longest one encountered from this roundup of four sound bars. Right smack in the middle is a transparent panel of orange plastic which gives the users a peek at the HW-F850’s special feature, vacuum tubes. Four touch control buttons are also visible.
Keeping up the horizontal speaker’s feat of stature, the sub-woofer too measures in as the largest amongst all the contenders. It is also quite heavy and bulky which makes for awkward positioning, though thankfully, this should only need to be done once. Like all the other sound bars, the HWF850’s sub-woofer also connects wirelessly to the horizontal speakers and has to be plugged in to a power source. The wireless setup process matches the simplicity offered by both LG and Philips’ entries.
The HW-F850 sound bar comes equipped with HDMI connectivity so that it can be hooked up to your TV. An extra port is provided so that a source device, such as a Blu-ray player, can also be plugged in. Audio can be transmitted to the sound bar wirelessly with the help of Bluetooth. To set the HW-F850 apart from the competition, Samsung throws in NFC. The NFC tag is clearly demarcated on the top surface of the horizontal speakers and the tap to pair procedure removes some of the hassle involved with Bluetooth pairing of smart devices.
Audio performance for the HW-F850 is colored by its main, unique feature which is the vacuum tube. The overall tone of the sound is dominated by warm, lush mids. This characteristic works brilliantly on Adele’s Melt My Heart To Stone. But on other songs such as Buckethead’s Sail On Soothsayer, trebles lacked crispness. The mids have an evident tendency to sometimes overpower the trebles which results in an unbalanced rendering of the mix.
Bass from the oversized sub-woofer came across as really strong, and in our case, a little too strong for our tastes.The sound of the low frequencies were boomy and undefined. Coupled with the warm mids, the HW-F850 ends up unable to bring forth the subtlety and details of tracks as well as some of its other competitors.
Samsung also fits their sound bar with their 3D Sound Plus feature to help provide virtual surround sound. The stereo soundstage from the decent, but the HW-F850’s surround sound effect doesn’t quite match up to the HTL9100, for example.
“BASS FROM THE OVERSIZED SUBWOOFER CAME ACROSS AS REALLY STRONG, AND IN OUR CASE, A LITTLE TOO STRONG FOR
The HW-F850 comes with NFC connectivity. The vacuum tubes are displayed behind a window.