A sound bar can be a great piece of equipment to have in your living room for 2 main reasons; it can greatly boost the audio quality of your TV and other home theater components and it does so without cluttering your living room. Even the most affordable ones feature marginal improvements while the pricier ones add cool features like Bluetooth functionality. But for the most part, that just applies if you have a standard 20 to 40-inch TV. If you have a 50-inch TV or larger, you have to be careful with your purchasing decisions. Go for a sound bar that works best with a smaller TV and you could end up with lackluster audio quality for the money you pay. Remember, larger TVs are best viewed when further away from the screen which means that you need a sound bar a bit more powerful. While the choices are limited, Samsung has the premium end covered with the Samsung HW-F850. With a price in the $1,000 to $1,200 range, you really need to make sure this sound bar packs a punch for its size and delivers on the features too.
Design isn’t all that important in a sound bar since sound bars in general don’t really get in the way. But Samsung decided to apply its premium touch to this product. It is clean, stylish and unmistakably attractive. The speaker grille covers the top and front of the sound bar making this stand out compared to sound bars with generic designs. While the HW-F850 unfortunately doesn’t have a silver counterpart like the Samsung midrange AirTrack sound bars, it should match most TVs and just about any Samsung TV.
A display is featured on the front and also on the top of the speaker so you get to decide which side you want to face towards you. The sound bar looks noticeably thinner and more minimal in its standard position leaving the controls on top. But the other position not only puts the controls and other display on the front but it also has this transparent panel that showcases the internal vacuum tube for its Valve Amp technology. With this being a key technology, you can’t really blame Samsung for trying to show this off since competing sound bars lack the vacuum tubes. The top also features an NFC tag which serves as a quick way to pair devices with built-in NFC as well.
The connection ports on the back are like the smaller high-end Samsung HW-F750 model featuring an HDMI output and input jack along with an Aux input, optical input and ASC input jack for the calibration microphone. The USB port is located on another side so the port is easy to access even when it is wall mounted.
When mounting the sound bar, the side with the transparent window and controls must be facing towards you. From there, it is a pretty simple task as the screws and wall mount bracket are all included.
Just like most sound bars nowadays, you get a subwoofer with the HW-F850 as well along with a toroidal ferrite core. It looks pretty standard and should match the other black components in the living room. There is no cable to connect the subwoofer to the sound bar since it establishes the link wirelessly through the ID Set button giving you more freedom in placing the subwoofer. As for the rest of the setup process, it is pretty simple as the AUX cable is already supplied although it would have been nice if an HDMI cable was included as well.
The Samsung HW-F850 is basically a size and power upgrade over the Samsung HW-F750 so don’t expect any new features if you already know the HW-F750. It is certainly not a bad thing either because the HW-F850 is well-equipped with features you won’t find in typical sound bars like NFC. NFC stands for Near Field Communication and what it does is it pairs an NFC-enabled device with the sound bar the moment the device makes contact with the NFC tag built on the system. It makes the pairing process significantly easier and many new smartphones have this feature. With built-in Bluetooth, you can still pair any other devices without NFC as long as they feature Bluetooth. Once paired, you can play music from your collection or stream from mobile apps and the sound should come right out of the sound bar.
You can even do more with this sound bar’s wireless capabilities if you have a recent or upper high-end Samsung TV. Samsung calls this proprietary technology SoundShare and it allows the sound bar to connect to the Samsung TV without wires. Combined with the wireless subwoofer, you can really show off a minimalistic setup and then play music just to show how amazing the audio quality is.
The Samsung HW-F850 simply exists to push more power than the HW-F750. It accomplishes this by adding 40 watts to the total power of the HW-F750 so you end up with 350 watts. This pretty much means that the HW-F850 can produce enough sound to provide a good experience for 60-inch TVs. On top of that, the subwoofer is also improved so you can expect deeper bass when playing music. Just don’t forget that the HW-F850 has its own calibration system which is not a common feature for a sound bar. Like the way you calibrate standard multi-speaker systems, you have to hook up the included microphone and place it on the desired listening spot. Run the calibration process and you should notice better audio quality.
If you find the Samsung HW-F850 priced at just under $1,000, consider it a good deal because the vacuum tube really helps and the size and performance improvements finally make this sound bar a great companion for 50 to 60-inch TVs. It works best with Samsung displays so you can also use the SoundShare feature.
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