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Ultimate Room with a View.jpgHow about this for a room with a view? It's a pod on the London Eye which has been decked out with Samsung's latest curved OLED screen, the S9C.

Samsung claims it is the first TV to feature Multi View capabilities meaning two people can watch completely different full-screen Full-HD content, even in 3D, on the same display. This Multi View feature is like having two TVs in one and is enabled by Samsung's 3D Active glasses.

Sadly the living room set up is only on the London Eye for one day only. Though it's probably just as well, otherwise you'd spend all your time watching the telly rather than admiring the view!


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samsung-uhd-tv.jpgSamsung are rolling out the big home cinema guns ahead of their IFA 2013 showcase, today annoucning the release of two ultra high definition display.

First up is a 98-inch UHD large format display (LFD) screen. The giant set hits near-4K quality resolutions four times as sharp as a standard full HD 1080p display. The company are planning a jaw-dropping line up of three of the screens side by side at the IFA conference to make what's essentially a 171-inch display.

Secondly, the Samsung have announced a more manageable 31.5-inch UHD monitor - the sharpest Samsung have ever made. Packing in 8.3 million pixels (a standard full HD screen sports just 2.07 million), it's aimed at the pros, coming complete with a range of calibration options including a 25 section split for colour balancing, supporting 99% of the Adobe RGB colour space.

No pricing announced yet, but expect each to cost a pretty penny as their aimed at commercial buyers.

philips-UHD-TV-65PLF9708.jpgThough they've yet to officially reveal it, Philips' first UHD TV set is already winning gongs, with the 65PFL9708 set having been outed publically by the European Imaging and Sound Association (EISA) awards.

A 65-inch set, its been revealed to use passive 3D glasses tech, edge LED lighting, strong upscaling capabilities and the brand's signature Ambilight room-illuminating tech.

"With Ultra HD content the Philips 65PFL9708 offers astonishing depth and clarity and its upscaling talents improve the quality of Blu-ray, DVD and direct broadcast sources. Passive 3D images on this 65-inch TV also look razor-sharp thanks to the screen's greater resolution," said the EISA judges.

"Other picture quality highlights include a robust edge LED system and superb brightness, contrast and motion performance, while Ambilight XL illumination makes the whole experience more immersive."

While Philips promise to reveal more during their IFA 2013 press conference at the start of September, they have teased a relatively affordable price point for the set, telling would-be buyers to expect to pay "significantly lower" than what's currently offered by rivals. With the Samsung UE65F9000 priced at £5,999, we'd say to brace yourself for a price tag somewhere around the £5,998 mark.

LG-55EA9800-currys-7.JPGA pint-sized IMAX in your living room? That's the plan behind LG's 55EA9800 Curved OLED TV. Hitting British shores for the first time at yesterday's Currys / PC World showcase, we went eye on with a screen quite unlike any we've ever seen before.

Measuring 55-inches across, the screen has a gentle concave curve when viewed from the front, similar to that seen in IMAX cinema screens. The design intention is to make viewing the television more immersive - sit within the screen's central sweetspot and your eyes are equidistant from each edge of the set. It feels like being enveloped by the action on screen (though that's a feeling that may be diminished the further away from the set you go - the Currys demo room had us sitting little more than a metre from the screen).LG-55EA9800-currys-5.JPGThe effect is bolstered by the use of OLED tech in the screen. We've written extensively about OLED TVs in the past, and LG (though taking their sweet time with it) are well in line to leading the charge with AV enthusiasts' successor to the plasma throne. Though only a 1080p display, and lacking the supreme detail of 4K sets, LG's screen delivered stunning black levels, while still managing to keep colour accuracy impressively lifelike, with both colour and contrast levels aided by the introduction of a white sub-pixel alongside the standard RGB array.LG-55EA9800-currys-4.JPGThe screen's use of OLED also has the added benefit of offering very a very wide viewing angle. Though the curved effect introduces a pronounced sweetspot (everyone will want to sit front and centre in front of this TV), those setting to extreme left and rights of the screen will not have their viewing experience suffer from any colour wash out. The speedy response times of OLED technology also offer the most comfortable 3D viewing experience possible, with the lightweight passive glasses delivering truly eye-popping visuals thanks to OLED's speedy response time, for better or worse depending on your stance on 3D.LG-55EA9800-currys-6.JPGOLED technology also allows the screen to be impossibly thin, with a carbon fibre finish to the casing that's as sturdy as it is stylish. Pencil-thin, this is very much a showpiece set, though those looking to wall mount the screen may have some problems due to the curvature.LG-55EA9800-currys-3.JPGAs one would expect from a flagship LG set, smart connectivity is also included, with the full raft of web apps and catch up TV services offered through LG's Smart TV interface. A Wii-remote like Magic Remote control makes controlling the set a breeze, with motion controls and onscreen cursor making light work of even entering text in search boxes.

Sound quality, while still no match for a dedicated home cinema system, is disarmingly impressive for a screen so svelte. Housed within a clear perspex strip below the screen (making the display itself look as though it's floating above its mount), the front-facing stereo array, paired with a down-firing subwoofer in the bottom-rear of the set, offers a warmer sound than similarly thin sets from rivals.LG-55EA9800-currys-2.JPGDue in stores by Christmas, we're still waiting on an official price for the curvalicious set. With the regular flat OLED TVs from LG already commanding a price tag of above £10,000, expect to have to sell an organ to be able to afford one.

doctor-who-3d.jpgThe BBC have announced that they will be taking a three-year break from 3D broadcasting, revealing that the forthcoming 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who will be the broadcaster's last eye-popping TV event for the foreseeable future.

"Watching 3D is quite a hassly experience in the home," admitted Kim Shillinglaw, the BBC's head of 3D, in a Radio Times interview.

"You have got to find your glasses before switching on the TV. I think when people watch TV they concentrate in a different way. When people go to the cinema they go and are used to doing one thing--I think that's one of the reasons that take up of 3DTV has been disappointing."

As well as the Doctor Who special (which will also be shown in cinemas in 3D on November 23), one of the last BBC 3D broadcasts will be this weekend's Wimbledon tennis finals.

Despite a big push from manufacturers who initially heralded 3D TV as the most important revolution in TV viewing since the introduction of colour, 3D in the home has failed to excite a significant number of consumers, with TV manufacturers now turning their attentions to UHD screens instead.

With the BBC bowing out of 3D coverage, and ESPN recently announcing they too would be calling time on their 3D coverage, is this the beginning of the end of 3D TV broadcasting? Not necessarily, says Shillinglaw:

"We will see what happens when the recession ends. There may be more take up of sets but I think the BBC will be having a wait and see. It's the right time for a good old pause."

"I am not sure our job is to call the whole 3D race."

REVIEW: Samsung UE32F6400 3D Smart TV

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UE32F6400-1.jpegreview-line.JPGName: Samsung UE32F6400 3D Smart TV

Type: 32-inch 3D Full HD TV with web connected Smart TV features

Specifications: Click here for full specs

Price as reviewed: Around £600

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We've seen the flagship 55-inch F8000 3D TV whopper from Samsung, and now we venture into more affordable territory with the 32-inch F6400. With many of the same connected Smart TV features of its big brother, can it impress in the same way? Read our full review to find out!

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NOTE: We tested the 32-inch F6400 model. However, with the specifications between this model and the 40 and 46, 55 and 65-inch models almost identical, we're confident that our tests with the 32-inch model will reflect a very similar experience were you looking to pick up one of the larger televisions instead.

Design:
UE32F6400-3.jpegWhile not quite as dazzling as the flagship F8000 models with their slimline bezels and low-clearance stands, the F6400 Samsung TVs still look very attractive.

At 49.5mm thick, it's a fairly plump set by today's super-slim standards, but not so much to make wall mounting unsightly or impractical. With the stand attached, that depth jumps to 264.8mm, but again that's not a depth that even a smaller TV cabinet couldn't handle. A black glossy bezel of a uniform size just over a centimetre sits around the screen, with the edges finished with a clear perspex for a reserved, stylish finish.

For the F6400, Samsung have reverted back to their four-pronged chrome stand, what we at Tech Digest affectionately call the alien foot. It still looks great, and it's more stable than the curved arc stand that ships with the flagship models even with it's ability to swivel a little, though admittedly is a bit more "in your face" than the mostly hidden arc stand.

Though 3 HDMI ports, 3USB ports and the antenna are mounted on the right hand side of the rear of the screen, composite, LAN and a fourth HDMI port, along with power supple, go directly into the back of the screen, which may cause a few cable tidying headaches if using all ports when wall mounting.

Connections:

It's good to see 4 HDMI inputs on a smaller set at an affordable price, alongside an array of USB ports. Freeview HD only here though, which may rile those hoping to get a Freesat HD tuner too.

  • Component In (Y / Pb / Pr) x 1
  • Composite In (AV) x 1 (Common Use for Component Y)
  • Digital Audio Out (Optical) x 1
  • Ethernet (LAN) x 1
  • HDMI x 4
  • RF In (Terrestrial / Cable Input) X 1
  • USB x 3
  • Headphone x 1
  • Scart x 1
  • CI Slot x 1
  • IR Out x 1
  • Built-in Wi-Fi

2D Picture Quality:
UE32F6400-2.jpegThe UE32F6400 has a standard 1080x1920 Full HD 1080p resolution, and performs above and beyond the picture quality we'd expect from a TV this price.

Out of the box the UE32F6400's Movie picture mode doesn't look half bad, and while it's still not at an enthusiast's level of picture perfection, ample image tweaking options (including white balance and green and red tint controls), will let you calibrate it just how you like it.

As with the F8000, Samsung's improved the backlight consistency for the F6400, and it makes a marked difference to the overall picture quality. With deep blacks and rich, detailed and accurate (once tweaked) colours, there's no problem with light leakage or image clouding with the latest models, with the blacklight and edge-lit algorithms working in tandem to really enhance the overall contrast of the image, and pull the most detail possible out of dark, shadowy scenes.

The screen's sharpness sees images really pop in high-definition, and firing up a Blu-ray disc lets the screen really let rip, offering up great detail for what these days (in the age of giant LCD living room panels) could be considered a second room or bedroom set.

Motion clarity on the presets is a little too aggressive for our liking, and you'll want to dial it back a bit with a custom setting unless you want to suffer from slightly watery movement. Once adjusted, fast action scenes move with little perceptible judder, and it's a very pleasant set to view movies and sport on as a result

As you'd expect, HD content looks the best on the F6400, but with the screen size here not gigantic, SD content looks perfectly fine too. The upscaling capabilities aren't quite as impressive as on the F8000, with some jagged edges appearing where they wouldn't on equivalent HD content. But with a screen this size a decent distance away, it's less noticeable anyway. Keep in mind that SD content on the larger F6400 models may suffer as a result.

3D Picture Quality:
samsung-f8000-3d.jpgThe F6400 uses active shutter 3D technology, and it performs well for a TV this size. Of course, with a 3D visuals, you're looking to bag as big a screen as possible to keep the 3D effect immersively encompassing your peripheral vision, but for a 3D gamer sat up close to the screen, the effect is still pretty good.

However, the forced motion processing which impressed so much on the F8000's 3D visuals doesn't work quite as well here, introducing significant motion interpolation that can hinder the depth effect. It's possibly a processing side-effect of the low-powered F6400, using a dual-core system rather than the F8000 quad-core array. Even with the Motion Plus setting set to off, it was still present, and was only defeated by switching on the Game Mode, itself introducing a lot of judder. Which looks better is up for debate, and neither is perfect.

Two pairs of 3D glasses come with the set (the same design that's a standard across all this year's 3D models from Samsung), and they're very light and comfortable, with the watch-battery that powers them sitting in a snap-down panel over the bridge of your nose. Ideally we'd prefer bigger lenses to help us from peeking out of the immersive 3D visuals, but the ones on offer here are large enough to sit relatively comfortably over a pair of prescription glasses.

Sound:

The UE32F6400 suffers from the usual shoddy audio that the majority of flatscreen TVs seem afflicted with.

Though 3D sound options are available, the down-firing 10W stereo speakers sound hollow and tinny, lacking any real punch, though doing a good job of keeping voices to the fore.

As ever, our advice is to pair the screen up with a soundbar or home cinema surround unit, the sad price we have to pay since leaving the bulk of CRT screens behind us.

Web Connected Smart TV and EPG features:
UE32F6400-smart-interface.jpgPacking in both Wi-Fi connectivity and an Ethernet connection, the F6400 has access to many of the Smart TV bells and whistles of its pricer counterparts. Though there's no built-in webcam or mic, putting Skype video calling out of the question as well as the so-so motion controls, you can still use the microphone built into the second of the two supplied remotes to interact with the TV screen.

The F6400 shares the same radically overhauled Smart TV interface that we reviewed in the F8000, so aside from a few pertinent omissions, this next section is basically the same as when we reviewed the pricer set.

As well as connecting up with your household's other smart devices (which we'll talk about in the " Remote Controls and Smartphone Apps" section of this review), Samsung have given the interface a drastic makeover, increasing the homescreen count from one to five.

These homescreens each focus on different aspects of the TV's capabilities. The first is dedicated to live TV, offering a picture-in-picture view of the channel you're currently watching, as well as recommendations based on your viewing habits showing similar shows as thumbnails surrounding it. Access to the Guide, Timeline and Recorded TV (shows are stored on a connected USB device) sit on the bottom.

The second screen focuses on On Demand TV and movie streaming services, and again offers recommendations based on your viewing habits, improving over time. As it stands, it can be confusing figuring out which service the recommendation comes from (it's a pain to have the premium Acetrax service pop-up when we're only looking for Netflix content), and though a cool feature, it'd benefit from being able to limit the sources the Samsung guide trawls through.

A third screen offers social feeds, aggregating Twitter and Facebook accounts into one place, and giving priority to video content shared on each site that can be played back on the TV. Also present here (once you've accepted the option to install it) is a Skype app, though it's severely limited without a built-in webcam.

A fourth screen allows access to music, video and photos shared on your network or a locally connected device, displayed in all their glory on the big screen. Recorded TV shows can again be accessed from here too.

A final fifth screen offers a grid-like interface for accessing dedicated apps, covering everything from health and fitness videos to Spotify, a web browser (which is among the best we've tried on a TV), and a great selection of video services on offer including Netflix, LoveFilm, BBC iPlayer and iTV Player, as well as Samsung's own 3D channels. A surprisingly robust app store lets you add more apps to this hub, including TV-optimised versions of popular mobile apps like Angry Birds

It's an intuitive layout that can be controlled in a variety of ways, but the whole experience suffers from the use of a slower dual-core processor. While the F8000 has a quad-core processor, the F6400's dual-core means navigating the Smart TV menus (well, all menus on the screen in fact) seem a little sluggish by comparison. Without having tested the two TVs in such close proximity we perhaps wouldn't have noticed it at all, making it a minor grumble, but it's a point where the pricer set's premium value becomes clear.

Remote Controls, Voice Activated Controls and Smartphone Apps:ue32f6400-remotes.jpgAs seems Samsung's standard this year, the UE32F6400 comes with not one, but two remote controls.

One is a standard remote with rubber buttons, including shortcut keys for accessing Smart TV features, as well as playback controls for videos and ARC-connected HDMI devices. It's comfortable and sensibly laid out, and Samsung have sensibly removed the rarely-used "Family Story" shortcut button. It's a shame that there's no dedicated button for accessing aspect ratio, leading to a lengthy trawl through menus to get to it, and the same goes for the Game Mode. Also missing is the backlight, which featured in last year's flagship set's remote, though arguably it's battery draining excess anyway.

The second remote control is smaller and more squat, and is identical to that which comes with the F8000 except that it has a black finish compared to brushed silver finish of the more expensive TV's remote. It features far less physical buttons in favour of a touch panel. It works surprisingly well, particularly when using it like a laptop trackpad for browsing the TV's web connected features. It also features a built-in microphone, meaning you can use the TV's voice-activated controls without shouting across the room, or over the volume of the set itself. However, it's not as instantly familiar an experience to use as the standard remote, and, just like last year, we still found ourselves using the regular remote more often than the touch-enabled one.

While Samsung's motion control system isn't present here, Android and iOS apps can hook up the screen for some second screen functionality. With them you can stream video from the TV tuner to a tablet or smartphone, control the TV from an app or share content from the phone to the TV. Unfortunately, there's no single all-encompassing app yet that covers all features, meaning you've got to use a handful in order to get to all the features. iOS apps are still missing a few features, but Samsung promise to add more features as time goes on. All in, the tablet/smartphone controls are more useful than the gesture and voice counterparts at this stage.

review-line.JPGVerdict:

Samsung's 3D TV range scales nicely this year, with this inexpensive 3D Smart TV retaining many of the very cool features of its more expensive stablemates. 2D performance is excellent, and 3D performance fair. But the real star of the show here is the Smart TV platform, of an incredibly high quality and one that would have come with a massive premium just a few short years ago. If you're looking for a web-connected set that won't break the bank and let you dip into 3D thrills from time to time, this is a great value set to invest in.review-line.JPG

4/5

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REVIEW: Samsung UE55F8000 3D Smart TV

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f8000.jpegreview-line.JPGName: Samsung UE55F8000 3D TV

Type: 55-inch 3D Full HD TV with web connected features, webcam, motion controls and voice activated controls.

Specifications: Click here for full specs

Price as reviewed: Around £2,500

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Samsung's latest edge-lit LED TV has every conceivable feature you could care to find in a modern television, from solid 3D performance through to voice controlled apps and an intelligent, attractive EPG. It's also pretty darn expensive. Are its many bells and whistles worth the extra cash? Read on to find out!

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NOTE: We tested the 55-inch F8000 model. However, with the specifications between this model and the 40 and 46-inch models almost identical, we're confident that our tests with the 55-inch model will reflect a very similar experience were you looking to pick up one of the smaller televisions instead.

Design:
uk_UE55F8000STXXU_548_right_black.jpegThe UE55F800 is a truly beautiful set, with a jaw-dropping design befitting of its price tag. Measuring just under 35mm thick at its plumpest point (and barely 15mm at its thinnest), it's almost impossibly thin given its huge panel size. The image on screen itself is pushed to the fore thanks to a bezel only half a centimetre thick - the closest we've seen a television come to that "bezel-free" dream that all TV manufacturers are chasing at the moment.

Connections on the rear are sensibly accessible from the side, allowing for wall mounting, and can be hidden away with a snap-on magnetic covering panel, which will save from trails of eyesore cabling being visible around the rear should you plan on placing the screen away from a wall.uk_UE55F8000STXXU_549_back_black.jpegThe rear also houses a small control panel on the bottom right hand side should you misplace the sets two remote controls. The topmost edge of the television hides a small retractable webcam that pops out when pressed, smoothly extending to sit flush on the top edge of the screen. The lower edge has a small glowing Samsung logo which, like the boot-up graphic, can be disabled if you find it annoying.uk_UE55F8000STXXU_551_Dynamic_black.jpegIf you're not planning on wall-mounting the set, an attractive curved stand comes with television, arching around the rear of the screen and allowing the television to sit very close to the surface on which it stands, with clearance of little more than an inch. While the stand is stylish and unobtrusive, it's frustratingly balanced. It seems as if all the weight of the set is taken at the front-most points of the stands feet, meaning can lean forwards and topple over if not placed on a wide surface. Though relatively light at 18.3kg with the stand attached (16.8kg without) it'd still do some damage to the screen if it were to fall this way, so think carefully before placing it down.

Connections:

A solid 4 HDMI inputs is what we'd expect from a TV of this size and price, with a wide and useful array of ports and connections on the UE55F8000. The inclusion of both Freeview HD and Freesat tuners are welcome, giving plenty of viewing options to buyers.

  • Component In (Y / Pb / Pr) x 1
  • Composite In (AV) x 1 (Common Use for Component Audio L / R)
  • Digital Audio Out (Optical) x 1
  • Ethernet (LAN) x 1
  • HDMI x 4
  • RF In (Terrestrial / Cable Input) x 1
  • RF In (Satellite Input) x 2
  • USB x 3
  • Headphone x 1
  • Scart x 1
  • CI Slot x 1
  • R Out x 1
  • Built-in Wi-Fi


2D Picture Quality:
uk_UE55F8000STXXU_547_left-angle_black.jpegThe UE55F8000 has a standard 1080x1920 Full HD 1080p resolution, and with Samsung now testing the UHD waters, could well be the company's last flagship at this resolution. If that's the case, it's a fitting swansong - the image quality here is superb.

Usually we're ones to knock a television's preset image settings, but even out of the box the UE55F800 impresses. That's for the most part down to Samsung's refinement of their backlight system. Previous Samsung LED models have struggled to deliver a consistent backlight across the frame, and while the rest of the image has been colourful and punchy, dark scenes suffered from light bleed in and cloudy grey patches as a result. Here, the backlight is consistent right up to its maximum brightness setting, allowing those who enjoy a bright, dynamic image to do so without worry.

With this in mind, Samsung have also introduced a new Cinema Black feature to be used when watching letterboxed 21:9 ratio movies. This allows the set to factor in the black bars above and below a picture before applying any edge LED enhancements, giving solid black bars at the top and bottom of a movie, free of grey light waves and pulses.

With deep blacks and rich contrast performance nailed then, Samsung's stalwart colour accuracy looks as good as ever, with great detail and range in colour tones and subtle shadow details in murkier scenes.

Images are sharp and detailed, crisply bringing out all the finer points of that Blu-ray collection you've been building up. Images in motion look good too, thanks to the use of a native 200Hz panel and a scanning backlight. Though Samsung's more aggressive motion-processing settings still look a little otherworldly, fine-tune them with a customised setting and you'll find even the busiest action scenes moving buttery smooth.

We'd still encourage you to dial the backlight down a bit though if you want the most natural looking image possible, and it's a shame that Samsung still haven't managed to get a really good preset image setting nailed down. A matter of taste we suppose, but expect to do a little tweaking to nail down the most stunning image that this set can offer.

As ever, a HD screen this big will always do best with high-resolution content, and standard definition material can look a little blurry and muddy by comparison. It's no worse than big screen HD rivals though, and the upscaling attempted here by Samsung makes SD content look as good as is possible.

3D Picture Quality:
samsung-f8000-3d.jpgUsing active shutter 3D technology, Samsung's flagship offers some of the finest 3D visuals you'll get inside the comfort of your own home. Watching Pixars Brave 3D, motion processing is now also applied to 3D images too thanks to the quad-core processing engine onboard, removing some of the judder issues that have caused problems on 3D Samsung sets in the past.

Crosstalk issues too are notably reduced, and we saw only one instance in the whole of Brave, with a background moon pictured with a separate shimmery edge. Best of all, the improved backlighting functions of the television and incredibly high brightness levels mean that the dark-tinted glasses barely make an effect on the overall vibrancy of the image.

Two pairs of 3D glasses come with the set, and they're very light and comfortable, with the watch-battery that powers them sitting in snap-down panel over the bridge of your nose. Ideally we'd prefer bigger lenses to help us from peeking out of the immersive 3D visuals, but the ones on offer here are large enough to sit relatively comfortably over a pair of prescription glasses.

Sound:
uk_UE55F8000STXXU_555_Dynamic_black.jpegFlat screen TVs never perform that well in the audio department; when they're this thin, where are the speakers to go?

The UE55F8000 is a breath of fresh air in this regard then. With dedicated bass speakers, it sounds far richer than previous sets of this ilk, offering deeper, punchier sounds and a wide soundscape that nearly matches the scope of the picture on screen.

You'd still do well to match the telly with a soundbar or home cinema set-up, but for once it won't be painful to your ears if it isn't.

Web Connected Smart TV and EPG features:
uk_UE55F8000STXXU_552_Dynamic_black.jpegPacking in both Wi-Fi connectivity and an Ethernet connection, it's easy to get the UE55F8000 hooked up to your home network, letting you access a wide variety of Smart TV content and apps.

It's a radical overhaul for the company's Smart TV service too. As well as connecting up with your household's other smart devices (which we'll talk about in the " Remote Controls, and Motion and Voice Activated Controls and Smartphone Apps" section of this review), Samsung have given the interface a drastic makeover, increasing the homescreen count from one to five.

These homescreens each focus on different aspects of the TV's capabilities. The first is dedicated to live TV, offering a picture-in-picture view of the channel you're currently watching, as well as recommendations based on your viewing habits similar shows as thumbnails surrounding it. Access to the Guide, Timeline and Recorded TV (shows are stored on a connected USB device) sit on the bottom.

The second screen focuses on On Demand TV and movie streaming services, and again offers recommendations based on your viewing habits, improving over time. As it stands, it can be confusing figuring out which service the recommendation comes from (it's a pain to have the premium Acetrax service pop-up when we're only looking for Netflix content), and though a cool feature, it'd benefit from being able to limit the sources the Samsung guide trawls through.

A third screen offers social feeds, aggregating Twitter and Facebook accounts into one place, and giving priority to video content shared on each site that can be played back on the TV. Also present here (once you've accepted the option to install it) is a Skype app, and with the built-in webcam, your set is turned into the sort of video screen that'd make Marty McFly envious.uk_UE55F8000STXXU_554_Dynamic_black.jpegA fourth screen allows access to music, video and photos shared on your network or a locally connected device, displayed in all their glory on the big screen. Recorded TV shows can again be accessed from here too.

A final fifth screen offers a grid-like interface for accessing dedicated apps, covering everything from health and fitness videos to Spotify, a web browser (which is among the best we've tried on a TV), and a great selection of video services on offer including Netflix, LoveFilm, BBC iPlayer and iTV Player, as well as Samsung's own 3D channels. A surprisingly robust app store lets you add more apps to this hub, including TV-optimised versions of popular mobile apps like Angry Birds

It's an intuitive layout that can be controlled in a variety of ways as we'll detail next, making for the most attractive and speedy Smart TV interface we've yet had the pleasure to try.

Remote Controls, and Motion and Voice Activated Controls and Smartphone Apps:samsung-f8000-remote.jpgThe UE46ES7000 comes with not one, but two remote controls.

One is a standard remote with rubber buttons, including shortcut keys for accessing Smart TV features, as well as playback controls for videos and ARC-connected HDMI devices. It's comfortable and sensibly laid out, and Samsung have sensibly removed the rarely-used "Family Story" shortcut button. It's a shame that there's no dedicated button for accessing aspect ratio, leading to a lengthy trawl through menus to get to it, and the same goes for the Game Mode. Also missing is the backlight, which featured in last year's flagship set's remote, though arguably it's battery draining excess anyway.

The second remote control is smaller and more squat, and is similar to that which can be found with the ES7000 models. It features far less physical buttons in favour of a touch panel. It works surprisingly well, particularly when using it like a laptop trackpad for browsing the TV's web connected features. It also features a built-in microphone, meaning you can use the TV's voice-activated controls without shouting across the room, or over the volume of the set itself. However, it's not as instantly familiar an experience to use as the standard remote, and, just like last year, we still found ourselves using the regular remote more often than the touch-enabled one.

Two returning features from last year's flagship sets are voice and motion controls, working in tandem with the remote's built in mic and the screen's built-in camera. Both have been improved, but neither is again perfectly implemented yet. Waving a hand to activate a text entry box is far less finicky than navigating with either remote, and is a nice way to guide the cursor around the screen, making it the lesser of two evils here. You still wouldn't want it to be the primary mode of control, and the screen still gets confused if you stand up or stretch, thinking it needs to turn on the motion controls. Voice commands are still ropey too - shows on the screen can annoyingly activate the trigger word, bringing up menus accidentally, while the speech recognition still makes plenty of mistakes. We still think it's the future of TV control, but it's just not quite there yet.

More successful are the Android and iOS apps, which work best on a Samsung mobile phone, but now also offer iPhone functionality too. With them you can stream video from one of the TV tuners to a tablet or smartphone, control the TV from an app or share content from the phone to the TV. Unfortunately, there's no single all-encompassing app yet that covers all features, meaning you've got to use a handful in order to get to all the features. iOS apps are still missing a few features, but Samsung promise to add more features as time goes on. All in, the tablet/smartphone controls are more useful than the gesture and voice counterparts at this stage.

review-line.JPGVerdict:

The UE55F8000 is a real stunner, with magnificent picture quality, surprisingly good speakers, a raft of useful control schemes and a host of well thought out web-connected features. It is prohibitively expensive though, and we'd happily save some cash by ditching the voice and motion gesture controls until they've been perfected. Also of note is the slightly worrying stand design - we're sat looking at the screen as we write this and are still worried it may topple over if brushed against with a modicum of force. But these flaws, on the whole, are minor when put against the many superb features on offer here. If you can afford it, we can't recommend this TV highly enough.review-line.JPG

4.5/5

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samsung-un85s9-4k-top.jpgSamsung's 85-inch S9 UHD 4K TV, first unveiled at this year's CES, has gone on sale at Selfridges. And before you ask, you probably can't afford it.

Setting you back a whopping £35,000, you at least get a lot of TV for your money, with the 85-inch LCD panel running at a sumptuous 3,820 x 2160 resolution. It's also housed in a unique (arguably ugly) frame to support its considerable heft, allowing the TV to be easily rotated and tilted, as well as discreetly hiding a 2.2 speaker array with 120 watt output which should be a fair sight more impressive than what the usual flatscreen manages in terms of audio.

"We are very excited to launch Samsung's 85-inch S9 Ultra High Definition LED TV exclusively in our stores," said Richard Jones, Selfridges Technology Buying Manager (who we can't help but imagine has £-signs where his eyes should be).

"This is the world's first Future Ready UHD TV. The quality and definition breaks new boundaries in the world of HD TV. Our customers expect the latest and finest technology for their homes and personal use. We hope to pioneer the way forward in the latest releases and Samsung is exactly this. I'm sure it will be a huge success."

Catch the TV's CES unveiling in the video below.

finlux-s9100-top.jpgFinlux have launched their biggest Smart TV to date, the 55-inch web connected 55S9100-T.

Also coming in 42 and 47-inch sizes, the 55S9100-T comes complete with a Wi-Fi dongle for hooking up to catch-up TV services such as BBC iPlayer, as well as web portals for YouTube and Facebook.

Freeview HD is built in, with the design of the set not unlike Samsung's more recent premium screens, featuring a four-pronged chrome foot base and a 1cm wide bezel. Four HDMI ports are on offer too.

The LED set also features passive 3D tech, and ships with 8 pairs of glasses. 100Hz motion processing should keep onscreen action moving smoothly.

Other features include built-in PVR functionality and the ability to control the TV from an iOS device.

"Our flagship product comes with all the bells and whistles," said Andreas Adamides, Head of Finlux UK.

"Half the price of rival products but offering the same quality build and functionality, it provides a range of additional features and items at no extra cost. It's highly competitive price means that many more people in the UK can take their TV and gaming experience to a whole new level."

No exact release date has been given yet, but the 55-inch model has been priced at £1,299. We'll have a full review in the coming weeks, so check back soon.

tosh-4k-1.JPGBigger is better, and for Toshiba's forthcoming 84-inch 4K Series 9 Ultra HD TV, that counts for pixel count as well as size. We went eyes-on with the new flagship set at a recent Toshiba press event. Here are our first impressions.

Measuring a massive 84-inches from corner to corner, Toshiba's top-of-the-range 9 Series 4K TV is an intimidating sight to behold. Though also set to be available in 58 and 65-inch sizes, those looking for the "cinema in the living room" experience should look no further. It dwarfs all those who stand next to it (small-of-stature star Tom Cruise was by chance staying at the hotel where Toshiba held the press event, and we can't begin to imagine what he'd have looked like beside the screen, Cuban heels and all).tosh-4k-2.JPGIn terms of design, Toshiba have kept things relatively simple. A solid-looking chrome base supports the gigantic screen (it'd take some work to get this wall mounted), with the chrome styling extending to the lower edge of the screen. The rest of the bezel is finished in black with slightly rounded corners, and though not the thinnest bezel we've ever seen remains unobtrusive due to the sheer size of the screen. 4 HDMI ports will be on offer, as well as 2 USB ports and an SD card reader. Active shutter 3D is also supported, though was not on show during our time with the TV.

It's the 4K resolution that really impresses though. Running at four times that of Full HD for a whopping 3840x2160 resolution count, it provides a pin sharp picture when native resolution content is thrown at it. A show real including colourful demo footage was shown alongside Square Enix's next-gen E3 2012 reel, and the result was often stunning; colours were vibrant while the screen was bright, with movement (aided by the 800 Active Motion and Resolution system) smooth and judder free. tosh-4k-3.JPGThough impressive, it wasn't wholly perfect however. Edge-LED illumination is used to add brightness and backlighting to the panel, though it's intensity often meant it seeped into darker scenes, even in a relatively well-lit room, a problem only intensified when viewing the screen from an acute angle.

Likewise, an 1080p-to-4K upscaling demo on a 58-inch Series 9 model showing off a clip of Disney's John Carter movie proved troublesome. Toshiba's CEVO processing engine added a lot of noise to the image as it tried to push it towards ultra HD standards, while the motion processing effects gave all movement onscreen a watery look. It's common practice for companies to have all their TV's post-processing effects cranked up to the max during demo days, which was likely the case here. We'd imagine with a more subtle approach the issues here wouldn't have been so pronounced, so we'll be keen to see the screen performs in a real-world setting. Given the current lack of 4K content on the market however, the screen will regularly rely on its upscaling chops, so it's worth noting.tosh-cloud-tv-2.JPGBuilt in Wi-Fi powers Toshiba's new Cloud TV interface on the set, a feature that goes right across the company's 2013 connected TV range.

Looking to unify Toshiba's connected TV services, it allows users to personalise their interface through individual logins, with the potential to organise a homescreen to show apps and video streaming services that most interest individual users. As users use the Cloud TV interface the TV will begin to recognise viewing habits too, and suggest recommendations to view.

Plenty of the big-name video apps are included, such as Netflix, YouTube, BBC iPlayer and Blinkbox, while a universal search engine built by Rovi hunts down content across all services, including the built-in Freeview HD. It sounds great in theory, and if in practice the engine supports metadata pulled in from other connected devices such as Sky TV boxes, Freesat or YouView, it'll really come into its own.tosh-cloud-tv-1.JPGThere's also a full Twitter client, with support #hashtag searching and picture-in-picture views, with the app picking up trending shows and topics. Whether or not we'd actually use a Twitter client on our living room screens is another matter when it's so easy to tap away on a laptop or phone, but the picture-in-picture view with a Twitter feed side-by-side a live TV show could prove amusing for "social" shows such as X-Factor.

Skype video calling is also supported (provided you have Toshiba's sold-separately camera unit), as well as Intel's Wi-Di wireless screen sharing protocol.

Which leaves of course price. Due out in the summer, Toshiba aren't yet revealing how much the Series 9 sets are going to sell for. But considering Sony's comparably sized 4K screen is set to sell in the region of £22,000, don't expect Toshiba's 84-inch offering to come much cheaper.

lg-mt93-top.jpgLG is setting its sights on your bedroom with their new LG MT93 TV set. 27-inches in size, the full HD 1080p IPS display is aimed at those looking for an all-in-one set to handle all gaming, TV watching and PC monitor needs.

Fully web connected with LG's usual array of Smart TV features, its IPS 3D display offers a "Mega" contrast ratio, allowing for more vibrant colours than other LCD technologies, with brightness levels hitting 250 nits and a low response time of just 5ms, making it good for competitive gamers.

The set also features stereo 7W speakers, as well as two HDMI ports, composite and component video inputs, three USB ports and an Ethernet port. LG's Wii-like Magic Remote is also included, as is Miracast and WiDi Wireless connectivity, letting you wirelessly hook up compatible mobile devices.

"LG designed its Personal Smart TV line-up to meet the growing demand for compact, multi-purpose devices suitable for bedrooms, studio apartments and dormitories," said LG's Il-geun Kwon.

No word yet on UK pricing or specific release dates, but we'll keep you posted.

lg-oled-uk-pre-order.jpgLG's stunning 55-inch OLED TV, as seen earlier this year at the CES tech circus in Las Vegas, is now up for pre-order for UK home cinema fans. The LG 55EM970V can be ordered from Harrods, ready to take home from July.

But it'll cost you. It's listed at a bank-breaking £9,999.99.

You are getting a hell of a lot of TV for the money though. A staggeringly thin set at just 4.5mm thick, it uses LG's WRGB technology (adding a white pixel to the usual red, green and blue array) to deliver top-notch picture quality, along with a wide viewing angle and superb 3D performance with LG's passive Cinema 3D tech.

As a Smart TV, the set is also fully web connected, allowing you to browse the internet, update social networks and check out video content services such as Netflix and LoveFilm.

"We are proud to be the first in the world to offer consumers a big screen OLED TV," said Brian Na, President of LG Electronics UK.

"LG's next generation display is a true game changer, which will forever alter the way we think about TVs. Since OLED TV was first unveiled, we've been working tirelessly to bring what we call 'the ultimate display' to market. I'm sure you'll agree that our 55-inch OLED TV has definitely been worth the wait."
 
Andrew Mackay, UK Commercial Director of Home Entertainment and Home Appliances added: "Following the LG launch and supply to the Korean market earlier in the year, the UK is proud to be the next market to launch LG OLED TV, as this innovative and premium model launches first in Europe to UK consumers."  

LG_Curved_OLED_TV.jpgAs well as further promoting their 4K UHD wares, LG haven't overlooked their OLED TV offerings at this years CES 2013 conference. Curved screens are the next step in the evolution of OLED TV, with LG's EA9800 the company's first set to employ the IMAX style design.

According to LG, the curved design and inward flex removes "the problem of screen-edge visual distortion and detail loss" as "the entire screen surface is equidistant from the viewer's eyes".

A 55-inch model that packs in LG's passive Cinema 3D technology, it still delivers OLED TV's remarkable contrast levels, using a WRGB Four Colour Pixel system and High Dynamic Range algorithm for more vibrant differentiation between light and dark scenes and more accurate colour reproduction.

"LG is the first to launch the 55-inch OLED TV," said Havis Kwon, President and CEO of LG's Home Entertainment Company.

"We believe our new OLED TVs offer the ultimate viewing experience, surpassing anything seen before. The new curved model complements our core OLED TV family with a unique design that capitalizes on the thinness of the screen and the aesthetic beauty of OLED TV."

No pricing or availability has been announced yet by LG, but with even their regular shaped OLED TVs taking an age to come to market, don't hold your breath on these hitting stores anytime soon.

Click here for more news from CES 2013

Samsung's next flagship TV, the Samsung UN85S9 Ultra HD, looks set to tick every box a cutting edge set can after being revealed at CES 2013.

Measuring a ginormous 85-inches across, it packs in a 4K (UHD) display for crystal clear image quality, beating out this year's rival LG set by an inch in the size stakes.

Even more interesting is the set's design. Pencil thin, the floor standing set sits "floating" within a frame not unlike an artist's easel. This allows the set to be rotated and tilted with ease, giving the screen the appearance that it's hanging in the air. The frame also houses 2.2 speaker array, offering 120 watt output.

A quad-core processor powers the UI elements of the screen, pushing more content into the Samsung Smart Hub application and delivering intensive picture processing modes such as the Frame Rate Conversion engine and the Motion Judder Canceller. A built in webcam also offers Skype video calling, though I'm not sure I'd want to see any of my pals' faces blown up to 85-inches...

Due out in March, there's no pricing info revealed yet, but rest assured, you'll be unlikely to be able to afford it.

Click here for more news from CES 2013

REVIEW: Samsung UE46ES6800 3D TV

1 Comment

es6800-top.jpgreview-line.JPGName: Samsung UE46ES6800 3D TV

Type: 3D Full HD TV with web connected features
Specifications: Click here for full specs

Price as reviewed: Around £1,000

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Samsung's ES6800 series screen rolls back the kookier features found in the top-end ES8000 range, instead focussing on delivering solid image quality. Its stripped back feature list matches its mid-range price tag, but does it rob the ES6800 of all that made the ES8000 so appealing? Read on to find out!

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NOTE: We tested the 46-inch ES6800 model. However, with the specifications between this model and the 32, 40 and 55-inch models almost identical, we're confident that our tests with the 46-inch model will reflect a very similar experience were you looking to pick up a different sized model.

Design:

The UE46ES6800 is a relatively slim set at 46.9mm thick, but doesn't quite match Samsung's own top end super-slim TV trend, being a good third thicker than the 46-inch ES8000 model equivalent. There's still barely any bezel at all surrounding the screen however, finished in a thin sliver trim, though the actual display itself has a significant black border surrounding the image. It's not necessarily to its detriment though; Samsung's higher-end models may offer almost edge-to-edge visuals, but the border here acts as a subtle frame to the picture rather than a distraction. Lacking the ES8000's top-mounted integrated webcam, it's a perfect oblong too, whereas the ES8000 had a noticeable bump on its top edge to accommodate its camera. Along the lower edge is an illuminated Samsung logo which thankfully can be switched off through the menus.

The stand used is Samsung's go-to four-pronged silver foot rather than the company's newer loop-style base. We're still fans of the foot, which looks like some sort of metallic alien appendage, but connecting the base to to the screen itself is still a bit of a chore, especially when trying to line up all the screws to hold it into place. You'll want a pal on hand to help you put both parts of the TV together if you don't want to risk breaking it.

Connections:

We'd have liked to have seen more than just 3 HDMI inputs on the set, but Samsung's offering here is a wide and useful collection of ports and connections. The inclusion of both Freeview HD and Freesat HD tuners will be a welcome one for those trying to save having to buy a separate set top box to cover both options.


  • 3 HDMI inputs

  • 1 SCART input

  • 1 Component input

  • 1 Composite input

  • 1 PC VGA input

  • 3 USB inputs

  • 1 Ethernet (network) port (Wi-Fi built-in)

  • Aerial input (DVB-T2 / "Freeview HD")

  • Satellite input (DVB-S2 / "Freesat HD")

2D Picture Quality:

Offering a 1080x1920 Full HD 1080p resolution, the Samsung UE46ES6800 looks garish when switched on for the first time. Its image presets are massively over-saturated and overly bright for most home viewing scenarios. Thankfully, there are ample image tweaking controls tucked away in the menus which can be used to settle the image for more pleasing results. Just expect your jaw to drop for all the wrong reasons to begin with.

Once you've messed around with the image settings, the ES6800 performs well within its price bracket. Colours look natural, with LED output balanced and complementing the evenly distributed backlighting. Even its motion features come recommended if used in moderation; cranking them to the default maximum settings makes images look watery, but the "Clear" setting smooths motion in fast-moving action scenes attractively. It's a pin-sharp display too, pulling out superb detail from HD sources.

There are areas where the ES6800 falls down when put up against its more expensive stablemates though. Skin tones lack subtlety, even with HD sources, giving everyone on screen a slightly Photoshopped look, while so-so contrast levels lead to greyish, washed-out blacks in the darkest scenes. The micro-dimming system of the ES8000 model may have helped in this respect, especially when differentiating between deep blacks and shadow details, but it's a high-end feature you wont find at this sets mid-range price.

The UE46ES6800 of course look its best when playing with Full HD content, but the screen handles standard definition content respectably too. SD content is upscaled well enough to make the noise reduction processing option unnecessary.

Gamers too will be pleased with the relatively low input lag average of 35ms when applying the Game Mode preset. This removes many of the more advanced image processing techniques employed by the set, though is frustratingly hidden deep within the system settings menu. A dedicated remote shortcut would have been useful here.
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3D Picture Quality:

Moving on to the third-dimension, 3D films look very good on the TV. Using active shutter 3D tech, 3D Blu-ray movies retain their sharpness and offer great depth. The lightweight glasses let in a little too much external light, but manage to keep brightness reduction and reduced colour vibrancy to a minimum. There's barely any sign of crosstalk, too, a massive improvement over Samsung's similarly priced sets this time last year. 2D to 3D conversion isn't great, but no other screen from any other manufacturer has pulled off the processing technique successfully either yet, so that's not too much of a problem.

Sound:

Flat screen TV's notoriously struggle when it comes to delivering satisfying audio as there's little room for decent speakers to be housed. The ES6800 is no different. There's a definite lack of bass and a poor mid-range, resulting in a tinny, harsh sound. EQ options can help you improve the sound a little by boosting the low and mid ranges and dialling back the treble ever so slightly, and there's certainly no problem hearing voices in your favourite shows. But you'll want to invest in a soundbar or home cinema surround speaker set if you want a truly bombastic experience when watching Hollywood blockbusters.

Web Connected Smart TV Features:

Packing in both Wi-Fi connectivity and an Ethernet connection, it's easy to get the UE46ES6800 hooked up to the net, giving you access to a robust offering of Smart TV content and apps.

You'll get a very useable web browser, a solid selection of video services including Netflix, LoveFilm, BBC iPlayer and iTV Player (as well as Samsung's own 3D channels) and more. DLNA connectivity via AllShare is also possible, as is rudimentary Twitter and Facebook access.

You can add more apps through the Samsung Apps Store, including TV-optimised versions of popular mobile apps like Angry Birds and Spotify music streaming. There's Skype on offer too, though unlike the ES8000 models you'll need to buy a supplementary webcam in order to enjoy it.

Samsung have also introduced a handful of new "zones" to the Smart TV hub, which pools together similar content in one place. The Fitness Zone offers a substantial selection of videos aiming to help you get into shape, while the Kid Zone collects child-safe videos, games and a virtual sticker books for the little ones to play with. Those worried about what their children may be able to access with a web-connected TV will be pleased to hear there are extensive pin-protected parental controls available through the TV too.
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Remote Control:

The UE46ES6800 comes with Samsung's standard, thin and long remote, complete with backlighting. Slightly raised details help identify the divisions between the flat "membrane" buttons, which include shortcut keys for accessing Smart TV features, as well as playback controls for videos and ARC-connected HDMI devices. It's comfortable to hold and sensibly laid out, though the decision to swap out the dedicated aspect ratio button for a "Family Story" shortcut isn't a good one, and we'd hope to see the positioning of media playback buttons raised a little higher in future revisions of the remote. It feels robust though, and thanks to its near-flush buttons can be easily wiped clean of any dirt or grubby marks.

review-line.JPGVerdict:

Though a little more rough around the edges than the ES8000 series, the ES6800 represents good value for money. Image quality is strong for the price range, and there's a superb selection of Smart TV content on offer. Some will argue that the ES8000's motion controls and webcam are extraneous features, and their omission here will be sensible penny-pinching measures for many. However, the image quality is slightly less impressive than the higher end models from Samsung, so if you've got the cash available consider at the very least stumping up the extra money for one of the ES7000 models. If that's out of your price range, don't worry too much; the ES6800 will get the job done. review-line.JPG

3.5/5

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Queen-Elizabeth-3d-thumb.jpgThe Queen's speech, the royal's annual address to her subjects, is to be broadcast in 3D for the first time this year.

Moving with the times, Elizabeth II had her speech recorded by BSkyB last Friday, with the broadcasters recording the speech using 3D equipment.

It's been a busy year for the Queen, what with the royal wedding, the recent announcement of a new great-grandchild and her liaison with James Bond for the Olympics.

Broadcast on Sky, the BBC and ITV, the Queen's speech will be available in 3D for those with access to the necessary channels and 3D television viewing equipment. It airs at 3pm on Christmas Day.

However we (like many other UK residents, we expect), are sure to be totally bladdered by that time on Christmas Day. Being able to tell whether all shows on the TV are in 3D or not by that point may be a challenge.

3d-blu-ray-xmas-banner.jpgGot the 3D TV? Got the 3D Blu-ray player or PS3 games console? Then you'll be after a handful of 3D Blu-ray movies this Christmas. It's been a bumper year for 3D Blu-ray releases, following on from a strong Christmas 2011 cinema schedule and an equally action-packed summer this year.

Here we pick 10 of the best 3D Blu-ray movies of 2012, perfect for a lazy Christmas evening in.

Scroll down to check them out.

ue46es7000-1.jpgreview-line.JPGName: Samsung UE46ES7000 3D TV

Type: 3D Full HD TV with web connected features, motion controls and voice activated controls.

Specifications: Click here for full specs

Price as reviewed: Around £1,500

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A feature-rich 3D TV with web connected features, motion controls and voice-activated commands, Samsung's ES7000 series ticks plenty of boxes. But are its unique hardware features just gimmicks, and can its picture quality match Samsung's top-tier offerings? Read on to find out!

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NOTE: We tested the 46-inch ES7000 model. However, with the specifications between this model and the 40-inch model almost identical, we're confident that our tests with the 46-inch model will reflect a very similar experience were you looking to pick up the smaller television instead.

Design:

The UE46ES7000 continues Samsung's super-slim TV trend, with the panel measuring a mere 29.7mm thick. There's barely any bezel at all surrounding the screen, and as this bezel is finished in black rather than the silver look Samsung employ in their premium 8000 series sets, it leads to the closest we've seen a screen come to having the illusion of an edge-to-edge display. The bezel only protrudes a little more in the centre of its top edge, where the television's integrated webcam and microphone sit. Along the lower edge is an illuminated Samsung logo which thankfully can be switched off through the menus.

The stand opts for the older four-pronged silver foot look than Samsung's newer loop-style base, but it's still a fun, space-age look that we're fond of. However, connecting the base to to the screen itself is still a bit of a chore, especially when trying to line up all the screws to hold it into place. You're going to need a pal to help you put this sizeable screen together if you don't want to risk damaging it.

Connections:

Though 3 HDMI inputs is a little on the stingy side, its a wide and useful offering of ports and connections on the UE46ES7000. The inclusion of both Freeview HD and Freesat tuners are welcome.


  • 3 HDMI inputs

  • 1 SCART input

  • 1 Component input

  • 1 Composite input

  • 1 PC VGA input

  • 3 USB inputs

  • 1 Ethernet (network) port

  • Aerial input (DVB-T2 / "Freeview HD")

  • Satellite input (DVB-S2 / "Freesat HD")

2D Picture Quality:

Running at a now-standard 1080x1920 Full HD 1080p resolution, the Samsung UE46ES7000 is a luxurious LED screen to watch. Dynamic colours burst off the screen, with colours remaining natural and lifelike and needing little calibration to get the most from the display. Images are sharp too without becoming unsightly or overly grainy, while the contrast ratio delivers crisp whites and deep blacks.

Though motion processing techniques sometimes get our goat here at Tech Digest, they prove subtle and attractive on the UE46ES7000. They offer fluidity to motion without veering into that strange watery look that over processed images can on some motion-tech packing sets. Of course, you've got the option to crank it up to ridiculous levels using custom settings, but stick with the default Clear option and fast-paced action scenes will look judder free without looking ghostly and strange.

It's not totally perfect though. The main issue lies with an inconsistent backlight. Crank it up to any higher than a quarter of its maximum intensity and we quickly found it be patchy, bleeding into darker areas of the screen, and being particularly prevalent in the top left hand corner of our review model. The lack of the 8000 series' micro dimming technology here is one of the UE46ES7000's few failings over its more expensive stablemate. You can drop the backlight down to alleviate this issue, but brightness of course takes a significant hit as a result.

Things of course look there best when playing with Full HD content, but the UE46ES7000 plays very nicely with standard definition content too, upscaling SD content so effectively as to make the inclusion of a noise reduction processing option obsolete. Gamers will also find the TV suitable to their needs, with a Game Mode option pushing input lag to a reasonably low 34ms average.
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3D Picture Quality:

3D films look great on the TV. Using active shutter 3D tech, they are sharp and offer great depth, and maintain good brightness levels and colour saturation despite the inevitable darkness the tinted 3D glasses cast across a picture. There's barely any sign of crosstalk, meaning you can watch a 3D film without any distractions. 2D to 3D conversion isn't great, but this isn't a black mark against the set's name considering no other screen has successfully managed it yet either.

The glasses themselves need to be put together yourself out of the box, but they snap together easily. They're a little bit bulkier than other active shutter 3D glasses we've tried, though that does have the unexpected bonus of making them slip over regular prescription glasses easier than usual. Two pairs come with the set.

Sound:

Flat screen TV's always struggle in the audio department, and this offering from Samsung is no different. There's a lack of bass and a limited mid-range, leading to a tinny, harsh sound. EQ options can help you soften the sound a little, and there's certainly no problem hearing voices in your favourite soaps. But if you're looking for sound quality to match the impressive picture on offer, you're going to have to invest in a soundbar or surround sound system to accompany the display.

Motion and Voice Activated Controls:

Ever wished you didn't have to hunt around for the remote control to change settings and channels on your TV? That's very nearly the reality with the UE46ES7000, thanks to its built in voice activated and motion sensing controls.

The voice controls are the more accurate and useful of the two methods. After saying a trigger phrase (the default is "Hi TV"), you're presented with a list of onscreen voice commands. A simple set up process sets up the voice recognition, and from turning up the volume to accessing Smart TV apps, it works very consistently. It's particularly useful when using text entry boxes in apps, where the alternative would be to painstakingly tap into an onscreen software keyboard with the remote (though it is possible to hook up a wireless QWERTY keyboard too).

Motion controls are more hit-and-miss. Though it lets you navigate web pages through the TV in an arguably more natural way by waving your hands gently around in front of the screen, it has a painstaking set up process and often fails to respond to your inputs the way you'd hope it would.

As it stands, neither works quite well enough to do away with conventional remote controls altogether, but are useful enough to be considered more than just gimmicks.
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Web Connected Smart TV Features:

Packing in both Wi-Fi connectivity and an Ethernet connection, it's easy to get the UE46ES7000 hooked up to your home network, letting you access a wide variety of Smart TV content and apps.

As well as the aforementioned web browser (which is among the best we've tried on a TV), there's a great selection of video services on offer including Netflix, LoveFilm, BBC iPlayer and iTV Player, as well as Samsung's own 3D channels. DLNA connectivity via AllShare is also possible, as is rudimentary Twitter and Facebook access.

A surprisingly robust app store lets you add more apps to the main Smart TV hub, including TV-optimised versions of popular mobile apps like Angry Birds and Spotify music streaming. Best of all though is Skype, which thanks to the televisions built in webcam lets you easily make free full-screen video calls from the comfort of your sofa to friends anywhere around the world.

Samsung have also introduced a handful of new "zones" to the Smart TV hub, which pools together similar content in one place. The Fitness Zone offers a substantial selection of videos aiming to help you get into shape, while the Kid Zone collects child-safe videos, games and a virtual sticker books for the little ones to play with. Those worried about what their children may be able to access with a web-connected TV will be pleased to here there are extensive pin-protected parental controls available through the TV too.

All in, it's a very impressive array of web connected features that often makes the most of the unique hardware on offer in the UE46ES7000.
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Remote Controls:

The UE46ES7000 comes with not one, but two remote controls.

One is a standard, thin and long remote with backlit rubber buttons, including shortcut keys for accessing Smart TV features, as well as playback controls for videos and ARC-connected HDMI devices. It's comfortable and sensibly laid out, though the decision to swap out the dedicated aspect ratio button for a "Family Story" shortcut isn't a good one.

The second remote control is smaller and more squat, and features far less physical buttons in favour of a touch panel. It works surprisingly well, particularly when using it like a laptop trackpad for browsing the TV's web connected features. It also features a built-in microphone, meaning you can use the TV's voice-activated controls without shouting across the room, or over the volume of the set itself. However, it's not as instantly familiar an experience to use as the standard remote, and we still found ourselves using the regular remote more often than the touch-enabled one.

review-line.JPGVerdict:

Looking great both in terms of design and picture quality, it's easy to recommend the UE46ES7000 from Samsung. Though not all of its bells and whistles work flawlessly, even the more gimmicky aspects of the screen's design have their uses. Both 2D and 3D picture quality are top notch, while the extensive web connected offerings are among the best we've seen. We'd have liked an extra HDMI port and a more consistent backlight, but all in it's an impressive set that, if used to its full potential, can bring a lot of fresh content and extra functionality to your TV living room space..review-line.JPG

4/5

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ps3-3d-tv-top.jpgAfter years of pushing it as one of their major televisual technical innovations, Sony finally seem to be coming round to a fact that many home cinema enthusiasts have been espousing for years: we don't care about 3D TV.

Sales figures have long backed up a lack of consumer interest in 3D TVs (with the odd inflated figure likely coming down to a lack of high-end alternatives NOT featuring 3D tech), and now Sony Computer Entertainment's UK head Fergal Gara, speaking to Eurogamer, echoes the sentiment:

"Consumers decide how relevant [3D] is. It's fair to say consumers have decided it's not hugely important at this time," he said.

"Whether you look at movies or games, wearing the glasses and consuming 3D in that way in the home isn't hugely popular. That's just a fact. I haven't read detailed research on it, but the glasses will certainly be a big part of the hassle factor," he continued.

"In the home people tune in and tune out a bit, and doing that with glasses on and glancing at your tablet or pausing for a bit, compared to the cinema experience which is a solely focused experience, you know there is a difference emerging there."

But though Gara states there's still not much point holding out for glasses-free 3D TV (stating that Sony "haven't seen any killer technology" in the area), he still believes there's a future for 3D gaming:

"It may have a bigger life a little further down the line. It's great we can do it. It doesn't seem to be the most powerful USP at the moment, so you've seen us shift our effort onto fresh new exciting IP. I'm certainly really pleased to see the strength of that as we look into next year.

"We've seen a resurgence really with the strength of the output from the studio network."

Is that a hint towards a 3D gaming focus for the PS4? We certainly hope not, for the sake of our migraines. At the very least, Sony's AV attentions seem to be turning away from 3D, and if their IFA 4K TV showcase is anything to go by, that's a very good thing.

Via: Eurogamer

PREVIEW: Sony 84-inch 4K Bravia KD-84X9005 TV

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Sony-4K-IFA-2012-1.JPGreview-line.JPGIFA has traditionally been an AV showcase for the major brands, but with a shift towards mobile over the past few years, the 2012 Berlin tech extravaganza had fewer stand-out home cinema moments this year. Sony's 84-inch 4K Bravia KD-84X9005 TV was one such stand-out screen.

review-line.JPGA gigantic display, the screen doesn't take massive chances in terms of industrial design. Stood on a two-legged, practical chrome stand and with a sizeable bezel and thickness, it doesn't have the initial wow factor that, say, the LG OLED display touts.

But get a 4K feed into the new flagship Bravia and the screen comes to life. Boasting a resolution of 3840x2160, it's four times as sharp as a full HD 1080p display, pushing 8 million pixels to the viewer's eyes. Sony manages this with their new 4K X-Reality Pro processing engine, which delivers jaw-dropping visuals. Colours are bold and movement is handled in a fluid, natural way that's easy on the eyes. But it's the added detail that really impresses. Fine detail is pulled out of every inch of the screen, giving far more depth to images, particularly in busy landscape and natural scenes. A field full of long grass shimmers with the breeze, and if you push your nose right up to the screen you can pick out individual blades with barely a pixel seam in sight. It's stunning.Sony-4K-IFA-2012-5.JPGThe KD-84X9005 also benefits from having a pair of dedicated external speakers bolted onto either side. Noting that flatscreen TVs have woeful audio capabilities, Sony have gone for a practical solution by basically sticking two soundbars to the left and right of the screen. Each houses 5 individual "Live Speakers" for 50W of pseudo-5.1 surround sound. Even amidst the noisy bustle of Sony's IFA stand, we got a strong appreciation for the width of the soundstage (it helps to have those speakers a few feet apart thanks to the screen's size), as well as the resonant bass frequencies that are so often seriously inadequate on flat-screen displays.

Perhaps most impressively (and most importantly, considering the relative lack of native 4K footage currently available to consumers) was the screen's upscaling capabilities. We saw the 4K screen displaying the same 1080p landscape footage side-by-side with a previous Sony flagship standard HD screen of similar size, and were blown away by how well the new screen picked out extra detail in the older footage. Upscaling is not always a pretty sight, but the KD-84X9005 managed pleasantly sharp images that drew added depth from the lower-resolution source material, without too much added noise. The 4K X-Reality Pro really shows its chops here, meaning that even with little native 4K footage, you'll be able enjoy an improved image with your current catalogue of Blu-ray titles.
Sony-4K-IFA-2012-9.JPGIf there was one area where we were less impressed, it was with 3D footage. Using a passive system, the screen managed better brightness, less flicker and richer colours thanks to the 4K source than other top-tier 3D panels we have viewed. However, the sense of depth from The Amazing Spider-Man trailer Sony used to demo the 3D effect was reserved to the point of being unnoticeable. But, as some commentators have noted, this may easily be down to the subdued nature of the 3D effect in the source material, rather than being a flaw of the screen.

All in, Sony's KD-84X9005 4K 84-inch TV was very impressive. Tentatively priced at 25,000 Euros (or £19,805) this is very much out of the average consumer's league, but it bodes well for the 4K revolution as a whole. Give it a year or two and prices will come down to affordable realms, and there will also finally be enough 4K footage to justify such a screen. On the back of our brief time with the KD-84X9005, Sony are already one step ahead of the competition in the 4K field.

Click here for more news straight from the IFA 2012 technology show

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