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Samsung Series 8 UE46B8000 - 46in LCD TV - Samsung Series 8 UE46B8000
With my initial black level issues - and concerns about the edge-based LED system - finally seen off in fine style, it's finally time to turn to other aspects of the UE46B8000's pictures. And, once again, it delivers the goods in mostly stunning fashion.
Its Full HD resolution, for instance, is put to grandstanding use in reproducing HD pictures with mesmerising amounts of fine detail and texture. Yet, provided you avoid the overwrought Edge Enhancement option, it produces its sensational detailing without making the images look gritty or harsher than they should.
Image sharpness is bolstered, too, by some really impressive motion handling. Panning around the game environment in Dead Space, for instance, reveals markedly less judder and blurring than we tend to see with standard LCD TVs - even though no 200Hz is in play with the Game mode active.
I'd certainly recommend using 200Hz for movie viewing, though. For it proves extremely adept at reducing both motion blur and judder - even with 24p sources. Just make sure you stick with the ‘Clear' 200Hz sub-option, as picking the Smooth or Standard 200Hz presets invariably results in a few too many processing glitches, such as flickering over really fast motion, or shimmering halos around slower, larger portions of movement.
It's also worth experimenting with the thoughtful ‘custom' 200Hz setting, which allows you to adjust the processing's impact on blur and judder to suit your own tastes, using simple sliding scale interfaces.
The UE46B8000 also does a great job with colours. The range, naturalism and subtlety of its colour palette goes some way beyond what most non-LED LCD TVs can produce, with perfect, stripe-free colour blends, credible and consistent skin tones, and no apparent taste for ‘pushing' any particularly primary colour ahead of the rest.
Yet more good news finds the UE46B8000 handling standard definition sources really very well. Extra details are added during the upscaling process without unduly emphasising any source noise, while colours retain their natural tones rather than some tones sliding off key as so often happens during the rescaling process. Again, though, I'd recommend that you use the HDMI Level Low setting while watching a Sky receiver.
This impressive standard definition state of affairs is actually a slightly unexpected discovery given that other Full HD Samsung flat TVs generally only rate as solid in the standard definition department. Not that I'm not complaining.
My only complaints with the UE46B8000's pictures, in fact, once I'd worked past the daft preset situation, would be that their post-calibration brightness levels aren't particularly high and that patches of subtle backlight inconsistency can creep into the image's edges if you have to watch the TV from much of an angle.
Turning to the set's sound production, I wasn't particularly impressed. As with many of Samsung's recent flat TV output, there's nowhere near enough bass around to do movies proud, leaving action scenes and thumping scores sounding thin and unconvincing. This lack of bass also leaves trebles sometimes sounding a bit over-emphasised and harsh. The TV's mid-range is, at least, open enough not to sound crowded during 90 per cent of your TV viewing.
Despite initial concerns that the UE46B8000's edge-based LED lighting might heavily compromise the TV's picture quality in the name of nothing more substantial than a little extra design slimness, as well as another set of dismal image presets, this is a TV to be reckoned with.
Indeed, after a bit of initial recalibration and in the right room conditions, its pictures actually seem to back up Samsung's claims that edge-based LED lighting is potentially a superior picture quality technology to direct RGB LED lighting. And I don't mind admitting that nobody could be more surprised about that than me.