The onscreen displays have also been given a lick of paint since last year’s models, and the redesign is a revelation. There are few menu systems, aside from Sony’s perhaps, that look this good yet operate with the same level of slickness. Samsung has brought in a new main menu that retains everything that was great about last year’s menu system – bright, welcoming colours, animated icons, clear legible text – but makes it feel a little less cluttered. Losing the ‘recommended apps’ along the top has helped to achieve this.
The use of animated icons captures a sense of what the function offers, while each one is descriptively labelled – My Devices, Watch TV etc. This simplicity carries over into the setup menu, whose comprehensive range of adjustments is displayed with chunky text, an appealing blue colour scheme and a lovely ‘glowing’ aura around the cursor.
What’s more, network setup has been made easier than ever before, thanks to a simplified setup wizard that uses crisp, full colour graphics and clearly-presented options down the left-hand side. It’s also great to see that 3D playback requires no complex setup.
The DLNA media streaming displays are laid out in a similarly jazzy fashion, with files arranged into clearly labelled folders.
As for Freeview operation, the onscreen displays are terrific – friendly, modern and easy to understand, with attractive colours and cute icons. The Freeview EPG is a great example of this, squeezing in the live TV screen, programme synopsis, six-channel programme grid and list of options at the bottom without feeling cluttered.
It’s also easy to set series link due to Samsung’s clear, plain English dialogue boxes, plus it’s good to see that you can use the onscreen banner to look ahead in the schedule without having to wade through the full EPG.
It’s not all good news though. Most of the digital TV menus and the main menu are strangely sluggish to operate, with an off-putting delay when any button is pushed. The Recorded TV menu is also a bit unclear, and certain functions seem long-winded, particularly editing – you have to enter the ‘edit mode’, select the programme and then select ‘Edit’ from the Tools menu. It’s the sort of stuff you’ll get used to after prolonged use, but it’s not entirely intuitive.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the look and layout of the remote, but that’s definitely a good thing. Although busy, the chunky buttons and thumb-friendly arrangement don’t require any brain power to master. Buttons have been added for direct access to the new functions, such as Smart Hub and 2D-to-3D conversion.