Although we've looked at other sizes in Samsung's ES7000 TV range already, the arrival of the 40in UE40ES7000 this late in the year has really piqued our interest. For it gives us the opportunity to look at this high-end set in the context of a season's worth of TVs from all the rival AV brands - a process that’s usually quite difficult to do with Samsung TVs as they tend to be the first out of the traps every year.
Aesthetically the UE40ES7000 still looks lovely, despite the appearance of strong aesthetic challengers from LG and Panasonic. Admittedly its dark frame isn't as stand-out cool as the metallic bezel on Samsung's flagship ES8000 models, but it still makes an impact on account of its slimness, its glass-like finish and its semi-translucent border. The only aesthetic bumnote is that the illuminated Samsung logo under the screen can look distractingly bright when you’re watching dark scenes.
The most interesting feature of the UE40ES8000's design is its built in camera, which juts out of the TV's top edge. When we first saw this it felt like a natural extension of a TV's functionality given the increasing use of Skype in people's living rooms. Plus, of course, it's essential to the use of Samsung's new gesture control system.
However, over time it's become clear that people aren't comfortable with the idea of a webcam constantly looking into their room, so this once-cool feature is perhaps looking in retrospect like an innovation too far.
The UE40ES7000's connectivity, meanwhile, is also looking a little outgunned now. All is well so far as multimedia uses are concerned, thanks to its three USBs (which can be used for recording from the built-in Freeview and Freesat HD tuners), built-in Wi-Fi and LAN networking port. But providing only three HDMIs feels a bit stingy on such a high-end set. Especially when you consider that some recent Philips TVs provide five.
The UE40ES7000's multimedia file compatibility is still up there with the best, though, and its Smart TV online platform remains arguably the best in the business. Nobody has yet attempted to deliver anything to rival Samsung's family network and fitness zones, and only LG has an interface as attractive and useful as Samsung's Smart Hub.
Samsung's Smart TV platform is also the most fulsomely populated, with literally hundreds of apps to explore. What's more, while it's still true that an unhealthy percentage of the available apps are so trivial and/or niche that they're more or less pointless, Samsung has certainly been busy recently adding to its video streaming proposition - the sort of smart TV resources we actually find ourselves using.
Among the highlights of what's on offer now are the ITV player, BBC iPlayer, LoveFilm, BBC Sport, Netflix, Acetrax, KnowHow, Curzon On Demand, PictureBox, Digital Theatre, Flux player, BBC News, YouTube, BFI player, VIMEO, and Dailymotion.