Having sorted out all these initial set up problems as best you can, though, the UE40ES7000's pictures become very impressive. Black levels now look really pretty impressive; consistent across the screen, and relatively undamaged by the sort of grey or blue undertone in evidence if the backlight is too high.
It's also nice not to see the sort of light 'squares' you get with some edge LED TVs - most notably those LG's LM660T series and above, plus Panasonic's WT50 series - that use local dimming.
The UE40ES7000 impresses, too, with its colours. They're exceptionally punchy and dynamic, still look natural for the vast majority of the time, and also enjoy that subtlety of tone and blend that we always look for on premium sets. Some tones look a touch cool during dark scenes, perhaps, but this issue doesn't crop up often, at least once you've reduced the backlight to a sensible level.
Also excellent is the sharpness of the UE40ES7000's pictures. The set resolves all the fine details of good HD sources with aplomb so long as you haven't got any noise reduction active, yet it also doesn't leave sharp pictures looking too gritty or grainy (so long as you don't use any of the set's sharpness-boosting processing).
Playing a part in the image's sharpness, too, is the screen's impressive motion handling. The 200Hz screen's native response time seems fast enough in itself to keep LCD's common resolution loss issues to a minimum, while the Motion Plus processing system Samsung provides can help keep judder down too - though we wouldn't generally recommend using this on anything higher than its relatively tame Clear level.
There is, though, one notable problem with the UE40ES7000's mostly impressive post-calibration 2D pictures, namely a slight lack of brightness - especially when considered against the locally dimmed punchiness of Sony's similarly priced 40HX853. Samsung currently only uses local dimming on its hugely expensive new 9000 series (look for a review soon), sticking with macro dimming on the UE40ES7000. Though to be clear, actually Samsung’s macro dimming system is arguably the best of its sort, aside perhaps from the version used on the recent Philips 46PFL8007.
Although we try to live mostly HD lives these days, it’s still difficult to totally avoid standard def. So it’s nice to find that the UE40ES7000 is very handy with SD material, adding sharpness and detail as it converts such sources to its full HD native resolution while simultaneously picking out and removing source noise. Colours survive the upscaling process reasonably intact, too.
Donning one of the two pairs of 3D glasses you get free with the UE40ES7000 quickly reminds us of just how far Samsung has come with its 3D experience. The set’s 3D images are consistently distinguished from those of many other 3D TVs by their sharpness, HD detail levels, bold yet also natural colours, motion handling, brightness and contrast. Many of these strengths, moreover, help the UE40ES7000 produce an excellent sense of depth and 3D space, even during dark scenes.
There are a couple of niggles, though. First, while the set generally suppresses crosstalk well, you can see whitish ‘shadows’ around some objects in the mid and far distance. This is much less distracting than the darker, more colour-imbued ghosting that normally constitutes crosstalk on 3D TVs, though.
The other issue is that since the TV needs to work harder in 3D mode to counter the dimming effect of the glasses, during very dark sequences you can see subtle jets of light shooting into the screen from its corners. You can remove these by reducing the set’s brightness, but you’ll probably be reluctant to do this given that you’ve already lost brightness via the glasses.
For the vast majority of the time, though, the UE40ES7000 produces a 3D picture that still looks excellent even in the context of all the other 3D TVs we’ve seen over the year.
The UE40ES7000 also works superbly as a gaming screen, since so long as you activate its Game picture preset (oddly buried away in the TV’s General system menu) it turns in a pleasingly low input lag figure of around 33ms.
Sonically the UE40ES7000 is too slim to produce a truly meaty, grunty audio performance of the sort demanded by a good action movie sequence. But it sounds pretty clear and detailed within the confines of its rather limited dynamic range, so while action scenes sound a bit thin, most other ‘day to day’ content sounds perfectly adequate.
The latest TVs from Sony and to a lesser extent Philips may have given Samsung a few things to think about for 2013. But even coming to the UE40ES7000 after seeing these new kids on the block, after a little calibration work it holds up very well in both feature and picture quality terms.