Samsung has apparently had to work hard with the UE46C8000 to get its LED/LCD technology up to handling the extremely fast frame rates associated with HD 3D sources. It’s a 200Hz screen, for a start; in fact, thanks to a scanning backlight Samsung could easily have called it a 400Hz model had it felt comfortable in following the same ‘optimistic’ labelling system used by one or two rival brands.
Samsung has also developed a faster crystal address technology to help the screen respond fast enough to keep up with the active shutter 3D system, and has introduced blank frame technology to its 3D transmission system to try and make the screen and glasses sync up as effectively as possible.
The UE46C8000 also goes big on picture adjustment options, with the most impressive highlights from a fine-tuning point of view being noise reduction routines; offset and gain adjustments for the red, green and blue colour elements; a 10-point white balance adjustment; and even an option for activating a local dimming tool that can activate separately different sections of the edge LED lighting. We didn’t like this option much, as it sometimes produced obvious ‘squares’ of backlight inconsistency. But we’d suggest you at least experiment with it yourself to see if you’re as bothered by the ‘squaring’ problem as we were.
The main pities of the UE46C8000’s set-up situation are that the colour management tools don’t go a touch further, and that Samsung hasn’t followed the lead of its Korean rival LG in seeking endorsement from the Imaging Science Foundation.
Turning to the UE46C8000’s picture performance, as with its 55in sibling it’s mostly terrific. Colours, for instance, radiate with startlingly intensity and striking cross-screen consistency, to an extent that you feel shouldn’t really be possible with edge-LED technology.
What’s more, this consistency of lighting is retained surprisingly well during very dark scenes, with only the faintest sign of the sort of pools of inconsistent brightness that stood out so much on last year’s 55in Samsung LED models. You can make the patches appear if you leave the brightness/backlight settings too high, but this also damages the contrast and general naturalism of the picture, so hopefully you won’t be tempted to do it!
The colours look credible as well as intense, meanwhile, with believable tones and bags of subtlety when it comes to blends and small tonal differentials. The picture is extremely bright too, yet unusually the UE46C8000’s aggressive approach to pictures doesn’t lead to the exaggeration of video noise. In fact, its performance with standard definition is one of the best we’ve seen, as the set’s upscaling processing adds enough detail to make pictures look sharp while simultaneously being astute enough to recognise source noise and try and take it out.
Not surprisingly, though, it’s with HD that the set really shines. HD images look blisteringly sharp and detailed - a fact which really rams home, too, just how accomplished the UE46C8000’s motion handling circuitry is. There’s practically no judder at all if you use the motion processing carefully, and LCD’s common motion blur issue is also more or less totally removed - factors which have a significant impact on 3D playback, too, helping it look crisp and fluid without looking processed or unnatural.