The extreme brightness and colour response noted during 3D viewing is even more startling with 2D. In fact, the aggression of the UE46D8000’s pictures is actually too intense if you don’t tame the picture presets.
But the fact is that the UE46D8000 is amply capable of producing realistic and subtle colours, as well as very well considered levels of brightness if you don’t mind putting a little work in to get things to where they need to be. And actually, we’d much rather be in a position of calibrating ‘down’ from extreme brightness and colour saturation levels than trying to force colour and brightness into a picture that doesn’t innately have them.
All this talk of brightness and rich colours would be horribly undermined, of course, if pictures didn’t also enjoy a decent contrast performance. But actually the UE46D8000’s contrast performance is far more than decent; it’s outstanding by edge LED standards. With the backlight level set to a sensible level, black picture elements are barely affected at all by the sort of grey ‘wash’ still common to some extent on flat TVs. Even better, although there is inevitably some backlight clouding, in our opinion it’s low level, and so counts as a small price to pay for the strengths so abundantly evident elsewhere.
HD pictures on the UE46D8000 are boosted further by the set’s intense sharpness, which delineates the advantages of HD over standard definition with a relish seldom seen before. What’s more, this sharpness remains more or less intact when images contain lots of motion, even if you don’t use Samsung’s provided motion processing tools. In fact, we personally wouldn’t recommend that you do use the motion processing unless, perhaps, you go for its lowest-power ‘Clear’ mode.
Don’t think from our mention of how strongly the UE46D8000 renders the HD advantage that the set isn’t accomplished with standard definition. On the contrary, its upscaling engine is possibly the best in the mainstream TV world right now, thanks to the way it manages to add sharpness and detail to standard definition images while simultaneously reducing source noise.
If you're a gamer, meanwhile, you'll be interested to hear that we measured input lag on the UE46D8000 to be a shade under 35ms using the set's Game mode - a respectable if not outstanding result that shouldn't cause typical gamers any consistent problems.
Joining the UE46D8000’s often sensational pictures is a passable audio performance. There’s a reasonably open mid-range, and good levels of treble clarity. But bass is negligible, and during loud action scenes the soundstage quickly starts to sound compressed. But really it’s hard to see how Samsung could have done much more with so little physical bodywork to work with.
While the UE46D8000 isn’t without its problems – its 3D crosstalk, its average sonics, its minor backlight inconsistencies, its over-aggressive presets and the fact that it costs £100 than the identically specified but slightly less glamorous looking UE46D7000 – it’s still a genuine design classic and, more importantly, it’s a joy to watch for the vast majority of your viewing time.