Hot on the heels of one Samsung TV bargain - the recently reviewed Samsung UE32EH5000 - here’s another. At the time of writing we’ve found the 46-inch Samsung UE46ES5500 on sale for as little as £689. This would be an eye-catching price for a bog-standard, no-frills 46-inch TV, but the Samsung UE46ES5500 boasts a trendily thin design and Samsung’s latest Smart TV online platform.
The question has to be whether Samsung has been able to deliver any serious picture quality to accompany the UE46ES5500’s price and feature attractions.
Looking at the Samsung UE46ES5500 design and it is fair to say that it’s nicer in the ‘flesh’ than it looks in photos. The transparent outer trim contrasts nicely with the glossy black of the main bezel, and the way the trim wraps around the set’s edges is also an unusual but appealing touch. The set’s edges angle slightly back too, increasing the elegant impression.
Rather less elegantly designed are the Samsung UE46ES5500’s connections. Surprisingly, many of them stick straight out of the TV’s rear rather than being accessed from the side, making the set a potentially tricky wall-mounting option.
The connections are reasonably plentiful though, delivering highlights of three HDMIs, two USBs, a D-Sub PC input and a LAN port. The set is also Wi-Fi capable, though only if you add an optional USB dongle.
Investigating some of these connections in more detail, it transpires that the HDMIs do not support 3D inputs. For the simple reason that the TV does not support 3D playback. This is the most significant compromise Samsung has made in order to make the UE46ES5500 so affordable.
The USBs, meanwhile, support playback of a mix of photo, video and music files, and can be used for time shifting from the built-in Freeview HD tuner. The LAN is probably the most interesting connection, though, for as well as enabling you to stream multimedia files from a connected DLNA PC, as noted earlier it lets you access the wealth of content contained on Samsung’s latest Smart TV service.
This service has been covered extensively in previous reviews of Samsung’s 2012 TVs, so we hadn’t intended to devote much time to it again here other than stressing just what an attractive and logical HD interface the system uses, and pointing out how content-rich it is. However, as we checked through the service during our tests, we spotted a surprisingly long list of new additions that seemed worthy of coverage.
Particularly of interest were new Curzon on Demand, Knowhow Movies, Digital Theatre, and BFI Player apps. We’ll go through these in a moment, but it’s worth quickly listing the other established video services these newcomers join: ITV Player, LoveFilm, YouTube, Netflix, BBC iPlayer, BBC Sport, Picture Box, Fitness VOD, Vimeo, Muzu.tv, DailyMotion, and a Berliner Philharmoniker feed.
Curzon on Demand turns out to be a terrific addition to Samsung’s offering. It focuses on arthouse films such as Aki Kourismaki's Le Havre, Lars Von Trier’s excellent Melancholia, and Holy Motors, with prices starting from £2 and going up to £10 for the latest releases.