Knowhow Movies, meanwhile, claims to deliver the latest films as soon as they come out on DVD, as well as some TV episodes, and carries thousands of titles in HD (accompanied by 5.1 surround on some platforms). Stuff on there when we looked included Wrath of the Titans, Dark Shadows, Snow White and The Huntsman, The Cabin in the Woods, Avengers Assemble, and The Hunger Games, with prices ranging from £3.99 to rent and £12.99 to buy. The interface for this new service is excellent, too.
Moving on to Digital Theatre, this is again an excellent addition to Samsung’s video service offering. It allows you to pay to view filmed performances of a strong range of past theatre productions, such as Simon Stephens’ adaptation of A Doll's House; the David Tenant Much Ado About Nothing production, and 2009’s critically acclaimed Parlour Song.
As for the BFI Player, this is a work in progress right now, in that it only currently shows interviews and backgrounders from the recent London Film Festival. But the service is apparently going to provide access to the BFI’s film archive, film lists, recommendations and wider interviews in the months to come.
The Samsung UE46ES5500’s picture features are solid for its money. It uses a full HD edge LED panel, and sports 100Hz processing for sharper, smoother motion reproduction. There’s a reasonable collection of picture adjustments for the set’s price too, including white balance fine tuning, gamma presets, a skin tone adjustment, a multi-level dynamic contrast system, and various noise filters. So far the Samsung UE46ES5500 is looking like a bargain of titanic proportions. And in some ways, at least, its pictures continue this impression.
Samsung has long understood what it takes to make pictures eye-catching, even on its more affordable TVs. So the Samsung UE46ES5500 immediately impresses with the boldness of its colours, its extremely punchy brightness levels, and an apparently strong contrast performance.
HD pictures look reasonably detailed and sharp too - not spectacularly so, perhaps, but enough to make sure you’re always fully aware that you’re watching HD.
After the initial attraction, though, you do start to spot a few cracks. For starters, it becomes apparent that as usual with Samsung, all of the provided picture presets make images too aggressive, with OTT brightness and contrast levels tending to push source noise to the fore as well as reducing colour subtlety and ‘whiting out’ the brightest parts of the picture so that you lose some greyscale information.
Reducing the Samsung UE46ES5500’s backlight to 11 or less and the contrast setting to around its 75-80 level quickly improves things dramatically, though - especially where noise levels and white ‘bleaching’ is concerned.