Samsung always likes to kick off each new TV season by rolling out its big guns; its biggest flagship models, complete with all the designer looks and cutting edge features the Korean brand can muster. But while these sets might be great for establishing Samsung’s brand image, when it comes to cold, hard sales it’s usually the models a couple of steps down Samsung’s range that the majority of punters want to get their hands on. Models like, in other words, the Samsung UE46ES6800 we’re looking at today.
This 46in model belongs two steps below the previous tested ES8000 models, and as such makes its charms available for a cool £500 less than the UE46ES8000. This clearly makes the UE46ES6800 a more mass market proposition. But it also inevitably raises questions of just how many features might have been sacrificed to make such a price drop possible.
The first difference hits you as soon as you take the UE46ES6800 out of the box. For in place of the ‘barely there’ silver bezel of the ES8000 sets, you get a wider black bezel, offset by 3-4mm of transparent outer trim. The UE46ES6800 also uses a cross-shaped stand design instead of the eye-catching ‘arch’ of the ES8000s. While this all means that the UE46ES6800‘s design isn’t as ‘sci-fi’ as that of the ES8000s, though, it’s still very attractive.
Connections are more or less as strong as those of the ES8000 series though, and include three HDMIs, three USBs, a D-Sub PC port, both satellite and terrestrial RF inputs, and both LAN and built-in Wi-Fi options for accessing either DLNA PCs or Samsung’s Smart TV online service via your broadband router.
The HDMIs are all v1.4 in spec to cope with full HD 3D inputs, while the USBs can be used for playing back a wide array of video, music and photo file formats, or for recording to USB HDD from the set’s tuners. The satellite tuner is quite unusual in that it actually supports the Freesat HD platform.
The Samsung UE46ES6800’s online features appear to be the same as those of the UE46ES8000 (more on these later), though one key difference finds the UE46ES6800 lacking the built-in camera found on the ES8000s. This means you’ll have to add an optional external camera if you want to use Skype or some of the set’s Family Zone features via your TV.
No Gesture Control
The lack of a camera also means that the UE46ES6800 doesn’t offer the groundbreaking gesture control functionality sported by Samsung’s higher-end models. Some will find this no big deal given that we haven’t wholly seen eye to eye with this gesture control system so far. But not being able to control your TV by hand movements does mean that unlike the ES8000s, you can no longer operate the Samsung UE46ES6800 without needing a physical handset.
The UE46ES6800 also ships without the second, touchpad remote control found with the ES8000 models, and furthermore can’t be controlled via your voice unlike the ES8000 models. Basically, with the UE46ES6800 you get a revamped but still fairly typical remote control and that’s it.
More differences between the UE46ES6800 and Samsung’s flagship TVs materialise as you delve through their feature lists. For starters, unlike the ES8000s, the UE46ES6800 doesn’t use one of Samsung’s top-line Ultra Clear Panel designs. It also offers a Clear Motion Rate of 400Hz versus the 800Hz of the ES8000s, meaning we’ll need to be on the look out for potential motion flaws.
Next, while the Samsung UE46ES6800 does enjoy a level of micro dimming when automatically calculating the best picture settings to use at any given moment, the amount of picture areas assessed by the dimming processing isn’t as high and therefore accurate as it is with the ES8000 series.
Wrapping up the important differences, the UE46ES6800 can't be upgraded with a 'Smart Evolution' pack like the ES8000s can, and lacks the 3D audio system of its flagship sibling. The cheaper model does, though, also have a couple of smallish advantages of its own, namely slightly reduced power consumption, and the ability to swivel around on its stand.