Thankfully it isn’t a massively hard job at all to get pictures looking far better. Essentially you just need to ramp the backlight right down - we go as low as six, especially for watching films in a dark room - while also making sure the contrast is no higher than 80, or a bit lower if you can take it.
We also strongly recommend that you turn off all noise reduction circuitry when watching HD, and handle Samsung’s motion processing with care, only using it on either its Clear setting or, preferably, its Manual mode with judder and blur reduction set to around their ‘three’ level.
Change it up
We’d also recommend a warm colour temperature setting and nudging the colour saturation setting a point or two lower than its default - though these latter two changes are much more ‘optional’ than the others.
We don’t usually like to dictate settings on TVs like we have here, as we generally believe you should have the choice to use whatever settings suit your individual tastes the most. But the UE46ES7000’s presets really leave us no choice! Hopefully Samsung will address this actually very easily fixed issue with at least a couple of the presets on its 2013 TVs.
Anyway, the good news is that with the preset problems addressed, the UE46ES7000’s pictures are mostly great. For instance, colours contain much more nuancing without losing anywhere near as much dynamism and vibrancy as you might have expected from taking so much heat out of the backlight.
Post calibration black levels are excellent by edge LED standards too, with less of the grey mist effect than you usually see with such technology. Yet dark scenes also contain more colour punch, white brightness and shadow detail than LCD TVs with good black levels tend to produce.
Motion is handled very ably too. Even without any motion processing in play there’s minimal blur or resolution loss over moving objects - less, certainly, than we saw with the ES6800 model. But you can activate the lower reaches of Samsung’s motion processing too to reduce judder and boost clarity even more without it making pictures look messy or over-processed.
It’s great to see, as well, that the UE46ES7000’s pictures still look decently sharp when showing all the but most low-quality of standard definition sources, and that unlike many rival LCD TVs, colours tend to retain their vibrancy during the switch from HD to standard def.
Happily the UE46ES7000’s mostly excellent 2D pictures are joined by a very tasty 3D performance too. Particularly impressive is how well the set handles the dreaded crosstalk ghosting problem associated with active 3D technology. Once a significant issue with Samsung 3D TVs, and actually quite a problem on the UE46ES6800 model we tested, it only appears in any really noticeable way on the UE46ES7000 on extremely rare occasions.
This is despite the UE46ES7000’s 3D pictures looking much brighter and more richly saturated than those of the vast majority of rival active 3Ds - a handy fact which also helps the TV deliver a more potent sense of depth, and helps underline just how detailed and ‘HD’ feeds from 3D Blu-rays look.
The only significant problem is that the need for the screen to work harder to overcome the dimming effect of the shuttering 3D glasses means you can sometimes see jets of backlight consistency in the image’s corners when watching dark scenes. Keep the backlight to around its 14 setting, though, and you can greatly reduce the impact of this problem.
If you’re a gamer, you’ll be pleased to hear that as well as producing your HD games with excellent contrast and sharpness, the UE46ES7000 only suffers around 34ms of input lag - provided you manage to track down the Game picture preset hidden away in the TV’s system menu.
Sonically the UE46ES7000 is more or less average. Precious few TVs with so little bodywork to play with manage to deliver much bass or a really dynamic mid range, and Samsung’s set is no different. It does handle voices quite cleanly though, injects quite a bit of treble life into proceedings, and seldom sounds harsh or ‘boxed in’.
The UE46ES7000 is overall a finely judged step-down model from the ES8000 series, in that it still gives you a huge feature list and some often outstanding picture quality while leaving the equivalent ES8000 model with enough picture quality wiggle room to justify its extra cost.
Sony has provided some seductive competition this year with the outstanding picture quality of its 46HX853, but the UE46ES7000’s more cutting edge design and features will still undoubtedly - and deservedly - find it a large fanbase.