So far from Samsung’s 2012 TV range we’ve been thoroughly impressed by the brand’s flagship ES8000 series, and pleased but not overwhelmed by a 46in model from the ES6800 series two steps down from the ES8000. So let’s now fill in the gap with a set from the ES7000 series, the 46in UE46ES7000. Will it lean more towards the quality of the ES8000 or the price-sensitive compromises of the ES6800?
On the price front the £1699 UE46ES7000 is £200 less than the equivalent ES8000 model. If you look back at our review of the Samsung UE46ES8000 you might be confused by this, as at the time we wrote that review we found a price for the set of under £1500. Now, though, you’ll struggle to find the UE46ES8000 going for less than £1899 unless you stumble upon a voucher or special short-term discount.
Obviously our first job needs to be finding out just what that £200 saving costs you in specification and feature terms. There’s an immediate aesthetic impact, as the UE46ES7000 replaces the metallic glimmer of the ES8000’s bezel with a black finish that isn’t quite as knock-your-socks-off glamorous as the silver of the ES8000s, and joins with a transparent outer trim in making the overall look feel a bit fussier. The UE46ES7000‘s ‘cross’ stand isn’t as dashing as the startling ‘Arch Flow’ of the ES8000s either.
But this all says more about the gorgeousness of the ES8000‘s design than it does about any actual ugliness in the UE46ES7000. In fact, by any normal measure the UE46ES7000 is a highly attractive TV.
The only other difference between the UE46ES7000 and the ES8000 series that stood out to us is the use by the cheaper model of a slightly lower level of micro-dimming processing; it only’ gets Micro Dimming Pro rather than the ES8000 series’ Micro Dimming Ultimate. This might not sound a big deal, but actually the ES8000s ability to assess and respond to incoming pictures faster and on a more localised level has the potential to have quite a profound impact on picture quality.
Unlike the cheaper UE46ES6800, the UE46ES7000 has a little bulge in its top edge containing a built-in camera - like you get with the ES8000 series. You also get the same accessories as the ES8000s, namely a second touchpad remote control; an IR blaster so the TV can change the channel of any Sky/Freeview/etc boxes you might have; and two pairs of 3D glasses.
The built-in camera, second remote and IR blaster all point towards the UE46ES7000 leaning more towards the ES8000 series than the ES6800. For they immediately indicate that the UES7000 features the same revolutionary alternative control systems - gesture, voice and touchpad - that made their debut on the ES8000 series.
We’ve covered these alternative controls in some depth before, so we won’t do so again here beyond saying that while waving and talking to their TV won’t appeal to everyone, both options can be genuinely helpful at times. For instance, the voice recognition system allows you to simply speak words into Web search fields, which is a vast improvement on trying to type stuff in via the TV’s remote. As for the gesture control, while concerns remain about its accuracy and potential for fatigue, it does enable you to use the TV without needing any physical remote control at all. Handy if you’re forever losing remotes down the sofa.
The trackpad remote isn’t entirely without its foibles, but at the same time it’s a far superior way of browsing web pages and Smart TV menus to a normal remote control.
The sense of just how close the UE46ES7000 is to the ES8000 series continues with its use of the same Ultra Clear Panel. This was not sported by the cheaper UE46ES6800, and we suspect this is the single biggest reason for that model’s pictures falling quite a bit short of the standards set by the ES8000 models.