At this point we realise that we’ve done this Samsung UE46ES8000 review back to front, focusing on picture quality ahead of features. But it seemed daft to interrupt the flow of things after starting out discussing the picture presets.
In any case, we’ve covered the features of the Samsung UE46ES8000 already in some depth within our review of the Samsung UE55ES8000, along with our exploration of the new voice, touchpad remote and gesture control systems the Korean brand has introduced for its top-tier 2012 TVs.
So keeping things brief here, the UE46ES8000’s four big feature leaps for 2012 go like this: a dual-core processor for enhanced picture processing and enhanced Smart TV functionality; a higher-resolution Smart TV interface; new Smart TV content including Netflix and a trio of new ‘zones’ based around fitness, kid’s entertainment and a closed family/friend photo and message sharing network; and a new Smart Control system that combines gesture and voice controls with both a normal remote and an included alternative remote equipped with a touchpad for web-friendly cursor control.
During our assessment of the UE55ES8000 and the separate feature on the new control system, we concluded that while we broadly loved the voice controls and touchpad remote, we didn’t get on with the gesture controls at all. However, having revisited Samsung’s control suite on the UE46ES8000, it’s become clear that the brand has improved the gesture control system from the UE55ES8000 we tested. The system responds more quickly and accurately to hand gestures, and crucially it’s now much better at distinguishing between hand and head movements, so that it never triggered accidentally even once during our tests.
It also occurred to us for the first time that the gesture control system could come in very handy should you be unable to find your remote control, or you can’t be bothered to go and get it from the other side of the room. For in essence, the gesture control system allows you to control the TV without needing a physical remote at all - a genuinely revolutionary step that we can imagine proving at least occasionally very useful in normal life (rather than test lab) conditions.
Problems remain with the gesture control system. It’s still fiddly to move your hand accurately enough to get in position to select small text links on Web pages. And more guidance while setting the feature up would be greatly appreciated. But the latest iteration of the gesture control system is certainly an improvement, and as such is now something that can be genuinely handy (pun intended) on occasion.
The Samsung UE46ES8000 is at heart a quite brilliant TV. It does its best to hide its potential behind some unhelpful - to say the least - picture presets, but provided you spend just a couple of minutes to work round those, it’s capable of giving you some stellar pictures in both 2D and 3D mode.
It also sets new standards with both its Smart Control systems and its latest Smart TV online system, and happens to be one of the most attractive TVs ever too. In short, once you’ve learned to work round its little idiosyncracies, it’s a TV that’s extremely easy to fall in love with.