It’s also much easier to appreciate the quality of colour reproduction from the Samsung UE46ES8000 once you’ve adjusted it from its presets to more subdued picture settings. For while bright scenes might not look quite so punchy and dramatic as they do using the presets, you can pick out more readily subtle shifts in colour tone, which helps pictures look more realistic and less flat and cartoony.
HD pictures still look extremely detailed and sharp with the toned down settings too. The only difference is that textures and crisp edges look natural rather than forced and over-pushed. Just make sure, though, that the TV’s noise reduction routines are turned off for HD viewing, for these are more likely to cause softness and even image lag than do anything positive for HD pictures.
Another processing feature that needs to be treated with care is the Motion Plus system. Designed to reduce judder and blur, it comes with various ‘strength’ settings, of which only the least powerful Clear mode really works for us. The others tend to leave the picture looking rather processed and unnatural - though kudos to Samsung for allowing you to manually adjust the strength of the processing’s individual judder and blur components.
Mind you, once the TV has warmed up for a few moments it’s actually pretty free of motion blur and judder anyway.
The UD46ES8000 impresses, too, with its standard definition upscaling. The powerful, high-speed processing made possible by the set’s dual-core engine help it do a really sterling job of making standard definition images look sharp and detailed. Yet crucially this is achieved at the same time that source noise is identified and removed with at times uncanny accuracy.
The last picture element to cover is, of course, 3D. And here again for the most part the UE46ES8000 is a startling success. For starters, 3D pictures look exceptionally bright and colourful despite the active shuttering effect of the single pair of glasses you get free with the TV. In fact, they’re for our money the brightest and most richly saturated active 3D pictures we’ve yet seen from any TV.
Even better, they’re also almost completely free of the dreaded crosstalk noise. We tried out all of our favourite crosstalk-inducing 3D scenes, and the UE46ES8000 survived them all almost completely intact. This - along with some surprisingly effective motion processing you can use in 3D mode - leaves you free to enjoy all the detail and sharpness that defines Full HD active shutter technology, and makes 3D viewing much less tiring than it is on screens which suffer badly with crosstalk.
Actually, so impressive is the UE46D8000’s crosstalk performance that we’d go so far as to say it delivers our favourite active 3D picture performance to date, outgunning even Panasonic’s 2011 3D plasmas on account of the Samsung’s extra brightness and ability to resolve detail and colours in dark 3D areas.
It’s worth adding that we’ve heard reports of some people suffering with crosstalk on the UE46ES8000. But try as we might, we just couldn’t replicate this for ourselves. In fact, our only bugbear with 3D viewing is that you can sometimes see a little backlight inconsistency, on account of the panel having to be driven harder to compensate for the active 3D dimming effect.