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Samsung UE46ES8000 review

John Archer



  • Recommended by TR
Samsung UE46ES8000


Our Score


User Score


  • Eye-popping design
  • Exceptional feature count
  • Excellent 3D and 2D performance


  • The gesture control system could be better
  • Occasional backlight bleed, especially with 3D
  • Picture presets are poor

Review Price £1,487.92

Key Features: 46in LCD TV with edge LED lighting; Active 3D playback; New Smart TV platform; Built-in camera and Wi-Fi; Voice and gesture control systems

Manufacturer: Samsung

There’s a huge amount of good news to report about the Samsung UE46ES8000. It's a fantastic-looking 46in LCD TV with great picture quality and oodles of features. But we’re going to start off this review with a moan, for it’s yet another Samsung TV that sells itself short out of the box with its crazy default picture presets.

None of the four main picture presets provided get even close to delivering a really satisfying all-round picture - or rather, a picture that actually shows Samsung’s LCD panels off to their best advantage. Even the Movie preset on the Samsung UE46ES8000 uses backlight and contrast settings that are far too high. And as always, driving these two key picture components too aggressively reduces black level response, increases incidences of backlight inconsistency, makes colours look over-aggressive, and exaggerates source picture noise.

Presumably, Samsung favours its aggressive presets because it wants to make its pictures look vivid, bright and bold. But while this might show off one dimension of the brand’s LCD panel talents, it sells them seriously short in other ways. Certainly if you’re a movie fan like we are, basing picture settings around such aggressive presets means the whole picture tone is built on a fundamentally flawed foundation.

Samsung UE46ES8000

This all looks even more inexplicable given that the Samsung UE46ES8000 has separate Shop (for displaying in high street retailers) and Home modes. Hmm. Not for the first time it occurs to us that it might benefit Samsung to follow the lead of its Korean rival, LG, and seek the endorsement of the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) so that it’s better equipped to cater for the tastes of hardcore AV enthusiasts.

It might seem like we’re labouring the point a bit here, but it’s a simple fact that the vast majority of people who buy a TV never look beyond its picture presets. Which means that arguably most people who buy a Samsung TV don’t ever get the best out of it. And that can’t be good for either consumers or Samsung.

The good news, thankfully, is that provided you’re not afraid to make some actually very straightforward adjustments to the picture settings yourself, you can transform the Samsung’s performance in an instant. Seriously, all you have to do is reduce the backlight to somewhere between its 6 and 8 setting, and get the contrast down to somewhere around 70-75 percent, and suddenly you can truly see the goodies the panel is capable of delivering.

While working out these settings it did occur to us that it would be nice if Samsung provided more backlight options than the 20 steps currently on offer, to allow you for more subtle adjustments. But even using the values described above you suddenly find that the picture enjoys much deeper, richer black colours with minimal shadow detail crushing; suffers only marginally with backlight consistency problems; and enjoys a more subtle, expressive colour range.

Samsung UE46ES8000

In short pictures go from being intense-but-flawed to subtle, believable and far more immersive/less distracting. This means, too, that you’re better able to appreciate all the other things the UE46ES8000 gets right in picture terms.

For instance, the TV sports a clearly much improved dynamic contrast system, over last year’s Samsung models, due, we presume, to the TV’s introduction of dual-core processing. This enables the TV to study twice as many segments of the picture as last year’s equivalent models. This more localised picture assessment means that the TV’s impressive black levels depths can be accompanied within the same frame by bolder, brighter light elements than you got with last year’s panels.

We’ve seen suggestions that the Samsung ES8000’s contrast performance is actually worse than that of the D8000 series, but this doesn’t ring true to us. For while just sticking a contrast measurement device on the screen might deliver a reduced result, the much more accurate application of the TV’s dynamic contrast controls means that in truth, the minute by minute contrast performance of the screen strikes your eye as being much better than last year’s models. A fact that’s easily confirmed by looking at the UE46ES8000 side by side with a D8000.

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April 5, 2012, 12:34 am

Thanks for the review, but did you forget to test the input lag?


April 5, 2012, 2:24 am

Great review of a TV I'm really interested in. As a gamer I must ask: do you by any chance have measured input lag on this set?


April 5, 2012, 6:58 am

Input lag for gaming?
You should always include that in a TV review.


April 6, 2012, 5:06 am

Alongside the other posters asking about the input lag specs I'd also like to know where TR found the set going for £1,488? I can find it at no lower than £1895.


April 20, 2012, 12:47 pm

I have the 40" model, Which setting did you alter the back light and contrast settings on? I am watching the STANDARD option.
Does this TV have 400 hz refresh rate as mine always only shows 50i?
Finally, when anyone is wearing a stripped top the picture goes mad and badly blurs when the person moves. What setting do I need to adjust to correct this?


May 2, 2012, 8:11 am

There is no way this TV deserves a 9!

I have been through 4 of these models. All 4 have had pretty much the same issues. The main issue is the 240hz on this model sucks! My last years D8000 has a way better picture than all 4 of these models I have had. I see some amazing reviews from others that bought this TV that rate it Excellent so thats why I didn't give up but I can't keep returning TV's.

I would be happy if this TV had the same picture as my D8000 does at least! It should have an even better picture from what Samsung was going around saying at CES this year. Im not too concerned about the motion/gesture controls, I just want an amazing picture!

Right now, In order to get a decent pic, I have to keep the backlight on 5 and my brightness on 30 otherwise, the picture looks washed out and has horrible black levels, but there are like artifacts all over and i still get judder even with the motion control turned on "Smooth" This TV really sucks compared to last year!

I hope you guys see what I see. I can't imagine I recived 4 defective TV's in a row.

I recommend everyone stay away from this TV right now!

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