In our recent review of the Samsung UE40ES7000, meanwhile, we also took a retrospective look at the gesture and voice controls that Samsung has been so proud of this year. And decided that for the most part we were happy to live without them. Actually, since with the Samsung UE75ES9000 you have to walk over to the TV and manually pop the camera up when you want to use it (unless you’re happy to leave it up all the time), we can imagine many households not using the voice and gesture control features at all.
We should add here, though, that the camera does offer face recognition, so that the TV can automatically tell who’s using it and open up their own personal accounts for such features as the online ‘Fitness Zone’ and Family Zone network. This is slightly useful (in that it saves you a few seconds of manual selection time), though it’s hardly an indispensable tool.
The key point about all this sort of stuff, it seems to us, is that we just don’t really see TVs being used in such an active way. TVs have always been passive forms of entertainment, and with so many phone/tablet/computer options now available to satisfy people’s ‘active’ needs, we don’t see a normal household’s relationship with their TV changing that much. Which is why we generally only get excited by video streaming services where online TV services are concerned.
One last ‘Smart’ feature of the Samsung UE75ES9000 worth mentioning is its support of Samsung’s Smart Evolution system, whereby you can update your TV with new processing power and features via slot-in Smart Evolution Kits. These upgrade modules are supposed to go on sale in 2013.
A screen as big and expensive as the Samsung UE75ES9000 clearly needs to have some pretty uncompromising picture technology inside it. So it’s good to find the Samsung UE75ES9000 sporting both the top level of Samsung’s Micro Dimming Ultimate system (which breaks the picture down into small segments for more accurate analysis), and Samsung’s 800CMR processing, which combines a scanning backlight, native 200Hz panel and frame interpolation processing to deliver an 800Hz-like effect.
The most exciting development of all, though, is the introduction of local dimming. Dubbed Smart LED by Samsung, this system allows the TV to control sections of the edge LED lighting individually, with clear potential benefits to contrast. Samsung has even cleverly included an option that enables the screen to apply extra dimming to just the black bars above and below 2.35:1 (and similarly wide) aspect-ratio sources.
The Samsung UE75ES9000 is also, of course, 3D capable, and ships with four pairs of Samsung’s latest RF-using, startlingly lightweight 3D glasses.
Keen to find out how effective the new local dimming system is, we immediately fired into the Samsung UE75ES9000 a selection of our favourite dark scenes, from the likes of Prometheus, Alien, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II. And in all cases we were seriously impressed with what we witnessed.
Or at least we were once we’d taken the usual measure with Samsung TVs of adjusting pictures away from the provided presets. For the most part this involves ramping down the backlight to its ‘8’ level or even lower for dark room viewing, or its 11-12 value for bright room viewing, and taking contrast down to between 75 and 81.
Once this was done, we were immediately struck by just how much deeper and more even the Samsung UE75ES9000’s black levels look compared with even a calibrated Samsung ES8000 TV. There’s practically no greyness to be seen over dark areas, leaving them looking believably, deliciously black, and nor can you see much evidence at all of the clouds of inconsistent lighting you have to work so hard to avoid on Samsung’s lesser TVs.
Even when watching 21:9 sources the brilliant feature that dims the parts of the picture corresponding to the black bars above and below the picture ensures that you don’t feel in the slightest bit distracted by any of the greyness or light ‘shifting’ generally evident in such areas with edge LED TVs.
Another excellent piece of news is that Samsung’s local dimming engine is clever enough to avoid the overt light ‘blocking’ artefacts so distracting this year on the locally dimmed edge LED TVs from LG and Panasonic. In other words, even when bright objects appear against dark backgrounds you don’t tend to see strips of light stretching out from around them across the picture.
This is a particularly impressive achievement by Samsung when you consider how far it’s having to push its edge-mounted lighting on this 75-inch screen. Our only word of caution here is that you avoid the High setting for the Smart LED system, as this can cause a few flickering and other artefacts with extreme-contrast material.