Considered at its most basic level, the Smart Hub is simply an improved home screen, like a computer desktop. It gives you a visual, icon-driven representation of all the sources available to you and allows you to select the source you want simply by clicking on the icon associated with the source you’re after.
There’s no understating just how superb an addition the Smart Hub is to the 46D7000’s onscreen menus. Its simplicity and the effortless way it handles so many different source streams is one of those classic Eureka moments, where you find yourself scarcely able to understand why nobody has done this before.
Included on the Smart Hub, alongside the normal tuners and AV inputs, are dedicated Movie, music and photo icons to cover such content stored on your PC or USB drives. But you can also access the TV’s new open Internet browser; jump into Samsung’s ‘app store’; or access a Video section through which you can get information on films, send film-related messages to friends, or downstream films.
The Apps part of the Smart Hub shows a user-adjustable list of five ‘headline’ apps, but heading deeper into the app store, you can find many more pre-loaded ones, plus the option to download more according to your wants and needs. There were around 40 apps available during our tests, including a variety of games, video ‘stores’, catch-up TV services, social network sites and information sources. But this number will have increased greatly by the time the TVs are available in stores.
All the apps available for adding to the TV were free at the time of writing, but you can bet your bottom dollar that some of the future apps will require a one-off payment or a rolling subscription.
Samsung seems to have been stung by the criticism of crosstalk aimed at the 3D performance of its 2010 3D TVs, and so claims to have worked hard this year to slash the response time of its 3D LCD TVs to around 3ms. Further improvements have been made to Samsung’s 2D-3D converter, which now works on five different parameters when trying to calculate where objects should be placed when adding depth to a 2D image. And it’s nice to see, too, that the 46D7000 can also auto-detect an incoming side-by-side 3D image, rather than forcing you to switch the TV into the appropriate playback mode manually.
For all the 46D7000’s cutting-edge functionality, though, for us its single biggest leap forward from last year comes with its picture quality. Particularly where 3D is concerned.
The main reason we say this is that the 46D7000’s 3D pictures suffer far less with crosstalk noise than last year’s. This immediately makes them look much more consistently credible, sharp and easy to watch, as well as massively increasing your appreciation of what 3D can bring to the table.