The Samsung UE46ES7000 might be one step down from the top of Samsung's 2012 TV range, but it's got more going on than the majority of flagship sets.

For starters, it looks lovely with its impeccably slender bezel and profile. It's also got all the hottest features in town, including 3D support, expansive multimedia playback from either USB flash drives or networked PCs plus, of course, full access to Samsung's beautifully presented and content-rich Smart TV online service.

The Samsung UE46ES7000 is also frequently a spectacular picture performer, serving up glorious amounts of brightness, colour richness and HD detailing, and looking much more vibrant and clear with 3D than most active 3D sets.

Pictures can be problematic during dark scenes with your lights dimmed - though so long as you're prepared to sacrifice a lot of the screen's brightness, you can still end up with something very enjoyable.

We liked

The Samsung UE46ES7000's ultra-slim design looks attractive and futuristic, as do its winningly content-rich Smart TV service and its main interface. The introduction of voice recognition and gesture control opens up some intriguing control possibilities too, and pictures generally look excellent after a little calibration work.

We disliked

None of the picture presets do a good job of supporting dark-room viewing, with their excessive brightness highlighting the screen's backlight consistency issues. The set's sound isn't powerful enough to do much justice to powerful action mixes, and some aspects of the new control systems need refinement.

Final verdict

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Best TV 2012

Although Samsung's UE46ES7000 has undoubtedly been hurt in picture quality terms by the outstanding performance of Sony's new HX853 series, it's still got enough advantages of its own in terms of its design, features and pictures with bright material to make it a hugely attractive proposition.

Serious film fans might not like the amount of brightness they have to take out of the Samsung UE46ES7000's pictures in order to get an evenly lit picture during very dark scenes. But for more mainstream users, the Samsung UE46ES7000 really is an excellent all-rounder.

Also consider

Sony's HX853 TVs have moved the LCD TV picture performance goal posts this year. There's no doubt that the 46HX853 outperforms the Samsung television with dark scenes, delivering both richer black colours and more brightness for the light parts of predominantly dark pictures.

The Samsung UE46ES7000 is more prettily designed than the Sony, though, and has more advanced features and operating systems.

Another option to consider if you're a serious film fan who likes to dim the lights for your movie viewing sessions would be Panasonic's GT50 plasma series, which aren't the brightest TVs around but deliver peerless black levels and bags of detail.

Finally, if you prefer the passive 3D approach, you could consider LG's 47LM660T set. This also has an excellent online service, though like the Samsung, you have to work hard to get rid of the LG's backlight consistency problems.