Usability

It's a great interface in terms of looks and content, but on the Samsung UE46ES6300, the Smart Hub is far from the finished article. At its worst it's slow, nor can it be sufficiently customised.

It's not that it's an ugly interface, but we do have a problem with the top line, which includes icons for the five most popular apps. It's hard to argue that easily found links to ITV player, BBC iPlayer, Lovefilm, Netflix and YouTube is a bad idea per se, but we don't like to be told what we should be using; we'd rather be able to choose for ourselves.

Samsung UE46ES6300 review

Perhaps more annoyingly, Samsung insists on using almost a third of the screen's real estate for four of its own services; Your Video, Family Story, Fitness and Kids (as well as Social TV, which is hidden off-screen).

Although we like Your Video - an easy way of finding content regardless of which app it's provided by - the other three are, to us, totally irrelevant. It lends the entire Smart Hub experience a feeling of being imposed, rather than its apps opening up a world of possibilities, which is surely the whole point of anything web-related.

Samsung UE46ES6300 review

All we ask is that we are allowed to decide for ourselves whether a Samsung app is for us or not, and either delete, promote or relegate it in the hierarchy, accordingly.

At least apps on the bottom two rungs of the main home screen can be customised, even by different users if household members create different accounts (the Samsung UE46ES6300 then automatically signs in to all associated social media and email accounts, too).

Samsung UE46ES6300 review

Too often the Smart Hub is slow to load apps; frequent "Starting..." or "Loading..." messages that regularly stall the TV for around a minute got quite annoying, despite our internet connection being faster than Usain Bolt.

If you've got a Samsung phone to hand, firing up the native AllShare Play app will fully integrate your handset with the Samsung UE46ES6300.

Samsung UE46ES6300 review

Unusually this service integrates a cloud storage service - Sugarsync - though you will have to register an account to play files stored there. Do so and it pops up as a source just as a USB flash drive or networked PC does.

From those devices we managed to play AVC HD, AVI, MKV, MPEG, MOV, MP4, WMV and WMV HD videos, JPEG photos and MP3, M4A, WMA, OGG and FLAC music, though loading up video and skipping around AllShare functions appears to involve a lot of five-second delays.

Samsung UE46ES6300 review

Meanwhile, the electronic programme guides (EPGs) for Freesat and Freeview are excellent; two hours of schedules for six channels are shown on a single screen below a thumbnail of live TV that happily plays with sound, too.

It's probably the best EPG we've ever seen, working quickly and rendered in black and blue, nuanced Full HD graphics.

Samsung UE46ES6300 review

What's more, that live TV thumbnail is in exactly the same place in both the EPG and the Smart Hub screen; swap between the two and the picture flickers only slightly - though the sound remains uninterrupted. It's the icing on a nicely thought through - though slightly underpowered - user interface.

Sound

Sonically speaking, the Samsung UE46ES6300 lacks low frequency, so it's perhaps no surprise that Samsung now offers its SoundShare mode. Linking the DA-750 2.1-channel speaker to the Samsung UE46ES6300 via Bluetooth proved a cinch, with the latter's remote then commanding the volume.

After pairing, the DA-750 just works - a relief, since most Bluetooth gadgets, in our experience, too often fall over.

Samsung UE46ES6300 review

Sporting a digital power amp beside vacuum tubes to reach 100W rather than a regular TV's 10W, the DA-750 is like a breath of fresh air to the ears.

Value

Buying Guide
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Best TV 2012

Using the DA-750 2.1-channel speaker with the Samsung UE46ES6300 to boost audio does add a much-needed dollop of wallop, and it goes pretty loud without distortion, too. But it's still not a patch on a real home cinema system - which costs about the same, or cheaper. Besides, a soundbar of similar dimensions costs a lot less than £550.

Elsewhere, the Samsung UE46ES6300 is what it is; a middle-ranking, though capable Edge LED panel crammed with perhaps more features than it can competently cope with.

However, the premium features on board - particularly Freesat HD - as well as the all-round picture prowess, makes this a reasonably priced television.