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Samsung LE46F86 review

The best big-screen LCD we've ever seen?

Our Verdict

If you stick to HD, you'll be rewarded with astounding levels of picture quality


  • Sets a new standard for HD picture quality


    Good features and connections


  • Occasional motion issues

    Edge enhancer best avoided

The LE46F86BD is particularly significant because it features Samsung's debut take on the 100Hz trend now sweeping the LCD world.

Dubbed '100Hz Motion Plus', its name suggests that, as well as doubling the PAL scanning rate of the picture, there's an element of Samsung's Motion Plus frame interpolation system - found with sets further down the brand's current LCD range - included. This isn't necessarily good news actually, as I've frankly had my doubts about Motion Plus so far. So here's hoping the 100Hz element makes a real difference.

Not that 100Hz is the 46F86BD's only claim to fame. It also looks a million dollars, and sports a Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080, supported by a 'Just Scan' 1:1 pixel mapping mode and three v1.3 HDMIs all able to take 1080p/24 feeds.

There's also Samsung's DNIe system for boosting sharpness, contrast, motion handling and colour; an Edge Enhancer for crispening contours; and oodles of fine-tuning flexibility in the onscreen menus, with highlights including a black level booster, gamma control, and white balance adjustment.

Setting the 46F86 to work on a few of our favourite things, one simple fact becomes immediately, blindingly obvious: the set's picture quality is really superb.

Let's start with those all-important 100Hz talents. Covering the bad news first, they're not as potent as those of Philips' 32PFL9632. While they certainly make objects moving across the screen look sharper and smoother, they don't resolve all the background judder during camera pans.

And so as General Grievous strides into the control room of his ship early on in The Revenge of the Sith, his body glides smoothly across the screen while the green lights in the background still judder slightly.

But on the upside, the new smoothness and crispness with moving objects is less besmirched by processing artefacts than you find with Motion Plus alone on lesser Samsung TVs. So overall the 100Hz system produces a clear picture quality benefit without adding any negatives, and you can't ask for much more than that.

Other aspects of the picture are outstanding too. The brand's adoption of Super Clear LCD panel technology has resulted in some of the deepest, most natural blacks yet seen on an LCD TV, and that trend continues here.

They may not merit the extravagant 25000:1 contrast ratio claim that Samsung makes for the 46F86, but dark scenes like those in Barbossa's cave in Pirates of the Caribbean look more natural and cinematic than on any current LCD rival.

Colours are rich and vibrant too, with Star Wars' light sabres exploding off the screen, and skin tones benefit from pleasingly natural hues. HD animated fodder, meanwhile, looks simply sublime.

HD fine detail levels are immense. You can clearly - some might say alarmingly - make out, for instance, every tiny ridge and pore in Uma Thurman's big feet as she tries to wiggle her big toe in Kill Bill.

You do need to take care with the 46F86's picture settings. Keep the contrast to sensible levels, only choose low-level settings for the 100Hz and noise reduction systems, and avoid the edge enhancer entirely. And it's only a solid performer with standard-def, leaving low-quality digital broadcasts looking rather softer.

If you're buying a TV like this you're going to try and feed it an HD diet whenever you can. And with HD, the 46F86 is capable of rewarding you with a big-screen LCD performance truly worthy of making it our 'favourite big-screen LCD'.