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In its bid to produce an affordable mid-range TV in the UE40ES6800, Samsung has taken away some of the headline attractions of its flagship ES7000 and ES8000 models. For instance, it doesn't feature an especially slim bezel, it doesn't offer any 'alternative' control systems, and it doesn't boast Samsung's most powerful video processing engine.
Even so, though, it's still well-specified for its money, with its active 3D playback (with two pairs of glasses included), extensive multimedia tools, and class-leading Smart TV platform.
It performs well enough too, to the point of looking quite spectacular at times. But there are rivals out there at the moment that do even better.
The Samsung UE40ES6800 has an impressively long feature list for such an affordable 40-inch TV, and does a very good job of 'selling' its functionality, courtesy of its beautifully presented Smart Hub menus. Its 2D pictures are good, once you've shifted them down a few gears from their over-aggressive presets, and its 3D pictures are excellent.
While the Samsung UE40ES6800's pictures are good, it lacks a little black level punch and colour finesse versus the best rivals we've seen this year. Motion displays a touch more resolution loss than with some rivals, too. Its online system, meanwhile, could benefit from culling some of the least useful apps.
There's much to like about the Samsung UE40ES6800. Its design is cute, if hardly groundbreaking, its feature list is long for a mid-range TV, and its online services are second to none. It's also capable of producing some very fine pictures, especially in 3D mode.
However, it's quite a step down in picture performance terms from Samsung's flagship sets, and it isn't immune to the appearance of some stiff recent competition.
The most direct rival to the Samsung UE40ES6800 is probably the Sony 40HX753. This delivers more cinematic pictures for serious picture enthusiasts, though it lacks the operating system slickness and online content quantities delivered by the Samsung. And it doesn't ship with any 3D glasses included as standard.
If you fancy a passive 3D option, you could consider either the Panasonic TX-L42ET5 or LG 42LM660T. Both ship with at least four pairs of glasses included for free, and deliver on passive's 'convenience' advantage at the expense of a little detail in HD 3D sources. Both sets are also good picture performers generally, and the LG additionally boasts a very attractive ultra-slim design.
Finally, film fans might find it hard to resist the deliriously good black level response of the plasma-based Panasonic TX-P42ST50 - though this isn't as bright as the Samsung UE40ES6800, which could be an issue if your room is routinely swamped in ambient light.
John has been writing about home entertainment technology for more than two decades - an especially impressive feat considering he still claims to only be 35 years old (yeah, right). In that time he’s reviewed hundreds if not thousands of TVs, projectors and speakers, and spent frankly far too long sitting by himself in a dark room.