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Samsung UE46ES6800 review

Value-laden mid-range Edge LED telly with Smart Hub

Samsung UE46ES6800
Great Value

Usability

Before we crack into the pros and cons of the latest Samsung GUI, take note of a new remote control.

It's not the posh touchpad found on sets higher-up in the Samsung arsenal, but its touch-sensitive, brushed metallic finish is welcome – as is the use of some graphics and icons instead of the traditionally tiny typed labels.

Samsung UE46ES6800 Review

Unlike the digital-media savviness of LG's latest crop of smart TVs, the AllShare Play software found on the UE46ES6800 is nothing more than a new look.

The same problem of having to choose between files types – music, video or photos – before doing any browsing of a PC or USB stick remains.

As well as the issue of not being able to access AllShare directly from a shortcut on the remote, it's also still possible to access the content of a USB stick from the inputs list; some closer integration would be useful.

However, in terms of file playback we've got no complaints; we managed to play MP3, M4A, lossless FLAC and OGG music files, AVC HD, AVI, MKV, MOV, MPEG4, WMV and WMV HD files, and JPEG photos.

Samsung UE46ES6800 Review

Looking cleaner and sharper than in previous years, there are nevertheless three layers of apps on the Smart Hub home screen, and only two of them are what we would deem 'core' services.

Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Lovefilm, Twitter and, err, Samsung's own Explore 3D app are up top, and we applaud that (and we also like the live TV thumbnail, too).

However, the Smart Hub is dominated by icons for five rather less useful services; Samsung Apps, Your Video, Family Story, Fitness and Kids.

Samsung UE46ES6800 Review

Rather amusingly, when we opted to watch a demo video of Family Story we received a curt 'unsupported format' message!

It would be great to have the opportunity to customise-out some of these apps.

What we do like about the new user interface is Smart Hub's icons for core TV service such as Channel lists and inputs sources, while a new Content Bar that remembers recent activities is useful, too.

The web browser proves largely ineffective, mainly because it's just so slow, but we did like the appearance in the bottom right-hand corner of a thumbnail of live TV, complete with sound.

It's another small step in the direction of proper, joined-up connected TV.

The picture presets are best ignored, but that's a cinch since there's plenty of parameters to tweak.

Confusingly, you'll have to dive into both 'advanced settings' and 'picture options' to calibrate the UE46ES6800, but the chance to disengage most of the processing shouldn't be missed

Samsung UE46ES6800 Review

The colour space, white balance, 10p white balance, and gamma levels can also be changed.

Sound

The UE46ES6800 doesn't excel on audio, but we've heard worse.

An explosion outside the laboratory in District 9 has none of the power we're used to, and instead merely crackles.

That said, engaging the SRS TS HD codec is useful for movies since it does separate out some sounds; sniper fire appears to come from the sides.

Samsung UE46ES6800 Review

However, let's not get carried away – there are zero low frequency sounds, with treble highs a little hissy, too. Head for a home cinema, people – it's what slim TVs like this were invented for.

Value

Boasting the latest incarnation of Samsung's Smart Hub, carved in one of the freshest designs, and with a super-slim bezel that measures a paltry 46.9mm, the UE46ES6800 represents an irresistible sweetspot for anyone not bothered about achieving the absolute ultimate picture quality – especially considering that even the step-up ES7000 Series 7 upgrade costs almost twice as much.