Samsung LE46A856 review
46in, Freeview, analogue, 1,920x1,080 resolution, 3D: , 4x HDMI
Samsung's LE46A856 may have the largest screen here, but surprisingly it's also the thinnest.
Its glass stand and translucent bezel with a dark red background certainly make it look stylish. If you want to hang it on your wall, however, bear in mind that most of the input ports are located on the rear panel.
You'll need to view this TV from a distance to get the most from its size, because although it's large, it has the same number of pixels as other smaller 1080p TVs, so therefore each pixel is larger. Sit too close and you start to see pixellation in the image.
Like its smaller sibling, the LE46A856 has a chunky remote and clear menus with smart graphical icons. It took over six minutes to scan both analogue and digital channels, but there's an option to scan each separately. The EPG displays six channels and a preview of the current channel, and there's a mini-guide for the current channel so you can quickly see what's coming up. The menus are complicated, but once you set up the TV you should find the remote has everything you need for everyday use. There are some annoyances, particularly the 'Entertainment' image setting, which overrides the normal image presets and is located in a separate menu to other picture settings.
Default image quality is good, although Samsung includes the usual image presets that are initially set at extremes: a Dynamic mode that is too bright and oversaturated and a Movie mode that is too dark. You'll need to spend some time adjusting these to your needs, based on the lighting in your room and your own preferences.
We found that colours were a little dull, especially greens. Edge enhancement is turned on by default, but at a distance you may not notice much of a difference. Controls for contrast, such as Black Level and Dynamic Contrast, can be tweaked to get a better picture. However, the 100Hz mode is unimpressive compared to Philips' HD Natural Motion when viewing fast-moving scenes.
The LE46A856 was surprisingly good as a computer monitor. The VGA connection displayed a pixel-perfect image at the first attempt and only required auto-adjustment to get the desktop aligned perfectly. Colours were accurate and contrast was great, with no banding in our gradient tests. The HDMI connection showed a bit of ghosting around text and required more adjustment of the image quality settings. However, setting the TV to Game mode reduced the amount of processing on the image and improved response time, although this was at the expense of colour accuracy.
Although the LE46A856's image quality is better than average, it doesn't have the advanced motion-processing technology of the Philips TVs, nor the clever Ambilight feature. It may be big and stylish, but it's only 4in larger than Philips' 42PFL7603D, yet it's 50 per cent more expensive.