Samsung UE46ES6540 review
46in, Freeview HD, Freesat HD, 1,920x1,080 resolution, 3D: yes, 3x HDMI
The pair of internal speakers are fine for catching up on the week's events in Weatherfield or Albert Square, but if you plan on watching a lot of films we would recommend investing in a set of surround sound speakers. The built-in models are loud enough to fill a medium-sized room and have a clear mid-range, although the high-end felt a little sharp and there was a definite lack of bass.
Standard-definition broadcast TV was clean and relatively free of artefacts, although only with the digital noise reduction settings enabled, and even then the noise reduction causes visible noise around the edges of objects.
There's a clear step up in picture quality when switching to high-definition broadcasts - despite the small amount of digital noise that's still noticeable, images really sparkle and details are well preserved, even after enabling noise reduction. You have the choice of Freeview HD over the air using an aerial, or FreeSat if you have an existing satellite dish, so you should be able to access free-to-air content in most places.
Feed the UE46ES6540 a high-definition Blu-ray and the TV really shines - even at the default picture settings, both brightness and contrast were excellent. Samsung continues to over-saturate and over-sharpen images with the Standard picture mode, so you're much better off switching to the Movie setting for films, but with this mode enabled the UE46ES6540 rivals the picture quality of more expensive sets.
Samsung's more expensive TVs are backlit and have local dimming for added contrast, but the cheaper 6-series is an edge-lit set. The TV's micro-dimming system can dim the edge LEDs when necessary, and while this system can't produce the deep blacks we've seen from Samsung's high-end TVs, it does a fantastic job given the price of the set. Darker scenes had real punch, although this also highlights the backlight bleed from the edge lighting, which creeps into the picture from either side. There's also a small hint of light halo around bright images on dark backgrounds, but this doesn’t hang around for long.
THE THIRD DIMENSION
Fans of 3D content will be happy with the two pairs of active shutter glasses included with the TV - this year's glasses are the thinnest and lightest active shutter design we've seen. Depth effects are convincing and there's very little flicker from the TV, even at its brightest settings. You'll be able to enjoy 3D without blacking out your room, although we did get the best effect when we turned down the lights.
SUMMARY AND ALTERNATIVES
It may lack some of the more advanced features, panel coatings and image processing of its more expensive siblings, but the UE46ES6540 is still a fantastic TV. It has all the connectivity, Smart TV functionality and multimedia support we would expect from a high-end set, yet it costs significantly less. Its main competition is the LG 47LM670T LED TV, which costs £50 less, but we think the addition of a Freesat tuner, active shutter 3D and a slightly slicker interface make Samsung's TV the better buy. However, both TVs are just pipped by the £1,000 50in Panasonic Viera TX-P50ST50B , which has a slightly inferior smart TV system but better picture quality from its plasma panel.