Every year, thousands of gadgets flow through our offices. As jaded hacks, very few of them manage to elicit more than the raising of an inquisitive eyebrow. But, when we unpacked the Samsung UE46D7000 TV, it wasn't long before people were flocking around to pay it compliments.
This 46-inch, 1080p TV has an ultra-slim bezel, a stunning LED-illuminated LCD panel, and every new feature you could wish for, including 3D capability. Oh, and it makes jaded hacks drool with desire.
The UE46D7000 will be available in March for around £1,700.
This TV's design is hugely impressive, mainly because the bezel surrounding the screen is incredibly thin. Ignoring those on prototype TVs andscreens, it's the thinnest bezel we've ever clapped eyes on.
Samsung has managed to make the bezel appear so thin by using clear plastic on the outer edge, while the inner part is made of the usual black material. Consequently, when turned on, this TV looks more like a floating image than a television. Hang this set on a wall, and it looks more like a poster than a telly.
Ain't afraid of no ghosting
Both LCD and plasma TVs are flawed when it comes to reproducing 3D content. Plasma screens are too dark, and lack the bright colour of LCD sets. On the other hand, LCD tellies often suffer from nasty ghosting around images, which is a result of the comparatively slow response time of this technology.
Fortunately the UE46D7000 significantly improves on the 3D performance of Samsung's previous generation of screens. Samsung was already one of the leaders in 3D on LCD sets, so this is no mean feat.
The most annoying problem, ghosting around images, has been reduced significantly. While watching Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs on Blu-ray, we noticed that vertical lines no longer had ghosting around them in most scenes. There's still a small amount of ghosting, though. It's slightly distracting when it does appear, but it's been reduced to the point where many people won't even notice it.
Fill your glasses with 3D
Samsung has changed some of the technology involved in its 3D glasses. The TV now syncs with the glasses over Bluetooth, instead of infrared. This is bad news if you've invested in infrared glasses from last year, but, as 3D TV owners are unlikely to be upgrading their sets already, we suspect this won't be much of a problem.
Samsung'sare the most comfortable on the market, although LG's glorious passive glasses are even lighter and more comfortable. Samsung's glasses are lighter than they were last year, and wearing them isn't an unpleasant experience, although you will still look like an utter buffoon.
Unfortunately, the coating on Samsung's new glasses reflects light. This means that, in a normally lit room, you'll see reflections of whatever's behind you on the inside of the glasses. It's a minor problem, though, and one that can be solved by dimming the lights in your viewing room. Doing so will help to produce a better 3D experience anyway.
We also noticed that, when the UE46D7000 detects that 3D content has stopped playing, it instantly switches off the glasses. This is great most of the time but, if you're between two 3D videos, you have to turn the glasses back on again. It's not a major issue, but it is something to remember if you can't work out why your viewing material is no longer appearing in 3D.
Freeview HD is the weakest source, but it's still much better than normal, standard-definition Freeview. There's plenty of detail in the pictures, and colours on the LCD screen look bright and vivid. You can also tailor the image to suit your taste. We prefer a low-key image, and the TV is perfectly capable of delivering that. If you like eye-punishing greens and reds, this TV will be more than happy to oblige you too. Just don't blame us when your eyes explode.
Blu-ray content is a step-up. While watching movies, we were very pleased to see that everything from black-and-white footage to colourful tropical sunsets looked stunning. We generally expect Blu-ray material to look good, but that doesn't mean companies always get it right. Samsung has, however, and we're pleased to see it.
Lighting on the edge
Samsung believes that using LEDs mounted around the edge of the panel, rather than directly behind it, is the way forward. This system saves power, is significantly less expensive, and can produce blacks that are almost as deep. Put a movie on, switch off the lights, inspect the blacks on this TV, and we think you'll agree.
The LED illumination isn't perfect, as there are areas of bleeding light around the edges of the panel, but this issue isn't as severe as it has been in the past. The TV is also quicker than previous models when it comes to dimming the backlight. It all adds up to pretty deep blacks.