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Samsung LE46M87 review: Samsung LE46M87

Samsung's LE46M87 is a stylish 1080p TV that delivers high-quality images on its large screen -- it has an excellent range of connections and the Movie mode does a great job of removing film grain and creating a smoother-looking picture

Ian Morris
5 min read

1080p is here to stay -- for people who want to own the best possible equipment, it offers them the opportunity to enjoy some of the finest-quality images ever seen in the home.


Samsung LE46M87

The Good

Picture quality; styling; level of image customisation through menus; three HDMI sockets.

The Bad

Sound quality; default picture settings; slow remote control response.

The Bottom Line

The Samsung LE46M87, also available as the LE46M86BD, is a great TV that offers good performance and support for 1080p. Providing you're willing to spend some time playing with the menus, it's a good buy

Samsung's M87 range of 1080p televisions offers top-of-the range features and high-quality picture processing. The range is also well styled and will appeal to people who don't just want a television, but a centrepiece for their lounge.

The styling of the M87 range of Samsung televisions is excellent. The screens are finished in a piano black and have funky, rounded edges, which really set them apart from other TVs on the market. The shiny bezel, however, does attract every sort of mark and fingerprint you can imagine.

The screen is also covered with a reflective plastic cover. While this helps the picture quality in a dark room by increasing black levels, in a lit room the reflections from lights make the picture hard to see.

The speakers are invisible from the front; instead, sound is fired downwards from underneath the television.

The same remote as every other Samsung TV, with the same slow response and strange styling

The remote control is long and thin -- it's not the best-designed piece of equipment we've ever used, but it looks okay. There is a backlight, which can illuminate certain key buttons -- handy if you're sitting in the dark.

The set features three HDMI inputs -- two at the back and one at the side. The side panel also features composite video in and an S-Video socket for hooking up camcorders and games consoles.

The LE46 has component video in, VGA in, two Scart sockets and both optical and digital audio outputs. You'll also find a pair of audio inputs, one mini-jack style connector for hooking up a PC and a two pairs of RCA connectors for adding sound to component and HDMI -- if you have an HDMI source that doesn't include audio.

The rear panel offers the two HDMI sockets and component in -- there's also an optical audio out to boost the television's weedy internal speakers

Annoyingly, it's not possible to select the RCA audio in when you're using VGA, so if you choose to connect your Xbox 360 this way, you'll need a connection converter to make this work.

The great things about this screen are its superb connectivity and 'Full HD' 1080p. The TV also features a wealth of configuration options, which is fantastic if you want to customise the picture for your personal taste. The Movie mode, which we'll discuss in more detail later, means that you can the reduce film grain found on many movies and create a much smoother-looking image.

The other good news is that 1080p is supported via VGA too, which will appeal to people looking to get the most out of their Xbox 360s. It's a nice feature that's rarely found on 1080p televisions.

The Samsung also promises to cut down on input confusion by only offering you a choice of the inputs that have a source plugged in and turned on, so unless you have a DVD player hooked up to the HDMI input and powered up, you won't be able to select that input from the menu. Although in practice this should make things slightly easier, it actually confused us -- we initially thought the TV might have a fault.

What is most remarkable about this set is its Movie mode. This is a picture preset designed to help you get the best out of your films. Unlike some other picture enhancement modes we've seen, it really works -- watching Serenity with this mode almost completely eliminates film grain from the picture and smoothes the judder normally associated with the conversion process from film to video.

A quick bounce on the basketball courts of NBA Homecourt showed us how good the Xbox 360 can look in game mode at 1080p, with motion blur kept to a minimum. We noticed that the screen did look a little soft, especially when we were in the Xbox dashboard, but that didn't affect gameplay at all.

Black levels on the LE46 are some of the best we've seen on an LCD. This seems to be partially assisted by the plastic screen that covers the LCD, which although does create reflections, also helps deepen the black levels. Pumping up the backlight increases the detail in the picture, but also washes the screen out slightly, making blacks appear grey.

The key to getting the best performance out of this set is to tweak every setting until you have a setup you are happy with. This will take time and patience but the default setup is a long way from ideal, and you'll end up with a fantastic picture if you put some work in. There is even an online guide to help you set the panel up for the best picture quality.

While we did like the picture on the LE46M87, we felt that it was a little soft at times. Adjusting the sharpness can help but it can also cause problems with the outline of onscreen objects, giving them an unnatural halo effect.

The biggest disappointment on the LE46 was the weak sound from the built-in speaker system. Even with the sound well up past halfway, we still had trouble hearing what was going on. There was limited bass too, which is annoying for film viewing. You could argue that people who buy a 46-inch TV should have a separate 5.1 amplifier, but for this kind of cash we'd hope for better quality when you can't be bothered to power on that amp.

Upscaled DVD quality was very good -- we hooked up our Toshiba HD-E1 and used our now regular test disc, The Big Lebowski, which is ideal because it has a broad range of different scenes and lighting conditions. We were very happy with the TV's performance -- film grain, which is usually a problem on DVD, was mostly eliminated by the screen's Movie mode.

Freeview performance on the LE46 was pretty good, too. Obviously the picture was a lot softer than on high definition, but colour was good, and the TV did a fairly good job of minimising the picture degradation caused by MPEG compression. Watching Neighbours and The Weakest Link didn't hold any nasty surprises -- the picture looked reasonably natural.

Samsung continues to create superb televisions for very sensible prices. We think the LE46 is a fantastic looking television, but we also understand that the piano-black finish isn't to everyone's taste.

We are concerned that the TV requires so much tweaking to get the picture looking great -- we would prefer it if Samsung set the TV up for more typical home use rather than for a branch of Currys.

If, however, you are keen to get your hands dirty and don't mind tweaking the settings, you'll love the LE46M87. With some careful adjustment this is a high-quality screen capable of producing some great quality images.

Edited by Jason Jenkins
Additional editing by Kate Macefield