If any TV had us at hello, it’s Samsung’s UE46B8000. For starters, it’s astonishingly slim for a 46in TV: just 29mm. At its deepest point.
It’s also gloriously adorned in Samsung’s distinctive ‘Crystal’ finish and given added distinction by both the prism-like transparent chunk sticking out at each extremity and the see-through neck that joins the UE46B8000 to its detachable desktop stand.
Internet TV is go
The USBs and Ethernet port can both play various movie, music and photo file types from USB storage devices and DNLA PCs respectively, while the Ethernet port can also connect to the internet. Or, at least, Samsung’s Media2.0 online service, with its carriage of – among others - YouTube, Flickr and the Yahoo Widgets platform.
Even better, you can access this online fodder wirelessly, via an optional (£50) USB dongle. It’s a pity this dongle isn’t thrown in as standard, but maybe we’re just being greedy.
Turning to the UE46B8000’s innards, things become even more enticing, for it turns out that the TV is driven by an edge-mounted LED lighting system.
As well as being responsible for the set’s extreme slenderness and making the TV more energy-efficient, using LED lighting rather than the normal single, CCFL lamp has the potential to produce richer colours and significantly enhanced contrast.
It’s worth adding at this point that the UE46B8000 is surprisingly affordable for an LED TV – provided it delivers the picture goods.
Making motion better
Boosting the likelihood of this being the case is the presence of both Samsung’s Digital Natural Image engine (DNIe) video processing and, more significantly, Samsung’s first 200Hz system.
This quadruples the normal PAL refresh rate by interpolating completely new frames of image data, in a bid to tackle LCD’s usual problems with motion blur and judder during camera pans.
It would be hugely disappointing if the stellar first impressions recorded so far were ultimately let down by the UE46B8000’s pictures. But in fact the set produces some of the best pictures we’ve seen so far from a flat TV.
The sheer dynamism of its pictures is exceptional. At one end of the spectrum blacks that look deeper, richer and more natural than those of any – repeat, any – standard, non-LED LCD TV. Even Pioneer’s legendary Kuro TVs don’t outgun the UE46B8000 in this key area.
Colour me good
When it comes to the brighter things in AV life, Samsung’s flagship TV excels in both the purity and brightness of its peak whites, and the stellar vibrancy of its colours. Yet unlike Samsung’s LED TVs of last year, these colours almost always look completely natural.
There’s plenty to celebrate elsewhere, too, such as extremely sharp HD pictures, good standard definition pictures, and really impressive motion handling that finds blur and judder almost completely removed. In this respect, the UE46B8000 clearly betters Samsung’s 7000 LED series.
Really the only fault we could find with the pictures is the way contrast drops off rather sharply if you watch from much of an angle. It also has to be said that the set’s audio isn’t powerful enough to give the pictures the accompaniment they deserve.
But let’s be clear about this: the UE46B8000’s downpoints are so far outweighed by its positives that we almost feel embarrassed to mention them.