Think of super-high-end TV brands and the likes of Loewe and Bang & Olufsen probably spring to mind. But now Samsung is making a move into the luxury TV market, with the C9000 series. Priced at around £3,000, the 1080p, LED-backlit UE46C9000 is hugely expensive for a 46-inch TV, but, once you've clapped eyes on it, you'll understand why the asking price is so high.
Put simply, the UE46C9000 is one of the most gorgeous TVs we've ever had in for review. The main chassis is made entirely from brushed aluminium, and it's almost unbelievably slim, at an incredible 8mm deep. Even the stand is stylish, with a transparent stem and all-metal base. The set's remote control is finished in aluminium and includes Wi-Fi functionality and a touchscreen too.
The C9000 isn't a case of style over substance, though -- it packs in plenty of high-end features. For a start, despite the slim chassis, it doesn't skimp on connectivity, although you have to use short adaptor cables with bulky connections like the Scart and component inputs. There are four HDMI ports.
Networking is also well catered for. There's an Ethernet port on the rear of the TV, and you can plug the bundled Wi-Fi dongle into one of the set's two USB ports. These connectivity options allow you to stream media files, including 1080p MKV videos, from your PC or NAS drive. They also give you access to Samsung's comprehensive line-up of Internet TV services. In the Internet menu, you'll find the likes of Facebook and Twitter, as well as LoveFilm, YouTube and BBC iPlayer.
The set has a Freeview HD tuner, so you can use it to watch channels like BBC HD and ITV1 HD. The electronic programme guide is well presented, with crisp graphics and large, easy-to-read text. If you plug a hard drive into one of the set's USB ports you can even record shows.
One of the most futuristic aspects of the TV is its touchscreen remote control. It has built-in Wi-Fi, so you can actually stream TV live to the remote's small colour display. The end result is that, even if you need to feed the porcelain god during a show, you won't miss any of the action.
The remote is something of a disappointment when it comes to normal tasks like accessing the menus, however. That's because the on-screen layout is so tight that it's incredibly easy to hit the wrong item. Fortunately, Samsung also includes a smaller, pebble-style remote that competently handles the basics.
The set's 2D performance is among the best we've ever come across. Its upscaled standard-definition pictures have a clarity and crispness that you'd be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. The TV also delivers rich and vivid-looking colours with both standard- and high-definition content.
Images are extremely bright too, while black levels are deep, giving pictures a really cinematic feel. In very dark scenes, you can spot some illumination inconsistencies created by the LED backlighting, however -- certain areas of the picture look slightly brighter than others. It's a common failing with LED sets, but we had hoped a TV of this price wouldn't suffer from it.
The set also supports 3D. Its 3D performance is about the best that you'll get from an LCD display. The brightness of the panel helps to overcome the dimming effect of the active-shutter glasses, so colours don't lose much of their punch -- something that further enhances the very impressive sense of depth. But, as with all LCD sets, there's some visible cross-talk. This manifests itself as slight ghosting around images in the mid- and far distance. Still, it's less noticeable than on many other LCD sets we've reviewed.
Given how thin the TV's chassis is, it's no surprise to find that it doesn't actually house the speakers. Instead, Samsung has built them into the stand, and the results are quite impressive. The sound stage is pleasingly wide and dialogue has a solid presence. The speakers are surprisingly capable in the bass department too, so, overall, the TV delivers a very solid sonic experience.
The Samsung UE46C9000 certainly isn't completely fault-free. Samsung needs to rethink the touchscreen remote control, and the TV's 3D performance isn't as good as that of the best 3D plasma screens. But, in pretty much every other area, this TV is on the cutting edge of what's possible with a flat-screen telly today. It may be pricey, but you get what you pay for.
Edited by Charles Kloet