MKV support is a huge deal because it allows plenty of online high-definition content to be played on the TV without any other hardware. Products like the Popcorn Hour A-110 media streamer make this process fairly painless, but having such capability built into the TV is truly amazing. We tested 720p material and found it played flawlessly. There was no noticeable judder, although the picture was rather grainy at times. The real surprise was that the TV is also happy to decode a 1080p clip and play it flawlessly too. The only issue was the DTS soundtrack, which the TV can't internally decode.
We must also congratulate Samsung on the TV's energy-saving credentials. The UE40B7000WW uses much less power than traditional backlit LCD TVs. With our final picture settings, our voltmeter registered an average power drain of around 100W to 130W. That's a seriously low power consumption that will save you money over the course of a year.
Initially, we had some concerns that the picture quality was slightly soft. It turned out that the TV had shipped with the sharpness setting knocked right down. We upped this to around 50 per cent -- which we take to mean that the picture is being neither artificially sharpened nor blurred -- and all was well. We would still say, though, that this TV's pictures are at the softer end of the spectrum. How you feel about this will depend on what you like. If you're in doubt, try and audition the set at your local TV dealer before parting with your money.
While we think the LED edge light is considerably dimmer than a traditional backlight, that won't be a problem for most people. If your TV room is exceptionally bright, you may not find this TV as easy to view as a normal LCD set. That said, plasma owners will find the brightness of the UE40B7000WW roughly comparable to the brightness of their existing set.
With LCD sets, the backlight is always a concern. In the case of the UE40B7000WW, with the LED illumination at the sides, we were concerned about patchiness when the set's handling black or very dark scenes. We did indeed notice some patchiness. We perceived more light in the four corners of the screen than in the middle. While this may be annoying during very dark scenes, it won't be an issue for most viewing. Certainly, we prefer this TV's performance to that of a regular LCD TV, but it can't compare with a plasma set for amazing black depth.
Even the built-in speakers were a surprise. We popped on a movie, and had the volume set to 50 per cent. The resulting sound was loud, while retaining clarity. There's no massive bass to shake you off your seat, but the set's audio is certainly capable enough for most viewing environments.
We tested the set with some of our favourite Blu-ray material, and weren't disappointed by the way this TV handled The Dark Knight. The immersive IMAX experience at the beginning of the movie looked stunning. We loved the detail on the gravel, the amazing clarity of the face masks and the utterly wonderful quality you only get from a 70mm film via Blu-ray. This TV didn't disappoint us at all, and we think you'll be impressed too.
Casino Royale, another tried and tested favourite, is also well worth a look on this set. The detail in the opening scene was razor sharp. Noise from the black and white film was as evident and gritty as the director intended. Put simply, this TV really delivers the goods with Blu-ray movies.
The set's upscaled-DVD performance also impressed us. Our favourite test disc, Jurassic Park, looked good. We use this movie in our tests because there are plenty of times when MPEG noise and artefacts are visible. The UE40B7000WW offered a decent amount of detail, but didn't manage to entirely get rid of the blocking and mosquito noise effects that are all too common on MPEG-2 encoded material.
Freeview was a different ball game. While the picture was generally good or very good, we did miss the detail of Blu-ray, and even standard DVD. Even so, the picture was perfectly watchable. Make sure you turn the colour down though, because this TV ships with quite an unnatural and over-bright look.
The Samsung UE40B7000WW is fabulous. There are a few minor bugs but nothing that would put us off owning this TV. The price is a fairly steep, but early adopters will be used to being penalised for their desire to own the latest and greatest technology.
We were worried that the lack of regional dimming would be a problem with this TV. As it turned out, we really didn't notice its absence. We were a little disappointed to see some light-bleeding in the corners of the screen, but, for the most part, it isn't visible during normal viewing in a lit room.
Edited by Charles Kloet