Samsung's adverts for its TVs may push the high-end models with the voice and motion control features, but those sets are very expensive and we didn’t rate those special features very highly when we reviewed them.
The UE46ES6300 dumps those gimmicky additions, but still includes support for 3D as well as Samsung's top notch smart TV platform. It's much cheaper too, as you can buy it online for around £770, so on paper looks like an ideal compromise between price and features.
User interface and EPG
The UE46ES6300 uses the same menu system as Samsung's high-end TVs, which is a real boon as it's pretty much the best looking and easiest to use that you'll find on today's TVs. It's predominantly based around a homescreen from which you can access all of the TVs main features including its Smart TV apps, digital media player and even the input selection screen.
Admittedly it does look overly busy the first time you call it up, simply because it gives you access to so many of the TV's features at one time. You soon get used to it though, and it's fairly easy to navigate around.
Samsung's EPG is also one of the best you'll find on the current generation of TVs. It's got a very clean and crisp layout, and so is easy to read from the comfort of your sofa. It's also got an integrated video thumbnail window so you can keep track of the program you're watching while checking through the EPG to see what's coming up later in the evening.
One slight niggle is that when you hit the 'Info' button on the remote to bring up the mini guide, it only shows you a single line of the programme summary. To read the full summary you have to actually open the whole EPG.
Design and connections
One of the reasons Samsung has been so successful in the TV market over the last few years has been due to its focus on design. The UE46ES6300 may not be quite as drop dead gorgeous as the likes of the ES7000 and ES8000, but it's still a very stylish TV. The 1cm bezel around the screen is relatively narrow and gives way to a transparent, glass-like band that traces the outside rim of the set and frames the entire TV. The set is slim too, at around 20mm deep, and while its cross shaped stand won’t appeal to everyone, it does look quite futuristic.
Samsung has avoided relying on breakout cables for ports like Scart sockets and component inputs, so all its ports are full sized. The vast majority of them point directly out of the back of the TV though, which could make this model a little tricky to mount on a wall.
The other issue is one that affects all the larger-screened TVs in Samsung's 2012 lineup -- there are only three HDMI ports provided, when most other manufacturers now fit four as standard on most sets over 32 inches in size.
On the plus side it does have Wi-Fi as well as Ethernet, and you also get three USB ports as well as both Freeview HD and Freesat HD tuners.
Naturally this set includes Samsung's Smart TV platform. The apps still aren’t of the same quality as those you get on phones or tablets, as they're generally slow to load and sluggish to use. Samsung's lineup of apps is probably the best around at the moment though. It includes apps for BBC iPlayer, Netflix and Lovefilm. Samsung is also the only manufacturer with an ITV Player app on its TVs at the moment. Channel 4's popular 4oD service isn't available, but no other manufacturer has it either at present.
There are plenty of other useful services supported though, including movie rental ones such as Acetrax, KnowHow and Curzon on Demand. You also get the Beeb's useful News and Sports apps, along with various other information services apps.
The TV has its own Internet browser, but to be honest I didn’t find it all that useful. It's extremely slow and clunky to navigate with the TV's slender remote, and a lot of video content on websites simply doesn't play back at all.
You can use the set's Allshare Play feature to play a pretty broad range of different digital media files. It does have some annoyances however -- it will play MKV video files from USB drives, for example, but it won’t stream them across a network. This is a tad bizarre as it does stream Xvid and MP4 files without any problems. Moving between folders can also be a drag.
Like a lot of LED models, this set's bass response is relatively weak, with the result that low-frequency sounds tend to come across as being a little bit boxy. It's certainly not the worst I've heard, but it's not the best either and robs music channels or action flicks of a bit of sonic drama.
Nevertheless, it's strong in the mid-range frequency spectrum, so dialogue doesn’t suffer from the muddiness that has affected some of Panasonic's cheaper LED models this year. Its highs are crisp too, without sounding overly brittle. The upshot is that it's fine for day-to-day watching -- soaps, talks shows and game shows won't really be affected -- but you'll want to flick on your surround sound system when you're settling down to watch a movie.
2D Picture quality
This TV's picture presets are pretty dire -- a common feature of Samsung TVs. They just have too much processing turned on and the brightness levels are set too high, with the result that initially its pictures seem quite artificial and plasticky. The Movie preset is the best of a bad bunch, but even that needs tweaking to produce good results.
Nevertheless, when you turn off most of the processing and adjust the brightness and colour settings, this model's picture performance is actually pretty decent. It's more than capable of producing rich and lush colours that make outdoor landscape scenes look stunning. With HD sources, contrast performance is good too -- you get a decent amount of detail in darker areas of the picture. Skin tones are handled sympathetically and even its motion performance isn’t bad, especially if you use it motion processing on its Clear setting.
There are a few issues, though. Its black level performance is average and there was some backlight inconsistencies on our sample, even when the backlight control had been turned down substantially. Also, its standard definition upscaling isn’t as good as what you get on similar priced Panasonic and Sony models. There's also a noticeable drop in contrast performance on standard definition, compared to what you'll get with HD sources.
3D Picture quality
Samsung supplies two pairs of its active specs with this TV. The price of active 3D glasses has fallen a lot over the last year, so you can now buy additional ones online for as little as £15 each. Samsung's new 3D glasses are very light, which makes them a little bit more comfortable to wear, but they also feel quite flimsy.
This is a bright TV by anyone's standards and this extra lick of eye-scorching vividness does help it to overcome the dimming effect of the active shutter glasses without too much bother, so 3D pictures retain a lot of their punch. They look very sharp too -- one of the advantages of active 3D pictures over passive ones, which halve the vertical resolution.
The set isn’t completely crosstalk free, but crosstalk isn't intrusive either. You can sometimes see a bit of it when there are very bright objects against a very dark background in the mid to far distance of a scene, but it's quite a rare occurrence. So, overall, this TV is a strong performer in the 3D department.
Samsung has got the pricing of the UE46ES6300 just about right -- you get a great TV for your money here. Thanks to its stylish looks, good selection of Smart TV apps and strong HD performance, it would make a great family telly. Only the lack of detail and contrast performance in the standard-definition picture department hold it back from being an absolute corker.