If Samsung’s flagship Series 8 ES8000 TVs (see our review of the 46-inch UE46ES8000) are priced just out of reach, or you simply don’t like their distinctive 'Arch Flow' stands, then the brand’s more affordable Series 7 sets, such as the UE40ES7000 here, are well worth investigating. They offer exactly the same feature set, including voice and gesture control, coupled to a slightly more conventional black bezel design with Quad ‘X’ style stand.
The 40-inch model reviewed here is also available as the 46-inch UE46ES7000 and 55-inch UE55ES7000, listed at £1,700 and £2,300 respectively. It looks predictably stylish, with a near edge-to-edge glass frontage. However, as a result it’s rather reflective and prone to fingerprints.
The UE40ES7000 has both Freeview HD and a generic satellite tuner. Connectivity is a tad under par, with just three HDMI inputs, but you also get component/composite inputs, SCART via adaptor, a trio of USBs (one of which can be used for time-shifting and recording to an external hard drive) and Ethernet
Wi-Fi is built-in and the UE40ES7000 also offers Wi-Fi Direct, for a dedicated local connection for your mobile gizmo. As the set ships with only basic documentation, there’s an interactive onscreen E-guide.
More importantly, this ES7000 is fully compatible with Samsung’s new Smart Evolution upgrade kit. This means you’ll be able to pimp it with a faster quad-core processor and next generation UI when the first Evolution kit is released later this year (the price hasn't yet been announced). The UE40ES7000 ships with two remotes: a standard but effective zapper and a Smart Touchpad that requires a little more practice to master.
The ES7000’s big headline features are, of course voice and gesture control. Unfortunately neither work particularly well. Simply trying to adjust the volume usually descends into an endless shouting match, and frantically waving to attract a TVs attention rapidly becomes wearisome.
The set’s connected Smart Hub offers more appreciable entertainment, with BBC iPlayer, ITVPlayer, Netflix, YouTube and LoveFilm just some of the many streaming services available.
There’s also My Video search function which offers IMDB-like credit info and trailers on YouTube. Social Media has been tightly integrated into the screen’s UI, but usability is limited. You’re better off sticking with a phone or tablet, which is far more efficient.
There’s also an open web browser, based on the WebKit rendering engine. Multimedia file support is excellent. From USB, the TV can play all popular codecs and containers, including MKV, AVI, MOV, WMV, MP3 and FLAC.
Picture quality is extremely good. There’s a delicious crispness to HD content while great black levels and shadow detail ensure depth and contrast. To get the best from the panel though, you’ll need to take Judder Reduction to zero in the MotionPlus Custom settings. Only then will you minimise motion artefacts when running the screen at a high refresh rate.
Samsung may be the only brand sticking exclusively with Active Shutter 3D, but the screen’s stereoscopic performance is bright and entertaining, although not without some minor crosstalk (double imaging). Two pairs of 3D glasses are included in the box.
The TVs audio performance is reasonable enough, given that the downward firing speakers have little hope of creating a stereophonic soundstage. The 2 x 10w amplifier goes loud enough for general viewing in a larger room.
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