Samsung EH5300 (UE-46EH5300) LED LCD Smart TV Review
Can Samsung's 5 Series again defy its mid-range standing?
IntroductionSamsung’s ‘5’ series of LED/LCD TVs have generally punched above their status and price-point, offering great picture quality, an abundance of features and low latency for gamers making them excellent all-rounders. The model under review here, the UE46EH5300, is joined by the UE32EH5300 and UE40EH5300 and is currently doing the rounds online for around the £550 mark. That's definitely potential value for money, by anybody’s standards, and would perhaps make for a nice family treat this Christmas. Obviously you don’t want to be lumbered with an additional turkey so let’s see if 'yule' be well serviced by this mid-range offering.
Design and ConnectionsThe cynical amongst you might think Samsung added what seems like unnecessary bulk to the rear of the EH5300’s chassis purely to make their higher end sets seem more attractive. At nearly 9.5cm deep, this is an unusually stocky LED TV but traditionalists will welcome the all black surround that is reasonably slender. There’s no fancy stand to discuss, either, just a regulation, rectangular number and we’re happy enough with that although we would have preferred it to be a swiveller instead of a static.
Connectivity is fairly unremarkable as well, with two outward facing HDMI ports on the rear and one facing sideways. Also on the side-facing connection panel are two USB inputs and a CAM slot. Completing the rear facing connections are stereo audio jacks, a LAN port, component and composite video inputs, a SCART socket, aerial terminal, a headphone jack, S/PDIF digital audio out and an audio input corresponding to the DVI computer input that’s assigned to HDMI 1. The remote control follows most of the rest of what we’ve seen from Samsung in 2012 with a streamlined design which is comfortably operable with just one hand and sensibly designed so that most of the frequently used controls are around the centre.
MenusThe Menu system is split in to 6 sections - Picture, Sound, Channel, Network, System and Support and are informative, with a brief description of what the currently highlighted selection does (or is supposed to do) appearing to the right. The Picture Menu houses the Picture Mode options of Standard, Dynamic and Movie but if you’re looking for a Game mode, you’ll need to navigate to the System tab and then to the General sub-menu. All the standard Contrast, Brightness, Colour and Sharpness controls are found toward the top of the Picture Menu as well as a Tint (Hue) slider and Screen Adjustment option that should be set to ‘Screen Fit’ for high def sources.
Under the Advanced Settings, we have the Black Tone and Dynamic Contrast options that we left off and a Shadow Detail slider that goes from -2 to +2. We found with this set to anything other than zero, low end gamma was adversely affected so we left it in its neutral state. The Gamma selection itself, works on the same basis as the Shadow Detail control only with a +3/-3 range but, obviously, affects the curve throughout. The advanced menu also gives access to an RGB only mode, useful for a quick colour luminance calibration without need for measuring equipment; choices for Auto or Native Colour Space and further options – Flesh Tone, Edge Enhancement and Motion Lighting – that had no real perceivable beneficial effects on image quality. The UE46EH5300 comes with 2 point White Balance sliders but there’s no Colour Management System to play with, unlike the higher end ranges.
Contained in the Picture Options sub-menu we have the Film Mode that has Auto1, Auto2 and Off options which we’ll test in the Video Processing section. There are also a couple of noise filters (Digital Noise and MPEG) that didn’t really do anything with our test material but could be useful with particularly low quality content – we know some of you even watch YouTube on the big screen. With the (most accurate) Picture Mode of Movie selected the Colour Tone (read Colour Temperature) of Warm 2 is automatically selected, which usually provides pictures closest to industry standards. Finally, under the Picture Options, there’s a choice of settings for HDMI Black Level that should be at Normal for Video content and Low for PC levels.
Test ResultsAs we would expect Movie Mode is far more faithful to the industry standards for TV and Film production, albeit not perfect. Instead of a large excess of blue throughout the greyscale mix, we now have a middling surfeit of red energy in the brighter elements of the picture and a small superfluity of blue near black. The ensuing full calibration will now likely be a balancing act as the 2 point White Balance controls are unlikely to be sufficient to correct the non-linear tracking. Had we had the 10 point controls afforded the 6, 7 and 8 series we would no doubt be able to achieve ruler-flat response but with overall Delta Errors not tipping over 5 – three is the point where it is thought the human eye can’t detect issues – we’re already in good shape and a long way from the Standard Mode which saw dE’s as large as 15. Colour performance is also vastly improved with each displaying errors at or below 3. Red is under-saturated and blue the opposite but not particularly meaningfully so. The colours are, again, too bright but nowhere near to the extent of the out-of-the-box mode. We don’t have a Colour Management System CMS to fine tune but we should be able to make a small improvement with the basic Colour slider.
As we expected, we were unable to get a totally flat tracking greyscale, the inequities of the errors at either end – too much blue near black/excess red in brighter parts – so we had to settle for just minimising those errors. The results are still excellent, however, and we have achieved our target of getting dE’s below 3 throughout the greyscale. Despite the accepted truism that we shouldn’t be able to see any imperfections with these kind of numbers, ‘blacks’ do still have a noticeable blue tinge but that’s nothing new for this particular technology.
As we mentioned earlier, without a CMS we’re reliant on a rather coarse Colour control to improve gamut performance but we’re very close to hitting the HDTV, Rec.709 standard but the ability to fully saturate red at maximum levels is a limitation of the panel and beyond the scope of any controls. We’ll take a look at performance at lower levels of stimulation below but, still, we’re in the realms of excellent with this more traditional marker.
The UE46EH5300 returned some of the very best results we’ve seen since gaining the ability to easily demonstrate colour performance at lower saturation levels, which is extremely impressive for a TV of this status. The tendency of blue to over-saturate at 100% is mirrored by the performance where more white is in the mix but overall errors only just tip over 3 at 50 and 75% saturation. Red is pretty much spot on at lower stimuli which will mean, in conjunction with the excellent greyscale, the tones of white skinned people should look spot on; something we’ll investigate with some real world material in the picture quality section of the review. Hats off to Samsung here for nailing the basics of colour reproduction.Even before taking the Klein K-10 to the screen to take the best black level readings reasonably possible, it was already easy to see the EH5300 was outperforming all the other Samsung LED TVs we’ve seen so far in 2012. It’s quite likely down to the fact the manufacturers are using an older panel in this lower mid-range set but, whatever, it’s very impressive. On/Off and, the more illuminatingly, ANSI Contrast figures are close to identical with the mixed frame ANSI contrast scoring a mightily impressive ratio of around 3,500:1. The screen is a touch brighter toward the middle but it’s barely noticeable without using a test pattern.
Beginning with the SMPTE 133 pattern, the EH5300 was able to cleanly scale a 576i signal without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. The 46EH5300 also performed well with video deinterlacing duties, with jaggies only appearing when the line was at an acute angle in the first test on the HQV disc. In the second test the motion adaptive deinterlacing was also good with slight jaggies only appearing on the bottom bar of the three moving bars.
The 5500, quite surprisingly, couldn’t lock on to the 2:2 (PAL - European) film cadence and nor could it handle the most common NTSC 2:3 cadence and this was with the Film Mode in either Auto1 or Auto2. There were no such cadence problems handling film material with both horizontal and vertical scrolling video text, correctly displaying the words without any blurring or shredding.
With our Blu-ray player set to 1080i the display correctly deinterlaced and displayed both the video and film resolution tests (provided the aspect ratio is set to Screen Fit) and showed good scaling and filtering performance as well as good resolution enhancement. The Samsung EH5300 also had no problems in showing video text overlaid on film based material and handled 24p content without any problems.
The good news continues when it comes to Input Lag and the EH5300 takes the crown from the ES5500 as being the most responsive display, for gamers, since using our dedicated testing kit. It delivered a latency of between 25 and 28 milliseconds – equating to less than a frame of your average console game.
- Standby: 0.0W
- Out-of-the-Box – Standard Mode: 74W
- Calibrated – Movie Mode: 71.2W
Picture QualityThe Samsung UE46EH5300 takes a back to basics approach to delivering its pictures and is none the worse for doing so. We’ve had criticisms over Samsung’s propensity to employ a spot of backdoor processing, in the past, especially with their higher-end LED TVs that have sometimes created more problems than they’ve solved. Sure, LED/LCD has a number of inherent technological barriers but done well, it’s still capable of producing very engaging images and that’s precisely what the EH5300 delivers. The backbone of any good picture is its dynamic range and this particular display has plenty; black levels are extremely impressive for an LED TV and were barely touched with any hint of uniformity issues. Looking at an all black screen and we’d almost believe it was a plasma display, such was the lack of light pooling, edge bleed or any other blights. Shadow detailing could have been better, the EH5300 seems to employ some global dimming of the LED’s around the frame but it was a mild crush rather than an unwanted blackout.
After contrast performance the next thing we’re looking for are believable colours and the UE46EH53000 wasn’t found wanting in that department, either, once we’d engaged the Movie picture mode. In fact, as we said on the Test Results section, colour tracking was extraordinarily accurate at a range of saturation levels, putting many - much more expensive - displays to shame. Video processing was also of a high standard, meaning everything from lowly standard definition to the more lofty aspirations of Blu-ray disc was handled with aplomb. High definition sources, in particular, brimmed with detail, brought to life and given excellent dimensionality by the rich contrast performance. Motion handling isn’t the strongest suit of the EH5300 and we could detect some ghosting with rapidly moving objects but it was certainly nothing too offensive and the brain is fairly good at adapting to a spot of blur. It’s certainly preferable to a complete breakdown in motion processing that we sometimes see with the engines of high-end LED TVs. Whilst we’re discussing weaknesses, we have to point out that viewing angles aren’t particularly generous with this panel so some consideration over where it is placed in the room is needed, especially as the stand doesn’t swivel. Both are fairly minor complaints, in all honesty, and the EH5300 truly does produce some of the best images we’ve seen from an LED television in 2012.
Audio and FeaturesWe were pleasantly surprised by the two down-firing speakers housed at the rear of the EH5300. Sure, they’re not going to rock your world with crystal clear audio but at least they have some bass presence and the ability to be pushed to fairly high levels before buckling under the strain. Perhaps the fact that there’s some added girth to the chassis is of some benefit here.
Samsung’s suite of features is so extensive that we felt compelled to give them their own dedicated Review and just about all that’s missing, from all that is covered there, are the voice and gesture controls as well as the Evolution Upgrade kit.
- Excellent black levels and contrast
- Almost pristine screen uniformity
- Outstanding colour accuracy
- Lots of smart features
- Current online pricing is low
- Little bit of blur with motion
- Viewing angles could be better
- Stand doesn't swivel
Samsung EH5300 (UE-46EH5300) LED LCD Smart TV Review
Unlike some of its more esteemed companions in the Samsung range, the UE46EH5300 is very unlikely to be bestowed with any design awards being as it’s the proverbial black box and unusually thickset for a LED TV. No matter, to us, and our only criticism really stems from the fact the base-stand doesn’t swivel. Connections are certainly adequate and the same can be said for the layout and content of the Menu systems although it is about time Samsung put the Game Mode with the rest of the Picture Modes, instead of secreting it in to the Settings Menu. Features are abundant, with heaps of Video on Demand services to choose from, media streaming possibilities and a web browser among the highlights.
Once we’d shifted out of the factory default Standard picture mode, the EH5300 transformed in to a display capable of very accurate colour representation. In fact, once calibrated, this plucky mid-range TV put many a display costing far more to shame in terms of its colour tracking and Samsung deserve great credit for that. Video processing was generally strong, with good scaling and deinterlacing performance although the lack of proper cadence detection means your DVD collection could be seen in better light.
To add to the extremely convincing colour palette, contrast and dynamic range performance was incredibly strong with barely a whiff of a uniformity issue to spoil the party. High definition images were packed with detail and although motion handling could have been better, we’d expect most to be extremely pleased by the images the EH5300 is capable of outputting. The good news doesn’t stop there, either, and – attention gamers – this particular TV returned the lowest input lag figures we’ve obtained since using our new testing equipment and methodology. The EH5300 is truly a TV that should satisfy the most demanding of competitive gamer out there.
The Samsung UE-EH5300 is an outstanding all-rounder available for a price that shouldn’t make you wince. It is most certainly up there with the best LED TV’s we’ve seen this year and based on current internet prices, it's a sure-fire Best Buy.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £919.00
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level8
3D Picture Quality8
Ease Of Use8
Value for Money9
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.