Design and Connections
This design esthetic also extends to the remote control which is one of the nicest looking remotes I have ever seen. The remote follows the same brushed aluminium, black and chrome look as the main display with rounded corners and touch sensitive buttons. Once you’ve got used to the touch sensitive buttons I found the remote both easy and comfortable to use with all the necessary controls sensibly laid out. Since the buttons are touch sensitive the remote might be difficult to use in a very dark environment but there is backlighting and I found that thanks to raised edges on certain parts of the remote I always knew where the important buttons were.
The UE46C8000 has a generous selection of connections at the rear but their layout may not be to everyone’s taste. At the back there are downward facing inputs for the aerial, a LAN port, component video in, composite video in, two RGB in and an audio in for DVI or PC. Due to the ultra-slim nature of the display all these connections are smaller than normal (3.5mm jacks for most) and require special adaptors that come provided. The remaining connections are also at the rear but are sideways facing and about 12cm in from the edge. There are four HDMI inputs one of which has an Audio Return Channel, two USB ports, a headphone socket, a Common Interface (C.I.) slot, a digital audio out which requires a provided adaptor and an analogue audio out that also requires an adaptor. It is clear that Samsung are trying to accommodate both the slim design of the display and the possibility of wall mounting in the design of the connections but I’m not convinced by sideways facing inputs. The problem is unless these inputs are far enough away from the edge of the display you can see the cables at the side, especially if you use high quality HDMI cables. However that minor point aside I liked these connections, they were plentiful and sensibly placed to allow for wall mounting and easy to use.
The Set Up menu allows access to sub-menus relating to Time, Language, Subtitles, Text, Network etc. One idiosyncrasy of the UE46C8000 is that to engage the Game mode you have to enter the General sub-menu in the Set Up menu, rather than including it as another picture mode within the Picture menu. The Sound menu is also fairly comprehensive with a choice of presets such as Movie, Music, Standard, Clear Voice etc. as well as controls for an equaliser, SRS surround, audio languages, audio formats and speaker selection. The sound produced by the UE46C8000 was average but I’m assuming that anyone buying a display like this will wisely be using an outboard receiver to provide the surround sound.
The picture menu offers a choice of four types of viewing modes called Standard, Natural, Dynamic and Movie, the latter being Samsung’s attempt at an accurate preset. There are the usual basic controls that you would expect to find on a LCD display such as Backlight which controls the backlight setting of the LCD panel as well as Contrast, Brightness, Sharpness, Colour and Tint. In addition there is the Eco Solution control which adjusts the backlight setting depending on the ambient light but I find that this can cause fluctuations in the display’s brightness and I prefer to leave it off. Both the Picture Mode and the Eco Solution can be accessed directly using the Tools button on the remote.
Also within Advanced Settings is an option called Colour Space which gives you a choice between Auto, Native and Custom; if you choose custom you have access to a full 3D Colour Management System (CMS) which will allow for accurate calibration of the colour gamut. There is also a choice of a two point white balance control or a ten point White Balance control which will allow for very accurate calibration of the greyscale. Samsung are to be congratulated for including such comprehensive calibration controls.
Within Picture Options there is Size which obviously gives you sizes to choose from includingAuto Wide, 16:9, Wide Zoom, Zoom, 4:3 and Screen Fit. This function can be accessed directly using the P. Size button on the remote. There is also Colour Tone which gives you a choice of Cool, Normal, Warm1 and Warm2, a Digital Noise Filter control (3D noise reduction filter) which will reduce analogue background noise and a MPEG Noise Reduction Filter which attempts to address over compression in MPEG encoded material. There is a HDMI Black Level control that I left set to Normal and a Film Mode option that has two choices, Auto1 andAuto2. There is the Motion Plus function which controls the 200Hz frame interpolation and also offers controls for Blur Reduction and Judder Reduction. Finally the Smart LED function controls the LED backlight to try and improve picture clarity.
The final sub-menu within the Picture menu contains all the 3D related controls and can be accessed directly by using the 3D button on the remote. This sub-menu allows you to choose the 3D Mode (2D to 3D, Side by Side, Top and Bottom etc.), the 3D View Point (which adjusts the 3D perspective), Depth which only affects the 2D to 3D mode, Picture Correction which adjusts the images for each eye, 3D Auto View which automatically selects the correct 3D Mode when it receives a 3D input and 3D Optimisation which allows you to control the Motion Plus functions for 3D. The UE46C8000 allows you to save the settings (including White Balance and Colour Space) for each input, this is a very handy function as it allows you to correctly calibrate each input for the device that is connected to it.
The colour gamut performance shown on the CIE chart wasn’t very good for a preset and is sadly a step back in terms of out of the box accuracy compared to previous Samsung displays. As you can see all three primaries are over saturated, especially green which is unfortunately becoming more common these days. The errors in the primaries are also affecting the secondary colours, especially magenta. However the UE46C8000 includes a Colour Management System so once again we would hope to make improvements with calibration.
Using the 3D CMS I was able to improve the overall colour performance considerably. After calibration Green and Blue and all three secondaries were measuring very accurately with a DeltaE (error) of less than 2 which is excellent. Unfortunately whilst red was improved it was still showing a large error in Hue which couldn’t be improved further with the CMS, due to Red’s position in the display’s native gamut. However, overall this is a very good colour performance. Whilst they weren’t always that intuitive to use, Samsung are to be congratulated for including a ten point greyscale calibration and a proper 3D CMS with control over all six colours, other manufacturers please take note.
The digital video processing capabilities of the UE46C8000 were put through a comprehensive series of tests and it passed almost all with flying colours. Using both my PAL and NTSC HQV benchmark discs I first checked the SMPTE colour bar test which the UE46C8000 easily passed, correctly scaling the full 576i and 480i images without any loss of detail or unwanted ringing. The UE46C8000 also scored very highly in the jaggies tests on both discs as well as performing very well on the diagonal interpolation test, with two of the three moving bars appearing smooth and only the bottom most extreme bar showing very slight jaggies. The UE46C8000 also resolved all the fine brickwork in the detail tests and quickly locked onto and displayed a solid image in the film detail test (provided the Film Mode is enabled).
However, the UE46C8000 actually failed the test displaying film material with scrolling video text when Film Mode was set to Auto1 but passed when it was set to Auto2, so if you experience any problems with video text over film try changing between the two settings. In the cadence tests the UE46C8000 correctly detected both the 2:2 (PAL - European) and 3:2 (NTSC - USA/Japan) tests as well as a number of less common formats. The UE46C8000 also performed very well in tests on the HQV Blu-ray using high definition content. With the player set to 1080i the UE46C8000 correctly deinterlaced and displayed both the video and film resolution tests (provided the Picture Size is set to Screen Fit). I have read in other reviews that the UE46C8000 had problems with film based 1080i sources but I couldn't find any issues with my tests. The UE46C8000 also showed a reasonably fast response to changes in cadence as well as good scaling and filtering and good resolution enhancement.
The only high definition test that the UE46C8000 performed poorly on was the one showing video text overlaid on film based material regardless of which Film Mode setting I used. The UE46C8000 also performed well with the Spears & Munsil Blu-ray which has a number of tests designed to check a display for clipping, its sharpness, any image cropping, chroma alignment, the high and low parts of the dynamic range, chroma and luma performance, geometry etc. I was able to use this disc to confirm that the UE46C8000 was correctly reproducing black down to video level 17 and not clipping white at video levels above 235. Overall this is an excellent set of results and means that the UE46C8000‘s video processor should be able to handle whatever standard or high definition signal you throw at it.
In Movie mode the input lag measured at 110ms which is slow even for a LCD display. However things improved in Game mode with the UE46C8000 measuring an input lag of 40ms which should be sufficient for all but the most hardened gamer. As I previously pointed out, to enter Game mode you need to go into the Set Up menu and then the General sub-menu which seemed a bit strange to me. I would have thought it would be more obvious to include Game mode in with all the other picture modes and having to find it buried in a separate menu was something of a nuisance.
As is the case with most LCD manufacturers these days, Samsung has promoted the supposed energy saving benefits of LED backlighting but to be honest I haven’t found this type of display to be any more energy efficient than CCFL displays. The UE46C8000 also includes an Eco Solution control which is designed to make the display more energy efficient by adjusting the overall brightness of the display depending on the ambient light but this causes the brightness of the image to fluctuate and is best left off. The same goes for the Dynamic Contrast control which if left on will adjust the brightness and contrast settings from scene to scene and thus cause the energy consumption to fluctuate. As I mentioned earlier the screen also turns itself off when there is no signal which I assume is an attempt to improve energy efficiency as well as another way to boost the contrast ratio numbers. Using a full raster in Normal picture mode the UE46C8000 measured 56W at 0IRE, 145W at 50IRE and 145W at 100IRE. In Movie mode the results were better and measured 69W at 0IRE, 117W at 50IRE and 117W at 100IRE. In standby the energy consumption was less than 1W. Overall I found the energy consumption to be quite high compared to some other LCD displays with LED edge lighting that I’ve recently tested.
Picture Quality - 2D
The UE46C8000 includes Samsung’s Motion Plus which adds 200Hz frame interpolation which is designed to further enhance the resolution. Whilst I have no problem with increasing the frame rate in multiples of 50 or 24 depending on the source material I am not a fan of any form of frame interpolation. Even though I can sometimes see slight improvements in video based material, I don’t find the improvements really warrant all the fuss that manufacturers’ marketing departments make and, ultimately, these systems make little or no difference to the motion limitations inherent in LCD technology. Worse than that, when used in conjunction with film based material the interpolation has a detrimental effect on the image, which loses all sense of being film-like and begins to look like video. Personally I rarely use any frame interpolation functions and, to be honest, I almost always leave them off. As I had with other displays, I noticed that when there was no signal, even for a second or two, the UE46C8000 will stop displaying an image completely giving a totally black screen. I assume the purpose of this is to make the display as energy efficient as possible but it also be a surreptitious method of improving the perceived black level and thus artificially boosting the contrast ratio numbers. This 'global dimming', for want of a better word, has an unfortunate side-effect because, by briefly having a completely black screen, you were made more aware of display's actual black level.
To be fair the black levels were quite good compared to other LCD displays I've tested but obviously not up to the standards of the best plasmas. Still the use of local (precision) dimming technology certainly helped and the blacks that the UE46C8000 produced in dark scenes were some of the best I've seen from a LCD display. Samsung certainly seem to implemented their technology for dimming a LED edge array very well, I was never aware of halos or blocky illumination that sometimes affects localised dimming.
It is a shame that Samsung weren't so successful at creating a uniform backlight using the LED edge array, I was surprised at how uneven the LED edge backlight was when displaying a dark screen. There was definitely a noticeable cloudy effect present with brighter sides and especially corners, in fact backlight bleeding was so bad you could still see it on brighter images. I photographed the screen whilst it displayed the a 10 IRE raster in an attempt to show this effect. It is a shame that manufacturers feel the need to sacrifice backlight uniformity in a marketing driven pursuit of ever thinner displays as this problem badly affects what is otherwise a very good image.
I found that the UE46C8000 also suffered from the usual off-axis problems that plague all LCD displays that use VA panels but to be fair it wasn’t too bad compared to many other displays. Scenes became washed out once you moved your head to one side or another (or up and down) and variations in brightness became more pronounced. It certainly wasn’t as annoying as the uneven backlight because even if you were sat directly in front of the screen you could still see that. The screen is quite glossy so the UE46C8000 is very good at preserving black levels in rooms with ambient light but the trade off is that you can see reflections during darker scenes. Whether this is a benefit or a hinderance will depend largely on how much ambient light you have in your room.
Picture Quality - 3D
To be honest I don’t think it will be films that sell 3D technology to the mass market, but rather sporting events and gaming. I found playing the Avatar game in 3D on the PS3 was genuinely immersive and much more fun than 2D. There are still problems with the technology (if you move too fast the image blurs quite noticeably) and the resolution is lower than 3D Blu-ray but there was a real sense of three dimensional space which adds to the game playing experience. Also the idea of wearing 3D glasses to play a game doesn't feel in the least bit artificial whereas wearing them for watching TV or movies felt a little strange. Given that I wear glasses in normal life I suspect it will be a particularly hard sell to people with perfect eyesight. The 2D to 3D conversion almost worked and there were times when you did get a sense of depth but then at other times the display would become confused and it was as though Salvador Dali had taken control of your TV. If the images were reasonably static then the conversion was better but quick pans and cuts caused it loads of problems. It tended to work better with games and did add some dimensionality but I couldn't help thinking how good a real 3D first person shooter will be. To be honest it is quite impressive that this kind of on-the-fly 3D conversion technology works at all in a domestic TV set but ultimately it is nothing more than a gimmick that quickly becomes boring. I really couldn't see myself every actually watching a TV program or even playing a game using this technology and as soon as you put on some real 3D material its limitations are readily apparent.
The major problem with the 3D image on the UE46C8000 was an image artefact called crosstalk. This artefact is caused when latent images intended for the left eye are perceived by the right eye and vice versa, thus creating a ghost-like double image. Our 3D Guide Video explains this in greater detail for those interested in finding out more. These latent images are due to the response time of the panel coupled with imperfect sync with the glasses in active shutter systems. The UE46C8000 includes a 3D Viewpoint control that is supposed to help reduce cross talk but on the UE46C8000 this issue was always present to some degree or another in all the content viewed and caused the image to appear slightly blurred. I found the glasses comfortable to wear and easy to operate, although on a couple of occasions I lost the synch with the display. I'm not sure if this was my fault or due to the glasses and the display losing their connection but I noticed it happened after a dark scene so it might be related to the display blacking out when there is perceived to be no signal. Also if you tilt your head the image darkens and you lose the 3D effect so this precludes lying down on the sofa and watching TV (as I often do). And finally if you want to try and calibrate the 3D image then you are given the CMS and a Two Point greyscale option. However you will also have to find a way to compensate for the glasses effect on luminance.
Aside from the obvious addition of 3D which I’ll discuss separately, Samsung have clearly pulled out all the stops when it comes to features for the UE46C8000. As previously mentioned they have used LED edge backlighting in order to make the chassis ultra-slim but as one of Samsung’s top of the line displays they have also included their HyperReal picture engine coupled with 200Hz Motion Plus frame interpolation technology and localised dimming. The UE46C8000 also uses Samsung’s ultra Clear Panel and has a resolution of up to 1080p for both 2D and 3D content. In addition there is Samsung’s Wide Colour Enhancer Plus function which is designed to expand the colour gamut of the display as well as Samsung’s Mega Dynamic Contrast function which attempts to increase the contrast ratio by adjusting the brightness and contrast controls on-the-fly.
The UE46C8000 is DNLA compliant and thus allows you to transfer videos, music and photos from your PC or mobile device, either via LAN, USB or wirelessly. It also allows you to connect with multiple PCs. In addition the UE46C8000 includes the DiVX video on demand function. Finally all of Samsung’s 2010 LED backlit LCD HDTVs are Energy Star-Compliant, using 50% less power than last year’s models and are made with eco-friendly materials. In addition the UE46C8000 includes an Eco Solution function that can change the backlight depending on the ambient light in order to improve the energy efficiency of the display.
- Good Calibrated Colour Gamut
- Good Calibrated Greyscale
- Good Video Processing
- 3D Capability
- Freeview HD
- Elegant Design
- Attractive Remote Control
- Full 3D Colour Management Sysystem (CMS)
- 10 Point Greyscale Calibration
- Good Streaming Capability and Internet Platform
- Very Poor Backlight Uniformity
- Poor Off-Axis Performance
- Cross Talk Ghosting in 3D
- No 3D glasses included with display
- Gaming input lag could be better
- Game mode not included with other Picture Modes
- Side inputs could be better positioned
Samsung C8000 (UE46C8000) Review
That leaves 3D gaming and it is here that I think the greatest potential exists. Whist Avatar isn’t the best game you can buy the addition of 3D improved it immeasurably and as soon as you removed the glasses the game felt flat and uninvolving. However unless the price of active shutter glasses falls quite quickly the manufacturers could have problems marketing this particular technology to consumers and personally I found cross talk to be a real problem with LCD 3D displays, when compared to 3D plasma displays. Ultimately this is a very capable display with excellent greyscale and colour performance and superb processing, sadly poor backlight uniformity compromises its 2D performance and cross talk hinders its 3D potential. The price is also an issue when you add up all the pros and cons.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
3D Picture Quality
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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