Samsung’s 5 Series TVs have traditionally been amongst their most successful and have often offered performance outweighing their price-tags, although current pricing for the ES5000 makes it one the more costly TVs in this sector of the market. The Samsung 46ES5500 is sure to be a big seller but will it offer enough to justify its popularity?
Design and Connections
The Samsung ES5500 is quite a slim TV – measuring 5cm at its deepest point – but prospective wall-mounters should be warned that 2 of the 3 HDMI ports are outward facing from the rear. The other, side mounted, HDMI input isn’t too close to the edge of the bezel, at 14cm, so that might be the answer for those routing through an AV Receiver or processor. The other outward facing connections number Scart, component and composite video with accompanying L/R audio jacks; a service port and LAN connection. There are also three audio connections – a headphones socket; S/PDIF digital audio out and a jack to compliment a DVI-HDMI connection. Completing the side facing connections we have 2 USB ports and CAM slot for premium (paid for) digital terrestrial services.
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 ES5500 also had no problems in showing video text overlaid on film based material and also handled 24p content without any problems.
Using the S&M disc we checked the headroom performance of the 5500 from reference white (video level 235) up to peak white (video level 255) with it able to reach peak white without discolouration, provide the Contrast control was dialled down. The Samsung also correctly showed detail down to a video level 17 and reference black below that to video level 0, as long as you had Black level set to Normal. If you used the Low setting the blacks will appear darker but you will be crushing them and you will lose shadow detail.
We had yet to see a TV break the 30 millisecond barrier, for input lag, since we started using our new dedicated testing device but that it was a Samsung 5 series TV that was the first to do it came as no great surprise. Our measurements were flitting about quite a lot – which must indicate varying levels of processing occurring at a given time – but they were always in the 27-30 millisecond range; meaning less than a frame behind a 30 frames per second video game. Impressive stuff! Contrary to what we have read elsewhere, the Game mode must be selected to achieve low latency; for example Movie Mode lags by around 68 milliseconds.
- Standby: 0.0w
- Out of the Box – Standard Mode: 77.1W
- Calibrated – Movie Mode: 61W
Credit where credit is due. Regular visitors to our Reviews pages will be no strangers to the fact we’re intolerant of screen uniformity issues and the Samsung ES5500 suffered little in the way of these irritations. We did notice a touch of panel banding, which manifests as alternating strips of varying light intensity running vertically across the screen, but it wasn’t in evidence a great deal and we managed to get through all the events at London, so far, without real cause for complaint.
The noteworthy screen uniformity served to make the excellent black levels that bit more rewarding and once we’d calibrated the slight blue cast out, colour reproduction was extremely convincing will all details preserved. The minor disappointment that the ES5500 was unable to pick up on PAL film cadences will mean your DVD collection might not be shown in the best light but that shouldn’t be a concern if you use any kind of scaling player.
Overall the Samsung UE46ES5500 gave us what we expected from one of their mid-tier products - strong dynamic range, pleasing colours, mostly excellent video processing – whilst managing to avoid our fears that it might all be spoiled by screen uniformity issues.
- Excellent blacks
- Impressive dynamic range
- Very responsive for gamers
- Lots of smart features
- Calibrated extremely well for mid-range TV
- Mostly solid video processing
- Very good uniformity for LED TV
- Smeared motion with fast paced action
- Poor viewing angles
- Stand doesn't swivel
- Lack of 2:2 cadence detection
Samsung ES5500 (UE-46ES5500) LED LCD TV Review
The UE46ES5500 looks quintessentially Samsung. The slender gloss black bezel is encased by the hallmark transparent surround that sits on a plain, rectangular stand that, alas, doesn’t swivel. The remote control is nice and slender, well planned and easy to operate with just one hand. Being that the ES5500 is a mid-tier TV, we weren’t disappointed by the lack of a fourth HDMI port nor the lack of built-in Wi-Fi. The Samsung menu system contains many, many picture controls, much of which are superfluous but at least they’re cleanly presented and offer helpful descriptions of the functions therein.
The Smart features on offer are about as complete a set of apps, games and video on demand content you could ever wish for. Add in USB PVR recording, interaction with smartphones and tablets plus the streaming of an extensive set of media files all housed in a customisable home page, and we probably have the market’s leading Smart offering. Perhaps LG edges it on the presentation front but in terms of ‘breadth on offer’, we don’t see a rival for Samsung at present.
Once we’d disabled all the unnecessary picture controls and selected the Movie Picture Mode, the Samsung ES5500 offered up a very reasonable picture performance indeed. Naturally, once calibrated even further, the images on offer were of an even higher standard and the accurate colours combined with excellent black levels to deliver pictures of real note. Video processing was generally very good but we were a little surprised the Samsung wasn’t able to cope with the most common 2:2 PAL cadence. The UE46ES5500 did suffer from a couple of customary LED/LCD TV flaws and both viewing angles and motion resolution are pretty much the bare minimum but if you can position the Samsung appropriately and get over the fact moving objects will sometimes smear, the ES5500 presents a great option for those that aren’t bothered about having 3D capabilities. That said, at the suggested retail price of £950, we’re surprised there isn’t 3D on board this TV.
We had yet to see a TV break the 30 millisecond barrier, for input lag, since we started using our new dedicated testing device but that it was a Samsung 5 series TV that was the first to do it came as no great surprise. Our measurements indicated a lag to controller input in the 27-30 millisecond range; meaning less than a frame behind a 30 frames per second video game making the Samsung ES5500 an excellent option for gamers.
There’s not much the Samsung UE46ES5500 doesn’t do well. From impressive contrast performance to truthful colour representation through solid picture processing and a whole bunch of Smart features, it rarely puts a foot wrong. Motion handling could be better, viewing angles more generous and – dare we say it – Samsung might just have included 3D at this price but once more Samsung has delivered another 5 series TV that belies its lower mid-tier status. Recommended.
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