In terms of the feature-set and accessories the two high-end TVs are identical, so the Samsung UE-55ES7000 is equipped with a built in camera and microphone, for both voice and motion control as well as Skype video calls. It also ships with a Smart Controller and IR 'blaster’, more on which later. There's dual core processing on-board and the newly crowned Reference Smart TV platform too. The ES7000 also comes with two pairs of RF active shutter glasses in the box for 3D duties so it could hardly be deemed under-spec'd. It sure is a looker, let’s hope beauty isn’t only skin deep.
Design and Connections
As we mentioned in the introduction, the Samsung UE-55ES7000 comes with two controllers in the box - one conventional and another not so. The non-standard ‘Smart Touch Control’ is Samsung’s answer to Panasonic’s TouchPad controller and LG’s Magic Motion controller and features a microphone and scroll pad. The voice control works quite well but it is simpler to use a standard controller in most cases, although we did find it makes searching the included Web Browser a bit easier than tapping away at the standard remote keypad. The scroll pad is also a plus for navigating the Smart Hub and browser, making things much more readily accessible.
The rear of the 55ES7000 houses a joystick type controller with which owners can perform basic controls and it also acts as the power on/off switch. Also at the rear and on the righthand side are the connections, which include three sideways facing HDMI inputs. There is a 3.5mm audio in jack next to HDMI1 for passing the audio if you are using a DVI cable. HDMI2 is allocated as the ARC (Audio Return Channel) and HDMI3 is assigned as the MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link) port for connection of supported tablets and smartphones. There are also three USB ports, with one of them allocated for use with an external HDD. Other sideways facing connections include an optical digital audio output, a RGB input with provided Scart adapter and a headphone socket. Facing downwards there are connections to an external aerial and a satellite dish, inputs for composite and component video and stereo analogue audio. There is also an Ethernet port, although the 55ES8000 has built-in WiFi. Finally, on the left-hand side there is the power cable socket, which uses a detachable 1.5m long two-pin cord.
Within the Advanced Settings sub-menu there is Dynamic Contrast, Black Tone, Flesh Tone, RGB Only, Expert Pattern which provides a series of test patterns and Black Enhancer. Within Advanced Settings there are all the key calibration controls – Gamma; a choice of a two or ten point White Balance controls and Colour Space which gives you a choice between Auto, Native and Custom; Custom allows access to a full Colour Management System (CMS).
We gave some criticism to the motion handling of the high-end Samsung LED TVs last year and, alas, the ES7000 seems to perform the same kind of unavoidable ‘smoothing’ the 2011 TVs displayed, irrespective of whether the interpolating Motion Plus engine was enabled or not. It seems that Samsung’s touted Clear Motion Rate (CMR) technology which combines backlight, panel refresh rates and the image processor factors is unavoidable which would be fine, other than it sometimes breaks down, causing stuttering, pauses and speed up/slow down anomalies to occur on occasion. It’s most easily noticeable when on-screen action has a sudden change of pace and can cause almost comical effects with slow motion replays. The actual interpolation of the Motion Plus engine is quite pleasing for sporting action, when set to Clear or a conservative User setting and the ‘black frame insertion’ technique of the LED Motion plus can be particularly effective with film but it’s a shame about the unavoidable motion processing.
To get the responsive gaming performance possible from the ES7000, users will need to go in to the System Menu and head down to the General sub-menu to enable the Game mode. The standard modes available in the Picture Menu all lag over 100 milliseconds which is intolerable for most games. There’s no need to alter Input titles, as we see mentioned on the Forum, Game mode is all it takes to bring input latency down to a far more tolerable 42-43 milliseconds which whilst not as impressive as some, was enough for our needs. Stereoscopic 3D signals caused the lag to increase to around 71 milliseconds but don’t expect a photo of that!
- Standby: 0.0W
- Out-of-the-Box – Standard Mode: 91W
- Calibrated Movie Mode: 87.4W
- 3D – Movie Mode: 151W
Picture Quality - 2D
The UE-55ES7000 again embodies Samsung’s insistence on sneaking in undefeatable noise reduction into some of their TVs that mainly manifests in removing a bit of film grain. In reality, it’s extremely unlikely most would notice this processing and it’s mainly as a result have having dedicated tests to uncover it that we noticed. Still, it's not really necessary and the option to turn it off completely would be appreciated. Our only other real gripe was with a touch of panel banding being occasionally present on very dark and very bright areas of the picture with the stripes being largely horizontal in orientation and only really noticeable just above and below centre screen. Again, this banding was nothing like as evident as we saw on a number of 2011 LED TVs.
For the most part the ES7000 imparted extremely convincing video; colours were accurate, contrast performance very impressive and motion handling – when the CMR processing wasn’t having one of its infrequent breakdowns – was generally pretty clean. The contrast levels do take a nose-dive off once you move off-centre but the stand swivels pretty generously so room placement to maximise dynamic range should be fairly easy for most. As we mentioned on the Tests page, a touch of Motion Plus didn’t do any harm to fast moving video based action but was totally unnecessary for film, unless you like things that bit smoother than they really are. Samsung’s scaling of standard definition is of an extremely high quality, although we don’t expect many purchasers of a 55 inch TV to really care about that too much. Like the ES8000, the 7000 is equipped with an extremely resilient filter to combat ambient light making it an excellent choice for a bright room, although it is quite reflective.
Picture Quality - 3D
Audio and Features
There’s no point reinventing the wheel so rather than rehashing everything from our in-depth look at Samsung’s Smart TV system, so if you'd like to know more, why not clink on the link provided? Everything in there applies, in total, to the ES7000 – in fact it was written when this very review sample was undergoing testing.
- Fantastic styling
- Amazing feature-set
- Excellent colour gamut out-of-the-box
- Reference colour gamut after calibration
- Reference greyscale after calibration
- (Mostly) excellent video processing
- Some undefeatable noise reduction
- Some issues with motion processing
- Poor off-axis performance
- Gesture controls can be problematic
- Only 3 HDMI inputs
Samsung ES7000 (UE-55ES7000) 3D LED LCD Smart TV Review
The out-of-the-box Movie mode was a massive improvement over the factory setting of Standard and better yet, once we’d calibrated it to virtual perfection. The extremely convincing colours were underpinned by excellent dynamic range making the ES7000’s pictures very pleasing on the eye. The first class video processing didn’t do any harm, either. There was a niggle, or two, mostly centred around undefeatable noise reduction and motion smoothing but, in general, the Samsung produced wonderful, stand-out video. Screen uniformity is definitely improved over last year’s efforts but could still be improved in terms of panel banding.
3D pictures were almost every bit as good as their 2D counterparts and the almost crosstalk free presentation was ably assisted by the inherent brightness the ES7000 is capable of delivering. Flicker sufferers will likely seek an alternative to the 3D eye-wear provided in the box as they provide little to no protection against ambient light and reflections but, to their credit, they are so light one could be forgiven for forgetting they were wearing them. Gaming performance was in the not-too-bad-at-all category with a measured lag of around 42 milliseconds in 2D and just under 71 for 3D gaming.
The Samsung UE-55ES7000 was everything we expected; very sleek, highly Smart and capable of delivering some glorious images. On the flip side, we wish Samsung wouldn’t insist upon introducing undefeatable aspects of picture processing in some of their higher end TVs.
Contrast/Dynamic Range/Black Level
3D Picture Quality
Ease Of Use
Value for Money
Our Review Ethos
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