Samsung UE40ES6300 3D LED TV Review

Black Level

Since it uses a VA-type LCD panel, good black-level performance (by LCD standards) is almost a certainty on the Samsung UE40ES6300. Keep in mind that the black level and peak light output on an LCD go hand-in-hand; if you raise the [Backlight] control for ultra bright whites, you’ll need to tolerate greyer blacks; likewise, you can get deeper blacks if you’re happy to settle for less brilliant whites. The [LED Motion Plus] setting, which enhances motion clarity a little, does have a small effect on light output as well. With full video white set to produce 120 cd/m2 of light output from the screen, black measured at a decent 0.069 cd/m2 in the centre of the panel. Of course, that’s viewed face on – as with everything else with LCD technology, moving to the sides results in poorer performance.

This is fairly good performance by LCD standards, although isn’t the best we’ve ever measured from an LCD-based television (in fact, black levels seemed to be better in the final days of CCFL backlit sets, the move to LED as a light source has set things back a little). It’s also considerably better than the 0.11+ cd/m2 readings we’ve taken from competing LCD panel types, such as IPS.

Motion Resolution

The UE40ES6300 manages to resolve about 600 lines from the scrolling test chart on the FPD Benchmark Software disc. That 600 lines observation is based on the black-on-grey lines; the grey-on-grey lines became blurry and hard to discern sooner.

Samsung’s [Motion Plus] menu allows the user to configure differing amounts of de-blur and de-judder processing, meaning that it’s possible to gain higher motion clarity without having to take the video-like “soap opera effect” with 24fps movie material. In practice, we found that the benefits of the [Blur Reduction] control topped out about “7″ (out of a possible “10″), and we left [Judder Reduction] at 0.

In real world usage, this means that the 40ES6300 has decent motion performance with video-based material. If most of your viewing is of content like high-motion sports, you’ll likely want to go with a panel capable of higher motion resolution. On the other hand, the ES6300′s performance here is more than enough for blur-free portrayal of current console video games (most of which run at only 30fps) and movies (24fps/25fps depending on the source).

3D

When we reviewed one of Samsung’s Series 6 LCDs last year, we were the first review source to break the news that the supposed “Full HD 3D” LCD was, in fact, only displaying tri-dimensional images at half resolution (we developed our own 3D test materials for assessing resolution and motion performance). Fortunately, the UE40ES6300 does not follow the same route, and offers a full resolution 3-D image.

Motion is still not perfect, though. As with many LCD 3D designs, the Samsung UE40ES6300′s is 60hz-centric, which makes sense, given that Samsung is based in South Korea. 50hz 3D content plays back with stutter, as does 24p 3D content from Blu-ray. That’s unfortunate, because European users will probably be feeding 24p and 50hz extra-dimensional material almost exclusively. There is some relief, though: the [Motion Plus] controls can be configured in a way that causes the 3DTV to perform motion interpolation, which solves the judder problem. Of course, that does mean that movies will appear with the “soap opera effect”, which, to purist users, might be more of a problem than the original judder. The user has some degree of control here, although there’s no perfect solution to simply display 3D motion “as-is” unless it’s in the 60hz format.

Watching Hugo on the UE40ES6300, we were happy with the level of brightness being offered – typically a strong point or LCD technology – but did note some crosstalk visible around high contrast areas. Like most things about the TV, the performance is good overall, but leaves room for improvement.

Standard Definition

The ES6300 doesn’t feature Samsung’s own video processing chip (which has excellent scaling performance), and the difference can be seen with graphics on news channels, which aren’t quite as crisp and free of static aliasing (mild jaggedness) when compared to the company’s best displays. Video mode deinterlacing is of a similar standard – good, but not exceptional, with jaggedness being visible during motion with video-based SD content.

What the UE40ES6300 does get right is film mode deinterlacing. Sending a film transferred to PAL video resulted in the TV automatically recognising the nature of the content and adjusting its deinterlacing mode accordingly, resulting in full vertical resolution with no jaggies – provided the [Film Mode] wasn’t turned off in the menu, of course.

High Definition

As we’ve alluded to previously in this review, the biggest weakness of the 40ES6300 is probably its off-axis viewing quality, which is a consistent problem for VA-type LCD panels (and other LCD types, too, to different extents). Viewed from the sides, the overall image becomes blue-tinted and greyish. As always, you have to match the HDTV carefully to the room: if you can watch the screen from a constant position (and don’t have family members or housemates who’ll want to sit in the best seat) then the limitation won’t really be an issue. For bigger rooms intended to sit many viewers, it’s another reason to consider a plasma TV – although plasma isn’t a perfect technology either.

Babel screenshot 1

If you’re using the Samsung UE40ES6300 in a situation where that won’t be a problem, the rest of the news is all good. Pre-calibration, the image in our review sample suffered from a blue tint, although most users will probably not notice the inaccuracy unless they’re in the position of watching only calibrated screens. Post-calibration, it was essentially perfect when we were sitting on-axis. The ES6300 doesn’t feature the undefeatable noise reduction found on some more expensive Samsung TVs, which is great. The response time of the LCD panel does reduce motion clarity a little, although that’s an inevitability of the components used, and unlike the displays which feature always-on noise reduction, there’s no texture “stretching” or other oddities during film content. That allowed the gritty 16mm scenes from Babel to be displayed intact, without any in-TV’s attempts to “improve” the picture. Likewise, it allows as much motion detail as the panel can show to be displayed from any source: there are no in-TV attempts at motion averaging (provided all those controls are shut off), but some very fast moving details can still fall foul of LCD panel blur.

The UE40ES6300 can also reproduce nearly all of the HDTV Rec.709 colour gamut, with only a slightly off-colour blue point and a mildly desaturated red being the only notable limitations. Again, these errors won’t be visible unless you’re running the television side by side with a perfect display.

Babel screenshot 2

Console Gaming

Halo 4 was released during the time the Samsung UE40ES6300 was with us, so we ended up playing a good amount of this game online during the review period. We never had any complaints, provided we were in one of the two “fast response” processing modes (the “Game” mode, or using the “PC input label” trick, which involves pressing the TOOLS button with the HDMI input selected and changing the name to “PC”).

In either of those configurations, the 40ES6300 gave us just 31ms of input lag, staying on the right side of acceptability. That’s an improvement over the 46ms we measured from a similar 6000-series Samsung LCD last year. What’s more, although we missed the absolute picture quality of a plasma TV, it was nice to be able to play this game for many hours without image retention issues for a while afterwards (Panasonic’s plasmas, and Samsung’s 51″ ones, can retain static or near-static ghost images of score counters and other on-screen displays for a while).

Conclusion

The Samsung UE40ES6300 is a good LCD-based HDTV. Having reviewed countless LCD panels over the years, its performance is not really surprising. Its out-of-the-box performance in the best preset, the “Movie” mode, is adequate but leaves room for improvement (our review sample had a blue tint, but this will vary from panel to panel). For users with access to calibration devices, or for users who are going down the professional calibration route, the ES6300 has a great selection of controls which allow quirks like this to be eradicated, with all the controls for performance finetuning by an ISF/THX calibrator included. On top of this, it has a good selection of internet-based Smart TV features.

Speaking bluntly, every different type of LCD display (VA, IPS, TN) on the market today has problems of one sort or another, while competing display technologies (for example, Plasma) also have their quirks. Plasma is where Samsung are really exciting us lately, though, with year-on-year improvements – in comparison, we don’t feel LCD’s picture quality has improved much at all over the last few years. So we can end on a high note, though, input lag for video gaming has been decreased from last year, allowing a better sense of immersion with fast-paced games (for example, online first person shooters). The charges levied against the UE40ES6300 consist of less-than-perfect screen uniformity, and the usual VA-LCD problem of poor contrast and colour saturation when the screen is viewed off-axis. Commonly for LCDs operating in 3D mode, there is some motion stuttering with 24p (Blu-ray 3D) and 50hz (European broadcast) 3D material.

On the positive side, the 3D display mode is full resolution (unlike a Series 6 LCD we saw last year!), motion performance is good (although not top-tier), and the same goes for the panel’s contrast performance. Provided you comply with the usual LCD rule of only sitting face-on with the display, the 40ES6300 is capable of putting out high quality video, and as such, comes recommended for anyone looking for an LCD TV in this price range.

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