Samsung UE40ES7000 LED LCD 3D TV Review

2D Calibration

Note: Our Samsung UE40ES7000 review unit was calibrated using Calman Professional, the industry-leading video calibration software.

As we mentioned before, there is no explicitly labelled “accurate” mode on the ES7000, with the “Movie” preset being the closest thing. During first-time setup, we still had to manually disable the noise reduction systems (although it’s not really possible to disable one of them entirely on European models; more on that later) and enter the [Screen Adjustment] menu to disable overscan with a 1080i/1080p signal to see the entire picture at its best quality.

We then measured grey shades with our Klein K-10 colorimeter, and assessed this important part of the UE40ES7000′s picture performance:

Greyscale

Pre-calibration RGB Tracking
Pre-calibration RGB tracking and delta errors (dEs)

Pre-calibrated Greyscale was far too blue, especially in shadowed areas, which is definitely poorer than on the UE55ES8000 we reviewed – despite these HDTVs’ apparent similarity. This could be explained by the different size of LCD panel, or more likely still, unit-to-unit variation: remember that no two TVs are the same, which is why each panel needs to be individually calibrated for the best possible quality (copying settings from the internet won’t help, because there’s no way to tell what specific corrections each TV needs without actually measuring it).

Post-calibration RGB Tracking in [Movie] mode
Post-calibration RGB tracking and dEs in [Movie] mode

Calibrating out the excess blue was fairly simple, thanks to the [White Balance] options that Samsung provides in the user menus. Of course, to set these controls with any level of accuracy, you need to use a measuring device – it’s not possible to eye-ball these settings nor copy them from the internet.

Using this standard 2-point correction method, we were able to reduce the unwanted colour tint to a fairly high level of accuracy. We were still left with blue-tinted highlights and green-tinted shadows, though, so we entered the 10-point control method, which let us pinpoint and then finish off these remaining errors thanks to the increased precision. This resulted in visually perfect gray shades (provided we sat face-on with the LCD screen, that is: most LCD panels, including the one in the Samsung ES7000, turn slightly pinkish from the sides, among other things).

We could have reduced the slight error at 10% and 20% stimuli further, but because the error was so small anyway, the only result would be a prettier looking graph. What’s more, we found that doing so would negatively affect gamma tracking (more on that later).

Gamma

Gamma curve in [Movie] mode Gamma tracking in [Movie] mode
Gamma curve in [Movie] mode Corresponding gamma tracking

The “Movie” mode comes set up to reproduce a gamma of 2.4, which is recommended for viewing films in dark rooms, and coincidentally enough, has recently been set as the standard for studio mastering of film content. If you want to target a gamma of 2.2 (better for everyday viewing in slightly brighter rooms), then increase “Gamma” by one click to the right. Using the 10-point Greyscale control, we could also flatten out gamma tracking (by raising or lowering the Red, Green and Blue sliders by equal amounts). The end result is very flat tracking, which should translate into images which are that bit more lifelike and believable.

Colour

Colour has some fairly obvious errors in the out-of-the-box mode: green was mildly oversaturated and slightly too bright (say hello to slightly radioactive-looking grass and trees!), and magenta was slightly purple-ish, owed to the fact that pre-calibrated Greyscale was adding a blue tint into all of the colours. Readers can probably imagine that this resulted in slightly frosty-looking flesh tones.

Many of these issues were alleviated by Greyscale calibration, but for the few remaining errors, we adjusted the controls in [Colour Space] screen. The end result is perfect, all except for a slight undersaturation of the red primary colour. Interestingly, the ES8000 we reviewed could easily saturate red, but not blue – whereas our Samsung UE40ES7000 sample has the opposite problem. Both are minor errors, in any case.

Post-calibration CIE chart in [Movie] mode
Post-calibration CIE chart with reference to HD Rec.709
Post-calibration Luminance levels in [Movie] mode
Post-calibration colour luminance (coloured bars = targets; black bars = measured values)
Colour saturation tracking
Post-calibration colour saturation tracking

Saturation tracking was similar to our ES8000 review unit: there were no grave inaccuracies, although red, green and yellow all saturated a little too quickly – that is, shades which should have appeared paler were more saturated than would be ideal.

3D Calibration

Samsung ships the UE40ES7000 with two pairs of SSG-4100 active-shutter glasses, and better still for the minority of users who have access to 3D calibration, they come flat-packed and require simple assembly. This meant that we could simply attach the lenses to the front of our Klein K-10 non-contact meter, and leave the frame unattached until the time came to actually wear the 3D glasses.

3D Mode Greyscale

3D pre-calibration RGB Tracking
3D pre-calibration RGB tracking and delta errors (dEs)

As we found from our pre-calibrated Greyscale tracking measurements – which only confirmed what we could easily see with our eyes – the Samsung ES7000′s images were visibly red tinted in the 3D mode. Not only that, but the default [Contrast] setting of 100 is far too high for tri-dimensional images, causing visible discolouration in bright areas (witness the spectacular crashing out of red at the 80% stimulus position on the chart). We had to reduce [Contrast] significantly to avoid this, which turns out not to do too much damage, since the UE40ES7000′s extra-dimensional pictures are already very bright by 3DTV standards.

We then changed to the “Warm1″ preset mode, and measured it for completeness. It was in fact too blue, instead of too red. For users who won’t be having their 40ES7000 calibrated in 3D (and that’s probably nearly everyone), we recommend using this since a blue tint is probably going to be less visible.

3D post-calibration RGB Tracking in [Movie] mode
3D post-calibration RGB tracking and dEs in [Movie] mode

We then adjusted the 2-point white balance controls (Samsung don’t offer the 10-point mode in the third dimension) and finally settled on the above result. It’s far from perfect, and we couldn’t shift the “running out” at the high end without significantly curtailing contrast (and therefore picture brightness), but it is at least a gigantic improvement. Crucially, we focused on getting rid of errors in the shadowed areas (10, 20 and 30% stimulus) and relegating them to the brighter shades, where they will be less noticeable to the eye. The difference made by 3D calibration is huge, and we hope that more and more calibrators will offer it.

3D Mode Colour

When we reviewed the UE55ES8000, we remarked that it featured the same limitation as previous Samsung 3DTVs – there was no dedicated [Colour Space] memory for the 3D mode, meaning that we would have to use a separate HDMI input, or settle with one of the preset [Colour Space] modes – if we wanted to get colour as good as possible. Strangely, that isn’t a problem on this UE40ES7000 – for the first time, a Samsung 3D TV has independent colour management memories for both the 2D and 3D modes sharing the same HDMI input. We can only assume that this is the result of firmware changes rather than the cheaper ES7000 model being superior, but since we no longer have the ES8000 with us, we can only speculate.

In any case, this is the first (practical) time we’ve had this level of control on a Samsung 3D television. Red and blue were both slightly undersaturated (red due to the panel, blue due to the glasses themselves), but colour was highly accurate:

3D Post-calibration CIE chart in [Movie] mode
3D post-calibration CIE chart with reference to HD Rec.709
3D Post-calibration Luminance levels in [Movie] mode
3D post-calibration colour luminance (coloured bars = targets; black bars = measured values)

Benchmark Test Results

Dead pixels None
Screen uniformity Good for an edge-lit LED LCD
Overscanning on HDMI 0% with “Screen Fit” selected
Blacker than black Passed
Calibrated black level (black screen) 0 cd/m2 (LEDs shut off)
Calibrated black level (ANSI checkerboard) 0.056 cd/m2
Black level retention Auto-dimming with full black screen. Stable otherwise with [Black Enhancer] Off
Primary chromaticity Very Good
Scaling Excellent, smooth
Video mode deinterlacing Very effective jaggies reduction
Film mode deinterlacing Failed 2-2 PAL, passed 3-2 NTSC test
Viewing angle Standard for PVA LCD, colours lose saturation from sides, greyscale takes on mild purple tint
Motion resolution 1080 with [Motion Plus] enabled, white halos around scrolling black lines
Digital noise reduction Very high quality NR, but can’t be disabled unless “Game Mode” is used, can cause motion detail loss
Sharpness Defeatable edge enhancement
Luma/Chroma bandwidth (2D Blu-ray) Full Luma, Chroma vertically blurred except in “Game Mode”
1080p/24 capability No judder in 2D, slight judder in 3D
Input lag 31ms compared to lag-free CRT
Full 4:4:4 reproduction (PC) Yes, if 60hz signal and input set to “PC” (on any input)

Power Consumption

Default [Standard] mode (2D) 88 watts
Default [Standard] mode (3D) 130 watts
Calibrated [Movie] mode (2D) 76 watts
Calibrated [Movie] mode (3D) 131 watts
Standby 1 watt

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