Samsung UN46D8000 LED HDTV Review: Delicious Design, Excellent Features, and Great Image Quality
At a Glance
With its Series 8 models, Samsung can lay claim to one of the skinniest bezels in the business: less than 0.25 inch between the edge of the 46-inch UN46D8000YF and its 1080p LED-backlit LCD panel. And because the bezel is mostly clear, with a silvery edge, the set's image seems to occupy its entire surface. One notable rival in the thin-bezel sweepstakes is the Sony Bravia 46HX820.
Even better, these good looks accompany solid image quality and a long list of desirable features, including 3D support (with a pair of active-shutter glasses), Wi-Fi, a built-in Web browser, oodles of apps, and robust streaming-media services. You can even make Skype video calls with an optional webcam, and an unusual two-sided remote provides a QWERTY keyboard to help with data entry.
But with a list price of $2700 and street prices in the $1600-to-$2500 range (as of September 15, 2011), the UN46D8000YF is one of the pricier sets in its size class. If you don't plan on using its advanced features, you may prefer a less expensive set with good image quality and comparable size.
In our juried image quality tests, the UN46D8000YF earned high scores across the board. Viewers particularly praised its brightness/contrast, color, and skin tones. Judges did notice some artifacts in aerial shots of buildings in The Dark Knight on Blu-ray Disc, and some found the color in one or two recorded HDTV clips to be oversaturated. But other judges praised the same clips, and almost everyone liked the way it handled color in the DVD movies. Despite minor issues, the set's 240Hz refresh rate and Samsung's Clear Motion technology seemed to work pretty well on the motion benchmarks, too.
Like other LED-backlit sets, the UN46D8000YF is parsimonious in its energy consumption, drawing no current when powered down, and a meager 66 watts per hour (on average) when in use. Its overall green score was 92 out of 100, which we rate as very good.
Because it has almost no bezel, the set looks a bit small for its screen size, but it also looks very sleek. To keep the set slim (it's 1.2 inches thick, not counting the pedestal), Samsung put ports along two edges of a recessed area on the right rear of the set, created skinny adapters for connecting component and composite video inputs (one each), and recommends using HDMI cables no thicker than 0.55 inch.
Access to the side-facing ports--two USB, one digital audio-out, an additional USB port for connecting a hard drive, four HDMI ports (including one that supports DVI and another that supports HDMI 1.4's audio return channel feature for two-way transmission of digital audio), the component video adapter input, and the PC audio jack. All of these ports are reasonably accessible.
Harder to access are the downward-facing ports on the bottom edge, which include a VGA input for PC hookups, the cable/antenna coaxial input, the composite video adapter input, an Ex-Link port for service use, and an ethernet port. The set swivels nicely on its pedestal, and off-axis viewing was quite good.
Samsung's two-sided, wedge-shaped remote uses two different wireless technologies. The standard remote side uses standard IR, requiring line-of-sight positioning, but the QWERTY keyboard side uses Bluetooth and must be paired with the set (but doesn't need line-of-sight thereafter). The remote turns easily in the hand, and the keyboard helps with the many connected-TV features that use text input.
You connect the UN46D8000YF to a broadband home network via either the ethernet port or Wi-Fi (the set supports the fast 802.11n standard on both the 5GHz band and the 2.4GHz band.
Thereafter, Samsung affords access to its connected features through its Smart TV Hub, which is easy to reach by pressing a button on the remote. Here, you can browse through various streaming-media services (including Blockbuster, Hulu Plus, Netflix, and Vudu on-demand), download a couple of dozen apps (including games, news, and content for kids), run the built-in browser, and access content from DLNA-compliant computers and devices on your home network, using Samsung's AllShare feature.
The UN46D8000YF also supports popular social networking services, including Facebook and Twitter, and a Social TV feature lets you use them while watching TV (you can overlay them on the video). However, you can access these and other services only after associating your login information with a Smart Hub user account that you set up on the TV.
I found using the Web browser a little awkward, due to the lack of a real mouse. The remote allows you to navigate in Tab Mode (in which arrow keys move the cursor from hot spot to hot spot) or in Pointer Mode (in which arrow keys move the cursor up or down). Though this method eventually gets the job done, it isn't always fun.
Samsung's media player services remain among the best available for watching photos, listening to music, and viewing videos on either a USB drive or your network. You get a multitude of options such as transition effects for slideshows.
Audio on this set was surprisingly good. The two 10-watt speakers generated decent volume and surround-sound simulation. I also liked Samsung's lightweight active-shutter 3D glasses; they were comfortable and didn't require a lot of fussing to work (you can charge them through the set's USB port, too). They made Avatar in 3D look truly three-dimensional.
Samsung provides a basic manual for setup, which it supplements with an excellent electronic manual (available on the set and on the Web).
Over the past few years, Samsung has built a reputation for producing HDTVs that offer state-of-the-art technology, and the UN46D8000YF--like its plasma cousin, the PN51D6500--continues that tradition. If you want a set that gives you access to a wide range of digital content while delivering attractive images and reasonably good audio for traditional programming, this model certainly merits consideration.