As technology continues to grow across all sectors, television sets have kept up with the pace of change and deliver more to users, while offering the latest technology. Samsung recently launched their new flagship television unit, the ES8000 3D LED, and while it has some nifty tricks, it is not all for the better.
The ES8000 is by nature a stunning piece of engineering. Straight out of the box, it will take users about 15 minutes to assemble the stand and affix it to the screen – which is a simple matter using six screws. After that is done, a user can successfully start using the unit – but might have to go through a bit of a tuning process.
When the unit is switched on for the first time, the usual options will be available, such as choosing a language, connecting to a Wi-Fi network and logging into a Samsung account. But while those options are great, the best part of the device is naturally its screen clarity.
Being an LED, it has a 1920 x 1080 resolution, an 800 Clear Motion Rate and Wide Colour Enhancer Plus. There is actually no need to state that the visuals are crystal clear with eye-popping features and no visual distortion. The 3D aspect (which can be switched on to convert normal 2D television to 3D, or watching 3D content), is equally stunning.
Watching 3D content has a tendency to overpower the viewer, but Samsung built-in the option to be able to adjust the intensity and the depth, so any user will be able to find a comfortable setting. Speaking of visuals, the bezel of the unit is ultra-thin, so viewers will hardly notice it.
In terms of connectivity, the ES8000 sports 3 HDMI ports, 3 USB ports, a headphone jack and built-in wireless receiver. There is also a space for a Component In, Composite In, Digital Audio Out and PC In.
Being a Samsung product, it is also packaged with AllShare technology, so users will be able to link up any other Samsung product through the software suite. This comes in handy when users want to show videos or photos on the unit, but do not want the hassle of using USB.
Starting with software, the unit can connect to the Internet through the built-in Wi-Fi adapter, but the default browser pre-installed is just horrible. It is cumbersome to navigate with the provided remotes, and even when plugging in an external mouse, it is slow and unresponsive.
The Series 9 units also pride themselves in having three key technologies built in: voice recognition, facial recognition and motion control. Honestly speaking all three are a bit of a waste of time, as they hardly replace the functions of a remote.
The voice recognition works by having the user utter the words “Hi TV”, followed by a command selection that pops onto the screen. By the time the user pronounced the word in the way the unit prefers, the remote would have done a lot more. It is really a function for lazy people and is more of a party trick than anything else.
The facial recognition (by way of a small camera on the top of the bezel) is a non-event and can be used as a security measure when logging into the Samsung account or accessing the market place. There is some other added functionality to it, but it is insignificant.
Motion control is something that Samsung seems to have lifted from Microsoft’s Kinect model, as the user will be able to use hand gestures to control the television and change channels and volume, access and navigate the online store.
Unfortunately the three added technologies are major plug-points for Samsung, but the unit would have been better off without them. Nothing beats the use of the traditional remote and gimicks such as voice recognition just make for a frustrating and lazy experience.
The ES8000 is a brilliant unit with stunning visuals and more input device than what the user could possibly have. At the end of the day the clarity of the visuals is all that matters, and here the unit cannot be faulted – it will be difficult to find a television set on the market that will beat it.
But it is rather unfortunate that the browser is frustrating and the key technology points were a bit of a let-down. The unit is by no means a no-buy – on the contrary – the unit is excellent. Users just will not be making use of the voice- , facial- , and motion detection – which could have lowered the price tag if it was left out.
Our score: 8.5/10
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor