Review: Samsung 46-inch 3D Smart LED TV Full HD 1080p Dual Core Processor

Having moved house recently I decided I’d take the opportunity to upgrade my main TV. It’s probably the single most important tech decision I make for my home as inevitably it becomes somewhat of a focal point for the family and also because it’s usually the most significant investment.

I’ve long been a fan of the design of Samsung TVs and I must admit, despite friends in the know recommending other brands, I opted for a Samsung with the P1010349_zpsf130b0fbfeatures that interested me. Namely a Smart TV with 3D capability: Samsung Smart 3D 46″ television

Out of the box, it was everything I had come to expect from Samsung design: sleek and clean. It was also very very thin. So much so it almost felt flimsy! I’ve tried to show in this picture which is from a top down angle.

Setup of this TV was simplicity itself, despite the amount of options there are to explore and tweak. I run this with SKY HD and an LG 3D Surround system and they all installed and integrated seamlessly.

I have cat5 network cabling in my house and connected the TV to that. Straight away, it detected software updates and sorted all that out for me with minimal effort required. Similarly, it recognised everything I connected to it via HDMI.

The ports on the back of the TV were all brilliantly laid out and labeled. I was really impressed with how they had done that because it made everything so simple and straight forward, especially when I forgot to plug the network cable in and had to squeeze behind the TV to find the port. Brilliant design.P1010352_zps116ebd72 P1010351_zps68c5f278

It had no problem with my portable USB drive, which contains a number of films in a variety of formats, all of which it played seamlessly. I particularly liked the fact that the pause and fast forward buttons on the remote can control the USB movie playback. It’s a nice touch!

Next: browsing the net. I’d always said I wouldn’t get a Smart TV or at least I didn’t see the point because you’d need a keyboard for proper use. I tried out YouTube and tested the iPlayer app to check out a few BBC on-line shows and found it’s quite usable depending on what you want to do. YouTube in particular was brilliant. Even videos that were fairly average quality on my PC came alive on the crisp LED display. Anything more complex than simply selecting an option was clunky in the extreme and my theory about Smart TVs was pretty much confirmed: no keyboard, no fun!P1010347_zps0439d012

So then, what about that picture because after all it is primarily a TV and the image is all-important. All I can say is that it’s unbelievably clear. Technology is forever improving and in my house we have lots of TVs. Very often I can buy a new TV and the picture is only as good as the 3 year old one in the kitchen. This however is a stellar leap forward. People will often use the phrase ‘it feels like you’re looking out of a window’ – this TV is a bit like that. In fact it’s like your window has been scrubbed spotless by a team of window cleaners and there is crystal clear sunlight bathing your garden – honestly it’s that good.

Now let’s have a little chat about the 3D. I can honestly say, much like the “Smart” aspect, I’ve always seen 3D in a TV as a massive gimmick and something that wouldn’t work or catch on. So much so that it was a good month before I even tried it on this TV. My kids were given a 3D film for a birthday present and I decided to do a ‘cinema’ hour for them complete with popcorn. The kids’ film: Despicable Me.

Oh my! Have I been missing out! I’ve watched 3D films in the cinema and they have been just ‘okay’. Perhaps that’s why I was a bit disinterested in that tech in a TV. Here though, I was truly amazed by the quality and depth. The glasses are the active type that require a battery. If you look away into daylight you can detect a faint flash, but focus on the TV and the experience is awesome. Anyway, don’t take my word for it, see how my kids reacted to the 3D experience:

Following this success I’ve moved on to David Attenborough’s Micro Monsters and the odd football match and whilst not something I want to do all the time, it does lift and enhance any viewing experience.

So what’s left to cover? Oh yes, the sound. I’ve neglected this somewhat because as I said at the start, I’ve hooked it up to a decent surround sound system and for the main part it plays through that. My wife however isn’t a fan of surround sound so this TV has had the thorough ‘Coronation Street & EastEnders‘ test. When I’ve been the next viewer I’ve often not immediately realised the surround sound is off. In my experience thin LED TVs don’t have great sound but this is surprisingly good. Far more than adequate if not quite up to cinematic effects.

So a simple summary for this TV. It’s brilliant. The best bit of tech I’ve bought this year so far and at a bargain price. If your existing TV is 2 or 3 years old and you’re looking for an upgrade this will be like going from black and white to colour. Yes I really think it’s that good!

At the time of writing this I have reviewed model UE46ES6800. There is a model ‘F‘ out on the market which seems to be the same TV but £100 more expensive.

[easyreview title=”Dummy rating” icon=”dummy” cat1title=”Ease of use” cat1detail=”Very simple indeed” cat1rating=”5″ cat2title=”Features” cat2detail=”Honestly packed full of useful features. Smart is better than I thought” cat2rating=”4.5″ cat3title=”Value for money” cat3detail=”You need to shop around. If you get it at the price I did (sub £700) it is the bargain of the century” cat3rating=”5″ cat4title=”Build quality” cat4detail=”It looks great. It is so thin though it feels a bit flimsy” cat4rating=”4.0″ summary=”A tad disappointed at it not powering my USB drives but even so, I liked it enough to buy another for home.”]

Review: Smartphone Camera Comparison – Samsung Galaxy Note II v Apple iPhone 5

DUMMY: So ever since I reviewed the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini, Geek has been whinging that I’m an Apple fanboy. He’s also bleated that I’m not comparing like-for-like products. We took a walk in the local park on a nice sunny day, Geek with his tombstone-sized Galaxy Note II, me with my sleek and svelte iPhone 5 and decided to give the phones a head-to-head. The question: whose was the best smartphone/camera.

GEEK: You are a whiny Apple fanboy.

DUMMY: Whatever. So here are some of the shots we took. First, here’s the iPhone 5 in quite a shaded area:

GEEK: And then the Galaxy Note II:

DUMMY: Both cameras struggled with the transition from shade to bright sunlight but the stand-out winner in this first shot is the Note II. The level of clarity and detail is far superior and to be honest the iPhone 5 image is quite blurry in comparison.

GEEK: Oo, what a surprise.

DUMMY: On to the next picture. The same subject but in brighter sunlight. iPhone 5 first again:

GEEK: And then the Note II:

DUMMY: Curses. I can see the same kind of issues here. The Samsung camera gives greater levels of detail, certainly up close and in the foreground. As you move further back into the mid and background this difference is less pronounced and at a pinch I might argue the iPhone 5 deals slightly better with dark shaded areas.

GEEK: You’re just making this stuff up, aren’t you.

DUMMY: Shuttit! All in all, I’d say its pretty conclusive. The Samsung camera is without doubt superior to the camera in the iPhone 5. Come on Apple, sort your game out!

GEEK: Boohoo.


Review: Samsung S4 Mini v iPhone 5

Geek has been telling me for a while now that the iPhone killer had really arrived and I must admit I have been looking longingly at the Samsung S4 Mini for a while. When I got the opportunity to try one out and review it, I jumped at the chance with a view to perhaps breaking my 5 year love affair with apple and iOS. Geek has the more powerful big brother Galaxy Note II but I don’t get that phone at all. I guess I’m just one of those people that think a phone should be pocket sized.

Now anyone who has been an Apple customer for many years will have become indoctrinated into the ‘Apple interface’. I kept in mind from the very beginning that there would be a learning curve and that I would have to keep an open mind to change. Not my best quality if I’m honest but on with the review!

Out of the box I was quite impressed. I recall when I got the iPhone 5 originally I was equally impressed with the quality and feel but I’d say the Samsung might have edged that just slightly. Generally size and ergonomics, there is very little between the two to be honest.

Everything on the iPhone is based around the home button and the the touch screen interface where the Samsung has a couple of nicely disguised additional buttons alongside the home button. When not active they are virtually invisible. If you swipe over them with your finger, an additional menu feature button lights up on the left and on the right a back button.

As you might expect with a version of a phone tagged as ‘Mini’ its not just its size that has been shrunk; the internal storage and the processor speed are both a reduced version of its big brother the S4. Just trawling around apps, emails and settings I couldn’t really find any discernible difference or lightning performance. Certainly not an iPhone killer so far anyway!

The screen initially appears nice. Good vivid colours but when I hold up the iPhone 5 to the S4 Mini, to my eye the iPhone 5 wins on clarity and quality. Okay, the Samsung screen is a little larger, which is always good but not a major benefit in my eyes.

Enough about the look and feel for now and more about how it works, especially from the perspective of a brainwashed Apple fan!

To start with I found it a nice slick menu system. It felt bright and fresh. Perhaps not as intuitive as the iPhone but I put that down to my Apple ‘blinkers’ for now. I found the touch screen less precise than the iPhone. There was a lot of frustrating miss-typing going on and its not like I have sausage fingers or anything, honest!

I then started to go searching for all my mainstay apps that are essential to my mobile world. I was quite prepared that I might have to find an Android alternative if it was iOS specific. It’s here in this crucial arena that the credentials of this ‘iPhone slayer’ start to get shaky.

I’ve recently written a blog about the App store and the world’s fascination with it and apps in general. Its fair to say that apps are what set a phone apart from its competition and so far the Samsung and iPhone 5 were neck and neck. Tell me please what the App store interface is about on the S4 Mini? It’s simply horrific. I can’t find the simplest and most mainstream of apps. It’s clunky and poorly organised. It does give you the option of going to the Google Play store which brings it all back down to planet earth but again the route to this is not intuitive at all. I was very disappointed with this aspect.

It’s worth nothing that Samsung loads its phones with supposedly “value added” apps that you can’t uninstall (without rooting). These apps usually are named “S “-something or “Samsung “-something. All in all pretty poor!

Lets finish by covering the basics.

Call Quality

The iPhone 5 has always had a big question over call quality. When it’s connected it’s quite good but all too often it drops a call for no apparent reason or goes straight to voicemail regardless of your signal strength. The S4 Mini has so far been faultless. It is very good at what its meant to be, a phone. The slightly scalloped edges seemed to make it more ergonomic to hold to my ear. – something the iPhone has lost between the 4S and the 5.


This is adequate but no more. It’s fine for quick snaps and it seems to let in plenty of light. Take a similar picture with the iPhone 5 and you can see that Apple has got this right and Samsung has missed the boat a little. I was only watching the Gadget show the other day which did a straw poll of people who bother to carry a camera or dedicated digital recorder these days. Because of the camera quality in smartphones the conclusion was that it was dying tech. Confusing then that the camera in the S4 just doesn’t quite cut the mustard.


It’s always a tough thing to gauge battery life accurately or realistically because what I’ve installed now won’t compare to what I’ve installed next week. It’s difficult to tell how the battery will be drained by different demands. What I do know is that my iPhone 5 was rubbish from day 1 when it came to battery life. With moderate to heavy use of everything I need daily it will require a top up charge during the day and a full charge over night. So far the Mini is performing far better and after a day of setting up, downloading emails etc, it’s only just slid under 80%. Not bad at all.

So is this an iPhone killer?

I desperately wanted to like this phone. I can’t help feel like I should be willing to look beyond Apple; Android receives so many accolades Google must be doing something right. Geek thinks it’s our saviour from evil iOS. At its core the Mini is like an iPhone 4S. It does all it needs to quite well but at the end of the day it’s just an iPhone wannabe.

I have to say I sometimes wondered if my frustration at struggling through the menus (i.e. my own reluctance to try a new OS) was at the heart of my mixed feelings for this phone and maybe that’s true. What I do know is that iOS is intuitive enough to let me navigate around and find my way. With Android on the S4 Mini Mini, all too often I had to go and pester Geek to find out how to do something. Not really what I wanted from the new hub of my mobile universe.

I’m going to give it another week or two to see if I can get over my ‘Android phobia’ and maybe I’ll come back and review the S4 Mini again!

[easyreview title=”Dummy rating” icon=”dummy” cat1title=”Ease of use” cat1detail=”There’s just too many ways to customise and change .” cat1rating=”3″ cat2title=”Features” cat2detail=”It’s got everything a good smartphone should have but it lacks a quality camera and a seamless App store.” cat2rating=”2.5″ cat3title=”Value for money” cat3detail=”Design-wise I love it. It does everything it should and you can get it very cheaply on a good contract.” cat3rating=”4.5″ cat4title=”Build quality” cat4detail=”I’m a little torn. It’s a thing of beauty and I love its lightness but also worry that it’s frail because it’s so light.” cat4rating=”4″ summary=”It’s a good smartphone and I like it but it is no iPhone killer!!!!!”]