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  • Showing posts with label T.Vs. Show all posts
    Showing posts with label T.Vs. Show all posts

    Tuesday, 26 June 2012


    Google TV launches in UK with Sony

    First product arriving in mid-July

    Google TV will launch in the UK in the third week in July, with pre-orders of the £200 Sony NSZ-GS7 set top box opening today.
    A £300 NSZ-GP4 Blu-ray player is set to follow later in the summer, but there's no date on when an integrated television set will arrive for the UK.
    The two offerings from Sony bring the second generation of Google TV – hugely overhauled from the much-maligned original and deemed suitable for a global audience.
    There's also a nifty new remote with a laptop-like multitouch touchpad on the front and a QWERTY keyboard on the rear.

    Chrome for TV

    The device is designed to compliment people who already have a set-top box – with the Google TV simply an overlay that goes over the top of your existing service, allowing you to keep your live TV running 'underneath'.
    Google TV offers a host of apps, through the new Google Play store, what is certainly the best big screen YouTube offering and a modified Chrome browser.

    Google TV from Sony

    "There are huge benefits from bringing the internet to TV," Google's Suveer Kothari told TechRadar at a briefing. "That's what Google TV is really all about.
    "That means new content that people aren't able to access on the TV, more interactivity and engagement with that content and then potentially new discovery experiences.
    "Google TV attempts to address the problems that…we think are very similar to what we saw in the smartphone market a few years ago.
    "It's a very fragmented space, there's not a great experience to access the internet on the television screen and essentially Google TV is two things that sets out to address that.
    "The first is an operating system that is based on Android that we have optimised for the big screen – we work with manufacturers like Sony to integrate that into the machine.
    "The second is a set of Google Apps optimised for the big screen – Google Chrome, YouTube and Google Play store."

    A new level

    Sony's Ben Law believes that there is a space for a £200 set-top box that offers up a browser and apps rather than the type of content normally provided by TV set-top boxes.
    "Some people are buying smart TVs but they want to be able to go the next step," said Law.

    the Sony Google TV remote

    "They want to be able to seamlessly search through Google for any information that they want to find and they want to interact with it like they are used to on their tablets or phones.
    "They want to take things to the next level."
    Google TV does bring content – albeit on-demand through apps rather than traditional channels.
    "YouTube has thousands of movies and the Sony Entertainment network and Sony Unlimited will have thousands of movies and shows as well," added Kothari.
    "But we're also going to have things like Netflix available in addition to live television as you are going to have as normal [through your normal set-top box]."

    Google TV screenshot

    Of course with many UK consumers already getting on-demand services (and even bad browsers) through the likes of games consoles, apps on services like Virgin Media and companion apps from pretty much every broadcaster Google and Sony will have to work hard to convince the UK consumer that they are getting value for money.
    A lot rests on the browser and the ecosystem of applications through Google Play, although the Google and Sony brands have built up large amounts of good will.

    Saturday, 23 June 2012


    Samsung UE46ES8000 review

    Samsung's new flagship 46-inch TV pretty much rocks


    If Samsung is going to retain its current position as the world's number one TV brand, it needs to set the bar high with flagship products such as the new UE46ES8000. Especially now that recently reviewed LG televisions such as the 55LM660T and 47LM670T have proved that the other Korean brand is putting up its most impressive challenge yet to Samsung's dominance.
    Just as well, then, that the Samsung UE46ES8000 - called the UN46ES8000F in the US - does indeed look like it's got all the flagship TV angles covered.
    For starters, it's got dazzling looks, thanks to its ultra-thin silver bezel. It's impressively connected too, and best of all it has more features than many people will probably need in their lifetime.
    Heading these up are the Samsung UE46ES8000's 3D and smart TV capabilities. The 3D playback is an active rather than passive 3D system (well, you didn't really expect Samsung to adopt LG's passive technology any time soon, right?), but the smart TV services have undergone a significant revamp, as we'll see in a minute.
    The Samsung UE46ES8000 is also well-stocked with picture adjustments, and is very multimedia savvy indeed, playing back most of the key file formats via either USB cards or a networked PC.
    The last highlight attraction of the Samsung UE46ES8000 is its trio of alternative control solutions, based around gestures, voice recognition and a touchpad remote.
    Joining the UE46ES8000 in Samsung's flagship range is the 55-inchUE55ES8000 and the 40-inch UE40ES8000. One step down in the range is the ES7000 series, which uses a black bezel colour, shifts to a 'cross' stand design from the ES8000's distinctive 'arch flow' stand design, and doesn't boast the same level of processing power that the ES8000 TVs do.
    We've got an ES7000 model coming our way very soon, but for now, let's see if the Samsung UE46ES8000 lives up to its on-paper appeal.
    Any TV design as attractive as that wrapped around the Samsung UE46ES8000 has to class as a feature in itself. We have little doubt that its ultra-slim silver bezel and distinctive new arch stand design will be all the temptation many people need to scrape together the asking price of £1,900 in the UK or $3,000 in the US, where it's called the UN46ES8000.
    So slender is the bezel around the screen, in fact, that the only way Samsung has been able to fit in its integrated Skype/gesture control camera and its own logo is by adding little protrusions in the centre of the set's top and bottom edges.

    Samsung UE46ES8000 review

    The Samsung UE46ES8000's rear end isn't quite as slender as those witnessed on one or two of Samsung's previous Edge LED TV models, but it's still slender enough to perfectly suit wall hanging - if you can resist using the spectacular stand, that is.
    Wall hanging is further supported by the Samsung UE46ES8000's connections, which are all mounted for side access. They're prodigious in number too, including four HDMIs, a trio of USBs, and both LAN and Wi-Fi network options.
    The USB can be used for playing back a fairly prodigious amount of photo, video and music file formats, or you could use one for setting up a USB HDD for recording from the set's built-in Freeview HD tuner.
    The same expanse of files can be delivered from a DLNA PC via the network connections too. Or, of course, these jacks could be used to get the TV jacked in to Samsung's latest online Smart Hub platform.

    Smart TV

    With most brands seeming to agree that 2012 is the year of smart TV, it's no surprise to find Samsung trying very hard to keep its online platform ahead of the rest.
    Two significant improvements hit you as soon as you press the cool new Smart Hub button on the remote controls (and yes, we did mean "controls" plural - more on this presently).

    Samsung UE46ES8000 review

    First, Samsung has increased the resolution of its Smart Hub home screen, so that it a) looks much prettier and b) can accommodate more content link icons than before, without looking cluttered.
    Second, Samsung has added three seemingly significant new sections of content, highlighted by their appearance in a strip of five large icons running across the centre of the screen.
    The first and clearly most important of these three new zones is dubbed Family Zone. This enables you to set up a closed, password-protected network for sharing photos and messages between family members - and, we guess, close friends - no matter where in the world they might be.
    Your other family members don't need to have a new Samsung TV to join your network, either; PCs can be added to the network, and Samsung is also due to launch in the coming months a Family Zone Android app for phones and tablets.

    This simplicity is, of course, crucial if the feature is to appeal to mainstream users rather than just tech freaks and geeks.The Family Zone interface works very nicely in a TV context, and aside from some faffing about when first setting up a network, it does an effective job of taking the confusion out of connecting people across the potentially complex and insecure world of the internet.
    The second new area of content is the Fitness zone. Opening this up gives you the option to set up accounts for multiple users in your home, so that different individuals can track their own weight loss and exercise regimes.
    Various graphs and charts are provided to feed your health addiction, but the main 'event' of the fitness section is a surprisingly long roster of exercise videos for you to follow. Running from around five minutes to half an hour, these videos come with calories-burned figures attached to them, so that you and the TV have some sort of numerical way of tracking your activities.
    Obviously the system is limited by the TV not knowing what you're eating or being able to weigh you directly, meaning you'll have to apply a little discipline and effort of your own to make the Fitness Zone really effective.

    The final new zone is for kids, and is for the most part a simple aggregation exercise, where kid-friendly videos are collected together. There is also, though, a fun if basic reward system, where you can reward good behavior with virtual stickers to go into a pretty little virtual book.With this in mind, we await with interest Panasonic's Viera Connect fitness system, with its treadmill and scales accessories. But for now, Samsung's Fitness Zone is comfortably the most extensive fitness tool on any smart TV.
    At the time of writing, the Kid's Zone is rather low on content, but the idea behind it is sound if Samsung can nurture it along in the coming months.
    Alongside these new sections are more genuinely useful online features, mostly built around video streaming services. All the big names are there: Acetrax, LoveFilm, Netflix, BBC iPlayer and so on, as well as a stable and content-rich 3D channel to provide an instant 3D hit for people who buy a Samsung UE46ES8000 but don't have any 3D media at home.
    There is also, it must be said, a rather extensive supply of small-scale and generally useless apps too. However, you should be able to avoid having to trawl through these too often, unless you really want to.

    3D processing

    Shifting our focus to the Samsung UE46ES8000's 3D abilities, they're active, with two pairs of glasses provided free with the TV. Samsung also claims to have introduced a number of new processing and response time measures designed to reduce the problems with 3D crosstalk ghosting noise that showed up on Samsung's 2011 3D LCD TVs.

    This is particularly important when it comes to the accuracy with which the TV can analyse incoming images, enabling the engine to work on more segments of the image than has been possible before, so that the set's automatic lighting adjustments can deliver more accurate results.The processing inside the Samsung UE46ES8000 is, significantly, produced via a dual-core processing engine, enabling the TV to handle more algorithms in real time.
    The UE46ES8000 also enjoys Samsung's most powerful 800CMR motion reproduction processing engine, and as usual it's good to find that most of the key elements of all the TV's processing tools can be adjusted to different levels via the on-screen menus.
    Samsung still doesn't seek the endorsement of the Imaging Science Foundation, but that doesn't stop the Samsung UE46ES8000 from being decently equipped with colour and gamma adjustments.
    The only niggles with the set up tools are that the backlight adjustment could do with a few more settings to give you more fine-tuning options, and that all of the picture presets are more or less useless. Their bizarre preference for high contrast and backlight settings means that if you stick with any of them, you'll be selling the set's panel short.

    Picture Quality

    If you just stick with the various picture presets Samsung provides on the UE46ES8000, you'll likely feel disappointed - at least in the long term. Because while the way all the presets push contrast, backlight brightness or both makes pictures eye-catching, it also leaves colours looking overcooked, dark scenes looking a little grey, and backlight consistency levels looking average.
    Thankfully you can massively improve the way pictures look via no more complicated adjustments than just knocking back the backlight to somewhere between its six and nine settings (depending on the brightness of your room), and making sure the contrast setting never strays higher than its 75 level.
    With these simple setting adjustments in place, the Samsung UE46ES8000's pictures go from average to excellent. Particularly impressive is the contrast performance, since the screen combines punchy, luminous colours and pure whites with one of the deepest black level performances yet seen from an Edge LED TV.
    There are times when it perhaps feels as if the deepest black level from the Samsung UE46ES8000 isn't quite as profound as that of last year's Samsung sets. But instead you get a much more sensible balance between black level depth and shadow detail retention, which makes the Samsung UE46ES8000's rendition of dark scenes noticeably superior overall.

    Samsung UE46ES8000 review

    Colours seem to enjoy even more tonal subtleties than last year, without the TV's wide colour range being diminished. We're used to LED-driven LCD TVs looking bright and punchy, of course, but the Samsung UE46ES8000's images really are particularly eye-catching - even after you've toned down the crazily high backlight preset values.

    High definition

    Another strength of the Samsung UE46ES8000's pictures is their sharpness. HD material looks dazzlingly detailed and ruthlessly sharp, but also pretty much devoid of noise.
    To see this effect at its best you have to be careful with some of the set's processing elements; for instance, the motion processing should be run at a relatively low level if at all, and all noise reduction settings are better deactivated for HD viewing.
    But follow these very simple precautions, and the Samsung UE46ES8000 is unusually capable of giving you the maximum impact from HD material.
    While the Samsung UE46ES8000 clearly revels in showing HD movies and TV shows, it's a talented standard definition performer too. The power and speed of its dual-core processor enables it to upscale SD sources exceptionally well, in fact, adding detail and sharpness while simultaneously removing source noise.

    3D picture

    The good news continues once you don a pair of Samsung's impressively lightweight new 3D glasses.
    The Samsung UE46ES8000 serves up arguably the finest active 3D images we've seen from a TV - certainly an LCD one. Samsung's latest panel design and processing systems have hugely reduced the amount of crosstalk double ghosting noise you see while watching 3D sources.

    Samsung UE46ES8000 review

    You can see tiny traces of it over very bright objects in the far distance if they appear against dark backdrops. But so infrequent and so minor are these crosstalk appearances that they're barely worth mentioning.
    The Samsung UE46ES8000's 3D pictures also impress with their brightness. Putting on the 3D glasses results in considerably less brightness reduction than you usually get with active 3D TV systems. This enables colours to retain plenty of vibrancy and dark scenes to contain more shadow detail than you tend to see with the 3D images of, say, Panasonic's (also excellent) 3D plasma TVs.
    There is one issue with the Samsung UE46ES8000's 3D pictures, though. While the set sensibly automatically shifts its backlight output up a few gears when it detects that you're watching 3D, this means that during dark scenes you can be aware of a couple of areas of backlight inconsistency down each side of the screen.
    The final picture performance aspect of the Samsung UE46ES8000 to consider is its input lag - a potentially critical issue for gamers. Happily Samsung's set only takes around 35ms to produce its pictures if you use the provided Game preset, which shouldn't significantly damage your gaming skills.

    Ease of use

    Samsung has introduced a trio of new TV control systems for 2012.
    First there's the second remote, complete with a touchpad for simpler navigation of web pages and Smart Hub menus. For the most part this remote works admirably, with just the right level of swiping sensitivity in the pad, an ergonomic weight and shape, and even a built-in mic that greatly enhances the usefulness of the TV's voice recognition system.
    The only thing wrong with it, actually, is the way you have to press the pad to select an option or web link. Quite often when you try to do this you also slightly slide your finger across the pad, thus moving the on-screen cursor before you've selected the option you wanted.
    The voice control system, meanwhile, is clever on two counts. First, it only activates after you bark out a special activation phrase - "Hi TV" is the default, but you can change this. This means it's extremely rare for the system to be activated accidentally by, say, sound from a programme or film you're watching.
    The other strength of the voice system is that so long as you speak clearly, the set can recognise almost any words or phrases you can think of - extremely handy when it comes to inputting data into search fields on web pages.

    Samsung UE46ES8000 review

    Furthermore, as noted before, you can quietly talk your commands into the touchpad remote rather than always having to shout them. And we quickly discovered that the less loudly you have to speak, the less silly you feel!
    The weakest link in the new control chain is the gesture control system. While the TV tracks movements of your hand surprisingly easily provided you take the time to set it up right, it struggles to work at all in low light, and it's really tricky to get the cursor on the screen to make small enough movements when you get close to a link you want to select.
    The best thing about the gesture system is that in conjunction with the voice controls, it enables you to use the TV without needing to use a physical remote control at all. This, we'd say, is genuinely revolutionary.
    The Smart Hub menus on the Samsung UE46ES8000 do an excellent job of making it easy to navigate your way through the huge amounts of content the TV has to offer, and the TV's set up menus are attractively designed too.
    There are some organisational issues with the set up menus, though. For instance, the Game preset is tucked away in a set up menu rather than sitting with the other picture presets. There are also two separate Advanced picture menus when one would have been more sensible.

    Samsung UE46ES8000 review

    Samsung has arguably tried to do almost too much with its control innovations for one generational leap, and the gesture control system feels like it's been introduced before it was quite ready.
    But still, after a little experimentation the good about Samsung's latest operating system far exceeds the bad.

    Sound quality

    Accompanying the Samsung UE46ES8000's mostly excellent post-calibration pictures is a passable audio performance. As usual with such skinny TVs, there's neither enough bass nor enough dynamic range to really let it sing with action scenes.
    But the mid-range is decently open, so that the speakers seldom sound harsh or muddy, and treble detailing is strong.


    By today's standards, £1,900/$3,000 is a substantial amount to have to find for a 46-inch TV. But the Samsung UE46ES8000 is, after all, a flagship TV. In fact, it's a Samsung flagship TV, which means it comes sporting more bells, whistles, innovations and design prowess than you get from probably any other brand right now.

    Friday, 22 June 2012


    Samsung Wide LED SMART TV

    Discover TV’s new dimension

    Thursday, 21 June 2012


    Sony TV ( Sony KDL-32HX7530 )

    Sony KDL-32HX753 review

    Can its mid-range smart TV continue Sony's resurgence?

    In the nick of time, Sony has finally got its flatscreen TV act together, delivering with its flagship HX853 series arguably the best-performing LCD TVs ever. So it's with real enthusiasm that we take receipt of the first model from the brand's new step-down series, the Sony 32HX753. If this can manage to deliver most of the quality of the HX853s for a bit less money, then happiness surely awaits...

    The Sony KDL-32HX753 follows the latest evolution of Sony's Monolithic design by adding a glimmer of silver around the bezel's outer edges - though it doesn't feel as well built as the HX853 televisions.
    So far as its features are concerned, the 32-inch TV's headliners are itsactive 3D playback - now supported by a native 200Hz panel versus the 100Hz one used on last year's disappointing EX7 series - and its use of Sony's new, video-rich SEN online platform.
    What's more, the Sony 32HX753 supports its online functionality by providing built-in Wi-Fi.

    Sony KDL-32HX753 review

    The Sony 32HX753 costs £699 (around $1,095) in the UK, but if you want something a bit bigger than the 32-inch TV, you can also get the 40-inch 40HX753 (£899), 46-inch 46HX753 (£1,199) and 55-inch 55HX753 (£1,549), while if you want the absolute best Sony picture quality currently available you should step up to the 46HX853 or 55HX853.The core technology behind the 32HX753's screen is LCD with an Edge LED lighting system. It should be stressed right away, though, that the 32HX753 doesn't use the local dimming system that was put to such superlative use with the HX853 models.
    Rival models are tricky to define precisely, given the huge wealth of televisions available this year, but the most likely direct competitors would be the Panasonic DT50 or possibly Panasonic ET50 series, the LG LM660 series and Samsung ES6800 or ES6300 series.


    After undertaking an extensive round of consumer research, Sony has this year softened the striking but rather stark and masculine look of its Monolithic TV design approach by reducing the bezel size a bit, softening corners, and applying a sliver of outer silver trim to its TV's extremities.
    The Sony 32HX753 looks fine on the back of this shift, though its reduced build quality means the design doesn't look quite as elegant as it did on the step-up HX853 Sony TVs.
    The relatively small size of this 32-inch TV also doesn't really give the design quite enough room to shine, so that it doesn't stand out from the crowd as much as Sony's previous Monolithic TVs have tended to.

    Sony KDL-32HX753 review

    On the upside, though, the way the TV sits low and slightly angled back on a pair of minimalistic legs is very pleasant and reduces the extent to which the set intrudes into your living space.
    Connections are ranged helpfully around the side and bottom edge of the Sony 32HX753, making it easy to wall-hang the set. They're also pleasingly plentiful for an affordable 32-inch TV, including four HDMIs, a pair of USBs, and both LAN and integrated Wi-Fi for accessing material stored on a DLNA PC or Mac and Sony's SEN online content platform.

    As for the LAN/ Wi-Fi, this is supported by Sony's mostly likeable new Homestream software (free to download for Mac as well as PC) to enable streaming of a wide variety of material from almost any computer. Or, of course, it can provide your portal to the Sony Entertainment Network online system.Clearly the features associated with some of these connections warrant further attention. The HDMIs are v1.4 in spec, so that they're compatible with Full HD 3D Blu-ray feeds. The USBs, meanwhile, can play back a good if not exhaustive selection of multimedia video, photo and music formats, as well as enabling recording to USB flash drives from the built-in Freeview HD tuner.
    Pressing the new SEN button on the remote control thankfully immediately throws up a new 'hub' for the online services that's light years ahead of the cumbersome, ugly menu system used by last year's Bravia Internet Video TVs.

    Sony KDL-32HX753 review

    On the left you get a reduced version of the picture you were watching, along with - if you wish - a ticker-tape presentation of your Twitter feed. This is an excellently unobtrusive way to integrate social media into a TV environment.
    Ranged across the screen to the right of the reduced TV picture are various sections of content under Apps, Video, Music and Favourites headers. The presentation for all these sections is impressive, with lots of HD icons, and the content levels are impressive too.

    Among the highlights of what's on offer are BBC iPlayer, Demand 5 (Channel 5's catchup service), BBC News, Sky News, Skype (if you add an optional extra camera), Twitter, Facebook, Lovefilm, Netflix, EuroSport, YouTube, Sony's own 3D content channel, Euronews, Crackle, aolHD (featuring Engadget and Huffington Post content, among other things), WIRED, Blinkx, BillaBong,, DailyMotion,, golflinks and Moshcam.You don't get the sheer overwhelming number of services and apps found on the Smart TV platforms from Samsung and LG, perhaps, but Sony's tradition of quality over quantity where online content is concerned continues to impress.
    Sony also includes its own app content, in the form of a Sony Entertainment Television library, its increasingly impressive Video Unlimited film and TV streaming service, and Sony's (also increasingly excellent) Music Unlimited service.

    Sony KDL-32HX753 review

    We guess some might take issue with the way Sony gives its own content platforms their own large Video and Music categories while rivals such as LoveFilm and Netflix get shoved together on the second page of the Apps section. But Sony has at least provided these alternative film sources, so it's not like they're actually forcing you to use only their own music and video platforms.
    Sony has also started to introduce a few smaller apps, such as a couple of fairly basic games and on-board clock and calendar widgets. But it's the extensive selection of video streaming sources that matters and continues to make Sony arguably the most satisfying online TV service provider.
    If you're a die-hard picture tweaker, the Sony 32HX753 is reasonably well equipped with fine tuners to keep you happy. There's a solid selection of thematic picture presets (some perhaps unhelpfully stored under a separate 'Scene Select' section) to get you started.

    There are a few other processing elements you might want to explore as well, such as detail and Edge enhancers, and a 'Clear White' white level booster. But chances are that you'll get the best results for most of the time if you leave these peripheral options turned off.In here you can tweak the backlight, brightness and contrast settings separately; the amount of MPEG, dot and standard noise reduction; the type of motion processing being used; the level of black level and contrast enhancement; the set's basic gamma level; and the bias and gain of the red, green and blue colour elements.
    The motion processing warrants a bit more investigation. Because while the Sony 32HX753 'only' uses a MotionFlow XR 400 system versus the 800Hz-like XR 800 system of the HX853 series, it still has the same surprisingly wide-ranging selection of different processing options. To be honest, most of these are best avoided - even the new Impulse mode, which sounds interesting on paper but ultimately leaves the picture flickering like an old 50Hz CRT.

    Two final points to mention are that the Sony 32HX753 only has Sony's X-Reality processing engine rather than the HX853's Pro version, and that the TV uses frame dimming rather than the HX853's local dimming for its Edge LED lighting.The only mode you will probably consistently get much joy out of without feeling images look a little syrupy or over-processed is the Clear setting.
    With respect to the X-Reality situation, it means that the Sony 32HX753 won't be as adept at upscaling standard definition TV content - especially heavily compressed content from the internet.
    As for the use of frame dimming rather than local dimming, this means that while the TV set can reduce and increase all of its lights at once in response to picture content, it doesn't join the Sony HX853 series in enabling different segments of LEDs to deliver different levels of brightness. This has the potential to significantly reduce the 32HX753's contrast performance versus its more expensive siblings.


    Although the Sony 32HX753 isn't spectacularly cheap for a 32-inch TV, at £699 (around $1,095), let's not forget that it sits only one step down from the top of Sony's new 2012 range. Admittedly this step down is quite a large one from the stellar Sony HX853 televisions, but the set is still capable of producing some superior picture quality so long as you are very careful with its settings.
    It also helps justify its price with the impressive extent and quality of its online services and multimedia playback capabilities.

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