The world's not short of £1800 LCD TVs, but a 3D TV is a first. Samsung is quick out of the blocks with this year's must have/will have technology.
We expect the 3D trickle to become a deluge by the other side of summer, but for now here's the UE40C7000: number one in a field of one.
It's a sleek, discreet chassis, finished to Samsung's usual high standard. The comprehensive remote looks good too. This set is plenty slim enough to wall-mount, though Samsung obviously expects most buyers to route all sources through a home cinema amplifier.
Any connection that's not HDMI, even the RF aerial, requires a bespoke adaptor to dock with the back of the screen. Which spoils the skinny profile somewhat. Set-up menus for the C7000 range are easy to navigate and as simple or in-depth as required. Connect to your wireless networkThis legibility is carried over to Samsung's ‘ internet@TV' feature – it's quick to connect to your wireless network and fast to load YouTube clips (other widgets will follow) or weather forecasts.
As a pure TV, the C7000 holds up well. Both digital and analogue tuners are perfectly acceptable, with picture noise held to a minimum and pretty consistent motion-tracking. Some rivals offer a little more punch to high-contrast scenes, but you won't feel let down by the TV reception here.
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The Samsung is equally adept when it comes to upscaling DVD. Edges are smooth, detail levels high and motion of all kinds is handled confidently.
The colour palette is subtle, with skin tones a highlight, while white tones in high-contrast images stay bright. Black shades are deep, but carry good detail.Good with DVD, great with Blu-rayOf course, the C7000 looks even better with 1080p Blu-ray content. Zombieland looks tremendously poised, the Samsung turning out epic levels of detail and its 200Hz motion processing smoothly rendering movement.
Edge definition and apparent depth of field both impress and, thanks to LED backlighting at the edges of the screen, deep blacks and glaring whites happily coexist in the frame.
The combination gives an overall impression of unshakeable solidity. Skin textures are particularly pleasing – Jesse Eisenberg's half-hearted moustache is detailed down to the last apologetic hair.
From any source, sound is an improvement on Samsung's best-selling B7000 series – which is to say basically par for the course for an LCD.3D looks suitably three-dimensionalKnowing precisely how effective a 3D screen the Samsung is will be tricky until we see some competing products. For now, though, with the battery-powered glasses in position and using Samsung's own BD-C6900 3D player, a 3D Blu-ray of Monsters vs Aliens looks as three-dimensional as one could reasonably expect.
The obvious set pieces (Saturn's rings, a ball game) are the most impressive, objects seeming to project a good distance ahead of the TV. For the first time it's possible to discuss ‘depth of field' in a literal sense.
Test-team opinion is divided on the merits of 3D, negative statements ranging from the purist ‘it adds nothing to the experience of a film' to the pragmatic ‘it's giving me a headache'.
The partial, though, are enraptured, both by the immersiveness of the content we've seen and by the potential for film and games in the future.
3D active-shutter glasses cost extraOne thing to note: the battery-powered active-shutter 3D glasses are sold separately at around £100 a pair, while USB-rechargeable ones will go for £150 each, so you'll need to add that to the price.
Samsung plans to offer a bundle including two pairs of glasses to customers who buy one of its 3D TVs and 3D Blu-ray players at the same time.
So here's a TV that holds its end up against the class leaders at the price and offers support for the fledgling 3D format. (Our first review set suffered from 2009's most fashionable flatscreen flaw, inconsistent backlighting, but our second screen was far better behaved.)
If you just can't wait to get into 3D, this will be the first screen retailers can offer.
But – and this is crucial – the C7000 is a fine TV at the price even if you couldn't give a fig for 3D.