Samsung has finally unveiled its three flagship series for the rest of the year, and the Series 8 sits firmly in the middle. Unlike the Series 7 — which it matches in terms of feature count — there isn't a 40-inch on offer, and a 46-inch and a 52-inch the only models in the range.
The Samsung LA46A850 is a 46-inch TV with a 1920x1080 resolution and a claimed 70,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio. Of course, the TV boasts all of Samsung's video features like DNIe processing, 24p and 100Hz motion compensation.
Connectivity is the star on this TV: not only do you get a generous four HDMI ports for connecting your latest gear, but the TV features "WISELINK Pro" which streams content from the web and your network via an Ethernet port. This feature will be especially useful to people who don't want or need a games console and want to be able to watch movies stored on their computers.
Following on from WISELINK are the related InfoLive and Content Library features. InfoLive brings up information such as stock prices and weather, while the Content Library is a preloaded collection of illustrated recipes, stories and yoga (!) which can be added to from Samsung's web portal. The TV includes storage onboard for keeping downloaded content.
Unlike the sturdy stands on the 750 and 950, the stand on the 850 looks decidedly wobbly. At the recent unveiling an employee stuck a USB key into the side, and the TV wobbled on its stand for about 10 seconds. While we're sure it will hold the TV's load quite well we'd prefer to wall-mount this TV. (Samsung have since informed us that the reason for the shakiness was that the TV was sitting on a lazy susan — we look forward to testing the TV in the studio and letting you know).
Samsung has produced a television that is "less than two inches thick", and while it halves the depth of the Series 7, it's actually 3kg heavier, which makes it less wall-friendly in our eyes.
Unfortunately, we think that this TV may suffer from the "middle-child syndrome". Samsung's range is already full of different-numbered TVs and the Series 8 only adds to the bulk. We feel the LA46A850 doesn't offer that much over the cheaper 750, apart from different cosmetics and a slightly slimmer profile. Like the Sony ZX1, is thinner necessarily better?
If you're looking to drop five grand on a TV then we think you're better off saving the $500 extra and going for the Series 9 instead. The important difference is that the LA46A950 is LED backlit which gives you a significant boost in picture quality. Cosmetically and features-wise the two are almost identical otherwise.