Samsung UN55ES8000 LED LCD HDTV Review$3,749.00
Tour & Design
The on-set controls for the ES8000 have been allocated entirely to the jog stick on the back of the TV. There are really no buttons, save for the stick itself, which can be "clicked" in to serve as a selection/OK button. Pressing up or down on the stick changes channels, and pressing left or right increases or decreases volume.
It's a fairly limited system for on-set controls, but considering you can turn on your ES8000 by saying "Hi TV, Power On" and then proceed through the menus and channels with either voice or gesture controls, an extensive array of on-set buttons would probably feel like overkill, especially considering that the TV already comes boxed with two completely different remote controls.
The UN55ES8000 comes with two remote controls.
The first is the standard Samsung remote control that comes with Samsung's 2012 line up of internet-enabled, 3D TVs. It's a pretty big remote, with an awful lot of buttons. In our opinion, it's a little cramped, especially compared to the touch-pad remote. There are buttons for the menu, history, smart hub, tools, info, search, camera, support, 3D, and a whole slew of less-specific buttons--and that's just in the lower four inches of the remote.
The touch-pad based, microphone-ready smart touch remote is much simpler and much more streamlined. It has very small, tactile buttons for volume, channel, and browser functions. A return button, smart hub button, number button, and a voice button--all very small and hidden--dot the lower, silver half of the smart remote. Essentially, the remote is broken into an upper and a lower half. The upper half is dedicated to the more traditional "TV remote" functions, i.e. volume and channel controls. The upper half also contains a small rectangular area, found at the center of the half, that acts as a track pad.
The track pad works almost identically to those found on a laptop, but smaller. The track pad controls the cursor during web browsing, and can also be used to control the selection box within the TV's Smart Hub. Again like a laptop track pad, the remote's track pad can be pressed, like a button, to select whatever the selection box is highlighting.
The smart remote also has a built in microphone. Pressing and holding the "voice" button activates this microphone, which can then be used to give commands to the TV, or serve as a speech-to-text function while using a search engine within the browser. For instance, holding the voice button and saying, "Hi TV, Power Off," followed by a confirmation command of "OK" will shut the TV off. The ES8000's microphones are not perfect, and must be spoken to quite clearly and--for lack of a better word--cheerily, in order to properly follow and understand the speaker.
Each of the ES8000's interactive functions must be "learned" by users in order to work at full efficiency; their pacing and implementation are alien to generations who are more comfortable within the realm of traditional infrared remotes. For this reason, some users might find themselves inclined to stick with the standard Samsung remote. We suppose this will vary on an individual basis; at the very least, we can't see any harm in Samsung including such an array of ways to interact with their television.
In the Box
In the box, you'll find the panel, stand/mount components, a standard Samsung 3D Smart TV remote, the new "Smart" touch-pad remote, an IR blaster, 6 AA batteries and 2 AAA batteries, the user guide, and the necessary screws to assemble the TV.