Solid image quality and features as well as sleek looks make Samsung's mainstream LNC630 LCD an affordable alternative to LED TVs.
TV makers are pushing LED-based LCD TVs hard, in part because the newfangled backlight scheme allows thinner, more aggressive designs and slightly better energy efficiency. However a larger part, we suspect, has to do with profit margins: TVs with LED backlights generally cost more than those with standard fluorescent, or CCFL, backlights. Samsung sells numerous so-called LED TVs, but the LNC630 series isn't one of them. This midrange LCD uses the standard backlight, doesn't cost a fortune, yet manages in some ways--chiefly screen uniformity--to produce a better image than the company's edge-lit LED models. It also competes well against the competitors' CCFL sets, with more picture controls and options, in addition to sleeker styling, than just about any of them. All told the midrange Samsung LNC630 series is a tempting target for buyers who don't care about Internet features or LED.
Samsung's standard 2010 remote is included on the LNC630, complete with backlighting behind nearly every key--a rarity in this class. We don't like the grid layout as much as the better-differentiated keys on last year's remotes, but it's still perfectly functional once you figure out the logical groupings.
Samsung didn't change its basic TV control menus on this model, and that's a good thing. The transparent, blue-highlighted graphics are easy to read and navigate, and response is snappy. Text explanations are present for just about every function.
All told Samsung's LNC630 series performed well even when compared to some more-expensive LED-based models. It delivered deep black levels for a non-local-dimming LCD, sported accurate color and solid video processing, and we liked its matte screen for bright rooms. On the other hand shadow detail was a weak spot, and of course it couldn't match the uniformity of plasma.