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, and 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.
Series information: We performed a hands-on evaluation of the 46-inch Samsung LN46C630, but this review also applies to the other screen sizes in the series, with one exception: the 55- and 60-inch sizes use a glossy, as opposed to a matte, screen finish. For that reason, the remarks that mention a matte screen do not apply to those sizes. Aside from this difference, all sizes have identical specs and according to the manufacturer should provide very similar picture quality. This review was updated on November 11, 2010, to note this difference.
|Models in series (details)|
|Samsung LN40C630||40 inches|
|Samsung LN46C630 (reviewed)||46 inches|
|Samsung LN55C630||55 inches|
|Samsung LN60C630||60 inches|
|Panel depth||3.2 inches||Bezel width||1.6 inches|
|Single-plane face||No||Swivel stand||Yes|
|Other: Transparent stand stalk; flat glass base|
Glossy black, transparent edges and touch-sensitive controls mark the LNC630 series as one of the sleekest TVs you'll find at its price point. The panel is supported by Samsung's trademark see-through, swiveling stand column atop a flat, glass base in matching black with transparent edges. We really like the minimalist overall look, and suspect this model will blend into living room decors much better than the company's spider-legged step-up TVs.
|Remote control and menus|
|Remote size (LxW)||8.4 x 2 inches||Remote screen||N/A|
|Total keys||49||Backlit keys||44|
|Other IR devices controlled||No||RF control of TV||No|
|Shortcut menu||Yes||Onscreen explanations||Yes|
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.
|Key TV features|
|Display technology||LCD||LED backlight||N/A|
|3D compatible||No||3D glasses included||N/A|
|Screen finish||Matte||Refresh rate(s)||120Hz|
|Dejudder (smooth) processing||Yes||1080p/24 compatible||Yes|
|Internet connection||No||Wireless HDMI/AV connection||No|
|Other: Streams videos, music and photos via DLNA or USB|
The LNC630 series is currently Samsung's least expensive LCD to feature 120Hz processing, and though it lacks the Apps of the step-up LNC650 models, and the LED backlights of even high-end Samsungs, it's still well-featured for its price point.
Competing sets in this range lack goodies like Samsung's DLNA capability, which allows media streaming over a home network (we didn't test this feature) thanks to the set's LAN/Ethernet jack--which can also grab firmware updates. Video streaming via USB is also a nice touch to add to the standard music and photo capability. We'd also be remiss if we didn't mention the matte screen, which cuts down on reflections better than the glossy screens on step-up Samsung LCDs.
|Adjustable picture modes||4||Independent memories per input||Yes|
|Dejudder presets||3||Fine dejudder control||Yes|
|Aspect ratio modes -- HD||4||Aspect ratio modes -- SD||4|
|Color temperature presets||4||Fine color temperature control||10 points|
|Gamma presets||7||Color management system||Yes|
|Other: New 10-point color temperature system; RGB filters and built-in test patterns|
The LNC630 offers basically the same level of control found on flagship Samsung TVs, and that's a significant improvement over many sets at this price. Highlights for tweakers include a new 10-point grayscale system that works pretty well--(albeit not as well as LG's) in addition to a dejudder control system and a color management system that both work better than LG's. Internal test patterns and red, green, and blue color filters also aid would-be calibrators.
|Power saver mode||Yes||Ambient light sensor||Yes|
|Picture-in-picture||Yes||Onscreen user manual||No|
|Other: Basic onscreen "HD connection guide; onscreen troubleshooting; Sound-only option|
Not much goes missing here, and picture-in-picture is relatively rare these days. The troubleshooting section is nice but is mostly geared toward easing the job of customer service reps tasked with diagnosing owner problems over the phone. We like the option to turn off the screen manually, leaving just the sound, which cuts power use down to 21 watts.
|HDMI inputs||3 back, 1 side||Component video inputs||2 back|
|Composite video input(s)||1 side||S-video input(s)||0|
|VGA-style PC input(s)||1 back||RF input(s)||1|
|AV output(s)||1 audio||Digital audio output||1 optical|
|USB port||2 side||Ethernet (LAN) port||Yes|
The selection here is excellent, with plenty of digital and analog connections for even the most extensive home theaters. The LNC630 actually outdoes the analog input selection of many higher-end Samsung TVs.