Before testing, we performed our standard calibration and brought color temperature closer to the standard using the comprehensive white balance controls. We tried tweaking the Custom color space controls but couldn't improve upon the already-accurate primaries (see the Geek Box). Check out our picture settings for all the details.
Black level: The blacks on the LN32A450 were darker than those of any other set in the comparison, as evinced by the dark opening scene inside Whittier's house. The shadows in the corners, the letterbox bars, and Agent 47's black jacket, for example, all appeared darker, adding the usual extra dose of realism associated with solid black levels. Details in shadows were fine, although not quite as realistic as on the Toshiba; we couldn't make out his lapel as well, for example, despite setting gamma at a relatively aggressive +2. Dark scenes still looked best on the Samsung, however.
Color accuracy: As with many past Samsung displays we've tested, the LN32A550 performed very well in this area, especially after we tweaked the white balance. 47's bald dome and the pasty face of Nika, for example, looked neither too warm nor too cool, and we appreciated that color didn't go bluish in near-dark areas, as we witnessed on the Insignia and the Sharp. Primary colors, such as the red laptop desk in the train station and the green plants outside, were quite close to our reference for color, and well within the Good range. For its part, color decoding was also right-on, allowing full saturation that, combined with relatively deep blacks, lent plenty of pop to the picture.
Video processing: Unlike many HDTVs we've tested the Samsung properly de-interlaced 1080i film-based sources when Film Mode was engaged.
When we watched test patterns, however, we noticed that the Samsung didn't quite resolve as much detail with 1080i sources as did the Insignia, for example. When we checked out the pan across the seats of Raymond James Stadium from the HQV disc, we saw some moire that wasn't visible on the other sets, another sign of resolution loss. It was very difficult to tell the difference between 1080i and 720p sources on the Samsung, however, and when we watched Hitman at 1080i and compared between the sets, the LN32A450 didn't look any less sharp. Still, home theater sticklers should probably set their sources to 720p, when available, for the best picture quality.
With material designed to test for motion blur, namely shots of cars driving past a fixed camera, we couldn't see any real difference between the four LCDs.
Uniformity: The Samsung's screen was solid in this department; the only issue we saw was very faint horizontal banding in two a narrow range of mid-gray tones, and they were invisible in normal program material. In dark areas, the screen was uniform, with none of the brighter splotches seen on the other LCDs in our comparison. The Samsung also did a better job with off-angle viewing, maintaining its depth of black and color well when seen from either side.
Standard-definition: The LN32A450 did an impressive job. Details were sharp, and the set resolved the entire DVD format. It smoothed our diagonal edges well, and engaged 2:3 pull-down quickly (once we had engaged Film Mode, which is disengaged by default unfortunately). Noise reduction was very effective at cleaning up low-quality sources.
PC: With analog sources delivered via the VGA input the Samsung performed very well, resolving every detail of the 1,360x768 signal according to DisplayMate and delivering crisp, sharp text and other on-screen details. Surprisingly, HDMI tested far worse. The set didn't handle all of the detail of the source, and edges looked blockier and softer as a result.
|Before color temp (20/80)||7036/7077||Average|
|After color temp||6437/6566||Good|
|Before grayscale variation||+/- 489K||Average|
|After grayscale variation||+/- 112K||Average|
|Color of red (x/y)||0.64/0.334||Good|
|Color of green||0.291/0.593||Good|
|Color of blue||0.15/0.068||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||Yes||Good|
|480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps||Pass||Good|
|1080i video resolution||Pass||Good|
|1080i film resolution||Pass||Good|
|Samsung LN32A450||Picture settings|
|Picture on (watts)||130.65||68.27||66.62|
|Picture on (watts/sq. inch)||0.3||0.16||0.15|
|Cost per year||$41.11||$21.81||$21.29|
|Score (considering size)||Average|