As small-screened, entry-level LCDs go, the Samsung LNB360 series outdid the others we've seen by virtue of its slightly deeper black levels and solid all-around picture quality. To complain about some aspects of its color is barely worthwhile at this price range.
In its default Movie mode, the most accurate available, the Samsung still measured relatively blue in the grayscale, quite bright (61 ftl), and with an overly aggressive gamma that sacrificed detail in dark areas for the appearance of better blacks. Our standard calibration fixed the worst of these issues, and although we still saw too much blue in midbright and especially very dark areas, gamma was much improved (2.12 versus the target of 2.2).
We compared the Samsung directly to a few other entry-level LCDs we had onhand, including the Panasonic TC-32LX1, the Sharp LC-32D47U, the Sony KDL-32L5000, the Toshiba 32AV502U, the Vizio VO302E, and the Westinghouse SK-32H640G. We also employed our trusty Pioneer PRO-111FD as a reference--obviously, it shouldn't be compared to any of these LCDs. Our Blu-ray of choice for most of the image quality tests in this comparison was the superb-looking "Baraka" played from our Sony PlayStation3.
Black level: In our lineup of entry-level LCDs, the Samsung delivered the deepest shade of black, surpassing the depth achieved by the Toshiba, Sharp, and Sony by a bit, and beating the other displays by more. As usual we could see the most difference in scenes that were nearly all black, such as the night sky surrounding the eclipse in Chapter 20 and the blackened temple archways in Chapter 21. In brighter scenes the difference between the Samsung and its three closest competitors dwindled to near-invisibility, but on the still-lighter sets--the Vizio, Westinghouse, LG, and Panasonic--we could still easily see the difference in our side-by-side comparison.
Shadow detail on the Samsung was very good, but we'd give the slight nod in this category to the Sony, as evinced by the slightly more natural look of the sculptured stone faces under the twilight sky in Chapter 21.
Color accuracy: Evidence of the Samsung's accurate color reproduction appeared most obviously in places like skin tones, such as the faces of the meditating man in Chapter 3 and the woman looking out of her window in Chapter 10. The woman's face did appear a tad too pale, an issue we attribute to the Samsung's less-accurate grayscale, but it didn't show the greenish tinge we saw on the Sony. Compared with the other sets, the Samsung tied the Vizo and fell short of only the LG in this department.
The Samsung's deeper black levels also contributed to its superior saturation, which came through most vividly when we watched the dancing tribes-people in Chapter 7. And though black and very dark areas didn't stay quite as neutral as we saw on the Sony, they were better (less tinged with blue) than the others.
Video processing: The Samsung doesn't perform much overt processing, such as the dejudder seen on higher-end LCDs, and since it has 720p resolution our motion resolution test isn't valid. We expect it would perform about the same in that test as other 60Hz displays, and as usual we didn't notice any motion blur in our viewing.
We did appreciate the lack of the kinds of moire artifacts we saw in 1080i mode on the Toshiba, the Westinghouse, and the Sharp, however, and like the other models in our comparison, the Samsung properly deinterlaced both film- and video-based sources according to our test.
Uniformity: The LNB360 performed well in this area. Unlike on the Sony there were no overt bright areas across the screen and when seen off-angle, its picture was about the same as the Sony and the Toshiba, keeping its color and black-level fidelity better than the other sets.
Bright lighting: Like most matte-screened LCDs, the Samsung performed well under bright lights, attenuating ambient light admirably. It was no better or worse than any of the other sets in our lineup, which all have similar screens.
Standard-definition: The Samsung delivered one of the best performances at standard-def video reproduction among our comparison models. It resolved every line of the DVD format and details in the grass and stone bridge of our test clip looked relatively sharp. Jaggies on moving diagonal lines were kept to a minimum, and noise reduction was quite effective, even the oft-disappointing Auto mode. As we'd expect, the display also engaged 2:3 pull-down detection effectively.
PC: The Samsung made an excellent PC monitor, albeit a relatively low-resolution one. It fully resolved 1,360x768-pixel sources via both HDMI and VGA, showing crisp text with no edge enhancement in both cases.
|Before color temp (20/80)||6476/6861||Good|
|After color temp||6510/6436||Good|
|Before grayscale variation||355||Average|
|After grayscale variation||158||Average|
|Color of red (x/y)||0.625/0.33||Average|
|Color of green||0.279/0.605||Good|
|Color of blue||0.147/0.053||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||Y||Good|
|480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps||Pass||Good|
|1080i video resolution||Pass||Good|
|1080i film resolution||Pass||Good|
Power consumption: We did not test the power consumption of the 26-inch Samsung LN26B360, but we did test the 32-inch model. For more information, refer to the review of the Samsung LN32B360. How we test TVs