Samsung LNC350 review: Samsung LNC350

While it lacks the array of power-saving options found on the Sony BX300, namely auto-off and sound-only modes, the Samsung does have an Auto power saver option said to monitor the image and adjust the backlight accordingly. There's no ambient light sensor, though.

Connectivity
HDMI inputs 2 back Component video inputs 1 back
Composite video input(s) 1 back (shared) S-video input(s) 0
VGA-style PC input(s) 1 RF input(s) 1
AV output(s) 0 Digital audio output 1 optical
USB port 1 back Ethernet (LAN) port No

A pair of HDMI inputs is standard for this level, and the lack of front- or side-panel jacks isn't unusual either. As we mentioned above, the USB port is the Samsung's claim to fame, and it lacks the second component input and digital output of the Sony BX300. Connecting a composite video device means you can't use the component input, which could be a problem if, for example, you have both a Nintendo Wii and an early, component-only Xbox 360.


The good: USB input for photos. The bad: No side-panel bay; sparse analog selection.

Performance
The Samsung delivers solid picture quality for a TV in its range, trading punches with the Sony BX300 admirably--although between the two we'd give the edge to the Sony, mainly because of its superior screen uniformity (although the edge is slim enough that both scored the same 5 in this subcategory). We can't speculate as to how the LNC350 compares with less expensive, no-name models, unfortunately, but on its own merits it's a fine entry-level TV.

TV settings: Samsung LN32C350

As with higher-end Samsung TVs, the LNC350's Movie mode provided the best initial picture quality, although it still showed a bluish grayscale, its average gamma was a bit dark (2.34), and light output was a bit high at 50 ftl. Our calibration improved the grayscale somewhat, albeit not enough for our liking, and brought gamma within spitting distance of a 2.2 target and light output to our nominal 40 ftl. For our image quality tests we checked out "I Am Legend" on Blu-ray.

In our comparison we looked at the similar 32-inch Sony KDL-32BX300, as well as the larger Samsung LN46C630, to represent non-LED-based LCD TVs. We also employed our reference Pioneer PRO-111FD.

Black level: We don't expect much out of inexpensive LCDs in this area, so we weren't surprised by the relatively bright shade of black the Samsung delivered in darker scenes. When Neville closes up his apartment in Chapter 3 and 4, for example, the shadows and fades to black were lighter than on the Samsung LNC630, albeit a bit darker than on the Sony BX300. On the other hand, details in shadows were solid, showing up better than on the C630 in areas like his pants and gun as he curls up in the bathtub.

Color accuracy: Although neither smaller TV could touch the Samsung C630 in this area, the, skin tones on the Samsung were pretty good, albeit not as close to our reference as the Sony BX300. We chalk up the difference to the C350's more erratic grayscale, especially in the midtones where it veered into blue, as well as to a less accurate primary color of red. On the other hand, the C350 didn't tinge black and near-black areas with as much blue as the Sony, although they still looked less true than we saw on the C630.

Video processing: We were surprised when this little TV handled 1080p/24 sources properly, delivering the proper cadence in our test with the helicopter flyover from Chapter 7. Motion resolution matched what we'd expect for a 60Hz TV, coming in between 300 and 400 lines. The set did properly deinterlace 1080i film and video-based content.

We also noticed that unlike the Sony, the Samsung looked a bit soft in resolution patterns at 720p and 1080p (both appeared about the same at 1080i, however). The difference was tough to spot with HD program material, but it's still worth noting.

Uniformity: The main issue we saw on the Samsung was excessive brightness in all four corners of the screen. It showed up noticeably, for example, in the letterbox bars above and below the image, and really affected our enjoyment of the picture. It's worth noting that these issues can vary from sample to sample.

Off-angle the image washed out more quickly than on the larger Samsung, and about the same as the Sony, but it wasn't terrible for an entry-level LCD.

Bright lighting: Like most low-buck LCDs, the LN32C350 performed very well in bright lighting thanks to its matte screen, reducing the visibility of reflections and preserving black levels relatively well. It matched the Sony BX300 in this area.

Standard definition: The Samsung did not perform as well as the Sony with standard-def sources (note that said processing is irrelevant for most HD cable and satellite hookups, however, since the box, not the TV itself, handles the processing). It delivered every line of the DVD format, but the image looked relatively soft at times, for example in the bricks of the bridge in the Details test. Since the noise reduction tests showed less noise than the Sony even with NR supposedly turned off, we suspect that the Samsung employs a hard filter that cuts off some fine detail. In its favor the C350 kept jaggies in moving lines to a minimum, but fell down again when the film mode failed to engage 2:3 pull-down effectively.

PC: With both VGA and HDMI PC sources the TV did well, resolving every line of 1,360x768 with minimal edge enhancement and no overscan. Of course a 1080p TV could provide more detail, but given the set's native resolution PC performance was fine.

TEST RESULT SCORE
Before color temp (20/80) 6,563/6,514 Good
After color temp 6,497/6,447 Good
Before grayscale variation 356 Average
After grayscale variation 191 Average
Color of red (x/y) 0.629/0.34 Average
Color of green 0.274/0.607 Average
Color of blue 0.148/0.049 Average
Overscan 0.0% 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 this size in the Samsung LNC350 series, but we did test the 32-inch model. For more information, refer to the review of the Samsung LN32C350.

How we test TVs.

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