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Samsung LNC350 series (photos)

A USB port and decent performance sets the small Samsung LNC350 series apart from the entry-level pack.

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David_Katzmaier.jpg
David Katzmaier
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1 of 11 Sarah Tew/CNET

Overview

Comparing the Samsung LNC350 with the Sony KDL-BX300, another entry-level name-brand 720p LCD, we give the Sony the slight nod in picture quality. That said, the Samsung is plenty "good enough" for its price range, and offers one extra the Sony and most other sets at this level lack: a USB port for easy photo display and music playback. For a bedroom-appropriate model without frills like LED backlight or 1080p resolution, the LNC350 series fits the bill nicely.
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Corner detail

Samsung's lowest-end model doesn't hide the speakers.
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3 of 11 Sarah Tew/CNET

Stand detail

The oval stand doesn't swivel.
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Side view

At 2.6 inches deep the Samsung is pretty thin for a non-LED-based LCD.
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Remote control

While we liked the larger remote on the Sony BX300 series better than this Samsung, the latter's stubby clicker is fine for the job. Button layout was clear enough and there were no missing keys, aside from "play/pause," etc., that denote the ability to control other gear via HDMI-CEC or infrared.
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6 of 11 Sarah Tew/CNET

Inputs

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.
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USB media menu

The Samsung outdoes many other entry-level LCDs by including a USB port, which allows it to display digital photos and play music from a connected USB thumbdrive--it can't handle video files, however.
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Main menu

The transparent menu system is excellent, with thoughtfully divided sections and easy access to all functions. We especially appreciated the onscreen menu explanations and the large, clear text for selections. There's a Tools menu for shortcuts to picture and sound modes, as well as the sleep timer.
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Advanced settings menu

As usual, Samsung's selection of adjustments is excellent, despite the presence of fewer picture modes than some other brands. There are nearly as many tweaks available on this entry-level model as on the company's higher-end TVs.
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Fine color temperature menu

As usual, we appreciated gamma and the fine color temperature controls most.
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11 of 11 Sarah Tew/CNET

Picture quality

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 sub-category). We can't speculate how the LNC350 compares with less-expensive no-name models, unfortunately, but on its own merits it's a fine entry-level TV.

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