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LG 32CS460 - 32 Class ( 31.5 viewable ) LCD TV review: LG 32CS460 - 32 Class ( 31.5 viewable ) LCD TV

The price is nice, but that's about all this budget TV has going for it.

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Ty Pendlebury
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Ty Pendlebury

Editor

Ty Pendlebury is a journalism graduate of RMIT Melbourne, and has worked at CNET since 2006. He lives in New York City where he writes about streaming and home audio.

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3 min read

If you're in an electronics store and looking for a smaller TV to buy, let me start by saying that this TV won't jump out at you from the shelves. If the circa-2004 design doesn't put you off, then going deeper won't do much to change your mind.

LG_tv_ty12_540x386.jpg
5.0

LG 32CS460 - 32 Class ( 31.5 viewable ) LCD TV

The Good

The <b>LG 32CS460</b> is available for a budget price and has excellent image processing. Color was relatively accurate.

The Bad

Black levels and shadow detail are some of the worst seen this year. Competitors such as Samsung and Sony offer better picture quality for the money.

The Bottom Line

The LG 32CS460 is a budget TV that can't deliver the same level of picture quality as similarly priced competitors.

LG had a pretty bad run in 2012 with some great-looking but poorly performing TVs, and the CS460 is unfortunately near the bottom of the pile. While a swivel stand and ergonomic remote are nice features at this price, they can't save what is an undernourished TV. Terrible black levels, minimal shadow detail and poor off-axis viewing means that I would recommend a third-tier brand offering like TCL before I did this particular TV.

If you have $300 to spend on a 32-inch TV, don't muck around; head straight toward the "S" section of your local electronics dealer (they are alphabetical, right?) and pick up the Samsung EH4000.

Updated 4/2/2013: Based on conversations with LG's engineers, we have revisited this review and re-calibrated the television. This resulted in a slightly better performance and a change from 4 to 5 in its picture quality score, raisng the overall score from 4.7 to 5.0.

Design
While LG's top-of-the-range TVs feature the best designs we've seen this year, the budget lines haven't had as much love. The LG CS460 features a black bezel, as most TVs still do these days, and it is underlined with a metallic strip at the bottom. The bezel itself is quite thick, and when compared against the slim Samsung EH400, it looks almost prehistoric. On a positive side the TV does come with a swivel stand, although it's hard to assemble -- you'll need a really, really long screwdriver to attach it.

The remote is one of the better budget models we've seen. Sarah Tew/CNET

The remote control is pretty smart, though, with friendly buttons and a logical arrangement. No backlight, however.

The menu system is one of the TV's best points. Sarah Tew/CNET

The CS460's menu system is the best of the TVs we tested and looks identical to those on LG's other televisions. It's easy to navigate and also quite friendly.

LG 32CS460 (pictures)

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"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Key TV features "="">Other: 1,280x720-pixel (720p) resolution; compatible with 1080i and 1080p sources
Display technology LCD LED backlight N/A
Screen finish Matte Remote Standard
Smart TV No Internet connection No
3D technology No 3D glasses included No
Refresh rate(s) 60Hz Dejudder (smooth) processing No
DLNA-compliant No USB Photo/Music/Video

Features

The LG 32CS460 is a 32-inch LCD with 720p resolution and a standard fluorescent (non-LED) backlight. It doesn't really sport any features beyond a light sensor (which might save you a few cents but not worth the trouble) and the swivel stand. It doesn't boast any a) smoothing modes or b) networking features, but if you want them, then the a) Samsung EH4000 and the b) Vizio E3D320VX would give you these.

Picture settings: As far as sophistication is concerned, the LG has the picture settings of the more expensive TVs in its lineup, but here it's a matter of implementation. While you get the normal Game and Cinema settings, the CS460 goes further and offers a two-point grayscale adjustment and a Color Management System. Unlike much more expensive systems, though, I found them difficult to use reliably. I have now revisited the TV with a less aggressive gamma setting with result of less green in shadow detail.

Connectivity: Like the Samsung EH4000 and the Sony BX330 I tested, the CS460 only includes two HDMI inputs, a component/composite, and a USB port. While it would have been a great addition, the LG misses out on the PC input of the Sony, meaning that it isn't a great monitor replacement.

Two HDMI ports are the highlight here. Sarah Tew/CNET
"="" bgcolor="#CCCCCC">Comparison models (details)
TCL L40FHDF12TA 40-inch LCD
Samsung LN46D630 46-inch LCD
Samsung UN32EH4000 32-inch LCD
Sony KDL-32BX330 32-inch LCD
Panasonic TC-P65VT50 (reference) 65-inch plasma

Picture quality
While not many people buying a $300 TV would expect the greatest picture quality, a TV like the Samsung EH4000 shows that you can get a good AND cheap television. In contrast, the noticeable things about the LG are its poor black levels, off-axis response and an inability to portray shadow detail, which meant that images lacked depth.

Click the image at the right to see the picture settings used in the review and to read more about how this TV's picture controls worked during calibration.

Black level:
The black levels exhibited by the LG CS460 were the worst of our lineup, but it didn't have the shadow detail of even the TCL. Whether it was the city skyline of "Watchmen" (12 min, 24 sec) or the "Star Trek" pine cone of death (28 min, 18 sec), dark scenes came out looking wispy and indistinct. No matter how much I tweaked the gamma settings of the TV I couldn't get low-level blacks to display. While the normal effect of crushing black levels is to create impact and punch, the LG also lacked this with just a general sense of gray.

Color accuracy:
Before calibration, everything on the LG was an alarming electric blue. Ever seen a computer monitor which looked incredibly 'white'? That's what this TV looked like. After two sets of calibrations the television went from "ugh, my eyes" to looking almost okay. Skin tones were much improved the second time around, and in the final Harry Potter movie (Chapter 21) the sickly Voldemort looked fairly comparable to the Sharp LE640 and Samsung EH4000. Switching to the red palette of the Starfleet Academy steps in Star Trek (Chapter 4) the reds were vibrant and not too orange and the blue of the sky was consistent with the other models.

I tried several times to improve the LG's lot by recalibrating the TV, and on the final attempt I succeeded: Voldemort no longer looked like he ate flies for dinner.

Video processing:
One thing did stand out, though, and this was the LG's image processing. In both our 24p and 1080i deinterlacing tests the LG performed well with neither judder or moire effects. Unfortunately, this does little to ameliorate its problems with basic image quality.

Uniformity:
Of the three small-size TVs I tested, the LG was the only one with a problem with uniformity. At the top of the screen on the right appeared a yellow balloon of light. I'd seen this artifact before on the LG G2, but that TV was far worse.

Off-angle viewing for this TV is the worst of our test group with a very gray image off-axis which obscures almost all of the picture. It's not very watchable in this way as a result.

Bright lighting:
The LG has a matte screen, and watching TV with the lights on and the shades open didn't cause any undue reflections. In fact, the black-level problems were less noticeable; a lit room would be the optimal way to view this model.

GEEK BOX: Test Result Score
Black luminance (0%) 0.0443 Poor
Avg. gamma 2.3104 Average
Near-black x/y (5%) 0.2766/0.2649 Poor
Dark gray x/y (20%) 0.3252/0.342 Poor
Bright gray x/y (70%) 0.3065/0.3199 Poor
Before avg. color temp. 10828.8338 Poor
After avg. color temp. 6775.7799 Poor
Red lum. error (de94_L) 2.2715 Average
Green lum. error (de94_L) 3.8492 Poor
Blue lum. error (de94_L) 1.0454 Good
Cyan hue x/y 0.2146/0.3268 Good
Magenta hue x/y 0.3205/0.1536 Good
Yellow hue x/y 0.4209/0.5007 Good
1080p/24 Cadence (IAL) Pass Good
1080i De-interlacing (film) Pass Good
Motion resolution (max) 300 Poor
Motion resolution (dejudder off) 300 Poor
LG 32CS460
LG_tv_ty12_540x386.jpg
5.0

LG 32CS460 - 32 Class ( 31.5 viewable ) LCD TV

Score Breakdown

Design 5Features 5Performance 5Value 5
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