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Christmas Gift Guide

Overview

Corner detail

Stand detail

Side view

Remote control

Inputs

USB media menu

Main menu

Advanced settings menu

Fine color temperature menu

Picture quality

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.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Samsung's lowest-end model doesn't hide the speakers.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The oval stand doesn't swivel.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
At 2.6 inches deep the Samsung is pretty thin for a non-LED-based LCD.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
As usual, we appreciated gamma and the fine color temperature controls most.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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