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Christmas Gift Guide

Overview

Side view

Stand detail

Corner detail

Back panel inputs

Side panel inputs

Remote

Main picture menu

Media file playback menu

DLNA sources

Advanced picture settings menu

10-point white balance

AMP custom menu

Image quality

TV makers are pushing LED-based LCD TVs hard, in part because the newfangled backlight scheme allows thinner, more aggressive designs and slightly better energy efficiency. However a larger part, we suspect, has to do with profit margins: TVs with LED backlights generally cost more than those with standard fluorescent, or CCFL, backlights. Samsung sells numerous so-called LED TVs, but the LNC630 series isn't one of them. This midrange LCD uses the standard backlight, doesn't cost a fortune, yet manages in some ways--chiefly screen uniformity--to produce a better image than the company's edge-lit LED models. It also competes well against the competitors' CCFL sets, with more picture controls and options, in addition to sleeker styling, than just about any of them. All told the midrange Samsung LNC630 series is a tempting target for buyers who don't care about Internet features or LED.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
At 3.2 inches deep, you won't mistake the LNC630 for a slim LED TV. But then again, do you really care?
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The transparency continues in the stand stalk.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Transparent plastic edges the LNC630's frame.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
With 3 HDMI, two component video and a PC jack, the back panel leaves no inputs wanting.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Two USB ports, along with a fourth HDMI and an AV input, grace the side panel.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Samsung's standard 2010 remote is included on the LNC630, complete with backlighting behind nearly every key--a rarity in this class. We don't like the grid layout as much as the better-differentiated keys on last year's remotes, but it's still perfectly functional once you figure out the logical groupings.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Samsung didn't change its basic TV control menus on this model, and that's a good thing. The transparent, blue-highlighted graphics are easy to read and navigate, and response is snappy. Text explanations are present for just about every function.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
In addition to DLNA, media files can also be played back via USB sources.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
DLNA compatibility allows the Samsung to stream music, videos and photos from a home network.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
The Samsung LNC630 offers basically the same vast array of advanced settings as the company's step-up TVs.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Detailed controls help smooth out the LNC630's grayscale.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Full dejudder controls let tweakers control smoothing and blur reduction.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
All told Samsung's LNC630 series performed well even when compared to some more-expensive LED-based models. It delivered deep black levels for a non-local-dimming LCD, sported accurate color and solid video processing, and we liked its matte screen for bright rooms. On the other hand shadow detail was a weak spot, and of course it couldn't match the uniformity of plasma.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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