Tuesday

LG 32CS460 review


LG has had a pretty bad run this year 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 a truly undernourished TV. Poor colors, terrible black levels, and minimal shadow detail 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 arealphabetical, right?) and pick up the Samsung EH4000.

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 control is pretty smart, though, with friendly buttons and a logical arrangement. No backlight, however.
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.
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.
Key TV features
Display technologyLCDLED backlightN/A
Screen finishMatteRemoteStandard
Smart TVNoInternet connectionNo
3D technologyNo3D glasses includedNo
Refresh rate(s)60HzDejudder (smooth) processingNo
DLNA-compliantNoUSBPhoto/Music/Video
Other: 1,280x720-pixel (720p) resolution; compatible with 1080i and 1080p sources
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 it nigh on impossible to extract a very good picture out of the television using these.
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.
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 two most noticeable things about the LG are its color inaccuracy and poor black levels. Skin tones looked particularly unnatural, and could tend to be greenish at low levels. On top of this was the television's 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 with far worse crushing. 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
Color is a weakpoint of the LG, and before calibration everything was an alarming electric blue. Ever seen a computer monitor which looked incredibly blue? That's what this TV looked like. After calibration the television went from "ugh, my eyes" to just looking wonky. Skin tones were overly sallow, and in the final Harry Potter movie (Chapter 21) the already sickly Voldemort was so green he looked like a turtle. Switching to the red palette of the Starfleet Academy steps in Star Trek (Chapter 4) the reds were the most orange of all our TVs and the blue of the sky was just a little too saturated.
I tried several times to improve the LG's lot by recalibrating the TV but to no avail: Voldemort still 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 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.
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.

Comparison models (details)
TCL L40FHDF12TA40-inch LCD
Samsung LN46D63046-inch LCD
Samsung UN32EH400032-inch LCD
Sony KDL-32BX33032-inch LCD
Panasonic TC-P65VT50 (reference)65-inch plasma

Product Specifications

  • Resolution
    • 1280 x 720p
  • Dimensions
    • Screen Size: 32" Class (31.5" diagonal)
    • Without Stand: 31.3" x 19.8" x 2.9"
    • With Stand: 31.3" x 22.2" x 8.2"
  • Key Features
    • HD 720p Resolution
    • Triple XD Engine
    • 60Hz
    • Smart Energy Saving
    • Intelligent Sensor
    • Clear Voice II
    • Picture Wizard II
    • Slim and Narrow Design
  • Inputs
    • RF In (Antenna/Cable) 1 (Rear)
    • AV In 1 (Rear)
    • Component Video In 1 (Rear)
    • (Y, Pb, Pr) + Audio
    • HDMI/HDCP Input 2 (2 Rear)
    • USB 2.0 1 (Side)

Strengths

  • Solid picture performance from CCFL backlight screen
  • Internet Light features a plus
  • Price/Value
  • One of the best 720p 32” LCD TVs on the market for 2012
  • Rich colors

Weaknesses

  • Contrast and black level loss from side viewing angles
  • Simple little remote control
  • Judder apparent occasionally from side to side panning from 60hz panel
  • Shiny black framing bezel can reflect light