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Picture Quality On The 32" LCD TVs

by Colin Tang
21 May 2007

Contrast Ratio

Rank LCD TV Points
1 Samsung LE32R87BDX 3
2 Panasonic TX32LXD70 2
3 Toshiba 32C3030D 1

Here's a quick table comparing the quoted and calibrated dynamic CR for the TVs. You can see that contrast ratios quoted by manufacturers generally don't translate into real world performances when you switch off dynamic mode.

Model Quoted CR Calibrated CR
Samsung LE32R87BDX 8000:1 900:1
Panasonic TX32LXD70 8500:1 650:1
Toshiba 32C3030D 4000:1 550:1

Because contrast ratio is a snapshot of the top and bottom end of the image, HDTVs with higher contrast ratio (Samsung LE32R87BDX in this instance) usually provide more depth and dimensionality to the picture. In defence of the Toshiba, it may be possible to squeeze a little bit more contrast ratio with service menu tweaking, but we don't want to encourage that as it will void the warranty.

Black Level & Shadow Detail

Rank LCD TV Points
1 Samsung LE32R87BDX 2.5
= Panasonic TX32LXD70 2.5
3 Toshiba 32C3030D 1

On our tests, the Samsung LE32R87BD had the lowest black luminance out of the three. Best shadow detail belonged to the Panasonic TX32LXD70, with its flat gamma tracking.

Colour Saturation & Accuracy

Rank LCD TV Points
1 Toshiba 32C3030D 3
2 Panasonic TX32LXD70 2
3 Samsung LE32R87BDX 1

The Toshiba 32C3030D gives the best colours with some tweaking, as it is equipped with a very advanced 3D colour management system. While it won't match the true CMS in the best projectors, it's trailblazing the way for colour adjustment in digital displays. But be aware that calibrating the colours without equipment and test patterns is very hard. You can correct gross errors with the system but better fine tuning is only possible with substantial time investment or seeking professional help.

The Panasonic TX32LXD70 is pushed down to second spot as it doesn't offer greyscale calibration control in the user menu, and none of the preset colour temperature is close to D65. However, the overall colour balance, good primary chromaticities and lack of colour push should still go down well with the majority of interested buyers.

There was a mild red push with our Samsung unit, but with only limited colour controls, you can only get rid of it by desaturating some other colour. [My Colour Control] allows very fine saturation adjustment but it's something you have to eyeball rather than rely on standard colour test patterns.

Detail & Sharpness

Rank LCD TV Points
1 Panasonic TX32LXD70 2
= Toshiba 32C3030D 2
= Samsung LE32R87BDX 2

All three have 1366 x 768 resolution. Because of their size, they are equally good in this department at normal sitting distances.

Motion Handling

Rank LCD TV Points
1 Panasonic TX32LXD70 3
2 Samsung LE32R87BDX 1.5
= Toshiba 32C3030D 1.5

The TX32LXD70 is the runaway winner here with the Motion 100Hz technology. It got me excited enough to proclaim that it's the next big thing for LCDs. It will force plasma makers back to the drawing board to come up with something new.

The Samsung and Toshiba have standard motion performance that you have come to expect from LCDs. Samsung's R8x series have the Movie Plus mode that can reduce judder, but I didn't like the 'unnatural motion' it created.

Viewing Angle

Rank LCD TV Points
1 Panasonic TX32LXD70 3
2 Samsung LE32R87BDX 1.5
= Toshiba 32C3030D 1.5

Another category where Panasonic leaves the competition in the dust, thanks to its IPS alpha technology. The Samsung and Toshiba had subjectively below average viewing angles but luckily they both have swivelling stands included.

Video Processing

Rank LCD TV Points
1 Toshiba 32C3030D 3
2 Panasonic TX32LXD70 1.5
= Samsung LE32R87BDX 1.5

The Toshiba 32C3030D has a highly impressive video mode deinterlacing and good 3:2 cadence detection. I was particularly surprised by its jaggies reduction capabilities at this market price. The Panasonic doesn't lock on 3:2 as well as the other two panels, so some jaggies and moire may intrude on 3:2 film material, but it does give the cleanest image even without digital noise reduction turned on.

Backlight Uniformity

Rank LCD TV Points
1 Panasonic TX32LXD70 3
2 Samsung LE32R87BDX 1.5
= Toshiba 32C3030D 1.5

The Panny had a smooth, uniform screen with no apparent blemishes. Our Samsung had some minor backlight bleed in the corner and the Toshiba, some vertical banding. They weren't bad enough to cause any trouble though. Screen uniformity problems are very common in the LCD industry. Depending on settings and ambient light, most of them are probably within consumer and manufacturing tolerances.

Best Price > 32" LCD TV
Model
Merchant
Total
Toshiba 32C3030D
Samsung LE32R87BDX
Panasonic TX32LXD70

Back To: 32" LCD Shootout

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