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RCA L40FHD41 LCD HDTV Review

42 in.

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Blacks & Whites

Blacks & Whites Summary
{{article.attachments['RCA-L40FHD41-vanity.jpg']}} • Decent black level, but there's virtually no differentiation between dark shades. • Very low white level. • No issues with white falloff or tunnel contrast. • Minor issues with screen uniformity. • Testing done using DisplayMate Software
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Black Level*(8.23)*


In this test, we measure the luminosity of a totally black screen with our CS-200 ChromaMeter. Even when the screen is totally black, it's still giving off some light. Typically a good TV will keep the light to a minimum, and output somewhere around 0.1 cd/m2 (candelas per square meter). Once it gets over 0.2 cd/m2, it starts getting bad: blacks will look brighter than they should, and the extra light ruins details in dark areas.

We measured the L40FHD41's black level at 0.09cd/m2, which is excellent for an LCD. You shouldn't have any problems with any dark detailing. 

Black Level
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Compare the RCA L40FHD41 to other HDTVs
{{article.attachments['Samsung-LN40B610-vanity.jpg']}} {{article.attachments['Sony-KDL-40W5100-vanity.jpg']}} {{article.attachments['Sharp-LC-40E67UN-vanity.jpg']}}
Samsung LN40B610 40 inches Sony KDL-40W5100 40 inches Sharp LC-40E67UN 40 inches

 

Peak Brightness*(6.65)*


On our peak brightness test, we again take aim with our CS-200 ChromaMeter and measure the screen's luminosity. This time, however, we're checking for the maximum brightness output. A high peak brightness is important because it prevents external lights from washing out the onscreen images. It also allows for better differentiation between bright colors.

We measured the L40FHD41's peak bright at 186 cd/m2. This is quite low for an LCD. We attempted to fix this by maxing out the backlight, but there was no backlight control. The only backlight-related setting you can change is the dynamic backlight setting. It didn't help boost brightness at all. 

Peak Brightness
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Contrast*(7.28)*


Contrast is the ratio of the peak brightness to the darkest black. Since our eyes largely perceive details based on contrast, it's a very important part of picture quality. Another thing to keep in mind when thinking about contrast: manuacturers lie on their specs. They measure the black with the TV's backlight turned off and every setting configured to ensure a deep black, then change the settings again before measuring the peak white. Since the screens happen at different times with different settings, you'll never see a contrast ratio that good during normal viewing.

Although the peak brightness wasn't impressive, the low black level helps give the L40FHD41 a good contrast ratio overall. We measured the TV at 2066:1, which is decent. 

 

Tunnel Contrast*(9.87)*


Some TVs have trouble maintaining a deep black level when only a small percentage of the screen is black. This test measures the black level on a 100% black screen, then gradually inserts white margins until only 5% of the screen is black.

The L40FHD41 had virtually no fluctuation in its black level. The minor inconsistencies between measurements fall within the realm of normal fluctuations. 

Tunnel Contrast
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White Falloff*(9.95)*


Some TVs have trouble maintaining a bright display when a large percentage of the screen is white. Typically the TVs that have the most issue with this are plasmas, because they simply can't draw enough power to do so. A lot of LCDs nowadays are also having similar problems, because they have dynamic backlights that can't be turned off. Oncea certain percentage of the screen is dark, the backlights dim, which reduces the clarity of the bright parts.

Fortunately, the L40FHD41 didn't have any issues with white falloff. Although its peak brightness is very low, it won't fluctuate based on its screen presence.  

White Falloff
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Uniformity*(7.13)*


The L40FHD41 had some issues with screen uniformity, but was pretty good overall. On an all-white screen, we noticed the corners had some pretty obvious dimming and there was some minor dimming around the edges. The screen looked very smooth elsewhere, however. On an all-black screen, there was some minor flashlighting toward the corners, but not a whole lot. The middle portion of the screen looked a bit cloudy, but it was a subtle effect. 

 

Greyscale Gamma*(1.92)*


Greyscale Gamma describes the curve along which greys brighten to white and darken to black. Our sight relies on contrast, so this curve needs to be logarythmic to create a proper greyscale progression. For example, if the screen is outputting 10 cd/m2, 20 cd/m2 would look twice as bright. From there, we'd need 40 cd/m2 to notice the same difference, then 80, then 160, etc. When this curve is plotted logarythmically, it should create a straight line. Ideally, the curve of this line will be between 2.1 and 2.2.

The RCA L40FHD41 had a terrible result on our greyscale gamma test. We measured it at 3.55, which is a significant distance from the ideal range. The TV doesn't differentiate between its darker greys at all. Once it does start to show incrementation, the changes are more dramatic than they should be. Both cases lead to a loss of detail.

Greyscale Gamma
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Resolution Scaling*(7.25)*


Your TV doesn't always play content in its native resolution. If you have a 1080p HDTV, unless you're watching Blu-rays all day you're not watching content at its native resolution: standard resolution TV broadcasts in 480p, standard DVDs run in 720p, and broadcast HD is 1080i. In this section, we test the TV's performance in non-native resolutions, to see if it's upscaling and downscaling content correctly.

480p*(7.75)*

The RCA L40FHD41 did well in 480p. The TV has a setting for no overscan, so you'll always have the option to view the full 100% of the screen. We saw some slight issues with fine patterns, namely that some acquired a faint yellow-green hue. There weren't any issues with text legibility. Letters were sharp and didn't run together.

720p*(8.25)*

There were even fewer issues with 720p content. Fine patterns had a slight shimmer to them, but it wasn't particularly noticeable. In very fine patterns, the individual lines weren't as sharp as they should have been. Given this, we still didn't see any issues with text legibility.

1080i*(5.75)*

This is where the L40FHD41 fell off the quality curve. Fine patterns had a bunch of issues due to processing errors. Some patterns had a color cast, which was either yellow-green or reddish purple. Some patterns flickered slightly. A lot of fine patterns were blurred together into solid blocks of color.

 

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Sections

  1. Introduction
  2. Tour & Design
  3. Blacks & Whites
  4. Color Accuracy
  5. Motion
  6. Viewing Effects
  7. Calibration
  8. Remote Control
  9. Connectivity
  10. Audio & Menus
  11. Formats & Media
  12. Power Consumption
  13. Vs Samsung LN40B610
  14. Vs Sony KDL 40W5100
  15. Vs Sharp LC 40E67UN
  16. Conclusion
  17. Series Comparison
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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