televisions

RCA LED46C55R120Q LED TV Review

RCA's LED can't quite compete with the big dogs.

$649.99 MSRP 46 in.
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Overview

RCA has been around for a minute, beginning in 1919 when the company was known as the Radio Corporation of America... OK, do you want a history lesson or would you rather look at the company's adorable mascots, Nipper and Chipper?

Let's move on to the topic at hand: the 46-inch RCA LED46C55R120Q (MSRP $649.99). Aside from having one of the most awful model names in recent history, this television is one of the company's premier LED displays, even if it is rather inexpensive for a 46-inch TV. The (somewhat) luxurious glass stand helps to solidify the C55R120Q as one of RCA's top dogs. Unfortunately, we have some serious issues with this pooch when it comes to picture quality. Woof.

Design

Some bark, not enough bite

We just finished praising the lovely stand on the TCL LE48FHDF3300ZTA, and now we have an RCA in-house with yet another glass-kissed base. Regrettably, these two televisions do not have the same pedigree. The TCL FHDF3300 has the total package: slim, lightweight, and an extravagant stand. This RCA, on the other hand, is quite thick, with a less-desirable glass foundation. It seems to us, at least, that this base doesn't possess the same luster and mirror-like qualities that the TCL's does. And for the record, TCL manufactures RCA-branded TVs.

This RCA is quite thick and has a less-desirable glass stand.

Luckily, port options are comfortably arranged, if slightly sparse. The left-side of the C55R120Q offers all its ports in a vertical arrangement: A headphone jack, a USB port, two HDMI inputs, a combination component/composite input, an RF input, and a digital audio output are included. The ability to swivel the stand makes accessing any of these connections a breeze. Good doggy!

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Menu

Although simple to navigate, this menu could benefit from a grooming.

RCA's menu interface reminds us of Sharp's: A horizontal list of sub-menus line the top of the screen, while options for these sub-menus are listed vertically on the right-side.

pic menu2.jpg
RCA's interface differs from the normal "rectangle in the middle of the screen" menu that most budget TVs offer.

It's hard to get lost in this menu, but that's partially because options are so limited. The picture menu, for example, doesn't even allow you to adjust the backlight—something almost unheard of on LED TVs. Other options, like Sharpness, didn't seem to do anything. We can't scold this pup too harshly, though: This interface is a huge step-up from the "rectangle in the middle of the screen" menu that most budget TVs offer.

Comparable Products

Before you buy the RCA LED46C55R120Q, take a look at these other televisions.

Picture Quality

It may be RCA's Best in Class, but it sure isn't Best in Show.

Imagine we're at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. The RCA LED46C55R120Q has qualified and managed to impress the judges with its excellent contrast. "How does a television from the LED breed manage to pull off black levels this dark?" asks the judge with the perfectly-waxed mustache. Next, its color accuracy is shown off, and the crowd gives a standing ovation. It's excellent!

Fast-moving content is blurry and occasionally choppy.

But then a rather astute judge notices a slight orange hue. This hue doesn't affect the primary colors, but it is noticeable on whites and greys. In a panic, the C55R120Q shows off its motion performance, but again disappoints: Fast-moving content is blurry and occasionally choppy. While the audience is in shock from this shoddy performance, the judge with the most elegant of top hats points out the terrible input lag on the C55R120Q. The panel of judges, clad in tuxedos and monocles, can be seen shaking their heads while they write their scores.

The Finale

Every dog has its day... except for this RCA.

The RCA LED46C55R120Q made a valiant effort to be Best in Show, but completely disappointed us in two major categories: color temperature and motion. The results in these two areas are poor enough to ruin an otherwise pleasing performance—the C55R120Q produces very accurate primary colors, plus it has plasma-worthy black levels.

For a 46-inch TV that retails for about $650, you can find much better.

And while this display is on the inexpensive side of the fence, we still feel like you can find a much better TV for your $650. We hate to bring up the TCL FHDF3300 again, but it is clearly the superior breed: There is no noticeable color temperature error, plus its motion performance is impressive. Nipper and Chipper deserve better than this.

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