televisions

Westinghouse CW46T9FW LCD TV Review

Picture quality issues ruin any savings to be found on this budget Westinghouse

$549.99 MSRP
Buy now at Amazon
46 in.
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Overview

With its thick bezels and 90s-era backlighting, we wouldn’t blame you for writing off the Westinghouse CW46T9FW (MSRP $549.99) as a basic budget TV. This 46-inch display can even be found for as low as $380—not too shabby, right? Unfortunately, you get what you pay for. Unless poor design, worse color accuracy, and downright bad motion performance are your thing, steer clear of this Westinghouse.

Design & Interface

Thick bezels and cheap plastic for your hard-earned money

Before opening the box for the Westinghouse CW46T9FW, I knew I was in for something special because it came in a gigantic box. Maybe Westinghouse packages its TVs with extra Styrofoam. After unboxing this 46-inch TV, it became clear: This is the biggest 46-inch TV I’ve ever seen.

Let’s put it this way: The box that this Westinghouse comes in is only three inches narrower than the box for Samsung’s 55-inch F8000. While it seems unfair to compare TVs that are $2,000 apart, it really puts things in perspective. If you shell out more money on a TV, chances are it won’t come with nearly as much chintzy plastic. And those bezels! Take a look at how thick the bezels are on the Westinghouse CW46T9FW:

Westinghouse-CW46T9FW-Bezel.jpg
The bezels on this Westinghouse are as thick as the remote.

Not only do you get bezels as thick as the included remote, but also a TV that’s as wide as larger smartphones. Thank this display’s ancient backlighting technology—CCFL (cold-cathode fluorescent lamp)—for its thickness. Unlike tiny LEDs, which are the main reason modern TVs are so thin, CCFL-lit displays are renowned for their bulkiness. It’s 2013—we’ll pass.

This is the biggest 46-inch TV I've ever seen.

At least this Westinghouse makes up for its lack of design savviness with an intuitive menu interface, right? Wrong. This is the same menu that we’ve seen on cheap TVs from Insignia, RCA, and TCL. You get a rectangle in the middle of the screen with a few options to tweak. Westinghouse somehow manages to make a worse design by taking away number-specific values in the menu. I can’t even write down my calibration specs for this TV, unless I resort to saying “contrast is turned up about 25%.” Rude!

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Performance

Surprisingly good contrast, since everything else is subpar

A TV’s black level is among its most important attributes—as our own Lee Neikirk put it, black levels give luminance a purpose. The Westinghouse CW46T9FW has a phenomenally deep black level, coupled with a decent peak brightness. And for this reason, this cheapo 46-inch TV looks… alright.

Contrast is unfortunately the high point of this Westinghouse’s performance. While blacks and greys are nicely detailed, colors are all off. Reds, greens, and blues are more colorful than they should be, leading to a picture that doesn’t look quite right.

The absolute worst offense the CW46T9FW commits is its atrocious motion performance.

The absolute worst offense the CW46T9FW commits is its atrocious motion performance. If you’re watching with any kind of camera panning, there will be juddery movement—it’s almost as if a frame is lost and the TV skips ahead. And once you notice this defect, you can’t unsee it: While watching a Blu-ray, I found myself anxiously waiting for the next occurrence of motion judder. I didn’t have to wait very long.

Comparable Products

Before you buy the Westinghouse CW46T9FW, take a look at these other televisions.

The Finale

Even for the low price, this is one we can’t recommend

Testing budget TVs offers a thrill that higher-end models don’t give. Every time I review one of these low-end displays, I hope that it’ll be the one, that diamond in the rough with outstanding picture quality for a bargain. The Westinghouse CW46T9FW is just the latest disappointment. And to add insult to injury, it doesn’t even look good aesthetically.

Noticeable motion judder is a deal-breaker.

Saying that everything is bad on this Westinghouse would be dishonest. It has good contrast, plus its audio quality is actually decent. Even with its poor color accuracy, we could still offer a recommendation if the price was right, but noticeable motion judder is a deal-breaker. If you need a bargain 46-inch TV, check out the TCL LE48FHDF3300ZTA or even the RCA LED46C55R120Q instead.

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