televisions

Samsung LN46C530F1F LCD HDTV Review

46 in.

A TV of modest ambitions, and we reward its humility. It just displays a picture... and it does that pretty well.

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Black Level

The Samsung UN46C530 has quite a good black level for an LCD TV. In fact, it's as dark as the Samsung PN50C550, a plasma TV. As you can see in the chart below, the blacks are slightly darker than the Sony and Toshiba LCDs we reviewed previously.

However, be forewarned that the TV showed a problem with actually displaying a lot of detail in those blacks. More on how we test black level.

Black Level Chart

Peak Brightness

The Samsung UN46C530 managed an incredibly bright white, when called upon. In the chart below, you can see that it easily surpassed the two LCD TVs. The Samsung PN50C550 was never expected to produce a particularly bright white, as it's a plasma. More on how we test peak brightness.

Peak Brightness Chart

Contrast

The Samsung UN46C530 produced an outstanding contrast ratio of approximately 6984:1, thanks to a deep black and very bright white. Contrast ratio is a tricky business because there's a lot of misinformation about it. Manufacturers will frequently cite ratios in the millions-to-one, but these numbers are culled from lowering the backlight all the way down to get a black level score, then raising the backlight all the way up to get the peak brightness (among other tricks). It doesn't represent how well the TV will perform in everyday viewing, where your backlight setting remains more or less constant. Our scores represent this more realistic performance.

We'd like to note that the Samsung UN46C530 has a subtle dynamic contrast ratio, meaning the backlight is raised and lowered automatically as the screen contents changes. Dark scenes lower the backlight and brighter scenes raise the backlight. It's not as aggressive as what we saw on the Samsung UN46C6300, but there's no way to disable it. Yes, the TV has a "Dynamic Contrast" setting, but that's a much more aggressive version of what the TV already does. More on how we test contrast.

Contrast Chart

Tunnel Contrast

The Samsung UN46C530 showed some slight variance in black level, depending on how much of the screen was covered in black. There doesn't seem to be a clear correlation (unlike a plasma TV) – there's just a slight variance. It's small enough that you probably won't notice. More on how we test tunnel contrast.

Tunnel Contrast Chart

White Falloff

The Samsung UN46C530 has a little problem maintaining a consistent peak brightness, especially when the screen contents is just a little white and mostly black. The chart below tells the story quite well. More on how we test white falloff.

White Falloff Chart

Uniformity

The Samsung UN46C530 has a good screen uniformity, meaning the illumination appears even across the whole 46 inches. As expected, the corners are slightly brighter on a dark screen, and slightly darker on a dark screen, but it's a very minor issue. More on how we test white falloff.

Greyscale Gamma

The Samsung UN46C530 did not have a great greyscale gamma performance. Let's look at the chart below and explain what's going on. The first thing we're looking for is a smooth line. The line you see below has that big, flat area in the lower left. That represents the shadow details, and what we can ascertain is that the TV has a hard time displaying fine detail in shadows – the blacks are "crushed." But after a certain threshold, the line rockets up and to the right, relatively smooth. However, the line slopes more steeply than we'd like. An ideal slope is between 2.1 and 2.2. The Samsung UN46C530's performance of 3.14 is steep, meaning it's going to miss a lot of the subtle gradation values in the grey scale. Overall, it's not a terrible performance, but we like to see more shadow detail. More on how we test greyscale gamma.

Greyscale Gamma Chart
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. Connectivity
  9. Audio & Menus
  10. Multimedia & Internet
  11. Power Consumption
  12. Toshiba 40G300U Comparison
  13. Samsung PN50C550 Comparison
  14. Sony Bravia KDL-40EX400 Comparison
  15. Conclusion
  16. Series Comparison
  17. Photo Gallery
  18. Ratings & Specs
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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