But we’re not here to talk about those TVs today. There are plenty of people looking for a small, cheap TV that will make their cable box or PS3 look at least decent. Our budget TV du jour, the Insignia NS-32E400NA14—henceforth known as the E400—is the definition of no-frills. For an MSRP of $279.99, you get a rectangle that magically plays content from connected devices.
And here's a spoiler: The E400’s picture can’t hold a candle to a $3,000 Panasonic. But for less than $300? It ain’t bad.
Surprisingly thin, unsurprisingly generic
Basic rectangle-inspired design? Check. Boring slab-of-plastic stand? Check. Thick bezels? Ch—wait, no! The Insignia E400 actually has slim bezels, plus a thin profile. It won’t compete with LG’s nearly bezel-less design, but for about $280, it looks pretty. Unfortunately, the remote is the most boring device I’ve ever seen. Just glancing at this cheap piece of plastic will put you to sleep. At least it has volume and input control.
If you’re still awake, Insignia’s menu interface will make sure you stay asleep. It’s a rectangle in the middle of the screen, and is similar in design to the menus on almost every cheap TV. The basic controls, like brightness and contrast, are all there, plus some advanced settings like adaptive contrast and noise reduction. Protip: Don’t use the adaptive contrast settings. It will make the picture overly bright and wash out the colors. It will ruin your favorite movie, and thus your childhood memories.
For the price, this is a worthwhile performer
Let’s get the bad out of the way first: This Insignia has a terrible viewing angle. True, you won’t be holding a Game of Thrones premiere party with this TV, but if anyone sits at an off angle to watch it, they will notice a much worse picture. To make matters worse, blues look way too deep and can be borderline unnatural.
Aside from those two flaws, though, this is a decent performer. While blues look off, reds and greens are almost spot-on in terms of accuracy. Also, the E400 can achieve an impressive black level, which means content looks richer and more detailed. I was satisfied with the picture quality during a playthrough of Happy Gilmore, and then remembered how cheap this Insignia is. Then I became impressed.
Motion performance was also noteworthy, especially for a TV with a 60 Hz refresh rate and no motion enhancement options. Blocky artifacts during scenes with intense motion are almost nonexistent, although playback isn’t as smooth as entry-level plasmas like the Panasonic S60.
Go find a better sub-$300 TV. We dare you.
Despite some flaws, this is one of the best TVs you’ll find for under $300. Good color accuracy, motion performance, and contrast are really all you need for a pleasing picture. It also has three HDMI ports, which means this 32-inch display has room for your cable box, Playstation, and Apple TV.
If you’re a TV enthusiast, the Insignia E400 will not make you happy. If you just want a rectangle to play movies and games with, though, this TV will treat you—and your wallet—very well.
We were impressed with some of the Insignia E400’s performance tests. While it completely oversaturates blues, it produces highly accurate reds and greens. Contrast is also a strong area—this little LED can produce a surprisingly dark black level. Unfortunately, it has one of the worst viewing angles we’ve ever seen, although if you’re entertaining a room full of people with a 32-inch TV, that’s an entirely different problem.
The E400’s blacks help produce an impressive contrast ratio.
The Insignia E400’s black level of 0.06 cd/m2 is excellent for an LED display, regardless of price. Coupled with its peak brightness of 204.80 cd/m2 , it produces a commendable contrast ratio of 3593:1, which is slightly above-average for most LEDs, but made sweeter because of the E400’s $280 price tag.
The dictionary definition of “narrow”
Let’s get one thing out of the way: Viewing angle doesn’t matter as much for a 32-inch television. With a TV this small, you won’t be entertaining a house full of guests. And if you do? They’re in for a surprise—an unwelcome surprise. We tested a viewing angle of ±8° from the center, meaning anything over that angle will look washed out.
Great accuracy… for two out of three primary colors
The little E400 did a great job of reproducing reds and greens—an excellent job, in fact. Unfortunately, blues are way oversaturated. And don’t say we didn’t try, either. During calibration, we tried our hardest to calibrate for accurate colors, but blue always had trouble showing definition throughout the input signal spectrum.
Its transition from hue to hue was also problematic. The greens and the greyscale don’t have much of an issue, but reds and blues randomly jump up in luminance, and then decrease. This will cause trouble in regards to showing color detail.
At least there is barely any color temperature error. Only the darkest inputs produced a warming error, which won’t be too noticeable at those levels.
Meet the tester
Checking our work.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.Shoot us an email