There is really nothing exciting about the design of the . It is quite typical in its glossy, black bezel and stand. The sides and back are just simple, black plastic. The TV is not particularly thin for a modern TV, in part because it is backlit by CCFL tubes instead of the LED edge-lights favored by fancier models.
The stand is a glossy slab of black plastic with an oval-shaped stem. It does not swivel, not is it really exceptional in any way.
We like the plastic buttons on the side of the screen. They have the advantage of actually giving you tactile feedback, so you'll be able to feel them in the dark. You know, where you like to watch TV.
The remote control that comes packaged with the feels cheap and flimsy. The layout of the grey, rubbery buttons is not bad, but they all feel a little bit small. The volume and channel rockers are particularly cramped. The playback buttons at the base of the remote can be used to control attached devices through HDMI-CEC.
The comes boxed with a remote, two AAA batteries, a cleaning cloth (or handkerchief–its edges are embroidered and it has Insignia's name in the corner), a quick-start manual in English and Spanish, and component video and audio cables. Setting it up is as easy as wedging the base in correctly (there's a tab), and tightening four included screws.
A black level of 0.34 cd/m2 is very poor, even for an LCD screen. You could increase the depth of the black by lowering the backlight, but that would also lower the peak brightness. More on how we test black level.
The was plenty bright for most needs. 304.22 cd/m2 is not the brightest LCD screen we've ever seen (and in the chart below, you can see that it is actually the dimmest), but it should still be able to stand up to the ambient lighting in most home theater environments. More on how we test peak brightness.
Unsurprisingly, the 's contrast is poor. With a black level that's brighter than we would like and a peak brightness that is lackluster for a modern LCD television, the ratio comes out to about 895:1. That's only in the hundreds, when good TVs are capable of thousands. You might be able to improve the contrast by adjusting the Adaptive or Dynamic Contrast settings, but this runs the risk of destroying detail in shadows. Boosting the contrast also serves to crush dark shades into black and light ones into white. More on how we test contrast.
Our tunnel contrast test measures the black level of a shrinking black rectangle on a white background. LCD technology doesn't usually have a problem maintaining a deep black level, even when its surroundings are bright whites. The lives up to this expectation. More on how we test tunnel contrast.
White falloff is the same as tunnel contrast, but the rectangle is white and the background is black. As with tunnel contrast, the had no problem separating bright and dark areas, even when they are right next to each other. Even if the TV itself doesn't have very good contrast, it won't lose detail in intensely contrasting areas, like silhouettes. More on how we test white falloff.
The was very weak in uniformity. On a completely white screen, the only issue was a noticeable dimming in corners and along the edges. On a black screen, however, there was major flashlighting in especially the bottom corners. Since the viewing angle of the display is not great, if you are sitting very close to the TV, the corners may appear even lighter due to a drop in contrast. More on how we test white falloff.
The performed decently in the greyscale gamma test. The chart below shows the transition that greyscale makes as it goes from black to white. Since the curve is straight and even, it indicates a smooth transition. There is a little bit of a "knee" at the end, which means darker greys are crushed into black, but we have seen much worse. This transition is actually quite smooth, although it is a little steep with a slope of 2.67 when it should be around 2.15. More on how we test greyscale gamma.
The color temperature of the was nearly perfect, spiking out of the margin of perceptibility at one small area only. In theory, you should be able to see it, but since it's so close to the margin and only happens for the brightest white, it's going to be unnoticeable. More on how we test color temperature.
The individual RGB curves of the were very smooth. This indicates a smooth transition during gradients, which can show color bands in lower quality TVs. Each of the colors ends in a peak, which means that detail will be lost in the brightest shades, which will display as a flat color. The problem is not too bad, however. Additionally, the saggy nature of the curve means that darker shades of color are crushed into black. More on how we test RGB curves.
Below, we have reconstructed examples of what the individual RGB gradients would look like on the . You can compare these results with those of a few competitors. Note the effects of black crush and peaking discussed above.
Motion was quite good on the . Moving objects were a bit blurry, but it was not too extreme. Hard, vertical edges exhibited a bit of stair-stepping as they moved, and those were really the only problems. There was little to no artifacting due to the processing of motion. There is an advanced picture setting, Insignia Motion 120Hz, that can improve motion smoothness, but since it draws in extra frames, it can make film look odd. More on how we test motion performance.
Since modern TVs display at 60fps and the 24fps of film and Blu-ray doesn't divide evenly into that number, they have to do perform a 3:2 pulldown to convert the frame rate. Usually they offer some kind of "Film mode" to assist in this endeavor. We thought the lacked such a mode, then found it hidden inside of the Insignia Motion 120Hz setting. Unfortunately, it did not help at all. It did quite a poor job with our Blu-ray source, and a high-frequency pattern was totally beyond its capability to display correctly, flickering like crazy instead. With the 24p Film Mode enabled, the flicker was no better, and was also covered with strangely round artifacts. Footage of a panning stadium, its empty seats a real-life example of high-frequency patterning, had a staticky crawl. If you plan to watch Blu-ray discs on this TV, be aware that certain, complex images might produce a strange result, and the Film Mode will do nothing to help. More on how we test 3:2 pulldown and 24fps.
Resolution scaling was good on the whole, although high-frequency patterns gave the some false coloration in its native resolution. None of the resolutions forced an overscan. More on how we test resolution scaling.
In 480p, Moiré (Moire) patterns displayed correctly, but with a bit of pixel blur. Text at medium and larger fonts were a bit less than perfectly legible, due to this 'blurry pixel' look. High-frequency patterns were no problem.
In the 720p resolution, the exhibited minor errors in displaying Moiré (Moire) and high-frequency patterns, though it didn't exhibit as much false coloration as in its native 1080p. Legibility of text took a slight drop from 1080p, looking blurry at medium-sized fonts.
In its native resolution, the had no problem displaying Moiré (Moire) and high-frequency patterns accurately, but in doing so it gave them a false greenish or pinkish coloration. Legibility was excellent down to 7.5-point font size, at which point it could still be read, but looked a bit smeared.
The is capable of displaying all NTSC standardized formats. Its native resolution is 1080p (1920 x 1080).
Contrast dropped below 50% on the at an angle of 22˚ from center, which means a 44˚ total viewing angle. This is mediocre for sure, but it is about average as far as LCD televisions go. Thankfully, technology has improved such that the colors do not shift much, even if contrast drops. If you plan to watch this TV from a very wide angle, you may want to consider a plasma.
Reflectance was not a strong suit of the , but it was tolerable in all but the darkest scenes. On a white screen, the TV was bright enough to wash out most of our light source's reflection onto its surface. However, on a black screen, which is more common in media, our individual LEDs were reflected back at us, surrounded by a medium-sized halo of light. Rainbow patterns shone out from the LEDs at diagonals, but the effect was not as noticeable as the blur of light. Angling the light away barely did anything to help. Thankfully, when watching a movie with moving areas of color, the reflection is not nearly as distracting as it was on a screen of pure black.
Most modern TVs offer a bunch of video processing features, even though few of them are at all useful. The gives only a bare minimum of processing modes, none of which are helpful.
We calibrate our TVs using DisplayMate calibration software and a spectrophotometer. We optimize its picture for the Rec.709 standard for color, viewed in a dark room. Below, you can see the calibration choices we made, starting with the Theater picture mode. Any settings omitted from this listing were left on their default value.
All of our calibration is done in conjunction with the DisplayMate software.
The offers a few preset video modes to use, or to take as a calibration starting point. We liked Theater, since its warm color temperature is most accurate. Keep in mind that once you start making adjustments, the TV places you into the Custom picture mode.
The provides the bare minimum in terms of connectivity. If your peripherals are modern, you'll be able to get by with the three HDMI ports that are divided between the bottom and side panels of the L-shaped recession on the back. Large, modern televisions usually have this style of port housing, since it allows for wall-mounting.
The bottom panel has two of the three HDMI ports, an RF connector for cable or antenna, and a VGA input for connecting a computer. There is also an analog audio out, a digital audio out, and an analog audio in to go with the VGA port.
The third HDMI port is on the side, below a composite video and audio port. If you still own a VCR or something that uses composite video, you could plug it into the green composite port. The only other ports on the side are a USB port, for viewing photos on a thumb drive, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Perhaps the most ridiculous thing about the menu interface is the completely aliased portrait of a man in sunglasses. Not only does it look drawn in MS Paint, its face is stretched to demonstrate aspect ratio and recolored against a fall or wintery background to show color temperature. It's even paraded on the TV screen at the top of the menu for the picture settings icon. The radio boxes for settings show that they're selected with ugly, equally-aliased check marks. At least Insignia chose a theme and kept it consistent, even if that theme is "drawn with Kid Pix."
Instead of coming with an instruction manual, the comes with a quick-start guide and a piece of paper informing you that Insignia is "going green" and has decided not to print a paper manual. Once you download the PDF version from their website, you'll find that it is quite well laid out and easy to navigate. We liked the clarity of its diagrams. Since it's a PDF, it's searchable, so you probably won't even need to make use of the table of contents.
The is only capable of local media playback, and of that local media, it must be a photo. This is not a fancy TV that can pretend to replace your computer in any way; it can only show you photos. Photos on a USB drive.
When you insert a thumb drive into the 's USB port, it asks if you would like to view its photos. Files populate on the media playback screen and display thumbnails if they are photos. You may view the photos individually, with such customization choices as 'ROTATE' and 'ZOOM,' or you can play them in a slideshow.
As a CCFL-backlit LCD, the uses a little more power than models lit with LEDs. Still, if you watch it for five hours a day, it's only going to run you about $21.55 per year. With the backlight all the way up, it should only go up to about $25.53.
Below, we have compiled a chart on a few comparison models. You can see how the uses more energy than the LED-edgelit LG 42LV5500, but relatively less than the larger-screen Samsung LN46D550.
The LG 42LV5500 ($1099 MSRP) costs a little bit more than the ($599 MSRP), but it only performs a little better in contrast, viewing angle, and connectivity. If you don't plan on watching this TV from a wide angle, and if you don't need any of the fancy Internet connectivity of the LG, the may be a good budget pick.
The LG 42LV5500 has a marginally better black level, and a marginally brighter peak white. As a result, its contrast level is a little bitter better than that of the .
Both of the TVs' color accuracy was almost perfect. However, the RGB curves of the were slightly smoother than those of the LG 42LV5500. Since its color gamut was also slightly more accurate, the r:product:name /> is the clear pick here.
The LG 42LV5500 supposedly had slightly better motion than the , but the difference is so small, it's probably not noticeable. We would call the results a tie.
The LG 42LV5500 had a better viewing angle than the . It had an impressive total angle of 76˚, which is very good for an LCD. The had an inferior total of only 44˚.
The LG 42LV5500 had better connectivity than the all around. It had an additional HDMI port, plus two each of composite and component ports. The only has one shared component/composite port, and certainly not integrated WiFi.
The LG 42LV5500 has networking and streaming options to go along with its ethernet and WiFi connectivity. The , on the other hand, only has photo viewing from a USB port.
Although its contrast ratio ended up a little lower, the had better color fidelity and motion performance. If your peripherals can all fit and you don't need streaming media integration, the could be a good budget choice with great picture quality.
The fell behind the Vizio E3D420VX in both black level and in peak brightness. As a result, it has a contrast ratio that's noticeably lower. For a better contrast ratio, the Vizio is the better bet.
The had better, smoother RGB curves than the Vizio E3D420VX, while both TVs had a virtually perfect score in color temperature. With a color gamut that's also slightly better, the wins the color category.
Both TVs produced images that were about as smooth, but the Vizio E3D420VX had more of a problem with artifacts. The had the better motion performance, overall.
Although the had a better viewing angle than the Vizio E3D420VX, it's only by about one degree total. We would consider the difference negligible.
Both of these TVs are port-light, but the Vizio E3D420VX has a dedicated component and composite port, while on the , they are shared. Additionally, the Vizio has ethernet and wireless capabilities, making it the better choice overall.
If you plan to use the TV for streaming media, you will have to go with the Vizio E3D420VX. The has no networking features to speak of.
Even though the Samsung LN46D550 has a stellar contrast, we believe the picture quality is overall better on the . Since ethernet on the Samsung is only good for DLNA playback, we would save our dollars and invest in the humble .
The Samsung LN46D550 had a much darker black level than the , producing an impressive 0.06 cd/m2. Since its peak brightness was also brighter than that of the , the Samsung definitely wins with a contrast ratio that's more than six times greater.
The Samsung LN46D550 is the first TV among our comparisons whose color temperature isn't perfect. The bests it wit smoother RGB curves in addition to this slight. With its superior color gamut, the wins out.
The Samsung LN46D550 did not impress us with its motion performance. For better results, go with the .
The had a total viewing angle of 44˚, but the Samsung LN46D550 could only manage 24˚ total. Even for an LCD, that's pretty bad. Yet another reason to opt in favor of the .
The Samsung LN46D550 solidly has better connectivity than the . It has two shared component/composite ports, instead of just one. Additionally, it has ethernet, plus WiFi if you buy the dongle.
Despite having Internet connectivity, the Samsung LN46D550 has no streaming features. Its networking may be used for DLNA media playback, which can play video and audio, in addition to the photos to which the is limited.
The is a television of humble intentions. It offers great, 1080p color accuracy on a 46-inch screen, eschewing fancy connectivity to bring you a respectable picture for $599 MSRP. Its motion performance and resolution scaling were excellent, so if you can deal with the lean port options and questionable 24fps Blu-ray performance, the could be a budget workhorse. We liked it as a simple, but still large and color-accurate, screen—especially if you're pinching pennies.
The NS-xxL780A12 is a series of three 1080p LCDs by Insignia. They range from 46 to 64 inches, and by keeping connectivity limited, they can offer a reasonable picture for a low price.
Meet the tester
Jackie Lee is a valued contributor to the Reviewed.com family of sites.
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