If you have your heart set on jaw-dropping picture quality, you'll need to pry more pennies from your piggy bank. But if you aren't a total purist and you need a sizable panel, this TV might be good enough.
Fits the mold
The D400N is a cookie cutout of a TV: Insignia slapped a big black rectangle atop a smaller black rectangle. Nothing swivels. Nothing sparkles. Nothing glows. You're in the bargain bin, so lower your design expectations.
A row of on-set controls lines the right side of the panel: menu, input, volume, channel, and power. On the opposite side, users will find three HDMI ports, a USB port, and a headphone jack. Nearby are shared component/composite hookups, an antenna hookup, digital optical output, VGA, and PC audio in.
Aside from a sleep timer, features are all but absent. Users can view photos via USB, but the interface is exceptionally slow and irritating. The menu options are conservative; the offerings include brightness, backlight, and temperature —to name a few—but there are no controls for advanced items like gamma or white balance. We tried tinkering the TV's tint, but the changes were imperceptible.
Unexpectedly deep blacks, but notably flawed colors
The D400N surprised us by swooping into some truly deep blacks—an asset you just never expect to find on a cheap TV. Production of deep black levels is very important to TVs, as it allows for a more detailed, lifelike image. While this Insignia doesn't get as bright as most LED televisions, it's certainly bright enough —even for a sunlit room.
Other tests didn't return such favorable results. While the D400N does an adequate job transitioning from one hue to the next, retaining acceptable detail along the way, the actual colors are not ideal. For example, the TV's blues are grossly exaggerated, so that images are unnaturally vibrant. On top of this, visible color temperature errors lend unpleasant blue and red tints to shadows and highlights. The overall result? Images on this TV look garish and unrealistic, necessitating a great deal of calibration—all with an abbreviated, unresponsive set of controls.
The rotten cherry on top? This TV's viewing angle is the definition of stingy. At even mild angles, the excellent contrast degrades significantly, so fight to the death for the center of your sofa.
A tolerable TV for weary wallets
In a word, if you purchase the D400N, you're trading color quality for dollars. It's great to get a 46-inch panel with big contrast for under $500, but the tawdry, oversaturated colors are an ugly pill to swallow.
For low-maintenance buyers with bare billfolds, the D400N offers great contrast and 46 inches of screen size for an affordable $450; but if you're looking for pristine color at a palatable price, this isn't the panel for you. Unless you're on a strict budget or buying for a guest room, I say spend more and find something with better color performance.
Though testing started on a positive note with contrast trials, things took a turn for the worse when it came to color and everything else. The D400N failed to produce acceptable color, and the wonderful contrast result is only truly appreciable from head on, since the viewing angle is so narrow.
Performance that outweighs the price
Generally, the last thing you expect to find on a bargain LED television is a deep black level, but that's just what we found on the 46-inch D400N. Thus, not only does the TV boast a generous contrast ratio of 3206:1, it achieves this with the number that counts the most—its 0.06cm2 black reading.
Since deep blacks are what a TV needs to capture the details and contours that come together to form lifelike pictures, this is truly something to be grateful for. Oddly, the D400N doesn't get as bright as we expected, with a peak luminance of just 189.2cm2 , but this is still bright enough to look great in even sunlit rooms.
Center of attention
Frequently, LED technology produces poor viewing angles, yet this TV still surprised us–by scoring lower than the lowest of the low. By comparing this panel's contrast from a 90º angle (that is, from head-on) to readings taken along an arc in 10º increments, we can see when the contrast falls below 50% of its original value—which marks its viewing angle.
Unfortunately, if you sit at more than ±9º from the center of this TV, the picture quality degrades immensely. This is as bad as it gets for this test—a disappointment indeed.
Why so blue?
Color is a crucial instrument in the TV tool belt. We break it down into three aspects: color gamut, temperature, and curves.
Color gamut describes how closely a TV matches the Rec. 709 standard for international HDTV color. The D400N wandered far from the standard, producing wildly oversaturated blues, cyan-tinged greens, and a very impure white point. What does this mean in practical terms? Blues are unnaturally intense, whites suffer an indigo tinge, and greens are overly emphasized. These are not lifelike colors—which is clear during viewing.
Next up—color temperature. Colors should keep a reading of about 6500K throughout the greyscale, to prevent unwanted tones from polluting the greyscale. This turned out to be a significant drawback on the D400N, since it betrayed visible errors throughout most every portion of its greyscale. Areas of light and shadow bring with them an unpleasant pink hue that proved hard to shake even after extensive calibration.
Lastly, color curves show how smoothly a TV travels from one hue to another. The color curves appear smooth enough most of the time—which contributes to a clean, polished picture—but certainly nothing about this performance impressed us. Results here are merely acceptable.
Meet the testers
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