Let's move on to the topic at hand: the 46-inch RCA LED46C55R120Q (MSRP $649.99). Aside from having one of the most awful model names in recent history, this television is one of the company's premier LED displays, even if it is rather inexpensive for a 46-inch TV. The (somewhat) luxurious glass stand helps to solidify the C55R120Q as one of RCA's top dogs. Unfortunately, we have some serious issues with this pooch when it comes to picture quality. Woof.
Some bark, not enough bite
We just finished praising the lovely stand on the TCL LE48FHDF3300ZTA, and now we have an RCA in-house with yet another glass-kissed base. Regrettably, these two televisions do not have the same pedigree. The TCL FHDF3300 has the total package: slim, lightweight, and an extravagant stand. This RCA, on the other hand, is quite thick, with a less-desirable glass foundation. It seems to us, at least, that this base doesn't possess the same luster and mirror-like qualities that the TCL's does. And for the record, TCL manufactures RCA-branded TVs.
Luckily, port options are comfortably arranged, if slightly sparse. The left-side of the C55R120Q offers all its ports in a vertical arrangement: A headphone jack, a USB port, two HDMI inputs, a combination component/composite input, an RF input, and a digital audio output are included. The ability to swivel the stand makes accessing any of these connections a breeze. Good doggy!
Although simple to navigate, this menu could benefit from a grooming.
RCA's menu interface reminds us of Sharp's: A horizontal list of sub-menus line the top of the screen, while options for these sub-menus are listed vertically on the right-side.
It's hard to get lost in this menu, but that's partially because options are so limited. The picture menu, for example, doesn't even allow you to adjust the backlight—something almost unheard of on LED TVs. Other options, like Sharpness, didn't seem to do anything. We can't scold this pup too harshly, though: This interface is a huge step-up from the "rectangle in the middle of the screen" menu that most budget TVs offer.
It may be RCA's Best in Class, but it sure isn't Best in Show.
Imagine we're at the prestigious Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. The RCA LED46C55R120Q has qualified and managed to impress the judges with its excellent contrast. "How does a television from the LED breed manage to pull off black levels this dark?" asks the judge with the perfectly-waxed mustache. Next, its color accuracy is shown off, and the crowd gives a standing ovation. It's excellent!
But then a rather astute judge notices a slight orange hue. This hue doesn't affect the primary colors, but it is noticeable on whites and greys. In a panic, the C55R120Q shows off its motion performance, but again disappoints: Fast-moving content is blurry and occasionally choppy. While the audience is in shock from this shoddy performance, the judge with the most elegant of top hats points out the terrible input lag on the C55R120Q. The panel of judges, clad in tuxedos and monocles, can be seen shaking their heads while they write their scores.
Every dog has its day... except for this RCA.
The RCA LED46C55R120Q made a valiant effort to be Best in Show, but completely disappointed us in two major categories: color temperature and motion. The results in these two areas are poor enough to ruin an otherwise pleasing performance—the C55R120Q produces very accurate primary colors, plus it has plasma-worthy black levels.
And while this display is on the inexpensive side of the fence, we still feel like you can find a much better TV for your $650. We hate to bring up the TCL FHDF3300 again, but it is clearly the superior breed: There is no noticeable color temperature error, plus its motion performance is impressive. Nipper and Chipper deserve better than this.
Where did you go wrong, RCA? You were doing so well until we saw your blurry motion performance and awkward color temperature error.
Typically, only plasma TVs get this dark.
Contrast ratio is the differentiation between blacks and whites: Darker blacks and brighter whites mean greater detail. A black level of 0.05 cd/m2 isn't good—on an LED display, it's fantastic! Seriously, kudos to RCA for pulling this one off. Coupled with a peak brightness of 196.94 cd/m2 , the C55R120Q can display great shadow detail and brilliant whites.
You won't impress many people with a viewing angle this narrow.
A total viewing angle of 30° is pretty bad, and yet the RCA C55R120Q still managed to outperform most of its competition. LED televisions aren't known for having wide viewing angles, and this TV definitely fits that stereotype. If you view this television from an angle greater than 15° on each side, you will notice that contrast diminishes greatly.
While color accuracy is great, the color temperature error is for the dogs.
So close. That's the only way to describe the RCA C55R120Q's color performance. The primary colors are incredibly accurate: Reds and blues are almost perfect, while greens are ever-so-slightly undersaturated. The way these colors transition from one shade to the next is also very good—there are barely any hiccups from black to a color's peak value.
The real problem—and this is a Great Dane-sized issue—is color temperature. The C55R120Q displays a cooler-than-normal temperature, meaning that it will give an orange hue to whites and greys. The TV does allow you to adjust color temperature, and we tried to compensate for this error. When set to "Warm"—which we used to test this TV—the C55R120Q was too orange. When set to "Normal," the image was too blue. And when set to "Cool," everything was way too blue. Futility is so frustrating.
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