The Samsung LN32D450 ($399 MSRP) is a modest 720p LCD released for 2011. It lacks many of Samsung's high-end features, but for this price, it performs well enough in many categories to warrant a second look.
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The front of the Samsung LN32D450 is primarily glossy, black plastic with a clear border. A crimson "Touch of Color" contours the bezel beneath the screen. In the past, we've seen Samsung's "Touch of Color" manifest in the clear, plastic border. This time, they tried something bolder with a splashier, but isolated, coloration. The result is hit-or-miss, but it's subtle in all but the brightest lighting.
The back of the LN32D450 is encased in greyish-black plastic. Its non-glossy surface has a vent at the top, a security slot for a T-bar lock, and a recessed area for ports. In the bottom center, a cable-tie offers the kind of help only a cable-tie can give: the organization of your wires.
The sides of the Samsung LN32D450 are made of the same greyish-black plastic as the back of the device. They're about four inches deep, and featureless save for a couple of ports in a recession on the right.
The molded base of the Samsung LN32D450 is glossy, black and stationary. We wish it could swivel, but for a small, 32-inch display, you ought to be able to rotate the whole thing with ease.
We think the controls mounted on the front bezel of the LN32D450 look stunning. On the shelf at the store. In our darkened living room simulation, they didn't look like much at all, mostly because we couldn't see them. We don't think touch-activated controls are a good choice if you think you'll ever have to use them in the dark. Unfortunately, that's when you're most likely to have lost your remote. It's hard enough to navigate menus without a D-pad, Samsung. You could at least help us out a little with some tactile feedback.
We really liked the remote on the LN32D450. It has a comfortable, flared base for grip that tapers into a narrow tip. The buttons are laid out logically, so we very quickly got a feel for the directional pad and surrounding buttons. The curved volume and channel rockers are easy to distinguish by feel, and the color-coding is helpful without looking tacky. The only thing we didn't like was the rubbery delay inherent in actually pressing the buttons.
While the remote isn't universal, it can be set up with Anynet+ to control other Samsung products.
The LN32D450 came with a remote, batteries, cleaning cloth, and abridged paper manual. The stand screws on, but not without some struggle. They're threaded very tightly, so it's hard to screw them in far enough that the stand doesn't wobble. If you aren't careful, you could strip the screws or screwdriver.
The LN32D450 has a good black level, and in very dark scenes, dynamic contrast will drop the backlight even further. The dynamic contrast on this TV is strange, because even though its lag time is shorter than last year's model, it turns on and off in a slow fade. It's so prolonged and dramatic, though, that the fade might actually be more distracting than the abrupt change we're used to. As with all auto-dimming Samsungs, there is no way to turn this feature off. More on how we test black level.
A peak brightness of 185.38 candelas per square meter is rather dim for a peak brightness. While this is a disappointing result, it's confounded by the mandatory dynamic contrast of Samsungs. On an all-white screen, the backlight will bump the brightness up to about 215 cd/m 2, but this is still not a particularly high value. This might not be very important for viewing the TV in a dark setting, but it will hurt its contrast capability. More on how we test peak brightness.
The LN32D450 doesn't have the best contrast, as a result of its dim peak brightness. Unfortunately, even though it is capable of getting brighter or darker with the automatic backlight adjustment, we can't simply use these brightest readings to calculate our ratio. In a single scene, the backlight will be at a certain setting, and both brights and darks are going to be limited to that level of brightness. Unfortunately, this mediocre contrast ratio is about right. For more information on the auto-dimming of this TV, see our section on Black Level at the top of this page. More on how we test contrast.
LCD screens usually have no problem with displaying deep blacks, even in small areas. For the tunnel contrast test, we took a reading of luminance of the center of a shrinking black rectangle on a white screen. You can see the work of the dynamic backlight in action here; once the rectangle swells to fill the whole screen with black, the TV responds by dropping the backlight way down. To read more about the dynamic backlight, see our Black Level section above. More on how we test tunnel contrast.
The white falloff test is like tunnel contrast, but the rectangle is shrinking white on black. Again, an LCD screen shouldn't have any problem displaying bright, white pixels regardless of their surroundings. However, at a certain threshold of black border, the dynamic contrast feature of this Samsung decided the scene was supposed to look dark, so it dropped out the backlight. If you're watching a scene with a few bright spots, they're going to look quite dim compared to the TV's normal capabilities of brightness. More on how we test white falloff.
The LN32D450 had great screen uniformity. Flashlighting in the corners was minimal on an all-black screen, and on an all-white screen it was hardly noticeable. The center of the screen was relatively devoid of irregularities. The main source of error was a faint border caused by dimming at the sides. Between quick cuts, your eyes wouldn't adjust fast enough to notice a problem. Take care not to confuse excellent screen uniformity with viewing angle, however; this television had a very narrow range of accuracy, outside of which it shifted colors. More on how we test white falloff.
This display had beautiful grayscale performance, marred only by its auto-dimming feature. For the most part, its graph fell very close to the optimal line. To give you some idea, the ideal gamma should have a slope of between 2.1 and 2.2. The LN32D450 got about twice as close to accurate representation of greys as most do.
Unfortunately, the auto-dimming really got in the way of this score's otherwise-fantastic gamma curve. The base of the curve dips into an accentuated "knee," which corresponds to the point at which the dynamic contrast interprets the scene as being dark and lowers the backlight. For dark scenes, you may find the shadow detail is lost. For bright ones, however, black crush shouldn't be as much of a problem. More on how we test greyscale gamma.
The Samsung LN32D450 performed well on our color temperature tests, straying only imperceptibly from true greyscale for the most part. For dark greys to black, it did run a bit warm. For all gradations but these, however, it's impossible to see a difference. More on how we test color temperature.
These curves are nice and smooth, which means you won't see much color banding in a smooth gradient. So if your TV is displaying the glow of the moon in twilight, it will look very smooth instead of looking as though it's surrounded by rings of various shades. What we don't like is the lack of strength in the blue curve. The green curve will never be as bright as the red one, but blue lags well behind both of them in intensity. More on how we test RGB curves.
Below, you can see how nice and smooth the gradients of the LN32D450 look. They get dark much quicker than an ideal curve, also depicted, but you can also see that this is comparable performance for televisions of this size and price category.
Motion performance on the Samsung LN32D450 was distinctly unimpressive. Beyond the standard blurring, there was also some jittering and stair-stepping on moving edges. The processor wasn't fast enough to keep up with the drawing of each line, so moving boxes were skewed into parallelograms. Moving high-frequency patterns flickered like crazy and produced false purple and green sediments as they moved. This is in accordance with the TV's already-existing problems displaying high-frequency patterns. The problems with motion rendering were emphasized in a 1080i format. More on how we test motion performance.
The LN32D450 comes equipped with a Film Mode to assist with the conversion of 24fps to the TV's native 60fps format. There are two settings, Auto1 and Auto2. On Auto2, we found that most issues with high-frequency patterns disappeared. Occasional strobing was more or less eliminated, leaving just a little bit of noise over high-frequency gradations. More on how we test 3:2 pulldown and 24fps.
The LN32D450 had a surprisingly tough time with resolution scaling. We've seen the lack of Screen Fit sizing for 480p resolution the subsequent 16:9 overscan in other Samsung LCDs this year. However, this TV had big problems rendering fine lines. High-interference patterns and text were very unclear and both resulted in display errors. Oddly enough, the worst performance for Moiré patterns occurred in its native resolution of 720p. More on how we test resolution scaling.
As with another 2011 Samsung LCD, the Screen Adjustment setting locked us out of the Screen Fit option for this resolution. In 16:9, the display overscanned by 6% vertically and horizontally. Moiré patterns displayed as plaid patterns both diagonal and horizontal, rather than the series of fine lines they were. Legibility was very poor for all but large fonts, due to irregular pixel-by-pixel scaling. Finally, vertical lines of various gradations rendered mostly accurately.
Moiré patterns displayed with diagonal lines in both directions, as well as appearing plaid. Legibility was very bad for smaller fonts, and even some medium-sized ones. High-frequency patterns also displayed with false wave patterns in their midst, even with lines that were of medium thickness.
Resolution of the 1080p format was most similar to that of 1080i. Moiré patterns, beyond simply showing diagonal and orthogonal plaiding, occasionally showed up as diagonal patterns of spots. Legibility was still very poor for all but large fonts, and medium high-frequency patterns still showed false patterning.
The Samsung LN32D450 is capable of displaying each NTSC-standard resolution. It also includes a mode to process 24fps video.
LCD screens are notorious for their bad viewing angles. The LN32D450 is no exception, with a total angle of only 32°. Any further, and the contrast dropped below 50%. The farther you get from the screen, the less this will be a problem, but it could lead to trouble if you watch this TV from a short distance and a wide angle. This wouldn't be the best TV for watching around a kitchen table, for example, despite its smaller size.
The LN32D450 surprised us with its reflective screen. Against a white screen the glow was fairly normal. On a black screen, however, our LED array erupted into a screen-length cross shape like an explosion turned biblical. The light was also ghosted in rainbow replicas stretching diagonally from the source. These effects were very noticeable while watching a middle-toned scene, and angling the light away didn't help much.
Many video processing modes are available on the Samsung LN32D450, and many of them allow you to adjust their strength in increments. For these reasons, we generally liked the modes. Since the primary criterion by which we judge a TV is its picture accuracy, we don't think having an extended slew of modes is very useful. However, according to your own preference, you might find some of these settings helpful.
With a spectrophotometer and DisplayMate calibration software by our side, we set about optimizing our TVs for use in a dark setting.
If you want to get really fancy, the Samsung LN32D450 has a few video modes expressly for calibration. One, RGB Only Mode, displays only the red, green, or blue channel at a time. Another, White Offset, gives you six sliders to adjust color temperature for RGB offset and gain. The last, Color Space, lets you determine the TV's color space: either Auto or Native to the source.
All of our calibration is done in conjunction with the DisplayMate software.
The LN32D450 doesn't overwhelm you with preset video modes. Instead, there are a set of four to use as starting points for your own adjustments. We liked Movie, but there's also Dynamic for those of you calibrating in a sunny field.
The Samsung LN32D450 is very lean on ports. It's got a couple shared component/composite ports and two HDMIs. A VGA allows you to hook up a PC, and that's it for video inputs.
The component/composites and one of the HDMI ports are stationed on the back left of the TV in a plastic indentation. There's also an EX-LINK port for service, and a security slot for a T-bar lock. There are also digital and analog audio outs, and an audio in to accompany the VGA port.
On the side are two lonely ports which have only each other for company. They are a second HDMI port and a USB for connecting a thumb drive or installing updates.
There aren't many ports to place, but what ports there are are well-labeled. It's nice to have side and back options for HDMI cables, but unfortunately this makes much less sense when there are only two of them, total. Then the option is simply, "Which of your two cables do you want to plug in the side and which one do you want to plug in the back?" As always, we would've preferred a swivel base, but this TV is definitely small enough to pick up and turn. And if you grab it by the matte plastic, you won't even leave a set of documented fingerprints.
The quality of the two 3-Watt speakers was better than expected. It sounded about as rich as a pair of external speakers with their subwoofer turned off. SRS TruSurround HD enhanced the bass further and did a reasonable job of emulating real surround sound. The closer the speakers are together (i.e., the smaller the TV), the tougher it is to emulate. The medium size of this screen allows it to do an okay job for what seems to be a good surround sound processor.
There is also a SRS TruDialog setting which is intended to bring speech to the foreground. In our experience, it did so, but it also made them sound hollow and ghostlike. There are a few preset equalizer configurations for music genres, or you can delve into the equalizer itself to adjust volume for specific frequencies.
Samsung's menu interface has not changed much this past year. It consists of a column of icons to the left which grow and become animated when selected. Sub-menus drop down in a column to the right. The entire menu system is white and blue over translucent black, and a black bar at the base of the screen gives descriptions of various settings.
The submenus, like this advanced setting menu, are grey and black on a white window. We're not sure why they went with this aesthetic schism, but function isn't lacking.
The major problem with the menu system is twofold. The first issue is that some of the menus have so many menu items that it takes a long time to scroll all the way down, and you can't see all the list items. Fortunately, you can wrap between the top and bottom of the list, but it's still unfortunately exploratory. We attributed the second problem to lag, but in actuality, they're fairly quick. The combination of some menu lag and spongy remote control buttons slows down the selection process quite a bit.
The Samsung LN32D450 is one of many modern televisions whose manual is primarily electronic. In fact, the paper manual that comes in the box doesn't have a picture on its cover, but a diagram: a finger pressing the E-Manual button on the remote. Its e-manual is searchable, and you'll never misplace it, so we can see the appeal. However, the guide itself is in white-on-black. We can't understand this downgraded legibility when the index is black-on-white.
You can also download a PDF, and it might be faster to search through, but its text is white-on-black in a huge font because it's ported directly from the e-manual. Finally, an abridged, paper manual comes with the TV, which is useful if you want to read such troubleshooting entries as, "The TV will not turn on." This is also in the e-manual, for the likely main purpose of comedy.
You can find the Samsung LN32D450's manual online here.
The LN32D450 has no networking features or DLNA.
Inserting a USB drive prompts you to view the flash drive, which brings you to the media navigation screen. You may choose either video, photo, or music, and several codecs are supported for each category. Additionally, it can read a few subtitle formats.
Photo playback is relatively standard, with a few options that pop up if you press the Tools button on the remote. You can zoom, rotate, and adjust their screen time for a slide show.
For music, a list of songs populates to the right, while the current song's information is shown on the left. The playback buttons on the remote are used to navigate, and the Tools button brings up a few options for shuffle and repeat modes. You may also set up a slideshow with music.
Video playback is also controlled by playback buttons on the remote control, but you might have a problem playing DivX encoded video. To do so, you'll need to register the TV first at http://vod.divx.com.
The Samsung media browser has a potential conflict with Digital Rights Management. Music you bought digitally may not play, due to its DRM. Overall, the system is robust and intuitive, but not without its problematic quirks.
There are no other media playback drives on the Samsung LN32D450.
The Samsung LN32D450 is a typical LCD in terms of power consumption, using little more than it takes to power its CCFL backlight. It does cost a bit more than some of its competitors, however (by nearly 50% in the case of the Sony). You can see below, the average power consumption and cost of operating the TV at five hours daily. Due to the low peak brightness of the display when it's calibrated properly, there isn't much difference between the maximum backlight setting and one which produces 200 cd/m2^ of illumination. However, you can save energy by turning the backlight down or turning on Motion Lighting. The latter is a video processing mode designed to save energy by rendering motion with a different algorithm.
We compared three other 32-inch LCDs' power consumption in the same way. They're similar in energy usage, but the LN32D450 stands apart as being somewhat power-hungry.
This is a classic example of getting what you pay for, as the Sony KDL-32EX600 has better contrast, motion processing, viewing angle, and connectivity. It's also in a full 1080p format. Just about the only things the Samsung LN32D450 has going for it are its superior speakers and media player. Color accuracy is about equivalent, so the main reason to buy the LN32D450 over the Sony is price. The Sony costs approximately twice as much as the Samsung, so if it's a TV for only casual use, the Samsung makes sense as a budget choice.
Both of these displays had an identical black level, but one thing to remember is the dynamic backlight of the Samsung. The LN32D450, like most Samsung LCDs, has an auto-dimming backlight that can't be turned off. The TV tries to interpret which scenes are intended to be "bright" and which ones "dark," then it turns the backlight up or down accordingly. It does so in a prolonged fade, and if you think you might find that annoying, than we'll count that as a win for the Sony.
The Samsung tends to run warm in terms of color temperature, but the Sony KDL-32EX600 runs cold. While the Samsung exhibits a broader spike into perceptible error for darker greys, the Sony spends a good while outside this margin for medium-dark greys. Overall, the Sony has better color temperature. On the other hand, the Sony also has inconsistent color curves that peak and exhibit more banding than the ones on the Samsung LN32D450. It's a toss-up, but the Samsung is probably the better bet with its smooth curves. The difference in color temperature is nominal.
The motion processing of the LN32D450 is really quite bad. It jags, blurs, and skews things that move quickly across its screen. Sometimes it applies false coloration. For a better bet in motion, pick the Sony KDL-32EX600.
The LN32D450 has a very bad viewing angle, even for an LCD screen. If you stray merely 16 degrees from its center, the contrast drops below half its maximum value, giving a total viewing angle of 32°. The Sony, which has a relatively wide angle of acceptable contrast for an LCD, has a total angle of 62°.
The four HDMI ports on the Sony KDL-32EX600 are a huge improvement over the mere two available on the LN32D450. With an additional analog audio in port, it's the clear winner here. The Samsung's EX-LINK port is mainly for support.
The Samsung LN32D450 has better speakers than the Sony, and it's capable of video playback from a USB port. These things might make it better as an occasional-use TV, rather than a central entertainment television. This would also be a good way to mediate the relative lack of ports, but make sure it's positioned well for its small viewing angle.
It's actually a tough call between these two generations of Samsungs. While the LN32C550 has better contrast, connectivity, and is 1080p, the picture quality of the LN32D450 is much better in terms of smooth gradients and motion. For a better picture with superior on-board speakers, we like this year's LN32D450. It doesn't have all the ports or DLNA capacity of the LN32C550, and it has a lower resolution, but it's also probably cheaper. If you don't mind a bit of peaking in your brightest colors, the LN32C550 is a more versatile display with 1080p.
Last year's LN32C550 surpassed the LN32D450 by far, in terms of contrast. It had a much, much higher peak brightness, which gave it some of the best contrast in its class. It also has a nice, flat slope for its greyscale output, compared to the flat tail of the heavily auto-dimmedLN32D450. Auto-dimming of the LN32D450 was a bit quicker to kick in, but we weren't fans of the prolonged fade. The LN32C550 is the solid choice here.
The color temperatures of these two Samsungs are about equivalent; the LN32D450 spikes into warm, while the LN32C550 spikes cool. The curves, however, reveal one area in which the LN32D450 is a dramatic improvement. Its RGB curves are much more accurate, don't peak, and exhibit much less banding. Have a look at the erratic color strips of theLN32C550 to see why the LN32D450 has color accuracy that's so much better.
Motion is another area in which the LN32D450 has improved over last year's screen. The effect isn't dramatic, however, and both of these televisions have relatively poor motion processing. TheLN32D450 has simply cut back on many of the erroneous artifacts produced by the LN32C550's motion processor.
These two Samsungs both have relatively poor viewing angles, even for LCDs, which are traditionally weak in this area. The LN32D450 has about 32° of total angle, while last year's LN32C550 falls behind by a couple degrees on each side, at a total of 28°.
The LN32C550 offers much more in the area of connectivity with its addition of a pair of HDMI ports, ethernet, optional wireless, and DLNA capabilies. It also has an additional USB port. As far as a dedicated entertainment system is concerned, these things all make theLN32C550 a much likelier candidate.
Apart from these criteria, the LN32D450 also has superior audio quality and an improved remote control. It's only 720p, however, whereas the LN32C550 is full 1080p. This is not a direct comparison, because it weighs last year's 550 series model against this year's 450 series model.
This is a tough battle, and the $250 MSRP price differential doesn't make up for the slight edge of the LG over its competitor. However, since you can likely find it for cheaper online, we'd choose it for its better color accuracy, wider viewing angle, and full 1080p HD resolution. The Samsung LN32D450 wins a lot of minor battles such as contrast, motion, and connectivity, but not by enough to view it in a different light.
The LG was the only TV in our comparison to have worse contrast than the Samsung LN32D450. It had a higher peak brightness, but a much lower black level. The Samsung should come out on top in this assessment, despite its slowly-fading dynamic backlighting.
The LG 32LD450 had much better color accuracy, as typical for its brand. Although it spends a much broader portion of its color temperature range outside the margin of imperceptible error, it errs much more weakly than does the Samsung. The curves, while comparably smooth, are more evenly distributed among all the colors on the LG.
Neither of these two TVs has a great motion score, but the Samsung arguably does a slightly better job at it. Both LCDs have a problem with displaying motion, and a score differential of 0.75 is ultimately not significant.
The LG 32LD450 has a viewing angle that's not great, but at least about typical for an LCD screen. Its total angle is about 52°. The Samsung LN32D450, on the other hand, is atypically narrow with its angle of acceptable contrast. it has a total viewing angle of only about 32°.
The connectivity of these two displays is actually quite similar, but the Samsung likely has a slight edge. From the chart below, the LG appears to have one fewer composite video port, but that's because it doesn't offer any shared component/composite ports, like the two on the Samsung. So the LG has three ports over the Samsung's two, but they have a forced configuration of two composites and one component. The two ports on the Samsung can function as either component or composite, making it the more versatile option.
The Samsung LN32D450 has better scores on its audio quality and menus, and it's capable of video playback. It doesn't have full 1080p resolution, however.
The Samsung LN32D450 is a modest 720p LCD display released for 2011. It doesn't have any of Samsung's high-end features, like networking and DLNA, but it does have the same robust USB media playback of its more expensive brethren. Its suggested retail price is a mere $399.
The dynamic backlight ubiquitous to Samsung LCDs is also found on this TV. It's had its lag time reduced since last year, but on this model, it gradually fades on in a way we found distracting.
When it comes down to it, this TV doesn't have all of the performance and features we've come to expect from Samsung, but it's a decent TV, nonetheless. It has above average picture quality, well-designed menus and good audio to boot. If you can get past its narrow viewing angle and dearth of ports, this could be a good budget choice for a casual-use display.
The LNxxD450 series is comprised of a quartet of LCD displays released by Samsung in early 2011. While light on ports and extra features, they have performance reasonable for a budget line of Samsungs. Additionally, they feature USB media playback for a variety of formats, including DivX video. Their crimson "Touch of Color" design is both classy and arguably spooky.
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.