Before you place your order, though, make sure you know exactly what the H4000 offers: a 720p screen, a basic list of picture settings, and a bare minimum of ports. If you're a TV enthusiast, this display's lackluster contrast won't impress you at all. But if you want a small set that looks good with cable content, you can't do much better—unless you can find last year's model, that is.
One unique TV—just kidding! It's a black plastic rectangle.
If you've seen any HDTV before, you already know what to expect with the Samsung UN28H4000. This little fella is your standard black, plastic rectangle with a black plastic stand. At least Samsung added a curved strip of (you guessed it) plastic underneath the logo to give this display a bit of character.
For connectivity options, there isn't much. Samsung equipped its entry-level LED with two HDMI inputs, a USB slot, a component/composite input, a digital audio output, and a headphone jack. In other words, using this with a cable box and a streaming device—nothing more—works out perfectly.
Also on the back of the H4000 is the Jog Stick, which offers manual controls in case you can't find your remote. For anyone unfamiliar with these Samsung joystick thingamajiggies: Press it in to power the TV on, and press it once more to prompt the menu; move it left and right to control volume, or up and down to change channels (if your TV is connected to the cable box via a coax cable).
The remote bundled with the H4000 is nearly identical to every other Samsung remote, just smaller with little buttons and no internet controls. Samsung deserves praise for including a button that illuminates the remote, a feature that usually doesn't come on entry-level TVs. If you ever watch movies in a dark room, you know how helpful a light-up remote can really be.
View your 28-inch TV from any angle... or not
You know that age-old philosophical question about the tree falling in the woods? The same goes for Samsung's UN28H4000: If a 28-inch TV offered incredible picture quality, would anyone care? Conversely: If a 28-inch TV has a so-so image, would that be a deal breaker?
The image on the H4000 display is by no means incredible, but it's more than adequate for a device that will probably be someone's secondary TV.
With the picture mode set to Movie, colors look fairly accurate out of the box. Blues and reds are almost perfectly saturated, while greens are technically too vibrant. With a cable box hooked up, I didn't notice any color issues.
One area of disappointment is the all-important black level. The H4000 achieves a rather poor score here, and oddly enough, is worse than its predecessor: the F4000. Lackluster black levels mean substandard contrast, and that makes for an image that just doesn't pop.
Even though the screen doesn't get very dark, it has great uniformity. That means the H4000 doesn't succumb to the terrible disorder known as flashlighting, or bright spots on a dark screen.
Another plus is this Samsung's killer viewing angle, although I have to bring up the "tree falling in the woods" metaphor again. Does anyone really care that a 28-inch TV offers fantastic off-angle viewing? Consumers will probably watch this little guy straight on—you won't be hosting Superbowl parties with this thing.
The H4000 doesn't get many high marks for its picture quality, but I need to reiterate that with HD cable, it looks very respectable. This isn't the centerpiece of your living room, and it's not trying to be.
The definition of a sub-$300 menu interface
Year after year, we can always count on Samsung to ship its smart TVs with a robust and aesthetically pleasing menu interface. Sadly, the company's low-end "dumb" TVs don't benefit from the same design sense.
There's nothing inherently wrong with the interface on the H4000: It offers all of the basics, like picture adjustments, sound controls, and even a low-latency game mode. For most consumers, this is good enough. Television enthusiasts, though, will not find options like 10-point white balance, motion enhancement, or a sound equalizer.
Samsung also includes a menu for USB media files. The interface for this feature looks much better than the standard menu, but playing files is hit or miss. In my experience, the H4000 won't downscale an image. In other words, if you want to put a picture with a resolution larger than 720p on this Samsung, it won't work. Who actually uses their TVs as glorified picture frames, though?
I don't have many gripes with traversing Samsung's low-end menus aside from the interface's terrible looks. Maybe next year Samsung will put its full menu system on all of its TVs.
It's good to be the king.
When consumers hear the phrase "small TV," they probably think of a 32-inch model. Finding a smaller TV is pretty rare: Aside from Samsung, LG seems to be the only other major brand making sub-32-inch TVs. Panasonic doesn't, Sony doesn't, and Sharp would never. So where does this leave Samsung's UN28H4000?
At the top of the mini-TV mountain.
Judging the H4000 by its score alone, most consumers wouldn't look twice at it. That's a shame: Aside from its subpar contrast ratio, it doesn't look bad. When hooked up to a cable box, the H4000 produces a solid image, thanks to fairly accurate colors and good motion performance.
If you're part of the niche crowd that needs a TV around 28 inches (and you don't want to go retro), Samsung's newest low-end model is currently one to watch. While I would recommend last year's F4000 model over this one, the H4000 is nonetheless a worthy secondary television for any home.
The UN28H4000 (MSRP $339.99) won't knock your socks off with jaw-dropping picture quality—Samsung has another TV for that purpose. It will offer a good-looking image when you plug your cable box into it, and with a little calibration, its picture quality is decidedly above-average.
One thing you won't find here is a really good contrast ratio, which will be upsetting to TV connoisseurs, but not so much to the general public. At least the H4000 makes up for its mediocre black level with an excellent viewing angle—sort of.
We start every calibration by putting a TV in Movie mode, which typically gives displays the most accurate color temperature setting. We adjust the screen for maximum color accuracy, as well as a peak luminance of ~40 fL and a gamma of 2.4. Here's what we changed:
When calibrating the H4000, the biggest issue was its RGB balance, which favored blue and neglected red. This was remedied by lowering the blue gain and jacking up the red gain, as well as slight adjustments to these colors' offset settings.
The black level of 0.15 cd/m2 on the H4000 isn't impressive at all, but once you compare it to the competition, it isn't the end of the world.
What's interesting is how much brighter the H4000 is next to its predecessor, the F4000. While not the worst contrast ratio I've ever seen, the H4000's final result is disappointing. Colors won't stand out as much as they would on a display with a darker black level, and dark scenes in movies won't show as much detail.
Finding a truly excellent viewing angle on an LCD is hard, so imagine my surprise when the H4000 tested with a near-perfect result. You can comfortably view this Samsung from any angle, which is normally something to praise. On a 28-inch TV, though, a wide viewing angle won't do you much good. Are you ever going to watch this display from a really obtuse angle?
Color accuracy on TVs is judged by how closely a display adheres to the Rec. 709 HDTV color standard.
Out of the box, the Samsung UN28H4000's color accuracy isn't that bad. Red and blue are both fairly accurate, while green is oversaturated—your eyes probably won't notice a difference. The color gamut after calibration (on the right) made red even more accurate, while the secondary colors magenta and cyan also saw improvements.
Gamma refers to how a display transitions from black to white. Without calibration, the H4000 has a bright gamma of 2.18, which is acceptable if you're in a sunny room. With some tweaking, I was able to get the gamma close to the home theater standard of 2.4.
The grayscale spectrum—all of the blacks, grays, and whites on a TV—is made by adding various amounts of red, green, and blue. Sometimes the grayscale contains a certain amount of error, measured in DeltaE, when the input of these primary colors is imbalanced.
The Samsung UN28H4000 tested with a high degree of error prior to calibration, but I was able to bring this error down to a respectable level.
As far as RGB balance is concerned, the H4000 tends to favor blue sub-pixels, while reds are under-utilized. By adjusting the white balance settings, I was ale to correct much of the color imbalance.
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