The SC-3211 is a 32-inch LED LCD television that retails for $419.99, but—like most budget models—is available at widely varying prices between big box stores and the internet marketplace.
No matter what price you find it for, however, we cannot recommend buying it under any circumstances. This is some of the worst color production we've ever tested, and this TV manages only a meager, unimpressive contrast ratio. With no extra features and a lackluster design, it has no redeeming qualities.
No molds were broken with this design
The Supersonic SC-3211 is designed with the budget buyer in mind. No risks were taken here: Standard black plastic, wide bezels, and a flat plastic base are the story of most entry-level TVs. It's part of the reason the price is so low, after all.
Four control buttons are stacked along the TV's right side. These buttons comprise seven functions: Power, channel up, channel down, volume up, volume down, menu, and input. Yawning yet? Well, hop to—the SC-3211's connectivity options are going to really wow you.
On the TV's left side, users will find standard video connections, clearly labeled and evenly spaced. This little LCD allows for a decent amount of inputs: three HDMI, one USB (software updates only), VGA, VGA audio, a coaxial jack, component, composite, and RF in. There's also a headphone jack and stereo out for external audio options.
To call this TV bare bones would be an accurate description, but hey, they can't all be flashy and sci-fi.
Dated resolution rears its ugly head
Like many modern TVs, the SC-3211 uses light emitting diodes to power its backlight. However, its native resolution is not one that typical TV content fits comfortably into. A lot of 32-inch TVs claim to be 720p, but in actuality are 1366 x 768. This Supersonic is one of those TVs.
The big drawback to this resolution is that it must constantly upscale or downscale content from cable, DVDs, or Blu-rays in order to avoid overscanning—when the top, bottom, or sides of the picture are cut off. The SC-3211's cheap pricing really owes to equally cheap chip sets: Those that support 1366x768 are "bargain bin" compared to the 1080p compatible ones.
To simplify: Nothing you watch on this TV is going to be mapped pixel for pixel. Unless you're sourcing from a computer with a video card that supports 1366x768 (and most of them do), the SC-3211 is going to be squashing, clipping, or stretching your movies, TV shows, and video games—just something for interested buyers to keep in mind.
As for extraneous features, there are none. Literally none. The SC-3211 doesn't even play media off of a USB drive, a feature that's almost ubiquitous to the TV market.
One of the worst we've ever seen
We love high-end TVs. Massive dynamic range and vivid, correctly saturated colors just get us excited. This Supersonic is more or less the opposite of that. To paraphrase Jackie Chan, it has no kung fu.
Testing revealed a rather lackluster black level—quite bad, even for a low-end LCD. What's worse for this type of TV, it's incapable of outputting a lot of light. As is always the case with a very shallow contrast ratio, you're left with a flat, dry picture.
We could accept that if the TV could produce the colors it's supposed to, but it cannot. This may be the most woefully undersaturated color gamut we've ever tested. International standards dictate that an HDTV should produce certain colors, but the SC-3211 doesn't even try. Red is slightly pink, blue is more cyan, and white—how do you mess up white?—is tinted ever-so-slightly with magenta.
The one place this TV performed to acceptable standards was in our motion tests. At least Supersonic has a handle on decent processing; very little blur or trailing rewarded this Supersonic with a decent motion score. Unfortunately, that's not nearly enough to reverse the bottom line: This picture is bad.
The Supersonic SC-3211 has some serious problems. Its black level and white level are simultaneously unimpressive, but worse than this, its color production is heavily flawed: Not only does it produce the wrong colors, it undersaturates them egregiously. How did this panel make it past inspection?
If the stunted picture quality wasn't enough to sway you, consider that—even for its low price—the 1366x768 resolution panel is outdated. No content will natively fit it, meaning everything ends up either squished or stretched out. There are absolutely no extraneous features, nor anything aesthetically appealing to outweigh the poor performance.
The Supersonic SC-3211 performs much like the Seattle basketball team circa 1996—terribly. Its color production is some of the worst we've ever seen, its contrast ratio is tiny, and its correlated color temperature is all over the place. The end result is a picture that is imbalanced, flat, and (relatively) devoid of proper color.
HDTVs are supposed to display a particular red, green, blue, cyan, magenta, and yellow. These colors are dictated by an international standard known as Rec.709. Compared to standard definition (SD) displays, HDTVs are more "colorful." The reds they produce are more red, the greens more green. The Supersonic's color gamut is woefully undersaturated, much less colorful than it should be. Its reds are particularly bad, favoring a pinkish tone. Its white point is more blue than anything else. This is an awful result.
Likewise, the SC-3211 cannot maintain a consistent color temperature across its grayscale spectrum. Ideally, grayscale elements ranging from just above black to peak white will be the same "flavor" of white, which maintains a balanced, correct picture. A color temperature is correlated to these grays and whites, with the same temperature across the spectrum resulting in continuity within the picture.
Finally, the SC-3211's red, green, blue, and grayscale curves describe a bizarre gamma. White its grayscale gamma is acceptable, the SC-3211 produces bumpy color curves, with blue especially peaking much too early, losing detail amongst highlights within that hue. The result is an imbalance in transition between neighboring shades and hues, as well as an imbalance within secondary colors that sample more than one primary color.
Dim whites, gray blacks
This is one of the worst contrast ratio's we've tested all year. Contrast ratio is the measure of a display's peak luminance divided by its minimum luminance. Generally, the higher the number, the more immersive and realistic the picture. Compared to a slew of similarly priced, 32-inch LCD peers, the Supersonic SC-3211 is majorly outclassed.
We tested a black level of 0.234 cd/m2 , which is really more gray than black. In a dim or dark room, this kind of black level especially reminds viewers that they're watching an imitation of real life—which is bad. The SC-3211's 20% APL peak bright was a fairly meager 126.30 cd/m2 , which is especially bad for an LED LCD TV.
Decent viewing flexibility
One place where the SC-3211 didn't fail horribly was our horizontal viewing angle test. Viewing angle is a strong component of a TV's overall flexibility. Generally, we like to see an angle of ±45° from the center of the screen to either side. Beyond this point, typically, LCD contrast plummets and unblemished viewing is no longer possible.
The SC-3211 tested with a viewing angle of ±38.26°, or about 77° total, which is acceptable, if not entirely ideal. A few people could watch this TV from 3-4 feet away without suffering loss of contrast—but then, its picture quality is so bad, that's not much of a redemption.
Meet the tester
Editor, Home Theater@Koanshark
Lee has been Reviewed's point person for most television and home theater products since 2012. Lee received Level II certification in TV calibration from the Imaging Science Foundation in 2013. As Editor of the Home Theater vertical, Lee oversees reviews of TVs, monitors, soundbars, and Bluetooth speakers. He also reviews headphones, and has a background in music performance.
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