Thick bezels and cheap plastic for your hard-earned money
Before opening the box for the Westinghouse CW46T9FW, I knew I was in for something special because it came in a gigantic box. Maybe Westinghouse packages its TVs with extra Styrofoam. After unboxing this 46-inch TV, it became clear: This is the biggest 46-inch TV I’ve ever seen.
Let’s put it this way: The box that this Westinghouse comes in is only three inches narrower than the box for Samsung’s 55-inch F8000. While it seems unfair to compare TVs that are $2,000 apart, it really puts things in perspective. If you shell out more money on a TV, chances are it won’t come with nearly as much chintzy plastic. And those bezels! Take a look at how thick the bezels are on the Westinghouse CW46T9FW:
Not only do you get bezels as thick as the included remote, but also a TV that’s as wide as larger smartphones. Thank this display’s ancient backlighting technology—CCFL (cold-cathode fluorescent lamp)—for its thickness. Unlike tiny LEDs, which are the main reason modern TVs are so thin, CCFL-lit displays are renowned for their bulkiness. It’s 2013—we’ll pass.
At least this Westinghouse makes up for its lack of design savviness with an intuitive menu interface, right? Wrong. This is the same menu that we’ve seen on cheap TVs from Insignia, RCA, and TCL. You get a rectangle in the middle of the screen with a few options to tweak. Westinghouse somehow manages to make a worse design by taking away number-specific values in the menu. I can’t even write down my calibration specs for this TV, unless I resort to saying “contrast is turned up about 25%.” Rude!
Surprisingly good contrast, since everything else is subpar
A TV’s black level is among its most important attributes—as our own Lee Neikirk put it, black levels give luminance a purpose. The Westinghouse CW46T9FW has a phenomenally deep black level, coupled with a decent peak brightness. And for this reason, this cheapo 46-inch TV looks… alright.
Contrast is unfortunately the high point of this Westinghouse’s performance. While blacks and greys are nicely detailed, colors are all off. Reds, greens, and blues are more colorful than they should be, leading to a picture that doesn’t look quite right.
The absolute worst offense the CW46T9FW commits is its atrocious motion performance. If you’re watching with any kind of camera panning, there will be juddery movement—it’s almost as if a frame is lost and the TV skips ahead. And once you notice this defect, you can’t unsee it: While watching a Blu-ray, I found myself anxiously waiting for the next occurrence of motion judder. I didn’t have to wait very long.
Even for the low price, this is one we can’t recommend
Testing budget TVs offers a thrill that higher-end models don’t give. Every time I review one of these low-end displays, I hope that it’ll be the one, that diamond in the rough with outstanding picture quality for a bargain. The Westinghouse CW46T9FW is just the latest disappointment. And to add insult to injury, it doesn’t even look good aesthetically.
Saying that everything is bad on this Westinghouse would be dishonest. It has good contrast, plus its audio quality is actually decent. Even with its poor color accuracy, we could still offer a recommendation if the price was right, but noticeable motion judder is a deal-breaker. If you need a bargain 46-inch TV, check out the TCL LE48FHDF3300ZTA or even the RCA LED46C55R120Q instead.
The poor Westinghouse CW46T9FW did not fare very well with our tests. Contrast is actually quite good, but every other test result is either mediocre or downright bad. Colors are all oversaturated, making the picture look a bit odd, although not terrible. Poor motion performance, though, does make the picture quality unbearable during camera pans and intense action scenes. At least the viewing angle isn't the worst we've seen.
Deep blacks like this are a treat
Bravo, Westinghouse! You have managed to produce an inky black level of 0.04 cd/m2 on your budget, non-LED-lit panel. Seriously, this is a great result on any LCD, let alone a cheap one. Coupled with its peak bright level of 176.10 cd/m2 , the Westinghouse CW46T9FW achieves a contrast ratio of 5031:1. The results of this impressive number are better shadow detail and a more dynamic picture. Who wouldn't be happy with that?
An average LCD viewing angle is still unimpressive
The Westinghouse CW46T9FW achieved a viewing angle of ±21.21° from the center of the screen, which is an average score for an LCD. While you'll enjoy a moderate amount of high-contrast viewing, don't expect plasma-like viewing angles, which are usually over ±50°. When viewed from an angle greater than 21.21°, you'll still be able to see the picture, but the contrast will have dropped below 50% of its original value. That means a less-detailed picture—who wants that?
Color accuracy is way off on this one
Don't expect movies to look like they are intended to on the Westinghouse CW46T9FW. The primary colors—red, green, and blue—are all oversaturated on this TV, meaning they appear more colorful than they should. The result is a picture that doesn't look quite right, and at times exaggerated. Things like fire and grass appear more vibrant than they should. At least the colors transition from one shade to the next with relative ease. They jump up in luminance too quickly, but the CW46T9FW is able to show most hues without too much of a problem.
Unfortunately, color temperature error rears its ugly head. Most of this TV's greyscale doesn't suffer from any error, but some of the visible dark greys will have a warmer tint. That's a bummer, because this Westinghouse's white point is almost exactly where it should be.
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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