The Westinghouse was certainly not among the best-performing LCDs in its class, exhibiting light black levels and issues with both standard- and high-def video processing. On the other hand, despite a paucity of controls, its color remained a strong point.
As we mentioned above there isn't much you can do with the Westinghouse from a calibration standpoint. As a result, the Dark Room power setting and Movie picture preset weren't very far from what we could achieve by tinkering with the available controls and the Custom setting. Color temperature in the Warm preset came quite close to the standard--a good thing since no further such controls are available. Our adjustments did improve gamma slightly (to an impressive 2.28 overall, versus the goal of 2.2) but otherwise we didn't change much.
We compared the Westinghouse directly to a few other entry-level LCDs we had on-hand, including the LG 32LH20, the Panasonic TC-L32X1, the Samsung LN32B360, the Sharp LC-32D47UT, the Sony KDL-32L5000, the Toshiba 32AV502U, and the Vizio VO302E. We also employed our trusty Pioneer PRO-111FD as a reference--obviously, it shouldn't be compared to any of these LCDs. Our Blu-ray of choice for most of the image quality tests in this comparison was the superb-looking "Baraka" played from our Sony PlayStation3.
Black level: In dark scenes it was obvious that the SK-H640G couldn't deliver the depth of black seen on most of the other sets in our comparison. The eclipse in Chapter 20, the letterbox bars throughout the film and the black background of the credits at the end all appeared lighter on the Westinghouse than on any of the others aside from the LG and the Panasonic--although the Vizio was pretty close. As always the differences became less obvious in the dark areas of brighter scenes, but we could still make them out.
In its favor the Westinghouse managed a respectable level of detail in shadows, as evinced by the relatively natural-looking shaded temples in Chapter 21, for example. Of course shadows and dark areas still looked less realistic overall thanks to the lighter blacks.
Color accuracy: In brighter scenes the Westinghouse performed well in this department, with natural-looking skin tones from the subway riders and the tattooed bather, for example, and primary and secondary colors that hewed close to the standard. Green was the one exception, as seen in slightly blue-biased jungle brush in Chapter 7, but the difference wasn't nearly as drastic as we saw on the Sharp, and wouldn't be apparent outside of a side-by-side comparison.
The set's biggest color miscue came from the blue cast to black and very dark scenes. Only the Panasonic and LG had it worse.
Video processing: Westinghouse tripped up a bit in this area. We noticed jagged edges along some lines, a moire pattern of crossed lines in the stairs of Tiananmen Square in Chapter 18, and minor flashing in the base of a pillar in Chapter 20. The Toshiba and Sharp TVs showed similar artifacts, but none of the other sets did. The problem only occurred in 1080i mode, so we recommend that SH-H640G users set their HD output devices to 720p mode instead. As we mentioned above, 1080p sources are not an option
The Westinghouse doesn't perform much overt processing, such as such as the dejudder seen on higher-end LCDs, and since it has 720p resolution our motion resolution test isn't valid. We expect it would perform about the same on that test as other 60Hz displays, however, and as usual we didn't notice any motion blur in our viewing.
Uniformity: The Westinghouse's screen remained relatively even across its surface, but its off-angle performance was near the bottom of the pack. When seen from positions other than the sweet spot, the SK-H640G series washed out about as quickly as LG and the Panasonic and more quickly than the others.
Bright lighting: Like most matte-screened LCDs, the Westinghouse performed well under bright lights, attenuating ambient light admirably. It was no better or worse than any of the other sets in our lineup, which all have similar screens.
Standard-definition: The Westinghouse was among the worst TVs in our comparison at processing standard-def sources. It managed to deliver the full resolution of the DVD format, but details in areas like the grass and stone bridge on our test disc looked softer than on any of the other displays. It also had issues removing jaggies from some of the moving diagonal lines and a waving American flag. Alone among the TVs in our comparison the SK-H640G series lacks a noise reduction control, and while it appeared that some sort of automatic NR was at play in our test--the video noise in the skies and sunsets was slightly reduced on the Westinghouse compared to the "Off" NR settings of the others--there was still plenty of noise and, in any event, we prefer to have some control. In the plus column, it did handle our 2:3 pull-down test.
PC: Via both HDMI and VGA the Westinghouse performed as expected, delivering the full resolution of 1360x768 sources. Our one complaint was the difficulty in finding the right balance between slight softness and minor edge enhancement via VGA; we ended up with a touch of the latter.
|Before color temp (20/80)||6047/6496||Good|
|After color temp||N/A|
|Before grayscale variation||154||Good|
|After grayscale variation||N/A|
|Color of red (x/y)||0.641/0.331||Good|
|Color of green||0.27/0.592||Average|
|Color of blue||0.146/0.057||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||Y||Good|
|480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps||Pass||Good|
|1080i video resolution||Pass||Good|
|1080i film resolution||Pass||Good|
Power consumption: We did not test the power consumption of the 26-inch Westinghouse SK-26H640G, but we did test the 32-inch model. For more information, refer to the review of the Westinghouse SK-32H640G.
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