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Westinghouse TX-52F480S LCD HDTV Reviewed

* October 19, 2008

Like Vizio, Westinghouse is targeting the entry-level TV marketplace, with products that offer good performance, but don't include as many advanced features and set-up options as you'll find in the top-shelf brands. The TX-52F480S is the largest LCD in the company's line, but it is still priced at a competitive $2,499. This 52-inch LCD has a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution and a 6.5-millisecond response time; it lacks the 120Hz technology you'll find in many higher-end LCDs. This TV is endowed with a generous connection panel that includes four HDMI, two component video and one PC input, all of which accept 1080p (HDMI also accepts 1080p/24), plus a single RF input to access the internal ATSC, NTSC and Clear-QAM tuners. The AutoSource function automatically switches you to the correct input when you power up a source. The TV lacks picture-in-picture functionality but does offer a program guide. It also lacks any special connections for digital media, like a USB port or SD card slot. There is a USB port, but it's for service only.

The video menu does not include as many advanced adjustments as you will find in higher-end displays - things like gamma control and advanced color management to dial in individual colors. However, it does offer the important basics, like an adjustable backlight and five picture modes. A special calibration menu gives you access to basic picture controls (color, tint, etc.), de-interlacing and 3D comb filter options, and three preset color-temperature options. This menu also provides access to global red, green and blue controls to dial in a more accurate white balance. Aspect ratio options are limited to three, one of which will display 1080p signals with no overscan.

The TX-52F480S features bottom-mounted speakers and an internal subwoofer. The audio menu offers seven preset audio modes and a custom mode through which you fine-tune the audio using a five-band equalizer. It lacks any form of surround mode, but the menu does let you turn off the video/backlight and only listen to audio, which is useful to save energy and prolong the TV's life if, for instance, you often listen to the digital music stations offered by your satellite or cable provider.

High Points
• Excellent detail, great light output, a solid black level and rich colors combine to produce a very attractive image with HD sources and a good image with SD sources.
• The TV has a lot of inputs that accept 1080p signals.
• The TX-52F480S is a solid value at the 52-inch screen size.

Low Points
• This TV lacks 120Hz technology and has a higher LCD response time than some top-shelf LCDs, so motion blur is evident with faster-moving content.
• Its black level is not as deep as the best panels on the market, so the picture doesn't have as much depth and richness in a dark room.
• The viewing angle is only average.

Westinghouse's TX-52F480S is an excellent choice for the more budget-minded shopper who wants a big-screen flat panel. It offers solid all-around performance and a healthy input panel.
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