The Insignia NS-65D260A13 is all about getting the most picture for your money. Want to check out some 3D? You'll have to go to a friend's house. Some people might even call it a "dumb" TV... But getting a solid performing, large screen display for less sounds a lot smarter to me than any of the latest apps.
The Insignia's screen, while lacking the mirror like sheen of the super glossy screens, does pick up quite a bit of glare in certain situations. As with most LED TVs, it would be best to avoid harsh lighting in front of the screen, though an otherwise bright room can be manageable thanks to the TV's healthy maximum brightness.
It does seem more tolerant of viewing angle than most other LED sets. Colors and contrast held up well farther off to the sides, above, and below than what I normally see from the latest Sharps, Sonys, and Samsungs. At a normal to far viewing distances, everyone seated on a couch centered in front of the TV should get very similar picture quality.Before calibration:
Before making any picture adjustments, I took a few notes of how the various picture modes looked at a first quick glance. Then I measured each mode with an i1D3 meter profiled off the Insignia with a Jeti reference spectroradiometer.Vivid
mode was severely lacking in shadow detail - in other words, dark objects in the image sunk down into a black blob. Whites, on the other hand, were both blazingly bright and blended together in an interesting mix of gaudiness and flatness. The picture looked highlighted, etched, and very grainy, and people looked chronically sunburnt.Standard
looked like the opposite of Vivid: it appeared washed out. Instead of shadow detail being too dark, dark objects were easy to see, even a bit too bright. Skin tones were more realistic, though they leaned toward pale and pink. Overall, Standard gave a less offensive but flat and pale presentation.Energy Savings
looked very similar to Vivid mode.Theater
was grainy and etched, though not as much as Vivid. Shadow detail was surprisingly good, and color looked decent overall though skin tones were a little too pink.Game
mode appeared similar to Vivid but with more shadow detail- which was tinted a bit red, with dark suits and hair acquiring some reddish tinges. I also observed some picture fluctuation and instability in Game mode.Custom
was similar to Vivid, but with slightly less blended whites.Calibration:
The Insignia lacks the fine calibration controls of it's generally higher priced competition. Standard adjustments included brightness, contrast, and color. Under advanced settings were dynamic backlight (DCR), backlight, Insignia Motion 120Hz, aspect ratio, color temperature (with three non adjustable presets: cool, normal, and warm), overscan, noise reduction, tint, sharpness, and adaptive contrast.
With overscan turned off, every line of 1080P resolution was visible, though vertical resolution was a bit soft.
After calibration with backlight at it's midpoint and dynamic backlight turned off, contrast ratio measured 5289:1, with a black level of .0082 fL and a white level of 43.37 fL. That is very, very impressive performance for a non local dimming LED. In fact, it bests what I have measured from recent Sharp and Samsung models.
Visually, the blacks were extremely uniform and very dark for a non dimming LED, with absolutely no visible clouding or other issues. Uniformity of whites and grays was not quite as perfect, looking very slightly darker at the top and bottom, but only with test patterns. No uniformity problems were visible with normal content.
The Insignia Motion 120Hz control includes a setting for 24P film mode, though I could not see much if any advantage to using it over just leaving the control off. Both 24P mode and off produced pans and motion that were a little choppy for my taste with films. All the other settings of the control, with the exception of off, produced the uber-smooth soap opera effect.
The different color temp presets had different gamma characteristics, with warm giving the best results for a night mode and normal giving results that could be useful in a day mode.
The Insignia clipped blacker than black, and also shaved off whiter than white headroom above about level 245 with HDMI. Neither offense is serious at all in my opinion. It also appeared to suffer from severe black crush over the composite input.
Adjusting any picture mode automatically turns it into Custom mode. I found that which mode I started with made a significant difference with how that mode ended up performing as Custom. When I began the calibration, I began in Theater mode, since it was one of the best looking modes, and traditionally theater or cinema type modes provide good starting points. However, even after adjusting white balance in the service menu, grayscale tracking and color saturation tracking - magenta in particular - of the Theater based Custom mode were poor. In addition, with certain HDMI color spaces there was some quirkiness with the tint control. I was beginning to believe the Insignia's budget status carried over to it's performance in very unflattering ways.
To my great relief, I found that starting in Standard mode provided a much more accurate foundation. In fact, after service menu adjustment, Standard based Custom mode performance was not just good for it's class, it was shockingly
impressive! While gamma measured on the low side, meaning that some mid tones were a little exaggerated in brightness, in every other way the Insignia's performance was excellent. Error levels were low for grayscale tracking, color saturation sweeps, gamut luminance sweeps, and color checker. In fact, the maximum dE2000 of any of those measurements combined was only 2.4. Some home theater receivers from Onkyo and others have simple gamma adjustments which could wring that last ounce of improvement out of the Insignia's gamma.
I found that with manipulation of white balance settings in the service menu, I could make Standard based Custom mode a good night mode and unmodified Standard mode an acceptable, though grainy, day mode.
For owners who do not wish to get a professional service menu calibration, a good picture can be obtained by starting in Standard mode, changing color temperature to warm, and carefully adjusting the remaining controls with a test disc.Conclusion:
The Insignia needs careful adjustment to look its best, but the results can be amazing. Colors were both accurate and pleasant, contrast was superb for the technology used, and images were smooth and lifelike.
After calibrating more expensive models from Sharp, LG, Samsung, Vizio, and Sony, I am shocked at how the Insignia's performance can often better the competition, or, at the very least, never embarrass itself. I believe this TV can be the foundation of an outstanding home theater.Edited by Chad B - 8/29/13 at 5:18am