FLAT PANEL REVIEWS

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 15, 2016 6 comments

2D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $8,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent HDR in both Dolby Vision and HDR10
Blacks to die for
Solid off-center viewing
Minus
Expensive
Careful setup critical for best results
Menus tedious to navigate

THE VERDICT
Our brief time with LG’s flagship OLED for 2016 suggested it’s not perfect (what is?), but apart from the fact that LCD sets still go brighter than OLEDs, it’s unlikely that any other new HDR-equipped Ultra HDTV will be able to match or exceed the performance of this one.

While this article is structured as a Test Report, in fact it’s a good bit short of a full-fledged evaluation. The combination of the cost of LG’s flagship OLED and the limited supply of review samples in early April prompted the company to set up a couple of displays at a venue in New York City, then shuttle in groups of A/V journalists to lay hands on the set—so to speak.

Rob Sabin Posted: Apr 05, 2016 10 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,700

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent color
Great screen uniformity
Artifact-free 1080p-to-UHD scaling
Minus
Poor black level and contrast
Meager streaming platform

THE VERDICT
Though it delivers solid entry-level performance, Panasonic’s CX400 faces more fully featured competition at its price.

Panasonic pulled big crowds at its CES booth in January with their CZ950 OLED, a 65-inch Ultra HD television that adds advanced processing to an LG-supplied OLED panel, with quite stunning results. Unfortunately, that set is only sold overseas for now (priced at €10,000 or about $11,000, no less), and it remains unclear when or if Panasonic will release it in the States.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 23, 2016 12 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $6,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Blacks are truly black
Fine detail
Near-perfect off-axis viewing
Minus
Pricey
Annoying calibration menus

THE VERDICT
LG’s recent price adjustments have made the company’s OLED sets more approachable, though hardly cheap in the biggest-screen Ultra HD models. But in today’s market, you’re unlikely to find a UHDTV that offers better performance than this one.

While OLED (organic light-emitting diode) technology offers most of the benefits of the now sadly departed plasma sets (and in some ways, more benefits), it’s been difficult to manufacture at commercially viable prices. So far, only LG is actively marketing OLED in the U.S. (though we hope others will follow). A recent drop in LG’s prices for OLED sets has rendered them more affordable, though still far from generating “Attention, Shoppers” announcements at K-Mart.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 26, 2016 12 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $6,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Full Ultra HD capability including HDR and wide color
Superb blacks and shadow detail
Integrated soundbar with subwoofer and surrounds
Minus
Expensive
HDR limited to Dolby Vision
Ineffective color management system (CMS)
2D only

THE VERDICT
Most current 4K sets deliver only the 4K slice of Ultra HD’s full pie. The RS65-B2 goes all the way, including 4K resolution, advanced color, and high dynamic range.

In a recent review of Vizio’s relatively affordable M65-C1 Ultra HDTV (soundandvision.com), I reflected on that company’s vision in having “sale prices low enough to attract millions of buyers.” But reality has a way of intruding on a dream, and a state-of-the-art Ultra HD set isn’t cheap to produce. With its new, two-model Reference Series (the 120-inch, RS120B3, which sells for $130,000, and the 65-incher under review here), the company now challenges the thin-aired peaks of cost-no-object sets previously dominated by older, more established brands. In fact, only selected dealers and some custom installers even carry the Reference Series.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 23, 2015 5 comments
PRICE $130,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Bright!
Good blacks
Respectable out-of-box calibration
Minus
Clips above white and below black
No 3D
Expensive!

THE VERDICT
If you want a really big screen that’s more than bright enough for a well-lit room, and you have a bank account that’s flush enough (or a very understanding loan officer), this 120-inch Vizio incorporates all the bells and whistles.

In early October, Vizio invited me to New York City to join other digital-stained A/V scribes in the official launch of the company’s new Reference series Ultra HDTVs. The featured attraction was the RS120B3 ($130,000), loaded up with more than 8 million pixels on its 120-inch-diagonal (10-foot!) screen. The considerably more affordable, 65-inch RS65-B2 ($6,000) joined in the festivities.

Al Griffin Posted: Nov 25, 2015 8 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Accurate color
Good contrast
Inexpensive
Minus
So-so shadow detail

THE VERDICT
Vizio’s E65-C3 is a very good HDTV that delivers considerable bang for the buck.

Let’s hear it for the good, old-fashioned HDTV. You know, the sort that once wowed us with its ability to display crisp, highdefinition broadcasts, Blu-ray Discs, and other next-gen sources of home entertainment. In recent years, however, HDTVs have been upstaged by Ultra HDTVs— fancy-pants upstarts that promise compatibility with all manner of future innovations, from UHD Blu-ray to High Dynamic Range (HDR) video. It should come as no surprise, then, that such sets cost on average 50 percent more than their regular HDTV brethren.

Rob Sabin Posted: Nov 11, 2015 4 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,800

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Accurate out-of-box color
Superb webOS 2.0 smart interface
Solid value in a 65-inch set
Minus
Moderate black levels and contrast
No future-proofing for enhanced UHD content
3D crosstalk

THE VERDICT
LG’s 65-inch Prime Series looks great with most content while offering sexy design and superb ease of use at an attractive price.

LG Electronics has impressed enthusiasts with stunning (and mostly expensive) OLED displays, but the company competes aggressively in traditional LED-driven LCD flat panels, too. The 65UF9500 reviewed here is a 65-inch Ultra HD model near the top of that line, and one of two models designated as Prime Ultra HDTVs (the other being a 79-inch version priced at $7,500). The Prime feature package includes, among other things, a wide color gamut option, enhanced brightness for highlights, and LG’s webOS 2.0 smart TV platform. Of course, it can’t boast the deep blacks and infinite contrast of LG’s OLEDs. That said, does it deserve a space among today’s top “regular” TVs? Let’s take a closer look.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 22, 2015 126 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $4,200 (updated 2/2/16, price was $6,499 when reviewed)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
First-rate blacks and shadow detail
Superb resolution—in both 4K and 1080p Full HD
Impressive sense of image depth—even in 2D
Best 3D seen anywhere
Minus
Image degrades significantly off center
Annoying remote control
Glitchy voice- and gesture-control features

THE VERDICT
This is the first consumer Ultra HDTV out of the gate offering more than just four times the resolution of 1080p HD. While it will require more UHD program material to fully judge its ability to provide 10-bit color, a wider color gamut, and higher dynamic range than today’s content, this Samsung is still a strong candidate for the best LCD set launched to date.

Ultra HD remains very much a work in progress. Source material is still scarce, and while some is available through various forms of downloading and streaming, the promised delivery of Ultra HD on Blu-ray (the route most likely to offer the best UHD quality) is still months away. Furthermore, the UHD sets that have appeared to date offer little more than enhanced resolution—resolution that isn’t really significant unless you see it on the biggest screen you can afford and sit closer than some folks prefer. This doesn’t necessarily mean that a UHD set isn’t desirable...

Rob Sabin Posted: May 06, 2015 1 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $7,199

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Stunning color
Gorgeously detailed 4K playback
A boatload of picture tweaks
Minus
Not quite plasma-like blacks and shadow detail
3D ghosting
The price

THE VERDICT
Panasonic’s statement Ultra HDTV sucks you in with its alluring image and doesn’t let go, but its high price is a deterrent.

When Panasonic left the plasma market in late 2013 to the whimpers of videophiles worldwide, the company committed to delivering an LED-backlit LCD that would rival the image of their best-ever TV—the ZT60 that was their plasma swan song. The first Panny Ultra HD LCD to follow, the edge-lit TC-65AX800U, was a fine TV, though hardly a breakout set. But in late 2014, Panasonic rolled out their flagship AX900U series at 55 and 65 inches, the latter of which we now review here.

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Barb Gonzalez Posted: Apr 17, 2015 Published: Apr 16, 2015 28 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Roku home screen accesses source inputs as well as streaming channels
Universal search results finds titles on most channels
Excellent value at under $500
Minus
TV picture can’t compare with high end models
No Ethernet port for wired network connection
Settings for closed captions and many other features require returning to home screen

THE VERDICT
TCL’s Roku TV may be the easiest TV to use for everyone in your family—a great second TV.

Roku is the king of streaming media players. Whether it’s the Roku 3 streaming box or an HDMI streaming dongle, no other streaming system can claim the same variety of channels or simple, intuitive graphic interface. TCL is one of several manufacturers that has integrated Roku into its TVs in some capacity, either with a Roku-friendly remote that can be mated with a Roku stick, or, in this case, a fully-integrated platform in the 48-inch model 48FS4610R ($500 list before discounting). While its picture quality can’t compare with high-end TV models, this is one TV that everyone in the house should be able use.

Al Griffin Posted: Feb 20, 2015 1 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Accurate color
Crisp, noise-free images
Eco-friendly Wallpaper mode
Minus
Below average contrast
Poor picture uniformity
Unimpressive Smart GUI and streaming options

THE VERDICT
Sharp’s 4K THX Certified UHDTV gets many things right but some key things wrong.

The only TV-tech buzzword with any legs to it in 2014 was 4K, aka Ultra HDTV. So a TV manufacturer without new 4K-resolution product had better start thinking about packing it in. Sharp previewed a pair of UD27 series Ultra HDTVs last June, and the company finally squeezed out those models just in time for the holiday shopping season. What do the new 60- and 70-inch Sharps have to recommend them over other, similarly priced offerings? Let’s check things out.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Feb 06, 2015 2 comments

BeoLab 18 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

BeoLab 19 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $25,625 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
WiSA wireless multichannel audio technology
All processing and switching built into the TV
Motorized TV speakers and TV stand
Minus
No backlighting on remote control
Nothing else but the price

THE VERDICT
Although most of us can’t afford this system, those who can will be treated to an amazingly moving experience that no other system can provide—every time they turn it on.

Bang & Olufsen is unusual in the AV world. In fact, I could have stopped at “unusual.” I once heard a story about B&O that perfectly sums up what I’m talking about. It’s probably apocryphal, because the person I heard it from had heard it from someone else, but I’ll tell it anyway. Years ago, when B&O still made phones—corded, landline telephones—a guy from the U.S. asked one of the Danish engineers why the handsets had their unique shape, which made them almost impossible to cradle between your ear and shoulder so you could have a conversation and still use both hands. (Twenty-some years ago, that was the era’s version of “hands free.”)

The engineer’s answer was short and to the point: “Because we don’t talk on the phone that way here.” That sort of stubborn—some might say arrogant—confidence in the belief that their way is the right way is one of the core characteristics of Bang & Olufsen. When other AV companies are busy jumping on the latest technological bandwagon, B&O is off in the woods searching for truffles.

Al Griffin Posted: Jan 16, 2015 6 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Accurate color
Good contrast and shadow detail
Customizable Home Screen GUI
Decent price for a 65-inch UHDTV
Minus
Some picture noise

THE VERDICT
Panasonic’s 65-inch Ultra HDTV provides impressive performance and a huge array of Smart features.

Steep price declines have become the norm in the consumer electronics world, especially when it comes to TVs. Case in point: The last Ultra HDTV I reviewed, a Samsung 65-incher that arrived at the tail end of 2013, had an MSRP that was twice the $3,000 sticker price of Panasonic’s 65-inch TC-65AX800U Ultra HDTV. Now I hear that Vizio is selling sets with the same screen size and pixel count for $2,200. They might as well be giving them away.

Bob Ankosko Posted: Nov 26, 2014 Published: Nov 25, 2014 6 comments
Wondering if you should step up and buy a new TV this holiday season? Take our 30 second quiz...
Al Griffin Posted: Nov 12, 2014 4 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,200

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive black depth and uniformity
Excellent color
Good set of streaming options
Low-glare screen

Minus
Picture processing adds edge-enhancement, noise
Poor handling of images with film grain
Washed-out-looking highlights

THE VERDICT
Vizio’s P-Series comes with a full-array LED backlight and 4K Netflix streaming, but its performance is marred by overly aggressive video processing.

Editor’s Note: This review has been updated following a recent firmware revision. Please see postscript at the end of the review.

Vizio is known for making TVs that consistently beat the competition on price—often by a significant margin. In some cases the performance of Vizio’s sets also ends up being equal to or better than the competition, though the company’s track record on that count isn’t as consistent. The last two Vizio HDTVs Sound&Vision tested, the 2014 entry-level E- and step-up M-series models, delivered very good performance at an affordable price. Now the company’s P Series, its first UHDTVs for 2014, have hit the street. It should come as no surprise that the price here is nice: the 65-inch P652ui-B2 model I tested lists for $2,200. But does Vizio’s budget bigscreen UHDTV continue the company’s streak of high performance/low cost? Let’s take a look.

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