FLAT PANEL REVIEWS

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Al Griffin Posted: Nov 01, 2013 5 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $9,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Exceptional contrast
Bright, crosstalk-free 3D
Uniform picture at off-axis seats
Upgradeable One Connect box
Minus
Geometric distortion due to curved panel
Slight tinting from anti-reflective screen coating

THE VERDICT
While the curved screen prevents it from being our dream OLED, the exceptional performance of Samsung’s set points the way toward TV’s future.

Nothing elevates the pulse of an A/V enthusiast more readily than the prospect of new video display tech. I may be showing my age here, but I remember when the first plasma TVs made the rounds for review. Looked at next to today’s models, those sets were bulky (4 or more inches deep) and had poor contrast compared with the tube TVs they replaced. Many were plagued by banding artifacts that made pictures look like a paint-by-number kit.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 21, 2013 1 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $20,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Extensive color control
Sparkling 3D
Minus
Black level could be better

THE VERDICT
A good overall performer and a solid first 4K effort from LG.

It’s rabbit season at the Sound & Vision ranch. The bunnies are reproducing at a torrid rate, and you can barely take aim at one before another dozen pop up.

We’re not talking cottontails here, but rather HDTVs. Yes, it’s that time of year again, when the new sets arrive en masse in anticipation of the upcoming end-of-year holiday season. The hot tickets this year are 4K (more precisely, 3840 x 2160) or, as it has been dubbed by the industry, Ultra HD, and OLED. On the 4K front, two new LG sets, at 55 and 65 inches, recently hopped into view to fill out a 4K lineup that began with the big 84LM9600—the latter our subject here.

Al Griffin Posted: Oct 01, 2013 0 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE
$2,299

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Bright, crisp 3D display
Unique Magic Remote
Voice Mate feature
Minus
Below-average picture contrast

THE VERDICT
LG’s mid-level set is undoubtedly Smart and a very good value, but its less than stellar contrast and picture uniformity make it an also-ran in the LCD TV race.

At first look, there’s nothing groundbreaking about LG’s 55LA7400, the mid-size model in the company’s LA7400 line of 3D-capable LCDs (47- and 60-inch versions are also available). To be honest, its feature list is packed, yawn, with lots of stuff we’ve seen before from LG: TruMotion 240-hertz display, edge-arrayed LED backlight with local dimming, passive 3D using polarized glasses. Where the LA7400 series starts to get interesting is when you look beyond the video specs to the Smart features and connectivity options—things video enthusiasts routinely dismiss but in reality are futuristic and cool. As one of the big three companies pushing the Smart TV envelope (Panasonic and Samsung are the other two), LG takes this stuff seriously, and it hopes you will too.

Tom Norton Posted: Sep 04, 2013 13 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $3,800

At A Glance
Plus: Rich, accurate color and superb resolution • Full adjustability • Unsurpassed blacks and shadow detail
Minus: Adequate but not very bright 3D

The Verdict
Four years after the Pioneer Kuro plasma exited the market, Panasonic has finally, in its ZT60 series, created an HDTV that is essentially its equal in all key areas of image quality.

In 2009, Pioneer ceased production of its highly regarded Kuro plasma HDTVs, and videophiles everywhere took to wearing hair shirts and pondering self-flagellation.

We knew back then that Panasonic produced excellent plasmas as well, but the Kuro’s inky blacks remained unsurpassed. So when a number of former Pioneer engineers went to work for Panasonic, there was new hope. Big changes don’t happen over a single product cycle, however, or even over two or three. But now, with the release of Panasonic’s new ZT60 series, Panasonic claims to have reached that elusive summit. But has it? Can Kuro buyers stop sweating about their sets breaking down, and can those who missed the Kuro express altogether finally stop kicking themselves? We’re here to find out.

Tom Norton Posted: Sep 04, 2013 3 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price $3,000

At A Glance
Plus: First-rate blacks and shadow detail • Impeccable color and resolution
Minus: Color decoder error calls for care in calibration • Adequate but not terribly bright 3D

The Verdict
With performance nearly identical to the flagship ZT60 series, Panasonic’s VT60 offers state-of-the-art image quality at a more affordable price.

If the Panasonic ZT60 series is the company’s statement product for 2013, the VT60 is an update of its long-running VT flagship line. What’s in that silly little one-letter difference? Less than you might expect, and more. For starters, the ZT60 line is available only in 60- and 65-inch sizes. The VT60 adds a 55-incher to the mix. In addition, the ZT60 is said to be something of a limited edition, the result of a complex, time-consuming manufacturing process associated with that set’s Studio Master panel.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 11, 2013 19 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $7,000
At A Glance
: Four times the native resolution of standard HD • Advanced color technology • State-of-the-art 3D

With the introduction of its new 2013 XBR sets, Sony has shown that it’s serious about bringing Ultra HD, popularly referred to as 4K, to consumers at prices that, while still high, are less seizure-inducing than the $25,000 sticker on its 84-inch XBR-84X900 (Home Theater, June 2013).

Technically, 4K is shorthand for a resolution of 4096 x 2160 pixels—the professional 4K format. Consumer 4K sets, on the other hand, have a resolution of 3840 x 2160, exactly four times the pixel count of full HD 1080p. Regardless of the industry’s plan to refer to such sets as Ultra HD, 4K has already crept into the lexicon as the popular term for 3840 x 2160 home video.

Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Jul 03, 2013 0 comments

There’s an argument to be made that Panasonic’s ST50 Series plasma was the best TV to come out last year — not the company’s more expensive VT50 model, which was Sound & Vision’s Video Product

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 14, 2013 8 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $3,150 At A Glance: Crisp, detailed picture • Superb color performance • Near reference-quality blacks and shadow detail

When Samsung launched its new line of plasma HDTVs at last January’s CES, we were impressed. Those early demos indicated improved black levels and overall good performance. We were surprised to find later that the prices, though not exactly “Attention, K-Mart shoppers!” specials, aren’t Beverly Hills exclusives, either. From what we see here, these new Samsung plasmas, while unlikely to alter the market dominance of LCD, are welcome additions to the battle.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 07, 2013 0 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $3,300 At A Glance: Rich black level and good shadow detail • New color technology • Bright, punchy 3D

The new KDL-55W900A is Sony’s newest, top-of-the-line, non-XBR set. All of the XBRs, going forward, will be Ultra HD (4K) sets, but the KDL-55W900A, as all of the KDL designs, is firmly in the standard HD, 1920 x 1080 camp. It’s an edge-lit design with local dimming, but its marquee feature has nothing to do with contrast and black levels. Color is the plot here, and Triluminos, a term Sony has used in the past (see sidebar), promises a wider color gamut.

Rob Sabin Posted: May 24, 2013 13 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,699 At A Glance: Top-tier black levels and color accuracy • So-so 3D • World-class value

Last year, the number-one TV I recommended to friends, family, and anyone else who would listen was Panasonic’s ST50 series plasma. Although a serious enthusiast might have appreciated the superior black levels and more extensive picture controls of the company’s then top-line VT models, 2012’s ST50, like the ST30 models of the year before, delivered most of the VT’s performance and easily beat out all but the most expensive LED LCDs. It was simply an incredible value and was recognized as such in Home Theater’s Top Picks of the Year.

Tom Norton Posted: Apr 05, 2013 5 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $25,000
At A Glance
: Stunning resolution • Superb color • Glorious 2D and 3D performance

With 4K-resolution Ultra HD the latest and greatest star in the consumer electronics galaxy, we ink- and pixel-stained wretches of the press were all champing at the bit to lay hands on one. But at a massive 84 inches diagonal, 216 pounds with its floor stand, priced high enough to put you in a nice new car as long as your tastes aren’t too posh, and still limited in availability, Sony’s new 4K flagship made the company understandably reluctant to ship review samples to all the usual suspects.

Al Griffin Posted: Mar 07, 2013 0 comments

To hear Sony tell it, the future will be in 4K. This stance comes as no surprise: The company’s 4K-rez digital cinema projectors have been installed in over 13,000 theaters, and at least 75 Sony-produced titles have either been shot with 4K digital cameras, or transferred to the higher-rez format from film. And Sony isn’t just pushing 4K for theaters — it wants viewers to experience it at home. 

Tom Norton Posted: Feb 22, 2013 4 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $9,000 At A Glance: Superb resolution and color • Impressive blacks • State-of-the-art 3D

If last year was the year of thin in flat-screen HDTVs, 2013 promises to be the year of big. Seventy may well be the new fifty, and we’re not talking birthdays. While this year’s models are still remarkably thin, now your friends can ooh and ahh while viewing them from the front and not just the sides.

Al Griffin Posted: Feb 11, 2013 0 comments

Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving, and the biggest shopping day of the year. It’s a day when hordes of Americans head out to the local mall or Walmart, ready to fill their carts and, if necessary, take you out should you stand in the way between them and a good deal. TV maker Vizio has traditionally released a new model or two just in time for Black Friday — often at prices well below the norm for sets in their category/screen size. The E601i-A3, a 60-inch edge-lit LED LCD, was one such special, having reportedly sold for $699 on that day — a price that is, well, insane. But now that the E601i has bobbed back to a more real-world, though still very affordable, $999, it’s time to check out how it stacks up against the competition.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 03, 2013 5 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $2,900 At A Glance: Exceptional detail • Rich, compelling color • Solid black level and shadow detail

Full LED backlighting with local dimming, when properly implemented, is the gold standard for achieving the best black levels in an LCD HDTV. But such a set also requires a lot of gold to acquire. LED edge-lit designs, needing fewer LEDs and less complex processing, cost less. While LG makes fully LEDbacklit local-dimming sets (its LM9600 Nano designs), the company’s premier, edge-lit LM8600 offerings also include local dimming. Local dimming, even in an edge-lit set, is usually better than none at all, but it’s less comprehensive and in theory less effective than the fully backlit variety. We reviewed the 55LM9600 Nano back in our September 2012 issue. But the 55LM8600 now lays down a strong challenge to its pricier sibling.

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