LCD TV REVIEWS

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 15, 2016 8 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $5,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
State-of-the-art local dimming
Class-leading HDR brightness
Above average off-center viewing
Minus
Price

THE VERDICT
With the top manufacturers jostling for a view from the top of the Ultra HD pyramid, Sony has taken an express elevator and is racing fast for the checkered flag. But enough with the mixed metaphors. If this TV isn’t today’s best LCD UHD/HDR set (and perhaps the best of any type), it’s not for lack of trying. Sony has given us their best technology here, and it shows.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2016, Sony demonstrated a prototype of a future LCD TV design incorporating what the company called Backlight Master Drive. We found it dazzling, as did most of the show-goers with whom we spoke. Nevertheless, we all looked at it as a “show car”—something that might appear in a store near you in a couple of years, if ever.

Al Griffin Posted: Nov 02, 2016 1 comments
2D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $549

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Inexpensive
HDR compatible
Impressive contrast
Minus
Minor backlight artifacts
No extended color-space option
Flimsy stand

THE VERDICT
Hisense’s sensibly priced 50H8C does many things right, but buyers expecting an ultimate HDR experience will want to pass.

There’s been plenty of what tech marketing types call “disruption” in the TV industry over the past decade, with big-name Japanese brands like Mitsubishi, Hitachi, and Toshiba bowing out and Chinese companies like TCL and Hisense stepping in. While TCL has gained recognition as a maker of Roku TVs that span a range of screen sizes, it’s still a bit early in the game for us to get a sense of what Hisense is all about. What’s clear so far is that the company is producing sets with upscale features like 4K Ultra HD resolution and high dynamic range, at disruptively affordable prices. Case in point: the new 50H8C, an HDR-compatible 50-inch UHDTV that sells for a mere $549.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 07, 2016 9 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $4,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent blacks and shadow detail
First-rate resolution
Compelling high dynamic range
Minus
HDR limited to HDR10
No 3D

THE VERDICT
In some important respects, Samsung’s new top-of-the-line TV improves upon the company’s previous flagship, and at a lower price.

When we last reviewed one of Samsung’s so-called SUHD sets, Ultra HD with high dynamic range (HDR) was not yet available on Blu-ray. But the arrival of such discs—together with UHD Bluray players like Samsung’s own UBD-K8500—has changed the game.

The 4K resolution of Ultra HD sets is all well and good, but HDR is the most eye-popping feature of UHD. Not all 4K sets, however, incorporate HDR, and those that do don’t necessarily perform at the same level. HDR still can’t be done well cheaply; at present, the displays that do it best are their respective makers’ premier offerings. The Samsung KS9800 series definitely belongs in that company—and among the three models within that family, the 65-incher we’re discussing here is the smallest.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 03, 2016 1 comments

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

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive edge-lit local dimming
Respectable off-axis viewing
Bright, punchy HDR
Minus
Often redundant menus
Tight remote control layout

THE VERDICT
Full-array local dimming remains the gold standard for LCD Ultra HDTVs, but Sony has now upped the ante with the best edge-lit set we’ve seen.

The last time I reviewed one of Sony’s 4K sets, it had large speaker enclosures attached permanently to the sides of the screen, with a separate “subwoofer” firing out the back. This made for an inconveniently wide design, and with the introduction of Sony’s new 2016 models, those audio “wings” are now history.

Rob Sabin Posted: Apr 05, 2016 3 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: Jan 26, 2016 9 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 2 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.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 14, 2015 1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,600

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive resolution—in both 4K and 1080p
Natural-looking color—even before calibration
Appealing price
Minus
Mediocre blacks
Image fades off-center

THE VERDICT
For a rewarding experience in watching that big game or a favorite movie, Samsung’s UN60JS7000 should please all but the fussy video perfectionist prepared to pay a lot more for his or her new Ultra HD set.

Samsung’s new 60-inch UN60JS7000FXZA joins the majority of 4K Ultra HDTVs on the market offering 4K as their main UHD calling card. But according to Samsung, it will also respond to the metadata for high dynamic range sources and display it—though not to the same brightness level as will, for example, the company’s higher-end sets, including the so-called “SUHD” UN65JS9500FXZA (Sound & Vision, September 2015 and soundandvision.com). The JS7000 is also claimed to respond to the wide color offered in some UHD material, in the same way as other Samsung SUHD sets, but it downconverts any 10-bit color source to 8 bits (which corresponds to fewer gradations of color being available for display).

Al Griffin Posted: Nov 25, 2015 0 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 3 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: Aug 19, 2015 1 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent 4K upconversion
Good blacks
Solid value
Minus
Odd gamma
Clips above white and below black
No enhanced-color or HDR future-proofing

THE VERDICT
As with most current 4K sets, the Vizio M65-C1 delivers only the 4K portion of the full Ultra HD toy box. It also has a few nagging technical issues. But for the most part, these fade into the background of the set’s compelling viewing experience.

Vizio is the value leader in a tough HDTV market. While the safest route for them to maintain their commanding share would have been to change their 1080p E series and M series models just enough for a “new for 2015” promotional campaign, Vizio chose the long view: The E series remains the company’s 1080p budget line, but the M series is now 4K, while still priced well below most of the competition.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 22, 2015 4 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.

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.

Al Griffin Posted: Jan 16, 2015 5 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.

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