The Best 2D Full-Array LED-LCD TV
Yes, the XVT553SV ($1540; reviewed here) is still my first choice in your price range for a 2D full-array LED-LCD TV with local dimming, in which the LEDs behind dark portions of the image are dynamically dimmed to improve contrast. In fact, it's the only relatively inexpensive local-dimmer I know of, but that doesn't mean it isn't goodit's excellent and a great value, especially with its Vizio Internet Apps, which provide access to lots of online content.
When I looked on the Vizio website under the heading LED HDTV, this model was not listed among the current offerings, but I found it by searching for the model number. Of the six retailers listed for it, only Sam's Club still has it in stock, so I suspect it's on its way out, though you can still buy it on Vizio's site as well. I'd jump on it as soon as you can before it disappears completelyall of Vizio's other current models are edgelit, so they do not offer the benefit of local dimming.
The Samsung EH-series 2D TVs are the only other inexpensive sets I know of with full-array LED backlighting, but they do not implement local dimming. I just posted my review of the 40-inch UN40EH6000 here, and I liked it quite a bit, though not as much as the Vizio; the 55-inch UN55EH6000 lists for $1550. Note that the EH6000 line has no "smart TV" functionality, but it can play media files from a USB storage device.
I would also consider a plasma TV, such as the Panasonic TC-P55ST50, which lists for $1700. Plasmas avoid the problems of LCDs, such as poor off-axis picture quality and motion blur. (The XVT553SV and EH6000 provide frame interpolation to combat motion blur, but it makes movies look like video.) Yes, it's a 3D TV, but you don't have to use that feature, and it offers a wide range of "smart TV" functions. Tom Norton recently reviewed this set (review to be posted soon), and he liked it very much.
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