Top Picks Flat Panels

Note: Within each price category, Top Picks are presented in the order in which the TVs were reviewed with the most recent reviews first.

Flat Panels

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< $1,000
Vizio E550i-B2 LED/LCD: $730
Vizio has built a powerhouse brand by delivering TVs like the E550i-B2 that offer more bang for the buck that you expect. The set forgoes 3D and picture-in-picture but provides built-in Internet connectivity for easy access to Netflix and a range of other sites plus excellent video processing and a picture enhancing feature you just don’t find at this price level: local dimming (with 12 zones of control). The result is a pleasing picture with great detail and impressively rich blacks for well under $1,000. (July/August 2014, Read Full Review)
$1,000-$2,000
Vizio M602i-B3 LED/LCD: $1,250
While it’s not quite the deal you get with Vizio’s lower-cost E series HDTVs, this M series set offers excellent performance at a very reasonable price. It forgoes 3D but is equipped with built-in Internet connectivity and adds full-array local dimming with 32 zones of control to achieve an impressive picture. Reviewer Al Griffin wrote: “The Vizio’s local-dimming backlight definitely worked magic with Blu-rays like 2001: A Space Odyssey and other reference-grade sci-fi space operas. In shots with starfields, pinpoints of light retained their brightness while the empty space beyond came across as a rich, inky black.” (October 2014, Read Full Review)
Vizio M601d-A3R 3D LCD: $1,400
If you’re on a tight budget, don’t care much about 3D, and crave a nice big screen, Vizio’s svelte M601d-A3R deserves to be on your short list. This bargain of a TV uses fault-free video processing and the company’s Smart Dimming edge-lit LED backlighting scheme to achieve an above-average picture with excellent contrast and uniformity. All this plus ready access to Netflix, Amazon Instant, Hulu Plus, and a bunch of other useful apps on an expansive 60-inch screen. (SoundandVision.com, posted March 10, 2014, Read Full Review)
Toshiba 58L7300U LCD: $1,099
The 58L7300U is a great choice if you’re looking for a reasonably priced big-screen HDTV that focuses on picture quality over frills. What it lacks in “smart TV” features and 3D capability (there is none), it more than makes up for in picture quality. Veteran TV reviewer Al Griffin was so impressed by the set’s “bright, punchy-looking picture” and above average uniformity that he wrote: “The 58L7300U’s performance-to-price ratio makes it well worth a look.” (SoundandVision.com, posted February 9, 2014, Read Full Review)
$2,000-$3,500
Panasonic TC-65AX800U 3D LCD/LED Ultra HDTV: $3,000
Impressive picture performance and extensive smart TV features are the hallmarks of the 65AX800U. In addition to streaming 4K, the TV can play content from Sony’s recently liberated 4K Ultra HD Media Player and offers a customizable Home Screen, voice navigation, and a Netflix button on its remote. Reviewer Tom Norton wrote: “Color accuracy was one of the TV’s strong points. In a scene from The Conjuring, an exterior shot of the house displayed a strikingly natural color palette…Panasonic’s TC-65AX800U is a full-featured, good-looking, and very well-performing TV.” (January 2015, Read Full Review)
Sony KDL-65W850A 3D LCD: $3,300
It’s easy to lose site of the basics of television performance with all the hubbub over 4K/Ultra HD TVs, but the fully featured 65W850A is a solid performer with above average 3D chops. Marveling over the fine detail in Pixar’s Monster’s University, veteran reviewer Tom Norton wrote: “The Sony appears to get it all, and it’s hard to imagine this movie looking better than it does on this set. The color is extremely rich and vivid as well—even if we’re talking about computer-generated color.” (April 2014, Read Full Review)
Samsung UN60F8000 3D LCD: $2,700
Behind the distinguished minimalist design of the UN60F8000 lies a sophisticated Smart TV that puts a host of apps and content at your fingertips. The set also includes an innovative touchpad remote control that gives you the option of controlling the TV by voice or Wii-like gesture. But, most important, Samsung has delivered an LCD TV that offers a minimal-compromise alternative to plasma picture quality. As reviewer Al Griffin put it: “If you’re on the lookout for one of the best-performing LCDs available—one with a very appealing mix of Smart features—you won’t be disappointed.” (December 2013, Read Full Review)
Samsung PN60F8500 60-in 3D Plasma: $3,150
Have a soft spot for plasmas? Here’s a 60-incher that will enrich your movie watching experience with crisp, detailed images, superb color, and near reference-quality shadow detail. Catching up on his TV watching with DVR recordings of Game of Thrones and Vikings, reviewer Tom Norton was impressed: “The set’s resolution was impressive, with every oily pore, wrinkled face, dirty fabric, and unwashed strand of hair fully visible in these gritty but superbly photographed shows.” (HomeTheater.com, posted June 14, 2013, Read Full Review)
Sony KDL-55W900A 55-in 3D LCD: $3,300
Sony’s newest, top-of-the-line, non-XBR set puts up a luscious image with bright, well-saturated colors, rich black levels, and first-rate resolution. It’s a tad thicker than its predecessor but that’s because the audio system has been overhauled to provide sound that’s noticeably fuller than what you get with most flat-panels these days. That Sony provides four pairs of 3D glasses is good news: Unlike many TVs that have trouble mustering enough brightness, the 55W900A’s 3D performance was "irresistible," according to reviewer Tom Norton. (HomeTheater.com, posted June 7, 2013, Read Full Review)
$3,500 >
LG 55EC9300 3D OLED: $3,500
It’s been a long time coming but you can thank LG for finally making OLED TV a reality at a price that’s affordable. The 55EC9300 delivers stellar picture performance and even outperforms its predecessor, the 55EA9800, which costs twice as much. Singling out its impressive performance with black levels, contrast, and shadow detail, veteran reviewer Tom Norton called the LG about as “close to [perfect] as I suspect we’re going to get in a relatively affordable HDTV for the near future.” High praise, indeed. (December 2014, Read Full Review)
Sony XBR-55X900B LCD/LED Ultra HD: $4,000
If you’re checking out TVs in this price range there’s a good chance you’re interested in state-of-the-art technology—which is precisely what you get with the 55X900B. You can expect exceptional blacks and shadow detail, excellent color and resolution, impeccable 4K upconversion, compelling 3D, and something you probably didn’t consider—impressive sound (separate subwoofer included). You also get what TV guru Tom Norton calls a “bushel of special features” in addition to Sony’s advanced edge-lit local dimming, all of which add up to what he calls “an outstanding design, worth every penny of its substantial price…” Highly recommended. (November 2014, Read Full Review)
Samsung UN55HU8550F 3D LCD/LED Ultra HD: $4,000
It’s not easy to impress veteran TV reviewer Tom Norton but, to use his words, he was “blown away” by the 855’s ability to upconvert standard high-def content to 4K resolution. “Whatever secret sauce Samsung is using, I want it,” he wrote. “Together, the crisp detail and clean, smooth clarity that the set brought to my reference discs was a definite step forward.” Picture quality is even more impressive with true 4K material and 3D performance is among the best we’ve seen. Bottom line: This is a high-performance TV that actually sells for a lot less than $4,000. (September 2014, Read Full Review)
LG 55EA9800 3D OLED: $7,000
If you’re ready to live on the cutting edge and ready for astonishing blacks, impeccable color, crisp detail, and an exceptionally bright 3D picture, then you’re ready for OLED, TV’s most promising new technology. While not cheap, LG has reduced the price on its 55-inch entry into the OLED game, making it an attractive proposition, especially for enthusiasts who appreciate the vivid imagery this technology makes possible. Of course, you’re also getting a smart TV with one-click access to Netflix and other streaming services as well as an HDTV that produces stunning 2D and 3D images. (June 2014, Read Full Review)
Samsung UN65F9000 3D LCD/LED Ultra HD: $5,000
With a resolution of 3840 x 2160—four times as many pixels as in standard HD—the UN65F9000 is one of the first Ultra HD sets to hit the market and Samsung’s first such TV with a 65-inch screen. In addition to delivering a full array of smart TV features and a sophisticated touchpad remote control, this TV excels with “2K” and 4K programs. Watching native 4K material, reviewer Tom Norton raved, “At viewing distances you might choose—8 to 10 feet—the best of the 4K material looked exceptional, with a smooth but still highly detailed picture offering vivid but natural-looking color.” (February/March 2014, Read Full Review)
Sony XBR-84X900 3D LCD Ultra HDTV: $25,000
For those with means who simply must have the latest and greatest state-of-the-art TV we offer up the XBR-84X900 with a colossal 84-inch screen that produces an uncanny combination of detail and creamy smoothness. In the words of veteran TV reviewer, Tom Norton: “Visually, the colors were never less than outstanding, with spot-on fleshtones and bright, natural hues in every source I watched.” The set also does a superb job of upscaling standard high-def material, making it nearly indistinguishable from native 4K, and offers 3D viewing that Norton described as “easily the most impressively sharp and detailed 3D I’ve yet experienced from a consumer display.” (HomeTheater.com, posted April 5, 2013, Read Full Review)
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COMMENTS
drron's picture

This may sound a little strange, but I am looking for a 12 " led flat screen tv for use on my desk. I don't have a great deal of room on my desk, so 12 or 13 " seems to be a good size choice. This seems to be an area that has been overlooked by most of the flat screen manufacturers along with S&V mag. Many of us spend long hours working at a desk and would like a little diversion now and then. How about some basic information on the smaller size flat screens?

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