Top Picks Flat Panels

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< $2,000
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)
Samsung UN40EH6000 40-in LED LCD: $850
We liked this affordable 40-incher at it’s original suggested retail of $850, but it’s now online for as little as $600, making it a steal indeed. Full-array LED backlighting avoids the streaky performance we find in most of the edge-lit models that compete at this price, and though it had an annoying tendency to occasionally shut the backlight fully on black screens between scenes or commercials, it wasn’t enough to dissuade reviewer Scott Wilkinson from his highest recommendation, noting that, in the Movie picture mode, “the detail and color are superb, and I loved the dark-scene uniformity of full-array LED backlighting.” (June 2012,, Read Full Review)
Vizio E601i-A3 60-in LCD: $1,000
Dubbed a great value by reviewer Tom Norton, the E601i-A3 is remarkably thin for the price, offers built-in Wi-Fi with access to popular sites like Hulu Plus, and sports back-panel connections that won’t hinder wall mounting. Video processing is outstanding and the set delivers a high-resolution image with excellent color, “knife-sharp yet natural detail,” and excellent black-level performance. As Norton put it, “What you get here is the sort of flat-screen performance you couldn’t dream of a few years ago—at any price.” (February/March 2013, 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.” (, Read Full Review)
Samsung PN51E550D1F 51-in 3D Plasma: $1,200
If reviewer Tom Norton were to summarize this TV in two words, they would be “superb value.” In addition to delivering compelling color and resolution, the set puts up a picture with plenty of shadow detail and good black-level performance. Highlights include built-in Wi-Fi for one-click access to Vudu, Hulu Plus, Netflix and other streaming services plus 3D capability, including a 2D-to-3D conversion mode (two pairs of active glasses are included). And when it comes to sprucing up non-HD material, the set’s video processing has you covered. (January 2013, Read Full Review)
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. (, Read Full Review)
Panasonic Viera TC-P60ST60 3D Plasma: $1,699
Following in the footsteps of a Panasonic 2012 Top Pick, the T-P55ST50 55-inch plasma, the ST60 brings superlative picture quality to a larger 60-inch screen while holding the line on price. Summing up his experience, reviewer Rob Sabin wrote: “With its spectacularly deep blacks, excellent shadow details, and richly saturated colors, Panasonic can chalk up another affordable hit for all us little people with big eyes and small budgets.” Add to that a strong complement of picture controls and respectable 3D performance, and you have a winning combination. (, Read Full Review)
Panasonic Viera TC-P55ST50 55-in 3D Plasma: $1,700
Falling two-steps down from Panasonic’s top-of-the-line VT50 series, the ST50 delivers better than 90% of it’s performance, once again making it the value-darling of the year and a staff favorite recommendation. Said reviewer Tom Norton, “The hardest part of doing this review was finding something to complain about. I wasn’t very successful. With a remarkable price, superb 2D performance, and 3D that can only be bettered by spending a lot more (and often, not even then), this Panasonic is a no-brainer.” (July 2012, Read Full Review)
Vizio M3D650SV 65-in 3D LCD: $1,870
This set was not without some of the faults we commonly attribute to large-size LED edge-lit televisions—namely, some uneven illumination that may be visible on very dark scenes. And reviewer Scott Wilkinson was bugged by some of its ergonomic quirks. But it’s generally solid performance in a 65-inch LED LCD featuring passive 3D for under $2000 makes this an excellent and recommendable value. (Febuary 2012,, Read Full Review)
Sony KDL-55HX850 55-in 3D LCD: $2,600
We generally don’t prefer edge-lit LED backlit LCDs over their fully-array LED backlit brethren, or a good plasma, because edge-lit illumination on very dark scenes can be noticeably streaky. But this late generation 55-inch Sony was the clear exception—it’s edge-light done right. Reviewer Tom Norton admits it’s not a cheapie, “but when you consider its superb black level, crisp color, and near-reference quality 3D, you’d have to spend a lot more to do better…This is the first edge-lit LCD set I could live with without reservations.” (November 2012, 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)
Sunbrite Model 4660HD 46-in Outdoor LCD: $2,795
Editor-at-large Darryl Wilkinson installed this weatherproof 46-incher on his back deck for our review and watched it survive blinding rainstorms and other inclement weather without blinking. “You can certainly find a 46-inch LCD TV for much less than the $2,795 cost,” he wrote, “but I challenge you to find another 46-inch HDTV that can provide the same kind of untethered entertainment experience the 4660HD can give you. While it’s definitely not a replacement for a good home theater, it’s a fantastic add-on to your home entertainment ecosystem.” (July 2012, Read Full Review)
LG 55LM8600 55-in 3D LCD: $2,900
Hailed by reviewer Tom Norton as “one of the best 3D LCD HDTVs TV’s we’ve yet tested,” the 55LM8600 delivers superb 2D resolution with a wider viewing angle than most LCD sets, flawless video processing, a Super Resolution control that brings out subtle enhancements in picture detail, and well-balanced sound—a rarity in today’s TVs. The set also offers a boatload of Web-based apps—from Skype to Netflix to Twitter—and comes with six pairs of 3D glasses to take advantage of a 3D viewing experience that received unusual praise from Norton. (, 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.” (, 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)
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. (, Read Full Review)
$3,500 >
Sony XBR-55HX950 55-in 3D LCD: $3,500
It’s not easy to impress veteran TV reviewer Tom Norton, but crammed into the 2-inch-deep space behind the XBR-55HX950’s Gorilla Glass-covered screen lies an electronics package that delivers a picture he found “hard to resist.” With program after program the TV put up images with crisp, clean resolution, impeccable shadow detail and remarkably vibrant and natural color. As Norton put it, “The Sony can show off the best high-definition sources at their jaw-dropping best. And if that’s not enough, you get first-rate video processing and a flurry of Internet features to boot. (February/March 2013, Read Full Review)
Panasonic TC-P65VT50 65-in 3D Plasma: $3,700
Panasonic has consistently delivered the best “everyman” HDTVs the last few years, and 2012 was no exception: the top-of-the-line VT50 series plasma improves on the performance of 2011’s VT30 models, and is probably the best TV out there short of Sharp’s award-winning (and pricey) Elite series LCDs. Reviewer Tom Norton found the superb blacks and color compared favorably to the Pioneer Elite Kuro models we still use as our reference, and that with the Panasonic, “the distance isn’t far.” (October 2012, Read Full Review)
Panasonic TC-P65ZT60 3D Plasma: $3,800
Even though Pioneer stopped making the Kuro plasma TV several years ago, videophiles still regard it as the gold standard of flat panels, revered for producing inky blacks and an overall spectacular picture. The wait is over. The plasma mantle has been passed to Panasonic’s ZT60 series. Referring to a head-to-head comparison with Kuro, reviewer Tom Norton wrote: “Both sets did beautifully, but the Panasonic revealed just a little more shadow detail.” The bottom line: “I can’t think of any currently available set of its size likely to produce a better picture on a 2K source.” (, 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)
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)
Sharp Elite PRO-60X5FD 60-in 3D LED LCD: $6000
We waited years for someone to come out with a TV that could go head-to-head with the old Pioneer Kuro plasmas that left the market prematurely. Sharp did it by teaming up with Pioneer, licensing the Elite name and borrowing some of their technical expertise to create the first fully-array, local-dimming LED LCD TV that can hold a candle to the best plasmas we’ve seen. Simply put, this HDTV is a technical triumph (though Panasonic’s recent VT50 Series has recently closed the gap somewhat and at a much lower price). Spectacular color, super-deep blacks, ultra-bright 3D—short of the narrow viewing window typical of the best LCD sets, it’s nearly impossible to find fault with this tour de force. (January 2012, 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)
Sony XBR-65X900A 3D LCD Ultra HDTV: $7,000
This state-of-the-art 4K Ultra HD TV presents gorgeous images with, as reviewer Tom Norton put it, “a pleasing balance of fine detail and creamy smoothness.” Sound is notably better than most flat-panel sets thanks to oversized speakers and the picture with native 4K content from Sony’s new 4K server is outstanding. Norton also had high praise for the set’s 3D performance: “I’ve never seen 3D in the theater (even IMAX 3D) that looked anywhere near this compelling.” Making 3D even more appealing, the set comes with four pairs of lightweight passive glasses. (, Read Full Review)
Samsung UN75ES9000 75-in 3D LCD: $9,000
Combine superb resolution and color with dramatic blacks and state-of-the-art 3D on a 75-inch screen and you’ve got yourself one irresistible TV viewing experience. Veteran TV reviewer Tom Norton heaped rare praise on the ES9000 and its ability to deliver a “totally immersive and compelling” picture 10 feet away. But it was the 3D performance that really floored him: “Avatar looked amazing—from the brightest scenes to the dark forest scenes on Pandora...Despicable Me was truly spectacular. Details often lost in the murk with most 3D sets popped out brilliantly on the Samsung.” (, 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.” (, Read Full Review)
Worthy of Consideration
Though not Top Picks, these models came close and are worth consideration. Read our review for details.
Samsung PN60E7000FF 60-in 3D Plasma: $2,120
This second-best model in Samsung’s plasma line offered unusually accurate color on 2D viewing out of the box, average 3D performance for a plasma, and Samsung’s excellent user interface and extensive SmartTV options. Only a touch of magenta tint that crept into pure white test patterns and could occasionally be detected in bright, snowy scenes (if you’re looking for it) kept it from our highest honors. Now priced around $400 less than the $2,530 at which we originally reviewed it, it represents an alternative to Panasonic’s plasmas for those seeking an ultrathin TV that more resembles and LED LCD and Samsung’s exclusive user features. (August 2012, Read Full Review)
Sharp LC-90LE745U 90-in 3D LED LCD: $11,000
With a screen that measures 90-inches diagonal and 6 feet, 8 inches wide, Sharp’s LC-90LE745U brings a projection screen-sized image to spaces with high ambient light, at a price (and relatively light weight of 141 pounds) that was unheard of just a couple of years ago. It’s an outstanding 2D television, and would have earned Top Pick honors were it not for sub-par 3D performance in our early sample. Sharp was said to be working on a fix, but either way, you’ll find no bigger or more impactful HDTV on the market. (October, 2012, Read Full Review)
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COMMENTS's picture

I use you guys for buying electronics but I notice that you never do recommendations of these larger sizes that are under $3000.00.There has to be some good units out there and I am not interested in 3-D and could live without smart features if I can get a best picture at a down to earth price.

kathleen's picture

Has anyone heard of - AZON DEAL UPDATER (google it)? They have a little gold box on the site that spits out any discount promo codes for any product on Amazon. Bought my Samsung HT-E6500 lower than the discounted price. Don't think too many people know about this.

Aschinck's picture

Good afternoon guys.
As a worker in the electronic industry i often look at your top pick to see if some of my products would find a place in it. Recently i realize that for a buyer your list is kind of shitty. First most of the model are 2-3-4 years back. Would it be possible to have a top pick of 2014 and then 2015 product so we can keep a fair track?

thank you

Vrahode's picture

There has been a lot of new technology in viewing surfaces in recent years as the prior post stated. Draper, for example, who I work for has released a new line of surfaces called TecVision that out perform many competitor products through wider viewing cones, more consistent gain, lower gloss levels and even superior angular reflectivity. We would love to send samples and allow the folks at Sound and Vision the opportunity for objective comparison of these recent breakthroughs in screen technology.

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