A Perfect Fit: Three 1080p LCDs

We look at three 1080p LCDs that offer a little something for everyone.

I'm going to let you in on a little secret: The performance gap between LCD TVs is shrinking. Of course, there are enough differences to keep us reviewer types employed (at least for now); we see variations in color temperature, black level, light output, and processing. Still, it's been a while since I encountered an LCD that simply performed poorly, at least from a reputable manufacturer. Let's face it—you really have to screw up to make HDTV and high-definition DVD look bad. As you try to decide which LCD deserves your money, it has become less a question of good versus bad performance and more a question of fit and price: Which model offers the performance and features set to suit your needs at a price you can afford?

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Back in January, we looked at three LCDs ranging in price from $1,500 to $3,800. While all three models were sized over 40 inches, there were obvious benefits in terms of resolution and features as we moved up the price ladder. This month, the results aren't as clear-cut. For one, all three of our panels—from Mitsubishi, NEC, and Olevia—are 1080p models, and only $1,000 separates the least from the most expensive. Not to spoil the suspense, but, from a performance standpoint, they are all worthy choices, scoring well in the categories of detail, color, and processing. And, yet, each comes to the table with its own set of strengths and features that suit it for certain users and viewing environments.

I spent some alone time with each display and performed general picture comparisons through the component video and HDMI inputs using distribution amplifiers from Key Digital and Gefen. This wasn't a direct Face Off, since these TVs have different screen sizes and different price points, but I asked video editor Geoffrey Morrison and contributor John Higgins to give their impressions of the TVs' performance, as well.

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