FLAT PANEL REVIEWS

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John Sciacca Posted: Jun 06, 2012 0 comments

Summer’s arrival means it’s time to peel your pasty self off of the couch and head outside for a little sunshine and fresh air. But just because you’re stepping outside the indoor A/V sanctuary doesn’t mean you have to go all Trappist monk with your entertainment. And I’m not talking about dragging an iPod and headphones or (heaven forbid) some relic of a boombox outside.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Feb 06, 2015 0 comments

BeoLab 18 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

BeoLab 19 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $25,625 as reviewed

AT A GLANCE
Plus
WiSA wireless multichannel audio technology
All processing and switching built into the TV
Motorized TV speakers and TV stand
Minus
No backlighting on remote control
Nothing else but the price

THE VERDICT
Although most of us can’t afford this system, those who can will be treated to an amazingly moving experience that no other system can provide—every time they turn it on.

Bang & Olufsen is unusual in the AV world. In fact, I could have stopped at “unusual.” I once heard a story about B&O that perfectly sums up what I’m talking about. It’s probably apocryphal, because the person I heard it from had heard it from someone else, but I’ll tell it anyway. Years ago, when B&O still made phones—corded, landline telephones—a guy from the U.S. asked one of the Danish engineers why the handsets had their unique shape, which made them almost impossible to cradle between your ear and shoulder so you could have a conversation and still use both hands. (Twenty-some years ago, that was the era’s version of “hands free.”)

The engineer’s answer was short and to the point: “Because we don’t talk on the phone that way here.” That sort of stubborn—some might say arrogant—confidence in the belief that their way is the right way is one of the core characteristics of Bang & Olufsen. When other AV companies are busy jumping on the latest technological bandwagon, B&O is off in the woods searching for truffles.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 05, 2010 0 comments
3D Leaps Out

It’s been a long road from 1952’s Bwana Devil to 2009’s Avatar, but 3D in your local cineplex is now a big-time, going concern. But as we discussed in "3D: The Next Big Thing?", HDTV manufacturers are determined to bring the experience home. 3D was the star of the show at January’s CES, and 3D-capable sets are beginning to show up at your local big-box retailer. By year’s end, you’ll see 3D HDTVs from virtually all major manufacturers.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 28, 2014 4 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $7,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Astonishing blacks
Crisp, clean detail
Exceptionally bright 3D
Minus
Poor dark-gray uniformity
Expensive for a 1080p set

THE VERDICT
It costs a bundle, has a relatively small screen, and isn’t perfect. But buyers will be rewarded with a picture that, in the ways most important to enthusiasts, is unequaled by any other type of consumer display.

At the 2014 CES, it became clear that, for most HDTV manufacturers, OLED was on the back burner. LCD Ultra HDTV, or 4K, was the big story. But at least one manufacturer, LG, remains aggressive on the OLED front. The company has announced four new models for 2014 and, at the same time, drastically cut the price (as of March 2014) on the 55-inch model 55EA9800, launched late last year and reviewed here.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 11, 2014 4 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,500 (4 pair 3D glasses included)

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Blacks, contrast, and shadow detail to die for
Lightweight
Minus
Not 4K
Cinema mode soft in default settings

THE VERDICT
This new LG is the OLED that videophiles have been waiting for, and an improvement over the 55EA9800 we reviewed last spring—with equal or better performance and, not least of all, a dramatically lower price.

Now that we’re about to turn the page into 2015, OLED HDTVs, so promising a year ago, appear to be at risk. The limited yield for OLED panels, resulting in a high retail cost, has driven most HDTV makers to the sidelines.

But not LG. They continue to vigorously support the technology. And with a current price of $3,500 for the new 55EC9300, they’re clearly tossing a Hail Mary into a market crowded with cookie-cutter LCD sets. At 55 inches (diagonal), this may be a relatively small set for the price, and it’s still just “Full HD” (the industry buzzphrase for 1080p sets). Whether LG scores a touchdown or gets intercepted remains to be seen, but there’s no doubt that buyers will be the winners.

Al Griffin Posted: Oct 01, 2013 0 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE
$2,299

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Bright, crisp 3D display
Unique Magic Remote
Voice Mate feature
Minus
Below-average picture contrast

THE VERDICT
LG’s mid-level set is undoubtedly Smart and a very good value, but its less than stellar contrast and picture uniformity make it an also-ran in the LCD TV race.

At first look, there’s nothing groundbreaking about LG’s 55LA7400, the mid-size model in the company’s LA7400 line of 3D-capable LCDs (47- and 60-inch versions are also available). To be honest, its feature list is packed, yawn, with lots of stuff we’ve seen before from LG: TruMotion 240-hertz display, edge-arrayed LED backlight with local dimming, passive 3D using polarized glasses. Where the LA7400 series starts to get interesting is when you look beyond the video specs to the Smart features and connectivity options—things video enthusiasts routinely dismiss but in reality are futuristic and cool. As one of the big three companies pushing the Smart TV envelope (Panasonic and Samsung are the other two), LG takes this stuff seriously, and it hopes you will too.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 03, 2013 5 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $2,900 At A Glance: Exceptional detail • Rich, compelling color • Solid black level and shadow detail

Full LED backlighting with local dimming, when properly implemented, is the gold standard for achieving the best black levels in an LCD HDTV. But such a set also requires a lot of gold to acquire. LED edge-lit designs, needing fewer LEDs and less complex processing, cost less. While LG makes fully LEDbacklit local-dimming sets (its LM9600 Nano designs), the company’s premier, edge-lit LM8600 offerings also include local dimming. Local dimming, even in an edge-lit set, is usually better than none at all, but it’s less comprehensive and in theory less effective than the fully backlit variety. We reviewed the 55LM9600 Nano back in our September 2012 issue. But the 55LM8600 now lays down a strong challenge to its pricier sibling.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 28, 2012 1 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $3,600 At A Glance: Superb detail, accurate color • Two- and 20-step calibration controls • Magic Remote tedious to use • Disappointing black level

The pick of the litter in today’s LCD HDTV designs is full LED backlighting with local dimming. Such sets first appeared in 2008, but the process of positioning clusters of LEDs behind the screen was, and is, expensive. While LCD sets with LED lighting have now become ubiquitous, most of them use edge lighting (sometimes with a limited form of dynamic dimming, sometimes without) in which a smaller number of LEDs are located at the borders of the screen. This both keeps the price down and enables slender, more stylish sets.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 23, 2011 2 comments
Price: $2,400 At A Glance: Crisp resolution and accurate color • 2-step and 10-step calibration controls • Bright, vivid 3D

Living on the Edge

So far, three manufacturers have released 3D HDTVs that use passive polarized glasses rather than active shutter glasses: VIZIO, Toshiba, and LG. All three use technology developed by LG. In our June issue, we took a close look at VIZIO’s 65-inch entry, so this month, it’s perhaps appropriate that we go straight to the source and dive into LG’s first passive-glasses 3D HDTV.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 02, 2009 0 comments
Price: $2,900 At A Glance: Unique 20-step calibration option • Crisp image with vivid color • Mediocre black level • THX certified

Calibration Sensation

The drop in the prices of flat-panel HDTVs during the past few years has been dizzying. While the news about this may be noisiest on the LCD side, the footsteps you hear are plasma racing back to stake its claim to the booty.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 21, 2013 1 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $20,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Extensive color control
Sparkling 3D
Minus
Black level could be better

THE VERDICT
A good overall performer and a solid first 4K effort from LG.

It’s rabbit season at the Sound & Vision ranch. The bunnies are reproducing at a torrid rate, and you can barely take aim at one before another dozen pop up.

We’re not talking cottontails here, but rather HDTVs. Yes, it’s that time of year again, when the new sets arrive en masse in anticipation of the upcoming end-of-year holiday season. The hot tickets this year are 4K (more precisely, 3840 x 2160) or, as it has been dubbed by the industry, Ultra HD, and OLED. On the 4K front, two new LG sets, at 55 and 65 inches, recently hopped into view to fill out a 4K lineup that began with the big 84LM9600—the latter our subject here.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 07, 2010 1 comments
Price: $2,900 At A Glance: 10-step calibration option • Strikingly deep blacks • Crisp resolution and accurate color • Local-dimming LED technology

Black Is the Color

Although 3D is about to make a loud buzz in the HDTV world, most current sets aren’t ready for the 3D gravy train yet. The top-of-the-line LG Infinia LX9500 series will be 3D capable. At one step down in LG’s lineup is the solidly 2D Infinia 47LE8500 LCD HDTV, reviewed here. It’s surprisingly thin, and with local-dimming LED technology, it comes well equipped to compete for honors as the best overall LCD we’ve yet seen from any manufacturer.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 18, 2010 0 comments
Price: $4,300 At A Glance: Dark blacks with good shadow detail • Crisp resolution and accurate color • Best-in-class off-axis performance • No 2D-to-3d conversion

Life’s Good in 3D

We were mighty impressed by LG’s 47LE8500 HDTV in a recent review. That set had effective local-dimming LED technology and went farther than any set we’d seen in mitigating LCD’s remaining Achilles heel—the 47LE8500 had the strongest off-axis performance we’ve seen from that technology. The new LG LX9500 series is a twin of the 8500 series in many ways, with largely similar features and comparable 2D performance. But the addition of 3D puts these new sets—the 47-inch model reviewed here and the larger, 55-inch 55LX9500—into an entirely different category.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 02, 2011 0 comments
Price: $1,800 (3D glasses: $130/pair) At A Glance: THX 3D certified • Superb color and resolution • Poor black level

THX Goes 3D

I was wandering through the Magnolia section of my local Best Buy the other day when I struck up a conversation with a visitor from Oregon. She had recently bought a 42-inch LCD set. I asked her why she didn’t consider a plasma. She thought for a moment, and the first thing that popped into her head was that someone had told her that plasmas could break if you shake them. A vision of our Sacramento Governator jiggling a 70-pound plasma like a pair of maracas as he bossa-novas down the capitol steps for the last time quickly passed. I assumed she meant a plasma could break if you bump it.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 22, 2011 0 comments
Price: $6,999 At A Glance: Refined, engaging picture • Compromised LED dynamic edge lighting • 3D resolution not full HD (at press time)

Going Upscale With 3D

Unless you’re a regular reader and recall our review of the Lucidium NVU55FX5LS HDTV (Home Theater, April 2010), you may not have heard of NuVision. The company keeps a relatively low profile in an attempt to build a reputation as a connoisseur brand. It sells primarily through custom installation channels, and all of its products come with a two-year warranty and a two-day on-site, nationwide service program.

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