FLAT PANEL REVIEWS

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Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Oct 16, 2012 0 comments

Instead of starting this review by listing the features that Samsung put into its UN55EH6000 LCD TV, I’m going to start with what it doesn’t have. There’s no 3D. There are no Smart TV features. It’s not wafer-thin. It doesn’t even have an edge-lit LED back- light (though its “direct-lit” backlight does use LEDs). In other words, it lacks all the latest features found in most modern LCDs.

Al Griffin Posted: Jan 30, 2012 0 comments

I won’t assume that everyone will know what I’m talking about when I drop the word “Kuro,” but longtime Sound+Vision readers may recall a line of high-end, and accordingly high-priced, Pioneer Elite plasma TVs that we heaped praise upon back in the day.

Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Aug 23, 2012 0 comments

I love big screens. Really big screens. 60 inches? Pshhh. 65? Ha! 70? In a pinch. 80? Okay, wow, now that’s a seriously big TV. A monolith of a height and breadth that brings to mind projection screens of yore. Wait, forget “yore.” It’s closing in on projection screens now.

Al Griffin Posted: Oct 19, 2011 0 comments

When they first arrived a few years back, LED-driven LCD TVs with a full array backlight made a big splash. Why? Because the backlight, a grid of LED lamp modules spanning the rear of the display panel, can be modulated via local dimming — a process that enables the set to track specific areas in the image, turning select modules on, off, or somewhere in between.

Al Griffin Posted: Sep 18, 2012 0 comments

When I tested Sony’s flagship XBR-55HX929 TV for our November 2011 issue, I called it out as having “the best-looking picture I’ve seen from an LCD TV in a long time.” Jump forward a few months, and I’m attending a demonstration at Sony’s HQ. During the demo, Sony put its flagship XBR, a model with a full-array LED backlight, up against a group of other TVs, including the company’s new edge-lit HX85 Series set. If you follow our reviews, you’ll know that LCDs with edge-lit LED backlights typically don’t fare well, mostly due to screen uniformity issues. However, the HX85 set in Sony’s shootout not only smoked the competition but was about on par with the company’s XBR model. Naturally, I was eager to get my hands on one.

Al Griffin Posted: Feb 11, 2013 0 comments

Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving, and the biggest shopping day of the year. It’s a day when hordes of Americans head out to the local mall or Walmart, ready to fill their carts and, if necessary, take you out should you stand in the way between them and a good deal. TV maker Vizio has traditionally released a new model or two just in time for Black Friday — often at prices well below the norm for sets in their category/screen size. The E601i-A3, a 60-inch edge-lit LED LCD, was one such special, having reportedly sold for $699 on that day — a price that is, well, insane. But now that the E601i has bobbed back to a more real-world, though still very affordable, $999, it’s time to check out how it stacks up against the competition.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 07, 2012 0 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,800 At A Glance: Crisp resolution • Bright 3D • So-so black level • Poor screen uniformity

The last three flat-panel HDTVs reviewed in these pages averaged over $4,000 each—a figure inflated, to be sure, by one of them costing $6,000. Statement products tell us what’s possible and where the technology is going. Most Home Theater readers want to know these things.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jan 03, 2011 1 comments
Price: $3,300 At A Glance: Vivid picture with outstanding resolution • Solid 3D performance • Skewed color and gamma

3D Pictures, Ultra-Thin HDTV

LEDs and 3D. Add in Internet connectivity, Wi-Fi, and an ultra-thin panel, and you have the mix that matters in today’s HDTV market. That also describes Toshiba’s new 55-inch 55WX800U. Together with its smaller sibling, the 46-inch 46WX800U, it makes up Toshiba’s current 3D lineup.

Al Griffin Posted: Feb 09, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,099

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Accurate color (after adjustment)
Good screen uniformity
Affordable price
Minus
Half-baked Cloud TV user interface
Not-great remote control

THE VERDICT
Smart TV shortcomings aside, Toshiba’s LCD offers very good picture quality at a low price.

With plasma TV tech seemingly on a path to early, unwarranted extinction, prospective TV buyers unwilling to spring for OLED soon won’t have much choice other than to purchase an LED-backlit LCD TV (aka “LED TV”). And while the performance of such sets has improved quite a bit over the years, the better ones are still expensive for what you get—particularly in comparison with same-sized plasmas. So, what’s a quality-conscious consumer to do? Roll over and get eat the high prices? Not necessarily.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 15, 2014 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $730

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Backlit local dimming for superior blacks
Good color
Remarkable value
Minus
Wobbly stand
Occasionally buzzy sound

THE VERDICT
It’s not without flaws, but the Vizio E550i-B2 offers more of what we like in a quality HDTV than we ever expected to see at such a low price.

You still can’t get a decent, major-brand 55-inch HDTV for under $500. You can, however, get one for under $800. The new 2014 E-Series may be Vizio’s budget line, but it’s not bare bones. It omits 3D (as do all of the company’s 2014 HDTVs, including the highest-end models), and there’s no picture-in-picture mode. But it offers the same bang for the buck that has, in the relatively few years since Vizio’s founding, rocketed the company to a U.S. market-share position that has left long-established HDTV makers gasping for breath trying to keep up.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 20, 2012 4 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,000 At A Glance: Impressive overall performance • Outstanding value • 2D only

It’s long been true that if you wait long enough, the price of technology will drop down to meet your budget. Flat-screen HDTVs are prime examples. We’ve recently seen manufacturers respond to the current global financial malaise by squeezing their beans hard enough to produce decent sets for around $1,000. While it’s difficult to say if this trend is due to economic conditions or pressure from price-aggressive new manufacturers, Vizio has been in the vanguard of the young guns making life difficult for traditional HDTV companies. And the company’s not standing still. Exhibit A: Vizio’s new $1,000 E601i-A3. Like its big brother, the 70-inch, $2000 E701i-A3, it’s a true budget buster, but for a change, the budget they’re busting isn’t yours.

Scott Wilkinson Posted: Feb 14, 2012 3 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $2,200 At A Glance: Excellent 2D and 3D performance • Inexpensive, lightweight, passive 3D glasses • Poor ergonomics

When Tom Norton reviewed the 65-inch Vizio XVT3D650SV 3D LED-edgelit LCD TV last year (see review here), he found it to be an excellent performer in most respects. However, its list price of $3,700 kept many potential buyers away—and, along with the few problems he did find, kept him from bestowing HT's Top Picks designation.

Al Griffin Posted: Mar 10, 2014 0 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,400

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Great contrast and screen uniformity
Good looks
Decent set of streaming options
Minus
Slightly inaccurate color
Unimpressive 3D performance

THE VERDICT
Vizio’s 60-incher combines very good value with above-average picture quality.

With the CES in the rearview mirror, it’s time to look ahead to the new TVs that 2014 will bring. Hold on: Was there something we missed as 2013 wound down? Sound & Vision lavished loads of attention on OLED, 4K, and other high-priced TV options in 2013, but what about the budget category? Anything happen there worth looking at?

Al Griffin Posted: Jul 10, 2014 5 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,250

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Great black levels and screen uniformity
Mostly accurate color
Good set of streaming options
Low-glare screen
Minus
No gamma presets or adjustments

THE VERDICT
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 good price.

Vizio opted to take some bold steps for their 2014 lineup of LCD TVs. The first was to get rid of 3D—no huge loss there, since most folks don’t watch 3D outside of movie theaters anyway. The second was to add a full-array local-dimming backlight—and not just to some of the new models, but to all of them. The entry-level 55-inch E series set that we reviewed in the July/August issue featured 12 dimmable zones. For the 60-inch M602i-B3 under scrutiny here, that number gets bumped up to 36. Do all those extra zones make the M602i-B3’s black-level performance three times as good? Read on to find out.

Al Griffin Posted: Nov 12, 2014 2 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,200

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive black depth and uniformity
Excellent color
Good set of streaming options
Low-glare screen

Minus
Picture processing adds edge-enhancement, noise
Poor handling of images with film grain
Washed-out-looking highlights

THE VERDICT
Vizio’s P-Series comes with a full-array LED backlight and 4K Netflix streaming, but its performance is marred by overly aggressive video processing.

Vizio is known for making TVs that consistently beat the competition on price—often by a significant margin. In some cases the performance of Vizio’s sets also ends up being equal to or better than the competition, though the company’s track record on that count isn’t as consistent. The last two Vizio HDTVs Sound&Vision tested, the 2014 entry-level E- and step-up M-series models, delivered very good performance at an affordable price. Now the company’s P Series, its first UHDTVs for 2014, have hit the street. It should come as no surprise that the price here is nice: the 65-inch P652ui-B2 model I tested lists for $2,200. But does Vizio’s budget bigscreen UHDTV continue the company’s streak of high performance/low cost? Let’s take a look.

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