3DTV REVIEWS

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 07, 2013 0 comments

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Price: $3,300 At A Glance: Rich black level and good shadow detail • New color technology • Bright, punchy 3D

The new KDL-55W900A is Sony’s newest, top-of-the-line, non-XBR set. All of the XBRs, going forward, will be Ultra HD (4K) sets, but the KDL-55W900A, as all of the KDL designs, is firmly in the standard HD, 1920 x 1080 camp. It’s an edge-lit design with local dimming, but its marquee feature has nothing to do with contrast and black levels. Color is the plot here, and Triluminos, a term Sony has used in the past (see sidebar), promises a wider color gamut.

Rob Sabin Posted: May 24, 2013 13 comments

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Price: $1,699 At A Glance: Top-tier black levels and color accuracy • So-so 3D • World-class value

Last year, the number-one TV I recommended to friends, family, and anyone else who would listen was Panasonic’s ST50 series plasma. Although a serious enthusiast might have appreciated the superior black levels and more extensive picture controls of the company’s then top-line VT models, 2012’s ST50, like the ST30 models of the year before, delivered most of the VT’s performance and easily beat out all but the most expensive LED LCDs. It was simply an incredible value and was recognized as such in Home Theater’s Top Picks of the Year.

Tom Norton Posted: Apr 05, 2013 5 comments

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Price: $25,000
At A Glance
: Stunning resolution • Superb color • Glorious 2D and 3D performance

With 4K-resolution Ultra HD the latest and greatest star in the consumer electronics galaxy, we ink- and pixel-stained wretches of the press were all champing at the bit to lay hands on one. But at a massive 84 inches diagonal, 216 pounds with its floor stand, priced high enough to put you in a nice new car as long as your tastes aren’t too posh, and still limited in availability, Sony’s new 4K flagship made the company understandably reluctant to ship review samples to all the usual suspects.

Tom Norton Posted: Feb 22, 2013 4 comments

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Price: $9,000 At A Glance: Superb resolution and color • Impressive blacks • State-of-the-art 3D

If last year was the year of thin in flat-screen HDTVs, 2013 promises to be the year of big. Seventy may well be the new fifty, and we’re not talking birthdays. While this year’s models are still remarkably thin, now your friends can ooh and ahh while viewing them from the front and not just the sides.

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

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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: Dec 21, 2012 1 comments

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Price: $1,200 At A Glance: Compelling color and resolution • Superb value • Middling black level

Psst, buddy. Wanna buy a cheap plasma?”

You don’t often hear this from your friendly neighborhood white-van salesmen; they’re more into selling cardboard speakers. $1,200 HDTVs, no matter how good, just aren’t their thing.

They aren’t always ours, either, but when Samsung offered us the chance to have a look at its $1,200, 51-inch (diagonal) PN51E550D1F plasma, we couldn’t resist. That may be a lot of green for a public that once considered $300 a fair price for a new television, but today it falls solidly in the lowmid price range for a namebrand flat-screen HDTV in this size category.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 13, 2012 5 comments

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Price: $3,500 At A Glance: Plasma-quality blacks • Near flawless color • Bright, vivid 3D

All LCD HDTVs require some form of backlighting. The LCD panel’s pixels modulate the light and provide filtered color, but without backlighting to shine through the panel, you’d have no picture. Recently, LEDs (light-emitting diodes) have replaced the fluorescent backlights used in older flat-screen LCD sets. LCDs aren’t perfect in blocking light (which is why so many early models had poor black levels), but if you can shut off or dim the LEDs on demand, the LCDs’ light-blocking chores become far more efficient. And LEDs can do this; they can be shut off and turned back on almost instantaneously in reaction to the signal coming in.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 18, 2012 2 comments
2D Performance
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Price: $2,000 At A Glance: Wide, wide image on wide, wide movies • Outstanding detail and good color • Bright, punchy 3D • Minor issues need sorting out

It was just a year or so ago when I first noticed that most of the movies I looked forward to experiencing on my home theater projection system were ’Scope films—productions with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 or 2.40:1. Comedies, documentaries, art-house fare, and virtually all HD broadcasts are mainly limited to 1.85:1, 1.78:1 (16:9), or 1.66:1 (European widescreen). Classic films, of course, are 4:3.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 28, 2012 4 comments

2D Performance
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Price: $2,600 At A Glance: Deep, uniform blacks • Superb out-of-the-box color and crisp detail • Head-tilt 3D crosstalk

The most popular, current approach to designing an LCD HDTV with LED lighting is to position the LEDs around the periphery of the screen and rely on diffusors to spread the light out uniformly. Sometimes (but not always) the brightness of the LEDs is also altered dynamically to help the LCD pixels create deep blacks, where needed.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 28, 2012 1 comments
2D Performance
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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: Aug 23, 2012 2 comments
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Price: $11,000 At A Glance: Big, beautiful picture • Excellent setup controls • Serious 3D crosstalk

Editor's Note: It's with great pleasure that Home Theater brings you this exclusive first review of Sharp's new ground-breaking LC-90LE745U HDTV. With this 90-inch set, the first at its size truly intended for mass production, Sharp begins the era of projection-size flat panels suitable for any light environment. While the $10,000 (street) ticket price still exceeds the cost of a high quality 2D/3D projector and screen, as a sign of what's to come, it is a significant introduction. And, as you'll read in Tom Norton's detailed review, not a bad TV. - Rob Sabin

Ninety inches diagonal is not all that big as projection screens go. But Sharp’s new LC-90LE745U, at that same 90 inches, is immense by flat panel standards. With more than twice the screen area of a 65inch set, it has little flat panel competition for its size, and none at all for its combination of size and cost. Panasonic has an 85inch plasma, for example, that will set you back nearly twice as much. LG showed a 4K 80-inch LCD set at last January’s CES, but exact pricing and availability is still undetermined. Mitsubishi offers a 92-inch rear-projection set at some remarkable street prices (around $3,000), but its massive 194 pounds and 25-inch depth (225 pounds and 32 inches in its shipping carton) might be just a little intimidating.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 09, 2012 7 comments
3D Performance
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Price: $2,530 At A Glance: Crisp resolution and superb color • Full control and calibration features • White uniformity could be better

With all the talk about LCD this and LED that, and the buzz about upcoming OLED sets that are expected to set the video world on fire (a very pricey fire, at least to begin with), plasmas are still very much with us. Samsung remains one of the technology’s biggest supporters, although LCD sets remain its bread and butter.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 03, 2012 10 comments

3D Performance
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Price: $3,700 At A Glance: Bright, punchy picture • Blacks and shadow detail approaching reference quality • Near-complete adjustability

Panasonic has improved its plasma sets each year, and while that march forward has generated torturous verbiage to describe its continually improving plasma HDTV black levels (Infinite Black, Infinite Black Pro, Infinite Black Ultra, and, perhaps next year, Infinite Black Pro Ultra), the company has kept pushing the design envelope. And it has done so even as flat panel prices continue to drop. A 65-inch plasma for $3,700 would have been considered an impossible dream just a few years ago when the goal was to get prices down to $100 per diagonal inch.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 14, 2012 6 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
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Price: $1,700 At A Glance: Superb resolution • Vivid yet natural color • Solid black level and shadow detail • Outstanding value

HDTV manufacturers’ fortunes have been in a perpetual state of flux for years. With prices continually dropping, profit margins are slim. While the TV makers haven’t quite yet adopted a business plan that calls for losing money on each sale, there isn’t much further they can go without them paying you to take the set home. Just kidding, of course. But apart from the dicey economy (or perhaps because of it?), this is a golden age for the consumer to buy a great HDTV for not a lot of cash.

Scott Wilkinson Posted: Feb 14, 2012 3 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
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Ergonomics
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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.

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