FLAT PANEL REVIEWS

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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Aug 08, 2011 9 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1300 At A Glance: Exceptional color and detail • Deep blacks • Non-uniformity clearly visible in letterbox bars and dark scenes • Smart TV functions well implemented

The Samsung UN46D6000 LED-edgelit LCD TV is among the best-selling flat panels from several retailers, and for good reason—it's a superb performer in almost every respect. Out of the box, it turned in the most accurate measurements of any TV I've ever reviewed (that is, after I selected the Movie picture mode), its color and detail are exquisite, its blacks are very deep, and the Smart TV online content looked better than I've seen from most displays. The only real fly in the ointment is the non-uniformity of illumination in dark scenes and letterbox bars, which is endemic of just about all LED-edgelit LCDs. But if you can get past that, the UN46D6000 is an exceptional value I would recommend to anyone looking for a flat panel on a budget.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 03, 2011 0 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,100 At A Glance: Bright, pleasing picture • Crisp detail • Poor contrast • Highly reflective screen

We’re reasonably certain that most folks looking for a budget HDTV probably aren’t poring through the pages of enthusiast publications like Home Theater for advice. If they’re researching at all, they’re studying the easy-to-digest bubble ratings in Consumer Reports or Which Video, or Googling generic consumer-help Websites.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 01, 2011 10 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,500 At A Glance: Crisp, detailed images • Odd gammas in Custom mode • Little to complain about • Exceptional value

Panasonic means plasma. Yes, the company now offers a line of LCD displays, but only in smaller sizes. If you want a 50-inch or larger Panasonic, it will be a plasma. And that's not a bad thing. The TC-P50ST30 is Panasonic's latest, budget-priced, 50-inch 3D model. Only a few short years ago, you couldn't touch this level of quality in a 2D-only flat panel for five times the price—or more.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 01, 2011 4 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $2,800 At A Glance: Accurate color points • Odd gammas in Custom mode • THX certified • Best black level and shadow detail

Deciding among Panasonic's range of 3D plasma sets can be more than a little intimidating. But it's a Sunday stroll through the park compared to choosing from the bewildering flood of 3D LCD flat panels that glut the market. And for buyers who want a bigger plasma, Panasonic's top-of-the-line VT30 range—including its smallest member, the 55-inch P55VT30 reviewed here—pushes the envelope in both performance and features.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 01, 2011 4 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,900 At A Glance: Good blacks and shadow detail • Odd gammas in Custom mode • THX certified • Uniformity and calibration issues

The GT30 line is the baby bear in Panasonic's range of 3D plasma HDTVs—not to expensive, not too bargain-basement, but, for many buyers, just right. And at 50 inches, one of today's most popular sizes, the P50GT30 lands right in the sweet spot. But does it offer more than Panasonic's entry-level ST30, perhaps even challenging the pricier VT30 lineup? We're here to find out.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 22, 2011 0 comments
Price: $3,600 At A Glance: Superb resolution • Precise color • Bright, ghost-free 3D • Non-uniform screen lighting

Thin, Dark, and Handsome

Thin was in last year, and the trend continues without an end in sight. Manufacturers aren’t likely to quit the race until they have HDTVs you can use for wallpaper.

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: Jun 23, 2011 0 comments
Price: $2,400 At A Glance: Solid 2D performance • 2D-to-3D conversion • Visible ghosting in 3D • Extensive Internet features

Order of LEDs on the Side

The movement to replace the traditional fluorescent (CCFL) backlighting for LCD displays with LEDs has become a flood. Sony’s 2011 lineup is dominated by LED-lit LCDs. While the line-topping XBR-HX929 sets have full-array LED backlighting with local dimming, the remainder position their LEDs just beyond the edges of the screen. Aside from lower power consumption compared with CCFL blacklights, LED backlights of either type offer another benefit: They can adjust rapidly in accordance with the changing signal. Edge-lit LED backlights have two primary advantages to manufacturers over the full-array approach that has made them the more widely used. One is lower cost; the other is the ability, at least in some HDTVs, to shrink the depth of the panel to something that seems to approach that of a credit card.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: May 19, 2011 0 comments
Price: $3,700 At A Glance: Excellent 2D performance • Excellent black level and shadow detail • Cheaper, lighter, passive 3D glasses

Vizio steps up with the first passive 3DTV, but will the world take it sitting down?

Since the advent of 3D for the home, the specter of pricey active shutter glasses that cost as much as $150 each has hung over the technology like a dark cloud. Many potential buyers are put off by the prospect of buying enough glasses to outfit the whole family, not to mention the houseful of friends who’ve come over to watch Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil in 3D. (Yes, Virginia, there is a Hoodwinked! sequel in the pipeline. Not many remember that the computer-animated Hoodwinked! was produced in 3D, probably because not many remember Hoodwinked! at all.)

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.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 16, 2011 2 comments
Price: $2,100 (3D glasses: $150/pair) At A Glance: THX certified for 2D • Accurate color and superb resolution • Near reference-level blacks and shadow detail

Deep Impact

Plasmas have gotten a bum rap in the market for all sorts of nutty reasons. They break when shaken? No, not unless you’re talking about dropping them off the delivery truck, or them falling off the wall in an 8.0 trembler. In either case, you can kiss any flat-panel set goodbye. They leak plasma gas and need to be recharged frequently? A big-box retailer reportedly started this rumor several years ago, apparently in an effort to sell a special power conditioner that was said to eliminate the need for regular plasma transfusions.

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: Jan 03, 2011 0 comments
Price: $3,600 At A Glance: Excellent color and resolution • 2D-to-3D conversion mode • Middling shadow detail and off-axis performance

LCD With a Side of LEDs

When I looked over Sony’s press release at the January 2010 CES, I was a bit confused. There are 10 different 3D sets in Sony’s current lineup. The XBR-LX900 line under review here includes 60- and 52-inch models with LED edge lighting, an integrated 3D sensor, and ships with two pairs of 3D glasses in the box. Other 3D HDTVs in Sony’s other lines include either full-array LED lighting with local dimming or Dynamic Edge LED edge lighting. Sony includes the 3D sensor and glasses with some sets, while they’re extra-cost options with others. Sony offers 3D HDTVs in screen sizes ranging from 40 to 60 inches, but not every 3D line offers all of them.

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.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 08, 2010 3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $2,200 At A Glance: Outstanding resolution • Accurate color • Superior off-axis performance

LED Goes Main Street

I’m a 3D fan to a point. But after a steady diet of four (or was it five) 3D flatpanel reviews in a row, the opportunity to take a brief vacation from those ubiquitous 3D glasses was a pleasure, even as three more 3D sets lay waiting in the wings for our probing eyes and meters. Vizio plans to release its own 3D sets soon, possibly even by the time you read this. But for now, the 2D XVT553SV is the company’s premier offering.

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