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FLAT PANEL REVIEWS

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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 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: 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: 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.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Nov 02, 2010 1 comments
Price: $3,600 At A Glance: LED backlighting with local dimming • Excellent color, resolution, and contrast • 2D-to-3D conversion • Compromised off-axis performance

3D for You and LED Too

HDTV makers are launching new 3D sets as fast at they can design and build them, and Sony’s 3D plans are as ambitious as any. The company has four new lines of LED 3DTVs. The BRAVIA XBR52HX909, at 52 inches wide, and a 46-inch sister model are its top offerings in these sizes. These are the only Sony 3D sets with LED dynamic backlighting—or LED local dimming. Local dimming is the best technology yet developed to produce dark, rich blacks from an LCD set.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Oct 27, 2010 0 comments
Price: $2,700 At A Glance: Superb resolution • Accurate color • 2D-to-3D conversion mode • Solid blacks and contrast

3D Gets Big

It’s been over a year since we last reviewed a Samsung plasma. That’s no surprise. LCD displays now dominate the HDTV market to the tune of over 90 percent. In general, our reviews have followed that trend.

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: Jul 19, 2010 0 comments
toppick.jpgPrice: $2,600 At A Glance: Precise color gamut in THX mode • Near reference black level • Sparkling 3D—and 2D—performance

Walking the 3D Talk

You might think that reviewing—and reading about—one flat panel after another would get boring, if not downright numbing. And it would, if the technology were static. Fee-fie-ho-hum, a new flat panel joins the scrum.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 28, 2010 0 comments
toppick.jpgPrice: $1,500 At A Glance: Superb resolution • Accurate color in THX mode • Black level disappoints, but still solid • 2D only

Price and Performance

LCDs are now soaking up a larger and larger percentage of the market, and it’s been hard slogging for plasma displays. But that doesn’t faze Panasonic. As the sole remaining major Japanese plasma manufacturer, it offers a huge range of models. Yes, Panasonic also does LCDs, but only in smaller sizes. If you see a Panasonic HDTV that’s 46 inches or larger, it will be a plasma.

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