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FLAT PANEL REVIEWS

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Al Griffin Posted: Dec 18, 2012 0 comments

When it comes to picture quality, LCD TVs ?with a full-array, “local dimming” LED backlight tend to outperform their edge-lit LED brethren by a not insubstantial margin. We’ve covered the particulars of LED backlight tech before, so I won’t get sidetracked in explaining it here, but the finer control afforded by a full-array design allows for improved contrast and, for the most part, better uniformity when displaying dark images. Sony was among the first TV makers to push full-array for LCD, and then mysteriously put the tech on hold. But it roared back in 2011 with the XBR-HX929 line, a series that pushed full-array to new heights. The newest such sets to arrive from Sony are the HX950 series, which started shipping in late 2012. Can they match, or even exceed, Sony’s vaunted HX929 TVs?

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: Aug 23, 2012 0 comments

There are two stories to tell about Samsung’s new E8000 line of plasma TVs. The first, and likely the more compelling one for S+V readers, is that the E8000 continues Samsung’s streak of putting out plasmas that meet videophile standards for color accuracy, contrast, and shadow detail. The second is that the E8000 is one of the company’s flagship “Smart TV” lines. This basically means that every Smart feature you can think of has been tossed in, including voice and gesture control, face recognition, Web browser, interactive fitness training — the list goes on.

Al Griffin Posted: Jun 05, 2012 0 comments

One argument made by naysayers when 3D TV first arrived was that the feature would jack up prices for flat-panel sets. That did prove sort of true at first, but 3D was quickly folded into the general feature package for most TVs, leaving set prices to continue their downward trajectory. Case in point: Panasonic’s new TC-P55ST50. The first Panasonic 3D TV I reviewed 2 years back had a 50-inch screen and cost $2,600. But the company’s new P55ST50 3D plasma has a larger, 55-inch screen and costs around $1,600. Depending on how the rest of this review plays out, that could mean we have a serious bargain on our hands.

Al Griffin Posted: Dec 28, 2011 0 comments

Much of the R&D effort for Panasonic’s TVs gets funneled into plasma technology — with excellent results. (Check out the TC-P55VT30 in our Editors’ Choice Awards here.) But as we found out this time last year upon reviewing the company’s TC-L42D2, it also makes sets of the LCD persuasion. Quite a few of them, in fact.

Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Sep 20, 2011 0 comments

For a time, there was Kuro, and Kuro was king. Kuro made other TVs envious of its awesomeness. Then. . . there was no Kuro. TV reviewers wept; everyone else bought LCDs. Under-intelligenced “pundits” foretold the end of plasma TVs — but Panasonic, Samsung, and LG quietly coughed and politely said, “Umm, we still make plasmas.”

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.

Al Griffin Posted: Oct 16, 2012 0 comments

For a company whose supposed emphasis is LCD TV manufacturing, LG sure makes some good plasmas. Its 50PZ950, which we reviewed in the September 2011 issue, earned a Certified & Recommended stamp, both for its accurate, eminently tweakable picture and for its innovative Magic Motion remote-controlled “Smart” GUI. New for 2012 is the 50PM9700, which follows in its predecessor’s footsteps by being THX 3D-certified, Smart, and also Magic Motion remote-controlled. There are a number of other differences between the two models, but here’s one that immediately stands out: At $1,299, the 50PM9700 sells for about $300 less than the 50PZ950.

Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Sep 18, 2012 0 comments

Every year Panasonic’s flagship plasmas up the performance bar another (albeit small) notch, and the bar is now set very high. Plus, the TCP55VT50 has all the bells and beeps you’d expect from a top-of-the-line HDTV in 2012, including 3D (in active guise), smart TV streaming, a Web browser, optional 96-Hz refresh, and even a fancy touchpad remote.

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.

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.

Al Griffin Posted: Sep 20, 2011 0 comments

While Panasonic plasmas traditionally excel on the picture-quality front, they’ve lagged a bit behind other flat-panel TVs when it comes to style. Take last year’s VT25 series. The picture on those sets was hard to fault (the 50-incher we reviewed won our 2010 Video Product of the Year award), but when positioned alongside new, ultra-slim plasmas from companies like Samsung, the Panasonic’s 3-inch panel depth and thick gloss-black bezel rendered it caveman-like by comparison.

Al Griffin Posted: Mar 07, 2013 0 comments

To hear Sony tell it, the future will be in 4K. This stance comes as no surprise: The company’s 4K-rez digital cinema projectors have been installed in over 13,000 theaters, and at least 75 Sony-produced titles have either been shot with 4K digital cameras, or transferred to the higher-rez format from film. And Sony isn’t just pushing 4K for theaters — it wants viewers to experience it at home. 

Al Griffin Posted: Jul 13, 2011 0 comments

At 3D theaters, you’re handed lightweight passive glasses that work in tandem with a polarizing filter positioned over the projector’s lens. When viewing at home with a 3D TV, you use bulky, battery-powered glasses with active shutter liquid-crystal lenses. Passive glasses in theaters are cheap and easily replaced. But at an average cost of $100 per pair, glasses used at home represent a sizable investment. Better to put them in a safe place — and keep ’em away from kids!

Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Nov 20, 2012 0 comments

There are those for whom a plasma TV won’t do. Maybe they’ve only seen plasma TVs in the store and think that LCDs look better. Maybe they have ?a really bright room. Sales numbers show that the majority of consumers choose LCDs.

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