When I first checked out one of Mitsubishi's Unisen "Immersive Sound" LCD TVs (the LT-46153, reviewed here), I was struck by the ingenuity of mounting a full-featured soundbar into the set's cabinet. And when I eventually connected a subwoofer to the TV, powered it up, and let a movie rip, I was floored by the room-filling sound - something you don't expect from a flat-panel model.
Two years ago, I found myself listening to Monitor Audio’s flagship Platinum Series towers in the company’s CES demo room and thinking, Who drops 10 grand on a pair of speakers, no matter how good they sound?
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.
Along with Samsung, Panasonic has been pushing hard to bring 3D TV to both early adopters and regular folks who happened to catch Avatar, Alice in Wonderland, Toy Story 3, or one of the other recent 3D blockbusters at their local multiplex. But whereas Samsung is neutral when it comes to displays, offering 3D TVs in LCD and plasma flavors, 3D for Panasonic is all about plasma. The company’s initial VT20 Series sets were made available exclusively through Best Buy.
Last year's lineup of Pioneer Kuro plasmas established a new benchmark for flat-panel HDTV performance, with the sets serving up deep-black backgrounds that were unlike anything we'd seen on a plasma or LCD model before - or since (See the review of the PRO-110FD in
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.
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.
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.
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.