4K TV REVIEWS

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Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 17, 2018  |  3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive HDR brightness
Excellent black level and shadow detail
Superior off-center viewing angle for LCD
Minus
Some backlight blooming artifacts
Unimpressive built-in sound

THE VERDICT
Sony’s Master Series Z9F LCD makes a strong claim for top-dog status in today’s Ultra HDTV market. It produces superb images, with enhanced off-center viewing so all guests will be happy at your next Super Bowl party.

In mid-2016, Sony launched a new flagship LCD design, the XBR-Z9D. The series incorporated Backlight Master Drive, a local dimming technology that was a big step forward in realizing the peak brightness potential of high dynamic range (HDR). The Z9D series has remained at the top of Sony’s TV lineup for two years—an eternity for UHDTV technology. But it now shares space with the new XBR-Z9F Master Series LCD models, which are available in 65- and 75-inch sizes, along with the company’s new A9F Master Series OLED TVs.

Al Griffin  |  Aug 02, 2018  |  2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,799

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent color rendition
Deep, detailed-looking blacks
Full-array backlight with local dimming
Minus
Potentially confusing screen GUI and remote
Unreliable voice command feature
No Dolby Vision

THE VERDICT
Quantum dots in Samsung’s near-top-of-line QLED TV allow it to deliver exceptionally rich color. Add in a full-array backlight with local dimming and the QN65Q8FN amounts to a winning proposition from a picture quality standpoint.

Samsung’s QLED—not to be confused with OLED—UHDTVs are the company’s top-of-the-line models. In case you’re wondering, that Q in QLED stands for quantum dot, a backlight technology that provides a more precise method to generate the red, green, and blue light that creates a video image than the process typically used for LCD displays. How does it happen? In a Samsung QLED TV, a blue LED backlight generates the blue component of the image and also stimulates a layer of nanocrystal dots sized to emit a specific wavelength of light —red and green in this case—when energized.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 26, 2018  |  9 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,499

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Deep black levels
Extremely wide viewing angle
Supports Dolby Vision and HLG
Minus
Expensive compared to same-size LCD UHDTVs
Lower peak brightness than LCD UHDTVs

THE VERDICT
This new C8 series set exceeds the performance of LG’s previous OLED models, making it the best OLED TV from the company I’ve yet tested. Its price is also significantly lower than last year’s C7, which means more buyers can now bring home an LG OLED instead of dreaming about one.

The picture quality improvements in LG’s 2018 OLED Ultra HDTVs aren’t a dramatic upgrade over the company’s already superb 2017 sets, but they are accompanied by a new Alpha 9 processor, an autocalibration option, and a few new and updated features. LG has gathered all of these capabilities under the “LG ThinQ AI” rubric. While the AI (Artificial Intelligence) claim may be a bit overstated, that’s where the market is going and LG is not alone in it. I wonder if adding a blinding blizzard of do-everything geegaws makes the screen interface too complex for the average user who simply wants to turn on his or her TV and watch a movie.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jul 19, 2018  |  4 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,300

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent shadow detail
Superb color and resolution
Punchy HDR
Minus
Mediocre off-axis performance
Some blooming

THE VERDICT
The new Sony XBR-65X900F is no OLED-killer, but it offers OLED-like benefits at a reasonable price.

OLED ULTRA HDTVS grab most of today’s headlines. And although prices for OLED sets have dropped dramatically over the last year, they still command a high premium. Even flagship LCD sets— Sony’s Z9D line, for example—remain beyond the price reach of many consumers. Sony’s new X900F LCD TVs, which are available in screen sizes all the way up to 85 inches, provide a more reasonable alternative. Choose the 65-inch X900F under review here and you’ll leave the store with a far smaller dent on your credit line than you would when buying an OLED or a flagship LCD.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Dec 04, 2017  |  3 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,599

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Friendly ergonomics
Slick remote control
Attractive price
Minus
Poor HDR peak luminance
Weak black level and contrast

THE VERDICT
Hisense’s premier 65-inch TV offers a respectable visual experience, solid ergonomics, and surprisingly good sound, but it has a few nagging video shortcomings.

Chinese TV maker Hisense has chosen the designation ULED for their 2017 Ultra HDTVs. Like most other modern sets, however (apart from OLED TVs), these are still LCD sets; the LEDs merely provide the necessary backlighting. While Hisense’s larger TVs (the 75H9D Plus and the flagship 70- and 75-inch H10D models) offer full-array local dimming (FALD), the 65-inch 65H9D Plus reviewed here is LED edge-lit. While for some consumers its $1,599 MSRP makes it look a little expensive, its discounted street price with major online retailers (as of late October) puts it well under $1,500 and makes it price-friendly—especially when compared with the flagship TVs I’ve reviewed recently.

Al Griffin  |  Nov 28, 2017  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $2,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Extensive streaming options
Strong contrast with full-array local dimming
Accurate out-of-box color
Minus
Average LCD off-axis picture uniformity
HDR highlights a notch below the top TVs
Android TV interface can be confusing

THE VERDICT
The impressive performance delivered by Sony’s midrange UHDTV makes it a compelling choice for budget buyers upgrading to HDR.

Here’s the top Sony TV news for 2017: The company started selling its first big-screen OLED models. With an elegant “One Slate” design and an ability to emit sound from actuators positioned directly behind the glass screen, Sony’s A1E line (November 2017 and soundandvision.com) is destined to give LG’s OLEDs some competition. But when you consider that a 65-inch model costs about $4,000 after discounts, the Sony OLEDs are pricey. Fortunately, there are plenty of other Sony Ultra HDTVs to choose from, including the midrange X900E series, which lists for $2,000 for the 65-inch model and will run you about $1,800 on the street.

Al Griffin  |  Nov 09, 2017  |  2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,100

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Effective peak brightness with HDR sources
Can display extended color
Good overall picture uniformity and upscaling
Minus
Mild artifacts from local-dimming backlight
No off-air tuner
Only one HDMI 2.0a input

THE VERDICT
Vizio’s new M Series set offers substantial performance improvements over last year’s model and does so at an even lower price.

Ultra HDTVs that support the display of programs with high dynamic range, also known as HDR, have quickly become the norm. If you’re out and about shopping for a new set, there’s a good chance that you’ll be taking home one of these TVs. Of course, the benefit to a state-of-the-art feature like HDR becoming standard is that prices for sets that include it will drop. How low? How about $1,100? That’s what Vizio charges for their 65-inch M65-E0 LCD Ultra HDTV.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Oct 13, 2017  |  4 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $5,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent contrast
Superb color and resolution
Looks good from every angle
Unique panel-based sound system
Minus
No color management system
Some white clipping

THE VERDICT
While it might appear that OLED UHDTVs are popping up everywhere, the most visible supplier to date has been LG. But Sony, by acquiring OLED panels from LG and adding its own electronics, processing, styling, and unique features, has jumped into the fray, landing firmly on both feet with a solid performer.

Sony’s new OLEDs (the 65-incher reviewed here has a 55-inch sibling, and a 77-incher will be available by press time) haven’t yet taken pride of place at the top of Sony’s TV lineup. That honor belongs to the Z9D (Sound & Vision, January 2017 and soundandvision.com), now spruced up with the imminent addition (as I write) of Dolby Vision for 2017. But you might think of the OLEDs as stepping stones to Sony’s future in self-emissive displays—the spectacular, commercially oriented, and wall-sized CLEDIS LED display Sony demonstrated at the 2017 CES comes to mind. But that’s the future. Sony’s OLEDs are now. As of today, Sony’s OLED implementation uses a panel supplied by LG (but with Sony’s own secret processing sauce). At its press-time street price of about $4,000 in the 65-inch version, it was roughly comparable, if not a touch less expensive, than LG’s own like-sized C7P model.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 24, 2017  |  4 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $6,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Bright and punchy HDR
Excellent resolution
Stunning color
Minus
No Dolby Vision
Edge-lit instead of full-array backlight dimming

THE VERDICT
Samsung’s new top-of-the-line QLED flagship brings first-rate brightness, brilliant color, and crisp resolution to the Ultra HD party, but enthusiasts might notice its lack of a full-array, local dimming backlight.

Now that we’re awash in high dynamic range (HDR) material on Ultra HD Blu-ray, Samsung is determined to make the most of it with two new TVs, the 65-inch QN65Q9 reviewed here and the 75-inch QN75Q9 for buyers who prefer a bigger (and, at $10,000, pricier) set. Each has a screen that’s flat, not curved.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jun 30, 2017  |  6 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $5,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
It’s all about the black
Wide viewing angle
Supports both HDR10 and Dolby Vision
Minus
Pricey

THE VERDICT
Last year’s OLED sets from LG were so impressive that, apart from their peak white capabilities (an ongoing shortcoming relative to LCD designs), it was hard to see a road ahead for improvements. But LG has found that road, and while the upgrades might prove subtle to most viewers, videophiles will welcome them.

LG’s 2017 OLED offerings fall into five model groups, with the OLED65E7P positioned roughly in the middle. At $5,000, it’s hardly a Black Friday special, but it’s significantly cheaper than the near-paper-thin 65-inch flagship OLED65W7P (reviewed in our June issue), which commands $8,000.

Thomas J. Norton  |  May 17, 2017  |  1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $8,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Jaw-dropping black level and contrast
Wide viewing angle
Thin, thin, thin. And light
Minus
Expensive
Must be wall-mounted

THE VERDICT
We could argue with the mandatory inclusion of an outboard soundbar, the lack of a stand-mount option, and a lower (but still perfectly satisfactory) peak brightness for HDR than the best of the LCD competition provides. But it’s hard to imagine that any other 65-inch Ultra HDTV in 2017 will offer overall superior performance, or a more impressive aesthetic, than the best LCD competition.

Dateline: March 2017. Along with several other bit-drenched members of the audio/video press, we’ve been brought to San Francisco for a day with LG. The events will include a briefing on the company’s Ultra HDTV lineup for 2017, a visit to Dolby headquarters for the latest pitch on Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR), and several hours of hands-on experience with the 65-inch OLED65W7P, the smaller of the two new 2017 OLED models in LG’s flagship Signature series. (A 77-inch version should be available later this year; no price had been announced as we went to press, but if that’s your ticket, bring money.)

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jan 11, 2017  |  8 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $4,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Outstanding blacks and shadow detail
Nearly flawless off-center viewing
Attractive price (for OLED)
Minus
Still expensive

THE VERDICT
Yes, LG’s OLED UHDTVs do have shortcomings, including their inability to get as bright as the best LCD sets. But OLED’s significant advantages more than compensate and have made these TVs, including the superb OLED65E6P, the new golden goose in the Ultra HD landscape.

I vividly remember plasma displays, and I mourned their passing. But even before 4K came along, LCD TVs—with their brighter images, lighter weight, lower energy consumption, and, toward the end, cheaper prices—were putting a full-court press on plasma technology.

Al Griffin  |  Dec 27, 2016  |  2 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $3,200

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Inexpensive (with discounting) for a 75-incher
HDR compatible
Accurate and extended color
Minus
Limited contrast
Backlight artifacts
Highlights in HDR programs lack detail

THE VERDICT
Sharp’s heavily discounted 75-inch TV offers accurate color and decent HDR performance, but its best feature is its big screen at an affordable price.

The arrival of a hulking 75-inch Ultra HDTV on your doorstep would be something you’d ideally want to coincide with a worthy media spectacle—the Super Bowl, for instance. In my case, however, the delivery of the Sharp Aquos LC-75N8000U synced up perfectly with the broadcast of the first Presidential debate. Lucky me: I got to witness what perhaps were the two most unpopular candidates in history assail each other’s character at near-life-size.

Rob Sabin  |  Dec 22, 2016  |  0 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,700

AT A GLANCE
Plus
HDR10 plus Dolby Vision HDR
Great color
Wide viewing window
Minus
Middling black levels
Backlight artifacts

THE VERDICT
LG’s midpriced 65UH8500 delivers good image quality with a super-wide viewing window, and it’s one of the few sets around that plays both predominant types of HDR content.

A year ago, I tested the LG 65UF9500, an LCD Ultra HDTV that retailed for $2,999, and I criticized it for offering no future-readiness for soon-to-emerge high dynamic range (HDR) content. Since then, Ultra HD Blu-ray has come to market, bringing HDR along with it, and there’s a growing library of HDR movies available for streaming. To LG’s credit, their line of so-called Super UHD LCD TVs for this holiday season, including the midline 65-inch 65UH8500 tested here ($1,700), recognizes both predominant types of HDR—namely, HDR10 (used currently on Ultra HD Blu-rays) and Dolby Vision (still only available via web streams). LG is one of only two TV makers to support both formats on a single chassis (in both their LCD and OLED models), the other being Vizio, which updated their Dolby Vision sets for HDR10 in mid-2016. So how does this wellfeatured, attractively priced set perform? Let’s have a look.

Al Griffin  |  Nov 29, 2016  |  2 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,299

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive contrast and shadow detail
Handles both Dolby Vision and HDR10
Affordable price
Minus
Wi-Fi sync issue with included tablet remote
No extended-color-gamut capability
Some halo artifacts from local dimming backlight
Only one HDMI 2.0a input

THE VERDICT
Vizio’s budget-minded display handles both flavors of HDR and, a few quirks aside, delivers impressive performance.

When is a TV not a TV? When it’s an Ultra HD Home Theater Display. With the new M series, Vizio has chosen to shake up conventional expectations of what a TV should be and should do. One key change is that each M series set lacks a tuner to receive over-the-air digital TV broadcasts—hence, the company’s use of the term Home Theater Display. Another change is that Vizio has scrapped the typical full-featured IR remote control and replaced it with an Android tablet. Future-savvy or future shock? Read on and find out.

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