FLAT PANEL REVIEWS

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Thomas J. Norton  |  Jun 30, 2017  |  3 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.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Nov 15, 2016  |  9 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $5,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
State-of-the-art local dimming
Class-leading HDR brightness
Above average off-center viewing
Minus
Price

THE VERDICT
With the top manufacturers jostling for a view from the top of the Ultra HD pyramid, Sony has taken an express elevator and is racing fast for the checkered flag. But enough with the mixed metaphors. If this TV isn’t today’s best LCD UHD/HDR set (and perhaps the best of any type), it’s not for lack of trying. Sony has given us their best technology here, and it shows.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in January 2016, Sony demonstrated a prototype of a future LCD TV design incorporating what the company called Backlight Master Drive. We found it dazzling, as did most of the show-goers with whom we spoke. Nevertheless, we all looked at it as a “show car”—something that might appear in a store near you in a couple of years, if ever.

Al Griffin  |  Nov 02, 2016  |  1 comments
2D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $549

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Inexpensive
HDR compatible
Impressive contrast
Minus
Minor backlight artifacts
No extended color-space option
Flimsy stand

THE VERDICT
Hisense’s sensibly priced 50H8C does many things right, but buyers expecting an ultimate HDR experience will want to pass.

There’s been plenty of what tech marketing types call “disruption” in the TV industry over the past decade, with big-name Japanese brands like Mitsubishi, Hitachi, and Toshiba bowing out and Chinese companies like TCL and Hisense stepping in. While TCL has gained recognition as a maker of Roku TVs that span a range of screen sizes, it’s still a bit early in the game for us to get a sense of what Hisense is all about. What’s clear so far is that the company is producing sets with upscale features like 4K Ultra HD resolution and high dynamic range, at disruptively affordable prices. Case in point: the new 50H8C, an HDR-compatible 50-inch UHDTV that sells for a mere $549.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Sep 07, 2016  |  9 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $4,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent blacks and shadow detail
First-rate resolution
Compelling high dynamic range
Minus
HDR limited to HDR10
No 3D

THE VERDICT
In some important respects, Samsung’s new top-of-the-line TV improves upon the company’s previous flagship, and at a lower price.

When we last reviewed one of Samsung’s so-called SUHD sets, Ultra HD with high dynamic range (HDR) was not yet available on Blu-ray. But the arrival of such discs—together with UHD Bluray players like Samsung’s own UBD-K8500—has changed the game.

The 4K resolution of Ultra HD sets is all well and good, but HDR is the most eye-popping feature of UHD. Not all 4K sets, however, incorporate HDR, and those that do don’t necessarily perform at the same level. HDR still can’t be done well cheaply; at present, the displays that do it best are their respective makers’ premier offerings. The Samsung KS9800 series definitely belongs in that company—and among the three models within that family, the 65-incher we’re discussing here is the smallest.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Aug 03, 2016  |  2 comments

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

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Impressive edge-lit local dimming
Respectable off-axis viewing
Bright, punchy HDR
Minus
Often redundant menus
Tight remote control layout

THE VERDICT
Full-array local dimming remains the gold standard for LCD Ultra HDTVs, but Sony has now upped the ante with the best edge-lit set we’ve seen.

The last time I reviewed one of Sony’s 4K sets, it had large speaker enclosures attached permanently to the sides of the screen, with a separate “subwoofer” firing out the back. This made for an inconveniently wide design, and with the introduction of Sony’s new 2016 models, those audio “wings” are now history.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jun 15, 2016  |  6 comments

2D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $8,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent HDR in both Dolby Vision and HDR10
Blacks to die for
Solid off-center viewing
Minus
Expensive
Careful setup critical for best results
Menus tedious to navigate

THE VERDICT
Our brief time with LG’s flagship OLED for 2016 suggested it’s not perfect (what is?), but apart from the fact that LCD sets still go brighter than OLEDs, it’s unlikely that any other new HDR-equipped Ultra HDTV will be able to match or exceed the performance of this one.

While this article is structured as a Test Report, in fact it’s a good bit short of a full-fledged evaluation. The combination of the cost of LG’s flagship OLED and the limited supply of review samples in early April prompted the company to set up a couple of displays at a venue in New York City, then shuttle in groups of A/V journalists to lay hands on the set—so to speak.

Rob Sabin  |  Apr 05, 2016  |  3 comments
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,700

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Excellent color
Great screen uniformity
Artifact-free 1080p-to-UHD scaling
Minus
Poor black level and contrast
Meager streaming platform

THE VERDICT
Though it delivers solid entry-level performance, Panasonic’s CX400 faces more fully featured competition at its price.

Panasonic pulled big crowds at its CES booth in January with their CZ950 OLED, a 65-inch Ultra HD television that adds advanced processing to an LG-supplied OLED panel, with quite stunning results. Unfortunately, that set is only sold overseas for now (priced at €10,000 or about $11,000, no less), and it remains unclear when or if Panasonic will release it in the States.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Feb 23, 2016  |  8 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $6,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Blacks are truly black
Fine detail
Near-perfect off-axis viewing
Minus
Pricey
Annoying calibration menus

THE VERDICT
LG’s recent price adjustments have made the company’s OLED sets more approachable, though hardly cheap in the biggest-screen Ultra HD models. But in today’s market, you’re unlikely to find a UHDTV that offers better performance than this one.

While OLED (organic light-emitting diode) technology offers most of the benefits of the now sadly departed plasma sets (and in some ways, more benefits), it’s been difficult to manufacture at commercially viable prices. So far, only LG is actively marketing OLED in the U.S. (though we hope others will follow). A recent drop in LG’s prices for OLED sets has rendered them more affordable, though still far from generating “Attention, Shoppers” announcements at K-Mart.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Jan 26, 2016  |  9 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $6,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Full Ultra HD capability including HDR and wide color
Superb blacks and shadow detail
Integrated soundbar with subwoofer and surrounds
Minus
Expensive
HDR limited to Dolby Vision
Ineffective color management system (CMS)
2D only

THE VERDICT
Most current 4K sets deliver only the 4K slice of Ultra HD’s full pie. The RS65-B2 goes all the way, including 4K resolution, advanced color, and high dynamic range.

In a recent review of Vizio’s relatively affordable M65-C1 Ultra HDTV (soundandvision.com), I reflected on that company’s vision in having “sale prices low enough to attract millions of buyers.” But reality has a way of intruding on a dream, and a state-of-the-art Ultra HD set isn’t cheap to produce. With its new, two-model Reference Series (the 120-inch, RS120B3, which sells for $130,000, and the 65-incher under review here), the company now challenges the thin-aired peaks of cost-no-object sets previously dominated by older, more established brands. In fact, only selected dealers and some custom installers even carry the Reference Series.

Thomas J. Norton  |  Dec 23, 2015  |  1 comments
PRICE $130,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Bright!
Good blacks
Respectable out-of-box calibration
Minus
Clips above white and below black
No 3D
Expensive!

THE VERDICT
If you want a really big screen that’s more than bright enough for a well-lit room, and you have a bank account that’s flush enough (or a very understanding loan officer), this 120-inch Vizio incorporates all the bells and whistles.

In early October, Vizio invited me to New York City to join other digital-stained A/V scribes in the official launch of the company’s new Reference series Ultra HDTVs. The featured attraction was the RS120B3 ($130,000), loaded up with more than 8 million pixels on its 120-inch-diagonal (10-foot!) screen. The considerably more affordable, 65-inch RS65-B2 ($6,000) joined in the festivities.

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