HD Guru Picks The 10 Best HDTVs You Can Buy

November 22nd, 2009 · 27 Comments · LCD Flat Panel, LED LCD Flat Panels, News, Plasma

By Gary Merson

Edited By Michael Fremer

(11/22/2009) Just in time for the holiday buying season, HD Guru lists, in no particular order, ten of the best performing HDTVs currently available.

Prices listed are the lowest we could find on-line at the time of publication and they are linked to HDGuru’s Pricegrabber website.  Last week, our friends at Gizmodo published 5 of the HD Guru’s Top 10 HDTV Picks (they are below as picks 6-10).

Panasonic V10

Panasonic V10

The V10 plasma series pack deep black levels, wide viewing angles, fine signal processing, a 96 Hz judder-free film mode for 24Hz sources (Blu-ray and limited satellite HD channels), along with nearly ideal color and gray scale set to THX mode. Throw in user adjustable Custom mode and VieraCast internet connectivity and you have a top HDTV. The V10 series is available in 50″, 54″ 58″ and 65″ screen sizes. The 50″ TC-P50V10 sells for under $1896 on our Pricegrabber website. Check out our full review of the 54″ here.

Panasonic G10

TC-P42G10_L_Angle_w_Stand_415

The G10 series uses the same high contrast Neo PDP plasma panel as the V10s in addition to providing top quality signal processing, a THX certified mode and Panasonic’s VieraCast internet widgets. The G10s provide very high brightness for daytime viewing in well lit rooms and an accurate THX certified mode for evening viewing. The G10s are the value leader plasma in our Top 10 lineup and are available in the 42″ 46″ 50″ and 54″ screen sizes. The 42″ TC-P42G10 is available on our Pricegrabber website starting at just $868. Check out our review here.

Panasonic L S1

Panasonic LCD S1

Panasonic’s exclusive Alpha-IPS LCD panel provides the widest viewing angle of any LCD display we’ve evaluated to date. This means you don’t have to sit perfectly on-center to have the best seat in the house.  Both L S1 models are HD 1080p (though you need to sit really close with any 1080p display below 42″ to notice the difference). The L S1s also features Panasonic’s “motion focus” technology for improved motion resolution. Both models include 3 HDMI and 1 component video input as well as a PC input for use as a monitor. The L S1 models are the 32″ TC-L32S1 priced from $528 and the 37″ TC-L37S1 priced from $649 at the HD Guru Pricegrabber website.

Samsung UNB8000

Samsung 8000

The 8000 series is our top pick edge-lit LED LCD. Samsung packs every feature it offers within this series including 240 Hz refresh rate, internet connectivity with Yahoo widgets and YouTube, as well as 4 HDMI inputs, user controlled white balance and  custom frame interpolation. The 1.2 inch deep design features a two tone (black and clear edge) bezel. The 46″  version, one of the most energy efficient HDTVs we’ve ever tested, uses only 123 watts in “Standard” mode.  The 8000 is available in 46″ and 55″ screen sizes priced respectively from $1875 and $2537  at our HD Guru Pricegrabber website.

Mitsubishi Diamond 249

Mitsubishi Diamond 249

Hands down, these Mitsubishi HDTVs have the best sound quality of any flat panel we’ve reviewed, thanks to its exclusive Unisen 18 driver surround sound projection technology, which provides real Dolby 5 channel surround sound without any external speakers. Add a subwoofer for deep bass and you have a complete 5.1 channel home theater.  The 249 series features 18-bit video signal processing, a “super contrast” LCD panel, ISFccc calibration (for accurate HDTV color and gray scale) and internet connectivity featuring built-in VUDU 1080p movie streaming.  Mitsubishi wraps up the entire package with one of the thinnest bezels in the industry. The 249 series models are available in 46″ and 52″ screen sizes. The 46” Diamond LT-46249 sells for $2199. The LT-52249 is $2699

Panasonic Z1

Panasonic’s flagship HDTV is its thinnest 54-inch plasma HDTV ever, with only 1-inch depth. They did it by eliminating a third sheet of glass found in all other plasmas except Pioneer’s Kuro, and bonding the anti-reflective coating directly top glass. The Z1 employs SiBEAM’s 60GHz 1080p for wireless glitch-free images sent via the included transmitter/media box from up to 30 feet away. The Z1 has THX picture mode and a custom calibration mode, plus nice bonus features including VieraCast Internet connectivity for YouTube and Amazon VOD and an SD card reader for photos. The Z1 delivers amazing performance with full 1080 line motion resolution, accurate HD color, deep black levels and 96Hz for judder free movie viewing.

The sexiest HDTV of 2009, the TC-P54Z1 will set you back $4000.

Pioneer Kuro Signature

You know it’s been a weird year for TVs when not one but two of our top picks are no longer being manufactured, but are still being sold. Pioneer’s sweetest (and last) Kuro line is technically a monitor: There’s no tuner or audio. But the Signature models offer the deepest black of any high definition display on the market—without any white-letter-on-black-background halos occasionally seen on LED-based LCD TVs. The Signature models features hand selected parts, 2.5-in. depth, Custom Calibration, 72Hz refresh and control over the internet via its Ethernet connection. The Pioneer uses a single top sheet of glass to minimize internal reflections, with the anti-reflection coating bonded directly to the surface.

The Signature models are available at scattered retailers around the country in the 50-inch size (PRO-101FD) for about $3000 to $3500, and 60-inch size (PRO-141FD) for $4000 to $4800.

Samsung UNB8500

The 8500 series is Samsung flagship LED LCD TV. It feature packed with thin 1.6-inch depth, white LED local dimming backlights for improved uniformity, dual-chip 240 Hz plus a scanning backlight for excellent motion resolution and the best black level of any LED LCD observed to date. The 8500 features four HDMI inputs plus internet connectivity with Flickr, YouTube, weather, news and other widgets. It also has a PV+C input for connection to your computer or HTPC. This is a benchmark LED LCD to judge against every other make and model.

All this performance comes at a price. The LNB8500 series comes in 46-inch (UN46B8500) and 55-inch (UN55B8500) screen sizes, currently on Amazon for $2620 and $4020, respectively.

LG LH90

This LG has all the hot LCD performance features video freaks crave, including white LED dimming backlights for excellent black levels, wide viewing angle LCD IPS panel, accurate color, and 240Hz (120 refresh + scanning backlight) for excellent motion resolution. This LG also has all the tweaks anyone could ask for including ISF CCC mode for calibration, THX certification and LG’s “picture wizard” for user set-up without calibration discs or external test signals. The LG LH90 isn’t the thinnest LED LCD, but it more than makes up for it with its price.

The LG LH90 series is available in 42-, 47- and 55-inch screen sizes at street prices that are considerably lower than many competitors’ edge lit 120 Hz LED edge lit models. The 42LH90 is online for $1200 to $1500; the 47LH90 sells in the $1700 range; and the 55LH90 goes for $2200 to $2800. In case you couldn’t tell, the LG LH90 series is the value/performance leader of the pack.

Sony XBR8

A comparable model never replaced Sony’s 2008 flagship model in 2009. It is the only HDTV available with separate red, green and blue LED backlights (rather than all white), with local dimming for deep black levels. Though slightly thicker than other TVs in its class, the XBR8 has accurate HDTV color, enough brightness for a beach house, a non-glossy anti-glare screen coating (rare for 2009), 120Hz refresh rate and Sony’s Bravia Engine 2 signal processing.

You can still find the XBR8s—we spotted the 46-inch KDL-46XBR8 for under $2200 and the 55-inch KDL-55XBR8 for under $4000.

To learn more about choosing an HDTV please click the highlighted link.

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Copyright ©2009 HD Guru Inc.  All rights reserved.  HDGURU is a registered trademark.  The content and photos within may not be distributed electronically or copied mechanically without specific written permission.  The content within is based upon information provided to the editor, which is believed to be reliable.  Data within is subject to change.  HD GURU is not responsible for errors or omissions.

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27 Comments so far ↓

  • sony

    Reproduces the deepest black levels of any LCD we’ve tested, very accurate primary color points and grayscale tracking, best-in-class bright room viewing characteristics of the scads of video processing options including superior ability dejudder; numerous picture controls, large additional inputs including four HDMI and PC, an optional speaker of a different color, a unique, low energy consumption.

  • puriny

    Knowledgeable guy at Best Buy told me not to get the 240hz as the human brain can’t recognize anything over 120hz, and not to get 3D now as it looks like a cheesy pop-up book and to wait a couple of years for the 3D technology to develop.

  • Doug Ray

    I’ve read the numerous UK and US reviews over the last year. 50inch Samsung B850 vs Panasonic V10 vs LG PS80xx side by side, same DVD feed in-store. They all have a good picture such that I doubt the differences will be noticable at home post-purchase. And the picture is the thing – not the web gadgets, etc. Panasonic leads the pack with judderless motion control in panning shots – end of story – the others are very noticable and once my partner and I saw it’s absence in the Panny we wouldn’t buy another brand. Can’t afford one though at 3600NZD (LG is 1000NZD cheaper so you get what you pay for; Samsung is 4000NZD go figure: they are overcharging).

  • UN55B8000 Outlet

    Agree with UN55B8000, picture quality 9 of 10 IMHO, pretty cool actually. Yes, there is some color variation in corners of screen (light pumping) minor.

  • glenn basel

    I have the panasonic v10 as well as the samsung PN50b860 plasma. Though the sound quality is better on the V10 than on the samsung. the Samsung plasma especially the versions built after Nov 2009 are unmatched. The black levels, color reproduction and network connectivity are AWESOME. In my opinion it is the best hdtv for late 2009. I have a feeling the prices will go up from rock bottom since the buzzing issues have been reduced.

  • Phil

    What about the LaserVue L65-A90. Is it already to old to consider for the coming 3D era. Is it a set one could still consider, or is it already behind? Would you still recommend buying this set?

  • Rick

    Hi, I’ve been looking into buying a new TV and from the reviews I’m sold on the Panasonic G10 as you and other review sites have given it stellar ratings and scores. But the other day I was in sears and decided I would take a look at their showroom model of the G10 (can’t buy yet still saving up). But I was kind of shocked that the picture didn’t look all to good at all. and the smaller LG LCD TV next to it for a 300 or 400 less seemed to blow it away picture wise. Could something have been wrong with that floor model. It exhibited a lot of artifacting on the during the demo movie. and obvious motion blur. Should I not trust that floor model?
    Thanks for any help.

    Rick

    There are many reasons why the Panasonic did not look good, the in store signal being the most likely culprit. I assure you the G10 has fantastic picture and artifacting is NOT seen on by a properly operating unit with a normal signal feed.

    HD Guru

  • Jag

    Hi:

    Read your list of 10 best HD TVs. Now please tell me which one is reasonably priced & best from performance & trouble free service record. I’m leaning toward LG 55LH90. Please help me in my decision. I’ll appreciate a fast response via email

  • Audioguy

    Spoken like someone who paid way too much for a television set.

  • Jazenka

    A good list of some middling higher end sets, however I think from perusing the comments, and since 98% of the population does not know the difference between spectacular, the K-Mart special and the “only found at Wal-Mart” chaff , that a review strictly based on “cheap” and underwhelming would suffice.

  • penyos

    wait a min……Sony XBR8(old enough, but not cheap), why not XBR9 or go with better model like XBR10!?

  • leonard

    sales staff say the panasonic v10 will be discontinued in march of 2010,this set just came out.whats up ,should i be concerned?will there be a large price drop?

  • Brian

    Phil G, have to disagree with you on the daytime viewing of G10. I have my G10 set to either Normal or THX and can view during daytime no problem with blinds down. I have 2 very large windows in the room and though none of the windows is directly opposite the TV (which is a problem for ANY TV, i have it in a very bright room and am not uncomfortable AT ALL watching it during daytime. I’ve found the G10 to be a superior TV in almost every way. Reflectivity is no problem, brightness is no problem, IR is no problem and burn in is a myth in today’s plasmas.

    Good list by HD Guru…as someone else said, this is not a review, but a list of top performing HDTVs. Go to the review page to find reviews for the TVs. Don’t be hurt if your TV did not make this list, if you are happy with your set, then why fuss???

  • Jim Davis

    I appreciate the information imparted here- very useful and informative… but what I REALLY would LOVE to see is a test of my Sony KD34XBR960 against the ‘best and brightest’ of today. That is the question that comes to me every time I set foot in an electronics store these days- Are these sets achieving the same level of quality picture built into that last ultimate high-def tube? I’d love to know if we’re there yet.
    Thanks.

  • Gerorge McDonald

    HD Guru,

    What abbout the Panisonic 32″ 720p … TC-32c12
    In the sale add for K-Mart @ $379.99 ???

    Best Regards,

    George

  • Phil G.

    Above you said, “The [Panasonic] G10s provide very high brightness for daytime viewing in well lit rooms…”. That depends on the Pic Mode selected. If you don’t mind the pumped up, inaccurate VIVID mode, the brightness may suffice. But set to a more realistic mode (say, THX), the picture washes out with anything but low-level room lighting (source: HT magazine).
    Also, the current LED-lit Samsungs’ model numbers begin with a ‘U’, not an ‘L’ (e.g., UN46B8500).

  • Wall tiles

    I spent a pretty penny on it. Got it replaced for same model, had same problem. Technician came out for each one and said he wouldn’t stand for it either. I went with samsung LCD b750 (same specs as lnb 8500, just not LED) and love it

  • matt

    im torn between the samsung 8500 or the Sony xbr8, Which do you guys prefer and why?

  • Dave

    The LaserVue doesn’t even get an honorable mention? I would have thought from an earlier review that it would have made it into the top ten list.

  • Mike

    Gary-

    As a prospective buyer, I’m curious to know why you listed the G10 as the value leader in its class as opposed the S1? From my (somewhat basic) research, it appears that the S1 provides the same panel and most of the same bells and whistles. Am I underestimating the value of the additional knobs that I could twiddle? Would your average, everyday viewer see much difference?

    -Thanks

  • glennc

    people this is not a review but a top ten list. if it was a review it would have everything you are asking but it aint a review. nor is it a complete buyers guide.

  • pappi

    Where is the Samsung B650 LCD TV?

  • Nick

    I had the samsung lnb 8500 and was disappointed on my black screens… Apparently bc frame is so thin, the screws that hold frame together press against screen to create minor white spots. Many people don’t even notice unless they look for it, drove me buts since I spent a pretty penny on it. Got it replaced for same model, had same problem. Technician came out for each one and said he wouldn’t stand for it either. I went with samsung LCD b750 (same specs as lnb 8500, just not LED) and love it. Also have lg lh90 and feel it’s a great buy for the price…

  • Bob Stone

    While this may not be the most appropriate forum on this web site —it is long overdue that the HD Guru actually test for image retention on the top rated plasmas.

    Is it myth or fact? There has NOT been one hard core study by any independent reviewer!

  • Bob Stone

    The failure to review Samsung Plasmas is a clear oversight.

  • Tzedekh

    Still no mention of the Samsung B650 plasma series, especially compared with the Panasonic G10? The G10 has THX, more sizes, and better contrast/black levels, motion resolution (1080 vs. ~900), and reliability. The B650 purportedly has better color accuracy, one more HDMI port (4 vs. 3), better 24p support (96 Hz vs. 48 Hz — the latter being inexplicable given that it was reported last year to be flawed), better color and grayscale controls, and possibly better sound. The B650 seems also to be plagued by buzzing, a glitch in CinemaSmooth (the 96-Hz setting) that raises the black levels, and an audio sync problem with some Blu-ray players. Any opinion of the Samsung B650 series?

  • Bob Stone

    A Sloppily Presented Top Ten list.

    I’m trying to imagine the confusion this list will cause and I think it will be considerable.

    For example, there is almost no mention of viewing angle (with one exception). How many readers will know that plasmas have great off-axis viewing and that most LCDs do not?

    There are no links to the individual reviews.

    There is no clear cut discussion of anti-glare properties or suitablity for brighter rooms.

    I love the HD Guru but he sorely needs an editor and even more impotantly — a web site designer.

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