Panasonic UT50

Sizes go up, prices fall. These are the two hallmark rules of the TV land. Just a few years ago, $800 couldn’t buy you a screen much larger than a postage stamp. Now, they can get you 50 inches or more.

So what would we pick, if we had $800 to spend? Read on to find out.

1) Panasonic TC-P50UT50 50-inch 3D Plasma

Panasonic 50UT50

Price: $799
Why we like it: Panasonic has a long track record of making some of the best looking flat panels on the market. This mid-range plasma may not have the black level and contrast ratio of its upmarket brethren, but that doesn’t mean it’s a slouch. Excellent picture quality, none of the viewing angle issues of LCDs, and excellent motion resolution make this an excellent choice for just about every room.

2) Samsung PN51E450 50-inch Plasma

Samsung 51E450

Price: $550
Why we like it: A 50 (ok, 51) inch TV for under $600? Sign us up. It’s one of the cheapest 50-inch TVs around, yet still has great picture quality. The downsides? It’s not 1080p, with a resolution of 1,024 x 768, and only has 2 HDMI inputs. However, it’s one of the best TVs you can get for the price. There’s even a 43-inch version that’s under $450.

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3) Sony KDL-42EX440 42-inch LED LCD

Sony 42EX440

Price: $580
Why we like it: Sometimes, you just need the extreme light output potential of an LCD. Sony’s offering is 1080p and features LED edge-lighting. It doesn’t have the contrast ratio of the plasmas, but offers decent black levels and color.

4) Toshiba 46L5200U 46-inch LED LCD

Toshiba L5200

Price: $700
Why we like it: Color accuracy isn’t this TV’s strong suit, but it brightness and contrast are good compared to other LCDs in this range. Unlike most of its competitors, the 46L5200U is 120 Hz, which should help to minimize motion blur.

5) LG 42LM6200 42-inch 3D LED LCD

LG 42LM6200

Price: $750
Why we like it: The LM6200 from LG is the only passive 3D TV on our list. Passive 3D uses cheap, lightweight glasses (and this TV comes with 6 pairs of them), and doesn’t have the flicker possible with active 3D. However, you only get 1,920×540 per eye (there are pros and cons with each 3D method). The LM6200 also has a full suite of Smart TV features, and has an In-Plane Switching LCD panel for viewing angles almost as good as a plasma.



Geoff Morrison @TechWriterGeoff
Geoff’s book is now in paperback


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