Our picks for this year are the best HDTVs are based on picture quality, overall design and features. On the list are two different series of plasmas (plus one honorable mention) and three LED LCDs. Four out of five earn their win based on overall picture quality for their respective technologies. Our fifth pick wins because of its immense size. Its the biggest consumer flat screen TV ever sold, making it a game changer as the industry continues to push the envelope for how we define a home theater.
On to the picks.
Plasma TVs have the best viewing angle and motion performance of any flat panel technology. We always recommend plasma over LED if the viewer can control sunlight during daytime viewing using ordinary window shades or curtains. This year’s plasmas are better than ever with thinner form factors, thinner screen bezels, faster phosphors, and higher energy efficiency.
Panasonic VT30 Series
We’re been doing an evaluation for this series and can report it has the best overall performance of any TV tested this year. The deep black resulted in an excellent contrast ratio, plus it sports the cleanest design for a plasma Panasonic (pictured above) has ever made.
This series has the most features of any TV Panasonic produces. It includes VIERA Connect, this feature has the major streaming movie services (Netflix, Amazon Instant, CinemaNow), plus news, sports, games, Skype and more. The VT30s offer 96Hz refresh rate with movies (2D) for judder free pans, Panasonic’s best plasma panel with one sheet design, single top glass, and its best anti-reflective filter. The VT30 also displays 3D in Full HD (1920×1080). The VT series is available in 55-inch and 65-inch screen sizes.
Samsung PN8000 Series
Samsung’s top-of-the-line PN8000 plasmas offer excellent 2D and 3D performance comparable to the Panasonic VT30 series, except for a black level that is about twice as bright but still quite dark. This Samsung series provides an Internet browser, which Panasonic the VT30 does not have. Major Internet services include Netflix, Amazon Instant, VUDU, Blockbuster, CinemaNow, Google maps, Yahoo Widgets and more. Like the Panasonic, this Samsung uses a top quality anti-reflective (AR) filter and 96Hz refresh rate for 2D movies.
The PN8000 series is available in the 51, 59, 64-inch screen sizes
Honorable mention goes to the PN7000 series, which has the same performance and AR filter at a lower price. The only omissions are the Internet browser, QWERTY keyboard remote and the ability to use Skype. The PN7000 models include 51, 59 and 64 inch screen sizes.
Elite by Sharp PROX5FD Series
A collaboration between Sharp and Pioneer, the PROX5FD LED LCDs provide excellent picture quality thanks to factory tuning, an excellent AR filter and a full local dimming backlight. The Elites are full-featured HDTVs with Internet streaming services as well a 3D capability. While not possessing the wide viewing angle of plasma, this series represents some of the best picture attributes, including accurate primary colors, deep black levels and very high brightness levels. Internet services include Netflix, CinemaNow, and Blockbuster. The PROXF5D series is available in 60 and 70-inch screen sizes.
Sony XBRHX929 Series
The Sony XBRHX929 is their top-of-the-line LED LCD series, featuring full-array backlight with local dimming, 480 Hz-effect refresh (240 Hz with scanning backlight), Internet streaming, 3D capability and more. These Sony’s are covered with a full sheet of super-strong Corning Gorilla Glass (link http://hdgurucom.wpengine.com/is-gorilla-glass-a-big-magilla/). Sony Internet streaming includes Netflix, Amazon Instant, CinemaNow, Sony Quiocity as well as Skype, Yahoo Widgets and more. The 929 series is available in 46, 55 and 65-Inch screen sizes.
This Sharp is the largest consumer-model flat screen HDTV ever made, and is currently the only 80-inch model available. It will transform your room into a home theater with a big, bright picture illuminated by a full array of LED backlight (but without local dimming). Other features include Internet streaming, a 10-bit panel, and 120Hz refresh rate. Sharp’s Internet streaming includes Netflix, VUDU, CinemaNow as well as Navteq traffic, NY Times, MSNBC News and more. It is not 3D, though.
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