The HD GURU CES 2012 Top Pick Award Winners Announced

January 12th, 2012 · 10 Comments · 3D HDTV, 4K LED LCD, Blu-ray Players, Digital Media Receivers, News, OLED, Sound Bars

LG OLED award

The 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show is packed with new and innovative home theater products as all major home entertainment manufacturers debut their latest  product lines. HD Guru and Geoff Morrison spent the week scouring press events and company booths seeking out the best new HDTV, 3D TV, Blu-ray player, Streaming Media Player, Sound Bar and the Best In Show.

This year’S HDTV products are  the most innovative we’ve seen in years, with much larger screen sizes, new big screen display technology, new remote controls and much more. On to the winners.

Panasonic VT50

Best HDTV: Panasonic VT50 Series Plasma (to be available in 55″,65″ screen sizes)

With picture improvements coming from almost every major TV maker gave us a long lists of finalists to consider. However, the improvements in the 2012 Panasonic top of the line VT50 plasma series are significant. Last year’s VT30 series took top honors for picture performance. In 2012 Panasonic raised the bar with a new way to drive the pixels that lowers the black level to the deepest ever, and better motion clarity using its new 2500 focused field drive circuit, according to a Panasonic spokesperson.

In a side-by-side comparison of the VT30 and VT 50 plasmas on the show floor the improvements a clear. The VT50 has the best image quality of any 2012 plasma or LED LCD we’ve seen at the show.

LG SP820 Smart Upgrader
Best Media Player: LG SP820

LG’s SP820 Smart Upgrader turns any HDTV into a Smart TV providing instant streaming from Vudu, Amazon Instant, Cinema Now, Internet browser and more. In addition there are many apps available from LG’s app shop. This 2012 version adds Flash, HTML5 content viewing capability and LG’s Magic Motion remote that allows control by buttons, moving and tilting or with a wheel. The SP820 will ship this spring.


HDTVs On Sale

Blu-ray Deals

Big Markdowns on 3D TVs


Sharp HT-SL77

Best Sound Bar: Sharp HT-SL77

Sharp is no stranger to audio business, making audio components for decades. This year Sharp is introducing the innovative HT-SL77 2.1 system. The midrange and tweeter sections can be placed horizontally below the screen and comes with extensions to match the width of 46, 52, 60 or 70-Inch HDTVs. The HT-SL77 can also be separated into to sections as left and right vertical towers and includes an attachable base for each speaker. The height can be set to match 60 or 70-Inch flat panels.

The HT-SL77 also includes a wireless subwoofer. The HDMI output supports the Audio Return Channel feature found within 2011 and 2012 Sharp and many other major brand HDTVs to direct the audio from multiple HDMI sources such as HD cable box, game console and Blu-ray player to the sound bar seamlessly. The H-SL77 ships in April with a retail price of $449.99

LG 84LM9600

 Best 3D TV: LG 84″ LED 84LM9600

The LG 84LM9600 is loaded with industry firsts. It is the largest consumer flat panel HDTV being offered for sale. It is the first to offer a screen with four times the resolution of HDTV (3840×2160). LG calls it UHD. The cherry on top is the 84LM9600 is the first 3D TV using inexpensive, light weight passive 3D glasses to maintain Full HD vertical resolution (1080 as half of 2160), overcoming our biggest objection regarding passive 3D technology.

The 3D image is not only big, but bright and beautiful as it doesn’t have the visible lines when viewing 3D that to date has been associated with all other passive 3D TVs. Being the top series in LG’s 2012 LED LCD HDTV line this giant screen set includes Internet streaming and apps, LG’s best new Magic Motion remote with voice and gesture control. It all comes wrapped in a slim, brushed aluminum bezel. The 84 converts all content to its 4K resolution and will accept future 4K sources through its HDMI input. Scheduled for Spring release LG has not yet revealed pricing.

Panasonic DMP-BBT01

Best Blu-ray Player: Panasonic DMP-BBT01

The Panasonic DMP-BBT01 is like no other Blu-ray player Panasonic has ever produced. It is heavily featured with Panasonic’s latest video processor, offers Smartphone remote control capability, a new touchpad remote control, 3D disc play, 2D-to-3D up-conversion, and Internet streaming thanks to Panasonic’s VieraConnect system. The player comes wrapped in a new small slim design with a slot-in drive allows one to insert a disc without the need for a tray. TheDMP-BBT01 player comes with a stand and can be operated either vertically, or horizontally.

LG 55EM9600

Best In Show: LG 55EM9600 55″ OLED


OLED (organic light emitting diodes) is the first new big screen flat panel tech since 1997.  The LG 55EM9600 delivers everything big screen OLED promises, vivid color, fantastic contrast, 180 degree viewing angle and pitch black blacks. All coming from a 4mm thick design the OLED image beat out everything else at CES.

The LG 55-Inch 55EM9600 has three configurations. One is a table stand version with the speakers and electronics built into the base. Another, a wall mount version with the electronics and downward firing speakers housed within a backpack that sits between the wall and the screen. The third is a pole mounted version (see photo above) This OLED is a full featured HDTV with 1080p resolution, Smart TV with voice and gesture remote and 3D. Expect to see it yourself in Q3, at a priced to be announced.


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Copyright 2012 HD Guru Inc. All rights reserved. HD GURU is a registered trademark.


10 Comments so far ↓

  • Hemant Agrawal


    I want to buy a 46″ LED TV set and I am confused between samsung es8000 and sony hx850 and sony hx925.

    Kindly give some light on which is the best tv to buy.

  • gt350

    Not being a 3D fan I reluctantly put glasses on at the LG booth , a very nice rep considering i did not want to put them on, alot better then the year before–maybe this could work. So on to Panasonic , they improved too, the more i demo the real question is Ive never made a whole movie with the glasses on. Fun for 15 min then done.

  • Mark

    Correction. It was an ST30 next to the VT50 at the CES…this is from a panasonic insider over at HDJ. Not sure why they did that but then again they didn’t even try and run a reference signal from a Blu Ray player to the panels, so there was considerably degradation from the source.

  • Larry

    You still didn’t state that the the LG had a better pic with 3D content than the VT50. Panasonic has been the leader in 3d technology and performance from the get go.It’s hard to believe that they lost to a company which has been rated average in 3D pic quality in many reviews.

    We’ve written extensively about passive vs. active 3D. Both systems have their respective strong and weak points. As we’ve mentioned in those articles, passive’s biggest flaw was the need to sacrifice half of the vertical resolution of all content. By moving to the 4K format that issue is eliminated. The Panasonic VT50 provided great 3D and we will add more in our post show wrap-up this week.

    HD Guru

  • mbrennan191

    It seems Sony has drastically slimmed down their model lineup. I assume this is to reduce costs/ prevent customer confusion, but are they really not making a successor the XBR 929? The set they are marketing as their top of the line is no longer back-lit with local dimming. Do you have any further info on this?

    Sony significantly reduced its 2012 line from 6 main series to 3. Sony will be replacing its XBR line in July they did not reveal any details. We will be posting more info and photos regarding the two lines that were shown at week.

    HD Guru

  • Larry

    Did you actually compare the 3D on the LG with the Panasonic Vt50?Panasonic has always had the best 3D.

    Yes and no. Geoff and I spend days looking at new products before the deciding the winners. However, the CES is huge and no competing displays are side-by-side. With that stated, Panasonic had the VT30 right next to the new VT50 to demonstrate the lower black level of the 50 in a dark room within their booth. We looked closely at the OLEDs and have seen many at product demos at prior trade shows. We know it is the only flat panel technology to completely shut off the light at the pixel level. This has never been accomplished in LCD or plasma production models but is a trait of OLED. The first gen OLEDs will be expensive while the VT50 will be priced in line with the current VT30. These observations were weighed in and it was why we chose to give the Panasonic the best HDTV award and the LG OLED the best in show. In my opinion the VT50 is the best overall HDTV plasma to date and the OLED is even better but will probably cost around four times the price.

    HD Guru

  • Stringfellow

    @Scoop: I agree; Panasonic should be honest and up front about their improvements, and tout the greatness of their Plasma TVs with as much detail as possible. I, as a potential-pseudo-video-geek, would definitely appreciate it.

    I meet with Panasonic today and was told HD Guru will receive the information on all the new TV products. Unfortunately Samsung only showed a portion of its line at CES and will not provide specs or other data to us or any other journalist until the formal introductions this Spring. We can’t supply information they don’t provide. On the other hand we did get some product demos and new information we will pass along post show, along with Geoff’s and my analysis of these new products. Stay tuned

    HD Guru

  • Stringfellow

    @Scoop: Would you clarify your question. I did not see the press conference. Are you referring to the press conference hosted by CNET, or a general CES press conference? I wish I saw one. Would someone be able to provide a link to it?

    @Geoff: HDGuru mentioned that it was the best in picture performance. Would it be safe to presume that it was at least, as good as, the Elite (Sharp), or potentially the Kuro Elite (Pioneer)? In addition, did you see the VT30 and VT50 in a controlled environment, or was it like a display unit? Lastly (sorry about all the questions), is the picture quality of the VT50 better than the OLED TVs viewed?

    I heard recently that Samsung had acquired rights on certain Kuro Elite (Pioneer) technology, and it implemented in the Samsung PN#D8000 series: is this true? A short follow-up to that, is it probable that Panasonic is finally implementing the Kuro Elite (Pioneer) technology after all these years? I guess I am just confused because Sharp has rights on the name, Samsung supposedly has rights over certain technology, and Pioneer has a chunk of the rights. I always thought that Panasonic got all the rights, but that was a presumption because I did not read any detail on the transactions that took place.

    The Panasonic is far better than the Elite in viewing angle as all viewers see the same image, you can’t do that with the Elite. In addition the Panasonic picture produce black down to a pixel level, something that can only be done with plasma and soon, oled.

    As for the Pioneer IP, it was sold to Panasonic and they hired the plasma engineers, keeping all the Pioneer know how in Japan.

    The VT50s black level may be as low as the final generation Pioneer Kuro. We will have to wait for a production sample to make measurements. Its quite an exciting new product and will be affordable when compared to the Gen 1 OLEDs. In other ways the new Panasonic will be better than the Kuro in terms of performance, energy efficiency, features and form factor.

    HD Guru

  • Scoop

    Also, could you talk about the differences you saw between the two OLED sets (if you could get close enough to make out fine detail) and why you chose the LG model?

    Geoff: No direct comparison was possible. The deciding factor was that the LG has a model number and the associated electronics to run the TV. Therefore, it’s a “real” product. Samsung’s OLED had no model number and none of the necessary electronics were on display. Therefore it’s more of a prototype.

  • Scoop

    Can you please explain — or at least speculate — on why, if Panasonic made such big improvements to the VT series, it made only cursory mentions of said improvements during its press conference and spent like 15 minutes with Justin Timberlake on stage, shilling for a service that no one will ever use?

    I assumed after the press conference that Pany only made minor improvements, if any, and, frankly, even your write-up here hasn’t assuaged all my doubts. I simply cannot believe that a company, after making really big improvements on a TV that commands a premium because video geeks like it, would then fail to tout those improvements to video geeks in any serious way. I hope I’m wrong.

    Geoff: No idea. The press conference was brutal. With a company as large as Panasonic the politics of what’s presented at a CES press conference are far beyond the scope of this website.

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