With both Superbowl XLVIII and the Winter Olympics just few weeks off, it’s time to start thinking about what TV you plan to take all the action in with. Maybe your current set is up the task, but maybe not. If the situation is the latter, we’ve compiled a list of HDTVs and UHDTVs for you to check out that are all good bets for sports-watching.

Screen brightness isn’t the only thing that matters when it comes to viewing sports, but many broadcasts happen during daylight hours, so you’ll want a model that’s bright enough to produce a punchy-looking picture in a room with high ambient light. You should also be looking at sets that can display content with fast-paced action (luge racing, anyone?) without turning the picture into a blurry mess. Plasma models excel at making sports look crisp, while most LCD models with a 120 Hz and higher refresh rate have processing modes to help reduce motion blur. Finally, you’ll want to watch on a screen that’s sufficiently large—we recommend 55 inches at minimum, though bigger is always better—to draw you and other viewers into the action. We’ll cover all those bases and more in the list that follows.

Panasonic ZT60

Panasonic TC-P65ZT60 Plasma HDTV 

An HD Guru five out of five hearts-winning review from 2013, the TC-P65ZT60 ($3199.98 ) represents plasma technology at its best. The ZT60’s 3000 sub-field drive does an even better job of keeping fast-motion sports looking solid than the ST60, and its anti-glare filter is an upgraded version of the one found on that model. Brightness,  is about the same as the ST60, however. Panasonic’s lineup also includes a 60-inch version, the TC-P60ZT60 ($2299.98).

PDP F8500

Samsung PN60F8500 Plasma HDTV ($2397.99)

Another top plasma we reviewed in 2013, Samsung’s PN60F8500 edges out Panasonic’s plasmas when it comes to light output, almost rivaling the LED LCD competition on this parameter. It also has a very effective anti-glare screen coating to keep blacks looking black in bright rooms, though Panasonic’s ZT60 model performs a bit better in that department. The PN60F8500‘s ability to deliver full HDTV detail on motion resolution tests also makes it a great choice for watching sports. The same performance can be found in the 51-inch ($1797.99) and 64-inch ($3097.99) versions.


Sony KDL-55W900A LCD HDTV ($1983.82)

This mid-line Sony LCD puts out a very bright, crisply detailed picture with rich color due to the company’s Triluminos tech, which we detail in our review. Sony’s MotionFlow processing is effective in eliminating motion blur, and the KDL-55W900A’s off-axis screen uniformity—an issue with many LED-backlit LCD models—isn’t as bad as we’ve seen on many other sets.

LED F7100

Samsung UN55F7100 LCD HDTV ($1497.99)

We liked Samsung’s UN55F7100 quite a bit when we reviewed it, finding it to be a great value at just under $1500. Samsung’s Custom Auto Motion Plus setting lets you independently apply blur reduction to the picture to optimize it for sports viewing while minimizing judder reduction for movies. Off-axis viewing is just okay—the picture looks great from a center seat on the couch, but dulls somewhat when viewed from an off-center position. For this reason, the UN55F7100 is a good choice for someone who usually watches sports solo. You will have a wider sweet spot with larger versions, the 7100 is also available with a 60-inch ($1797.99), 65-inch ($2097.99) and 75-inch ($4497.99) screen.


UN65F9000 UHDTV ($4497.99)

If you’re looking for an Ultra HD TV to watch sports on, you’ll be well served by Samsung’s UN65F9000, which was recently reviewed on HD Guru. This model has all of the blur-fighting features found on other Samsung LCDs, and also puts out a bright picture with very good contrast. More important, it comes with Samsung’s One Connect box, which can be upgraded for new tech developments like HDMI 2.0 and the sports-friendly 2160/60p video format—something we expect to see in a next-generation broadcast TV format, which will hopefully be locked down and ready to go the next time the Winter Olympics rolls around.


LG 60LA8600

LG’s 55-inch 55LA8600 LCD HDTV

Other LED-backlit LCD HDTVs that we haven’t reviewed but have had some experience with and approve of include the Samsung UN60F8000 ($2597.99), LG 55LA8600 ($1799) and the Sharp LC-80LE857 ($5397). The Samsung F8000 is an all-around great performer, while the LG’s IPS panel means it does a much better job than other LCDs at maintaining picture uniformity over a wide viewing angle. And with its 80-inch screen, the Sharp is the kind of TV that any guest coming over to watch the Superbowl at your home will be wowed by.


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