Best TVs – Feb 2013 (Part 4)

3/7/2013 9:31:09 AM


Many of these plasma and LCD TVs (including LCD TVs that use LED backlighting, noted in the Ratings) offer fine performance that would please most viewers. The TVs highlighted below stand out for the reasons noted, but any recommended set is worth considering. If a tested model isn’t the size you want, check the last column to see whether a bigger or smaller screen is available.

Best Values in 60-inch TVs

A. 60- Inch and larger. All have 1080p resolutions

A. 60- Inch and larger. All have 1080p resolutions

A3: Samsung $1,300 CR Best Buy

A7: LG $1,250 CR Best Buy

A9: LG $900 CR Best Buy

A2 Samsung

A2 Samsung

All of these are 1080p plasma sets that offer top performance and bang for the buck. A3 and A7 are loaded with features, including 3D capability, built-in Wi-Fi, and Internet with full browser; A3 also has very good sound. A9 is very low-priced for a set this size and has excellent picture quality, but it lacks the 3D and Internet Capabilities found on the other. It has three HDMI inputs, one fewer than A7, and doesn’t have the gesture-based Magic Remote that comes with its higher-priced brandmate. Still, if performance matters most, check it out.

A7 Samsung

A7 Samsung

Full – Featured 60-inch and larger TVs

A1: Panasonic $3,700

A2: Samsung $2,300

A5: Panasonic $1,700

A6: Samsung $2,000

A8: LG $ 1,800

These higher-priced plasma TVs have lots of features, including 3D, streaming video, and Web browsers. A1 Panasonic and A6 Samsung are the largest, with 65 and 64-inch screens, respectively. A1 is a premium flagship model with a high price that gets you impressive black levels, better-than-average sound, and a second, touchpad remote that’s handy for Internet activities. You can save almost $2,000 with A5 if you can live with a slightly smaller screen (60 inches) and without the premium design, touchpad remote, and THX mode that comes with A1.A2 and A8 are 60-inch flagship plasmas; A2 can be controlled via hand movements and voice and has very good sound and a touchpad remote. A8 comes with a gesture –based remote.

Best values in 55-to 59-inch TVs

B2: Panasonic $1,300 CR Best Buy

B6: LG $1,200 CR Best Buy

B12: Vizio $1,330 CR Best Buy

B14: Samsung $1,300 CR Best Buy

B15: Sony $1,300 CR Best Buy

B16 Vizio $830 CR Best Buy

B. 55-to 59-inch, All have 1080p resolution

B. 55-to 59-inch. All have 1080p resolution

All of these models have 1080p resolution, and all but B16 have excellent picture quality. B2 is a plasma TV; the rest are LCD sets, most of them with LED backlighting. The lowest-priced, B16, has a fluorescent backlight. B2 and B6 are loaded, with internet access, Wi-Fi, a browser, and 3D; B12 has all but a browser. B16 is especially well-priced, with very good scores for picture and sound quality, a wider viewing angle for an LCD, and streaming video and Wi-Fi. B12 is the first TV we’ve ever tested with an extra-wide 21:9 aspect ratio rather than the 16:9 screens on most HDTVs. It displays wider-format movies without black bars on top and bottom.

B2 Panasonic

B2 Panasonic

Full-featured 55-to 59-inch TVs

B1: Panasonic $ 2,500

B3: Panasonic $2,300

B4: Samsung $2,500

B5: LG $2,800

B7: Sony $3,000



B. 55-to 59-inch, continued

B. 55-to 59-inch, continued

All of these 55-inch TVs are loaded with features, including Internet access, Wi-Fi, browsers, and 3D. B1, plasma in Panasonic’s flagship line, is the best all-round choice for HD, 3D, and sound quality. The other TVs in this group, all LCD sets with LED backlighting, are fine performers worth considering. For easier use of internet features, you might like the touchpad remotes that come with B1, B3, B4 or the gesture-based wand-style remote with B5. B7 may well have the best black levels we’ve seen on an LCD. B3 and B5 have wide viewing angles for LCDs.

Comparing Brands: Sound quality

If you won’t be hooking your TVs up to external speakers, it’s worth checking out the set’s sound score in the Ratings-especially if you’re fussy or like to watch lots of movies or music videos. Only 23 of the 143 TVs in our Ratings have very good sound quality, any of them in the larger screen sizes. A number of the Samsung models we tested have better-than-average sound, along with a few LG, Panasonic, and Vizio sets. A good score for sound should be OK for typical TV programming, but think twice about any set with fair or pour sound.

Best Values in 46-to 51-inch TVs

C7: Samsung $650 CR Best Buy

C14: LG $600 CR Best Buy

C16: Samsung $700 CR Best Buy

C18: LG $600 CR Best Buy

C20: Panasonic $700 CR Best Buy

C21: Vizio $700 CR Best Buy

C22 Samsung $680 CR Best Buy

C23 LG $600 CR Best Buy

C. 46- to 51-inch. All have 1080p resolution except C7 and C13, which have 720p.

C. 46- to 51-inch. All have 1080p resolution except C7 and C13, which have 720p.

Most viewers should be happy with the picture and sound on all of these TVs. The first five are 50-to 51-inch plasmas, which tend to cost less than similar-sized LCDs. C21, C22, and C23 are LCDs with 46-or 47-inch screens; C21 and C22 have LED backlighting, and C23 uses fluorescent backlights. All except C7 have 1080p resolution. If you want to watch 3D, check out C7 and C23. C21 is the only one in the group with Internet capability. Among LCD sets, C21 and C23 have wide viewing angles; like all plasmas, C7, C14, C16, C18, and C20 have unlimited viewing angles.

C3 Samsung

C3 Samsung

Full-Featured 46- to 51-inch TVs

C1: Samsung $1,250

C2: Panasonic $1,100

C3: Samsung $1,400

C4 Samsung $850

C5 LG $1,600

C6 LG $1,200

C. 46- to 51-inch continued

C. 46- to 51-inch continued

All of the models in this group have excellent high-def picture quality and many features, including Internet access, Wi-Fi, browsers, and 3D capability. C1, C2 C3, and C4 are plasmas with 50-or 51-inch screens. C5 and C6 are 47-inch LCDs with LED backlighting. C4 stands out for its comparatively low price, considering its many features. C1 is the only odel in this group with very good sound quality. C5 and C6 have wide viewing angles for an LCD TV. Among the Samsung models, the most expensive, C3, has an ultra slim design and more picture controls than its brand mates. The main differences between C5 and C6 are that the pricier LG has a more stylish frame and limited voice control using the microphone in the wand-style gesture-based remote control.



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