For years Panasonic owned videophile display market. If you asked almost any reviewer what TV they should buy, it would invariably be a Panasonic plasma. Most of the reviewers I know, including myself, own a Panasonic plasma as our personal reference displays. When they left the plasma market we knew it was going to be hard to find a display that compared to what they had been making. Panasonic’s attempt to move onto LCD and make us forget about plasma is the AX900U. A 65”, 4K, full array LCD TV, it has the specs to match up with almost anything but it probably won’t make you forget about your plasma quite yet.
Review Types Archives: Flat Panel Displays
I’ve taken a lot of grief over the past couple of years for saying you’ll be fine by only getting a 720p display for your 32” set. Even comparing 720p and 1080p sets side-by-side I can only see a difference when within 3-4’ of the screen. Since no one sits that close, the extra money spend on 1080p over 720p was not worth it. Well now we don’t even have to worry about this because people should just buy the Sharp LC-32LE653U which is a 1080p set but at the price of a 720p one.
The $280 Sharp LC-32LE653U is a 32”, 1080p display that packs a pair of HDMI inputs, integrated Netflix with WiFi, and a very accurate Movie preset out of the box. The load times are good for Netflix, better than sub-$300 TVs I looked at last year, and the image looks very good. If you want a 32” HDTV now, you probably should buy the Sharp LC-32LE653U. (more…)
In 2009 it was 3D. In 2012 it was 4K. The past year the big movement for TVs are curved screens. First arriving in OLED displays, now most manufacturers put a curve into their highest-end displays. The biggest question has always been: why? Movie theaters have used curved screens but often that is to compensate for pincushioning in projection lenses. With TVs it has to be something else, and there have been many suggestions about the benefits and drawbacks.
After spending three weeks watching the Samsung UN55H8000 I can say that I am neutral on the curve. I usually don’t notice it when watching. With some reflections it makes them better, while others it can make worse. Take the curve out of the equation and the UN55H8000 is a fantastic set. It has accurate colors, a good local dimming system and contrast ratios, and useful SmartTV features. It offers an image that will make anyone happy no matter what they think of the curve.
Earlier we reviewed the Samsung UN32H6350, which is one of the only 120Hz 32” LCD TVs on the market today. The UN32H6350 has a very nice image, and a lot of good streaming features, but at $525 for a 32” LCD is really pushing what most people want to pay for a smaller TV. The UN32H5500 model loses the 120Hz refresh rate and the stylish stand but keeps the quad-core processor for streaming services and the 1080p resolution.
Earlier this year I reviewed the Vizio E320i-B2 TV which is an impressive 32” display. With good streaming content, a good image, and a low price it became my pick for the Best Small TV at The Wirecutter. Vizio has recently released the M-series model, the Vizio M322i-B1. While the styling is a little nicer, and the speed better, there is one major improvement: rear array LED zone lighting. While it is only 5 zones, it should be able to provide better blacks than one without it.
Unfortunately, people after smaller TVs are expected to give up performance. It is almost impossible to find a display with a 120Hz refresh rate or more than a pair of HDMI inputs. These displays often arrive in Europe where space is a concern but rarely make it to the United States. This year Samsung has a 32” model, the UN32H6350, that includes these high end features and more.
Watching the Samsung UN32H6350 it offers a good image with great features. With the high-end features, including a 10-point white balance and color management system, it can produce wonderful images. The 120Hz refresh rate allows for smoother motion than 60Hz models but the black levels are only fair. Aside from a small uniformity error at the top the 32” Samsung is a very good picture.
The first thing I usually do when I review a TV is disable all the “advanced” features on it. With few exceptions, these features overly-enhance one area of an image while being detrimental to others. So while the Vizio E320i-B2 doesn’t have a lot of those “extra” features that other displays do, you really won’t care. It has the streaming features you want along with good picture quality in an affordable package that sets the bar for value in a 32” TV.
After years of speculation Panasonic finally confirmed that plasma production would end. Early in 2014 the last panel will come off their line and the best current displays will go away. Despite having not spent much time viewing one in person, I still took advantage of the current availability and bought myself a 60” Panasonic VT60.
After spending time watching and analyzing the Panasonic VT60 I can say, without hesitation, that anyone after the best display they can get should pick one up now. Black levels are amazing, light output is high enough for almost any situation, and the contrast ratio is jaw dropping. It is a beautiful set that will keep you happy for years to come.
Samsung is the top-selling manufacturer of TVs in the USA now, and their cheapest 1080p model is the F5000. With no apps, a 60 Hz LCD panel, and only a pair of HDMI inputs the UN32F5000 is a very basic TV. What you don’t see listed in the specs is that the image that the F5000 produces is incredibly accurate right out of the box. The Samsung UN32F5000 produces the best image in a 32” LCD for the money of any display that I’ve used so far.
If you’re after a TV for a secondary room, like a bedroom or kids room, there is a good chance you want something very basic. If you sit more than a few feet away from a 32″ TV, a 720p set will look virtually identical to a 1080p model and save you a bit of money. Toshiba offers a very basic TV in the 32L2300U: a 32”, 720p model. It provides a decent image, but lacks the accuracy found in other displays for a similar price. It also doesn’t do well handing dark shadow details or motion even with its ClearScan and auto-dimming features.