Flatscreen TV Roundup
It’s that time of year when cities, neighborhoods and even households become polarized over one very vital question, a question so central to the consciousness of U.S. citizens that it may even be debated for years to come. That question: which is the best team in the NFL this season?
And this year, like years before, Americans will flock around television screens to watch as that question is answered at the 23rd Super Bowl.
To make matters worse, this winter will bring the world constant live coverage of the 48th Winter Olympiad in Sochi, Russia. As a result, in what will no doubt become a sacred homage to the intersection of two of man’s most important endeavors (sports and television), millions of Americans will make preparations by filing out in advance to secure the latest and the greatest in flat panel televisions, bringing high definition coverage to the comfort of our living rooms.
And with so many new choices and models available, we thought it’d be a good idea to provided the latest intelligence from Consumer Reports on the best new flatscreens on the market. So here’s the long and the short of it:
This summer Consumer Reports tested 17 new models of LED, LCD and plasma screen televisions from best- to little-known brands and when the dust settled, as you might have guessed, the top performing products offering the best value for their price were the best known manufacturers.
Topping their list of best performers were two models from the Panasonic S60 plasma series. Consumer Reports indicated the sets delivered “excellent high-definition picture quality and earned the highest overall scores of any newly tested models.” Also factoring into Consumer Reports’ evaluation were number of features (including so-called ‘smart’ features and built-in Wi-Fi) and access to many of the popular live-streaming services on the market today.
Also at the top if the list were two LCD sets: a 55-inch set from JVC and a 44-inch set from Panasonic. The JVC set was lauded for superior picture quality and great new features like built-in Wi-Fi and 3-D capability. The Panasonic carries more features than the S60 plasma series and was singled out for its improved sound (over the 2012 model).
Some of the lesser known brands posted high scores for their new models as well. Vizio’s 42-inch LCD, offering a full slate of features, and Sony’s basic 40-inch LCD fared nicely in the survey.
Other new models tested fell off from the pack considerably this year.
Three new LCD TVs, models Hitachi Ultravision, Sanyo FMV and Insignia NS, scored poorly for picture quality that fell below industry standards. Consumer Reports tested three of RCA’s newest models and ended up giving the manufacturer the most inconsistent scoring of all brands tested. Two RCA models tested well for picture quality but the third, a basic 52-inch model ranked lowest overall of all televisions in the survey.
Residing at the midway point between best and worst of Consumer Reports’ findings were several LCD sets that were found to have very good high definition picture quality but with it several flaws. Among those were the 32-inch 720p JVC and the 55-inch Phillips and 58-inch Sanyo (1080p) models.
Consumer Reports noted several trends they found gaining traction among flat screen models in their 2013 survey. The first was a shift away from the use of fluorescent (CCFL) backlights, with many manufacturers adopting all-LED lines. Another popular trend is the inclusion of built-in Wi-Fi and even “smart” platforms that offer full Internet browsing, apps and video streaming services like Netflix.
So there you have it. As they say, knowledge is power. And what better way to power up a Super Bowl Sunday, right?…….Unless, of course, your team loses.
For the complete survey results visit www.ConsumerReports.com.
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