Choosing your LCD HDTV out of the myriad of models available from the various brands can make the whole selection process challenging to say the least, at times even frustrating.
Help is here! We are presenting a series of LCD TV Reviews and product guides covering some of the best LCD HDTVs available from major brands for the home theater and home entertainment market.
We hope these TV reviews and product evaluations appearing under this section will help make your choice a bit easier.
BIG Screen LCD TVs: More affordable than ever…
Samsung UN60F8000 60-Inch
Up to not long ago, plasma ruled the big-screen world. However, apart from the fact that the plasma TV era is coming to an end, during these last years, LCD TV reviews kept showing that things are changing fast. The performance gap between LCD and plasma has practically vanished in many areas of picture quality.
Mind you, despite the plasma TV seems to have reached the end of the line, it still enjoys a superior picture quality even with respect to the latest LED TVs from the leaders in the field.
We are not saying picture quality of the latest LED LCD TVs is not up to the expectations of videophiles and the like. But there is no doubt that the latest 2013 plasma TVs seems to have reached the apex in picture quality, with even mid-range plasma TVs from Panasonic enjoying a superior picture to that of flagship LED TVs from the big in the field.
Nevertheless, it is still possible to find solid LCD TVs from 2013 lineups. A case in point is the Samsung UNF8000 240Hz 3D Ultra Slim Smart LED HDTV series.
The UNF8000 represents an excellent line of LED TVs, featuring possibly the best high-end features we have come to expect from Samsung, superior black level performance and overall picture quality, and an impressive set design. In this respect, the Samsung is possibly the best LED TV for overall picture quality, features and set design, for 2013.
The only real drawback of the UNF8000 series is that at $2,800 for the 60-inch UN60F8000, the UNF8000 is at least $1,000 more expensive than the superb Panasonic VT60 60-inch premium plasma TV! And you know what… the VT60 supports a picture quality no flagship LED TV has so far ever managed to achieve. But the Samsung UNF8000 still remains a great TV with a superb picture irrespective of display technology.
Yet, it is not just the Samsung UNF8000 series that is capable of a great picture.
It is possible to find quite a good number of LED TVs at even cheaper prices that can do an incredibly good job in delivering a solid picture, even when handling bright images over a predominantly dark background — an area in which many LED LCD TVs fail with respect to their plasma counterparts.
Typical examples include the Sony W900a series with its superb color reproduction and deep black levels, and the relatively affordable Vizio M-series LED TVs. The latter represents outstanding value thanks to its excellent design, relatively good picture quality, and a most affordable price.
Best LED LCD TVs for 2013
The BIG TV makers in the LED LCD HDTV market for 2013 remains Samsung, Vizio, Sony, LG and Sharp, with each offering an extensive range of models for every budget. Panasonic has also done a fine job with its mid-range TC-LE60series — offering one of the best value mid-range LED LCD TV option, offering very good picture and extensive Smart TV content.
Samsung: Best picture quality and features
As indicated earlier on, Samsung is the TV maker that for 2013 has come with the best LED LCD TV; this is the flagship UNF8000 series. It is an expensive LED TV, but it is also the TV series that delivers excellent picture quality with accurate color and deep black levels. Picture uniformity is among the best for an LED TV while its video processing is clean and fast. Complementing the TV excellent performance is an incredibly stylish design with a thin bezel and an oddly shaped low-profile TV stand that provides a rather wide support base; this has to be taken into account when it comes to this TV placement.
The Samsung UNF8000 is also the TV with the best features; these include a touch-pad remote, motion and voice control, IR blaster with cable box control but that would most probably prove inadequate for heavy DVR users, four pairs of 3D glasses, and yes… the most capable Smart TV platform found on any TV.
Best selling model within the series is the 55-inch UN55F8000; this is selling at amazon for $2,500.
Unfortunately, the UNF8000 is out of reach of the average household budget; instead, more affordable within the Samsung 2013 lineup are the UNF6300 and the UNF5000 series — both of which represent valid TV options within their respective category.
The Samsung UNF6300 represents Samsung mid-range LED TVs; these come with an extensive feature list and solid picture quality thanks to accurate overall color, clean video processing and uniform screen brightness. Blacks however are relatively light and fall short of the competition.
These TVs come with above-average sound for a TV, and as expected from a Samsung TV, they also enjoy the best Smart TV platform presently available on any TV. At $1,000 for the 55-inch UN55F6300, this series makes for a great Smart TV option for home entertainment.
If instead, all you want is a bare-bone 60Hz TV with solid picture quality at the lowest price, the Samsung UNF5000 is the answer. The 40-inch UN40F5000 is selling on amazon at under $500. Despite its minimalistic feature set and reduced HDMI connectivity (just two inputs), the UNF5000 series offers a solid picture at the entry-level TV category, with accurate color, relatively deep blacks, and uniform screen brightness. Sound is also good for a flat-panel TV.
Vizio: TV entertainment on a budget
Vizio represents the fastest growing TV maker in the US. Within just a few years since it was founded in 2002, Vizio has become the largest LCD TV seller in North America. The main contributing factor to this growth is Vizio’s excellent product line, which is complemented by solid customer support and affordable pricing.
For 2013, best-value LED TVs within the Vizio lineup include the M-Series and the E-Series LED TVs.
The Vizio M-Series M1d-A2R 240Hz 3D LED TVs represents great value – offering a most stylish design and a solid picture characterized by very good shadow detail, relatively deep blacks, good color rendering despite a slight red push, and clean video processing. This year Vizio Smart TV platform also comes with significant improvement over previous versions.
The main issues with the Vizio M-Series LED LCD TVs is that its reflective screen can turn out to be problematic under bright room conditions. In addition, while this year Smart TV platform (now named Vizio Internet Apps Plus) represents a significant improvement, yet it is not so intuitive as most of the competition.
However, overall, this Vizio LED TV series represents great value, combining an excellent design with a great picture performance for a price that in our opinion, more than justifies the extra money over the less expensive E-series entry-level Vizio LED TVs.
As already indicated, an equally interesting series within the Vizio lineup that represents outstanding — despite being entry-level — is the Vizio E1i-Series.
The Vizio Smart TV interface on these LED TVs is not exactly in line with what you find on the competition, but overall, the Smart TV interface is quite responsive and there is still plenty of Internet driven TV content. Equally important, the accompanying QWERTY remote makes online searches and other Smart TV actions, much easier.
The E-Series picture is characterized by highly accurate colors though black levels are not up to what you find on TVs from other major TV makers. Also, these Vizio LED TVs have issues with screen brightness uniformity. On the other hand, the matte screen makes these LED TVs excellent performers under bright room conditions, making the E-series an ideal cheap LED TV option for general home entertainment.
Sony: Triluminous does make a difference!
Sony KDL-55W900A 55-Inch
Sony has always been Samsung’s main competitor when it comes to the best LCD TVs; for 2013, this is no exception. With its W900A, Sony has managed to deliver an exceptional TV capable of super fine performance.
The Sony W900A LED TV is no ordinary TV. It uses an innovative LED backlight technology which Sony refers to as Triluminous that uses Quantum Dots technology. In most simplistic terms, this has the potential to deliver improved color.
It was in 2008 when Sony first came with its excellent Triluminous LED technology, a technology that as explained in our LCD TV technology guide, made use of separate red, green and blue LEDs to generate the backlight source for the display. This technology was soon dropped as it turned too expensive with respect to what the competition was doing.
Now, Sony’s Triluminous backlight technology has re-surfaced once again but it does not make use of separate red, green, and blue LEDs; instead the new Triluminous technology behind the W900A series TV use ‘pure blue light’ emitting LEDs placed behind a filter consisting of microscopic crystals formed from two types of ‘Quantum Dots’ that are tuned to reproduce pure green and pure red light once these are energized with pure blue light. The result is said to deliver more intense white light for a brighter image while ensuring accurate, yet well-saturated colors that are more true to life than with standard backlighting technology.
Apart from the Sony X900 4K Ultra HD TVs, the W900A is the only 1080p HDTV we are aware of that use Quantum Dots for its backlight technology. In this respect, Sony is turning backlight technology into cutting-edge science; the result is superb color reproduction complemented by deep black levels and excellent shadow detail. The latter however is not the result of making use of a Quantum Dots backlight inasmuch as Sony’s excellent local dimming technology.
Overall, the Sony W900A LED TV is one of the best LED TVs you can buy; and it is not just a TV with a great TV picture. The W900A comes with solid features, a sleek design, and four pairs of active 3D glasses. It also has relatively clean video processing with minimal input lag – under 20ms – making it an excellent large TV for gamers.
Strangely enough, the W900A is available only in 55-inch screen size; so you do not have much choice here. It is also relatively expensive for a 55-inch though its pricing is in line with that of other high-end LED TVs from other brands; rather, at $2,000, the Sony 55-inch KDL-55W900A represents a fine TV option from a leader in the field that comes cheaper than the Samsung competition.
Sharp: Affordable solid big screen LED TVs
Sharp has always delivered some of the best TVs — delivering product innovation at an affordable price. But Sharp is also the TV maker that differs from the rest by pushing mid-tier LED LCD HDTVs in sizes up to 90-inch! For Sharp, 60-inch is a small TV size!
We are not going through the merits here of whether investing in such massive big screen LED LCD TVs makes sense over a video projection setup; if you would like to know our opinion, just follow our article Video Projection vs. Big Screen LED TVs.
However, if for whatever reason, you want to buy a massive LED TV, Sharp has a few available options for you; and thanks to Sharp’s most aggressive pricing, these massive LED TVs are more affordable than you think even though in general, you should not expect too much in features and picture quality out of Sharp’s massive LED TVs — unless of course, you opt for the exorbitantly priced Sharp Elite Series LED TVs.
Our selection for the best LED TV from Sharp for 2013 goes to the LE650U Series. This 120Hz LED TV series is a follow-up to last year LE640U LED TVs which represented quite a good value for the available picture quality. The new LE650U continues on the footsteps of its predecessor, but with a few noticeable improvements in terms of features and picture quality.
This makes the LE650U Sharp LED TV series a most valid option, offering solid picture quality and an improved Smart TV platform at a relatively inexpensive price. Mind you, the LE650U is Sharp entry-level series and as expected, leaves out more demanding features like 240Hz refresh rate processing, 3D, and Sharp four color Quattron system. Admittedly, none of these features are important for a great TV picture.
However, these edge-lit Sharp LED TVs also lack some form of local dimming, which would have surely contributed to improved shadow detail. Luckily, this is one of those picture quality areas where the new LE650U series LED TVs registered significant improvement over the 2012 LE640U series. Another improvement that comes with the LE650U is in color accuracy. Otherwise, the picture attributes are very similar to those of the 2012 series, with solid black levels and very good bright room performance — mainly thanks to these sets matte screen. Screen uniformity is also acceptable at this category, though off-angle viewing leads to noticeable desaturated colors.
The TV design looks a bit more compact thanks to a thinner bezel. This however has led to far from optimum speaker placement, which now fire towards the back; this explains why the TV sound quality of the new 2013 model is not so good compared to last year LE640U series.
As stated earlier on, the real strength of the LE650U is in delivering a big screen cheap LED TV with a most comprehensive Smart TV platform, one that now includes access to Hulu Plus, Pandora, and a Web browser.
Available in screen sizes up to a massive 80-inch, the LE650U represents an exceptionally good deal for general big screen home entertainment use. Best selling models within the series are the 60-inch LC-60LE650U – which at under $1,1,00 is among the cheapest LED TVs at this screen size, and the equally inexpensive 70-inch LC-70LE650U which is selling online at under $1,800.