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120-Hz Hi-Def TVs Bring Onscreen Action to Life

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120-Hz Hi-Def TVs Bring Onscreen Action to Life
Last year's TV buzz was 1080p. This year's is all about 120 Hz. That refers to the number of images a set displays each second to make your picture move; 120 is twice the norm, netting the smoothest pans since Teflon.

Samsung LN52A750
This 52-inch Samsung chewed up stuttering 60-Hz video and spit out glass-smooth motion, leaving few visual artifacts. It sailed through most of our processing challenges, proving especially effective at recombining interlaced video. The set also delivered vibrant color — if a bit more saturated, and thus less natural, than the Sony's — after only minor calibration tweaks, which Samsung's simple menus made painless. The subtle, red-hued "touch of color" bezel imparts a reserved style — think Armani, not Elton John.
Wired: InfoLink system displays news, weather, and RSS feeds via Ethernet connection. Side-mounted HDMI/USB ports make for easy gaming and photo viewing. Eight HD and three standard-def inputs.
Tired: Room lighting + glossy screen = disco reflections. Only one color option, and it might not work for everyone.

How We Rate

.c2{padding-left:70px;} 1... A complete failure in every way. 6... A solid product with some issues. 2... Just barely functional — don't buy it. 7... Very good, but not quite great. 3... Serious flaws, proceed with caution. 8... Excellent, with room to kibitz. 4... Downsides outweigh upsides. 9... Nearly flawless — buy it now. 5... Recommended with reservations. 10... Metaphysical product perfection.
Sony Bravia KDL-46W4100
We loved the color right out of this 46-incher's box, and the video processors aced our tests, removing jaggies and scrubbing noise — even from standard-def sources — with little loss of detail. Plus, the motion enhancer smoothed out movement while introducing fewer visual artifacts than any other TV in this batch. (Purists can turn it off for a true filmlike experience.) One gripe: With great features come overstuffed menus. Time to RTFM.
Wired: Elegant silver and black bezel. Tons of video inputs — seven HD and five standard-def — plus distinct color profiles for each. Add-on lets you watch select clips via the Net.
Tired: Internet add-on is $300! Attention Sony: YouTube is free; you can't charge three bills for an inferior version. PS3-style menus will appeal to gamers but may confuse others.

Sharp Aquos LC-65SE94U
This 65-inch monster "five-ups" the previous standard for a large LCD set, but you'll pay for bragging rights. Thankfully, that price buys more than just 5 extra inches of screen. The set produced very dark blacks and a picture bright enough to see even in strong sunlight. But it's time to join the 21st century with your interface, Sharp; we're running out of Atari jokes.
Wired: Trumps your neighbor's 60-incher and cranks out enough lumens to let you watch football in the backyard ... just to rub it in. Great-looking narrow-bezel case — important when your TV takes up half a wall. Excellent default picture quality means you can have green Astroturf without taking a course in color calibration.
Tired: No bonus features like USB pictures and music. The array of tiny, identical buttons on the remote probably spells "annoying" in braille.

LG Scarlet 47LG60
The bulky, shiny case and visible-from-space power button mark a bold departure from most manufacturers' minimalist styling. And while LG's TruMotion removes stutter, we saw more artifacts than on other LCDs we tested. Default settings produced harsh, oversaturated color — correctable using the bevy of adjustment options but disappointing for a TV of this price.
Wired: Straightforward menus simplify navigation and configuration. Separate color adjustment for each input. This 47-inch set boasts one of the few alternatives to picture-frame bezels that isn't designed for a 14-year-old Japanese girl (cough cough, Hannspree, cough).
Tired: You'll need expert help — or a lot of time — to dial in good color. No S-video jacks and only one composite input, so forget most of your non-HD sources.

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