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.
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.
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.
Room lighting + glossy screen = disco reflections. Only one color option, and it might not work for everyone.
How We Rate
... 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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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