If the Internet is the future of television, then LG's LH50 series hails from the day after tomorrow. This flat-panel LCD is the first to offer Netflix streaming, which allows instant, free-to-subscribers access to an all-you-can watch menu of thousands of movies and TV shows without having to connect another box. Sure, Sony has already announced the service for its own compatible TVs later this fall, and we expect Netflix to make its way to Yahoo widget-equipped TVs from Samsung (and perhaps others) sometime later this year, but for now the LH50 holds exclusive claim to Netflix. Speaking of … Read more
Having the option to input the correct settings can go a long way toward improving the picture on an HDTV. Some TVs, such as the Philips PFL6704D series, have fewer settings than others, and despite relatively accurate picture quality after choosing the right presets, this TV could really use more manual settings.
Meanwhile, automatic settings on the Philips abound, and while they don't improve picture quality--quite the opposite--they do have a major impact on energy consumption, and are largely responsible for its energy efficiency in default mode.
But regardless of how much power it consumes, the PFL6704D's middling … Read more
Among Samsung's umpteen different model lines and feature variations for its 2009 HDTVs, the LNB650 series sits somewhere in the middle. It's significantly less-expensive than the LED-based LCDs, like the UNB7000 series, and costs a bit less than the LNB750 series of non-LED 240Hz models, yet still commands a premium over entry-level models. Aside from a couple hundred bucks, 120Hz of refresh rate separates the B650 and B750 models on paper.
In person, the B650s have significantly different styling and, it turns out, somewhat less impressive picture quality, although the difference in Hz has nothing to do with … Read more
Sony's extensive LCD lineup includes a range of higher-end models, but the KDL-V5100 is not among them. This is Sony's least expensive series of 2009 HDTVs to include 120Hz processing, and it lacks the interactive extras and design complexities of its step-up brethren.
It does include nearly all of the picture-related control on those models, however, and its overall image quality is just as good. Naturally you'll still pay premium compared to bargain brands, but the solid performance and well-rounded, essential features of the V5100 series makes it one of Sony's most compelling values.
Read the … Read more
Update 12/21/2009: Since this product preview was written, CNET has reviewed the highest-end member of Mitsubishi's Unisen line, the LT-249 series. It features 2 more speakers than the 151 and 153 series described below, and also includes a few other enhancements (namely support for Vudu), but we still expect its audio and video quality to be very similar to the step-down models. For more information, check out the full review of the Mitsubishi LT-249 series.
Not to be outdone by LCD TV makers touting LED backlights, 240Hz refresh rates, and stratospheric prices, Mitsubishi brings its own twist to the game of HDTV step-up-oneupsmanship with its Unisen models, each of which sports a new 16-speaker audio system.
Nestled below the pursed lips of the simulated image above, you'll find 16 speakers, an array that even when turned off should impress visitors to your living room.
When turned on, according to Mitsubishi, the "intelligent speakers...direct perfectly balanced audio waves beside and behind you to reproduce 5.1 surround sound and create an unprecedented depth of sound experience." We haven't tested the system, but on paper it sounds a lot like the principle employed by virtual surround speakers like the Polk Surround Bar.
Then there's the myriad true surround systems out there with actual rear speakers--although they're not direct competitors to Unisen, since the biggest benefit of simulated surround is lack of rear speakers, wires, etc.
Mitsubishi's three series of Unisen models include 40-, 46-, and 52-inch sizes, and the least expensive, the 40-inch LT-40151, costs a suggested retail price of $1,799. Compared with competing 120Hz LCDs, like Samsung's LN40B650 ($1699) or Sony's KDL-40V5100 ($1499), that's not a massive premium.
All of Mitsubishi's Unisen models will be available in May. Pricing and step-up details follow.… Read more
At CES this year, Vizio caused a stir by announcing the VF551XVT, a 55-inch HDTV with local dimming LED backlighting and 240Hz processing for the rock-bottom price of $1,999. The company's CES announcement makes the current VF550XVT a lot less desirable. One digit in a model number means a lot--the current model has neither of those features, although it still costs about $1,999 in stores.
The VF550XVT is among the least expensive 55-inch LCDs on the market, but it has a tough row to hoe at this point in its life span. First off, attentive readers will … Read more
At Sony's line show today in Las Vegas, the company announced another new line of HDTVs with Yahoo widgets, the company's least-expensive HDTVs yet to feature the interactive doo-dads.
The KDL-W5100 series will consist of three screen sizes: the 52-inch KDL-52W5100, 46-inch KDL-46W5100, and 40-inch KDL-40W5100. Sony did not announce pricing or availability beyond "spring," and that information was not leaked along with other Sony HDTVs' price and availability.
Successor to last year's KDL-W4100 series, which performed relatively well in our review, the W5100 models' big improvement is Yahoo widgets. According to Sony, the widgets "expand and personalize the experience by allowing you to interact with your favorite Internet content like Yahoo News, Video, Finance, and Flickr while watching TV shows. Track your favorite sports team, check your stocks, and share photos with friends and family as you watch television."
As if 240Hz, 1080p/24 compatibility and contrast ratios in the millions aren't confusing enough, get ready for more product differentiation in the LCD TV space: two different kinds of LED lighting schemes. On one hand are relatively tried-and-true "local dimming" LED-based LCDs, which generally give great picture. In the other are "edge-lit" LED-based LCDs, which if the new Sony KLV-40ZX1M ($3,999) is any indication, do not.
We're sure the distinction won't stop marketers from trying to equate the two, however, and simply call them all "LED TVs," expecting consumers to assume that all LED-based LCDs give great picture. In fact, one company, Samsung, has already said it wants to create a separate "LED TV" category to differentiate the more-expensive, higher-tech-sounding sets from their lowly fluorescent-backlit cousins.
Also, who knows, maybe Samsung's upcoming edge-lit models, namely the 6000, 7000, and 8000 series HDTVs announced at CES, will perform better than the Sony KLV-40ZX1M we just reviewed. Lighter black levels and imperfect uniformity hampered its picture--as you might expect, the edges of the picture were brighter than the middle (go figure!). It sure looks cool though.
When most people think of a big screen HDTV, they think of something like a 50-inch plasma set, but real home theater enthusiasts know front projectors are the real way to go big. Sanyo's PLV-Z3000 is a 1080p projector, and it has a nice feature package for fine tuning picture quality, good connectivity options, and is quite inexpensive. While it's performance didn't quite match up to the Sony VPL-HW10 we reviewed last November (mostly because of inaccurate primary colors), it does cost about $600 less. Overall, Sanyo's affordable 1080p front projector has its share of flaws, but still represents a good value in its category.