There’s a dizzying array of new TVs out there. So who makes the best TVs? Having looked at the performance of various HDTV-builders over the past six months, here’s a list of the companies that you can trust when buying a new television.
Panasonic one of the leading lights in the TV business, but the competition at the top is getting tougher all the time. Nevertheless, Panasonic’s reputation for producing classy, big-screen HDTVs remains intact – the TH-42PZ85 and TH-50PZ81 Viera models are two of its best.
Of course, Panasonic could rest on its laurels. Its Viera models are already praised for their picture quality, buffed up by its V-real 3 Pro and Intelligent Frame Creation technologies. But if the Z1 neo-PDP HDTV shown at CES is any indication, Panasonic’s plasmas are only going to get better.
Like a Stella Artois, the average Sony Bravia is reassuringly expensive. In the current generation, HDTVs like the Sony Bravia KDL-32V4000, KDL-37V4000 and whopping great KDL-55X4500 have garnered rave reviews. And Sony isn’t about to stop pushing the technology envelope.
Sony was the first TV manufacturer to introduce 200Hz processing and it’s already leading the charge into commercial OLED displays with the pricey 11-inch XEL-1 TV. Sony recently announced its 2009 Bravia line-up, which includes Bravia Engine 3 picture processing, DLNA-friendly media streaming and Internet connectivity.
Samsung is the UK’s biggest-selling TV manufacturer. Its HDTVs like the LE40LB651 and LE46A786 are competitively priced, well-specified and smartly-designed with a ‘Touch of Colour’.
What does the future hold? Samsung has invested heavily in LED technology and it plans to follow Sony into commercialising OLED. Like other manufacturers, it also hopes that new, slimmer designs, 200Hz refresh rates and its [email protected] feature (I.e. Internet widgets) will tempt buyers into TV upgrades.
Philips might sell fewer HDTVs than Samsung, but it maintains an enviable commitment to quality. The 32PFL9613D and 42PFL9903D models might be pricey, but they’re beautifully-designed, boasting 100Hz picture processing and Perfect Pixel HD for fantastically sharp, detailed images.
You could argue that Philips is too ‘experimental’ for its own good. Ambilight is an interesting feature, but Philips took it too far with the distracting lightframe surround on its Aurea models. In terms of innovation, it will be interesting to see where Philips gets to with its 3DTV technology – its prototype autostereoscopic sets can display 3D images without forcing the viewer to wear 3D glasses.
It should come as no surprise that Pioneer grabs the top spot in this list. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a bad review of high-end plasmas like the Kuro KRP-500A and the PDP-LX5090. The picture quality is incredibly rich and the deep, almost inky-blacks put LCD backlighting to shame.
Despite its premium-price business model and class-leading PDP technology, Pioneer posted a catastrophic loss of $1.44 billion last year. Consequently, its TV business is no longer viable and it will abandon it by March 2010 to concentrate on car electronics, navigation and audio A/V products.
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