This website is accessible to all versions of every browser. However, you are seeing this message because your browser does not support basic Web standards, and does not properly display the site's design details. Please consider upgrading to a more modern browser. (Learn More).

You are here: home > living > home

Consumer Reports guide to choosing the right television

Posted Wednesday, March 15, 2006

e-mail E-mail this page   print Printer-friendly page

LCD FLAT-PANEL HDTV

  • Good choice for consumers who want a thin, light television set with a small or midsized screen.
  • Common television screen sizes of 23 to 45 inches.
  • Typical prices of $1,000 to $1,500 for a 26-inch widescreen HD-ready set; $1,200 to $2,000 for a similar 32-inch model; $2,000 to $2,500 for a 37-inch model.
  • Points to consider…
    • Good for wall-mounting, weigh less than 50 pounds
    • Best LCD television sets display very good, bright HD images, and antireflective surface minimizes the reflections and glare that often plague plasma TV screens.
    • LCDs haven’t caught up with plasma TV sets for viewing angle, color accuracy, and the ability to display the deepest blacks. Also fast motion may blur.
    • Some low-priced brands did well in tests.
  • Consumer Reports Quick Picks for 30- to 32-inch LCD television sets are the Sharp LC-32DA5U($1,600), the Panasonic Viera TC-32LX50 ($1,400) and the Maxent MX-32X3 ($1,100). Consumer Reports Quick Picks for smaller sets are Sharp Aquos LC-26GD4U ($1,500), Panasonic Viera TC-26LX50 ($1,200), Maxent MX-26X3 ($900), ILO (ILO-2600 (Wal-Mart) ($795), Sony LCD Wega KLV-S23A10 ($1,200). Consumer Reports has no reliability data for either Maxent or ILO TVs.
PLASMA TELEVISION HDTV
  • Good choice for consumers who want a big, thin TV set.
  • Common television screen sizes of 42 to 60 inches.
  • Typical prices $2,500 to $3,000 for a 42-inch integrated HDTV, $3,500 to $4,500 for a 50-inch model.
  • Points to consider…
    • Can be wall-mounted, but not light – even 42-inchers weigh 100 pounds.
    • The best have excellent picture quality, good brightness and contrast from any angle.
    • Shiny screen surface can produce reflections.
    • Static images displayed over a long period of time can burn in.
    • Less familiar brands cost much less than major brands but most tested models have been middling to mediocre.
  • Consumer Reports Quick Picks for a 50-inch television set is the Panasonic TH-50PX50U ($4,000), for 42-inch HD sets the Panasonic TH-42Px50U ($3,000) and the Panasonic TH-42PX500U ($4,000), for a 42-inch enhanced-definition set, Consumer Reports recommends the Panasonic TH-42PD50U ($2,000.)
REAR-PROJECTION HDTV
  • Good choice for consumers who want a big screen TV that costs less than a plasma TV set.
  • Common television screen sizes of 50 to 65 inches.
  • Typical prices about $1,000 for a 51-inch CRT-based HD-ready set; $2,200 to $3,000 for a 50-inch LCD- or DLP-based HDTV; $5,000 to $6,000 for a 65-inch DLP-based HDTV.
  • Points to consider…
    • Microdisplay projection sets using LCD TV, DLP, or LCoS technology, typically about 15 to 19 inches deep, are slimmer than CRT-based models but much bulkier than plasma TVs.
    • Best offer excellent picture quality but do not offer the deep black and unlimited viewing angle of a plasma TV set.
    • With a DLP set, there’s risk of the “rainbow effect” a perceived flash of color some viewers see when moving their eyes across the screen during scenes containing bright objects on dark backgrounds.
    • Reliability is a concern. CRT-based models are much more repair-prone than picture-tube TV sets.
  • Consumer Reports Quick Picks for high-definition television picture quality are Sharp 56DR650 ($2,500), Sony Grand Wega KDF-E50A10 ($2,500), and Toshiba Theater-Wide HD 52HM95 ($2,500).
PICTURE-TUBE (CRT) HDTV
  • Good choice for a low-priced, midsized TV set, even though it’s bulky.
  • Common screen sizes of 26 to 36 inches.
  • Typical prices of $800 for a 32-inch 4:3 HD-ready set; $1,200 for a similar 34-inch 16:9 set.
  • Points to consider…
    • Although there are fewer new tube TV sets, they are still worth considering.
    • Best models offer display top picture quality, with excellent detail, color, and contrast, and unlimited viewing angle.
    • Proven long-term reliability.
    • Maximum screen size is limited to 36 inches.
    • Larger sets weigh up to 200 pounds and measure 2 feet deep.
  • Consumer Reports Quick Picks for wide-screen sets are Sony FD Trinitron Wega HDTV KD-34XBR960 ($1,900), Sony FD Trinitron Wega Hi-Scan KD-34XS955 ($1, 550), Sony FD Trinitron Wega Hi-Scan KV-34HS420 ($1,200), Sony FD Trinitron Wega Hi-Scan KV-30HS420 ($800), and Sony FD Trinitron Wega Hi-Scan KD-30XS955 ($1,000.) For the traditional, “more squarish” screens Consumer Reports recommends Sony FD Trinitron Wega Hi-Scan KV-32HS420 and Sony FD Trinitron Wega Hi-Scan KV-27HS420.
FRONT PROJECTOR
  • Good choice for consumers who want a giant television screen and can handle a potentially complex home theater setup.
  • Screens, bought separately, are typically 70 to 200 inches. Can use a wall instead.
  • Projector has a 9x12-inch or smaller footprint.
  • Typical prices of $1,100 and up for HD projector. Several hundred dollars for a screen.
  • Points to consider…
    • Comes closest to the home theater experience with images up to 200 inches diagonally.
    • CR found 110 inches to be optimal in size and brightness.
    • Best used in dark rooms so not ideal for everyday viewing.
    • No TV tuner so cable, satellite box or DVD player is required. Most have no speakers.
    • For use on a tabletop set-up is easy, for mounting on the ceiling, set-up takes some skill.
CR’s latest Ratings of LCD television, Plasma TV, Rear-projection TV and picture-tube TV sets appears in the March 2006 issue of Consumer Reports which goes on sale February 7, 2006 wherever magazines are sold. The television sets report will also be available online to subscribers of ConsumerReports.org at www.ConsumerReports.org.
 
e-mail E-mail this page
print Printer-friendly page
 
 
 
Consumer Reports guide to choosing the right television
Latest articles in Home
 
What does the average wedding cost? $31,213
 
ShopSmart’s simple fall fix-ups
 
ShopSmart’s instant clutter busters
 
 
 
Living

Got Feedback?
Send a letter to the editor.

Subscribe
Sign up for the Chatham Chatlist.

Advertise
Promote your brand at chathamjournal.com.



Subscribe now: RSS news feed, plus FREE headlines for your site