19/01/2021

In our TV test labs, lower-cost 3D sets and expanded Internet access

80fe2  Consumer Reports small bigger In our TV test labs, lower cost 3D sets and expanded Internet access

In our TV test labs, lower-cost 3D sets and expanded Internet access

4f0c3  electronics Samung ES8000 TV thumb 240xauto 4552 In our TV test labs, lower cost 3D sets and expanded Internet access

Now that the first 2012 TV models are available from a number of manufacturers, our engineers are hard at work putting them through their paces. There’s a fairly wide range of models being tested, from more basic models from secondary brands such as Haier, to the first 3D set we’ve tested from Sanyo (among the least expensive 3D TVs we’ve ever seen), to a fully loaded 3D flagship model from Samsung’s new ES8000 LCD series, which lets you control the TV using voice commands and gestures.

We also have new models from brands including LG Electronics, Panasonic, Sharp, Sony, and Toshiba, as well as other models from Samsung and Sanyo.

Based on the TVs in our labs, it appears that several TV trends are emerging already in 2012:

  • There are more no-frills models with low prices to meet the needs of those who want a basic set without a lot of features that can deliver very good or even excellent high-definition picture quality.
  • Secondary brands are entering the market with their first 3D-capable models, hitting new low price points for 3D TVs
  • Screen sizes continue to get larger, with 55-inch LCD TVs and 60-inch plasma sets becoming more common.
  • More Internet-enabled TVs now come with full Web browsers and built-in Wi-Fi, and access to apps markets is becoming more common.
  • Some LCD manufacturers are using new “direct LED” backlights, which bridge the price gap between CCFL and edge LED backlights, to offer LED-backlit sets at lower prices.

We’ll be publishing the full test results—with more information than ever in our newly revised Detailed Test Results—in our TV Ratings (available to subscribers), which for the first time combines LCD and plasma sets into a single group of Ratings.

We expect to publish the full Ratings on these sets within the next couple of weeks, so keep checking here; we’ll post when the TV Ratings go live. Also, look for a post next week that discusses “direct-lit LED” technology, and why some manufacturers are using it in some lower-priced models.

Here’s the complete list of the TVs currently being tested in our TV test lab:

Haier L42B1180, $ 500. A lower-priced, fairly basic 42-inch 1080p LCD TV without a lot of extra features.
Haier LE55B1381, $ 1,300. A fairly basic, lower-priced (for the size) 55-inch 1080p LCD TV from Haier, the biggest set from this brand we’ve tested. It has an edge LED backlight and a 120Hz refresh rate.
LG 32LS3500, $ 400. A fairly basic 32-inch LCD TV with 720p resolution and an edge LED backlight.
LG 42PA4500, $ 500. A 42-inch 720p plasma TV from LG in its entry-level plasma series. It’s basic model without a lot of features, though its does have an ultra-slim design with a depth of less than 1 inch, as well as the company’s Picture Wizard II system for helping to calibrate the TV’s picture.
LG 50PA6500, $ 800. A 50-inch plasma TV from LG, in its entry-level 1080p plasma series. It’s a lower-priced, basic 1080p model without a lot of extra features, though it does have a 1-inch-thick, ultra-slim design and the Picture Wizard II system.
LG 55LM6700, $ 1,800. A 55-inch, 3D-capable 1080p LCD TV from LG, from a series in the middle of LG’s LCD TV lineup. The TV has a lot of features, including passive 3D technology, an edge LED backlight, and access to movies and TV shows from several services. It comes with a Magic Remote remote control that responds to hand gestures.
LG 55LM6200, $ 1,700. A 55-inch 3D-capable LCD TV from LG’s entry-level 3D LCD series. Features includes an edge LED backlight, 120Hz refresh rate, built-in Wi-Fi, and access to online content, including streaming movies and TV shows.
LG 60PA6500, $ 1,200. A 60-inch plasma TV from LG, part of its entry-level 1080p series. It’s a fairly basic model without a lot of extra features, though like its 50-inch sibling (also being tested) it does have an ultra-thin, 1-inch-thick design, and it includes the company’s Picture Wizard II set-up system.
Panasonic Viera TC-L32X5, $ 400. A fairly basic 720p LCD TV from Panasonic that includes an edge LED backlight and SD memory-card slot.
Panasonic Viera TC-L37E5, $ 600. A 37-inch 1080p LCD TV in the E5 series, which is a step above the basic X5 models. Unlike that model, this TV is a Wi-Fi-ready model—it accepts an optional wireless adapter—ithat has access to a “lite” version of Panasonic’s online service called Online Movies. It also has an edge LED backlight and an SD card slot.
Panasonic Viera TC-L47ET5, $ 1,250. A 47-inch 1080p LCD TV in Panasonic’s entry-level 3D LCD TV series. Features include an edge LED backlight, built-in Wi-Fi, and the company’s full Viera Connect online service, with access to streaming movies and TV shows, an apps market, and Skype (via an optional webcam).
Panasonic Viera TC-P55ST50, $ 1,550. A step-up 55-inch 3D-capable 1080p plasma that includes Viera Connect, built-in Wi-Fi, and a full Web browser. The TVs have a new multi-speaker “3D Real Sound” sound system and Panasonic’s new Infinite Black Pro panel (for better blacks and whites in brighter environments, according to claims).
Samsung UN32EH4000, $ 350. A 32-inch 720p LCD HDTV from Samsung, in the company’s entry-level LCD TV series. The TV has a “direct-lit” LED backlight, a new, lower-cost version of a full-array LED backlight that lacks local dimming. It also has ConnectShare Movie, which lets you directly play videos, music, or photos stored on a device or flash drive when connected to the TV’s USB connection.
Samsung UN32EH5000, $ 500. A 32-inch LCD TV in Samsung’s entry-level 1080p LCD TV series. Like other “EH”-series models, it uses a “direct-lit” LED backlight, and it includes ConnectShare Movie.
Samsung UN40EH6000, $ 750. A 40-inch 1080p LCD TV from Samsung’s EH series, which uses a “direct-lit” LED backlight. The TV has a 240Hz-equivalent refresh rate and ConnectShare Movie, but no Internet connectivity.
Samsung PN43E450, $ 480. A lower-priced, 43-inch 720p plasma TV from Samsung, in its entry-level plasma TV series. It’s a basic model without a lot of features, with 1 more inch of screen than most of its competitors.
Samsung UN46EH5000, $ 880. This 46-inch 1080p LCD TV, the bigger sibling to the 32-inch set above, is a relatively basic set that has the “direct-lit” LED backlight and a claimed 120Hz refresh rate, plus ConnectShare Movie.
Samsung UN46ES6500, $ 1,300. A 46-inch 3D-capable 1080p TV in Samsung’s entry-level 3D LCD series. The TV has an edge LED backlight, a claimed 480Hz refresh rate, built-in Wi-Fi and the company’s Smart TV Internet platform, with a full Web browser, an apps market, and access to streaming movies and TV shows. It comes with two sets of active 3D glasses.
Samsung PN51E490, $ 700. A 51-inch 720p plasma TV in Samsung’s entry-level 3D plasma series. The TV can accept a Wi-Fi adapter, but since it can’t access online content, we assume it’s for DLNA and AllShare as as well as for receiving firmware updates. It does have the Smart Movie feature.
Samsung UN55EH6000, $ 1,400. A 55-inch 1080p LCD—ithe larger sibling to the 40-inch model, above—iwith a direct-lit LED backlight, a claimed 240Hz refresh rate, and Smart Movie.
Samsung UN55ES8000, $ 2,900. A 55-inch 3D-capable 1080p TV in Samsung’s flagship LCD series. This TV has all the bells and whistles, including an edge LED backlight, a claimed 960Hz refresh rate, Micro Dimming Ultimate (a technology that produces a local-dimming like effect without physically adjusting the backlight), built-in Wi-Fi, and the company’s full Smart TV Internet service. It also has a built-in webcam and microphone and can be controlled using voice navigation and gestures. The included face-recognition technology can store up to five separate user profiles.
Sanyo DP42851, $ 490. A very low-priced 42-inch 3D-capable 1080p LCD HDTV from Sanyo—ithe first 3D set we’ve tested from this brand. This model has a few features in addition to 3D, such as access to Internet content, including streaming movies and TV shows from a few services. It uses passive 3D technology and it comes with two sets of polarized 3D glasses. It also has a 2D-to-3D conversion feature that can create 3D effects from standard 2D content.
Sanyo DP46861, $ 540. A 46-inch, 1080p LCD TV from Sanyo, a brand found at Walmart. The TV is Wi-Fi-ready—it comes with the wireless adapter—and it has access to online content, including streaming movies and TV shows from a few services.
Sharp Aquos LC-60LE745U, $ 1,800. A 60-inch 3D-capable 1080p LCD TV from Sharp that has an edge LED backlight, a 120Hz refresh rate, and built-in Wi-Fi. The set has access to online content, including streaming movies and TV shows from several services. It uses active 3D technology, but doesn’t include any glasses.
Sharp LC-70LE640U, $ 2,500. This 70-inch 1080p LCD TV from Sharp—currently the largest TV size in our Ratings—has an edge LED backlight, a 120Hz refresh rate, and built-in Wi-Fi for access to online content, including streaming movies and TV shows from several services.
Sony Bravia KDL-32BX330, $ 330. A fairly basic, lower-priced 32-inch 720p LCD TV from Sony.
Sony Bravia KDL-46HX750, $ 1,600. A 46-inch, 3D-capable 1080p LCD TV with a good number of features, including an edge LED backlight with local dimming, a claimed 480Hz refresh rate, and built-in Wi-Fi. It has access to online content, including streaming movies and TV shows from several services, and can make Skype calls when used with an optional webcam. It uses active 3D technology but doesn’t come with any glasses.
Sony Bravia KDL-46EX640, $ 1,200. A 46-inch 1080p LCD TV, in Sony’s top non-3D series. The TV has an edge LED backlight, a claimed 240Hz refresh rate, and comes ready for Wi-Fi (the required adapter is included). It has access to online content, including streaming movies and TV shows from several services, and can make Skype calls when used with an optional webcam.
Sony Bravia KDL-55BX520, $ 1,350. A fairly basic 55-inch 1080p LCD TV in Sony’s entry-level LCD TV line, which uses fluorescent (CCFL) backlights rather than edge-mounted LEDs. The TV has a claimed 120Hz refresh rate.
Toshiba 32C120U, $ 300. A fairly basic, lower-priced 32-inch 720p LCD TV that doesn’t have a lot of extra features.
Toshiba 40E220U, $ 450. A 40-inch LCD TV in Toshiba’s entry-level 1080p series. It’s a basic set without many extra features.

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