HDTV Buying Guide 2014
Tis the season for us to go wishlist shopping and help you spend your money – one of our favorite times of the year. If you happen to be lucky enough to have budget for a new HDTV this Christmas, but still aren’t sure which one to buy, we’ve got you covered. Unlike years past, we’re going to skip the budget categories, and the screen size categories and jump right to our top picks. We each pick three TVs and one ‘money is no object’ / ‘dare to dream’ TV for you to consider.
For those who don’t still have last years buyer’s guide handy, here are few of the sets from last year along with their prices. It turns out waiting a year to buy a new TV may not be a good idea. Most of the prices actually went up. So check out this year’s list and jump on the good deals before they’re gone.
If you aren’t lucky enough to pick up one of the $200 50” TVs on Black Friday, this model from Seiki is a close runner up. Sure it’s a Seiki, but we said the same thing about Vizio just a few years ago, so you can’t always judge a TV by its name badge. It’ has a full array LED backlight for great color and contrast and they offer a one year replacement warranty. Amazon users rate it at 4 stars with 690 reviews, with more 5 star reviews than any other single category. Good deal for a 50” HDTV.
Let’s be honest, 65 inches is a really big TV. And for $1300, it isn’t a huge amount to spend. Sure it’s pricey, but not ridiculous. And it comes with all of the cool new features we’ll talk about with a much more expensive LG model coming up later in the list. It has webOS for the Smart TV interface, something engadget says is the best smart TV interface they’ve ever used, and LG’s Magic Remote with Voice Mate feature that gives you natural speech recognition to control your whole home theater. And you get great picture quality, IPS for off-angle, but unfortunately no 3D.
Or, for a few dollars more, grab 5 more inches of screen real estate with this model from Sharp. The Sharp Aquos line was once the gold standard in LCD televisions. They have been outpaced by other, hungrier manufacturers, but they still make an excellent TV. This one includes Sharp’s proprietary Quattron technology incorporates a fourth yellow subpixel to the standard red, green and blue, giving AQUOS Quattron televisions 33% more subpixels than a standard HDTV, for a total of 8 million subpixels. It is a smart TV and has 240 Hz refresh. For $200 more you can step up to the 3D model if you’re interested: Sharp LC-70SQ15U 70-inch Aquos Q+ 1080p 240Hz 3D Smart LED TV ($1697). At 70” 3D could be compelling in some circumstances.
This year I went big with my selections because I feel that anything under 50 inches is essentially a commodity product. I really like this TV because it actually comes close to plasma black levels and contrast and doesn’t have a screen that is highly reflective. For those of you who don’t own a media device like a Roku, this is a Smart TV with wireless support for all the usual services. There is also a 55 inch for about $150 more (Sony KDL55W800B 55-Inch)
This is the steal of the list. A 60 inch TV for less than $800! No 3D, no 4K, just a large format HDTV that won’t break the bank. The picture quality is good but it can be great with professional calibration. There are a ton of settings that, in the hands of an expert, will make this TV the best bang for the buck on this list.
If you want to go really big but don’t want to buy a projector and screen this is a TV for you. Its a 1080p TV so no issues with compression artifacts, just a great picture that allows you to immerse yourself into whatever you are watching. Being that its a 2013 model you can save some cash and still be the envy of everyone on your block. The Vizio M-Series is an edge lit LED TV so it only has 16 light zone that can be independently dimmed but regardless it does have good black levels and contrast. Colors are good too. You would have to go with some higher end TVs to get better but none offers an 80 inch unit for less than $3,300! Built-in WIFI gets you access to Netflix, Hulu, and much much more. Tip: A TV this size should be calibrated to get the most out of it.
Ultimate Christmas Presents:
Sure it’s curved, which we’ll admit is odd, but it’s also OLED, which you have to admit is pretty awesome. If you want the absolute best color and contrast money can buy, you’re looking at OLED. At 55” the TV isn’t very big, so you aren’t getting a giant screen for the money, just the best picture technology on the market right now. Add LG’s exclusive 4 Color Pixel for OLED (white sub-pixel) and the colors are unbeatable. Some added bonuses in this model for 2014 are the addition of webOS for the Smart TV interface and LG’s Magic Remote with Voice Mate feature that gives you natural speech recognition to control your whole home theater.
I didn’t put any 4K TVs on my regular list. That’s because the type of viewing that most of us do (sat/cable) just has too many artifacts. Some programs and networks look fantastic but others don’t. With that said, Blu-rays look incredible. So this TV is on the list for movie lovers that primarily watch Blu-rays. Bright vivid colors and high contrast makes this the TV with the best picture on my list. Its a bit pricy for a 65 inch TV but if you love movies this will make the experience more enjoyable! If you are made of money there is a 79 inch for $7,500 (Sony XBR79X900B 79-Inch).
If you really want to go big or go home, check out the Sharp LC-90LE657U 90-inch Aquos HD 1080p 120Hz 3D Smart LED TV ($6195). That’s one gigantic TV.
Posted by The HT Guys, November 28, 2014 2:29 AM
About The HT GuysThe HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.
Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.
ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.
Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.