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HDTV Buying Guide 2015

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. As odd as it sounds, most of the prices actually went up.  Unlike receivers, it may not pay to wait a year to get a set on the list. So check out this year’s list and jump on the good deals before they’re gone.

Braden’s Picks

VIZIO E50-C1 50-Inch 1080p Smart LED TV (2015 Model) ($498)

I didn’t want to do anything smaller than 55 inches, but a 50 inch TV for $498 is tough to pass up. Especially when Vizio has emerged as a brand that you can trust for the most part to deliver on quality and reliability. They aren’t just a value brand anymore, but they maintain an excellent, affordable price point. Full-Array LED: for light uniformity, and up to 12 Active LED Zones for deeper, more pure black levels. Smart TV: built-in high-speed Wi-Fi for apps like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, and YouTube. You can step up to 4K for $200 more, but at 50” it probably isn’t worth it.

Samsung UN65J6200 65-Inch 1080p Smart LED TV (2015 Model) ($1198)

Samsung is probably the gold standard these days in HDTV, or at least the most popular brand out there. And 65 inches is probably the sweet spot for really big screens at very reasonable prices if you do some shopping around. This set combines great features with a really affordable price – even for Samsung. Its Smart TV technology allows you to access movies, games, streaming services, and other apps so you can easily get to your favorite media. Surf the web using the built-in Wi-Fi, or use the screen-mirroring feature to play your mobile content on the big screen and you can plug into the USB port to watch your own media. It doesn’t have micro-dimming for better contrast, but you can get that for $360 more in the 6300 series.

Sharp LC-70UE30U 70-Inch 4K Ultra HD 120Hz Smart LED TV (2015 Model) ($1931)

Sharp tends to be my go-to brand for really big panels at really deep discounts and this TV is no exception. There are some Vizio models that you might want to compare with it, but it packs a punch for under $2000. Sure it’s only 5 inches larger than the Samsung UN65J6200, but it is 4K and has local dimming for great contrast. The Revelation Upscaler displays all content at near-4K quality. It even has Smart TV features built on Android TV with access to the Google Play store, so you can customize the Smart TV experience to your liking. The only thing you don’t get is HDR, but that’s rare right now and costs quite a bit more. Your best bet for HDR is to upgrade to OLED, but that’ll easily cost more than double what this TV costs for the same screen size.

Honorable mention:

Sansui SLED6516 65-Inch 4K DLED LCD TV 120HZ TV ($899)

A 65” 4K TV for $899? You might be rolling the dice on quality and/or reliability, but at $899, it could be worth the gamble.

Ara’s Picks

LG Electronics 60LF6100 60-Inch 1080p LED Smart TV $865

This year I am all about large format 1080p TVs. I love my 4K Vizio P-Series but after a little more than a year of ownership I can count the number of times I have watched a 4K show on one hand (not including testing for the show). So this year it’s about saving money and getting some fantastic TVs at great prices. First up is this 60 inch LG. LGs are actually pretty decent in quality and reliability and for $865 what’s not to like? It’s not going to blow you away with video processing features. Its 120Hz refresh rate and LED lit. Beyond that it is a smart TV. The main reason for making my list is that it’s 60 inches and only costs $865. And it only weighs 52 pounds!

Sharp LC-65LE654U 65-Inch 1080p 120Hz Smart LED TV $997

It used to be that our list was full of Japanese manufacturers. This year Sharp is the only TV that makes my list from Japan. This is a 120Hz smart TV with good picture quality. Built in Wifi makes it easy to get you streaming video from Netflix and Youtube.

Samsung UN75J6300 75-Inch 1080p Smart LED TV $1997.99

My next TV is a step up in size and quality and two steps up in price. It uses something that Samsung calls Micro Dimming to produce deeper blacks than most LED TVs. Not quite the same as Plasma but unless they are side by side you won’t be able to tell. Also a smart TV, the TV has a quad core processor to make that experience better than most. There is also a Wide Color Enhancer to combine with the Micro Dimming to make colors look more lifelike. At just a hair under $2,000 you can have a projector like experience in your family room.

Ultimate Christmas Presents:

LG Electronics 65EF9500 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Flat Smart OLED TV (2015 Model) ($4998)

Looking for the unrivaled picture quality of OLED and at the incredible UHD resolution a 4K TV provides without the goofy curved screen? The EF9500 OLED 4K ULTRA HD TV sports a flat screen that still displays brighter, more accurate colors OLED provides. Immeasurably deep black levels heightens realism in everything you watch. And at 4K resolution*–four times that of Full HD–even the smallest details become crystal clear, for the most lifelike image ever from LG.

Samsung UN85JU7100 85-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV (2015 Model) ($8997)

Feel the drama of blacker blacks and brighter brights with striking crispness. With 4K UHD resolution you’ll enjoy a picture with 4X the detail of Full HD. See the difference precise color and contrast can make – and a Smart TV experience that puts your favorite content at your fingertips. Plus, this 4K UHD TV complies with the Consumer Electronics Association specification guideline requirements that includes full RGB color resolution. Feel the drama of every entertainment experience with improved black levels and contrast – while bright areas remain bright. Experience a greater sense of depth with optimized contrast across multiple zones of the screen.


Download Episode #717

Posted by The HT Guys, December 10, 2015 11:53 PM

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About The HT Guys

The 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.