Joined in 2008
A load of new reviews up at HDTV Test.
Sony KDL-55HX823 LED LCD 3D TV£1,469.99'For a short time in the mid-2000s, Sony (which was transitioning away from CRT televisions) was one of the top names in LCD performance. Using panels produced in a joint venture with Samsung (who, at the time, were still inflicting questionable picture “enhancement” on their own HDTVs), buying a Sony LCD TV guaranteed the happy combination of a high-contrast Samsung LCD panel coupled with Sony’s taste in design, and video processing know-how. A lot has changed in 7-8 years though, and the competition is now tougher than ever (that’s our polite way of saying that Samsung HDTV displays have improved by an astronomical amount since then). So, with all that in mind, do Sony BRAVIA LCD TVs still have a place in the market?'http://www.hdtvtest.co.uk
If we had to sum up Sony’s LCD (and LED LCD) output for the last few years in one word, we’d probably choose “decent”. And so it goes with the KDL-55HX823… other than the unusually slow menu interface, there’s nothing really wrong with it in terms of performance when compared to other LED TVs, but also nothing hugely exceptional about it, either.
Like many HDTV displays based on this technology, it produces decent black levels and an accurate picture, and suffers from the usual positives and negatives of LED LCD: in exchange for low power consumption and the ultra-slim profile, users will have to accept uneven brightness distribution across the screen, and some viewing angle limitations. The going rate for the Sony KDL-55HX823 online appears to be around £1300, which places it in a similar price bracket to the Samsung UE55D7000, an edge LED TV which shares very similar strengths and weaknesses. Users who are concerned primarily with picture quality, and who want a large-screen display, are still better served by Plasma televisions from both Panasonic and Samsung, in our opinion. LED LCDs have their benefits, most notably their very low power consumption and ability to produce very bright images, but picture quality appears to be lower down the list of priorities with this display type. If LED LCD is your thing, then the Sony KDL-55HX823 is one of many good choices in this category.
Panasonic TX-P65VT30B 3D Plasma TV£999.99 -£2,989.00ConclusionIf you’re interested mainly in 2D viewing and want the biggest, and by most people’s estimation, the best consumer Plasma TV available at the time of writing, then this is it. Running the newest system software (firmware), the Panasonic TX-P65VT30 is a slightly refined, jumbo-sized version of the 50″ VT30 model we reviewed previously. It features the usual Panasonic Plasma strengths: class-leading black levels which act as a canvas for rich, vibrant video images, freedom from any sort of viewing angle restrictions (the picture looks as good from the sides as it does face-on), a motion rendering method that’s very crisp (although not entirely trouble-free), and very low video processing delay, which is excellent news for gamers. It also features excellent colour accuracy, and, if calibrated, excellent Greyscale accuracy, too (although we think the out-of-the-box Greyscale accuracy could be improved, because like most of the 2011 models, pictures have a slight green cast to them before calibration).
Where the Panasonic TX-P65VT30B falls slightly (and we do mean very slightly) short is with 3D and overall value for money. There are many, many positive aspects of its 3-dimensional performance (for example, consistently judder-free motion, and almost-total lack of crosstalk artefacts), but a slight resolution limitation leads to some subtle jaggies being visible in 3D content. This is a little disappointing to see, seeing as Samsung’s cheapest 3D Plasma televisions don’t feature any such limitation, and the Korean company’s competitor to the 65VT30 costs considerably less (although can’t fully match its incredibly deep blacks).
Deciding on a final rating for the Panasonic TX-P65VT30 was difficult. There’s no doubting that it’s an incredibly high-performing display – again, due to its class-leading black level, it’s arguably the best. Whether we Recommend or Highly Recommend it to you depends on two factors: one, do you care about 3D and can you accept buying an expensive display with a slight handicap in this area, and two, can your home cinema setup and budget fit a projector and a screen, which will offer an even more immersive experience for a similar price? If you can’t accommodate (or don’t want to) accommodate a projector and are happy to pay quite a bit more than a comparable Samsung model in order to get access to Panasonic’s superior black level, then we highly recommend the TX-P65VT30B – it’s the best 2D HDTV around at the time of writing and its 3D support is excellent, albeit imperfect, too.
Panasonic TX-P42S30B Plasma TV £438.98Conclusion
After spending an unhealthy amount of time with the 2010 and 2011 Panasonic Plasma displays, we had a fairly good idea of how the TX-P42S30 was going to perform before we put it through our tests. The only sore points we found were its slightly cheap-looking design, and the predictable lack of effective screen filter, meaning that the Panasonic TX-P42S30B won’t produce rich, punchy images when faced with sunlight or strong artificial lighting. In these conditions, we’d encourage readers to look at LCD and LED LCD TVs instead, although this does mean giving up Plasma’s usually perfect screen uniformity, high motion clarity, and lack of viewing angle restrictions, all of which make the Panasonic S30 special amongst budget HDTVs. Lastly, like the rest of the 2011 Panasonic Plasmas, the TX-P42S30 sometimes reveals a little too much shadow detail (see the Gamma charts in the Calibration section), although this is the sort of error you’d need a perfect comparison display to pinpoint.
If you watch TV in dim conditions (or better yet, in a darkened home cinema room), then the TX-P42S30B is a bargain. In ideal conditions, it produces essentially the same contrast performance as considerably more expensive Plasmas, and the barely perceptible colour inaccuracies that result from the omission of calibration options are forgivable when you remember that the 42″ version can be had online for just £450. It also handles video games wonderfully, being the only Full HD flat-panel television in this price range that can deliver the winning combination of high motion clarity and high responsiveness simultaneously (on LCD, you can pick one or the other, but not both). It’s a fairly cheap HDTV that we feel has no serious flaws: nearly every quality that has made the 2011 Panasonic Plasma range so recommendable can still be found here, despite the budget price tag. As a result, it comes highly recommended.Samsung UE32D5000 LED LCD TV£389.99 Conclusion
There’s a lot to like about the Samsung UE32D5000, and at the current asking price of around £400, it presents decent value for money (although we begrudge the lack of Freeview HD/DVB-T2 tuner). The only real negatives relate to the use of non-MCFI assisted LED LCD display technology: fast motion video content will reveal motion blur, and the light distribution across the screen surface is slightly inconsistent, which is the price you pay for such a slim panel. It’s also a shame that the out-of-the-box picture was overly reddish, because we can’t imagine many entry-level televisions will be given the full calibration treatment.
However, if you’re looking for a smaller screen HDTV with great aesthetics, low power consumption, good black levels, excellent video game responsiveness, and potentially excellent picture quality with HD sources, then the UE32D5000 is a fairly solid choice.
Panasonic, probably unsurprisingly, leading the pack with Sony & Samsung bringing up the rear.