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ELECTRONICS FORUMS
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August 2008
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Best LCD televisions under $2,000
Samsung LN46A550
 
It's no surprise if a new LCD TV has been on your wish list: LCD TVs are slim, light, and, thanks to two years of 30 to 40 percent price drops, many of the best LCD televisions in our Ratings (available to subscribers) are cheaper than ever.

But this story isn't just about price—sets are also getting better. In our latest tests of LCD TVs 37 inches or larger (the recommended size for a main TV), more than half had excellent high-def picture quality. We're seeing more sets, especially big ones, with 1080p resolution, giving them the potential to display all the detail in an HD signal. And some manufacturers have addressed traditional LCD weaknesses, such as a narrow viewing angle and blurring during fast-moving scenes.

While best LCD televisions are gaining ground, don't rule out plasma models: Some of the highest-rated TVs we've ever tested are plasmas. They're still less expensive than LCDs in sizes of 50 inches and up, and they don't have issues with motion and viewing angle.

Given all the LCD sets out there, choosing the best LCD television for your needs can be tough. To help narrow the options, we gave ourselves a hypothetical budget of $2,000 and checked our latest Ratings (available to subscribers) to find the best 1080p LCD sets available.

CR's take. The 46-inch Samsung is a superb value. It's among the best TVs we've tested, with excellent picture quality across the board. Its onscreen menu is well designed and easy to navigate. The smaller Panasonic scored slightly lower overall in our best LCD televisions review (available to subscribers). Its menu is a bit more difficult to use, and darker scenes have less contrast. But it earned excellent scores for picture quality and has the widest viewing angle we've seen on an LCD TV.

The Vizio is another outstanding value. Its screen is the biggest in the best LCD televisions group, at 47 inches, and its viewing angle is wider than average for an LCD set. The LG has excellent picture quality, but its viewing angle is fairly narrow—an issue if you expect some viewers to be off to the side.

If you plan to use your TV's built-in speakers rather than an external surround sound audio setup, note that all the models in our Quick Recommendations of LCD TVs (available to subscribers) have good to excellent audio performance.