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In the TV labs: Sony's $5,000 Ultra HD TV and more

Consumer Reports News: June 05, 2013 11:38 AM

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If you've checked through our most recent TV Ratings and don't see a model or series you're considering, we might be checking it out right now. Here are the HDTVs currently being tested in our labs.

Among the notable models is the Sony Bravia XBR-55X900A ($5,000), the company's smallest, least expensive Ultra HD TV to date, and the LG 42GA6400, a set in the company's second-generation Google TV-based series.

We also have new plasma TVs from Panasonic, in its ST60 (Smart Viera TC-P60ST60, $1,500) and flagship VT60 (Smart Viera TC-P65VT60, $3,400) series, as well as the company's flagship LCD TV (Smart Viera TC-L47WT60, $2,500). Among the new Samsung sets we're testing are two 3D-capable 60-inch TVs, one a plasma (PN60F5500AFXZA, $1,200) and the other an LCD/LED (UN60F7500AFXZA, $1,800).

For those on a tighter budget or who are looking for a set for another room of the house, we're also testing less expensive major-brand TVs, as well as models from secondary brands including Element, Haier, Insignia, and TCL.

Here are the TVs now being tested in our lab:

Full-featured models
LG 42GA6400, $850. One of LG's new Google TV-powered models. It's 3D-capable 42-inch 1080p LCD TV with an edge LED backlight, a dual-core processor, a 120Hz refresh rate, plus the Google TV Internet platform with a Chrome Web browser and the Google Play apps market. The TV, which has NFC technology, comes with a wedge-shaped Magic Remote with a QWERTY keyboard, plus four sets of polarized 3D glasses. We also have the LG 47LA6200, $800, , which is similarly featured but it skips Google TV for LG's own smart TV platform. Also, it uses a direct LED backlight, and has a larger screen.

Panasonic Smart Viera TC-P60ST60, $1,500. A 60-inch 1080p plasma TV with a lot of features, including built-in Wi-Fi, the company's smart TV platform with a browser, an apps market, and access to online content, including streaming TV shows and movies from Amazon, Hulu Plus, Netflix, and Vudu. It also has Swipe and Share 2.0 (for sending content to and from the TV and a mobile device). We are also testing the Panasonic Smart Viera TC-P65VT60, $3,400, a 60-inch 1080p plasma TV in the company's mainstream flagship series. (The company also sells a higher-priced ZT60 series that's in more limited distribution.) It has everything the ST60 series has, plus a different panel, a dual-core processor, a touchpad controller, voice interaction, and THX 3D certification. It comes with two pairs of active 3D glasses. Also in the lab is the Panasonic Smart Viera TC-L47WT60, $2,500, a 47-inch 3D-capable flagship 1080p LCD TV. It has a 240Hz refresh rate, an edge LED backlight with local dimming, built-in Wi-Fi, and the company's Viera Connect smart TV platform used by the ST60 and VT60 plasmas, plus Swipe and Share 2.0.

Philips 32PFL4908/F7, $330. A 32-inch 60Hz 720p (1366x768) LCD TV with built-in Wi-Fi and the company's NetTV Internet platform with access to streaming movies and TV shows from Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Vudu. The TV also has Wireless Connect for wirelessly displaying content from a computer on the TV, and its remote has dedicated buttons for accessing Netflix and Vudu.

Samsung UN60F7500AFXZA, $1,800. This step-up 3D-capable 60-inch 1080p LCD TV is loaded with features, including a claimed higher refresh rate (Samsung uses an inflated "CMR" number instead of the TV's actual refresh rate), an edge LED backlight, Micro Dimming Pro (a software-based local dimming process), a dual-core processor, built-in Wi-Fi, and the company's smart TV platform with a full browser, apps, and access to streaming movies and TV shows from Amazon, Hulu Plus, Netflix, Redbox Instant, and Vudu. It also has Smart Interaction, which includes gesture and voice control, plus a built-in pop-up camera and face-recognition, and a touchpad remote. This TV will accept Samsung's Evolution Kit--a $300 module that can upgrade a TV's performance and features to newer-model specs--when it becomes available. We're also testing the Samsung PN60F5500AFXZA, $1,200, a fully featured 60-inch 3D-capable 1080p plasma TV.

Sharp LC70C7500U, $3,500. A 70-inch 1080p LCD TV from Sharp with a lot of features, including an edge LED backlight, a claimed 240Hz refresh rate, a dual-core processor, built-in Wi-Fi, and the company's smart TV platform with access to streaming movies and TV shows from Hulu Plus, Netflix and Vudu.

Sony Bravia KDL-32W650, $650. A full-featured 32-inch 1080p LCD with an edge LED backlight, built-in Wi-Fi, and Sony's Internet service with access to streaming movies and TV shows from several services, including Netflix and the company's own Video Unlimited service. The TV has an MHL-enabled input, plus Miracast for wirelessly mirroring content from a mobile device on the TV.

Basic sets
Element ELCFW329, $340. A 32-inch 720p (1366x768) LCD TV is a basic model without a lot of features. The TV, which appears to be sold only in Walmart stores (not online), has three HDI inputs, and it's one of the few sets we've seen this year that still use a fluorescent (CCFL) backlight.

Haier LE32D32200, $290. A basic 32-inch 60Hz 720p (1366x768) LCD TV. It has a direct LED backlight and two HDMI inputs.

Insignia NS-46E440NA14, $550. A 46-inch 1080p LCD TV with an LED backlight and 120Hz refresh rate. It has 3 HDMI-capable inputs (one doubles as a DVI input) and one is MHL-enabled, so the TV will work with the Roku Streaming Stick media player for access to online content, including streaming movie and TV services.

TCL LE40FHDE3000, $325. A no-frills 40-inch 60Hz 1080p LCD TV with a direct LED backlight. It has a two-year warranty, but only two HDMI inputs.

Toshiba 32L2300, $290. A fairly basic 720p (1366 X 768p) LCD TV with a 120Hz refresh rate, an LED backlight, and three HDMI inputs.

Smaller models
LG 29LN4510, $250. A basic 29-inch 60Hz 720p (1366x768) LCD TV with a direct LED backlight.

SamsungUN29F4000AFXZA, $280. A basic 60Hz 720p (1366x768) LCD TV. It has an edge LED backlight and two HDMI inputs.

An Ultra HD TV
Sony Bravia XBR-55X900A, $5,000. This is Sony's 3D-capable 55-inch Ultra HD TV, which is loaded with features including the company's Triluminous color technology, which purports to produce a wider range of colors. The TV has an edge LED backlight with local dimming, an enhanced frame rate (like Samsung, Sony uses an artificially higher claimed refresh rate, in this case "Motionflow 960"), built-in Wi-Fi, and Sony's Internet platform with access to streaming movies and TV shows from Hulu Plus, Netflix, and Sony's own Video Unlimited service. The TV, which comes with four sets of polarized glasses, has NFC for pairing a mobile device with the set, and a TV SideView app lets you use a compatible phone or tablet to control the TV and call of a program guide.

While these latest models are now undergoing testing, we're getting close to posting our latest, updated HDTV Ratings. This group includes our full testing tests of Seiki's $1,400 Ultra HD TV. So keep checking back for news of when our latest TV Ratings go live.

James K. Willcox

   

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