Samsung PN64F5500, $1,800. Although it's not cheap, this 64-inch plasma is still priced below many other similarly sized and featured major-brand models. It delivers excellent high-definition picture quality and—if you care—perhaps the best 3D performance we've seen. And it's loaded with features, including Samsung’s smart TV platform. Its 60-inch sibling is also recommended, and you can get it for under $1,000.
Panasonic Viera TC-P60ST60, $1,500. This is a bit of a teaser, since it's getting impossible to find this set, which arguably delivered the most bang of any TV in 2013. It has excellent picture quality and a ton of features, though like other Panasonic sets we reviewed last year, its sound quality was severely lacking. If you can locate this set, you might have to pay as much as $500 over the $1,500 we paid. Another option is the 55-inch model, which is a bit more readily available.
Sony Bravia KDL-60R550A, $1,370. This model delivers great high-def picture quality with among the better motion-blur performance we've seen from an LCD (LED) set. However, its viewing angle is fairly limited, which may not be great for a crowd of viewers. Also, its 3D performance was below that of most sets. It’s loaded with features, including Sony’s full smart TV platform.
Vizio E601i-A3, $800. Vizio has made a mark by offering full-featured sets that perform well, at prices lower than the major brands. This model is no exception. For a 60-inch smart TV set, it was already a value buy at $1,000; now Walmart has it as a big-game special for $800. Our tests show that it delivers excellent high-def picture quality, though its viewing angle isn't great. [An earlier version of this story cited the wrong Vizio model; edited 1/28/14]
Samsung PN60F5300, $1,000. Though it doesn't have many features (no 3D or smart TV service), this 60-inch Samsung plasma delivers the essentials, primarily excellent high-def picture quality. You can get this set right now at Walmart for $948 or for just under $1,000 at Amazon.
Panasonic TC-P60S60, $1,100. What do you get when you strip the 3D capability out of the ST60-series sets we like so much? Basically, the S60 models, such as this 60-inch set. Though lacking 3D, it delivers excellent high-def picture quality, and it includes Panasonic’s smart TV platform. Now for the bad news—like the ST60 models, this one is hard to find, and typically sells for higher than the $1,100 we paid. If you can go higher in both screen size and price, the 65-inch version (TC-P65S60) is still available for $1,500 from Sears.
Remember that any of our top-rated TVs will be a great deal if prices drop significantly. We'll be monitoring Super Bowl deals, so keep checking back for our latest TV posts.
—James K. Willcox