Good choice if you want a thin, lightweight TV that comes in a wide range of sizes and is well suited for viewing in a bright room.
Common screen sizes. 15 to 80 inches. Manufacturers have showcased sets even larger, including UHD models with 84-inch screens. No matter how large the screen, most LCD TVs are only 2 or 3 inches thick, and sometimes even thinner.
Typical selling prices. About $150 to $500 for a 32-inch model, $250 to $500 for a 37- or 39-inch set, $350 to $8000 for a 40-to-42-inch set, $380 to $1,600 for a 46-to-52-inch set, and $500 to $3,500 for a 55- to 59-inch set. Larger TVs, with screen 60 inches or more, start at about $800 and some big-screen UHD TVs can cost $3,000 or more. (With prices continually dropping and special promotions, you'll probably see some TVs--especially from secondary brands--selling for less than the prices indicated. And top-of-the-line sets loaded with all the newest features can sell for more.)
Key points. Since there are now only a limited number of plasma TVs left, most TVs sold are LCD TVs with LED backlight. LG is currently the only manufacturer selling OLED TVs, but that could change in 2015. Many LCD sets with 40-inch or larger screens now have have 1080p resolution, and use LED backlighting instead of the fluorescent backlights. These sets have been among the most energy-efficient we've tested.
LCDs tend to be brighter than plasma screens, and many have matte screens that don't suffer from reflections and glare, making them a good choice for brightly lit rooms. But we are seeing many more LCD sets with glossy screens, which are more reflective. With LCD TVs, there's no risk of burn-in of static images, which can be a concern with plasma TVs.
Advances in technology have also addressed some LCD TV shortcomings. LCD TVs have had trouble displaying deep blacks, a problem caused partly by backlighting leaking through in dark scenes. Some new models have minimized this problem by using full-frame LED backlights and local-dimming technology. The backlight can be dimmed behind a dark scene, enhancing the depth of black, while remaining bright elsewhere. We've found local dimming to be more effective with models that use full-array LED backlights, which span across the entire back of the panel, than with TVs that use edge-lit LED backlights, which are placed around the perimeter of the screen. Models with LED backlights use less power than older-style tube TVs or plasma sets. Recent developments have also improved the ability of some LCD TVs to display fast-moving scenes without blurring. A growing number of sets now use 120Hz and 240Hz technology, or quasi-240Hz (120Hz plus a scanning backlight) to reduce motion blur. There are also models with that claim even higher 480Hz and 960Hz frame rates as well, but there's no guarantee these TVs will perform any better than a true 120Hz set. LCDs with the usual 60Hz refresh rate still tend to have an issue with motion blur on some fast-moving scenes.
LCD TVs have more limited viewing angles. With most LCD sets, the picture looks its best only from a fairly narrow sweet spot right in front of the screen. As you angle away from the center of the screen--either horizontally or vertically--the image can dim, lose contrast, look washed out, or lose color accuracy. So you could very well be seeing less-than-optimal picture quality if you're sitting off to the side (say, at the end of a long couch), stretched out on the floor, or looking up at a TV over the mantel or looking down at a small set on a kitchen counter. Models that use "IPS" panels generally offer wider-than-average viewing angles for LCD sets.