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The 10 best budget buys TV deals of 2014

Check out these budget buys for a great deal on a top TV

Published: December 24, 2014 10:00 AM

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The Sharp Aquos LC-60EQ10U, a 60-inch set, is also a big-screen bargain buy.

Earlier this week we published our list of the Top 10 TVs of 2014. Most of them were pretty pricey, some extravagantly so. What do you do if you still want a great set, but your budget is a bit tighter than an actor's face after his or her third plastic surgery? That's easy—pick out one of the sets from our list of 10 Best TV Deals of 2014.

These TVs aren't just relatively inexpensive; they're also fine performers. In fact, to make this list every TV had to deliver excellent high-definition picture quality. (If you're not quite as picky, check out our complete TV Ratings, available to subscribers, for other great deals on TVs with very good overall picture quality.) And with most of the TVs on this list, you don't have to skimp on features. Most are 1080p sets, but there's even one UHD TV priced below $1,000.

So without further ado, here are our best big-screen budget TV buys, from the lowest-priced to the highest:

1. Panasonic Viera TC-50AS530U, $500. This 50-inch 1080p LED-backlit LCD TV from Panasonic delivers excellent high-definition picture quality, though it lacks the wider-than-average viewing angle we saw on its 60-inch sibling, also in our Ratings. But its sound is better, and like that model it does a very good job of reducing motion blur. It has the company's Life+ Screen smart TV platform, with access to online content.
 

2. Sony Bravia KDL-48W590B, $550. This 48-inch 1080p LCD TV from Sony--which appears to be similar to the KDL-48W600B, also in our Ratings, but sold via warehouse clubs such as Costco--is a basic 60Hz set which delivers on the essentials, with excellent high-definition picture quality and the company's smart TV platform. An interesting feature, called Social Viewing, lets you turn on a scrolling Twitter feed feature to see what's being said about the program you're watching.

3. Panasonic Viera TC-55AS530U, $700. This 55-inch 1080p LCD TV, the slightly larger sibling to the 50-inch set above, offers excellent high-definition picture quality, very good anti-blur performance, and a good number of features, including Panasonic's updated Life+ Screen smart TV platform.

4. Panasonic Viera TC-55AS680U, $800. This step-up 55-inch LED-backlit 1080p LCD TV from Panasonic offers excellent high-definition picture quality and very good anti-blur performance, though its sound was only fair. It has a good number of features, including a 240Hz refresh rate, and Panasonic's Life+ Screen smart TV platform.

Find the best flat-panel TV for your needs and budget with our TV buying guide and Ratings.

Not surprisingly, Vizio's sub-$1,000 P-series UHD TV lands on the list.

5. Vizio P502ui-B1E, $900 (UHD TV). An Ultra HD (3840x2160) TV with excellent picture quality for under $1,000? That's exactly what Vizio offers with this 50-inch set. And it's no stripped-to-the-the-bones model—it's packed with features, including a full-array LED backlight with local dimming, plus the company's VIA Plus smart TV platform with access to streaming movies and TV shows from several services. It has five HDMI inputs, a lot for a TV this size.

6. Vizio E650i-B2, $1,100. This 65-inch 1080p LCD TV from Vizio, in its entry-level E series for 2014, is a crowd pleaser, with excellent high-definition picture quality and a decent number of features, including a full-array backlight with local dimming and the Vizio Internet Apps Plus smart TV platform.

7. Sony Bravia KDL-60W630B, $1,100. This 60-inch 1080p LED-backlit 1080p LCD TV from Sony offers excellent high-definition picture quality and the company's smart TV platform. It also has Social Viewing, which lets you turn on a scrolling Twitter feed feature to see what's being said about the program you're watching.

8. Samsung UN60H6300, $1,150. This 60-inch LED-backlit 1080p LCD TV from Samsung, a mid-range model in its 2014 LCD TV lineup, delivers excellent picture quality and a good number of features. It's a 120Hz set that does a very good job of reducing motion blur during fast-moving scenes, and it has the company's smart TV platform. The set comes with an IR blaster for controlling other gear.

9. Sharp Aquos LC-60EQ10U, $1,200. This attractively priced 60-inch 1080p LCD TV from Sharp delivers excellent high-definition picture quality, though it has a fairly narrow viewing angle. The TV, which uses Sharp's regular Quattron technology, has a good number of features, including access to online content and a 240Hz refresh rate that was effective at reducing motion blur.

10. LG 60LB7100, $1,400. This mid-tier LED-backlit 1080p LCD TV delivers excellent high-definition picture quality, though its 3D performance was only so-so. It also has a wider-than-average viewing angle and LG's newer webOS smart TV platform. It has NFC for touch pairing and comes with a gesture-based Magic Remote universal remote control.

So those are our top big-screen TV bargains for 2014. While the prices listed are already a good deal, we expect to see prices for many of these sets continue to fall, especially around the Super Bowl, and then about a month later when the first 2015 sets start arrive—assuming the sets are still available. And remember to keep checking back for all our CES updates, as we'll be following all the news about TVs and other products during the show.

—James K. Willcox

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