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Best LEDs & LCDs

How to Choose the Best LCD TV (how to)

Even though it’s the time for giving, many won’t be getting an HDTV in their stocking this Christmas. But with the beginning of the post game season of football looming on the horizon, it’s also the time of year that people start thinking about getting a new HDTV to watch all the big games on New Year’s Day. Here’s a few tips on what to look for when choosing an HDTV. If you want to place the TV in the patio, then consider its ruggedness by comparing it with the SunBriteTV 43-Inch SB-4374UHD-BL Weatherproof Television: Best Under Cover.

Summary:

  • Know your lingo
  • Size Matters
  • 3D is optional
  • Internet capability means cutting the cable
  • Calibrate your HDTV

1. Definitions

First, it may be a good idea to go over nomenclature. Once you understand the ins and outs of the best TV, finding the choice for your space will be simple. When you head over to the local big box store to shop for a TV, you’re going to hear a lot of lingo. So understanding vocabulary is key to not getting lost. Here’s a few terms to learn:

  • LCD – Liquid Crystal Display. The image is produced by passing light through pixels that are turned on/off like little shutters. The pixels also have red/green/blue filters to change the color when necessary. Most newer LCDs right now are either edge-lit or back-lit by LEDs, although many budget LCDs still use a series of from florescent tubes to emit their light.  This cannot be overstated as all LED TVs are LCDs, but not all LCDs are LEDs.  Budget LCD TVs may opt for displaying with florescent light rather than LEDs, which we will talk about next.
  • LED – Light emitting diode.  Rather than using florescecnt backlite, the current trend in LCD design using LEDs as the light source.    This has several advantages since they are very stingy on power consumption and are also infinitely controllable thanks to a concept called “local dimming,” where each individual LED can be turned on, off, or even dimmed slightly.
  • EdgeLit vs. BackLit – With LEDs, the TV can control the light and provide much better detail in color and shadows.  Edge lit LEDs are more popular and cost effective and consist of an array of LED lights on each side of the TV itself. But they can provide an uneven light on screen. This is where back-lit (or local) LEDs come in handy, as the light is coming directly behind the image, rather than being cast from the side.  This provides the best spread of light and better color and contrast.
  • Contrast Ratio/Brightness – defined officially as “ratio of the luminance of the brightest color (white) to that of the darkest color (black),” Contrast ratio is essentially how “black” your blacks are.  This is really important for getting greater detail in shadow.  You’ll hear some pretty wild figures from salesmen as to how much a CR ratio should be, but unfortunately, there really isn’t a standard here.  Manufacturers are all over the map in how they measure and rate the contrast ratio, which can make it very difficult to compare from one set to another based on the specs.   And as stated above, edge lit LCDs will have lesser blacks than backlits will, even if the contrast ratio is higher.  So in the end, it depends on how good those blacks look to you personally.
  • Resolution  We’ll get to size later, but in general, when trying to choose between 720p or 1080p, smaller 1080p TVs (under 40”) are simply a waste because you can’t really get the advantage of it. Additionally, the TV will also downscale the 1080p image from a Blu-ray disc which can cause some artifacting. So screens larger than 40” should go with 1080p. Smaller screens, like those that are also used for computer screens do just fine with 720p. But in the end, broadcast television looks the same with either.
  • Interlaced – your TV signal comes interlaced, meaning that every other line is projected on a screen at any given time. Your eye sees it as an entire image because the frames move at 60 frames a second, but you’re really on seeing half the image with a 1080i TV. The standard for broadcast television is 1080i, meaning that 540 lines are procast with each frame. Older HDTVs were 1080i by design.
  • Progressive – Nowadays, HDTV standards are progressive, meaning that they show the entire image, with every line of resolution, with each frame. TVs can come in 720p or 1080p, meaning 720 lines of resolution or 1080 lines of resolution. Naturally, the higher the number, the sharper and more colorful the image. Some stations broadcast in 720p, but not many, especially in cable or satellite, where the image is compressed.
  • Hertz (hz) – Hertz is essentially the number of frames per second, or times the pixels turn on and off. The more Hz you have on you picture, the more sharp it becomes. But it also can reduce motion blur and make your image look more plastic … called the “soap opera effect.” Most TVs now are 120 to 240 hz.  Now your salesman will be pushing you towards 240hz.  But for most, that’s overkill.  Broadcast signals are usually sent at 60hz since that is the standard. This requires the TV to “interpolate” or add frames in between to the image and that’s what causes the effect. It’s great for sports and action films, but not so much on dramas, which cause the plastic look. But frame interpolation can be turned off which will cause the kind of motion blur that we are used to.  Blu-ray, however, does take advantage of 120hz, so if you watch a lot of movies on Blu-ray, that may be a good option.  And if the soap opera effect is off putting, most TVs have the option to turn off frame interpolation and bring back the motion blur you are used to.
  • Plasma – Plasma uses a trapped gas that is charged by electricity to create incredible light to pass through. It usually produces far bolder colors and great blacks, which are marvelous for shadow scenes. The downside with Plasma is that they are usually poor in bright, ambient lit rooms and originally suffered from a “burn in effect” (which has been overcome in recent years). These drawbacks have allowed LCDs to pass them in popularity to the point that Plasma is becoming less and less a factor in HDTV as more manufacturers abandon it for more popular and cheaper LCD designs. Since LCD has greatly improved in quality (thanks to LED backlighting), the contrast ratio gap between plasma and LCD has greatly reduced to the point where paying more for Plasma’s benefits is largely wasted on the average viewer.

2. Size Matters

Now that we have definitions out of the way, we can turn out attention to the most important factor when buying an LCD TV … Size. Most people tend to buy HDTVs that are smaller than they really need. They do this in an attempt to save money. But the trade offs can really affect the viewing experience. As a rule of thumb is to get a screen large enough to fill a 30 degree viewing angle at the distance that you are sitting. Anything less will cause you to be pulled out of the program. Here’s a handy calcuation to determine the best size for your room:

  • Minimum size= Viewing distance/3
  • Maximum size=Viewing distance/1.5

Using this calculation, and the average viewing distance of about 10-12 feet, the proper HDTV size would be about 42-55 inches, or more depending on your budget.

3. To 3D or not 3D … that is the question

These days, most higher end TVs are 3D.   But more budget conscious designs are also offering 3D, making it just another feature. And many experts say that the best 2D TVs are 3D capable. However, there are some drawbacks with a 3DTV, chiefly being the lack of programming and having to buy glasses. Active or Passive? Active more expensive. And it pretty much puts the kabosh on viewing parties unless everyone has the same pair of glasses.  Another important consideration with 3D is that the best refresh rate for 3D is 120Hz minimum. This is because 3D splits the frames, one for the left eye, one for the right and as such, the resolution is halved for each frame.  To that end, if you had a 60hz 3DTV, the refresh rate to each eye would only be 30hz which would be terrible.  So manufacturers made the spec 120hz minimum to keep up with broadcast standards.  On the other side of the coin, though, we’re starting to see 240hz TVs and frankly, that’s a waste of money since there really is no broadcast signal at 240hz and the TV ends up doing way too much interpolating and again, making hte images look like a  soap opera.  But some prefer it because the look is essentially flicker free.

4. Wired or Wireless Connectivity?

HDTVs that are Internet capable are rapidly becoming a standard feature. In fact, most new HDTVs are now able to stream video directly from the Internet. And with over a third of all internet traffic being streaming video from services like Netflix, and with more people “cutting the cable” and getting free from payTV services, streaming is a solid option. So having an internet capable TV is beneficial. But not required, as many Blu-ray players are also internet capable, along with streaming boxes like AppleTV, Roku, and the Boxee box.

Wired considerations also lead to having a wireless connection that will hook into your Network wirelessly.  This is of great advantage because then you don’t have to string long ethernet cables from your router to your TV.  However, wireless does have the drawback of signal interference and slower speeds.  If you have your router on the other side of the house, or maybe in a room upstairs, you may need to get a repeater to pass the signal along for better streaming of video.

5. A little input

What inputs should one look for in a good LCDTV?  Well, at this stage, you want to keep things all digital. HDMI is the digital standard and every TV comes with it.  This also allows you to hook it into a current home theater, satellite box, and keep both audio and video signals completely digital.  The more HDMI connectors you have, the better, but 3 is the minimum since that would allow you to connect to to your cable or satellite box, video game console, and Blu-ray/DVD player.  Other inputs would be component-video (red, green and blue), SVideo or standard composite connections (red, white, and yellow) for older components.  But some are looking to use LCDTVs as computer monitors and for that you can use a DVI connector. But with DVI, you’ll also need an audio cable connector to handle your sound since DVI doesn’t carry the audio signal.  Another input option is Ethernet.  If you have a computer or networked attached storage to stream video and audio, an Ethernet connector will give you access to that network.

6. Sound choices

Should you rely on the speakers that are built into the TV or go with a home theater or sound bar? I haven’t found a TV that has a speaker setup that rivals a home theater system. If you can swing a system, which usually comes with at least 6 speakers and a subwoofer, and a Blu-ray player, I’d say go for it. But if you don’t have space in your room, then by all means look at a soundbar. But if you’re on a budget, then sometimes the reality is that the home theater system will have to wait. Just start saving up for it. As for which one to get? That’s another show.

7.  App obsessions

Many TVs have apps built into them.  Applications that can be used to stream video from Netflix, do video conferencing via Skype, and even enjoy photographs you’ve uploaded to flickr.  There are dozens of them.  Is this a key feature not to miss?  Not really.  If your TV has them, that’s great, but chances are, if they don’t have the app you want, your new Blu-ray player will.

8.  What’s on the horizon?

The future is bringing all kinds of innovations, including glasses free 3D, 4K resolution, Skype support and even holographic projection. But at this point, they are largely prototypical, limited in viewing area, and there isn’t much in the way of content to support 4K or laser based TVs. And they are quite expensive.  So for now, they are on the horizon and something to keep an eye on for your NEXT HDTV.  The only exception is Skype support as many models do offer this as an “app” built into the system.

9. Which ones to choose?

So, what are the best LCD TVs out there? Samsung and Panasonic are top sellers, as is SONY’s Bravia line. But don’t count out Vizio, who makes a great LCD for the money. Still, there are plenty of great TVs out there and it’s a good do your research. HomeTheaterMag.com is a great resource for reviews on HDTVs.  Also, keep in mind that Costco is a great source of LCD TVs, as they offer a 90-day warranty and 2-year warranty on all their sets.  Amazon is another great place to look as they don’t charge tax in many states, which can often ad upwards of 10% to the price tag.

10. Setting them up

Once you get the TV home, you’ll need to calibrate your TV to fit your room’s lighting conditions. Every TV is set for a “dynamic mode,” at the factory to look great on the showroom floor. That’s because they don’t know which one will be chosen to demo the model. But that also doesn’t look that great when you get it home. You can spend hundreds having a professional calibrate your TV, or you can go the DIY route with a great DVD called Digital Video Essentials: HD Basics, by Joe Kane. This DVD has special test patterns and audio calibration signals that will help to optimize your HDTV for the special conditions of your viewing room, and it will do it in under a half hour. Well worth it’s $20 price tag. But you can get 80% there by drilling into your TVs setup menu and selecting “cinema” or “movie” mode rather than “dynamic.”

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Best LEDs & LCDs

Best 32 LED TVs for [year]

After purchasing the top 10 best 32″ LED TVs on the market, we put them to the test with movies, apps and video games. We also tested them with the best streaming services. During our testing, we specifically looked for features like resolution, picture quality and smart TV capabilities. To test these features, we watched our favorite movies and played our favorite games and compared the results to one another.

When we got our fill of movies and video games, we found that the Toshiba 32LF221U19 32-inch LED TV was the best 32-inch LED TV around. This TV features the impressive Fire TV interface and voice-enabled smart home compatibility. Keep reading to learn more about the Toshiba Fire TV and the other LED TVs on our list to see which option is best for you. This review will help you to find best 32 inch TV for your home.

Top 5 Best 32-Inch LED TV Compared [year]

 #1  Toshiba 32LF221U19 32″ LED Fire TV – Top Pick/Best Smart LED TV

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WHY WE LIKE IT: The Toshiba Fire TVs are some of the most affordable TVs that still offer premium features like full HD and smart functionality. The Toshiba 32LF221U19 offers 1080p resolution and impressive voice control options using Amazon Alexa.

Pros
  • Full HD 1080p resolution
  • Superb voice control with Amazon Alexa
  • Excellent smart TV app selection
Cons
  • TV advertises content from Amazon
  • Black levels aren’t great
  • Disappointing color range

Hands down, the top selling point for this Toshiba Fire TV edition is the ability to control the TV – and your other smart home devices – using the built-in Alexa functionality. This greatly enhances the overall user experience. Just like the best LED TV. The only downside to this being a dedicated Fire TV is the advertising Amazon pushes your way for their own content and products. Unfortunately, these ads can’t be skipped or hidden.

Even though you only get middling color ranges and black levels, the Toshiba Fire TV still offers full HD 1080p resolution. For the most part, the pictures looks great when watching HD content. Plus, you just can’t beat this kind of pricing for a fully functional smart TV. There is a reason this is the best 32 inch TV on our list.

 #2  Samsung UN32J4000C 32″ LED TV – Honorable Mention/Best Design and Color Accuracy


WHY WE LIKE IT: Samsung has always excelled in producing good-looking and reliable televisions, which is apparent in the UN32J400C. It offers accurate colors and an easy-to-use interface perfect for viewers wanting a streamlined experience.

Pros
  • Good color accuracy
  • Simple, good-looking design
  • User friendly interface
Cons
  • Not great at wide viewing angles
  • Poor black levels
  • No smart features

The Samsung UN32J4000C performed pretty well in our testing, but it didn’t blow us away with every single feature it offered, either. The 32 inch LED TV offers the most impressive color accuracy out of all the TVs on our list, but suffered a bit when it came to black levels. Make no mistake, this is a no frills LED television that focuses solely on providing a good picture, which it does well, especially considering the price. Unfortunately, you’ll only get 720p resolution so don’t expect the most high-definition experience. If you want a TV with higher image quality, you might want to look at a more expensive model.

You also don’t get any smart TV functions with this Samsung TV, although that is a problem easily mitigated with smart Blu-Ray players or video game consoles. If you’re looking for a really simple, easy-to-use LED TV at an extra-affordable price, the Samsung is the choice for you. If you live life outside, the best outdoor TVs are a good choice too.

 #3  TCL 32S325 LED TV – Best for Gaming


WHY WE LIKE IT: The TCL 32S325 is a small, lightweight LED TV with a heavy feature set. You get the full, impressively smooth Roku TV interface and fast response times with this TCL, along with a 120 Hz refresh rate, making this perfect for gamers.

Pros
  • Really awesome smart TV experience
  • Fast user interface response times
  • Roku smart interface is constantly upgraded
Cons
  • Picture isn’t very bright
  • Remote feels cheaply constructed
  • Not full HD (only 720p)

TCL has made huge waves in the smart LED TV scene in recent days because of its excellent Roku TV interface and super-affordable price. If you’re looking for an affordable smart TV experience in a TV that’s also great for gaming, then you can’t miss the TCL 32S325. The Roku TV interface is the easiest to use on our list and it’s constantly upgraded to keep it working well at all times. Much like the best 4K TVs.

You also get low input lag and a fast 120 Hz refresh rate, which makes this the perfect 32-inch LED TV for gaming. However, the TV doesn’t get super bright, so make sure you only use it in areas that are dim enough for you to see the picture clearly. If you’re looking for gaming and smart TV functionality on a budget, you can’t go wrong with the TCL 32S325, one of the best Roku TVs on the market.

 #4  Insignia NS-32DF310NA19 32-inch TV – Best Value


WHY WE LIKE IT: The Insignia NS-32DF310NA19 is another excellent Amazon Fire TV option that provides superb Alexa voice control at a price that’s affordable for anyone.

Pros
  • Comes in a wide variety of screen sizes
  • Crisp picture quality
  • Remote is easy to use and well constructed
Cons
  • 720p resolution
  • Interface lags a little during more intensive processes
  • Initial setup took longer than expected

If you want smart home functionality at a price that’s impossible to ignore, then you definitely need to consider the Insignia NS-32DF310NA19 Fire TV. Its best feature is the Amazon Fire interface, which is one of the best smart TV systems available today. Like other Fire TVs, you’ll get somewhat aggressive advertising for Amazon products that you can’t get rid of.

However, this pales in comparison to the picture quality, which manages to stay crisp and vibrant. You’ll get accurate colors and a decent contrast ratio with this LED TV. This is the best budget 32″ LED TV on our list with the best picture quality and performance for its price range. If you want something twice the size, look at the best 65 inch 4K TVs.

 #5  Sceptre X328BV-SR LED TV – Best Budget


WHY WE LIKE IT: If you don’t have more than $100 to spend, you can’t ignore the Sceptre X328BV-SR. Even at an extremely affordable price, you can expect good picture quality with decent color accuracy and contrast levels, making this a hard deal to beat.

Pros
  • Sub-$100 pricing
  • Great sound quality
  • Great color accuracy and contrast
Cons
  • No smart TV functionality
  • Only 2 HDMI ports
  • Only 720p resolution

Without question, the best selling point to the Sceptre X328BV-SR is its sub-$100 price point. If you’re on a budget that you absolutely cannot break, this is the TV for you. While it doesn’t offer any kind of smart TV functionality, it still performs well overall.

For one, the picture quality is surprisingly good, with accurate colors and deep contrast levels. It also features pretty decent onboard speakers, so you won’t need to purchase additional accessories like soundbars. If you don’t want to spend more than necessary on a reliable, well-designed 720p LED TV, the Sceptre is right for you. A bigger option is the best 55 inch 4K TV.

How We Choose the Best 32-Inch LED TV

Screen quality is the primary feature to consider with a television, and it played a key role in determining our top picks. One thing to remember with smaller screen televisions, such as 32 inches, is that some off-brand manufacturers offer screens at discount prices in this screen size category, more so than in the larger screen categories. But it’s smart to stick with the best TV brands in this category to ensure that you have the best screen quality. Speaking of smart TVs, read about the best smart tv and see what they offer.

The number of input ports that are available also was a consideration for the TVs on our list. With smaller televisions, you won’t find as many input ports as are available on larger screens, because there just isn’t as much room available. Having at least two — and preferably three — HDMI inputs is a must these days, even on a screen as small as 32 inches. To discover the best TV for your home, take a look at this list to compare.

Smart TV functionality was important for the models on our list, as more viewers are looking for the ability to access popular apps and stream content. Each manufacturer has its own Smart TV interface it uses, and there are quite a few strong offerings: Tizen, Android, and WebOS to name a few. And although selecting the best Smart TV interface can be a matter of personal preference, my favorite is the Roku interface, which happens to be included with our top pick, the TCL 32FS3800.

The Roku model contains standard popular apps such as Netflix, YouTube, Crackle, and Hulu Plus, but it also has Spotify, HBO Go, Amazon Video, and CinemaNow. And with Roku, you can perform searches of various streaming services independent of the service’s app, meaning you can search multiple services at once for a particular show or actor. This is a time saving feature. The Roku interface just feels natural to use, and in my experience, Roku is a very stable interface, outperforming some other Smart TV options. Perhaps that shouldn’t be a surprise, as Roku has been around for quite a bit longer than other options, originally appearing as the navigation interface in some of the first stand alone DVRs.

Another key component we emphasized in our list of the best 32-inch TVs is response time. A 32-inch model often serves as a second TV in the home, aimed at gamers, meaning a unit’s strong response times are important for multiplayer gaming. For example our top choice on this list, the 32FS3800, has a top response time of about 15 ms, which is a top-end performance level for a 32-inch TV. If a smaller TV has a 60 ms or slower response time, it’s going to struggle with gaming. Although TVs with faster response times may cost a bit more than slower performing televisions, serious gamers will definitely want to spend a little extra to receive the best performance levels. If you’re someone who just plays games occasionally or who rarely participates in multiplayer games, you probably can receive the performance you need from a TV with mid-level response times (about 35 ms or slower).

Why You Should Buy a New 32-Inch TV

Although much of the television market’s focus is on the best 55-inch TVs or the best 70 inch TVs, not everyone has the space for such a large television screen. A smaller TV is perfect for a smaller room, where you don’t want to feel overwhelmed with a large screen. If your primary seating area is about 4-7 feet from the TV, a 32-inch LED television is a great choice. Or if you’re a gamer, you may want to sit closer to the screen, which makes a 32-inch model great as a best TV for gaming.

Another great reason to purchase a smaller TV is as a second model (or third model) for the man cave. Perhaps you’re looking for multiple TVs for the NCAA Tournament, so you don’t miss any games. A 32-inch TV will be easy to move around and serve as a good complementary screen to your larger unit, all at a lower price than a larger screen might set you back instead.

And the price point in this screen size category is very desirable. When you can pick up a television that still measures 32 inches diagonally for just a few hundred dollars, you’re receiving a nice deal.

What to Look for in the Best 32-Inch LED TV

  • Screen Resolution: One thing you’ll notice with 32-inch televisions is that you’ll be limited to HD resolution. So if 4K resolution is your desire, you’ll have to look at larger, more expensive models. It becomes necessary to make the choice between a viewing experience and cost.
  • Refresh Rate: The measurement of how often the screen refreshes is measured in hertz. A fast refresh rate, say 120Hz, typically results in better performance for fast moving subjects on the screen, such as sports or gaming, versus a 60Hz refresh rate.
  • Smart TV Functionality: One of the benefits of going with a small TV is that it still has all of the Smart TV functions of its larger screen counterparts. Smart TVs have Wi-Fi technology or Ethernet ports built into them, allowing for an Internet connection, but each manufacturer offers different Smart TV interfaces. These make it easy to find the best streaming movies.
  • Ports: If you’re using your 32-inch model TV as a gaming TV, you’re going to need plenty of ports for connecting gaming systems. Having multiple HDMI ports is key to ensuring all of your devices can be connected at one time. All of the units on our list offer at least two HDMI ports, although at least three are better.

Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Placing TV in Wrong Size Room: A 32-inch TV will work well in a small room, as you’ll want the primary sitting area to be about 4-7 feet from the 32-inch screen. If your sitting area must be farther from the screen, you probably will want to seek a larger display to compensate.
  2. Strong Contrast Levels: If you’re going to be sitting closer to the screen than normal, you’re going to notice problems with contrast easier as well. You’ll want the difference between the whites and blacks to be as distinct as possible. TV manufacturers measure contrast in a ratio, where any measurement of 3,000:1 or higher is a good performance level.
  3. Worrying About 1080p HD Resolution: Don’t be hung up on selecting a 32-inch television that has 1080p HD resolution. Because this screen size category is pretty small, you won’t really notice the difference between 720p and 1080p LED models. And many 720p HD 32-inch TVs, such as the TCL model that’s our top pick, are able to upscale to simulate 1080p when such programming is being displayed. In many cases, full HD resolution is all you need for a quality viewing experience.

What Else You Should Think About

When seeking the best 32 LED TV, make sure you understand everything you need to know about modern flat screen televisions. If you haven’t shopped for TVs for a few years, it’s important that you look through our TV buying guide to better understand all of the latest jargon around making a television purchase. LED TV review articles on our site can help you find a great model too.

Although some shoppers may initially balk at selecting a small screen, if you choose to go small, you’ll be amazed at the great prices you can find. The TCL 32LF221U19 32-inch TV will be a best buy at less than a couple of hundred dollars, as long as you place it in a room where your primary seating is relatively close to the screen. And the TCL unit will work well as a best gaming TV, should you be seeking a smaller model as a second television in your man cave!

Categories
Best LEDs & LCDs

Vizio VMB070 7-Inch Razor LED Portable TV Review

[Rating: 4/5]

No matter what brand and size of TV you are looking for, check out the display resolution guide to learn more about TVs like the one below. If you’re just looking to display your best digital pictures, take a look at the best digital picture frame too.

Pros:

  • Good quality screen
  • Extremely useful, doubles as digital picture frame
  • Great price

Cons:

  • Weak speakers and battery life
  • High chance of becoming obsolete thanks to Tablets

Who wants a 7” TV? It’s an odd thing to have on a wish list, to ask for as a holiday gift. I mean, this is America! We like things big! Cellphones are getting bigger, movie screens are huge, and we all want a bigger TV set. So why bother with a puny 7” TV, which is even smaller than an iPad, and significantly thicker than the Samsung Galaxy Tablet?

Actually, there are a lot of reasons. In case of an emergency and you need to hear TV broadcasts. When traveling and there is no TV. When power goes out and you don’t have a backup generator. To easily hide your videogame addiction from you mom/girlfriend/whomever. These reasons, with exception to the first, may not be forthright, but they’re all equally viable. I’m sure you can think of plenty of other reasons.

The Vizio 7” Edge Lit Razor LED LCD Portable TV (or Edge for short) isn’t remarkable in any way, and it’s not supposed to be. At just $160, the purpose of the Edge is not to accomplish any one specific thing, but rather to have a myriad of functions and be available should you need it, in case of emergency. That’s how I see it, and in that light, the Edge is pretty darn useful, and a good TV to boot.

With its 7” 800×480 display, the Edge gets the same resolution seen on recent Android phones, like the Droid 2 and Epic 4G. That resolution isn’t really diminished on a larger screen because it has a good viewing distance of 3-5 feet, though closer than that won’t hurt. I played on the Edge with an Xbox 360, and while the screen is annoyingly small for that, it’s doable. Of course, I recommend comfortable seating if you plan on doing something similar.

What I like about the Edge is the sleek build. It doesn’t stand out, and it’s not uncomfortable to hold. The antenna pops out of the right side to reveal the main ports: RF, USB, AV, and then an on/off switch. That switch does not power on the Edge, instead locking it so it isn’t accidentally powered on when not in use. The antenna spins in every which way and pops out easily. More importantly, it magnetically clamps back into its groove for transport. A kickstand can be pulled out and clicks into place, putting the screen at a nice 15 degree angle. The carrying case is useful for keeping it save when traveling.

TV functions are, once again, nothing special or out of the ordinary. The Edge is made to work with both the included remote and the touchscreen controls below the screen, which are a tad slow but responsive. Vizio covered all the bases with just six buttons. The rear power button is sturdy. On the left side is a power port and 3.5mm audio jack. Sound from the Edge is…what you’d expect from a 7” TV. Tinny, certainly good enough in noisy conditions, but if headphones are an option, use them. It’s hard enough to get immersed with whatever’s on-screen when the screen is so darn small.

Video quality is pretty good. TV quality, especially over the air, will depend on your service (many of the areas tested in Los Angeles have minimal, if any over the air channels), though I played several movies (through external sources) and videogames on the Edge, and the quality isn’t bad at all. It only suffers due to the screen’s aspect ratio, 5:3, which is in-between the old 4:3 and current widescreen (16:9) video formats. This means most TV and movies have black bars, which strangely isn’t a huge bother. On a screen so small, those black bars are equally tiny.


The Sony Dash, side by side with the Vizio 7″ Edge, from left to right

Besides just being a TV, the Edge also doubles as a digital photo frame when paired with a USB drive. Without any internal memory of its own, the thumbstick is required, and using the Edge as a digital photo frame gives a lot of life to the device for many prospective buyers. As mentioned earlier, I expect a large percentage of interested consumers to buy a screen like the Edge for emergency purposes, so if it can be used all-year round and be equally available during a crisis, all the better. Just remember that it only supports JPEG files.

Battery life on the Edge is dismal, but not unexpected considering the price. I averaged about two hours under standard use, with audio and video playing. It uses a rechargeable battery, so there’s no option for replacing the batteries should no power be available. I’d like to have seen some option to recharge the battery without an electrical outlet, but there is none.

All in all, the Vizio 7” Edge is a very decent TV. Well, for something so small. Such gadgets are bound to disappear soon enough with the proliferation of faster cell networks and enhanced emergency services. But for now, the Edge is a good little TV that doubles as a digital photo frame, for a very reasonable price. Just don’t buy it for a holiday present…unless you know the recipient is paranoid enough to like it.

The Vizio VMB070 7-Inch Razor LED TV can be purchased from Amazon for $139.99.

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Hisense 50H8C TV Review

Although flatscreen televisions have dropped quite a bit in price across all screen sizes in the past several years, the budget-priced TV category it still out there with some interesting options to choose from. My Hisense 50H8C TV review covers a 50-inch television that costs less than $500, placing it directly in the budget area of the market. It falls square into the best TV for the money sweet spot. Or, if you just need a small TV for your bedroom, check out our ViewSonic VT2430 24 inch 1080p LCD TV review.

Hisense didn’t skimp on features with this inexpensive model, though. The 50H8C offers Ultra HD/4K resolution, multiple local dimming zones, WiFi connectivity, and four HDMI ports. This model is limited to a 60Hz refresh rate, which makes it struggle a bit when showing fast-moving action movies or sports. And its wide angle viewing capabilities are poor, so you’ll want to be careful about the type of room in which you use the Hisense 50H8C. But at less than $500, it still represents a very good value.

Overview

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Great price point and strong 4K image quality combined.

Summary: A poor viewing angle limits the usefulness of the Hisense 50H8C in certain rooms, but it offers good image quality and 4K resolution at a low price point when using a direct viewing angle.

Price: $499.99 on Amazon (50-inch screen)
Available: June 2016
Other Screen Sizes Offered: 55-inch for $699.99

What We Liked

  • Great price point for 50-inch TV
  • Pleasing screen quality with accurate colors
  • Remote has four buttons dedicated to popular Smart TV apps
  • Plenty of ports available (4 HDMI and 3 USB)
  • 4K resolution not often found in this price point

What We Didn’t

  • Picture quality drops off fast at sharp viewing angles
  • Smart TV features don’t work as quickly or as well as they should
  • Only two HDMI ports that are HDMI 2.0 compatible
  • Local dimming feature doesn’t work as well as some other TVs
  • Only one other screen size available for H8 model (55 inches)

Hisense 50H8C 4K Specs

Screen Size50 inches (55 inches also available)
Screen Resolution4K/Ultra HD
Screen TypeLED-LCD
Flat Screengreen-check-mark
60Hz Refresh Rategreen-check-mark
HDR Compliantgreen-check-mark
3D Capablered-x-icon
Smart TV InterfaceOpera
Input Lag35 to 55 ms
Connectivity4 HDMI, 3 USB, Ethernet, WiFi
Weight27.6 pounds
Size44.1 x 3.3 x 25.6 inches
Price$499.99
Buy Now

Design

Hisense 50H8C design
The Hisense 50H8C TV measures 3.3 inches in thickness and has a black border around the screen with a silver strip along the bottom, giving it a common design look.

This 50H8C Hisense model comes with, without mincing words; a pretty dang basic design. The black plastic borders around the screen measure about 0.5 inches in thickness, which is a common measurement. The thickness of the TV (at about 3.3 inches) is also an average measurement. Even though there’s nothing particularly special about the look of this Hisense TV, it’s still a decent design for a 50-inch TV, because the viewer’s focus will be on the screen, where it should be.

If you choose to use the included support legs with the 50H8C and display it on a shelf or entertainment center, the legs measure about 9.5 inches in depth. During my tests, I found that the legs offer a sturdy base, and I didn’t notice any unsteadiness on this TV.

The 50H8C uses a Vesa 200×200 wall mount design, but because of the location of more than half of the TV’s ports on the back of the unit, it can be tough to access these when the model is mounted on the wall. That said, you can still access the five side ports when wall mounting the unit. This makes it convenient when placed in any of your best TV mounts.

Features

Hisense 50H8C ports
The Hisense 50H8C offers four HDMI ports, but only two of them support HDMI 2.0.

Take a look at the Hisense 50H8C’s specs and you’ll find plenty of ports, especially considering this TV’s sub-$500 price point. The 50H8C has four HDMI ports and three USB ports. Two of the HDMI ports are on the side and two are on the back. All three USB ports are on the side panel. The Ethernet jack is on the back, along with the component-in ports.

One odd feature I found with the 50H8C occurred with the HDMI ports. Only two of the four HDMI ports (the ones on the back) can support 4K resolution at a 60Hz refresh rate. The other two HDMI ports (on the side) can only support 4K at a 30Hz refresh rate. So you’ll want to use the back HDMI ports if you’re running programming at native 4K resolution, keeping in mind that it can be difficult to access these ports if you choose to wall mount the 50H8C. Hisense did not include 120Hz refresh rate support for this model at any resolution.

Audio quality is acceptable with the Hisense 50H8C … to a point. As long as volume levels are kept at a reasonable setting, you should have pleasing audio results. But if you’re someone who wants to use loud sound settings, I began to notice some distortion when I significantly increased the volume during my tests. The built-in speakers don’t offer the deep bass you may want for watching movies, either, so purchasing a soundbar may be a good idea for better audio quality. But for everyday TV viewing at average volume levels, the 50H8C’s built-in speakers can still provide adequate quality on their own.

Display Quality

I have to admit I was skeptical that the Hisense 50H8C’s display quality would be good, primarily because of the TV’s price point. But oh how wrong I was. The 50H8C screen offered an impressive and steady color accuracy throughout my tests. The objects on the screen almost jump out at you, both when viewing native 4K content and when viewing upscaled HD content on the 4K display. It’s a pleasing look.

Compared to other 50-inch TVs in this price range, the contrast ratio found with the 50H8C at about 4000:1 is above average. The uniformity of black across the screen is also better than expected versus other models in the budget-priced area of the market.

The Hisense 50H8C input lag measurements are slightly above-average versus other 50-inch models, which means using this TV for multiplayer gaming will provide adequate results. If you’re running native HD resolution games, you can expect an input lag of around 35 ms to 40 ms. But if you’re playing 4K resolution games, the input lag will be closer to 55 ms, which admittedly is still a decent performance level for 4K.

The 50H8C HDR capabilities are a bit of a surprise to find in a TV in the sub-$500 price range. There aren’t many TVs in this price range that support HDR, and HDR technology provides a wider range of color than you’ll find on televisions without HDR. Now, the 50H8C’s HDR capabilities aren’t perfect, and it won’t be able to compete with top-end models in terms of the range of colors its HDR technology can offer, as its HDR performance is about average at best.

One additional note regarding HDR: Hisense released a firmware upgrade for the 50H8C late in 2016, adding support for the HDR10 spec, so you’ll want to make sure your model has the latest firmware installed before you get to watching any HDR-specific content.

Hisense included a full array backlight and local dimming technology with the 50-inch model, allowing it to dim the backlight behind certain areas of the screen, making blacks appear deeper in those areas. However, the local dimming didn’t seem to work as well on the 50H8C as it does on some more expensive TVs. There seemed to be slight shadows as the TV switches the local dimming zones on and off, which can be distracting. Along these same lines, you may notice some dark corners with the 50H8C, depending on what’s displayed on the screen.

However, the biggest drawback to this Hisense model is its poor performance when viewing the screen off-center. In fact, you’ll notice a degraded image when viewing the TV from an angle as shallow as 15° or 20° off center. This is one of the poorest performance levels regarding viewing angle we’ve found in our large screen TV reviews. You won’t want to use the Hisense 50H8C in a room where the seating area is spread horizontally around the television’s location, and the seating needs to be almost dead center to the LED TV screen in order for it to really shine at its brightest.

Smart TV Features

Hisense 50H8C remote
You can access popular Smart TV apps directly through the Hisense 50H8C’s remote.

Hisense strongly emphasizes the Smart TV features in its 50-inch model in its marketing materials, but there are some problems with lock ups and inconsistent performance.

Hisense makes use of the Opera Smart TV interface with its 50H8C model, meaning you’ll download apps from the Opera TV Store. The manufacturer preloaded some of the most popular Smart TV apps, so you’ll have access to apps such as Netflix, VUDU, Amazon Video, and YouTube immediately. But the Opera TV Store doesn’t have some of the other popular apps, meaning you can’t access Hulu, for example. This model certainly lags behind some of the best Smart TV options in that regard, so if you don’t have a secondary streaming box (a Roku or Xbox, for example), you’ll want to take this into consideration before making a purchase.

As pictured here, the 50H8C’s remote control provides instant access to the four apps mentioned above through dedicated buttons at the lower end of the remote. This is a handy feature for these particular apps, but you’ll have to scroll through menus to access any other apps. Opera TV does list the apps you have downloaded in a horizontal layout with two rows of tiles you can select. This is a common interface layout for Smart TV options that works well.

Another area where the 50H8C’s Opera TV interface struggles a bit is with its web browser. The browser locks up on occasion, leading to a mandatory reset. And when the Opera TV features are working, the response sometimes is sluggish, meaning some apps and menus are slow to load.

The Hisense 50H8C manual is only available through a download from the Hisense Web site, but the printed Quick Start Guide included with the TV can help you start using the unit’s Smart TV features almost immediately. It’s easy to connect your home network, either through Wi-Fi or ethernet, gaining the most from the Smart TV features possible.

What Else You Should Think About

I have to admit I was surprised by the results from my Hisense 50H8C TV review, versus my expectations going into the testing. Compared to other models in its price range and screen size, the 50H8C stacks up pretty well with its 4K resolution, strong color accuracy, HDR compatibility, and a good contrast ratio of 4000:1. The most disappointing aspect of this model is its poor viewing angle, and nless you’re seated almost directly in front of the TV screen, you’re going to notice a significant degradation in image quality overall.

If you’re seeking the best Smart TV option though, the 50H8C does not make the cut. The Opera TV platform lags behind Roku and some other platforms, both in terms of performance levels and in terms of the number of apps offered.

Considering its price point, the 50H8C is a strong 4K TV, offering pleasing image quality, whether upscaling HD programming to fill the screen’s 4K resolution or displaying native 4K programming. The Hisense 50H8C is also a good cheap gaming TV option for your upstart mancave, offering slightly below average input lag times versus other 50-inch options. All told, the 50H8C has some flaws, but it also has enough strengths that it represents a best TV for the money versus other 50-inch models.

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Sony: 2012 Bravia TVs Lose YouTube Function – Not So Smart

All things come to an end – and that includes smart TV services from Sony. And while we are more than happy to provide information on the best LED TVs for 2018, we also try to keep you up on the TVs that, well, fall behind. That includes Sony Bravia TVs from 2012, which are now useless for YouTube.

Yes, if you have a Bravia TV from 2012, Sony has announced that it’s smart TV system will no longer be able to access YouTube – at least not in any way that makes the service desirable. Users may have noticed a certain amount of freezing, black screens, and error messages when trying to watch YouTube videos through the service. Sony has basically said, “Yep. That’s not going to change.”

The reason, in a nutshell, is that Sony stopped updated its “New YouTube on TV” app some time ago, while YouTube continues to upgrade its video services and how they work. As a result, the app can no longer handle the current YouTube protocols, so you won’t be able to watch YouTube videos on any of these Bravia 2012 smart TV services.

Bravia YouTube
2012 Bravias can’t keep up with YouTube.

If you allow us to turn this into a quick tech lesson for a minute – how many of you actually care about this? How many of you were using 2012 Bravia apps to watch YouTube videos in today’s world of tablets, consoles and smartphones? Sure, services evolve, but this is also a sign of the innate problems many smart TVs have: Their smart services are almost always unnecessary. It doesn’t matter how advanced their YouTube streaming or Netflix may be, chances are increasingly good that you are already getting those services from a set-top box, console, or other device. The TV apps themselves try to mimic services that you already get, often in a less attractive package.

So far, the burden of proof is on the manufacturers: Why should we buy a smart TV? Discontinuing services is not exactly a convincing argument. What do you think – is it time to ditch the “smart” in smart TVs for good?

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Samsung UN65JS8500 TV Review

If you’re looking for HDR capability in a 65-inch television, the Samsung UN65JS8500 provides access to HDR at a reasonable price versus other HDR TVs. But as my Samsung UN65JS8500 TV review shows, the overall picture quality of this unit could be a little better to give it a clear edge over other LED-LCD televisions in its price range. If you want to go smaller, see the best 55 inch 4K TV.

The Samsung UN65JS8500 specs show a model that includes SUHD technology, which is Samsung’s brand name for its 4K/Ultra HD resolution with HDR compliance. It has plenty of strong features, including easy to use Smart TV features. The UNJS8500 family of TVs represents one of the best LED TV 2018 options.

(Even though this review specifically deals with the 65-inch UN65JS8500, the feature set and display quality of this model are almost identical to the 55- and 48-inch units in the UNJS8500 family.) If you want a smaller TV for your bedroom, check out our Viewsonic VT2430 24 inch 1080P LCD tv review.

Overview

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: HDR compatibility provided through this large screen 4K TV

Summary: The Samsung UN65JS8500 is a strong television from clearly a best TV brand on the market, offering HDR compatibility and a good color range. But its overall image quality is slightly below where it should be for a model in this price range, primarily because of its edge LED lighting.

Price: $2,199 (65-inch screen)
Available: March 29, 2015
Other Screen Sizes Offered: 55-inch, $1,499; 48-inch, $1,249

What We Liked

  • Good price for HDR compliancy
  • 4K resolution
  • Easy to use Smart TV system
  • Uses OneConnect Mini, a small external box with HDMI ports for easy connections

What We Didn’t

  • Image quality should be just a little better in this price range
  • Edge LED light causes some blacks to be muddied
  • Wide viewing angle performance should be better

Samsung UN65JS8500 TV Review Specs

Screen Size65 inches (48 and 55 inches also available)
Screen Resolution4K/Ultra HD
Screen TypeLED-LCD Edge Lit
Flat Screengreen-check-mark
120Hz Refresh Rategreen-check-mark
HDR Compliantgreen-check-mark
3D Capablegreen-check-mark
Smart TV InterfaceTizen
Input Lag35 to 40 ms
Connectivity4 HDMI, 3 USB, Ethernet, WiFi
Weight69.7 pounds
Size57.7 x 1.2 x 32.9 inches
Price$2,199
Buy

Design

The Samsung UN65JS8500 includes a silver border around the screen, which gives this model a sleek look versus the black border some units offer. However, the border for this model is just shy of 0.75 inches in thickness, which is wider than some other 65-inch models.

Read: Best 55 Inch TV

Samsung gave this model a single pedestal design,  but you’ll still need a flat surface with nearly 40 inches clearance to accommodate the wide pedestal. That’s nearly the same amount of clearance space you’d need for a two leg design.

The leg connecting the pedestal to the TV also extends out of the back of the unit a few inches, so you’ll need some clearance space if you choose not to wall mount this large unit.

Samsung UN65JS8500 Features

Samsung UN65JS8500 TV Review
Samsung included the Tizen OS as its Smart TV interface with its 3D-enabled UN65JS8500 65-inch television.

Samsung included the Tizen OS with this unit, and Tizen led our best 55 inch Smart TV 2018 list. By using Tizen, you’ll have access to a lot of the apps that provide 4K programming today, including Netflix, Hulu Plus, YouTube, and Amazon Instant Video. At the time of this writing, Samsung’s Tizen was the only Smart TV provider able to offer the HBO Go app. However, the UN65JS8500 doesn’t offer the UltraFlix app, which was available in some older Samsung Smart TV interfaces.

With the Tizen Smart TV interface, you can set up the Smart Hub feature, which allows you to choose your favorite apps, which are displayed each time you activate the Smart Hub. That said, the quad-core processor Samsung provided in this model makes the Smart TV and its features fast and responsive, with little to no lag.

The UN65JS8500’s remote control is simplistic, containing primarily the basic buttons, such as volume and channel control. It has a four-way button too, which you’ll use to navigate most of the Smart TV features. And the remote has a dedicated Smart Hub button, which we mentioned earlier.

With four HDMI ports, two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, and an Ethernet port, this Samsung model has plenty of connection options. Each HDMI port is compatible with both HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2.

If you choose to place the Samsung UN65JS8500 in a location where it’s difficult to gain access to the connection ports on the back of the television, Samsung included a box called OneConnect Mini that contains several ports that can be placed anywhere within six feet of the TV, providing easy access to these ports. You’ll connect the box to a port on the back of the unit using a cable, which is a handy option. It allowed Samsung to keep the TV unit thinner than most modes of this screen size at about 1.25 inches.

The Samsung UN65JS8500 also offers active 3D display technology. For some reason though — cough, trying to boost margin, cough — Samsung only provided one pair of 3D glasses with this model, where at least two pairs is the industry standard.

Audio quality is above average with the Samsung UN65JS8500 when compared to other units with similar screen sizes. But you’ll still want a sound bar or speaker system if you’re seeking top-notch audio quality.

Input lag is about 35 to 40 milliseconds with this model, which is about average versus similarly sized TVs. For most games, the UN65JS8500 will perform well enough, but if you need ultra fast response in your gaming for first-person shooters and similar games, you may want to look elsewhere.

Display Quality

Samsung UN65JS8500 TV
The UN65JS8500 TV features SUHD resolution, which is Samsung’s brand name for 4K/Ultra HD resolution.

The UN65JS8500 offers Samsung’s branded SUHD, which represents the manufacturer’s 4K/Ultra HD resolution display screen that also incorporates HDR technology. Having these two advanced features available in a unit should give the Samsung UN65JS8500 65-inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV a long life expectancy, as it will be able to showcase the newest programming when it becomes widely available.

HDR in television displays allows the unit to display brighter colors and a wider color gamut than non-HDR models. Ultra HD programming, including UHD Blu-ray content, will be able to take advantage of HDR technology. (HDR in a TV is not to be confused with HDR in photography; they’re two different technologies.)

While color accuracy is a strength of this model, you may notice some loss of color accuracy and uniformity when viewing the screen at a wide angle. In fact, the wide angle viewing performance of this unit is one of its primary weaknesses, because display quality suffers more than it should when watching from a sharp angle. Rtings measures the viewing angle of the Samsung UN65JS8500 at 16 degrees, which is a below average performance.

Another drawback to this unit’s image quality is its edge lit screen, where the LED backlight is limited to the edges of the screen, which can lead to some muddying of blacks. Samsung uses local dimming to try to maintain deep blacks, rather than software-driven dimming, which does make the edge lit design work a little better. (Local dimming with an edge-lit TV involves turning off individual LEDs, which can lead to horizontal banding.) And Samsung LED-LCD TVs, including this model, are generally brighter than those from other manufacturers. But the edge lit design still isn’t as good as a full-array LED design.

Problems with judder and motion blur aren’t noticeable with this model, as the Samsung UN65JS8500 has a 120Hz refresh rate, which works well with 24 fps movie sources. And the lack of motion blur problems will make sporting events look great on this model.

Samsung UN65JS8500 vs. UN65JU7100

When comparing the Samsung UN65JS8500 vs. UN65JU7100, both have high-level image quality, but the UNJS8500 family offers HDR, while the UNJU7100 does not. The latter does have more screen sizes available (seven), ranging from 40 inches to 85 inches, and it’s slightly faster in terms of input lag.

Wrap Up

The Samsung UN65JS8500 certainly deserves its position on our best 65 inch TV 2018 list. It has HDR compatibility, 4K resolution, and an easy to use Smart TV system. It’s from a good brand name TV manufacturer who won our Samsung vs. Vizio challenge.

However, because of its edge lit screen, the UN65JS8500 can’t quite match some other models in this price range in terms of overall image quality. The edge lighting leads to some muddiness in blacks, which is tough to accept in a model with this unit’s price tag. It clearly outperforms less expensive TVs at this screen size, and it’s a good — but not great — model versus others in its price range.

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Vizio D55U-D1 TV Review

Considering where Vizio started as a large screen TV manufacturer, the company’s ability to move up the chart in terms of notoriety and unit quality during the past several years is amazing. And as my Vizio D55U-D1 TV review shows, the company continues to develop low priced, good quality models. Learn about refresh rates by reading our 120Hz Vs. 240Hz Vs. 60Hz Refresh Rate article.

The Vizio D55U-D1 isn’t a perfect TV. It has some problems with motion blur, and its 4K image quality isn’t quite as good as some models with higher price points. But the D55U-D1 Vizio model fits into a price segment of the market that few other models can reach, offering 4K resolution in a 55-inch television for less than $750.

(Even though this review specifically deals with the 55-inch D55U-D1, the feature set and display quality of this model are similar to the other screen sizes in the Vizio D1 family. However, the 32-inch and 28-inch units are limited to HD resolution.)

Overview

Summary: For those who want a large screen TV on a budget, the Vizio D55U-D1 model is a strong contender in the 55-inch 4K TV segment. While this Vizio unit doesn’t quite have the screen quality of some more expensive units, it’s definitely good enough for most viewing situations.

WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Very desirable price point for 4K resolution screen

Price: $749 on Amazon (55-inch screen)
Available: Now
Model: D55U-D1
Other Screen Sizes Offered: 50-inch, $599; 40-inch, $429; 32-inch (HD resolution), $229; 28-inch (HD resolution), $159

What We Liked

  • Fast input lag, especially for the smaller screen sizes
  • Very inexpensive versus the best 4K TV for 2018
  • Smart TV features are pretty easy to use
  • This model has a good contrast ratio and deep blacks versus similarly priced units
  • TV makes use of full-array backlight

What We Didn’t

  • TV is thicker than most others at this screen size
  • Screen clarity and display quality can’t quite match more expensive models
  • Some problems with judder on fast moving 24 fps movie scenes
  • No HDR compliance

Vizio D55U-D1 Specs

Screen Size55 inches (50, 40, 32, and 28 inches also available)
Screen Resolution4K/Ultra HD
Screen TypeLED-LCD
Flat Screengreen-check-mark
120Hz Refresh Ratered-x-icon
HDR Compliantred-x-icon
3D Capablered-x-icon
Smart TV InterfaceVizio Internet Apps Plus
Input Lag20 to 25 ms
Connectivity5 HDMI, 1 USB, Ethernet, WiFi
Weight36.6 pounds
Size48.8 x 2.5 x 28.4 inches
Price$749
Buy Now

Design

Compared to other large screen TVs, the Vizio D55U-D1 can’t be considered thin, measuring 2.5 inches in depth. The thicker portion of the back panel that contains the ports occupies nearly the entire back panel, so this model is only thin at the top and left and right edges. However, the placement of the ports does allow you to place the TV flat to the wall when mounted.

Vizio gave this model a dual stand configuration, and the legs are extremely wide — about 40 inches apart — meaning you’ll need a wide stand or cabinet top if you choose not to wall mount this model.

The D55U-D1 has a 0.55-inch black border, which is a bit wider than other 55-inch TVs.

Vizio D55U-D1 Features

Vizio-D55U-D1-TV
The Vizio Internet Apps Plus Smart TV functionality in the D55U-D1 television is a great improvement versus previous Vizio branded Smart TVs.

The Vizio D55U-D1 settings reflect a model that offers quite a few features that are significantly better than what you might expect to find in a TV at this screen size and price point.

Starting with the D55U-D1 input lag, you’ll find that this television is a good gaming machine, as its input lag typically is between 20 and 25 milliseconds. The smaller screen sizes in the Vizio D1 family of TVs will have faster input lag times than the larger screens, so they’re potentially even stronger gaming options. Now, 25 ms might be not be quite fast enough for those who are playing enthusiast, first-person shooter games, but it’s a plenty suitable input lag for most games.

Vizio Internet Apps Plus represents the Smart TV functionality, and the six-core processor with this model provides fast performance. The Smart TV interface is easy to use. You’ll find many popular apps in this unit’s Smart TV service, including Netflix, YouTube, Spotify, Hulu, and Facebook, although it does not offer a Web browser or HBOGo. This design offers more options than previous Smart TV offerings from Vizio, making the D55U-D1 one of the best 55 inch Smart TV 2019 models. Some newer Vizio TVs are using Vizio SmartCast with Google Cast built in, but the D55U-D1 does not offer this feature.

Vizio always includes an above average number of HDMI ports with its large screen TVs, and this model is no exception with five HDMI ports. You are limited to one USB port, though.

The Vizio D55U-D1 unit does suffer from some problems with audio quality, so we’d recommend a sound bar if you’re looking for high-end audio performance.

Display Quality

Vizio D55U-D1
The 4K/Ultra HD resolution in the Vizio D55U-D1 is very good for a model in this price point.

While the D55U-D1 does provide 4K resolution, it is not HDR compliant, which is a feature currently found in more expensive 4K models. There isn’t a lot of HDR-enabled content on the market yet, but it would be nice to have this capability in a 4K TV.

When compared to TVs with a similar price point, the D55U-D1 has above average contrast levels, while screen uniformity is about average. These are areas where higher-end models tend to excel though.

As shown in our TV buying guide, the backlight in an LED-LCD television can be a full-array backlight that spans the entire screen or just the edges of the screen. The Vizio D55U-D1 is a full array backlit TV.

Full array backlit TVs make use of what’s called local dimming, where areas of the backlight dim behind an area of the screen that’s displaying mostly black, allowing the blacks to appear deeper. Vizio calls these areas Active LED Zones, and it offers different numbers of zones in various models. The Vizio D55U-D1 has fewer zones that it dims versus other models, such as the M55-C2 and the P602ui-B3. The sizes of these zones of dimming help to determine the quality of local dimming results, as a larger zone likely will dim an area that contains more colors than black.

The small number of local dimming zones is a primary reason the D55U-D1 lags behind some more expensive options in terms of display quality.

Viewing Angle

Vizio claims that the D55U-D1 has a viewing angle of 178 degrees, meaning you can see the image on the screen clearly from a wide angle. However, the test unit wasn’t clear when viewed from more than several feet off center, which equates to a much narrower viewing angle than 178 degrees. Reaffirming our experience is Rtings, who specifically measured the viewing angle of its model at a paltry 15 degrees.

When looking at various sizes of Vizio D1 TVs, I noticed the viewing angle varied widely from screen to screen. Some models in this range have a very poor viewing angle, while others perform better. So if you have a living room with wide seating, make sure to test the widest viewing angle before you select this television.

Movie Quality and 3D

Vizio claims that this TV offers a 120Hz effective refresh rate with Clear Action 240, both of which would make it ideal for sports and movies.  However, with further investigation, the native refresh rate panel of this model is 60Hz, according to Rtings and our tests with movie playback at 24 fps. At a 60Hz refresh rate, 24 fps content has a hard time fitting and causes a slight juddering effect. Vizio tried to address this with a Reduce Judder setting, which helps, but doesn’t completely eliminate the problem. 

This model doesn’t have 3D capabilities, which will disappoint some movie enthusiasts. But these are common caveats with lower priced televisions.

Vizio D vs. M Series Comparison

The Vizio D series models have a lower cost while still providing decent display quality.  The M series on the other hand, is a little more expensive, while offering more local dimming zones than the D series to provide deeper blacks. Specifically, in the Vizio D55U-D1 vs M55-C2 comparison, the M55-C2 includes a greater audio output (15 watts to 10) than the D55U-D1.

Wrap Up

Vizio’s D55U-D1 4K TV is a model that provides a good value in the 55-inch screen size. It has many more features than you’d expect to find at this price point for 55-inch models, and its display quality — while not perfect — is pretty good.

Vizio, which made our list as a best TV brand name, has also seen fit to give this model a full-array LED backlight, which provides better image quality than an edge-lit LED unit with deeper blacks and greater uniform color accuracy. A fast input lag is one of the strongest aspects of TVs in the D1 set of models from Vizio, which is helpful for gaming. But it does suffer from judder with some fast moving movies.

If you have a living room with a wide seating area, you will want to test the viewing angle of this TV before you buy it, as the ability to see the screen clearly varies quite a bit between display sizes in the Vizio D1 family.

The D55U-D1 certainly isn’t the best 55-inch TV on the market, but it’s a good unit that will make you rethink your perception of budget TVs.

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RCA 4K LED TVs Coming to the U.S. at Pretty Amazing Prices

Before you read the gaming monitor review below, learn about refresh rates by reading Avoiding Fake Refresh Rates.

We know that your dream TV has an amazing display and costs…probably nothing at all. We can’t help much with getting a free HDTV, but we can help you have the best prices for the best possible products around. When a new TV comes along that catches our interest and has an extra-low price tag to boot, we can help but wonder if it will make our best LED TV list for 2016.

The latest example? RCA’s latest 4K LED TVs, which are coming to the United States at prices that will make your eyes shine. We know that 4K prices have been dropping swiftly, but you can get one of these new RCA Android ultra HD TVs for as low as $500. We’re not talking about tiny desk-based TVs, either – the three TVs being sold here are 50, 55, and 65-inch models respectively. That’s a lot of TV for a little price.

RCA TV
The plastic model has a more traditional look and a lower price.

How do you keep the price of 4K TVs so low? RCA teaches a valuable lesson here: Go easy on the features, and use your materials wisely. The only real feature here, except for the 4K resolution, is Android TV software that allows you to have various smart TV capabilities and surf the Google Play Store on your TV. There’s no high dynamic range tech, energy saving features, curved screens, or anything else here to push up the price.

Then we have the materials and design. Each of the three TV models comes with a choice between two different models. One model uses mostly unimpressive plastic, and is $100 cheaper. The version that’s $100 more uses more metal and a slimmer, more modern design. It’s a cool little choice that you don’t get with most other brands. Each model comes with 4 HDMI ports, an appealing number of connections that opens up the TV to many different uses in the home without bogging it down in expensive ports.

RCA is going to be distributing these TVs to a lot of major retailers, but that doesn’t mean supply is guaranteed. If you have your heart set on an affordable HDMI TV, get ready to snap one of these up quickly.

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Vizio M422i 42″ M-Series Smart LED HDTV Review

Quite some time the 42″ flat panel TV was the default — in much the same way as the 19″ color TV had held sway. The reasons for this at the time involved cost — 42 inches was considered “big” and the scramble was on to make the price attractive for this new chapter in TV viewing. Now there are flat panels 55 inches and larger — and at prices compatible with what a 42″ display used to cost. So why get excited at Vizio’s M4221 42″ M-Series Smart LED HDTV? It’s because it provides such a good picture. Learn more about screen size. If you want a TV that’s just a couple inches bigger, try our LG 47LW5600 47 inch LCD television review.

Vizio 42 Netflix

Assembling the M422i was easy and straightforward —  the base attached to the panel with four solid screws. The set’s fit and finish are top notch, with the svelte appearance and thin bezel one now expects with an LED set.  The overall feeling is of a solid, not flimsy, chassis (having a very stable base that doesn’t wobble aids in this). There are multiple audio, video and data inputs: 4 HDMI inputs, Component, Composite, USB, analog and digital audio — making enough for any kind of modern-day or Jurassic video source.  The multiple HDMI inputs means that there’s plenty of room for a video game console to be plugged in, alongside that of a cable box or satellite receiver, Blu-ray player or a device pass through (i.e., that from a sound bar). I fired up the satellite receiver and watched a few TV shows with the M422i at its “default” settings and wasn’t disappointed with the image. But this 42” HDTV screamed to be tweaked, so I went into the menu settings and fiddled with brightness, contrast, color temperature and others so as to make for a more dynamic and personally acceptable image. By doing so I was able to tap into the excellent black performance that this TV generates — dark areas hold detail well and they don’t appear off-gray or “muddy” to the eye. To further test this, I put in the Blu-ray Disc of 300: Rise of an Empire and gave more attention than was good for eye-strain to those dark scenes wherein CGI mixed with real and can often result in a “blending” that makes both look bad. Didn’t happen here — those shots of the raging sea held their realistic (if barely) look of water, ship and people.  Speaking of which — flesh tones were also excellent and there wasn’t any color banding when highlights hit foreheads.

Vizio 42 settings

I also put the M422i through its “speed” pacing by running Non-Stop (Liam Neeson action flick) — here I was concerned whether the TV could keep pace with the action and not give in to blurring or any of the artifact issues that can occur when the HD rez of a Blu-ray disc is providing massive details in minute areas that blast back and forth from light to dark. That the M422i performed admirably was evident by my ignoring the study of “how” the image looked and instead I just got sucked into watching “what” was going on on the display. But it did occur to me that that the M422i displayed its imaging more dynamically than that of a similarly sized LG flat panel that I had recently seen.

Vizio 42 audio

But one needn’t stop with “standard” settings changes, since the M422i provides a number of specialty modes for servicing the display’s image. One of these takes into consideration multiple active zones as a way to improve image contrast — the effect is very subtle on the image however. Another mode is the Professional Settings video options — these allow for tweaking each color in a matrix fashion to set the colors to professional standards. This mode also includes a color bar generator for fine-tuning the color. Those who expect/prefer the TV to automatically handle everything will at first find this perplexing (or boring), but its addition to the control over the display is worth hand clapping. Sound also has many adjustments but the built-in speakers hamper the quality of the result due to their minute size and minimal wattage. The surround effect that is psycho-acoustically created fails to impress since the small speakers are unable to emit really effective low-end bass. This is not surprising and is a problem shared by other TVs much larger in size. Hence the reason for the proliferation and success of the 2.1 sound bar.

Vizio 42 apps

The M422i is also a “smart TV,” which is something that the 42″ displays of old had no inkling of. There is online access and apps — accessible by running a cable from the TV to a router or through the use of the built-in WiFi antenna and enacted from a sensible and highly functional remote which features a mini-keyboard on the backside. Three leading on-demand services (Netflix, Amazon, and M Go) have their own dedicated buttons on the remote so that you can jump right to them as if they were simply other TV stations. By pressing the “VIA+” button on the remote, some of the most popular apps appear as icons along the bottom of the screen. You can jump right into the app by simply scrolling to it and selecting it, also as if it were a channel.  In addition, you can launch the App Store which has four pages of pre-installed apps to choose from as based on the Yahoo App Store.  This is all helped along by a redesign of the user interface as it applies to the “Smart TV” platform. Examples are that of a bottom-located dock that holds apps in a ribbon-like fashion that makes for easy access and which can be quickly launched (brought onscreen by pressing the “V” dedicated button on the remote. Accessing the apps full screen provides movement-navigation through categories allowing for apps to be added, removed or relocated relative to others. All of this is provided to the viewer in a seamless, intuitive fashion that makes it seem like the apps are just a natural extension of the television channel lineup.

Another addition is the “Second screen” capabilities — these don’t provide additional content but lets the same content be controlled and “thrown” from mobile device to the TV (the same for iOS and Android devices). For this to work, both the mobile device and TV must be running the same app (currently this is only available for YouTube and Netflix). Its use can be quickly established, especially once the short learning curve has been loaded into “muscle memory.”

Vizio 42 remote

Bottom line: $499.99 buys you the Vizio M422i 42″ M-Series Smart LED HDTV and the VIA Plus Smart TV platform — which is really the heart of what makes this set stand out.  It provides a smooth, seamless interface for playing content from many internet sources, making them almost appear as if they were TV channels.  The interface is very simple and easy to use to play content from not only the obvious locations such as Netflix and Amazon and Hulu, but also from one-button web channels “apps” like Funny or Die, and also from streaming music services like I Heart Radio. Vizio I think finally figured out how to make a compelling viewing experience for the consumer and, combined with the easy-to-use QWERTY keyboard and simple navigation, makes the Vizio VIA Plus a great media viewer/TV set to own and enjoy.

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Sceptre X405BV-FMDU 40” LED HDTV Review

It’s not enough that you can watch televisions shows or movies on TVs, no, they must access the Internet and stream video and do any number of things that has nothing to do with the picture. But if you’re looking for a reasonably priced, reasonably large HDTV, then the Sceptre X405BV-FMDU 40” LED HDTV should get your attention. Want to go just a little bigger? Take a look at our LG 47Lw5600 47 inch LCD TV review.  If you need to go smaller, have a look at the Samsung UN32J5205 – Best 32-Inch TV Screen Quality.

The X405BV-FMDU’s base just snaps in, with four screws to secure it.  Basically it’s about 5 minutes of time to take it out of the box, snap it together, and start watching TV without any big setup effort. Inputs include HDMI, which is the only thing that should be used with a HDTV anyway. The menu system is simplistic — which is a good thing. Menus and sub-menus move rapidly from one to the next, with none of the delay often found in some of the more expensive HDTVs. That’s not to say that the menus are limited to the basics. In Picture mode, for example, there are a number of advanced functions, such as the degree of Dynamic Contrast for the panel to display, along with Noise Reduction (which I’ve always found works best when playing standard-definition DVDs) as well as being able to turn the Film Mode on or off. For some, these settings can remain in their default position, but having the opportunity to access them keeps the X405BV-FMDU from being forced to rely on factory settings and instead can be geared for the individual who is using it. Sound settings also provide some unexpected functionality: equalization (EQ) having been left out of more expensive models, but found here. Simulated surround sound can also be enacted, as can the emphasis of spoken content over music and increase/decrease in the level of the bass response.  Along with the expected V-chip settings under Parental Control, there is also the ability to lock the remote.

X405BV-FMDU 40” LED HDTV Menus

There are other extras which make the X405BV-FMDU a good value for the dollar. It has an MHL-compliant HDMI input port so that devices like the Roku “Smart TV” box can be added to it for watching streaming TV or connecting to MHL-compliant cellphones for watching videos from the Internet or pictures from your phone. And the chassis sits on a swivel base which can come in handy when the set is placed on a stand that’s not directly in front of one’s recliner. Of course all the extras in the world don’t matter if the TV’s picture doesn’t hold up. The X405BV-FMDU projects images on what is a very good, high-contrast panel that makes the view “pop.” This is more evident when playing a video game from a console, but I also found it true when using the X405BV-FMDU in place of a computer monitor (but since there is only a maximum of 1080p resolution, the HDTV can not really take the place of high-quality gaming monitors which are able to provide greater resolution).

X405BV-FMDU 40” LED HDTV TV picture

To see how competently and accurately the X405BV-FMD could perform, I turned to Blu-ray discs so as to avoid the discrepancies of broadcast television (although watching sitcoms proved the fact that the HDTV could handle the subtle nuances of flesh tones and areas of black without causing shredding of the highlights or extreme murkiness). My first test disc was the Blu-ray of Fast & Furious 6 — less for the flesh tones and more for the cars and the speed at which they traveled. The X405BV-FMD had no trouble in keeping up with the need for speed (as it were) and there was none of that excessive blurring that can occur when a flat panel’s screen rendering is unable to keep up with the speed of the imaging traveling on it. I will admit that I ended up watching the movie all the way through, and if the X405BV-FMD had caused any problems, my level of enjoyment would have tanked.

For motion of another kind I turned to Man of Steel (Superman), which is so full of CG intermingled with real people as to boggle the mind. But since the X405BV-FMD could keep the intensity of the motion onscreen ratcheted up to what the director wanted, all I cared about was what was going to happen in the next scene. I found that the level of detail was very good — being able to see the weaving in Superman’s costume and in the Kryptonian’s battle gear in a very organic way. This was all helped by the rich and deep colors that the LED panel could pump out. But mostly the X405BV-FMD high resolution panel was able to separate out the characters from the background (CG on top of CG can be a visual mess) without my having to adjust the contrast at all from its default setting (increasing contrast might seem to increase resolution but it actually has the exact opposite effect). In the case of Man of Steel, I did repeat a number of times the scene where S takes off after having downed a drone, just to see whether the HDTV’s panel could handle the fast moving image of him going skyward or “break up” instead. The X405BV-FMD performed admirably.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

There are two minor negatives however: the first being the remote. It has a number of similar-colored and similar-shaped buttons that can easily be confused when operating in a low-light room. Also, it has a number of other buttons that don’t do anything unless you have a Roku stick plugged in, a Sceptre sound bar plugged in, or the 3D model of the set. The extra buttons make the remote seem overly cluttered and more involved to memorize. Also, the speakers provided only basic sound and at hardly any volume to speak of.  To gain a better home theater experience using some kind of external audio device such as a sound bar is recommended.

Bottom line: Sceptre’s X405BV-FMDU 40” LED HDTV provides a pleasing picture in a compact chassis that comes equipped with some nice modern-day features. The X405BV-FMDU will certainly fill the bill for those looking for a moderately-sized, low priced TV ($499 retail).

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Philips Design Line TV Uses An All Glass Frame, Should Look Good On or Off (video)

Philips has rethought the TV. Instead of following tradition, which calls for a display housed inside of plastic frame that you mount on your wall or perch on your credenza, the Philips DesignLine set is crafted from a single piece of frameless glass. For larger TVs, the Samsung UN55JS9000 4K LED TV is a good choice.

Inside the glass is an LCD panel that is illuminated by an array of edge based LEDs.  Despite its slender size, which varies in thickness from 39.5mm to 41.5mm depending on the screen’s measurement, it includes a set of those clunky Active 3D glasses, which are cumbersome, heavy, and more fragile than passive ones.  Nevertheless, Philips’ design language is unparalleled  in this case and with it comes an almost borderless picture.

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For added ambience Philips has added their ambient lighting scheme, Ambilight, on three sides of the set, which should add a bit more allure to where ever you hang, angle, or stand the DesignLine set.

Available in sizes 46-inch (46PDL8909)and 55-inch (55PDL8909), the DesignLine is heading for EU and Russian homes first (in Q2 of this year), with no word on a US launch.  That said, each set includes Philips’ SmartTV UI, WiFi, Miracast tech, a dual-core processor, and 3D playback at 1080p.   Sorry, Philips has yet to disclose a price.

I just realized that you’ll need to institute some serious cord management to maintain the set’s aesthetic since the base is see through.

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AOC I2367fh 23-inch LED Monitor Review

The saying “size matters” definitely applies to a computer monitor as the amount of usable space onscreen translates into more program windows and multiple and larger videos that can be played. AOC’s 23-inch I2367fh LED monitor satisfied on this account, but also provides the quality that is a necessity for what is being viewed.

The color of the monitor’s chassis is a glossy black — not a detriment to the screen if no direct light is hitting it, but otherwise something that must be taken into account. The chassis is extremely lightweight — easily lifted by the extruding pipe in the back — and is a result of the power supply being an external brick, along with the use of LEDs as opposed to LCD technology. Compared to my years-old Apple 20-inch monitor, the I2367fh weighs next to nothing. And you can see just from looking at it how miniscule the bezel is.

The only physical installation needed is to attach the base: this screws in through a tube that is first inserted into the back-attached pipe. No tools are needed and the process can be completed in under 3 minutes. The I2367fh will also stand on an even surface without the base attached. While this has its appeal if the monitor is regularly moved from one room to another, the chance of it falling on its face is a real possibility and not one that outweighs the few minutes it takes to put the base on and keep it on.

Also, as is the case with most of these type of monitors today, a physical manual is not included. Instead there is one provided on the disc that accompanies the monitor, along with a mini-plug cable for plugging in an audio source and a HDMI cable for use as a connection between it and the video source (computer or otherwise). The disc, by the way, has an auto-run that will aid in installing the drivers and moderating the resolution when used on a PC as well as software that will activate functions on the monitor without the need of using its built-in menu settings. Mac users, such as myself, must do all this manually. However, when you read the included brochure on trouble-shooting — all the text relating to PC problems — this seems a more than fair trade-off.

The back panel features a VGA connector and 2 HDMI inputs. There is also an audio line-out located in the same area. Connecting the I2367fh to a Mac is done using the VGA, as would also have to be done if using a PC. AOC includes such a connector, but in the case of my DVI-equipped Mac, I had to use an adapter cable to complete the connection.

Once this is done, and with the power supply also attached, the power button on the side must be turned on — realistically it can just be left on. With the computer turned on, going into the Mac’s DISPLAYS panel lets me adjust its settings to take advantage of the resolution. On a PC, a similar procedure is done, varying depending on the version of Windows being used.

To really adjust the I2367fh, access the control buttons which are found on the back right side. The power button is at the bottom and above is found AUTO which when held down for a few seconds initiates an auto-configuring of the screen’s aspect ratio to the signal it is receiving. This has its greatest value after all of the manual adjustments have been made, as it will positively “tweak” the image a bit. Also if just pressed quickly, it will cycle through the inputs on the back (a necessity if more than one input is connected). Next is Vol. Up/Down and the topmost button activates the MENU screen. Since there’s no speakers in the I2367fh, the Vol. Buttons only have value if you’ve a mini-plug headphones/earbuds plugged into the headphone jack on the back. Or if you’re routing the audio from the audio line-out next to the headphones jack.

The MENUS displays a series of controls that are fairly self-evident — for the most part their adjustment will rely on the personal attitude of the viewer as to what looks best to him or her (this is even more true when viewing movies through the HDMI port as opposed to from a computer). Each section has a series of sub-menus to choose from: for example, altering the Luminance is done from a sub-menu beneath the sun icon. Here you can adjust the level of brightness and contrast, along with enacting an “economical” lighting mode, choose between types of imaging that will be on the screen (for example, viewing Internet-related material as opposed to game-oriented or movie-oriented imaging. Two controls — dynamic contrast and imaging response time (Overdrive) are best left in default. Other controls, such as adjusting the physical placement of the image onscreen, as well as its sharpness should be done with care — at the worst, returning to the factory defaults will allow for a fresh start.

The RGB icon signifies the color controls and these again should be adjusted for personal taste. When on the computer, I kept the color temperature “Cool” but went with “Normal” when switching to the HDMI input signal. I also left the color enhancement at “Auto”

I am using the I2367fh as a second monitor and can immediately see the advantage of the 23-inch screen, as compared to that of my 20-inch Apple Cinema display: the greater “real-estate” provides for a much larger display when viewing videos embedded into the Safari web browser is a very obvious example. Additionally, there is no apparent lag of the image on the browser window justifying the 5ms response time the specs allude to. To verify that the I2367fh can handle speed efficiently, I played a high-resolution video ripped from my legally owned copy of The Amazing Spider-Man. Watching closely the scenes where the digital-created Spider-Man is swinging from rooftop to rooftop, there is nothing that can be construed as problematic in the image being watched. In fact, switching it back to the Cinema display is unsatisfying not only from the smaller size, but as the I2367fh’s LED backlighting promoted richer colors — the black lines in Spider-Man’s outfit look mushy and weak on the cinema display in comparison. The same can be said with the icons and windows and the everyday uses that of a computer, outside of multimedia: it just looks better as there seems to be more clarity to the images (partly a result of the high-definition), which seem to “pop” with a 3D-like visual effect. This can be partly due to the 1920×1080 resolution that the screen provides.

To test this further, I connect a Blu-ray player to one of the HDMI inputs and switch to it. I’ve put in the Blu-ray disc of Downton Abbey and, as expected from watching a few minutes, I see the need to readjust color and contrast and brightness settings. With this done, I concentrate on the actor’s skin tones and the clothing they’re wearing. The I2367fh performs extremely well for this purpose: detail and definition in the clothing are evident, and there’s no “interference” in the character’s skin tones to cause the slightest annoyance. And let me add right here that the 2 watt speakers are very puny in their volume — a nice addition if you are right up close and in a quiet environment, but otherwise you will have to use a headphones or connect the audio out to a more powerful speaker set.

I also experienced a very occasional ‘light leakage” coming from the right side of the panel. It requires a close look to see when it happens and generally speaking few will notice it during normal viewing, nor does it cause an obvious distraction.

Editor’s Rating:

[rating:4/5]

Great

Bottom line: The AOC I2367fh LED monitor’s $199 retail price is very accommodating for a 23-inch high-definition monitor. This goes for its use both with a computer as well as that of a stand-alone display subbing in for a TV.

Pros

  • Virtually borderless screen
  • Extremely high dynamic contrast (50,000,000:1)
  • Energy efficient

Cons

  • Earphone output on back of monitor more difficult to access than if front-mounted
  • No VESA mount
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Samsung UN32EH5000 32-inch LED HDTV Review

Flat-panel TVs have increased in size to the point where they rarely are moved from room to room. This is contrary to the early days of “portable TV,” in which a single set would be moved from the living room to the bedroom and back again as needed. But such a small TV can still have value today — especially as it pertains to video gaming and single-person viewing. By that I mean the kids in the family in general, but also the family member looking to immerse him/herself in a game or movie in solitude away from others in the backyard or basement or garage. Learn more about TVs by reading our 4K vs 1080p guide.

Hence the value right off the bat of Samsung’s UN32EH5000 32-inch LED HDTV. The piano black chassis itself is very lightweight and can easily be lifted with one hand, making it easy to mount to a wall if desired — although realistically its size makes it more suitable for use with the attached 2-part stand. The stand takes less than 5 minutes to attach and holds the TV upright — there is no swiveling or tilting allowed.

There’s two real advantages right up front when the screen is 32-inches in size: the first being that the processor has an easier time providing high-definition — in this case Full 1080p HD — with the second advantage being that the 120 Hz speed of the display can more easily negate any image smearing as there’s less “real estate” to cover. The specifications note that the “Clear Motion Rate” combines this technology with processor speed and frame-rate refresh to avoid image distortions. That’s something best agreed with by viewing films, which will be done shortly.

The UN32EH5000 32-inch LED HDTV provides two side-mounted HDMI ports (along with a Component/Composite and Antenna input on the back) and a side-mounted USB input for viewing stored content (movies, audio, photos). There’s also analogue and optical audio outs for sending audio to an amplifier –although this obviates the portability factor. The stereo speakers inside the front bottom are adequately spaced to provide stereo sound, with the 10 watts of power sufficient for hearing dialogue when watching television.The pseudo surround effect is minimal, and works best when closer to the display since then voices are less likely to be drowned out when loud music or explosions/violent sounds are heard. The speaker response, in general, is best suited for TV shows since the bass is lacking — watching a movie being played off a Blu-ray player or even from a broadcast will sound best by first going into the audio menu and fiddling with the settings to increase the bass levels, although this will be at the penalty of the mid-range frequencies.  Here you can also emphasis the voice quality if desired.

The menus are straightforward and best activated through the full-sized remote, whose built-in illumination feature is a nice touch. Text “help” sentences aid in providing the user with an understanding of what the various controls will do to the image. Control over the picture is thorough and wide-ranging, for example, the image can be set to pre-configured modes best suited for watching a movie versus a TV show. Additionally, the color temperature can be adjusted from a “warm” to “cool” image and black levels can be modified for personal preferences. Other modes less likely to be found in a display this size include a digital noise filter (moderately useful to useless, depending on the subject material), a Film mode (not suitable when watching TV broadcasts) and LED motion plus that decreases the likelihood of motion smearing in scenes where objects are moving fast across the screen. Of course standard controls to adjust overall brightness and contrast exist as well.

The MediaPlay menu works with content taken off of the USB drive and is straightforward in its execution to the point of where it’s doubtful anyone can’t understand the “what” and “how” of use. Once content is selected, it is controlled by the remote in a conventional manner as to playing or stopping what is onscreen.

I had an advance copy of the Blu-ray disc of Total Recall (the most recent remake), which contains both live-action and CGI scenes together. Playing it through one of the UN32EH5000’s HDMI ports, there wasn’t any motion smearing or obvious artifact glitches that I could see. Additionally, highlight areas in Recall had detail in them, for example, one of the female stars had her hair backlit but detail in the individual hairs wasn’t washed out. Closeups of the actor’s faces were also very sharp. The Blu-ray disc also contained a demo of the God of War: Ascension video game, so the Playstation 3 which I was using to play the movie could also access it. Again, detail was abundant and those colors which were muted didn’t become solid swaths but had nuances of detail. Blacks in both the film and the game demo weren’t inky-black to the point of where you couldn’t see anything in them: I did find that going into the UN32EH5000’s menu and slightly increasing the contrast helped more with the game’s blacks than it did with the film.

To give the set a different kind of workout, I began watching random television shows (switching to the other  HDMI hooked up to a satellite receiver). Viewing the display from about 6 feet away on average showed a stable  image in which colors and contrast were well-modulated (I had returned all the menu settings to their neutral position first). Moving in closer to the display didn’t betray any lines or “blockiness” either — a sign of a well constructed LCD panel, and as was the case with the film and video game, the display was evenly lit from end to end. Looking at the display from the extreme corners will force some drop off in illumination, but since there will rarely be more than 2 viewers looking at the UN32EH5000 at a time, this won’t become an issue. However, screen reflections from ambient light should be avoided and it’s easy to physically adjust the angle of the UN32EH5000 as needed to keep this from happening.

Editor’s Rating:

[rating:4/5]

Great

Bottom line: The Samsung UN32EH5000 32-inch LED HDTV displays a bright, evenly lit and well-defined image, thanks to its 1080p resolution and the LED backlighting which increases color saturation and intensity. The $549 retail (street is significantly less) is a bargain compared to other 32-inch models, especially when taking the technology it offers into consideration.

Pros:

  • Kensington locking slot
  • Can update firmware through USB port


Cons:

  • No 3D capabilities
  • No Internet capabilities

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Sceptre E465BV-FHDD 46-inch 3D LED HDTV Review

There was a time when you could only get a quality HDTV from a brand name. Add to that was size — those manufacturers striving to equal the quality of the “brand” didn’t try and get too big for their britches…make that for the display. But that was then and now a name doesn’t equate quality just because it’s been around from a long time. Take Sceptre’s E465BV-FHDD 46-inch 3D LED HDTV for example. The company won’t come to a person’s lips the way those “brand” names do, that’s true. But for those looking for a big display for starting their own home theater — or making their bedroom viewing more enjoyable — this 46-inch 3D capable display has a lot going for it. And that includes price as well.

To start, the Sceptre E465BV-FHDD 46-inch 3D LED HDTV  looks similar to most flat panels of its size: it’s a piano black with a thin bezel and a base that stands it up on a cabinet so that it can swivel freely. Or you can mount it to the wall, although no parts for doing this are included.

The base does require being screwed in: Sceptre thoughtfully provides a screwdriver for use here, and the low weight of the Sceptre E465BV-FHDD 46-inch 3D LED HDTV makes it possible for this to be done by a single person without fear of damaging the screen.

Once assembled, the controls are found on the front right side, although using the standard size remote makes more sense. The remote provides the usual buttons for getting to the menu, increasing volume and changing screen aspect size (useful when inputting a PC signal), among other buttons such as “shortcuts” to functionality. On the back you’ll find the panel for the input/output ports, and this is mirrored to a lesser extent on the back left side as well. You’ve the choice of 5 HDMI inputs, Component and Composite and analog and digital inputs and outputs. The internal speakers are adequate for listening in a fairly low noise environment — turned way up they will display a bit of distortion which requires their being adjusted in the audio menu settings first to your personal preference. There’s no subwoofer so the bass is far from expansive — however you could use an external sound bar with the set to take care of these issues. And as is the case with most “small” flat panels, the SRS-branded pseudo surround sound acoustic effect setting is fair-to-middling, as regards its being effective. Stay with regular stereo or go with external audio when you’re looking for big rocking sound for movies featuring huge explosions and thunderous sound effects.

But getting back to the ports on the back, there’s also a USB socket. This will accept a flash drive, with some storage size/file size restrictions, that can be displayed through the remote and played. Not just music, but also video can be viewed in this manner. The position of the USB socket makes it a bit difficult to reach — but had it been on the back rather than the side panel, I doubt it would ever be used at all.

There’s a “Wizard” for initially setting up the SceptreE465BV-FHDD 46-inch 3D LED HDTV and then it’s time to view some TV — in this case using a satellite receiver for 1080i high-definition.

The “out of the box” view looked quite good and sharp — even the contrast was pretty much dead-on while viewing news “talking heads.” But going into the menus let me do some minor  adjustments which made it look better — to me.  Where adjustments can be most effective is when you’re viewing low-resolution imaging (commercials come to mind), as the chance of some colors “bleeding” can occur; to the eye this will seem  more like a smearing of the image in spots.

That’s a key point: there’s enough control over the video to suit the person’s point of view as to what constitutes a “good” image. But as in GIGO (garbage in, garbage out), if the visual display didn’t start out with an acceptable image, no amount of tweaking would make a difference.

Now let’s address the fact that there’s no Internet accessibility in this HDTV — that’s right, the 3D aspect is what drives this set as “special,” because there’s no Netflix or apps or web browsing, etc. When you consider it, all of the online capabilities can be addressed easily through a Blu-ray player, media player or the like — unlike just a few years ago, videos source devices now include all the Internet capabilities that once were specialized in TVs. The advantage of the Sceptre E465BV-FHDD 46-inch 3D LED HDTV not having this is being able to have a lower price as I see it. Additionally, rather than being locked into whatever online access that Sceptre has decided is viable (or is willing to license) you’re open to getting whatever you want through the video device. By doing this you can consider the Sceptre E465BV-FHDD 46-inch 3D LED HDTV to be a “basic” model if you want, but through the addition of 3D and all the necessary and needed functionality that a 1080p Full HD flat-panel should have, I say it’s OK. And no surprise that a Blu-ray disc-based movie provides a deeper and more vibrant color palette than that from the satellite TV — a non-compressed image being better than a compressed image after all.

Speaking of 3D, it’s passive, which is to say polarized. The set comes with 4 pairs of polarized glasses — 3 are full sized to wear (and have an interesting dual gray/black appearance), while one comes as a clip-on pair. Considering that most households have at least one person who wears glasses, I see this as a nice bit of extra so “Well done,” Sceptre customer service focus-group considerations report! But getting back to 3D, the view is as expected since the 46-inches does rely on you being a bit closer than you would be otherwise in order to see the 3D effect well. The angle of view is broad enough for more than one person to share the screen’s real-estate, but 3 or more might start to angle one person out of the sight of 3D. That’s where the 3D “depth” control can come in; broadening the 3D effect to make it more noticeable as needed. But unlike what you’d expect, there’s no 2D to 3D converter technology in the set — instead there’s a 3D to 2D converter for watching a 3D view as a 2D view. It’s an interesting addition but frankly I have no idea why it’s there — there’s more than enough 3D glasses provided and if you’ve a larger crowd, you’d want a bigger screen anyway. Chalk this up to a question mark on my brain. But I never said I was the final judge of all things (though maybe I should be).

Editor’s Rating:

[rating:4/5]

Great

Bottom line: The Sceptre E465BV-FHDD 46-inch 3D LED HDTV is a well constructed 3D capable Full HD flat panel display. The feature set is broad enough to encompass all the expected needs of the average viewer, and the price tag and 46-inch size makes it a viable and useful addition to the beginner’s home theater setup.

Pros

  • Video freeze frame control
  • Audio equalization settings

Cons

  • No Internet accessibility
  • No 2D to 3D capabilities
Categories
Best LEDs & LCDs

Sony Bravia HX750 46-inch Internet LED TV Review

Now that 46-inches is the new “black,” I was pretty excited on seeing Sony’s Bravia Internet TV model, the HX750. Because of the size, to be sure, but also because it takes the whole concept of “smart TV’ and simplifies it even as it stacks the options skyward. To see what I mean, you’ll have to unpack it as I did and set it up. That means putting the base and stand together, which requires a few screws and another person to do it right. But once done you not only have some swiveling capability, but a firm base that will stand on a cabinet proudly (glossy black will do that for you). Holidays, Especially Black Friday will get you the best deals.

The basic setup for a high-definition image is similar to other LCD TVs of this type: you plug the power cord in, connect a HDMI cable to one of the 4 HDMI inputs and then connect an Ethernet cable to its input, unless you’re using the built-in WiFi. Either way, you’ll be accessing a setup menu when the Bravia HX750 Internet TV is first turned on — one that “talks” you through the various functions in order to get you ready to go. It’s a straightforward procedure that shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes at the outset. Now this assumes you’re using the internal speaker system; there’s 10 watts X2 of power for a reasonable amount of loudness and pseudo surround effects that most folks will find more than acceptable. Of course you can always route the sound to a home theater system. Should you need it, there’s also a PC input, Component and Composite, along with RCA analog audio inputs and a digital audio output. Two USB inputs provide a path for attaching an external storage device or two (as some devices, including antennas require a USB port for power, you do have at least 1 port for inputting data). There’s also the ARC pass-through technology working in HDMI — basically Audio Return Channel lets you route the sound from the cable back to a receiver connected to it so as to listen to it with the TV off (one cable to rule them all, eh?). If you have ARC capability in your amp, then you’ll be happy this is here. If not, you won’t care.

In general it’s fair to say that the Bravia HX750 Internet TV is pretty hip as regards digital but not as “legacy” friendly. Then again,  who really cares about VCR’s these days anyway?

When done setting it up, you can watch TV in the conventional manner, using guide material that depends on how the TV signal is being received. Accessing online controls to alter the image is easily done and you’ve the opp to see what is being changed and reverse if it you want. Not to get lost in all this is how good the HD picture looks in general. I could say it meets “Sony standards” and pretty much that would be it — contrast levels and brightness wash over the display without causing any annoyance; you just enjoy the images and revel in the tack-sharpness of them. That’s pretty much the case no mater whether it’s a HD signal from a TV source (cable box, satellite, over-the-air antenna) or prerecorded HD material (i.e., Blu-ray).

The Bravia HX750 Internet TV has 240Hz working the imaging — this is unexpected and appreciated as the greater Hz results in a smoother image in general, with less motion distortion (here it’s called Sony’s MotionFlow XR 480 technology). Now tech can sound good, but it’s how it looks that counts since it’s supposed to be “affecting” the image. It’s fair to say that the dynamic edge LED backlighting plays a significant role in aiding the blacks and keeping the contrast within the limits that each scene requires on the display. I can’t find any fault with having a desire to see a movie looking vibrant but not brittle when it’s projected on this LCD TV. Especially when it’s no newbie — I ran an advanced Blu-ray copy of Sixteen Candles and Airport I had gotten in (Universal) and was impressed how lacking in grain and artifact issues both films were. Now some of that comes from the mastering of course, but it’s the Bravia HX750 Internet TV that’s putting out the image I’m viewing. BTW, you can guess which film of the two I preferred as both were being watched with my wife.

3D is also well represented on the Bravia HX750 Internet TV. Besides the fact that you get full HD resolution, thanks to “active” 3D technology instead of polarized passive, there are controls to ensure that the set can handle the type of incoming 3D signal. The “auto-depth” control basically means it syncs properly to the incoming 3D signal: that’s no minor thing because you need stability in order to keep that 3D image going. And when I tried playing some 3D videos streaming in, if the technology was working to make it look better than it would otherwise, it could be so. 3D online seems to look better on this LCD TV than on other and bigger models (a size issue? Dunno). Of course you must be wearing a pair of liquid-crystal 3D glasses at this point or all you’ll be seeing is a blur.

A small beef: the remote has angled pads (activating “”Options” and “Home” and “Display,” etc.) instead of the conventionally found four-compass point control. Because of this, I kept hitting left/right combinations expecting menus to move accordingly. But they didn’t. There’s no reason you can’t get used to this, but considering how pedestrian the remote is in general — despite the Netflix and Internet Apps buttons — there really isn’t any reason for this break from tradition as I see it.

For the technophobe and technophile, there’s a nice feeling of both hand-holding and do-what-you-want here: for the hand-holding you get a built-in manual that takes you through the processes of various aspects of the display — for example how to work the Internet and related functions, or the procedures to follow in order to customize the image to your preference or use an external source for getting photos, music or video into the display. At the same time you get advanced functions that are spot-on for drilling down into how you want the display to look — not just the same-old raise/lower the brightness or adjust the contrast level. Good stuff.

This all comes in line when using the various Internet-based features: watching viewing streaming video on a Netflix or Hulu Plus or Pandora or any of the Sony Entertainment services available. It’s not overflowing but it is more than adequate for today’s “smart TV” needs. What Sony calls “Widgets” provides the means for accessing TV Guide, Skype, twitter, etc. (oh — the Search functions takes online into account, btw).

Editor’s Rating:

[rating:4/5]

Great

Bottom line: The $1599 retail Bravia HX750 Internet TV is a solid performer with the additions you‘d expect from a “smart TV” today. The 46-inch size provides a larger screen that is more appealing to the eye when compared to that of a 42-inch, especially when 3D is being presented. Those looking for a large — but not too large — HDTV that doesn’t skimp on the features and is straightforward to use will be well pleased here. Especially as the “street” price is a few hundred less.

Pros

  • Streaming capabilities from mobile devices and computers
  • Media app control
  • TrackID locates names of songs being played in TV shows, movies and commercials

Cons

  • Problematic remote control layout
  • No 3D glasses included

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