Help Picking an LCD TV
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April 21, 2011 by EH Staff

Reader Meid3 posted in Ask-A-Pro:

I’m in the market of a new HDTV, still have my original 36” tube TV that’s 10 years old.  I’m probably going to get an LED LCD eventually, but not finding good reviews of ANY TV & being a designer, I know companies design their crap to last only a few years now, which is unfortunate.

I really would like a Samsung, however, have they resolved their capacitor issues on their new TVs? Has their customer service improved on these issues?

Obviously technology is changing rapidly, and I’m debating on waiting to see when LED TVs get better - anyone know or hear of time lines on this?-of course that will be an additional cost…

Can anyone recommend a TV brand that is reputable? I love Sony, but over priced. Never owned anything else however.  I would like 40-46”, LED LCD, Wi-Fi built in, Netflix, MLB (opt), Amazon, Blockbuster. Considering spending more for being happy with product, but my initial budget would be ~$1500.  I also read that TVs under 55” don’t benefit from the higher refresh rates, is this true? But if one has sensitive eyes, wouldn’t the higher refresh rate be better anyway, even if you can’t tell?

***I’m also looking at an OPPO DVD player - however, anyone know of something comparable (plays many/ALL video file formats) without paying for 3D? I would never use that feature, but appears that OPPO would play any and all of my discs.  Also looking at LGs 590, but not sure.

EH’s Grant Clauser says:
The first thing I’d suggest you do it read our recent article on LED TVs. It will probably answer all your general questions regarding LED TVs and what to look for.

As to some of your specific questions: Capacitor issues with Samsung TVs? I’ve never experienced any issues with any of the many Samsung flat panel TVs I’ve reviewed, and while any brand will occasionally have a unit with an individual issue, I don’t know of large-scale problems such as you suggest.

On refresh rates—all LCD TVs will benefit from higher refresh rates, especially larger ones such as you’re asking about. However, not all TVs use the same method, and sometimes the extreme refresh rates (240Hz, 480Hz …) promoted by manufactures are extreme overkill and can do more harm than good, especially when applied to film-based material (this is described in more detail in the article mentioned above).

You asked about waiting until LEDs TVs get better—well, that could be said for just about anything. The current state LED LCD technology is very good, very dependable, and I wouldn’t hesitate recommending it to anyone. The best LED LCD TVs on the market are excellent. That said, don’t dismiss plasma TVs, which have some advantages in black levels and price.

Forum member Paul S. answered:
There are some great questions there, let’s get started:
1)In general, flat screen TV’s are actually less prone to breakdown vs. their CRT counterparts.  This has been supported by data from most major manufacturers of TV’s.  As always however, you normally get what you pay for, so do your research first.

2)I can’t speak to Samsung having capacitor issues, or their customer service being any better/worse than normal, but they do make a decent television.

3)When looking for an LCD with LED lighting, there are two major types of ‘backlighting : 
a.The more common lighting method is where the LED’s are on the edges of the screen, and a mesh’ with openings of various sizes (bigger towards the middle of the screen) controls how much light reaches the screen.  These TV’s can be extremely thin, and are the cheaper backlighting option.

b.If the LED’s are behind the screen, the TV will be thicker than an edge lit model.  The primary reason to put the LED’s behind the screen is that a better uniformity of lighting can be achieved.  Also, LED’s in back allows for precision local dimming, where the LED’s behind the screen can adjust their light output individually (or more commonly in small groups) to achieve greater contract on program material that has both light and dark areas.

4)As to your comment on technology changing and LED’s getting better, this process isn’t slowing; in fact it’s probably accelerating.  Unless you have an unlimited budget and don’t mind buying a new TV every 6 to 12 months, there will ALWAYS be something newer/brighter/faster/cheaper on the horizon.  My advice:  Stick to your budget, and buy the best TV you can find in your budget range. 

5)I’m going to skip the TV question, and talk about refresh rates.  As far as TV’s under 55 inches not benefitting from higher refresh rates, this is blatantly false.  Any display device can benefit from an increase in refresh rates.  How a TV handles an increased refresh rate is as probably more important than what the actual refresh rate is, as long as it’s at least 60 Hz.  LCD’s suffer from motion blur, and one way to combat this is to increase the frame rate to help.  Normally I shut off the refresh rate ‘stuff’ in the menu since I want film to look like film, and video to look like video.  That being said increased refresh rates are crucial to 3D TV since each eye needs to be drawn separately.  This doubles the requirement for refresh rates.

6)As far as the universal disc player, OPPO is a great choice.  How long the OPPO will remain ‘close to’ universal will depend on what new formats and codec’s are coming down the pipe.  Most new Blu-ray players are going to have 3D capability whether you want it or not.  Personally I would say that in the OPPO you aren’t paying a premium for 3D, you are paying for one of the fastest full featured Blu-ray players on the market that isn’t a PS3.  You should also remember that a lot of Blu-ray players offer some of the streaming options you were looking for in a TV, and the Blu-ray players do it for much cheaper than adding those features into a TV.  The OPPO BP-93 does the Netflix and Blockbuster streaming, and has wireless Ethernet as well as wired.  While you don’t get Amazon or MLB, if you can live without those two things, you no longer need to get a TV with any of those features if you get the OPPO since you would be duplicating features that the OPPO can probably do better than the TV could (due to processing power).
I’m not going to make a specific TV recommendation as there are numerous good TV’s in your price range.  I still prefer plasma to any form of LCD, but I understand that the plasma TV’s aren’t as thin, sexy or energy efficient as the newest LCD’s, but in my book they make up for that with a generally superior picture and viewing angle.
Sorry for the book, hope all the information helps.
Paul

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