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The Best TVs of 2012

posted by Geoff Morrison on November 28, 2012 in Music and Video, TVs & Video Players, Guides & Reviews :: 20 comments

couple watching TVThis year, we saw prices drop, screens get bigger and new features, like gesture control, debut on big screen TVs. For the most part, picture quality stayed the same as last year, but there were several notable standouts, according to the expert eyes of our friends at HD Guru.

The first pick is their pick for overall best HDTV of 2012. The others are all excellent in their own right, but aren’t in any particular order.

And if you're looking for more affordable options, check out our TV Buying Guide, with choices starting under $500.

 

 Panasonic TC-P65VT50 Plasma

HD Guru Best of the Best: Panasonic TC-P65VT50 Plasma

Every year, Panasonic makes their top-of- the-line plasmas just a bit better. They’ve gotten so good that they’re now equal to, if not better than, the first few generations of Pioneer’s vaunted KURO plasmas. The native contrast ratio and black levels of the VT50 series are significantly better than anything else on the market today. Truly gorgeous televisions.

Feature wise it has all the great performance goodies including 96Hz for judder free movies without the reduction in film grain (which should be there) seen on LED LCDs with 120 Hz or higher refresh. It’s also THX-certified for excellent image quality out of the box (in THX picture mode). This is also a Internet streaming TV with multiple movie/TV services, Skype video calling (with optional camera) and more. The VT50 is available in the 65-inch and 55-inch versions, the TC-P65VT50 ($3,700) and TC-P55VT50 ($2,500)

If the VT50 series is too pricy for you, the GT50 models offer black levels not quite as good as the VT50, and they lack 96Hz refresh, the Touch Pad Controller, ISF ccc calibration option, and they use the Infinite  Black Pro screen filter in place of the VT50s Infinite Black Ultra screen filter, which is not quite as effective in cutting down room reflections in bright viewing environments.

The TC-P65ST50 ($2,300) is the next step down and is a lot cheaper. It offers slightly less performance than the GT50, and drops the THX settings and a few other features.

 

ELITE PRO-70X5FD by SharpELITE PRO-70X5FD by Sharp
 

HD Guru reviewed the ELITE a few months ago, and were highly impressed. As one of the few local-dimming LED LCDs, the ELITE combines excellent brightness with deep black levels. Its native contrast isn’t quite as good as the VT50, and off axis performance is poor, but overall the image is nearly as good. The Elites are available in the 70-inch and 60-inch screen sizes.
Price: PRO-70X5FD ($8,000), PRO-60X5FD ($4600)

 

Sony XBR-65HX950 LED LCDSony XBR-65HX950 LED LCD

As one of the only other local dimming LED LCDs, the HX950 series offers significantly better performance than edge-lit LED LCDs. It doesn’t have nearly as many zones as the ELITE, so it doesn’t quite offer that level of picture quality, but it puts out an excellent, bright, punchy image for a lot less money. Check out HD Guru's review of the 55-inch XBR-55HX950. Available in the 65-inch and 55-inch screen sizes.
Price: XBR-65HX950 ($5,000), XBR-55HX950 ($3,000)

 

Samsung PN64E8000 PlasmaSamsung PN64E8000 Plasma

Though it doesn’t quite offer the picture quality of the VT50, that’s a lot like saying a Nissan GT-R is slower than a Ferrari. The E8000 has speech recognition, facial recognition, gesture control, a fantastic Smart TV suite, and excellent picture quality.
Price: PN64E8000 ($2,900), PN60E8000 ($2,200), PN51E8000 ($1,200) For those of you on a budget check out the 7000 series (51, 60 and 64-inch screen sizes starting at $998)  which offers near identical performance but lacks the the built-in camera and face, speech and gesture recognition.

 

LG 84LM9600 Ultra HD 4K LED LCDLG 84LM9600 Ultra HD 4K LED LCD

The Era of Ultra HD is upon us. With its 3,840 x 2,160 resolution, the 84LM9600 offers four times standard 1080p resolution. Right now there is no 4K standard, and there’s basically no 4K content. However, there are a couple of advantages to the higher resolution now, one of the biggest being passive 3D at full vertical resolution.
Price: $16,999.99

(Note: the prices shown are valid at the time of this post and are subject to change)

Geoffrey Morrison writes for HD Guru and many other leading tech publications. Check out Geoff’s first novel: Undersea.

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Discussion loading

...and for the rest of the world

From Hank Arnold on November 29, 2012 :: 10:53 am

Wouldn’t it be great if someone reviewed new TV’s that didn’t cost a months pay?

What’s the best 42” LED under $600?  I bet more of your readers would be interested in your opinion of that TV than the $2500 garden variety.

But not as much fun for you!!

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This is definitely the high-end stuff

From Suzanne Kantra on November 29, 2012 :: 12:23 pm

Hi Hank,

This article was about the absolute best TVs on the market. We have plenty of less expensive options in our TV buying guide: http://www.techlicious.com/guide/hdtv-buying-guide-2012/. There are great choices in there for every budget, including some under $500.

Best,
Suzanne

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Thanks Suzanne...didn't look hard enough

From Hank Arnold on November 29, 2012 :: 8:39 pm

Now I have something to read tonight…

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I hear ya!

From Laurie B on November 29, 2012 :: 5:23 pm

Really wish I had $17K to spend on a TV!

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Hank Hits Nail on Head !

From Fred Emmert on November 29, 2012 :: 12:01 pm

I’m headed for Costco were pricing meets the pocketbook.  Do you earn $$$ from the companies that you promote ?

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Costco...just was there yesterday

From Hank Arnold on November 29, 2012 :: 12:17 pm

They have a 42” Sony that’s priced better than anyplace I could find, but except for Amazon reviews which can be shaky—I can’t find out much on it…My experience with Visio isn’t very good, they didn’t have much else in that size, unfortunately.

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C'mon, Fred...

From Suzanne Kantra on November 29, 2012 :: 12:37 pm

Hi Fred,

The TVs in this guide are here because we believe they should be, not because someone is paying us to put them there. These are the best TVs available, period, even if they’re not for everyone’s budget.

We have plenty of less expensive options in our 2012 TV buying guide: http://www.techlicious.com/guide/hdtv-buying-guide-2012/, and no one paid us to put those there, either!

Best,
Suzanne

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TOTALLY ridiculous

From Marjorie Silverman on November 29, 2012 :: 12:05 pm

I usually appreciate the articles posted on Techlicious. This, however, is ridiculous, and not priced for the general reader or buyer. In this economy, most people are not spending up to $16,000.00 on TV’s or even half of that. In my humble opinion, this was a waste of my time.

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$16,000 TVs

From Lee Born on November 29, 2012 :: 12:24 pm

What people don’t understand about this $16,000 TV is that the characters on the screen can interact with the viewer at home!  You can ask them to creat a menu and have them prepare the food before your very eyes.  They will then serve it to you at your table (your table cannot be more than 5 feet away from the TV set, bummer)  After you finish eating, your plates, glasses and utensils will be cleaned and waiters from the TV will whisk them away after cleaning your table. lol

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Interact with the viewers at home?

From Connie Edwards on November 29, 2012 :: 12:43 pm

That’s really just creepy!

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Lee, Are You In the Creative Field or

From Fred Emmert on November 29, 2012 :: 12:33 pm

are you the one person that actually reads the small print ?  I missed it, what page was it on ?

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Did you read what you wrote?

From Connie Edwards on November 29, 2012 :: 3:27 pm

Got it from your first sentence in this post.

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Suzanne, When Was The Last Survey

From Fred Emmert on November 29, 2012 :: 2:40 pm

of what your readers wanted to hear about ?  And what were the results ?

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Thank you for the article, Suzanne!

From Michelle Coleman on November 29, 2012 :: 4:35 pm

Some are in my budget, some are out of my budget, and some I can only dare to dream! 

I appreciate the information!

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How about Mitsubishi DLP?

From Sirwriter on November 29, 2012 :: 5:32 pm

Hi Suzanne,
I haven’t yet looked at your “affordable list” but I was wondering about those Mitsi DLPs. The ones that develop the white and/or black spots until they get so bad you can’t see the screen. It started happening to my not quite 4 year old 65”, and I Googled the problem to see if anyone else had it. WOW! Seems like almost everyone that ever bought one of these has the same problem, and Mitsubishi is not being very honorable about it. I don’t know if any of the Mitsubishis are on any of your lists but was just wondering how you felt about their products now. (Not trying to put you on the spot).

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Not on anyone's list...

From Hank Arnold on November 29, 2012 :: 8:40 pm

...anymore, I don’t think they even make them.

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Not on anyone's list?

From Sirwriter on November 30, 2012 :: 8:40 am

Hank, you ought to research your material before launching a comment. They do make DLPs, as a matter of fact tigerdirect.com just ran an ad for the newest model, a 92”, for Black Friday.

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None of the Mitsubishi DLP

From Suzanne Kantra on December 04, 2012 :: 2:23 am

None of the Mitsubishi DLP rear-projection TVs are on my list. They provided a way for people to get a really large screen at a great prices, but the TV technology just wasn’t capable of producing a picture to compete with today’s LCD/LED and plasma TVs. Soon these DLP sets won’t even be an option. According to a memo obtained by CEPro, Mitsubishi is discontinuing production of its 73, 82 and 92-inch DLP projection TVs.

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2012 TV Buying Guide

From Sirwriter on November 29, 2012 :: 5:47 pm

Suzanne,

That guide is nicely put together! Of course, from July until now there are bound to be some updates in models as well as prices. Just saw a TV on there that interests me very much and the price is definitely right. Thanks for the great articles!

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I don't want to receive

From Fred Emmert on November 30, 2012 :: 11:01 am

notification of follow-up comments

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