50- and 52-Inch HDTVs
Thanks to lower production costs, higher demand, and the introduction of 2008 models, prices on many big HDTVs have become much more affordable, even for buyers on a limited budget.
We ran eight 50- and 52-inch HDTVs through our rigorous PC World Test Center evaluations and found that one of the least expensive sets in the group, the Vizio GV52LF, performs nearly as well as much more expensive sets like the top-performing Sony Bravia KDL-52D92U. The combination of solid performance and a price nearly 40 percent less than the Sony's vaulted the Vizio into the second spot on the chart. In first place, the Samsung FP-T5084 didn't perform quite as well as the Vizio, but it offers a better array of features and doesn't cost much more.
Samsung FP-T5084 50-inch Plasma HDTV
The Samsung FP-T5084 offers pleasing colors and sharp picture detail in a sleekly designed cabinet. Moreover, this 50-inch plasma HDTV has an extremely affordable price (US$2400), which helped it capture the Best Buy in our chart of 50- and 52-inch HDTV sets. It's not the most advanced or full-featured HDTV, but Samsung's FP-T5084 scored very well overall because it's inexpensive, well designed, and a solid performer.
Vizio GV52LF 52-inch LCD HDTV
The Vizio GV52LF HDTV, a 52-inch LCD model, earned high scores on many of our TV tests. Its scores were particularly high on our standard-definition tests. The set's desirable features include picture-in-picture and four HDMI ports. The GV52LF delivers competitive performance, attractive options, and a killer price ($2200). Budget-conscious HDTV shoppers should give this set serious attention.
LG 50PY3DF 50-inch Plasma HDTV
LG's 50PY3DF is well-designed and inexpensive. This 50-inch plasma HDTV performed near the average in our tests, earning an overall score of Good. Color quality on standard and high-definition scenes was strong, and brightness and contrast results were okay. The LG 50PY3DF's many strengths and features, including good speakers and a reasonable price, may help it find it a place on the TV stands of some homes despite its middle-of-the-road performance.
Sony BRAVIA KDL-52XBR4 52-inch LCD HDTV
The Sony Bravia KDL-52XBR4 HDTV has a distinctive and attractive cabinet design to match its strong performance. This 52-inch LCD set posted the highest overall image-quality score in its size category. Sony's Bravia KDL-52XBR4 will satisfy videophiles with its natural-looking colors and fine detail reproduction. Fashion-conscious buyers will also like its striking design and replaceable bezel. But less-expensive sets such as the Samsung FP-T5084 and the Vizio GV52LF offer better value.
Pioneer PDP-5010FD 50-inch Plasma HDTV
Pioneer's Kuro PDP-5010FD HDTV produced marvelous images, with deep blacks, in our tests, but this 50-inch plasma set is pricey at $4500. The Kuro-which means "black" in Japanese-promises deeper blacks than its predecessors could produce, thanks to a combination of new digital processing, color filtering, and the company's Crystal Emissive Layer, which permits very high contrast. The well-rounded Pioneer Kuro PDP-5010FD offers a wonderful combination of performance and features. Its advanced technology resulted in impressively deep blacks and rich colors, though these come at a high price. If you have the budget for it, however, you won't be disappointed.
Mitsubishi LT-52244 52-inch LCD HDTV
Mitsubishi's LT-52244 consistently received performance scores of Fair-the lowest of the eight 50- and 52-inch HDTVs we tested. Oversaturated colors were this 52-inch LCD TV's chief fault. In both high-definition and standard-definition shows, jurors saw images with lurid tones and some background pixelation. The Mitsubishi LT-52244's performance is lackluster. Lower-priced, better-performing alternatives, such as the Samsung FP-T5084 and the Vizio GV52LF, are available.
Sharp LC-52D92U 52-inch LCD HDTV
The Aquos LC-52D92U, a 52-inch LCD HDTV from Sharp's premium line, offers style in spades. But its performance fell short of that turned in by competing sets, and its lack of premium features may displease video aficionados. Sharp's Aquos LC-52D92U has a lot going for it, including an alluring design and automatic brightness adjustment. But its color quality and detail reproduction weren't as good as those on competing sets. For the price ($3000), you'd be better off with a set such as the LG 50PY3D.
Samsung LN-T5281F 52-inch LCD HDTV
The Samsung LN-T5281F, a 52-inch LCD HDTV, has a host of cutting-edge features that may help justify its high price ($4500). The LN-T5281F yielded mixed performance results in high-definition videos. Pixelation was minimal in background scenes dominated by curtains and in wooden cabinets with a pronounced grain. Anyone looking for an LCD HDTV with advanced features, should consider the Samsung LN-T5281F a prime candidate. But for higher overall TV performance and a more affordable price, Samsung's own 50-inch FP-T5084 is a better deal.