It’s time to put out an updated list of the tv’s that are great recommendations at different price points. Some of these models are 2016 but don’t worry; they’re still in stock and still punch above their price class.
Couple things before we get started. The tv’s I’m going to suggest come in various sizes and different sizes can jump tiers of cost (sometimes hundreds or even thousands of dollars!) so don’t let that confuse you. In the first post I wrote, home theater basics, I said that to really satisfy the requirement of a home theater tv it has to be 50″ or larger. I still stand by that so even though there might be a better performing tv at a certain price point, I won’t list it unless it’s 50″ or bigger. (I made one exception to this rule…)
Important – I’ve heard a lot of people get confused about tv’s and their listed refresh rate information. Admittedly it’s a complex subject that’s a bit hard to grasp and thus to also explain but a 120 hz refresh rate on a tv is only superior to a 60 hz refresh if you like having really smooth motion that looks fake. (The fake ness is subjective but I think most people would prefer a non-processed image to a processed one). A higher refresh does not decrease motion blur or provide any other benefit. Any number over 120 is a theoretical number based on what the manufacturer thinks the tv can display with extra processing. Listen to our discussion on tv’s that we’ve posted in the home cinema section to learn more about refresh rates or leave a comment below.
Below $500 – 50″ Samsung KU6300
-This tv has three great things that make it an easy recommendation. Great native contrast, black uniformity, and decent peak brightness. Contrast will make the image pop with large differences between colors, the phenomenal black uniformity will prevent issues like clouding or flashlighting that you might find on other tv’s (particularly at this price point), and the decent brightness will help combat glare from windows or lights.
-If you’re a gamer this tv also has low input lag to satisfy your trigger finger.
-This is the same tv that I recommended last year but it fits this price point even better this year. Since it’s a 2016 model it’s been discounted but may not remain in stock for much longer so get it before it’s gone!
Midrange $500-$750 – 55″ Vizio M Series
-Another 2016 tv but a great performer, especially for movies in a dark room due to its great local dimming. Local dimming is a feature that allows zones or areas of the screen to selectively darken to enhance contrast and boost image quality. The 2017 version of this tv has a very similar panel so there would be little benefit to forking out extra dough for the new model.
-Response time and low motion blur are two more great things about this unit. You shouldn’t notice any issues with laggard movement or motion-based artifacts (blocks or jagged edges caused by a slow response time on the tv).
-This tv does struggle a bit with brightness so if you’re looking to make use of HDR content or if you have a bright room, you should choose a different tv.
Midrange $750-$1,000 – 49″ Sony X900E
-Kinda cheating here with the screen size but this tv is an excellent performer. It gets very bright, has excellent contrast and an effective local dimming system. An incredibly fast response time will also eliminate any motion blur that might be present on other sets.
-This unit also has a great color gamut and combined with the peak brightness, would make an excellent HDR image.
-One thing this tv struggles with is image retention. A bit unusual for an LCD tv but it does show a ghost of what’s been on the screen after being powered off. The effect isn’t too strong but if you’re considering using this tv as a monitor, look elsewhere.
High End $1,000-$2,000 – 55″ Sony X930E
-This is kind of an awkward price point because there are a number of tv’s that fit the upper end of this spectrum but you usually stop finding value in what you’re paying for. Instead most tv makers add unique design elements or some other type of flair that sets this tv apart from others.
-However, Sony really stepped up their tv game in 2017 and their X930E is the best LED tv that is below 2,000 dollars. It gets incredibly bright, has great contrast, color, response time and a great design as well. Sony has built in cable management into the back of the tv so you don’t have unsightly cables running around.
High End $1,500-$3,000 OLED – 55″-65″
Overdramatic but generally this is the difference between the two technologies
-OLED has its own category because it’s, well frankly a different kind of tv. Last year’s LG B6 can be found for about $1,500 for 55″ and this year’s models (end with a 7) are about $3,000. The only picture quality difference between the two is a slight increase in brightness.
-Unless you’re a stickler for having the newest thing or can squeeze something out of that modest increase in brightness, go with the B6.
-Sony has its own OLED this year, the A1E but it performs nearly exactly as the B6 does and the B6 is considerably cheaper.