Expert Recommendation

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Best 50-Inch or Smaller HDTV Under $1000 for Watching Movies or TV Shows
Expert (3 Recommendations)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
October 10, 2009 Updated: October 15, 2009
Overview

Buying a large HD television on-the-cheap does not mean being stuck with a cheap TV. Whether watching some boob-tube or relaxing in front of a good movie, the Panasonic TC-P42S1 offers the best picture in any lighting for under $1,000. With rich colors and black levels, the S1 performs superbly and offers other attractive features as well.

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My Best In Class Pick
Panasonic TC-P42S1

Bringing the bang-to-buck ratio much closer is Panasonic’s TC-P42S1plasma TV. This is Panasonic’s entry-level 1080p plasma television. It features their new Neo PDP panel, which reduces power consumption, a SD memory card reader for viewing pictures and a very attractive price tag.

Right out of the box, it is clear that the S1’s black levels rival the more expensive Panasonic G10 display. Further testing also revealed decent color accuracy. Though not perfect, the picture on the S1 is by far the best looking television for the price.

The plasma screen also provides smooth motion for 24fps content, camera panning and fast motion. This makes the Panasonic TC-P42S1 excellent for watching movies and television.

The screen has Panasonics anti reflection filter to reduce glare which works quite well. Brighter than the previous generation of Panasonic plasmas, the TC-P42SI is great for medium to low light settings. The AR filter also makes the S1 a good performer in well-lit rooms.

Though not impervious to burn-in, current plasma technologies make image retention very difficult. Panasonic includes additional prevention technologies to remove image retention such as, pixel orbiting and scrolling white bar to remove temporary images.

With three HDMI ports, two component connections, an S-video and two composite video inputs the S1 can handle plenty of additional components. The 1080p panel also leaves headroom for upgrades like a Playstation 3 or a Blu-Ray player.

Comparison with Panasonic TC-P50x1

Though the TC-P50X1 has a larger screen, the S1 out-performs the X1 in terms of picture quality and features. A direct comparison showed the X1 has less accurate colors than the S1. The 720p resolution also limits the X1 when thinking about future upgrades.

Comparison with Toshiba 46XV645U

The Toshiba 46XV645U is a 1080p LCD panel television. It is more energy efficient than the S1 and while it does include 120 Hz, motion can tend to look “animated”. The S1 has better contrast, deeper colors and smoother motion.

Pros
  • +
    Fairly accurate colors when set to "Cinema" mode
  • +
    Outstanding black levels and Contrast
  • +
    Realistic motion
Cons
  • -
    Consumes more power than LCD
  • -
    Minimal picture controls
Panasonic TC-P42S1 is the Best 50-Inch or Smaller HDTV Under $1000 for Watching Movies or TV Shows
Where to buy
Panasonic TC-P42S1
Specifications
  • Screen Size: 42 in.
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Website Reviews (1 review)
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Panasonic TC-P42S1
2
Panasonic TC-P50X1
3
Toshiba 46XV645U
Customer Rating
Price $1420.75
Screen Size 42 in. 50 in. 46 in.
Display Type Plasma Plasma LCD
Display Resolution 1920 x 1080 pixels 1366 x 760 pixels 1920 x 1080 pixels
Anti-reflective Coating Yes Yes -
HDMI Inputs (Total) 3 3 3
Component Video Inputs (Total) 2 2 2
Composite Video Inputs (Total) 2 2 2
S-Video Input Yes Yes Yes
USB Interface No No No
PC Interface No No Yes
Dimensions with stand (W x H x D) 40.6 x 28.0 x 12.9 in. 48 x 15.2 x 32.4 in 43.62 x 29.13 x 11.77 in
Energy Star Compliant Yes Yes Yes
Rated Power Consumption 485.0 Watts 399.0 Watts 228.0 Watts
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Panasonic TC-P50x1

The X1 has the largest screen in this price range. For watching movies and television, the 720p resolution is adequate. The Panasonic TC-P50X1 has good contrast and black levels though colors are less accurate than the S1. With a minimal amount of picture controls, this aspect cannot be adjusted.

The X1 is a great choice for those who want a larger screen for around the same amount of money as the 42-inch S1. Upgrading to a Blu-ray player will look great on the X1 but the lack of a 1080p resolution limits the HD capabilities of the player, especially on such a large screen.

Comparison with Toshiba 46XV645U

Side by side, the Panasonic TC-PX1 has better motion, color and contrast over the Toshiba 46XV645U. The X1 is also four inches larger than the 645, however, the Toshiba offers a full 1080p resolution, works well as a computer monitor and uses less electricity.

Panasonic TC-P50X1 is one of the Best 50-Inch or Smaller HDTVs Under $1000 for Watching Movies or TV Shows
Where to buy
Panasonic TC-P50X1
Specifications
  • Screen Size: 50 in.
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3
Toshiba 46XV645U

For those looking for a great LCD in this price range will enjoy the Toshiba 46XV645U. Although plasma is much better as far as picture quality and motion goes, Toshiba’s 46-inch 120hz LCD TV is the best LCD for the dollar.

LCD’s have been notorious for a shaky picture during camera panning and fast motion, commonly referred to as “judder”. Toshiba’s 120 Hz ClearFrame technology offers better motion smoothness and dejudder than traditional 60 Hz LCDs.

Inputs include three HDMI ports and a VGA connector for using it as a computer monitor. Toshiba’s 46-inch 645 series television is the best performing LCD for the price. It’s also the only brand-name LCD in this price bracket that includes 120 Hz.

The Toshiba 46XV645U has noticeable back light bleed-through even with picture adjustments. The 645U also had poor viewing angles.

Comparison with LG 42PQ30

The Toshiba 46XV645U has a full 1080p resolution and is the best choice for consumers who prefer an LCD to a plasma television. Though the 645 series Toshiba has a resolution advantage over the PQ30, the LG plasma boasts better color accuracy, viewing angle, and black levels.

Pros
  • +
    120 Hz Motion
  • +
    PC Input
  • +
    Energy Efficient
Cons
  • -
    Poor contrast ratio
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    Subpar viewing angle
  • -
    Weak colors
  • -
    Some backlighting bleed-through
Toshiba 46XV645U is one of the Best 50-Inch or Smaller HDTVs Under $1000 for Watching Movies or TV Shows
Where to buy
Toshiba 46XV645U
Specifications
  • Screen Size: 46 in.
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4
LG 42PQ30

LG’s 42-inch 720p plasma has good color accuracy, black levels and contrast ratios. It also includes a USB port for viewing jpeg picture files and mp3s loaded onto a USB flash drive. Most HD content comes in either 720p or 1080i, which makes this a great HDTV for watching current HD television programming. Limited to a 720p resolution, those thinking about a future Blu-ray player upgrade won’t enjoy the full resolution of Blu-ray content.

The 42PQ30 is cheaper than the Panasonic TC-P42S1 making this television a good buy for those who don’t particularly care about a having a full 1080p set.

Comparison with Samsung LN46B530

The B530 does have a 1080p resolution but as far as picture quality goes, the LG has the Samsung beat.

Pros
  • +
    Good colors
  • +
    Nice black levels and contrast
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    USB port for music and pictures
Cons
  • -
    Limited resolution
  • -
    Power consumption
LG 42PQ30 is one of the Best 50-Inch or Smaller HDTVs Under $1000 for Watching Movies or TV Shows
Where to buy
LG 42PQ30
Specifications
  • Screen Size: 42 in.
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5
Samsung LN46B530

This is Samsungs base-model LCD TV. It has a bright picture and a 1080p resolution. It handles content shot in 24 frames per second better than most 60 Hz LCDs. The matte screen reduces glare from windows and other lighting. However, the LN46B530 suffers backlight bleed through, washed out colors and bad contrast.

Pros
  • +
    1080p
  • +
    Matte screen
Cons
  • -
    Poor colors
  • -
    Weak contrast ratio
  • -
    Judder and motion blur
Samsung LN46B530 is one of the Best 50-Inch or Smaller HDTVs Under $1000 for Watching Movies or TV Shows
Where to buy
Samsung LN46B530
Specifications
  • Screen Size: 46 in.
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