Expert Recommendation

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Best 42-Inch or Smaller HDTV Under $1600 for Watching Sports or Playing Video Games from Wide Viewing Angles
Expert (7 Recommendations and 1 Compliment)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
September 29, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2009
Overview

One of the biggest concerns when watching fast-moving HD content is that of motion blur and while a plasma screen would best address this issue as well as the issue of off-angle viewing, the limitations of the plasma technology simply don’t allow for smaller screen sizes. Both of these LCD options, however, pack a whopping 240Hz refresh rate to help address that issue, and if you’re still not sold on LCD, there’s a very worthy plasma contender thrown in the mix, should you choose to go that route.

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My Best In Class Pick
Samsung LN40B750

What has become a staple and major draw of Samsung’s current lineup of HDTVs, but a rarity among HDTVs in general, is the ability to separate the film-smoothing (aka dejuddering) and anti-blurring effects. This means that you can have the anti-blurring that the 240Hz refresh rate provides without the image appearing artificially smoothed and more video-like. At 240Hz, the LN40B750 updates the image on the screen 4 times as fast as your typical 60Hz television. Rest assured that with the LNB750, every pass will be as clear and as life-like as possible.

The LNB750’s picture quality can’t be beat in it’s class. The set’s 150,000:1 contrast ratio allow it to reproduce deep blacks and CNET.com says it’s “primary and secondary colors are nearly perfect.”

Since this is an LCD, you can expect picture quality to suffer slightly from varying angles, but the LNB750 holds it’s own and then some against others in it’s class.

Other features of the Samsung LN40B750 include a plethora of picture adjustment options and the ability to save different settings for each of its 7 inputs, which should please the tweakers amongst you. The set also comes packed full of content from Yahoo! widgets to cooking recipes and work-out guides. Additionally, the LNB750 has an Ethernet input which means it can connect to your network and stream media from other devices in your home.

Comparison with Sony KDL-40XBR9

The picture quality of the Sony comes up short of the Samsung’s, but it is still a solid effort. Also, the Samsung offers much better video processing which means a crisper picture and more fluid motion.

Comparison with Panasonic TC-P42G10

Being a plasma, the PG10 doesn’t suffer as much from off-angle viewing and motion blur issues, but the Samsung gives it a run for it’s money and doesn’t come up short.

Pros
  • +
    Best-in-class dejudder processing
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    Plethora of built-in content and features
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    Excellent picture quality
Cons
  • -
    Glossy screen prone to reflections
Samsung LN40B750 is the Best 42-Inch or Smaller HDTV Under $1600 for Watching Sports or Playing Video Games from Wide Viewing Angles
Where to buy
Samsung LN40B750
Specifications
  • Screen Size: 40 in.
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Website Reviews (1 review)
  • Rated Excellent by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Samsung LN40B750
2
Sony KDL-40XBR9
3
Panasonic TC-P42G10
Customer Rating
Price
Screen Size 40 in. 40 in. 42 in.
Display Type LCD LCD Plasma
Display Resolution 1920 x 1080 pixels 1920 x 1080 pixels 1920 x 1080 pixels
Display Format 1080p 1080p 1080p
Max Refresh Rate 240 Hz 240 Hz 600 Hz
Display Surface Glossy Matte Glass
Ethernet Interface Yes Yes Yes
HDMI Inputs (Total) 4 4 3
Component Video Inputs (Total) 2 2 2
Energy Star Compliant Yes Yes Yes
Dimensions with stand (W x H x D) 38.7 x 27.2 x 10.0 in. 37.9 x 25.6 x 12.0 in. 40.6 x 27.8 x 13.2 in.
2
Sony KDL-40XBR9

Sony’s XBR series of HDTVs has always been the company’s top of the line, and the KDL-40XBR9 is no exception. The 40XBR9 has an extensive set of features and very accurate primary colors, which CNET.com described as “nearly perfect.”

Typical of Sony’s HDTVs, the XBR9 features a matte screen (rather than a glass or glossy one) that will make viewing great whether the lights are on or off.

My only gripe with the XBR9 is the way it handles it’s image processing. Although the 40XBR9 packs the huge 240Hz refresh rate of the other sets in it’s class, the motion blur reduction can’t be enabled without also turning on a film-smoothing effect. This means that while there won’t be any significant blurring, the image may appear artificially smoothed at times and look more video-like (as opposed to life-like), a major concern when watching sports or playing video games.

Pros
  • +
    Matte screen reduces reflections
  • +
    Solid picture quality
Cons
  • -
    Video processing options limited
Sony KDL-40XBR9 is one of the Best 42-Inch or Smaller HDTVs Under $1600 for Watching Sports or Playing Video Games from Wide Viewing Angles
Where to buy
Sony KDL-40XBR9
Specifications
  • Screen Size: 40 in.
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Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (1 review)
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
3
Panasonic TC-P42G10

With Pioneer out of the picture, Panasonic has become a top contender for the plasma crown. The G10 features a THX mode which delivers only a couple of flaws in color accuracy and because it is a plasma, it won’t suffer as much from the blurring and off-angle viewing issues inherent to it’s LCD brethren. The huge 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio of the plasma screen will deliver excellent black levels and contrast.

Wired magazine called the G10 a “plasma dazzler” and said they were blown “away with it’s stunning picture.”

Despite the anti-reflective coating on it’s glass screen, however, the G10 will still be more prone to reflections than the Sony or the Samsung.

Pros
  • +
    Great off-angle viewing
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    Very little picture blur
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    Excellent value
Cons
  • -
    Glass screen will reflect light
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    Color accuracy could be better
  • -
    Feature set a little underwhelming
Panasonic TC-P42G10 is one of the Best 42-Inch or Smaller HDTVs Under $1600 for Watching Sports or Playing Video Games from Wide Viewing Angles
Where to buy
Panasonic TC-P42G10
Specifications
  • Screen Size: 42 in.
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (1 review)
  • Rated Excellent by CNET.com

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