Expert Recommendation

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Best Overall 50-Inch or Smaller HDTV Under $2500
Expert (7 Recommendations and 1 Compliment)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
October 29, 2009 Updated: November 11, 2009
Overview

Any one of these picks is sure to turn heads in your living room, no matter what the use, but none so many as the Panasonic TC-P50V10.

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My Best In Class Pick
Panasonic TC-P50V10

Panasonic’s TC-P50V10 is a sexy, feature-laden, Plasma that will perform superbly whether you’re watching HD cable, Blu-rays, DVDs, playing video games… Well you get the point: the V10 is as versatile as they come and won’t disappoint.

Lets start with what everyone is going to notice first: the PV10’s impressively stylish and unique design. Panasonic seems to be going for a “one pane of glass look” and they have succeeded. The set’s glass screen extends over the edges so what you end up with is one sleek, seamless look. The V10 will serve well as the centerpiece to any living room and looks beautiful whether it’s on or off.

CNET.com says the V10 had “the best picture quality of any flat-panel TV they have tested so far this year.” The set enjoys a whopping 40,000:1 native contrast ratio, allowing it to produce some of the deepest blacks you’ll find on an HDTV.

For the videophiles amongst you, the V10 comes loaded with a myriad of picture adjustment options, allowing for very accurate colors. If you prefer not to fiddle with all the sliders and picture adjustment tools, there are many color presets available, including a THX mode that very closely reproduces a cinema-like experience.

The V10 also comes packed with Panasonic’s Viera Cast programming which allows access to many interactive features. Among these are such things as Yahoo! widgets, Amazon movies on demand, and YouTube.

Comparison with Samsung PN50B860

Both of these sets are sure to be eye-pleasers, both aesthetically and performance-wise, but the Panasonic wins out over the Samsung in terms of overall picture quality.

Comparison with LG 47LH90

The V10 features a far-better viewing angle when compared to the LH90, but the latter comes close in terms of picture quality.

Pros
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    Eye-catching design
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    Excellent picture quality
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    Many picture adjustment options
Cons
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    Expensive
Panasonic TC-P50V10 is the Best Overall 50-Inch or Smaller HDTV Under $2500
Where to buy
Panasonic TC-P50V10
Specifications
  • Screen Size: 50 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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Panasonic TC-P50V10
2
Samsung PN50B860
3
LG 47LH90
Customer Rating
Price
Screen Size 50 in. 50 in. 47 in.
Display Type Plasma Plasma LCD
LCD Backlight Technology N/A N/A LED
Display Surface Glass Glass Matte
HDMI Inputs (Total) 4 4 3
Component Video Inputs (Total) 2 2 2
Ethernet Interface Yes Yes No
2
Samsung PN50B860

Hands down, plasma screens deliver the best viewing experience with their excellent color accuracy, deep black levels, and superb viewing-angles and Samnsung’s PN50B860 is no exception. The PNB860, however, comes up short (albeit, every so slightly) in terms of overall picture quality when pitted against it’s competitors.

In fact, CNET.com had this to say about the PNB860 in a direct comparison to Panasonic’s V10:“Between the two we give the Panasonic the edge in black level performance and the Samsung the nod in terms of color–with the V10 winning overall in our opinion, if by just a hair.”

In terms of features and styling, however, you won’t be disappointed. The PNB860 features a suite of interactive features and internet connectivity options ranging from cookbooks to Yahoo! widgets. Additionally, the PNB860 features an ultra-slim, impressive design that is every bit as sleek and sexy as any other set on the market.

Also worth mentioning is that, like all Samsung models, the PNB860 doesn’t force you to engage film-smoothing effects (i.e dejuddering) when enabling the set’s video processing options so the image doesn’t have that artificial, video-like look to it that is typically associated with film-smoothing effects.

Comparison with LG 47LH90

With it’s internet connectivity, the Samsung’s feature-set easily dwarfs the LH90’s but the LG doesn’t come up short when it comes to picture quality.

Pros
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    Excellent color accuracy
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    Great video-processing options
Cons
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    Black levels not quite as good as the competition
Samsung PN50B860 is one of the Best Overall 50-Inch or Smaller HDTVs Under $2500
Where to buy
Samsung PN50B860
Specifications
  • Screen Size: 50 in.
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3
LG 47LH90

If you’re still not sold on plasma, LG’s LH90 is the only LCD to make it on this list namely due to it’s superb black levels, excellent color accuracy, and (relatively) affordable price. The excellent picture quality of the LH90 is achieved through it’s LED backlighting which allows sections of the screen to be brightened, dimmed, or even switched off (as opposed to the florescent lamps found in standard LCDs that brighten/darken the entire screen).

This does come at a cost, however: the light from the LEDs can bleed through to other parts of the screen, causing them to appear brighter when they shouldn’t (this is known as blooming) and picture quality suffers considerably from varying angles. Additionally, the set’s lack of internet connectivity means it isn’t as feature-laden as it’s competitors.

Pros
  • +
    Very deep black levels
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    Excellent color accuracy
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    Many tweaking options
Cons
  • -
    Bad viewing angles
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    Considerable blooming
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    No internet connectivity
LG 47LH90 is one of the Best Overall 50-Inch or Smaller HDTVs Under $2500
Where to buy
LG 47LH90
Specifications
  • Screen Size: 47 in.
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