Expert Recommendation

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Best 42-Inch or Smaller HDTV Under $800 for Watching Sports or Playing Video Games from Wide Viewing Angles
Expert (7 Recommendations and 1 Compliment)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
October 9, 2009 Updated: October 13, 2009
Overview

There really are only two options out there at the sub-$800 mark for the sports and/or video game enthusiasts among you: the Samsung PN42B450 and the Panasonic TC42S1. Priced at nearly $100 less with only a very negligible difference in resolution, the Samsung wins my recommendation for best-in-class.

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My Best In Class Pick
Samsung PN42B450

Enter the PN42B450: Samsung’s entry into the now-sparse plasma market. The plasma screen means motion-blur and wide-angle viewing are pretty much non-issues, at least when compared to it’s LCD cousins (both of which are issues in all but the highest-end models). Rest assured, this is the TV everyone will want to gather around when watching the next big game.

The PN42B450 is Samsung’s entry-level plasma screen and as such, it lacks many of the features found in step-up models. Most notably of which is the 1080p resolution that has become a standard and “must-have” feature for HDTVs these days.

But wait!

Before you turn your head and scoff at the PN42B450’s mere 720 lines of vertical resolution, know this: at 42 inches and below, it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between a 1080p and a 720p display. The benefits of 1080p can really only be noticed at higher screen sizes and larger viewing distances.

That said, the PN42B450 goes toe-to-toe with nearly every feature of it’s competition. It has the highly-touted (yet highly-insignificant) “600Hz sub-field motion” of the Panasonic. It has a plethora of burn-in solutions and preventions. And It has the anti-reflective screen.

To top it all off, Cnet.com says the Samsung has “nearly perfect” primary and secondary color accuracy and “excellent color saturation.” As if that wasn’t enough, the Samsung can be found on Amazon.com right now for a mere $674.

NOTE: At the time of this writing, there are no reviews available for the PN42B450 (at least, none that I could find). Thus, this recommendation is based solely on spec sheets, feature sets, and reviews of similar models

Comparison with Panasonic TC-P42S1

The Panasonic has the step-up 1080p resolution, but it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference at this size. The P42S1 is marred by a couple color accuracy issues and is nearly $100 more than the Samsung, making the latter the better choice of the two.

Pros
  • +
    Great viewing angles
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    Little to no blurring
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    Very accurate color
Cons
  • -
    720p max resolution
Samsung PN42B450 is the Best 42-Inch or Smaller HDTV Under $800 for Watching Sports or Playing Video Games from Wide Viewing Angles
Where to buy
Samsung PN42B450
Specifications
  • Screen Size: 42 in.
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Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
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Samsung PN42B450
2
Panasonic TC-P42S1
Customer Rating
Price
Screen Size 42 in. 42 in.
Display Type Plasma Plasma
Display Format 720p 1080p
Display Surface Glass Glass
Anti-reflective Coating Yes Yes
HDMI Inputs (Total) 3 3
Component Video Inputs (Total) 2 2
USB Interface No No
Ethernet Interface No No
2
Panasonic TC-P42S1

Priced at just under $800, the Panasonic TC-P42S1 is a great option for the sports and/or video game enthusiast looking to buy a quality HDTV on a budget. Because it is a plasma, it won’t suffer nearly as much from the motion-blur and off-angle viewing issues that plague it’s LCD counterparts. TelevisionInfo.com says the P42S1 “had one of the widest viewing angles we’ve seen on a plasma.”So, there will be no fighting for that “sweet-spot” right in the center of the couch.

At it’s cheaper price-point, it should be noted that the P42S1 doesn’t come quite as feature-packed as it’s more expensive brethren. Due to it’s lack of an ethernet port, both Yahoo! widgets and Vieracast, for instance, are missing from this model as is any home network connectivity options. There are 3 HDMI and 2 component ports available, however, which should provide plenty of connectivity for most users.

CNET.com found the P42S1 to have “excellent picture quality, with deep black levels and shadow detail” in their review. There were a couple of color accuracy issues, however, mostly due to the fact that Panasonic includes notoriously few picture-adjustment options, so the tweakers amongst you should beware.

It should also be noted, for those of you worried about running up your electric bill, that the P42S1 features Panasonic’s “Neo-PDP” display which uses less energy than other plasmas, but still not as little as an LCD.

Pros
  • +
    Excellent viewing angles
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    Eco-friendly
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    Deep black levels
Cons
  • -
    Few picture-tweaking options
  • -
    A couple of color accuracy issues
Panasonic TC-P42S1 is one of the Best 42-Inch or Smaller HDTVs Under $800 for Watching Sports or Playing Video Games from Wide Viewing Angles
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

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