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I am helping someone select a new TV to replace a DLP TV that is four years old and starting to fail. Before it started to experience the well-documented "white sparkle" issue, the TV performed very well, and it's a shame that it didn't last longer, but the repairs are not being covered by the manufacturer, and they are too expensive to put into an "old" TV that could possibly need a $200 bulb in the near future.
They wanted an LCD with LED backlighting, not plasma, and they also didn't want to go with the same manufacturer, as they feel that four years is too short for an expensive piece of equipment to start going bad. That meant that we focused our attention on LCD models from LG and Panasonic.
We came up with several TV's in the 55-65" size range that looked promising. This is the list we came up with:
- Panasonic VIERA TC-L55ET5 55-Inch 1080p 120Hz 3D Full HD IPS LED-LCD TV with 4 Pairs of Polarized 3D Glasses
- Panasonic VIERA TC-L55E50 55-Inch 1080p 120Hz Full HD IPS LED-LCD TV
- LG 55LM6200 55-Inch Cinema 3D 1080p 120Hz LED-LCD HDTV with Smart TV and Six Pairs of 3D Glasses
- LG Cinema Screen 55LM6700 55-Inch Cinema 3D 1080p 120Hz LED-LCD HDTV with Smart TV and Six Pairs of 3D Glasses
- LG Cinema Screen 55LM7600 55-Inch Cinema 3D 1080p 240Hz LED-LCD HDTV with Smart TV and Six Pairs of 3D Glasses
- LG 55LS5700 55-Inch 1080p 120Hz LED-LCD HDTV with Smart TV
- LG 60LS5700 60-Inch 1080p 120Hz LED-LCD HDTV with Smart TV
The current deal of the bunch is the first one. At ~$1,325 from Amazon (as of the time of this writing), it's a pretty good price for a 55" model with a good reputation and a decent manufacturer, and it's the lowest that Amazon has ever had that model (previous best price was ~$1,400). The TC-L55E50 is a couple of bucks cheaper, but it lacks enough of the features of the ET5 that I don't think it makes sense to save $25 (the ET5 is usually more money, making the E50 a more attractive item).
Probably the closest model in the LG line to that Panasonic ET5 model is the LM6200 at ~$1,499. The LM6700 is currently the same price, and it adds local dimming, so that would be my choice of the higher end LG's. These two LG's currently come with free Blu-ray players and 3D glasses, so that narrows the price difference between the Panasonic and LG models (a decent basic Blu-ray player will cost ~$100-150).
Going up to 60" or 65" is going to cost some extra money (minimum of $450, but up to $1,000 in some cases for the same series!). Even the ~$2,500 65-incher is still only about the price that 55/56" DLP's were going for back when they were the big-screen choices, so the pricing isn't out of line in relation to that point of comparison.
To see the differences between the models of each manufacturer, look at the comparison charts on the pages above.
Contrast ratios are mostly meaningless numbers, whose only value is perhaps in relation to each other from the same manufacturer. The biggest thing to remember is that LED usually has better contrast than LCD backlit models. Those with local dimming (called LED+ by LG) are usually going to provide better quality pictures, but the price goes up with that feature.
Watch the listings for the seller, as you want to stick with Amazon.com for the free shipping, a generous return policy, and customer support. It's not worth saving $100 to have a headache if/when something isn't right.
At one time, I wasn't a fan of Smart TV's, where they have apps for downloading Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, and other such services, but I've come around on the subject. Most of the nicer TV's come with those functions built-in, and having it integrated means you don't have to deal with extra boxes to do the same thing. Recently, I watched two seasons of Downton Abbey on Amazon Instant Video, and it was really convenient and the picture quality was pretty good. I also love Pandora radio, so that would be an additional plus for most living room setups.
Deals come and go on these TV's. It's almost like computer equipment, where things change so rapidly that you just have to take the plunge when you find something you like at a good price. You're almost guaranteed to see it cheaper a month from now, but using that logic means that you'll never buy something because it will be cheaper at some future time.
What I recommend with things like this is be aware of the going price, and the average really-good-sale price, and then jump on it when it hits around that price. The first Panasonic is like that, where it's much cheaper than it usually is, but it won't stick around at that price, so if you like what you see, act on it!
What Do You Think?
Do you agree with the choices above? Are there other models that a prospective buyer should be considering? Leave your comments below!
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