We frequently have readers asking, “What’s the best LED TV?” Although we don’t get a chance to review them all, we do see a lot and there are certain features and technologies that can make for a more enjoyable LED TV viewing experience.
2012 is shaping up to be a great year for LED and LCD TV. Smart TV (audio/video streaming and apps) is now making its way into entry-level and midrange sets, 3D TV is also becoming more affordable (for those who care), and companies like Samsung are adding unique new features such as voice and gesture control which give you a whole new way of interacting with your TV. Here’s an overview of what to look for in an LED TV in 2012 and what features and technologies make the best LED TV.
The term “Smart TV” has become fairly universal to describe the ability for a TV to connect to the internet to access audio, video and apps. The most popular of these include Netflix video streaming, Pandora Internet Radio and Amazon Video on Demand, but there are many more providers such as VUDU, CinemaNow and HULU Plus. And although you are probably doing Facebook and Twitter from a smaller device like a tablet or smart phone, several TV makers include these in their suite of Smart TV internet apps as well.
The important things to look for if you are interested in Smart TV include built-in wireless (WiFi) connectivity (some TVs are wired-only, requiring a network cable) and the specific apps or streaming providers that you want. Samsung, for example, does not currently include Amazon VOD, but it does include Netflix. Other TVs such as those made by Panasonic, include both. Check the specific model features for details. Also, if you happen to get a TV that lacks WiFi, there are other options such as a wireless bridge or powerline networking adapter that can allow you to connect to the internet without a traditional network cable.
When it comes right down to it, an LED TV is really just an LCD TV with an LED backlight, in place of the standard CCFL (cold cathode fluorescent lamp) backlight. Using LED lighting is generally more efficient and brighter than using a CCFL backlight. But there are a few ways to implement an LED backlight: the lights can be arranged in a full array of lighting elements behind the LCD panel (full array backlighting); they can be arranged along the edges of the set (edge-lighting), or they can be along just one or two sides of the TV (another form of edge lighting sometimes called “side lighting”).
Edge-lit and side-lit LED TVs use a light guide or diffuser panel in the back of the set in order to try to provide a uniform source of backlighting for the TV’s LCD panel. Sets with a full array of backlights can generally get better lighting uniformity (an even amount of lighting on screen), as it’s easier in these systems to spread the backlight evenly along the whole panel. To evaluate an LCD or LED/LCD TV’s lighting uniformity, watch a movie with a lot of dark scenes such as Blade Runner or The Dark Knight. Be sure that you are watching the movie in a darkened room and freeze frame on some of the dark scenes. Be careful though as some sneaky TV manufacturers will turn off the set’s backlight entirely if they detect a full black input signal.
With LED backlit TVs a feature called “local dimming” can be applied which allows you to get bright images on screen at the same time as very dark images by selecting turning off or dimming specific areas of the backlight depending on what’s on screen. This can improve overall contrast and black levels. Some edge-lit TVs use a form of local dimming as well, though it is not normally quite as effective as a true backlit, local-dimming system. Sets that do not use any local dimming generally will have trouble reproducing true, deep blacks.
A feature that you will see on many LED and LCD TVs (and even some plasmas) is called “motion smoothing” or “motion interpolation.” This feature stems primarily from the fact that LCD (and LED) TVs have some challenges reproducing moving images, though this has gotten better over time. When these early sets would attempt to reproduce moving images, you’d get annoying motion trails and blurred images. So by upping the refresh rate of the screen from 60 Hz to 120 Hz, 240 Hz or beyond, LED and LCD TVs are better able to display motion.
To do this, the set-makers can insert a black frame in between each real frame, or they could try to estimate what the moving image should look like by displaying an intermediate image in between each real frame. When they do that image estimation (or image interpolation), some people find the effect on movies to be strange as it removes the traditional “movie look” of a film’s 24 frame/second motion. This has been called by some the “soap opera” effect, because it makes movies look more like a soap opera which is typically shot on video cameras as opposed to film. Fortunately most TVs allow you to disable this feature in the picture setting menus. So you can select whichever motion option you prefer, depending on the content. Beware of any set which does not allow you to turn off motion interpolation as it’s something you may find annoying.
Although 3D hasn’t yet become that great “must-have” feature that sends people into stores in droves to buy a new TV, it can be a very cool feature for the occasional 3D movie night or 3D sports viewing. Yes, you still need glasses (and will for quite some time) to watch 3D, but all 3D TVs can be viewed in standard 2D mode as well so just stick the glasses on a shelf and pull them out for special occasions.
3D LED TVs are available in passive and active versions. The passive 3D TVs use the same glasses you find in most 3D theaters. They’re light and inexpensive. But passive 3D TVs lose half their detail in 3D mode due to their design. Active 3D TVs maintain full high definition resolution in 3D mode, but the glasses can be more expensive and require occasional recharging or battery replacement. If 3D is important to you, try to visit a local store to see good 3D content – Blu-ray 3D movies like “Avatar” or “How to Train Your Dragon” are a couple of examples. View the movies from multiple angles and decide which makes more sense to you.
One area where some LED and LCD TVs struggle is in off-axis viewing. If you are viewing an LED from straight on, the colors will appear bright and accurate but if you move off to the side, the colors may dim or even shift. If off-axis viewing is important for your viewing, then be sure to look at the set in a local store before buying and walk to the sides to see how the picture holds up.
Be the Controller, Danny
Some sets, including Samsung’s top-end sets for 2012, include options for both voice and gesture command. This allows the viewer to change channels, select inputs or navigate the menus using spoken words or hand gestures. Frankly I find this a little gimmicky. But at the same time, it’s also pretty high-tech and makes a great demo to impress your friends. If it’s something you want to explore, be sure to pick up a set that has the feature.
Find out More!
Our own Rachel Cericola has written up a comprehensive guide to the current LED TV models from top brands including Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Sony, Toshiba and VIZIO. Here you’ll find a guide to the various models and features throughout each company’s line.
Check out her 2012 LED TV buyers guide here:
This market never ceases to amaze me! The best LED TV sellers list in March 2011 was full of BIG LED TV sets! A LED TV 40 inch was the smallest with plenty of 52 and 55 inch 3D TV sets as well.
So, I was expecting to see much the same in April, but “oh no”! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I got the April sales figures through. Are you ready for this?
What was the best selling LED TV in April 2011?
LG LED TV 32 – LG32LE5300
Yes a 32-Inch 1080p 120 Hz LED TV was the best LED TV by sales figures in April 2011. It’s got the LG TRuMotion and because it’s only a 32 Inch screen with 1080p HD thge fact that it is only 120Hz doesn’t lead to any picture degradation.
In fact the picture is beautiful. Bright, vibrant with superb contrast, it offers a truly good viewing experience
But, if you want a “movie” style experience, this isn’t going to offer that. As a TV for the bedroom or kitchen it “hits the spot” completely. It’s got a good jack pack including USB, 4 x HDMI and PC input.
Philips 22PFL4505D/F7 22-Inch 720p LED LCD HDTV
This is really more of a PC screen than a LED TV! I’ve never watched it and the jack pack showing on Amazon doesn’t even have an HDMI input! I can only think that people are buying for watching TV on the PC! Not a real TV!
Toshiba 55WX800U 55-Inch 1080p 240 Hz Cinema Series 3D LED TV
Ahh, this is more like it a proper 3D LED TV! Check out our full review of this beauty by clicking the following link – Toshiba LED TV! The third best LED TV in march (second really as number two wasn’t really a TV!)
VIZIO XVT373SV 37-Inch Full HD 1080P LED LCD HDTV with VIA Internet Application, Black
I’m growing to like Vizio and glad to see they are here as the fourth best LED TV in April! I was fortunate enough to get a viewing of the new 55 Inch XVT3D554SC which is a real treat. Based on that I am not surprised to see Vizio starting to make an impact, they have come a long way in terms of quality in the last 12 months. At under $600 for a full LED TV with integral wi-fi and Internet Apps, this is a bargain. True it is only 120Hz, but on a 37 inch screen that is more than enough to give a crystal clear picture.
VIZIO E260MV 26-Inch LED LCD HDTV with Razor LED Backlighting, Black
At just over $250 this is a superb second set. Great picture and a great set for the kitchen or the kids room.
Sony BRAVIA KDL46EX720 46-Inch 1080p 3D LED HDTV, Black
You won’t go far wrong buying a Sony LED TV. Yes, they are a little more expensive generally, but you get the best technology and great performance. This Sony LED TV 46 is no different. A superb 3D TV with crisp and brilliant images even in extreme 3D. We reviewed this sets big brother (the KDL60EX720) about a week ago and it caused a stir. All the features are the same so check out our full review of the Sony 3D TV 60 Inch KDL60EX720 then come back and buy this if you have a smaller viewing area.
VIZIO XVT473SV 47-inch Class Full Array TruLED HDTV 240 Hz SPS with VIZIO Internet Apps
More Vizio! We will get round to doing some mroe Vizio full reviews over the next couple of month
s. TruLED and local dimming give rise to a stunning LED TV picture. This Vizio 3D LED TV is outstanding. Again, wi-fi included and Internet Apps make this an entrie entertainment system. 240Hz screen refresh helps sharpen an already crystal picture and offers stunning contrasts with vibrant colors against deep, dark blacks, the 3D is excellent as well – very good indeed.
Samsung UN55C7000 55-Inch 1080p 240 Hz 3D LED HDTV (Black)
And finally, my prize! I really do like Samsung LED TV sets. I own one so I am allowed to be a little biased! Our latest review is from the new D series the 55 Inch Samsung 3D TV D8000. This is a forerunner of that set on the C series. Yes there is some new tech in the 8000 range and a few new features as well. Consequently the C series have come down in price and in my opinion this is now an absolute bargain and probably why it’s in the bestselling LED TV sets in April.
To sum up, I was really surprised by this list. I was surprised to see a lot of smaller sets and also very surprised that only one LG LED TV made it as well!
For my money LG are very much on the rise as are Toshiba, so I was surpsied to see only one LG LED TV in the top ten and just one Toshiba LED TV as well. I guess they have some ground to make up in the eyes of the consumer, but in my opinion some of the new LG and Toshiba LEDs are worthy of consideration. The top ten is completed with a Sharp LED TV, which also surprised me.
In terms of size the 55 Inch LED TV screen size was the most popular with three top ten entries the same as 46 Inch and 47 Inch LED TV sets which also had three entrants in the top ten as did a 40 Inch LED TV size. The final top ten entrant was a 52 Inch LED TV. Again I didn’t expect to see so many 40 Inch screen sizes being so popular, but I guess a lot depends on your viewing area size and the actual room in which the TV is placed, for example, would a 40 Inch screen perhaps be a second TV for the bedroom and a 55 Inch the main famly viewing area?
Certainly in our house, we have a 46 Inch LED TV in the main viewing area and a 37 Inch in the spare room.
Anyway, I know you are absoluteluy itching to know…what are the ten best selling LED TV sets in the U.S in March 2011? O.K, here goes!
Full 1080p HD with 120 Hz Auto Motion Plus gives this Samsung a superb clarity of picture, even for the fastest paced action. Great connectivity (4 x HDMI) and DNLA compliant. Excellent apps (Samsung Smart TV) but you do need to buy an add-on wireless adapter (this should be standard in my opinion). Great game mode, ultra thin, energy efficient and color enhancement for true life color. The best selling LED TV in March 2011. Our view? It’s the price set against the excellent picture and features that make this set so popular.
Full 1080p HD with 120Hz motion feature for superb image clarity even at high speed. Netcast Entertainment ready, but does need a wireless adapter (some later LG models have this as an integral feature). Local dimming for deep blacks, ultra thin and “Energy Star” compliant. Excellent connectivity pack.
40 inch LED TV screen with full 1080p HD and 120Hz Motionflow for true image clarity at high speed motion. We like the Bravia EX range, indeed the 52 Inch EX700 is one of the best sellers from this site. This 40 Inch version includes the same technology and you won;t go wrong with a Sony. Full Bravia engine for true color and dark, dark blacks with outstanding contrast. Solid jack-pack with 4 HMDIs and USB.
No surprises here! We were singing this amazing LED TV’s praises as soon as it hit the market. This is one of the best LED TVs around and that is borne out by the fact it has been on the market for well over a year and is still in the top ten LED TV sellers even now. Read our full review here Samsung LED TV 55.
It was only this week that I was saying how much Toshiba have moved on during the last 12 months and saying what a good LED TV the new Toshiba 55 Inch LED TV was. So, it is no surprise to see them gatecrashing the top ten with this nice little 40 Inch LED TV. 1 40 Inch LED backlit screen that offers full 1080p HD with 120 Hz Clearframe refresh that keeps sports and action motion true and free from blurring. Dynalight control of the backlighting allows you to control color and achieve deep blacks for outstanding contrast. 4 HDMI ports with Ethernet, PC and USB among other connectivity. Good solid stuff from Toshiba.
55 inch LED TV screen with full 1080p HD and 120Hz Motionflow for absolute image clarity even watching sport like Hockey. We have championed the Bravia EX range before and the 52 Inch EX700 is one of the best sellers from this site. This 55 Inch version includes the same technology and you won’t go wrong with a Sony. Full Bravia engine for true color the deepest blacks with outstanding contrast. Impressive connectivity with 4 HMDIs, 2 component, 2 composite, USB, Ethernet, PC and Optical. Another great LED TV from Sony, to be honest you won’t go far wrong if you buy a Sony, good technical support as well if needed.
Another Sony this time the 46 Inch version EX600 series LED TV. Exactly the same as the 55 Inch with the added ambient light sensors in the Sony Bravia Engine. These subtly adjust the brightness and color settings depending on the viewing room conditions.
O.K, this surprised me. I’ve always thought of Sharp as a secondary brand and not really invstigated too deeply. Perhaps I need to re-think based on this top ten entry. Certainly Sharp heavily market their new Quad Pixel color technology that adds to the yellow spectrum and allows ” a trillion colors to be displayed”. Reading the many online reviews it seems that picture quality is the main reason this TV sits in the top ten. Considering the competition that is a positive indictment of a good LED TV. Comes with Netflix and built in media player via USB along with an excellent connectivity pack. I need to get out and have a proper look at some of the new Sharp LED TV sets, watch this space, I’ll be back with some personal reviews soon.
The only the second 3D TV in the top ten. To be honest I’m surprised there is a 3D TV in at all. Certainly Samsung are one of the leaders in 3D TV and if there is to be a 3D LED TV in the top ten then it’s certainly no surprise that its a Samsung 3D TV. There are certainly some issues with 3D, although generally 3D TVs give a brilliant 2D picture in any case, so there’s no harm! This Samsung 40 Inch LED TV is full 1080p HD and 240 Hz refresh rate, some say this does make the background look a bit tacky, but I haven’t experienced this myself. Great pciture, great colors and brilliant contrast and great clarity even on action due to “ClearMotion”. Outstanding connectivity and includes Anynet which allows you to control devices (like a DVD player) through the TV remote.
So, there you have the top ten best selling LED TV sets in the United States for March 2011. I hope this quick overview review of the bestsellers helps you decide what LED TV is on your shopping list.
It will be interesting to see how the top ten changes over the course of 2011, especially when the big new 72 Inch screens satrt to release in the summer.