Consumer Reports' Latest Tests of HDTVs Show Quality Up, Prices Down

CR's March report includes Ratings of 101 TVs, buying and repairing

advice and annual costs of running a big-screen TV







Feb 05, 2008, 00:00 ET from Consumer Reports

    YONKERS, N.Y., Feb. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- There's no need to
 wait any longer to buy an HDTV. That's the advice from Consumer Reports.
 Tests of 101 plasma, LCD, and rear-projection TVs for the March issue
 yielded more sets with top scores for picture quality than in years past.
 CR also reveals that prices are down as much as 40 percent on some TVs, so
 consumers continue to get more bang for their buck.
 
 
 
     How to Choose & What to Buy
 
 
 
     Consumer Reports notes that there are three major considerations when
 buying an HDTV: the type - LCD, plasma or rear-projection, the size of the
 screen, and whether it's worth paying a premium to step up from 720p to
 1080p resolution. CR recommends considering a 1080p model first, especially
 if price is not an issue.
 
 
 
     But CR strongly advises that shoppers shouldn't automatically rule out
 a 720p set. Not all 1080p sets were superior in CR's tests, especially when
 selecting a smaller screen-size. CR found that on a 42-inch screen, the
 advantages of 1080p resolution aren't as apparent as on sets 50 inches or
 larger. Some of CR's top-rated TVs are 720p models. For example, the
 40-inch Samsung [LN-T4053H], a $1,500 LCD set, was the top-rated model in
 its category. It has 720p resolution, sufficient for its screen size, and
 had deeper blacks than many LCD sets. Consumers interested in a 720p plasma
 set should consider the 42-inch Panasonic [TH-42PX77U], $1,300, a CR Best
 Buy for its combination of top picture quality and price.
 
 
 
     CR also has several recommendations for shoppers looking for a larger
 screen. The top-rated 58-inch Panasonic [TH-58PZ750U], for example is a
 $5,000 1080p plasma model that has excellent picture quality, rich, vibrant
 colors, and deep blacks. Two 50-inch 1080p plasma sets from Panasonic, are
 among CR's Quick Picks. Other highly-rated 50-inch plasmas include sets
 from LG and Pioneer.
 
 
 
     Among LCD sets, CR recommends models by Sony [Bravia KDL-52XBR4],
 $4,000, Sharp [Aquos LC-52D64U], $3,000, and Samsung [LN-T5281F], $4,500.
 All of these 52-inch 1080p models did well for picture quality, brightness,
 image detail, and color accuracy. Other recommended sets include 46-inch
 models by Sony, Samsung, and Mitsubishi. The 46-inch 720p Sony [Bravia
 KDL-46S3000], $1,900, a CR Best Buy, did very well for picture quality.
 However, its 1080p sibling, the Sony [Bravia KDL-46W3000], $2,500, had
 finer detail.
 
 
 
     If price, rather than screen-size is the priority, CR has quite a few
 recommendations. For under $1,000, consumers can get very good picture
 quality from the 37-inch 720p LCD Olevia 537H, $800 or the Insignia
 [NS-LCD37], $750. The 32-inch 720p LCD Vizio [VW32LHDT], $600, had
 comparable performance at a lower price. The best 32-inch 720p LCD sets
 came from Sony, Panasonic, and Samsung, all cost more than $1000.
 
 
 
     The report also includes ratings of 14 rear-projection models. However,
 CR notes that a growing number of manufacturers - including Sony, Toshiba,
 Hitachi, and Philips - have exited the category and have stopped making
 rear-projection TVs.
 
 
 
     What it costs to run a big screen TV
 
 
 
     One new feature in the latest HDTV report is energy consumption. CR's
 engineers determined the amount of energy used by typical LCD, plasma, and
 rear-projection TVs turned on for 8 hours a day, 365 days a year. Most sets
 didn't use significantly more energy than a 32- to 36-inch picture tube TV.
 One exception was 50-inch 1080p plasmas, which used twice-as-much energy as
 the biggest picture-tube set, and more than a comparably-sized LCD. Not
 surprisingly, bigger screens of all types consume more electricity than
 smaller ones. See the chart on the right to see CR's estimates on what it
 costs to run a TV annually.
 
 
 
     TV Reliability & Extended Warranties
 
 
 
     According to Consumer Reports' most recent product reliability survey,
 repair rates for LCD and plasma TV sets have been very low, an average of
 three percent overall, especially during the first three years of use - the
 time covered by many warranties. In the small number of cases where a set
 did need servicing, most repairs reported by respondents were free,
 presumably because they were covered by the manufacturer's standard
 warranty. The few respondents who paid for repairs spent an average of $264
 to fix a flat-panel LCD, $395 for a plasma, and $300 for rear-projection
 sets.
 
 
 
     The latest issue of Consumer Reports includes advice on how to handle
 repairs in warranty and out-of-warranty. CR also advises whether to repair
 or replace a TV depending on its type and age.
 
 
 
     Consumer Reports' latest product reliability survey data also
 reinforces its long-standing advice to skip the extended warranty.
 Rear-projection TVs have been more repair-prone, but even for these sets,
 an extended warranty usually won't pay off. And, consumers may be able to
 get longer manufacturers' warranty coverage on their set without paying for
 it. Some premium credit cards add up to a year on the manufacturer's
 warranty at no cost if the TV is bought with their card. Also, Costco
 offers a free two-year warranty on sets purchased in its warehouse or on
 its Web site.
 
 
 
     The full 15-page HDTV report is part of the March 2008 issue of
 Consumer Reports, available wherever magazines are sold. It contains
 Ratings of 101 HDTVs, buying advice, what it costs to run a big-screen TV,
 and how to get the most from HDTV. Portions of the story are available for
 free online at www.ConsumerReports.org.
 
 
 
     The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it
 may not be used for commercial or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports(R)
 is published by Consumers Union, an expert, independent nonprofit
 organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe
 marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect
 themselves. To achieve this mission, we test, inform, and protect. To
 maintain our independence and impartiality, Consumers Union accepts no
 outside advertising, no free test samples, and has no agenda other than the
 interests of consumers. Consumers Union supports itself through the sale of
 our information products and services, individual contributions, and a few
 noncommercial grants.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

SOURCE Consumer Reports
    YONKERS, N.Y., Feb. 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- There's no need to
 wait any longer to buy an HDTV. That's the advice from Consumer Reports.
 Tests of 101 plasma, LCD, and rear-projection TVs for the March issue
 yielded more sets with top scores for picture quality than in years past.
 CR also reveals that prices are down as much as 40 percent on some TVs, so
 consumers continue to get more bang for their buck.
 
 
 
     How to Choose & What to Buy
 
 
 
     Consumer Reports notes that there are three major considerations when
 buying an HDTV: the type - LCD, plasma or rear-projection, the size of the
 screen, and whether it's worth paying a premium to step up from 720p to
 1080p resolution. CR recommends considering a 1080p model first, especially
 if price is not an issue.
 
 
 
     But CR strongly advises that shoppers shouldn't automatically rule out
 a 720p set. Not all 1080p sets were superior in CR's tests, especially when
 selecting a smaller screen-size. CR found that on a 42-inch screen, the
 advantages of 1080p resolution aren't as apparent as on sets 50 inches or
 larger. Some of CR's top-rated TVs are 720p models. For example, the
 40-inch Samsung [LN-T4053H], a $1,500 LCD set, was the top-rated model in
 its category. It has 720p resolution, sufficient for its screen size, and
 had deeper blacks than many LCD sets. Consumers interested in a 720p plasma
 set should consider the 42-inch Panasonic [TH-42PX77U], $1,300, a CR Best
 Buy for its combination of top picture quality and price.
 
 
 
     CR also has several recommendations for shoppers looking for a larger
 screen. The top-rated 58-inch Panasonic [TH-58PZ750U], for example is a
 $5,000 1080p plasma model that has excellent picture quality, rich, vibrant
 colors, and deep blacks. Two 50-inch 1080p plasma sets from Panasonic, are
 among CR's Quick Picks. Other highly-rated 50-inch plasmas include sets
 from LG and Pioneer.
 
 
 
     Among LCD sets, CR recommends models by Sony [Bravia KDL-52XBR4],
 $4,000, Sharp [Aquos LC-52D64U], $3,000, and Samsung [LN-T5281F], $4,500.
 All of these 52-inch 1080p models did well for picture quality, brightness,
 image detail, and color accuracy. Other recommended sets include 46-inch
 models by Sony, Samsung, and Mitsubishi. The 46-inch 720p Sony [Bravia
 KDL-46S3000], $1,900, a CR Best Buy, did very well for picture quality.
 However, its 1080p sibling, the Sony [Bravia KDL-46W3000], $2,500, had
 finer detail.
 
 
 
     If price, rather than screen-size is the priority, CR has quite a few
 recommendations. For under $1,000, consumers can get very good picture
 quality from the 37-inch 720p LCD Olevia 537H, $800 or the Insignia
 [NS-LCD37], $750. The 32-inch 720p LCD Vizio [VW32LHDT], $600, had
 comparable performance at a lower price. The best 32-inch 720p LCD sets
 came from Sony, Panasonic, and Samsung, all cost more than $1000.
 
 
 
     The report also includes ratings of 14 rear-projection models. However,
 CR notes that a growing number of manufacturers - including Sony, Toshiba,
 Hitachi, and Philips - have exited the category and have stopped making
 rear-projection TVs.
 
 
 
     What it costs to run a big screen TV
 
 
 
     One new feature in the latest HDTV report is energy consumption. CR's
 engineers determined the amount of energy used by typical LCD, plasma, and
 rear-projection TVs turned on for 8 hours a day, 365 days a year. Most sets
 didn't use significantly more energy than a 32- to 36-inch picture tube TV.
 One exception was 50-inch 1080p plasmas, which used twice-as-much energy as
 the biggest picture-tube set, and more than a comparably-sized LCD. Not
 surprisingly, bigger screens of all types consume more electricity than
 smaller ones. See the chart on the right to see CR's estimates on what it
 costs to run a TV annually.
 
 
 
     TV Reliability & Extended Warranties
 
 
 
     According to Consumer Reports' most recent product reliability survey,
 repair rates for LCD and plasma TV sets have been very low, an average of
 three percent overall, especially during the first three years of use - the
 time covered by many warranties. In the small number of cases where a set
 did need servicing, most repairs reported by respondents were free,
 presumably because they were covered by the manufacturer's standard
 warranty. The few respondents who paid for repairs spent an average of $264
 to fix a flat-panel LCD, $395 for a plasma, and $300 for rear-projection
 sets.
 
 
 
     The latest issue of Consumer Reports includes advice on how to handle
 repairs in warranty and out-of-warranty. CR also advises whether to repair
 or replace a TV depending on its type and age.
 
 
 
     Consumer Reports' latest product reliability survey data also
 reinforces its long-standing advice to skip the extended warranty.
 Rear-projection TVs have been more repair-prone, but even for these sets,
 an extended warranty usually won't pay off. And, consumers may be able to
 get longer manufacturers' warranty coverage on their set without paying for
 it. Some premium credit cards add up to a year on the manufacturer's
 warranty at no cost if the TV is bought with their card. Also, Costco
 offers a free two-year warranty on sets purchased in its warehouse or on
 its Web site.
 
 
 
     The full 15-page HDTV report is part of the March 2008 issue of
 Consumer Reports, available wherever magazines are sold. It contains
 Ratings of 101 HDTVs, buying advice, what it costs to run a big-screen TV,
 and how to get the most from HDTV. Portions of the story are available for
 free online at www.ConsumerReports.org.
 
 
 
     The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it
 may not be used for commercial or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports(R)
 is published by Consumers Union, an expert, independent nonprofit
 organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe
 marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect
 themselves. To achieve this mission, we test, inform, and protect. To
 maintain our independence and impartiality, Consumers Union accepts no
 outside advertising, no free test samples, and has no agenda other than the
 interests of consumers. Consumers Union supports itself through the sale of
 our information products and services, individual contributions, and a few
 noncommercial grants.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 SOURCE Consumer Reports