Which HD TV? Sony vs Panasonic vs Samsung vs LG

Which HD TV? Sony vs Panasonic vs Samsung vs LG

Are you looking to buy a large Sony Bravia, Panasonic Viera, Samsung Series 8 or LG HD TV? We compare the flagship 55in models from each company.

Over the past few months, Panasonic, Sony, LG and Samsung have unveiled their latest HD TVs for 2011. The new high-end models feature improved 3D picture quality, advanced Internet functionality and a host of new features unique to each manufacturer.

In the following article, we take a look at the companies' flagship 55 inch models and give an overview of  the new modes and features from each vendor. Read on to find out how they compare... 

Comparison table:

Model Sony KDL-55HX925 Panasonic Viera TH-P55VT30 LG 55LW6500 Samsung Series 8 55inch
 
Price $4499 TBA $3299 $4699
Screen size 55 55 55 55
Screen technology LED-backlit LCD Plasma LED-backlit LCD LED-backlit LCD
Resolution
 
1920x1080p
1920x1080p 1920x1080p 1920x1080p
Maximum refresh rate 200Hz 600Hz  200Hz  200Hz
3D  Yes  Yes  Yes  Yes
3D Glasses included 2 1 4 1
Wireless Networking  Yes Yes  Yes (requires dongle) Yes
HDMI inputs 4 4 4 4
USB inputs 2 4 2 2
IPTV Yes Yes  Yes  Yes
Skype Yes Yes No  Yes
Release date Now July 2011 Now Now



Panasonic Viera TH-P55VT30

The Panasonic Viera TH-P55VT30 is the company's flagship 55in Plasma model, bested only by the 65in TH-P65VT30. Dubbed "the hub of the modern home", the new model puts Internet connectivity and DLNA integration at the forefront.

 Panasonic Viera TH-P55VT30 

 The Panasonic Viera TH-P55VT30's key features include:

  • 1080 line moving picture resolution
  • ISFccc Advanced Calibration Mode
  • Dynamic Contrast 5,000,000:1
  • Anti-reflective Louvre Filter
  • 600Hz Sub-field Drive
  • One sheet of glass design
  • THX 2D / 3D Certified Display
  •  Deep Colour, x.v. Colour
  • 24p Smooth 3D Film / 24p Playback
  • 2D to 3D conversion
  • PVR USB HDD x 3 and SD Card x 1 record & playback
  • AVCHD/SD-VIDEO/Motion JPEG/MP4[Xacti]/DivXPlus HD/ MKV/WMV/JPEG/MPO/MP3/AAC/WMA playback support
  • DLNA client, Wi-Fi ready – 1x wireless adaptor included
  • VIERA Image Viewer

Pricing has yet to be announced for the Panasonic Viera TH-P55VT30A, but you can expect to pay around $4,000. The Panasonic Viera TH-P65VT30A will be available from July. Here's an overview of some of the key features:

Smart Viera + Connected TV

Panasonic's new HD TV range places a strong emphasis on IPTV - an industry term for the streaming of internet content to a television.

IPTV-related features on Panasonic's new television lineup includes catch-up TV (ABC iView and Yahoo!7 Plus7), music and videos, social networking sites, Skype and Panasonic's online market, where users can download games and other applications.

 

 The Connected TV interface gives users access to a smorgasbord of apps.

At Panasonic's recent 2011 product showcase, we were given a demo of the TH-P55VT30's Connected TV interface, which allows users to choose different apps and online services.

The UI is one of the more attractive offerings we've seen and seems to be quite user-friendly. That said, if you're the type of person who likes to hoard scores of apps, we can see the interface getting pretty crowded. (On the plus side, you can move apps around to different screens depending on which ones you use the most.)

DLNA

Another feature being pushed by the TH-P55VT30 is DLNA server/client networking. This allows content to be streamed and shared by linking devices via wireless LAN throughout the home (a Blu-ray player in the living room can stream a movie to a TV in the bedroom, for example).

 

A diagram of DLNA server/client networking in action. 


The Panasonic Viera TH-P55VT30 also includes plenty of file support, which opens up its ability as a media player. This includes AVCHD, SD-VIDEO, Motion JPEG, MP4, DivXPlus HD, MKV, WMV, JPEG, MPO, MP3, AAC and WMA. You can also record and store video content directly to a USB storage device. 

3D TV

3D remains a strong focus for Panasonic in 2011. 3D features new to the TH-P55VT30 include improved 3D picture quality, 2D to 3D conversion and redesigned 3D eyewear.

 

The new 3D eyewear for the Viera TH-P55VT30 places a greater emphasis placed on style and comfort. The 3D glasses can be charged via USB, with three different sizes to choose from. Only one pair is included in the sales package.

Verdict

If you're keen to leap into IPTV technology and find the idea of DLNA enticing, the Panasonic Viera TH-P55VT30 is a pretty good bet. For more information on the Panasonic Viera TH-P55VT30, visit the company's product information page.

LG 55LW6500 HD TV

The LG 55LW6500 is LG's top-of-the-range 55in LCD model, boasting LED backlighting, TruMotion 200Hz screen processing, 3D Light Boost, plus all the goodies of Smart TV (see below).

 

According to LG, the 55LW6500 HD TV provides a vastly improved 3D viewing experience compared to 3D TVs of the past. In addition, it introduces a range of IPTV  services unique to the LG HD TV lineup. 

The LG 55LW6500's key features include:

  • 3D TV (CINEMA 3D)
  • 2D to 3D Conversion
  • Flicker Free ( TÜV Certified)
  • Light and Comfortable Glasses
  • 3D Light Boost
  • Flexible Viewing Positions / Wide Viewing Angle
  • Smart TV: Home Dashboard, Magic Motion Remote Control, Smart Share, Premiu Content, LG Apps and Web Browser (excluding LW4500)
  • LED backlighting, with spot control
  • TruMotion 200Hz (LW6500, LW9500) / TruMotion 100Hz (LW4500)
  • DLNA / Wi-Fi / DVR ready
  • DivX Plus / HD
  • Smart Energy Saving
  • Clear Voice II
  • AV Mode I

At $3299, the LG 55LW6500 is the most affordable TV in this article. Here's a look at what's new.

Smart TV

LG is promoting Internet functionality in a big way this year; just like Sony, Samsung and Panasonic.

Free-to-air TV, customisable apps, popular web sites and premium content can all be accessed from a single screen. As part of the LG Cinema 3D Smart TV range, the 55LW6500 also grants access to thousands of films and TV shows via BigPond Movies.

An LG rep demonstrates the Smart TV home dashboard.

LG has also launced its own music channel dubbed UCTV. Other launch partners include Fox Sports, Yahoo!7, Telstra BigPond Live TV and GoConnect. As a press statement explains: "Via the Home Dashboard, LG’s Smart TV provides access to LG Apps and a range of premium content via top global providers as well as popular locally sourced shows."

We've been impressed with what we've seen of the dashboard interface. Despite the plethora of info on display, it  looked clean and uncluttered, and should make for a very user-friendly experience.

3D TV

LG has made enhancements to the 55LW6500's panel to enhance the 3D viewing experience. In addition to “flicker free” 3D (which is delivered to the glasses via a polarised film on the screen), the new panels are significantly brighter than their predecessors and also have better viewing angles.

3D TV in action

The LG 55LW6500 has been given a significant light boost over LG’s previous panels; jumping from 80 nits to 150 nits. The new 3D mode, appropriately titled ‘3D Light Boost’ should help to reduce the murkiness that often mars 3D video.

Special mention must also go to LG's new 2D-to-3D conversion technology. In the past, these modes have been little more than a gimmick, with some very fuzzy and unimpressive results. We've seen the results in action and were very impressed. With a press of a button, the children's TV show we were watching suddenly sprang into three dimensions, looking bright and very sharp.

Cinema 3D glasses

Another improvement ushered in by the LG 55LW6500 is Cinema 3D glasses. Weighing 16g, these glasses are significantly less clunky than previous pairs we’ve worn, which makes them more comfortable over prolonged periods. More impressively, they required no batteries to run

The LG Cinema 3D glasses are smaller, lighter and just a litte bit less dorky.

The glasses have been designed to receive polarised images 'shutter-free', which vastly reduces the amount of flicker on the screen. This helps to eliminate the eye strain and dizziness sometimes associated with 3D TV.

Based on our brief experience, the new 3D glasses seem to do a great job at reducing viewing fatigue; although we’d need to watch a whole movie to be sure.

The Cinema 3D glasses are attractively priced, with two pairs retailing for just $19 (competing 3D glasses often carry a price tag of $100 or more). You also get four pairs bundled with the LG 55LW6500, which means the whole family can start watching straight away.

The LG 55LW6500 is also compatible with the plastic 3D glasses used at the cinema; a cheap way to stock up on additional pairs.

Verdict:

The LG 55LW6500 is a good option for shoppers who require a large, high quality TV that won't break the bank. If 3D functionality is important to you, the LG 55LW6500 is an affordable solution. To learn more about the LG 55LW6500, visit the company's product information page.

NEXT PAGE: Sony KDL-55HX925 and Samsung Series 8 55inch compared...

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