The list of the best HDTV sets changes every couple of years as technology improves. What might have made the list last year is probably going to be on this list somewhere, since the manufacturers and retailers will soon be putting them on clearance to make room for the new models.
Are you in the market for a new TV that’s capable of full HD reproduction? I am, and that’s where I got the idea for this article. Instead of being selfish and keeping what I’ve found to myself, I’m going to divulge what I learned to my favorite readers.
What Makes a Television HDTV?
HDTV stands for High Definition Television. You probably already knew that. There are three formats of High-Def TV. They all pertain to the number of lines of resolution the set is capable of displaying. These formats are 720p, 1080i, and 1080p. I have also seen 480p HD video, but that is a format for digital media files and video streaming mostly.
The “p” and the “i” appended to these formats indicate how the image is drawn on the screen. The letter “i” stands for “interlaced.” This is the format we’re most used to. In this format, the TV image is built by skipping lines of display, and then backfilling the missing data. The letter “p” stands for “progressive scanning” and indicates a system where the image is fully rebuilt every scanning pass, bottom to top.
What this all means is that if your TV is capable of displaying any of these formats, it’s HDTV capable. If your TV is less than a few years old, chances are it’s most likely an HDTV. If not, maybe it’s time for an upgrade?
My First Choice for Best HDTV Sets Isn’t Really a TV
That’s right — Topping my list of the best HDTV sets for under $500 is a device that’s not a TV, although, it can be used as such. I actually have two favorites here, one on the lower end of the price scale, and the other just under the $500 limit I’ve set for this article. Both are from InFocus. Why projectors, you ask? That’s easy — a projector can be setup to create a small screen or one up to 108 inches in width. All you need is light-colored surface and you’re ready to go. Even on the go.
The InFocus LP640 is listed as a “business projector” but it’s price of just over $200 makes it attainable for most households. It’s capable of up to 1080p and has inputs galore: HDMI, VGA, USB, and more. It has a wireless remote control and can also be networked for streaming.
My next “HDTV” is going to be the InFocus IN2124. At almost $500, it’s more than double the price of the LP640, but it’s worth it. Capable of accepting video input of up to 1080p, it also has all the input connectors you could ever need. Even better, it’s one of the few projectors on the market at a reasonable price that’s capable of 3D projection.
The Best HDTV for the Money in My Book
I could have picked a smaller set from a larger and more established manufacturer, but, when it comes to television, size does matter. That’s why I’m going with the Vizio E480i-B2 48 inch LED HDTV. My colleagues in the tech and home entertainment review industry all agree that this baby has everything: excellent picture quality, the perfect size for most rooms, and warm, rich, and vibrant colors that will knock your socks off. It’s also a Smart TV with Wi-Fi and the ability to browse the web to find shows to watch. Wi-Fi also lets it share its screen with your mobile devices. So, instead of bothering everyone else when I need to visit the restroom or grab a beer, I can just share the video on my tablet while I’m out of the room. You can also forget about losing the user’s manual, too, because this one’s manual is onscreen. It has so many inputs that even I couldn’t use them all — yet. This one tips the scales at just under $500.
The Best Sub-30″ HDTV for the Money
Like its big brother above, it’s a Smart TV with numerous apps and Wi-Fi for connecting to the web and services like Netflix and Hulu. Also, like its big brother, it has Dolby DTS audio for crystal clear sound no matter what you’re watching. Its price of less than $200 puts it within reach of most.This is the one I bought for now.
If you’re in the market for an HDTV and you don’t see the size you’re looking for, drop me a note and I’ll be happy to give you my opinions in your desired size range.