The Best and Worst HDTV Brands
You’re ready for a new TV, and you want to stretch your budget as far as it will go. Can you get a better HDTV by taking a chance on a lesser-known brand or does a brand name actually guarantee higher quality? We want to get you the best TV package possible, but the perfect set of channels doesn’t do you any good if your TV can’t support them. Here are a few things to keep in mind when seraching for a new television:
TV Features to Consider:
- Consider what TV size you actually need. You can get a bigger TV for the same price by going with a lesser-known brand, but that’s only compelling if you have the space to fill; most living areas are too small to make a 60+ inch screen worthwhile — especially one with a mediocre image quality. Take a look at this CTV guide to calculating an appropriate TV size for your space, and check out the original post for more detail.
- Determine an appropriate TV resolution. 1080p is the most common, standard, HDTV resolution. That no-name (or even brand name) HDTV may achieve a lower price point with only 720p, which rules out Blu-Ray and full high-definition channels, among other things. If you are a movie buff, you may want to invest in a higher resolution like the new 4k HD TVs.
- Smart vs. Dumb. A Smart TV includes web browsing, media services like Netflix and Hulu, and social apps like Facebook and Twitter, all of which you won’t find on most lesser-known brands. Research the variety of apps, the consistency of updates, and how well last year’s models can access newer features (they may already be too dumb to qualify). Keep in mind that you’ll be saving money on a Smart TV, if it takes the place of your next home PC.
- LED vs. Plasma vs. LCD. LED provides a plasma-quality picture, but unfortunately at plasma-quality prices (or more), although this is offset by notable energy savings. As a “bang for the buck” consumer, you’ll probably want to focus on standard LCDs — which are still much more “green” than the plasma competition.
- Reliability and Longevity. You can’t assume that a well-known name brand will give you any guarantee of customer service and dependability. The Internet is awash with negative reviews of ANY model of HDTV, but taking a chance on a lesser-known brand is even riskier. You might get lucky with a smaller company that wants to earn your trust, but it’s more likely that they save money by minimizing “non-essential” quality control or support personnel whenever possible.
3 TV Brands to Avoid:
Insignia – Insignia has been the house brand of Best Buy for years, but manufacturing details still reamin sparce. What’s not ambiguous is the lack of features, poor picture quality, and ongoing trouble that most owners have. Insignia TVs commonly have 720p picture quality and a slower screen refresh rate than most others.
Sanyo – you’ll recognize the brand and low price from major retailers like Walmart- and probably the history of poor quality. Most reviews online would suggest the super low prices are not going to make up for the excessive headaches this brand will cause you down the road.
Sharp — everybody has heard of Sharp’s HDTV quality, and the company knows it. So you’ll pay more for a good Sharp than you’ll pay for an equivalent HDTV from a lesser-known manufacturer — and you’ll also pay more for one of their lower-end, lesser-quality HDTVs from the brand as well. If you are considering a Sharp TV, though, make sure to stay in the LCD display category to minimize problems down the road.
3 TV Brands to Consider:
TCL – this Samsung spin-off has produced some “bang for the buck” picture quality, most being 1080p. Their recent jump into the Roku family, makes this a great value, especially if you want integrated apps and streaming. Even some of their lesser known models will provide you with a great value, but if you ask us, youll get the most bang for you buck with the TCL 48FS3750 48-Inch 1080p Roku Smart LED TV.
Panasonic – some of the best HDTVs are made by Panasonic, and you’ll tend to pay dearly for them. However, some “budget-friendly” Panasonic TVs come with Viera apps and other impressive features, so it’s worth keeping an eye on them. Our personal favorite is the Panasonic TC40A400L 40-Inch LED FULL HD – you get LED technology at a great price, and a reasonable size screen.
Samsung – top-of-the-line Samsungs are among the best for picture quality, features, and reliability. But even Samsung’s more affordable HDTVs give you a great picture and plenty of connectivity. Samsung UN40J5200 40-Inch 1080p Smart LED TV will outfit you with a connected, app ready TV, while keeping you under the $400 mark.
3 TV Brands to Bet On:
GOOD BET: Vizio – Vizio has become more and more of a household brand name as they offer great prices on HDTVs. Do they compromise on quality and features? Not if theVIZIO M43-C1 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV is any indication. This LED Smart TV has been praised for its picture quality, boasting 4K composition, and comes with integrated Wi-Fi and apps from Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Pandora, Facebook, Twitter and others.
BETTER BET: LG – LG can satisfy both “price is no object” and “bang for the buck” consumers. You’ll certainly find a wider range of premium features on LG’s top-tier offerings, but there are surprisingly few compromises among the more affordable LG HDTVs. If you’re focused on 4k or apps, there is simply no point in “saving” with a lesser-known brand. We would recommend taking a look at the LG Electronics 55LF6100 Smart LED TV. Get a great pictureand connected apps all out of the box. While this is one of the more expensive models on our list, we would argue it is worth the extra money.
BEST BET: Sony – honestly, you can’t go wrong with Sony. You may suspect you’re paying for the world’s best-known brand, but Sony makes a quality TV for any price range. The company gets stellar reviews for many of its affordable HDTVs, and the Bravia app market rivals LG’s Google-connected variety and range. Sony has a well-earned reputation for longevity, and you’ll find service options wherever you go. We would recommend starting with a middle of the road Sony model like the Sony KDL48R510C. It boasts edge-lit LED technology, a motionflow refresh rate for little image lag, and internet connectivity to the app market, all under $500.