2011's Best... HD TVs
New telly for Chrimble? Here are our faves
If we were handing out gongs for design alone, then Samsung’s 2011 D8000 LED models would be a shoo-in for glory. These ultra-thin panels with tiny bezels and chrome stands exude effortless cool.
But they don’t just look good in repose. This best of breed 55in model delivers astoundingly vibrant HD pictures, with deep blacks and crisp contrast, plus fun and effective Active Shutter 3D. Choose your poison from twin Freeview HD/Freesat tuners, a generous Smart TV portal stacked with streaming services, inlcuding BBC iPlayer, YouTube and Acetrax, not to mention scores of frivolous apps. This isn’t so much a TV, more a lifestyle entertainment centre.
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Sony Bravia KDL-24EX320
A compelling reason to downsize if ever there was one. Also available as an even more compact 22-incher, what this small, Smart Sony lacks in width it more than makes up for in chutzpah. Hooked up to the Sony Entertainment Network portal via Ethernet or built-in Wi-Fi, it can stream more IPTV services than any rival brand, has Sony’s decent VoD movie service on tap, and provides clients for Twitter, Facebook and Skype.
Designer chrome feet elevate the slimline LED-backlit panel above the riff-raff, and its HD pictures are sharp and engaging. If you’re looking for a slice of bijou posh, this set is bang on the money.
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Panasonic Viera TX-P42GT30
If you want a really cinematic viewing experience, then plasma rather than an LED is your best TV bet. With no torch-like backlight, plasmas offer an evenly-lit picture, typically with better colour fidelity.
And taking the crown for the best overall plasma TV of the year – and my personal favourite screen tested - is this 42in GT30. 2D image quality is sublime and 3D crosstalk free. Blacks are deep, resolution high and images vibrant. The set sports two HD TV tuners - Freeview HD and Freesat - links to the much improved VieraConnect Smart TV portal, and boasts arguably the most comprehensive media streaming engine for USB and LAN available. This GT30 is quite simply a showstopper.
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