The Best HDTVs: Affordable and Splurge-Worthy Options

The Good Housekeeping Research Institute recently evaluated high-definition televisions (HDTVs) to find the best options ranging in size from 32" to 55". Check out a few of the winners and discover more recommendations here.


32" TV: Vizio E320VA ($469)

This television provides good picture quality at an affordable price. Testers loved the layout of the menus and the ease of navigating them. There aren't many extra features included, but if your main concern is picture quality, this television won't disappoint. Available on vizio.com

Pros:

  • Very sharp quality (HD Dark and HD Bright)
  • Good clarity (SD Bright and SD Dark)
  • Good sound clarity
  • Easy to navigate through menu options and settings
  • Easy to change inputs and video sources
  • Fairly easy to handle the remote control
  • Fairly easy to find additional features on the menu option
  • At various viewing angles, there were very few noticeable changes in picture quality

Cons:

  • Thick panel (3.2")
  • Not many features
TIPS: What to Look for When Buying an HDTV


32" TV: Westinghouse LD-3255 ($400)

This television was by far the lightest and would be the easiest to carry home from the store. It produced mediocre results compared to other televisions and its very basic menu was not the easiest to navigate. Available at westinghouse.com

Pros:

  • Good contrast
  • Fairly easy to change inputs and video sources
  • Average ease of navigating through menu options and settings
  • Average ease of finding additional features on the menu option
  • Thin panel

Cons:

  • Difficult to use remote control
  • At various viewing angles, there were a few noticeable changes in picture quality
  • Poor sound clarity


40" TV: Philips 40PFL5505D ($999)
This television produces good picture quality and is able to be viewed at various viewing angles without much change in picture quality. It features an impressive 240 Hz refresh rate, which means smoother fast-moving images (like sports) look great on it. Testers enjoyed the ease of use of the menus and settings while navigating them. Available on usa.philips.com

Pros:

  • Good detail (HD Bright and SD Bright)
  • Good sound clarity
  • Good contrast
  • Easy to use the remote control
  • Easy to navigate through the menu options and settings
  • Easy to change inputs and video sources
  • Fair clarity (HD Dark and SD Dark)
  • At various viewing angles, there were very few noticeable changes in picture quality

Cons:

  • Sound level could be better
TIPS: How to Connect Your Computer to Your TV


40" TV: Samsung LN40C650 ($1,100)
A great television with many features, it provides very good detail and picture quality. It includes Smart TV with Samsung Apps to stream video, pictures, music and more from the web. Available on samsung.com

Pros:

  • Very good sound clarity
  • Good picture clarity
  • Easy to navigate through the menu options and settings
  • Easy to find additional features on the menu option
  • Easy to change inputs and video sources
  • Fairly easy to use the remote control

Cons:

  • At various viewing angles, there were a few noticeable changes in picture quality

42" TV: AOC L42H961 ($600)

This 42" 1080p television produces fair picture quality, both in high definition and standard definition, at a budget conscious price. Testers felt the remote control, menus, and settings were fairly easy to use, and the sound level and sound clarity were surprisingly good. Available at amazon.com and target.com

Pros:

  • Good sound clarity
  • Fair clarity (average blacks and average whites)
  • Average ease of handling the remote control
  • Average ease of navigating through menu options and settings
  • Average ease of finding additional features on the menu option
  • Average ease of changing inputs and video sources
  • At various viewing angles, there were very few noticeable changes in picture quality

Cons:

  • Thick panel
  • Not many features
Related: 5 of the Best In-Home 3-D TVs


46" TV: Samsung UN46C6500 ($2,100
)
The Samsung HDTV has excellent picture quality in high and standard definition for both dark and light scenes. Even when viewed from various angles, clarity remained sharp and details were highly visible. The sound quality for this television is also above average. The Samsung is ultra thin at 1.1" and comes equipped with touch-sensitive controls. Available on samsung.com

Pros:

  • Excellent detail and sharp clarity
  • Good sound clarity
  • Easy to navigate through menu options and settings
  • Easy to find additional features on the menu option
  • Easy to change inputs and video sources
  • Fairly easy to use the remote control
  • At various viewing angles, there were very few noticeable changes in picture quality
  • Unique base
  • Ultra thin
  • Power button and menu options are all touch sensitive (located on bottom right corner) so no more reaching behind the TV for buttons

Cons:

  • During the calibration test, brightness had to be greatly adjusted right out of the box.
  • For the Film Resolution Loss test, there was excessive strobe and flickering, which could result in poor picture quality


47" TV: Vizio M470NV ($1,430)

The Vizio HDTV has great sound clarity and easy-to-use features, including a remote with a slide-out keyboard for easier use of the Vizio Internet apps or social networking. The Vizio also has above-average levels of brightness and visible details for both standard and high definition viewing. However, the contrast levels for this TV were below average. Available on vizio.com

Pros:

  • Very good sound clarity
  • Good detail
  • Easy to navigate through menu options and settings
  • Easy to use the remote control
  • Easy to find additional features on the menu option
  • Easy to change inputs and video sources
  • At various viewing angles, there were very few noticeable changes in picture quality
  • No strobe or flickering (video and film resolution loss)
  • USB ports are located in the left in the back
  • Unique remote with slide out keyboard

Cons:

  • May need to adjust contrast levels right out of the box
  • During calibration test, colors had to be readjusted
Related: The Top-Tested eReaders - Which Models to Buy


55" TV: LG 55LE5500 ($2,800)
The LG 5500 model has above-average picture quality in high and standard definition for both dark and light scenes. Testers found the TV's remote control easy to use and the menu options easy to understand and navigate. The process of changing inputs and video sources was also found to be quite straightforward and user-friendly. The LG 5500 also features good sound clarity. Available on amazon.com and bestbuy.com

Pros:

  • Good sound clarity
  • Easy to use the remote control
  • Easy to navigate through menu options and settings
  • Easy to find additional features on the menu option
  • Easy to change inputs and video sources
  • At various viewing angles, there were very few noticeable changes in picture quality

Cons:

  • Sound volume level was not as loud as other televisions we tested

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Reprinted with Permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.