The best TVs your money can buy (2012)

There has never been a better time to buy a TV. Seriously – this year’s range of flat panel television screens make last year’s models look like the runner...

There has never been a better time to buy a TV. Seriously – this year’s range of flat panel television screens make last year’s models look like the runner up in an ugly box competition. With all four major TV companies having announced this year’s range, here are the best TVs you should think about spending money on.

Sony Bravia HX850

Sony used to be the brand to beat when it came to televisions, but it handle that mantle over years ago. But according to the Japanese company, the HX850 will be its triumphant return to the pinnacle of television mountain.

With a Gorilla Glass screen and frameless design, the screen is certainly nice to look at, even without a picture on display. Built in Wi-Fi helps to access the plethora of online content available through Bravia TVs, while local dimming helps the edge LED backlight keep the LCD screen producing awesome contrast levels.

Naturally, it will play 3D Blu-rays on the screen, but given I still think 3D on television is rubbish, that’s hardly a selling point. On the upside, the active shutter 3D glasses aren’t a crime against style anymore.

The HX850 maxes out at 55 inches, with a 46-incher bringing up the low end.

Price: $3,299 (46 inches); $3,999 (55 inches)
Web: Sony

Samsung Series 8 LCD

There’s a reason Samsung has become the top dog when it comes to televisions in Australia. And a lot of it has to do with the fact they produce gorgeous products time after time after time. The Series 8 LCD screen is stunning, with a tiny silver frame, integrated Skype camera and Wi-Fi.

This generation of Samsung’s TV lineup has introduced a whole new level of intelligence as well, including the ability to interact with the TV using voice and gesture controls, and an integrated dual-core processor to produce the best possible picture quality. Smart TV content is some of the best available, with a partnership with Foxtel offering Olympic coverage later this year, as well as Quickflix and BigPond TV entertainment.

But most impressive of all with this year’s Samsung TVs is the introduction of the ability to upgrade the hardware of the TV for as little as $150 in order to get any new features introduced in future models. That’s pretty clever.

Available in a 55-incher now, with a 60-incher launching in June.

Price: $4,599 (55 inches)
Web: Samsung

LG LM9600

LG is the only company that’s still bothering to put the bulk of its marketing message on 3D, probably because it’s the only company using passive 3D technology. It’s interesting when it’s used to let gamers play against each other with two different 2D images on screen at the same time, but otherwise 3D is still a big bag of ‘meh’.

Much more interesting is the 4mm bezel. Seriously – the bezel around the picture is just 4 millimetres wide. More screen is always more awesome. The magic motion remote is pretty cool as well, working like a Wii controller to let you navigate on screen like a mouse. This year’s model adds the ability to talk into your remote for voice controls, like your a lazy super agent or something.

Proper “behind the LCD” backlighting with local dimming creates better pictures, and the Smart TV content is growing, although not at the same rate as Sony or Samsung. There’s a lot of international rubbish there, but Red Bull TV and shoule be enough to keep you happy.

Price: $4,599 (55 inches)
Web: LG

Panasonic Viera VT50


LED backlit LCD TVs are where the money’s at these days, but that doesn’t mean plasma doesn’t still kick butt. Panasonic’s VT20 is a stunning demonstration that the old dog of flat panel technologies still has some life in it.

Built-in Wi-Fi, support for Quickflix, ABC iView, and the only TVs that are certified by THX for 3D reproduction (not that it really means anything), the Panny panels are much more eco friendly than they used to be. They also talk nicely to iOS devices through a dedicated app, letting you beam content around the room, either watching live TV on your iPad or viewing photos on the big screen. The remote has a nifty touch panel on it as well.

Technically not hitting store shelves until June, the VT20 will come in 55 and 65 inch sizes, proving that plasma is still a better tech for those wanting very large screens.

Price: $3,799 (55 inch); $5,999 (65 inch)
Web: Panasonic

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Nick Broughall is the Australian Editor of TechRadar.com, where he gets to indulge his passion for geekery and the lastest technology. He is also the Editor of EFTM.com.au, where he gets to indulge his passion for manliness, from sampling fine liquor to the joys of growing a beard. It's a pretty good life, really.
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