TVSnob's 2008 Holiday Buying Guide: Plasma And LCD HDTV's And Blu-ray Players
That time has finally come again: the holiday season. And you can bet you'll find some sort of home theater-related product on your buying list. To make your life a little easier, we've looked back over 2008 and highlighted the products providing the best value for your money this holiday season.
Pioneer Elite Kuro PRO-111FD-undoubtedly the best performing plasma of the year, Pioneer's PRO-111FD is priced accordingly. A huge $4, 499, the PRO-111FD is suitable if you have cash to burn and are looking for nothing but the best.
Pioneer KURO PRO-111FD-$4499.00 at Amazon
Panasonic VIERA TH-50PZ850U-in terms of quality, Panasonic's 50-inch 850U isn't too far behind the PRO-111FD, but key here is its $2, 295 price tag will keep over $2000 in your pocket. Seems like a fair trade-off to me.
Panasonic VIERA TH-50PZ850U-$2295.00 at Amazon
Panasonic VIERA TH-50PZ800U-while it's black levels may be lighter than plasmas that cost more, Panasonic's TH-50PZ800U has a THX mode that improves the color accuracy and video processing enough to make up for it.
Panasonic VIERA TH-50PZ800U-$2050.95 at Amazon
Panasonic VIERA TH-42PX80U-if you're alright with sacrificing 1080p resolution for 720p, then the 42-inch PX80U probably provides the best quality/value for your buck in the marketplace right now.
Panasonic VIERA TH-42PX80U-$709.97 at Amazon
The LCD TV battle continues between Sony and Samsung. While some budget models, such as Vizio, provide great value for your money Sony and Samsung provide the best overall quality available.
Sony Bravia KDL-55XBR8-sporting the deepest black levels of any LCD TV on the market, and one of the best performing of the year along with its sibling XBR8 models, this 55-inch Bravia pairs high quality with a high price tag.
Sony Bravia KDL-55XBR8-$6999.00 at Amazon
Samsung LN52A650-not only do the A650's break the traditional model of black bezels with the Red Touch of Color, but they've been the among the most popular selling LCD TV's online since their release earlier this year. Why? Tons of features and excellent picture quality combined with a fair price.
Samsung LN52A650-$1928.99 at Amazon
Samsung LN46A550-take away the red bezel and lower the price a bit and you have Samsung's A550 series. The feature set isn't quite as extensive as Samsung's higher-end models, but the trade-off between price and quality is worth the sacrifice if you're working on a tight budget.
Vizio SV470XVT-Vizio is a brand name that pretty well guarantees great value for your dollar. In fact, last year while Samsung and Sony were asleep at the wheel Vizio was actually were the number one selling LCD TV in the United States. The 47-inch member of the XVT line is no exception, and while it obviously won't produce the dark blacks of more expensive models, it does produce an overall excellent picture quality with a 120 Hz refresh rate.
Vizio SV470XVT-$1370 at Amazon
Westinghouse VK-40F580D-granted we don't talk too much about Westinghouse home theater products around TVSnob, but the 40-inch VK-40F580D won our respect this year because only does it have perfectly respectable picture quality, but it has an integrated DVD player. All at a price point competitive with similarly sized LCD TV's with the same features sans DVD player.
Honestly, this editor is no longer sure about the long-term viability of the Blu-ray format. While prices are coming down in line with predictions made earlier this year (even a little more), most consumers seems perfectly happy with standard-definition DVD's or streaming. That said, I think it would be appropriate to think value-for-your-dollar if you're buying Blu-ray this year.
Sony's Playstation 3-while prices for standalone Blu-ray players are coming down now, and Profile 2.0 is beginning to change the game, the Playstation 3 still provides excellent value with Blu-ray playback and arguably the best gaming experience around.
Sony Playstation 3-$399.99 at Amazon
Panasonic DMP-BD35-of the standalone Blu-ray models, Panny's Profile 2.0 BD35 provides the best performance/value combination around. With excellent image quality and support for every audio codec, you can't go wrong with the DMP-BD35 if you're looking for a standalone model.
Panasonic DMP-BD35-$242.88 at Amazon
Panasonic DMP-BD55-it does perform slightly better than the DMP-BD35 for those with older receivers, but for most of us the cheaper model will do the trick.
Panasonic DMP-BD55-$320.67 at Amazon
Samsung BDP-S350-another Profile 2.0 Blu-ray player and a high-performing one at that, the only real downside to the BDP-S350 is that it doesn't support higher-end audio codecs like DTS-HD Master Audio. However, if you're looking for a cheap Blu-ray player, we'll bet you that very Blu-ray player that you won't find better deals this holiday season on any other.
Samsung BDP-S350-$244.96 at Amazon
LG BD300-there is only one reason why I'm convinced this is a great holiday buy. Aside from its Profile 2.0 capabilities, DTS-HD Master Audio support and good image quality of course. Why? Because it streams anything available on Netflix's Watch Now service. And remember, I've already dubbed Netflix Blu-ray's killer.
LG BD300-$322.99 at Amazon
Samsung's BDP2500/2550-personally I'm a bigger fan of the LG model, but I know if I don't include these Samsung models also capable of streaming Netflix flicks, the detail sticklers will call me on it. So here you have it, a couple more Netflix-streaming Blu-ray players.
Samsung BDP2500-$299.99 at Amazon
Samsung BDP2550-$489.99 at Amazon
It's not over yet folks. Stay tuned for the TVSnob 2008 Holiday Buying Guide for streaming products and other home theater peripherals!
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Posted by Justin Davey at November 16, 2008 4:11 PM