Big Screens for the Big Game

There is still time to get a great HDTV in time for the Superbowl. Here are some of the best we've seen.

Darkness is Good: Pioneer Elite Kuro PRO-1150HD 50-Inch Plasma

Pioneer chose Kuro, which means "black" in Japanese, as the moniker for its latest line of plasma TVs in order to call attention to the sets' performance when displaying dark images. Pioneer says the HDTVs' black levels are 80 percent better than their predecessors'. The 50-inch model shown here, like the others in the Kuro line, also has what Pioneer calls Optimum Video Mode. An integrated room-light sensor not only monitors ambient lighting, but also appraises the content displayed and makes adjustments (such as noise reduction) accordingly. In addition, features like the four HDMI 1.3 ports, detachable side speakers, a CableCard slot, and a two-year warranty make this TV very appealing.

This model, like the 42-inch Kuro PRO-950HD, has a native resolution of 1365-by-768; for full 1920-by-1080 resolution, you'll need to graduate to its more pricey siblings, the Kuro PRO-110FD and the Kuro PRO-150FD.

-- By Greg Adler and Melissa J. Perenson, PC World

Vendor Site | Latest Prices

Well-Priced Vizio VU42LF 42-Inch LCD TV

With a native resolution of 1920-by-1080 and a price of $1200, Vizio's VU42LF distinguishes itself as one of the lowest-priced 42-inch 1080p LCD TVs available today. Vizio's super-low pricing has helped propel this former unknown into the number two spot in North American HDTV sales, behind Samsung, according to market research firm DisplaySearch. This model measures almost 4 inches deep, which makes it one of the thicker LCDs we've seen; furthermore, it lacks many extras that more expensive brands have, like extra HDMI ports, a more advanced remote, an SD Card slot, and a CableCard slot. Vendor Site | Latest Prices

Glass-Framed Sony BRAVIA KDL-46XBR4 46-Inch LCD TV

Sony emphasizes design and style with its Bravia XBR4 LCD TV. This model sports a glass frame, which adds a beautiful, aesthetic look to the unit. If it wasn't already classy enough for your taste, feel free to swap out the black bezel and choose from eight other colors to balance your feng shui. This beauty also offers native 1920-by-1080 resolution, three HDMI inputs, and a 120-Hz refresh rate.

You can choose from among three different sizes: the 40-inch KDL-40XBR4, the 46-inch KDL-46XBR4 (pictured here), and the 52-inch KDL-52XBR4. List prices are $3000, $3800, and $4800 respectively. Vendor Site | Latest Prices

Thin-Bezeled Mitsubishi Diamond LT-46244 46-Inch LCD TV

Thin-bezel frames are in this season. Eight of Mitsubishi's latest LCD HDTVs boast frames less than 1 inch wide. The most full-featured models of this armada are the 46-inch Diamond LT-46244 (pictured) and the 52-inch Diamond LT-52244. Because of its thin frame, the company says that the 46-inch display takes up the same space that an average 42-inch set would occupy. In addition to a native 1920-by-1080 resolution, these sets also feature a 120-Hz refresh rate, HDMI 1.3, and a USB port so that you can easily plug in a digital camera to view your photos.

Rounding out this display is a built-in CableCard slot. A TV that has a such a slot can be used to view digital cable broadcasts, even scrambled ones, without a cable set-top box, using a CableCard, which may be obtained from your cable provider. Such slots are becoming increasingly hard to find this year, as some manufacturers have chosen to back away from this nascent technology. Vendor Site | Latest Prices

Small Can Be Good: Westinghouse SK-32H590D 32-Inch LCD TV

Given the fall-off in production of CRT-based televisions in the 20-to-30-inch range, smaller-size LCD TVs are enjoying a growth spurt. Westinghouse has its sights set on a piece of that pie with its series of LCD HDTVs in that smaller size range.

The 32-inch SK-32H590D and its slightly less expensive sibling, the 26-inch SK-26H590D, each have a built-in tuner and two HDMI ports. Both models also have a slot-loading DVD/CD player. Factor in their wall-mountable design and compact size, and these TVs are ideal for smaller spaces, such as apartments and bedrooms. Vendor Site | Latest Prices

A Huge Hitachi: The P60X901 60-Inch Plasma TV

Hitachi's Director's Series includes the 50-inch Director's Series P50X901 and the 60-inch P60X901 (pictured above), which have three HDMI ports and an SD Card slot for viewing photos. Another noteworthy feature is a CableCard slot, and the remote even has glow-in-the-dark keys. Moreover, whereas most manufactures offer a one-year warranty, Hitachi provides a two-year parts and labor warranty. Hitachi is one of a handful of manufacturers to offer 24p support, which mitigates the 3:2 pull-down effect of so-called motion judder. Once you see it, motion judder can be quite annoying and disruptive to your viewing experience. Vendor Site

JVC's Refreshingly Quick LT-42X898 42-Inch LCD TV

The three latest HDTVs in JVC's arsenal all have native 1920-by-1080p resolution, and offer a 120-Hz refresh rate. These LCD TVs are also wall mountable, have a built-in TV tuner, and come with 20-watt amplified Twin Oblique Cone speakers. In addition, with the TVs you also get a universal remote and a generous two-year warranty. The displays in this series include the 37-inch LT-37X898, the 42-inch LT-42X898 (pictured), and the 47-inch LT-47X898. Vendor Site

Feature-Packed 19-Inch Sharp LC-19D44U LCD TV

Sharp has long offered a range of high-def LCD TVs in larger screen sizes, but the company is now branching into the wide-screen 19-inch market with its Aquos LD-19D44U. The display has a resolution of 1366 by 768, and will accept up to a 1080i signal. The LCD comes with a built-in tuner, a PC input, one HDMI port, and a headphone jack. This versatile TV comes with a detachable stand, so you can mount the screen on the wall. With features such as a magnetic back on the remote (so that you can attach it to your refrigerator) and a large display clock with a timer, Sharp appears to be encouraging the use of this TV in unconventional locations. In fact, if the HD junkie in me merged with the cook part of me, the result might be this TV, in my kitchen, permanently tuned to the Food Network HD channel. Vendor Site | Latest Prices

The Well-Connected HP Media Smart 1080p SL4778N 47-Inch LCD TV

Someday, it will be a given for our television to access the Internet. But for now, that access remains a novelty on most TVs. Hewlett-Packard is forging ahead with its MediaSmart line, which encapsulates the company's vision of a connected television entertainment experience. The 1080p MediaSmart SL4778N LCD TV, pictured here, integrates 802.11a/b/g/n wireless networking with a clear, easy-to-navigate interface, and support for a variety of file types. Bonus points go to the MediaSmart for making it easy to access your Apple iTunes collection and for its ability to download files from online movie site CinemaNow. Vendor Site | Latest Prices

Two New Sets of HDTVs from Samsung: The 81 and 94 Series

Two of Samsung's new HDTV offerings stand out from the pack. The first is Samsung's 81 Series (pictured) of LCD televisions, which rely on a light-emitting diode (LED) backlight to deliver accurate colors. The second is the Samsung 94 Series of Plasma TVs, which uses 802.11n wireless to transmit your video data, minimizing the cable clutter in your entertainment room. The 81 Series TVs feature 1080p resolution and start at 40 inches (a 46-inch display also is available). The wireless 94 Series includes two options: 50-inch and 58-inch models. The following links are for the 40-inch model: Vendor Site | Latest Prices

Great Playback With Panasonic's TH-50PZ700U 50-Inch Plasma TV

Sure, your HDTV is for watching gorgeous high-definition video. But Panasonic has gone one step further with its TH-50PZ700U and other plasma HDTVs in its lineup: It builds in an SD Card slot and Gallery Player software so you can peruse and play back pictures and AVCHD video via your high-def display. All of Panasonic's 1080p plasma sets are rated to last 100,000 hours before they reach half-brightness (the company's 720p sets are rated at 60,000 hours). Pictured here: the TH-50PZ700U. Vendor Site | Latest Prices

Sleek Toshiba Regza 46RF350U 46-Inch LCD TV

One of two companies to introduce a thin-bezel HDTV design earlier this year, Toshiba has an attention-getter in its sleek Regza 46RF350U (pictured). This 46-inch 1080p model's bezel measures less than 1 inch, which means the unit should be able to fit into the same space as Toshiba's previous 42-inch HDTVs. (Also available: the 40-inch 40RF350U.) Sports fans prepping for the Super Bowl and Olympics will appreciate Toshiba's Regza Cinema Series of 1080p LCD TVs, which has features such as 120-Hz technology for more smoothly handling fast-motion video. The Regza Cinema Series starts with a 42-inch display; Toshiba also offers 47-, 52-, and 57-inch models. Vendor Site | Latest Prices

Colorful LG Opus 47LBX 47-Inch LCD TV

Classy finish, color-accented design, and high performance distinguish LG's Opus Series of 1080p LCD HDTVs. The Opus features 120-Hz frame rates for improved response time and clearer images when viewing scrolling text and fast action. Another performance point: Opus Series TVs have a wide color gamut that covers 92 percent of the NTSC spectrum--which means that the TV should display vivid, accurate colors. LG offers the Opus Series in 42-inch, 47-inch, and 52-inch screen sizes. The first two also are available in super-slim, 1.7-inch-thick models in addition to the standard size. Vendor Site

Olevia's Cinematic 747i 47-Inch LCD TV

Panel glass quality means a lot for HDTVs, but so too does image processing. Olevia says its 7 Series of LCD HDTVs has SiliconOptix's Realta Hollywood Quality Video (HQV) video processor technology. The Realta chip provides imaging enhancements in de-interlacing, noise reduction, and more. The two models in the 7 Series--the 747i (pictured above) and the 742i--offer 1920-by-1080 pixel resolution, a 178-degree viewing angle, and 1600:1 contrast ratio. Most of Olevia's TVs, like this one, are user upgradable--you simply plug a flash drive with the company's new firmware into the USB port on the back of the TV. All of Olevia's 2008 TVs will support firmware upgrades. Vendor Site | Latest Prices

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