Cutting-Edge, Eco-Friendly LED TV for Less Than $2,200?
A reader writes: I need a good TV for my living room, and I've decided that LCD, particularly LED, is the way to go. I've heard that some plasmas can look better than LCDs, so I definitely want good video quality, but I heard they use up a lot of energy and I don't want to break the bank if I can avoid it. Also, I'd like something that doesn't use up too much power. Please... just tell me what to get!
What up, reader? Indeed, the Plasma vs. LCD conflict is a tough one, as plasma does traditionally provide better black levels, which can translate to superior contrast between dark and light onscreen, especially valuable when watching high-definition movies now in the Blu-ray era.
The good news is that LCDs are continuing to evolve, with the switch to energy-saving LEDs (light-emitting diodes) as their light source (versus more common cold cathode fluorescent lamps, if you want to get technical). The Next Big Thing in energy-efficient televisions is local dimming LED, which can make specific areas of the screen lighter or darker depending upon the picture being displayed. The improvement can be absolutely stunning, imparting more drastic blacks and a much-needed boost to the dynamic contrast ratio, rated at a mind-boggling 2,000,000:1. Unfortunately, a lot of these LED TVs are pricey, but we've found one from good ol' bang-for-the-buck Vizio.
Shipping now is the VIZIO VF551XVT 55-inch TruLED LCD with Smart Dimming. This is an excellent size for living room use -- if you indeed have ample space -- big enough to give everyone on the sofa a great view. Sonically, the VF551XVT provides two SRS Labs technologies to improve the sound from its compact built-in speakers: TruSurround HD for room-filling enhancement, and TruVolume to eliminate annoying volume spikes. A bevy of side-mounted inputs simplify quick, temporary hookups of video cameras and such. The VF551XVT also refreshes the image on screen 240 times per second (240Hz), four times the standard rate, rendering smoother motion for fast-action movies or sports games. Don't like that effect? It can be adjusted, or turned off entirely.
Perhaps most impressive of all, the affordable VIZIO VF551XVT comes in at $2,199, well below competing local dimming LED models with similar specifications. (Consider if you will the Sony Bravia XBR KDL-55XBR8, with a list price more than double that of the VF551XVT.) A living room HDTV should look good on or off, and this one certainly does, wall-mountable at only five inches deep (tabletop stand also included), and framed by a sleek, thin black bezel with silver accents.
With this room-friendly design, its technological advances and solid performance, the VF551XVT is a worthy solution for your LCD quandary. The low price tag can be your secret. Enjoy!