The latest Smart TVs let you connect to a host of internet apps, watch catch-up TV and even surf the web. But are they any good for the old fashioned stuff too? According to the latest LED and plasma TVs test lab results, many models serve-up stunning picture quality and a tasty selection of apps, but slothful web surfing and weedy audio performance could be the fly in the soup.
We’ve added a barrage of new Smart TV tests in 2011 and tested eight new TVs from the leading manufacturers – three from Samsung, three from Panasonic and one each from Sony and LG.
Every TV is put through the same rigorous series of tests, including panels of independent experts delivering definitive verdicts on picture and sound quality.
The good news is that the picture quality on the Best Buys is some of the best we’ve ever seen – whether watching standard-definition, high-definition or even 3D TV. Brilliant detail, superb colour, excellent depth and natural looking pictures are the order of the day.
The flip side is audio performance. Only one of the TVs on test managed to sound even remotely impressive – the rest deliver synthetic, harsh and bass-lite audio which will leave you scrabbling for a decent set of Hi-Fi speakers.
But TVs these days aren’t just for watching TV. Six of eight new TVs let you connect to the internet too. Our experts loved the selection of apps on offer – including YouTube, iPlayer and LoveFilm – but were less impressed by the opportunity to surf the world wide web.
Samsung, Sony and LG were put to the sword by our testers, but the fiddly controls and sluggish web pages made it feel a world away from relatively hassle-free PC web surfing.
Find out more about the latest Smart TVs.
LED versus plasma TV
With three plasma TVs on test, plus five LED TVs, Smart TV isn’t the only choice on the menu. One of the key differences between LED and plasma technology is power use – something our in-depth tests make abundantly clear. LED TVs are really just LCD TVs but with one crucial difference. Instead of traditional lamps illuminating the screen, hundreds of more energy efficient Light Emitting Diodes do the job.
The results in power use speak for themselves. For instance, 42-inch Panasonic TX-L42E30 LED TV uses just under 68 watts when switched on, but the Panasonic TX-P42GT30 (the plasma equivalent) gobbles up almost 200 watts. But it isn’t all great news for LED TVs, many suffer from picture-fade (images fade when viewed from anywhere but head-on), a problem that just doesn’t affect plasma TVs.
Not sure what size TV to buy? Try our new interactive screen size choosing tool.
LED and plasma TV reviews
Click on the links for full reviews of our latest TVs on test.
Sony Bravia KDL-40EX723
Panasonic Viera TX-P42U30
Panasonic Viera TX-P42GT30
Panasonic Viera TX-L42E30
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