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Which? celebrates 50 years of TV testing

Best new TV for watching World Cup 2010 revealed

Which? has been testing TVs for half a century and in its latest batch of reviews, has revealed the best new HDTV for watching the 2010 football World Cup.

In the past five years Which? has lab-tested around 500 televisions, but it was a group of 19 sets that kicked things off back in May 1960. Brands on test included Ferranti, Marconiphone and Murphy, which now sound more like international footballers than TV manufacturers.

Since 1960, there have been 12 World Cups and seven winning nations. So we thought we’d take a look at what TVs Which? recommended during the highs and lows (but mainly the lows) of England’s World Cup adventures over the years.

Bush TV 135U

World Cup 1966 – Bush TV 135U

If you’d have taken Which?’s advice back in 1966, then you’d have watched the victorious England national team lift the World Cup on the Bush TV 135U.

The TV offered outstanding picture quality, with very dark blacks, but its sound let it down. It was deemed both easy and safe to use; safety was a key part of our TV testing back in the 1960s. Models often lacked decent X-ray radiation shielding or the poor wiring could cause overheating and even fires.

Philips 4829

World Cup 1986 – Philips 4829

Maradona scored a goal using a little of his head and a little of the ‘Hand of God’ against England in the 1986 World Cup quarter-final. It was watched on a variety of TVs across 166 countries around the world. A savvy UK consumer, however, resplendent with their Consumer Association membership, would have known that the best telly to watch this memorable moment on was the Philips 4829.

The set offered the best picture and sound quality on test, and came with a decent remote control – although if you wanted to access the Teletext service you would have to use the controls on the box itself.

Find out how current Philips, Panasonic and Samsung TVs fare in our best TV brands report

Panasonic TX-24A1

World Cup 1990 – Panasonic TX-24A1

In 1990 the England football team progressed a step further in the competition than they had in ’86 and encountered the German national team in the semi final, who went on to win the game on penalties.

It was too much for Paul Gascoigne to bear, but Pavarotti’s Nessun Dorma sounded wonderful in NICAM stereo, which was beginning to become more commonplace in the 1990s and featured on this Panasonic Best Buy.

While the 1990 World Cup was only shot in 4:3, Which? TV researchers were beginning to get excited about widescreen and the forthcoming Channel Five.

Samsung TI14B7

World Cup Qualifier 2001 – Samsung TI14B7

The England national team managed to beat Argentina and Denmark, and scrape draws with Sweden and Nigeria before being knocked out of the 2002 World Cup by losing 2-1 against Brazil. The team wouldn’t have qualified for the tournament if it hadn’t been for David Beckham’s last-minute free-kick against Greece in the qualifying stages.

A Best Buy TV and VCR combo would have let you replay the goal time and time again. Which? members who were shopping for such a TV at the time, were recommended this Samsung model. Which? warned, however, that while the picture quality would be reasonable when watching the live broadcast, it would be poorer when watching it back on a VHS cassette – and that standalone TVs were generally better.

Sony Bravia-KDL-40EX703

World Cup 2010 – Sony Bravia KDL-40EX703

In the latest batch of Which? TV reviews the EX703 from Sony has been awarded the Best Buy TV for picture quality – meaning that not only the 2010 World Cup, but whatever you want to watch will look great. It has a built-in Freeview HD receiver, so you’ll be able to follow England’s progress in the 2010 World Cup in high definition. Check you live in a Freeview HD region by visiting the Freeview website.

The 40-inch EX703 will set you back around £1,100, but if you’re on a budget, then there are some equivalent LCD Best Buy TVs in the latest group of results costing from £700. We also have Best Buy models available for less than £400, such as last year’s Panasonic Viera TX-L32X10.

Michael Briggs, Which? TV expert, said: ‘We put the 40-inch Sony Bravia EX703 through the same rigorous test as scores of other TVs that pass through our test lab. Lined up next to the competition and watched by our independent panel of experts it was the cracking high definition picture that really made the Sony stand out. Only Which? offers such thorough and meaningful testing’.

To find out more about the EX703, the Panasonic Viera X10, and hundreds of other models check out our in-depth TV reviews

How Which? tests TVs


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To find out more about the EX703 and hundreds of other models – including Best Buys for less than £400, check out our in-depth TV reviews

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