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Deal Alert!

There are great deals right now for anyone's budget! The major TV manufacturers have dropped prices for the holiday season, and it's a great time to treat your eyes with lifelike color and contrast that exceeds our good old HD formats. The 55-inch TCL P607 remains the top budget choice for a 4K high dynamic range television, but only consider it when the price is right ($650 or less.)

For 55-inch and larger screens, LG's 2017 4K OLED TV's are pure eye candy that will make you smile everytime you gaze upon its pixels. The company's revamped B7A series does away with internal Dolby ATMOS decoding for increased affordability but otherwise provides the same display technology found in its more premium designs such as the picture-on-glass E7 and G7 series as well as its most desirable W7 'wallpaper' versions.

Pro tip: If you already know what you want, always do a price check and take advantage of free shipping when available!

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Look: Robert's Favorite Gear

Value big screen favorites right now

 

Learn: How to Watch 4K

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Excellent Wireless HDMI


More excellent deals for gear that I wholeheartedly recommend

You don't need to pay for an expensive subscription TV plan to enjoy live programming! A simple antenna enables any HDTV to receive local HD channels for free in crystal clear digital quality. Amazon's Ultra-Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna is a thin and flat design that's perfect for hanging in a nearby window or for easy concealment behind a wall mounted TV or nearby hanging picture. I use a similar antenna to receive local programming and I'm impressed with the sensitivity of this design and its ease of setup - connect the 15-foot coax cable to the RF input on a TV and run the DTV channel scan. This Amazon-branded antenna is made in the U.S.A., is reversible with black and white sides, and it's a terrific value!

Review: Channel Master DVR+

Save $$$: Cord Cutting Guide

Ditching an expensive subscription TV plan (aka cord cutting) doesn't mean you have to give up live programming! Connecting a simple antenna enables any HDTV to receive local HD channels for free in crystal clear digital quality. The all new HD Frequency Cable Cutter is designed and manufactured in the U.S.A. by a talented group of radio engineers and scientists who optimized its design to provide a bit of extra reception oomph! If the old 'rabbit ears' are missing a few local stations, this antenna is a solid upgrade.

     Learn about the benefits of 'cutting the cord'!

The BenQ HT2050 is a compact projector that features 1080p resolution, two HDMI ports, VGA, and component video input. The projector's 2,200 ANSI lumens of light output is paired with cinema-grade glass lens that produces a bright clear picture using single-chip DLP technology. The 2050's RGBRGB color wheel helps minimize color-breakup artifacts, and it's built-in 10 Watt speaker makes impromptu setup and use even easier - think movie night or console gaming on a 100-inch screen! The HT2050 is also ISF-certified so it has good picture quality right out of the box and it provides the necessary picture controls to fine tune its imagery to reference quality. The BenQ HT2050 is home theater bargain for affordable big screen HD enjoyment.

Review: RIVA Turbo X

Review: LG Portable LED Projector

The three-chip 2016 Sony VPL-HW45ES is perfect for enjoying a colorful and detailed big screen picture, and it won't generate distracting 'rainbow' artifacts like single-chip DLP projectors can when displaying highly-contrasted imagery. I've calibrated the 2015 40ES and the 2016 45ES projectors, and I remain impressed with its quiet operation and bright, detailed picture with superb color and grayscale accuracy. Compared to the 40ES, the 45ES brings a bit more brightness at lower inital pricing. It also carries on great basics like horizontal/vertical lens-shift, 3D support, and a sweet backlit remote. The Sony VPL-HW45ES is a favorite of mine, and its an easy recommendation for great looking 1080p projection technology at an affordable price.

The LG Portable LED Projector (PF1500) impressed me with its design and functionality. This 1080p projector weights in at 3.3-pounds and features a standard tripod mounting hole for even easier setup and use. My favorite specs of the PF1500 include its LED lamp module that provides up to 10x longer life than regular projector lamp modules and its built-in ATSC digital tuner that had excellent sensitivity for receiving free local HD broadcasts. The PF1500 has WiFi and Ethernet networking for accessing multimedia files over the local network or for enjoying premium streaming apps like Netflix and MLB.tv. The PF1500 offers all of the common input options including two HDMI ports, component video, and composite.

     Read my review of the LG PF1500 LED Projector!

The Epson Home Cinema 5040UBe is one of the best values for a quality video projector. The 5040UB's light engine uses three LCD panels for artifact-free imagery at up to 2500 lumens of brightness, and its optics feature horizontal and vertical lens shift for greater placement options without compromising image quality. The 5040's support for 4K input and "4K enhancement technology" also claim complete HD and DCI color space coverage for more natural-looking, saturated colors - especially with HDR sources. The otherwise identical Epson 5040UB (without the 'e') costs a little less, but it lacks the UBe's 60GHz wireless video link with a convenient 5-port HDMI transmitter/switch.

2017 Samsung QLED TV

Updated February 13, 2017: specs, tech, and availability

Samsung is proving that LCD Technology can deliver stunning image quality with its new QLED series of TVs. Samsung's best 2017 TVs feature a new quantum dot technology, a clutter-free design, and a curious panel structure that aims to improve off-axis viewing.

Quantum dot
Samsung's latest quantum dot formulation incorporates a new metallic core that further refines and enhances color response to a level where the company is claiming its QLED televisions exceed the DCI color volume! Think of color volume as a stacked series of color space measurements from black to peak-luminance - most color space measurments only look at the brigher portion of color response. The ability to accurately represent the brightest and darkest details in the latest HDR content should make the QLED TVs highly desirable for consumers and professionals alike.

Bright as the sun

The 'light war' among HDR television manufacturers continue, and Samsung describes the peak luminance of the QLED series TVs as being in the 1500- to 2000-nits range when HDR playback is enabled. Picture brightness at this level enables impressively captivating depictions of imagery like sun-lit characters, lighting in dimly lit environments, and point highlights like a star-filled evening's sky and glinting chrome. Longtime Samsung fans recall that the company added (returned) full array local dimming (FALD) to its flagship televisions starting with the 2015 JS9500 series. Like the JS9500 and the KS9800 that succeeded it, both were curved screen designs with effective FALD. For 2017, Samsung goes with a flat design in the form of the Q9 that utilizes an edge-lit backlight system to deliver a claimed 2000-nits of luminance output with 100% DCI color volume coverage - effectively matching the performance of some of the better reference monitors used in film/video production.

Pixel structure v2.0
The Q9 flagship appears to feature a unique sub pixel structure. As reported by the good folks at HDTVtest, I found the image of the staggered sub pixel layout interesting and worthy of further investigation - stay tuned! This new pixel structure paired with the increased color performance of the quantum dot-enhanced panel has Samsung claiming QLED's off-axis color distortions have been halved compared to previous designs.

Anti-reflective (AR)
A bright, well-contrasted, picture will be degraded by any ambient light that reflects off of the screen and into the viewer's eyes. Some eye-on time with the Q9 proved its updated AR tech was (subjectively) twice as effective at minimizing a point source (bright, overhead track lighting) compared to the company's previous best efforts.

One Connect(ed)

A surprise highlight of the 2017 QLED series is a new cable management system. AV inputs on the QLED TVs are in the form of an external One Connect box, but what is new is an ultra-thin discrete fiber optic link dubbed the 'Invisible Connection' cable. This translucent filament makes for easly concealment but does not negate the need for separate power connections to the TV and to the One Connect box itself. To maintain a clutter-free look, Samsung engineered thin power cables and wire routes along the bottom edge and base of its QLED TVs. In the Samsung Q9 demo pictured below, a glimpse of the fiber link can be seen on the right top edge of the mounting bracket.

Mounts and stands

Except for the Q9 series, the other QLED TVs are compatible with a new 'no-gap' wall mount that appeared simple to install and level. A custom matching bracket flush mounts to the rear of the TVs and provides a nearly gapless interface with the wall surface. Alternatively, Samsung also displayed an elegant looking Studio Stand that resembles an artist's easel as well as a Gravity Stand that floats the TV on a matching weighted base.

UI/UX
The user interface and user experience (UI/UX) of the new QLED TVs centers around mobile convergence . The tweaked 2017 interface is being ported to a related mobile app for greater consistency and simplified use. The updated UI is also purported to perform faster auto-detection of connected devices (sub 3-seconds claimed.) The refined remote control can now properly mimic all the buttons on a STB further enhancing the QLED's universal control abilities.

Q9 series

  • Full array local dimming
  • ~2000-nits

Q8 series

  • Curved screen design
  • Edge-lit backlight
  • Brushed stainless chassis/stand
  • U-type stand

 

Q7 series

  • Curved + Flat screen options
  • Edge-lit backlight
  • U- and T-type stands
  • Textured back chassis
  • 55-inches
    65-inches (QN67Q7F)
  • 75-inches 
SUHD no more

Samsung's SUHD branding for premium TVs is no more, but the performance lives on in a new MU series we'll cover more in-depth in future article.

Conclusion
Samsung has a habit introducing its 'flagship' television close to the start of Spring. 

This article will be updated as more details become available

2017 LG OLED TV 4K

Updated February 13, 2017: Game Mode, specs, and availability

OLED's ability to create the 'absence of light' when rendering a black pixel translates into incredible picture contrast. For 2017, the OLED masters at LG Electronics have skillfully engineered Signature-series panels that are brighter and more colorful than anything the company has produced to date.

Design wise
LG is going all flat for its 2017 TVs - only the 2016 C6 series OLED televisions will carry over to provide a curved screen option.

2017 LG SUPER UHD TV Preview

The LG OLED TV 4K lineup includes five series starting with the flagship W7 and its 'Picture on Wall' design that features little more that the OLED panel itself with a thin ribbon connection to a sound bar system that provides AV signaling and power to the display. The W7 is an amazingly thin 2.57mm, and it magnetically attaches to a custom bracket enabling a total depth of less than 4mm as mounted on the wall. The W7 is slightly flexible, but it isn't made for curved installations or to be rolled up without voiding the warranty.

For the new E7 and G7 series OLED TVs, LG laminates the ultra thin panels to an equally thin sheet of durable glass. The G7 retains the folding base stand that doubles as a high-performance soundbar introduced with the 2016 G6 OLED televisions.

For the value/performance OLED enthusiasts, the 'Blade Slim' designs of the B7 (below) and C7 OLED TVs will be popular choices - the C7 series adding a stylish aluminum bezel and matching stand.

Ports and Audio
Dolby Atmos audio graces the LG TV lineup - whether or not you'll be able to output a Dolby Atmos signal to an external AVR remains to be seen. For the W7 and G7 TVs that feature sound bar audio, a Dolby Atmos speaker listening experience should far exceed the weak sounding audio that plagues most flat panel designs.

Picture performance
The 2017 LG OLED TVs claim improved DCI color reproduction from about 97% color space coverage for the 2016 models to 99%. Color space reproduction is often measured using relatively bright test patterns. A TV's ability to reproduce a particular color space across luminance levels (bright to dark) is referred to as color volume, and it will be interesting to see how the new LG OLEDs compare to Samsung's 100% DCI color volume claim with its new QLED TVs.

OLED's main weakness is an inability to match the brightness of the best HDR LCD televisions. For 2017, LG is claiming its OLEDs can achieve up to 1000-nits in minuscule portions of the screen - likely not when displaying a 10% window that is the current standard for HDR performance measurement. 1000-nit performance from an OLED would represent an increase of 25% in peak luminance compared to previous models, and more light equates to more HDR detail.

LG's support of 3D is history - go projection if you want impressive 3D.

LG skips the HDR format mess by supporting all of them.

  • Dolby Vision
  • HDR10
  • HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma)

W7 LG Signature series

  • 77-inches (OLED77W7P)
  • 65-inches
  • Picture On Wall design
  • Dolby Atmos speaker technology

G7 LG Signature series

  • 77-inches
  • 65-inches (OLED65G7P)
  • Picture On Glass design
  • Foldable sound bar stand

E7 series

C7 series

B7 series

  • Blade Slim design
  • 65-inches (OLED65B7P)
  • 55-inches

Game Mode
LG snuck in a firmware update late last year that reduced lag times when gaming in HDR mode. 

This article will be updated as more details become available

2017 LG SUPER UHD TV

The folks at LG Electronics are the masters of black with its OLED display technology, and they are looking to impress value conscious eyeballs with a new generation of LCD televisions that features accurate color performance with standard and high dynamic range (HDR) content.

The 2017 LG SUPER UHD TV lineup incorporates several solid improvements to enhance picture quality, usability, and design.

  

LG's best LCDs for 2017 will be available in screen sizes from 55-inches on up to 86-inches, and all share some common features.

  • Nano Cell panel technology
  • Edge-lit backlighting
  • IPS panel tech
  • WebOS v3.5

The Nano Cell tech used in LG's new TVs claims to use nanometer-sized particles, which aren't quantum dots, to improve color performance of its new displays. Paired with updated light absorbing/anti-reflective treatments on its IPS-type panel, viewing angle performance should remain more consistent compared to off-axis viewing with VA-type panels. Many LCD manufacturers have begun to utilize an enhanced LED that improves red color performance, and it will be interesting to see if LG incorporated this approach into the SUPER UHD designs.

The Best TV Deals!

The SUPER UHD TVs continue LG's trend of staying ahead of the evolving HDR formats by supporting all of them:

  • Dolby Vision
  • HDR10
  • HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma)

LG's partnership with Technicolor will include a future update for the SUPER UHD TVs that will add a branded Expert calibration preset. Also, an HDR Effect feature enables the SUPER UHD's to convert standard dynamic range (SDR) video into an HDR-like experience with enhanced brightness and color output.

The model lineup for the 2017 SUPER UHD TVs:

  • SJ9500
    • Cresent-shaped stand
    • 6.9mm thin (55-inch model)
  • SJ8500
  • SJ8000

 This article will be updated as more details become available

2016 Vizio SmartCast P-Series

     Updated May 1, 2016: HDMI 2.0a + 10-bit panel

Long live the Vizio P-Series! Vizio has announced an update to the 2014 P-Series televisions that brought affordable full array local dimming (FALD) backlight technology that improves picture contrast by dynamically controlling light output across individual zones based on video content. The new 2016 Vizio SmartCast P-Series brings many visual improvements including ultra high-definition (UHD) resolution, high dynamic range (HDR), and expanded color support via Dolby Vision

The new SmartCast TVs include a P-Series Tablet Remote with its 6-inch 1080p screen that promises to make finding the content you want to watch not only easier but less interruptive to the viewing experience. The Android tablet uses its Wi-Fi (over LAN) link to the TV for control, and it can fall back to a direct Bluetooth connection if necessary.

Best 2016 TVs + Tech

Specs for the new SmartCast P-Series TVs

  • 3840x2160 pixel resolution
  • Up to 128 zones of active dimming
  • 600-nits peak light output (full field)
    • 150,000:1 contrast ratio (claimed)
  • VA-panel type (except for 55-inch)
  • 120Hz refresh rate (except for 50-inch)
  • 10-bit panel w/10-bit+ processing
  • 96% DCI-P3 color space coverage
  • Google Cast enabled
  • 802.11ac Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.1 LE
  • 5 HDMI
    • 4 HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2 (HDMI 2.0a soon)
    • 1 HDMI 1.4 (4K60 4:2:0)

One item of note missing from the new P-Series compared to most HD/UHD TVs is an ATSC tuner for over-the-air (OTA) digital reception. The single tuner hardware in most TVs is effectively useless without DVR functionality, so the lack of a OTA tuner in this "home theater display" won't be a deal-breaker for most people.

Screen sizes and prices for the new Vizio SmartCast P-Series UHD TVs

  • 50-inches (P50-C1): $1000
         60Hz/VA-type/126-zones FALD
  • 55-inches (P55-C1): $1300
         120Hz/IPS-type/126-zones FALD
  • 65-inches (P65-C1): $2000
         120Hz/VA-type/128-zones FALD
  • 75-inches (P75-C1): $3800
         120Hz/VA-type/128-zones FALD

Panel type
The Vizio P-Series use VA-type LCD panels for improved contrast with poorer off-axis viewing compared to IPS-type panels. The exception in the P-Series is the 55-inch model that utilizes an IPS-type panel. Also, the P-Series TVs have an LCD refresh rate of 120Hz except for the 50-inch version that operates at 60Hz.

Wide color gamut (WCG)
The 2016 Vizio P-Series achieves its claimed 96% of DCI-P3 color gamut coverage through the use of phosphor-enhanced LEDs - typically blue LEDs coated with green/red (yellow) phosphor material. While this approach is different than the 65-inch R-Series that uses a quantum dot impregnated film for even greater color coverage, it is similar to the 120-inch R-Series' LED technology.

Unfinished business
The P-Series is an incomplete 2016 UHD TV until it receives an update that adds HDMI 2.0a - the update is expected by the end of June. Until then, P-Series owners only have VUDU for experiencing HDR/WCG content in the Dolby Vision format. There is no UHD Blu-ray player support without HDMI 2.0a, and it seems that it goes hand in hand with the P-Series' lack of HDR10 support. Given the connected nature of the P-Series TVs, these issues are expected to be addressed.

Recommendation
My recommendation is to stick with the 65-inch and 75-inch models for the best image quality. The 50-inch model is a 60Hz display and the 55-inch's IPS panel make them the oddballs in Vizio's P-Series lineup.

The new Vizio SmartCast P-Series TVs are available for order on the Vizio website.

BEST TV DEALS RIGHT NOW!

     This article will be updated as new information is made available