When it comes to TVs, everybody likes to know what CNET--and in particular, senior editor David Katzmaier--thinks are the best models. That's why we have top products lists and why a lot of people tend to check out the sets on those lists. But then there's a whole group of TVs David doesn't get a chance to review that are popular with readers and show up high in CNET traffic reports.Those models usually are more entry-level sets that manufacturers tend to avoid sending to us because they know we grade pretty tough and it's not worth risking a middling or bad review. Not that we necessarily would dole out a bad grade for these products, but most of these "hot" sets share one thing in common: they're value priced for their size.
So, as we head into Super Bowl weekend, here's a look at 5 sets that a lot of readers are looking at right now. We can't tell you exactly how good they are because, as I said, we haven't reviewed, but they all offer appealing price points.
Toshiba 55HT1U: This "basic" 55-inch 120 Hz LCD TV can be had for $999, which is a good price for a 55-inch LCD TV. This is a non LED model and while we haven't been too enthused about Toshiba's offerings in the recent past, if you're not a stickler for the best picture in the world, the 55HT1U appears to be a reasonable deal. However, we can't tell you if it's any better than the Vizio E550VL, which offers similar specs for the same price. (We gave the Vizio 2.5 stars in our full reviewof that set). Panasonic TC-P50CR: We've noticed that a lot of folks have been looking at this 50-inch 720p plasma from Panasonic. That's because it can be had for as low as $600. While it doesn't offer 1080p, this would certainly make for a decent bedroom set (or would be fine for the playroom for the kids). Unless you're using a computer with your TV, you just won't notice much difference between 720p and 1080p, particularly if you're watching from a reasonable distance. Samsung PN50C490: This is a 50-inch 720p 3DTV that goes for around $800. It's just not going to give you great picture quality but for someone looking at a second set for a bedroom or playroom that has 3D capabilities, this has some appeal at this price point. Vizio Razor M470NV: This 47-inch LED-backlit LCD TV with Vizio's Internet app (it's a "connected" TV) is priced around $999 (without shipping), which is right about the lowest price you'll see for an LED backlit TV at this size and break that magic $1,000 barrier. While we haven't reviewed this model, higher-end models like the Vizio XVT3SV series have done well in our reviews lately. Note: The step-up Vizio M550NV, a 55-inch model with the same features, retails for around $1,350. Samsung LN40C530: This 40-Inch 1080p LCD TV is 60Hz model (as opposed to 120HZ), but it looks nice cosmetically and only costs $549. We haven't reviewed it but the user opinions are very favorable and it seems well suited for bedroom or playroom duty.