Spring Tech Preview: Televisions
Panasonic TC-PST50 series
Cheap and cheerful, the ST30 was without a doubt the best bang-for-buck TV in 2011 and we're expecting big things from the follow-up. The TV is shipping now, and you can look forward to seeing the full review very soon.
Sharp LC-LE640U series
Speaking of "full review" and "bang for the buck," this Sharp has both. It served to introduce our new "Value" score with an excellent score of 8. No, it's not going to reach the picture quality or features scores seen on the other TVs we're previewing, but we doubt most of them will hit its value.
Samsung PNE8000 series
The Samsung E8000 is the follow-up to last year's excellent D8000 plasma, and Samsung promises that this model has even better picture quality. Look out for enhanced features such as Smart Interaction with built-in Skypeing and gesture control.
Samsung gesture control
Baked into that sweet-specced PND8000 plasma, along with the UNES8000 and UNES7500 LEDs, gesture control is designed to be the next "killer app" for controlling your TV, but only time will tell. At the forefront of the technology is Samsung with its "Smart Interaction" system, which incorporates a 3D camera into the bezel of the TV. From early demos, the system is quite slow, but it may improve by the time the products ship.
Samsung PNE7000 series
This is a picture from the PND7000 plasma from last year since we don't have one yet for the E7000. Last year's version won our Editors' Choice Award, so it's easy to see why we're excited about this one. We expect it to offer the same picture quality as the PNE8000, without making you have to pay extra for gesture control and other doodads.
Panasonic TC-PVT50 series
The Panasonic VT30 was one of the very best televisions of 2012, and there is no reason to believe the VT50 won't attain the same lofty heights this year. The television has had a cosmetic upgrade and performance tweaks, and we look forward to its arrival in May. The 55-inch will retail for $2,499, the 65-inch for $3,999.
Sony KDL-HX850 series
Sony is expected to have a muted year in 2012 with a vastly cut-down 10 model lineup. The head of this range is the HX850, which starts shipping in April 2012 beginning at $2,099.
LG LM9600 series
The only new 2012 TV announced so far to feature our favorite variety of LED backlight -- full-array with local dimming -- the LM9600 series now comes in a larger 60-inch size, too. All three sizes cost a relative fortune. Their 2011 predecessor was a disappointment, but that just makes us eager to see how, or if, the new version is any better.
LG LM6700 series
The least-expensive LG to offer both a local dimming backlight (albeit from an edge-lit configuration), the LM6700 is also the cheapest LG to sport the new ultrathin Cinema Screen bezel. The former makes it the spiritual successor to the LW5600 we liked last year.
Toshiba glasses-less television
If you don't like the "glasses thing" and dig on the Nintendo 3DS instead then Toshiba has a TV for you! The TV is known in Europe as the 55ZL2 and promises 3D without glasses as well as 4K resolution, although a CES demo left us less-than floored. A potential Q1 2012 release date has come and gone, though, so whether it actually comes out this spring is anybody's guess.