Best LED LCD TV

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It's no secret that the most popular type of HDTV on the market today is the LED TV. Technically a misnomer born out of marketing and convenience, the term "LED TV" actually refers to an LCD TV that utilizes an LED backlight to display an image. LED TVs have attained their popularity due to their affordability, varied screen size options, as well as their low energy consumption and compatibility with all different types of content.

The latest innovation in this field is the widespread use of "Quantum Dot" technology. While this may sound like something out of a sci-fi TV series, quantum dots are quite real and are commonplace in higher-end LED TVs. The basic science underpinning quantum dots revolves around their behavior when excited by certain frequencies; LED TVs equipped with quantum dots utilize a blue LED backlight, which in turn "excites" quantum dots into emitting red and green tones. In a nutshell, these TVs can display brighter colors that appear more lifelike and saturated, translating into a more pleasing image overall.

You’ll find two distinct layouts that utilize LED backlighting: full array and edge-lit. Full-array backlighting positions the LED backlight directly behind the LCD panel. This is often combined with a feature known as "local dimming" in higher-spec models, which can selectively dim or switch off LEDs depending on the desired image to obtain deeper black levels where they are needed. Edge-lit LED backlighting moves the LEDs to the edges of the panel, instead relying on special light guides to illuminate the screen.

In our research, we've noted that full-array LED TVs with local dimming consistently outperform their edge-lit counterparts in screen uniformity, black level measurements, and contrast with both standard and HDR content. When combined with quantum dot technology, these LED TVs are capable of generating an outstanding picture while keeping the cost versus screen size at a reasonable level.

Best LED TV Overall:

LED TVs are the most popular option on the market today, and there's a wide range of options available for all tastes and budgets. The most important criteria to consider are picture quality, features, visual aesthetics, and price. Several factors will impact the picture quality such as black levels, color accuracy, viewing angles, and video processing.

Black level performance is among the most important performance factor to consider as it impacts the overall image contrast and richness. Simply put, you should look for an LED TV that produces the deepest black levels. Color accuracy is also crucial for producing accurate-looking images on the screen. Our picks for best LED TV overall not only exceed in these areas, but they also offer a wide range of settings so you can calibrate the image to be as precise as possible.

Beyond picture quality, our top picks for best LED TV overall were selected based on the inclusion of must-have features and value for money. Each of these LED TVs feature plenty of streaming options and flexible connectivity via multiple HDMI ports. Finally, our best LED TV selections represent outstanding value for money, delivering a comprehensive overall package without a stratospheric price tag.

Vizio PQ65-F1 65" Quantum 4K HDR TV

Vizio's P-Series Quantum offers top-notch picture quality with accurate colors and a bright image that makes it especially well-suited for HDR content. The PQ65-F1 compares favorably against other sets costing twice as much, and easily earns our top recommendation for Best LED TV. Read Full Review

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    Vizio PQ65-F1 65" Quantum 4K HDR TV

    Sony XBR65X900F 65" 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV

    The Sony X900F is one of the most well-rounded TVs on sale today, seamlessly delivering excellent picture quality and Android-based smart TV flexibility in a sleek, modern package. It's priced reasonably as well, and is definitely worth a look if you're looking to consolidate streaming media into one device. Read Full Review

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      Sony XBR65X900F 65" 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV

      Best Budget LED LCD TV:

      LED TVs have been on the market for decades, and are now considered mature technology. This has resulted in a noticeable drop in prices across the board, and it's now commonplace to find quality affordable TVs from reputable manufacturers. There's no reason to put up with poor black levels, inaccurate colors, or otherwise poor picture quality in order to have a budget-friendly TV; they're now a safe choice whether you're budget-conscious or not.

      TCL 65R617 65" 4K Ultra HD Roku Smart LED TV

      TCL's flagship R617 series is one of the best-performing TVs on sale today, with superb color accuracy out of the box and inky black levels. It's also undeniably one of the greatest TV bargains available, making it a great choice if you want to save room in your budget for other home theater gear. Read Full Review

      TCL 65R617 65" 4K Ultra HD Roku Smart LED TV
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      133 comments
      • Parker Parker

      Wow, this is a great article, and has definitely given me a lot to think about before making my choice. A DISH coworker of mine sent me this link when I told him I was looking to pick up a fourth TV, so this is some great info. See, my family and I recently upgraded our home system to the DISH Hopper. We only have three TVs, though the Hopper will give us full HD and DVR on four, so weve been looking for that perfect fourth set. My sister in-law and her kids just moved in with us, and with only three TVs there have been a few problems with shows being skipped due to DVR timer conflicts, but getting that fourth set will solve the problem. Thanks for the recommendations!

      Posted on 1/17/2013 8:35 am | Reply
      • dbk dbk

      Hi Jeff, Great reviews! You give just the right amount of information. FYI: The Vizio M3D550KD now goes for $1,228 through Amazon. That's almost a 25% price jump from what you mentioned just a month ago. Any ideas why? Perhaps too many good reviews?

      Posted on 11/18/2012 3:55 pm | Reply
      • Sunny Sunny

      Oops, I forgot to include that I am much younger than them obviously, and into computers, audio, video, specs, but I've been learning about surgeons currently (a learning curve that took much time to master)! So, I put off doing current-day research into a medium (video) I am comfortable with mostly. I just tend to get Very nit-picky about the numbers..So, please feel to hit with me with all technical stuff if needed. I know the lumens, contrast ratios, and total pixel counts, and also know that I do have a PS3, so I would love to have a enormous screen and do the whole experience properly, (and finally see what the 3D content is in my games!). Oh, and sound is not a factor in the criteria of a Video product for me. We have a new set of really nice larger size Bose speakers (overpriced, i think) but they were gifted to us, so no complaint there! Oh, I did want to add that Gadgetry sums up better what the Samsung tv excels at from the few reviews i read. Which honestly, doesnt serve our purpose here. I cant afford those additional services, we dont have tablets, smartphones that need to talk to the tv! We dont have microsoft's surface technology either, so all of the SmartHub features are literally wasted, and I think that is half of the selling point that Samsung is basing their marketing platform on, and really, CMR rating? a figure that they arbitrarily created, that is just plain embarrasing to me, to have a number that exists nowhere as a standard other than with them.

      Posted on 7/30/2012 5:11 pm | Reply
      • Sunny Sunny

      Wow, thanks for basically nailing every salient tv that Matters! Well done, it took me 3 days of researching (my parents Act Quickly Once they decide something) to at least know of every set you mentioned, for once I knew of all of the sets you mentioned. Great tip on the value factor of the ST50 series. I noticed its the best selling set in america or some such distinction.BUT, my parents are enjoying their final years and more power to them, they have earned it. So they want the BEST. (but not esoteric like Runco, Faroudja(sp?), Elite (Sharp)) So, we have decided on the gulp, Panni TC-65VT50. My father is able to obtain it from Panasonic directly using a discounted employee plan they offer, for the sum of 2,775.00 [sounds like a no-brainer, 5" larger than the UNES8000 at a lower price, and HIGHER SPECS. My only concern is the brightness. I personally haven't seen a high end Plasma in action for over 4 years, so I cant recall from memory the impression it left upon me now. I need you to reassure me before i pull the trigger that YES, we will be richly rewarded with a jaw dropping picture PERIOD, (buying a tv based purely on written reviews is a bit tense to me). But heck, Kevin Miller calibrated the damn thing himself in the Value Electronics shootout and declared it the giant killer over the Elite primarily based on the color accuracy. Plus it is approx 2,000 more than the VT50 65"...So #1, will I be thrilled with it? Will it hold up to showing everyday content from cable networks and not look shoddy in the process? Since obviously all of the source material cannot be in a pure 1080p format unfortunately..I will find out from Dish (our cable provider) what they offer for HD specs. #2 Where should i buy it? Is Amazon the same as Panasonic themselves in terms of future customer tech support/servicing.#3 is the 3 year extended warranty a Must Have with this caliber of product?#4 I read enough to learn that after 300 hours of operation the Plasma will truly show its full potential. Are there sites you recommend that will instruct me on the initial proper usage of the plasma for the screen particles to evenly age (sorry I am really messing up on the Technical Terms in this sentence, I hope you understand what I'm trying to convey) #5 We have the speakers, but I am assuming that we will need to buy a Really Nice 3D Blu Ray player (the PS3 is a bit dated,cough), a Receiver, and for HDMI, the 3D data speed is that 10.x Gb/sec is needed for proper usage correct?#6 It will require a lot of calibrating on my part to tweak that bad boy to a polished gem. Phew,sorry to hit you with that, but I have a feeling the VT50 demands these types of things from their owners! (e.g., the room in which it is placed should be kept on the dimmer side of things and not have sunlight pouring into it. Truly a Theater room if you will. I am nervous because I have not seen its brightness in action. but the top guys are never wrong, not with all that science to back up all of their statements thru the rigorous testing the Value Electronics' panel of experts put into the test, I mean, black painted walls, rigorous light-meter, Colorimeters, and all that stuff! I apologize for the long wording again. It seems to be the only way to truly talk about stuff like this! thx in advance =) [i will admit, I havent been this excited in a LONG time!] I will have to drive to a nearby store and physically view one just to get at least a rough idea of what plasma is like again, since i have dealt w/LCD this whole time. I just need you to cut thru my ignorance and nervousness and be blunt in your opinion.

      Posted on 8/1/2012 4:41 pm. In reply to Sunny | Reply

      The 'issue' with plasma TV brightness is hugely overblown, and you'll see this sentiment echoed elsewhere. LED LCD TVs can get amazingly bright, but excessive brightness can just as easily ruin overall picture quality. All of Panasonic's higher-end plasma TV models (ST50 and up) feature a 'louver filter' that rejects ambient light, and this feature alone may be worth it for bright room viewing.About your other points:1. The VT50 is one of the best TVs on the market today, but whether you'll be thrilled with its performance is entirely subjective on your part. This may sound like a cop-out, but there's no other way to put it. Otherwise, the VT50 certainly won't be the 'weak link' when it comes to displaying content. Most cable TV providers use compressed content for bandwidth reasons, and depending on the channel, the input resolution will be 1080i or 720p. The TV will convert any incoming signal to its native 1080p, so you won't need to worry about that.2. We recommend Amazon when it comes to purchasing TVs because they're extremely easy to work with. If you have issues with the TV, Amazon's 30-day return policy will cover it. Panasonic should provide customer support for the TV if there are any defects outside the 30-day return period.3. Buying the warranty is up to you. Panasonic makes very high-quality TVs, and the failure rate percentage is in the low single digits. With that said, having a warranty provides peace of mind.4. There's plenty of argument about the 'break-in period' of a plasma TV, but among those who agree it exists, the accepted time frame is 100 hours. This gives time for the phosphors to 'set', ostensibly providing more color consistency and deeper blacks. Try to avoid static images like station bugs or letterbox black bars, and watch a variety of content. Alternatively, there are break-in slides widely available for free. The AVSForum is a great resource when it comes to this.5. None of those items are strictly necessary, but they can definitely add to the experience. We've evaluated A/V receivers and Blu-ray players, so that's a good place to start. As for HDMI cables, Monoprice is the first place I'd look. Don't bother spending the extra money for 'premium' HDMI cables - they either work or they don't. Since they're digital, there's nothing in-between.6. Without specialized tools and a trained eye, there's only so much you can do to calibrate a TV. You can definitely tweak it to look 'more pleasing' to personal tastes, but bringing the display within reference specifications will require a professional calibrator. The VT50 offers a 'Cinema' mode and 'THX' modes, all of which present a more accurate picture.The one solid piece of advice that I can give you is this - go and see the TV in person. All the praise in the world amounts to nothing if you decide that you don't like the TV.If there's anything else that you would like answered, please feel free to ask.

      Posted on 8/2/2012 7:15 pm. In reply to Sunny | Reply
      • Sunny Sunny

      I need your help for the first time. My parents are OLD. they had asked me for input on a 55-60" size screen. I left the house overnight and I came back today to see the UN60ES8000f from Samsung. Now, please help me help them. Little did I know they were going to blow their wad, 2-the Samsung i believe is more packed with extra features/(apps if you will) that I am CERTAIN will cost money to use! They dont spend a damn dollar on tech stuff or services. Some shyster from Video Only worked them into the most overpriced tv on the market from what quick researching I could do. (I am overwhelmed by my health issues, so that takes precedent for me.) BUT, I cannot be in this house with them knowing that for the ridiculous amount they spent on a sub-par product (in terms of just buying a tv for the MAIN reason of PICTURE quality, NOT how many online browsers, apps, what have you come with it. i will not even mention that 3D is wasted upon them. I would stake my life on it. (but then, I would have staked my life that they werent going to spend 3,000 on a tv! Could you please help me and I will just leave it in your capable hands to tell me what you think they should buy if 3,000 seems to be NO problem for them obviously. I mean they got suckered by "Oh, it was ON Sale for 3,000 from 4,000!) I looked online and its 3,000 on Every Site that sells it! So obviously the MSRP of 4,000 was used to justify a supposed 1,000 savings. I KNOW these people. They have no idea of what Vudu, Hulu, Netflix, and SmartHUB even mean! My final comment is that I believe for 3,000 they can basically buy the finest Picture quality in the land. Could you please tell me your thoughts on what models are perhaps going to reward them and ME (I am disabled,in a horrible way and ALL I DO EVERYDAY is watch tv) so, it will play a factor in my life as well. Thanks so much.

      Posted on 7/30/2012 4:24 pm | Reply
      • funkyfryz funkyfryz

      Hey Rob,My dad just retired and is preparing to build his "retirement cave" in the basement. he's never owned a really good Tv and I want to buy him one as a retirement gift. I know absolutely NADA about electronics. I'm hoping to buy him an LED tv in the 700 range. Any suggestions? I want to get the most bang for my buck. I don't need anything too fancy.

      Posted on 7/23/2012 8:54 pm | Reply
      • katiem1 katiem1

      I am not tech savvy, and do not own an HDTV myself, but am thinking of buying one for my father. He is not tech savvy either and he watches alot of sports. I would like a reliable brand ( I was thinking Sony, Sharp, Samsung or LG) but am not sure if I am just paying for a name and sacrificing something in the process. Basically, it has to last a few years, something 40-50", with good picture quality for him to watch football that won't break the bank. Total I would want to spend under $1,000. He probably wouldn't need many bells and whistles. I assume I would want a 120 refresh rate. Do I need motion plus? Any advice and suggestions you could give would be greatly appreciated. And they have a surround sound system that is about 10 years old but is not currently hooked up. Will this work with an HDTV or will I need a soundbar? Would my mother need a blu ray player rather than her regular DVD player? Thanks for your help.

      Posted on 7/8/2012 12:19 pm | Reply

      Good call on deciding to stick with the established brands. While 'off-brand' TVs may seem enticing due to their lower prices, you'll thank yourself for spending the extra money if your set ever has problems in the future.You may be interested in the Samsung UN46EH6000. This is a basic 46-inch LED LCD TV that you can find for well under $1000. It has the 120 Hz refresh rate that you're looking for (Samsung refers to this as '240CMR' - ignore that), but offers only two HDMI inputs.As far as the surround sound system goes, it really depends on the connections. Modern-day HDTVs are not known for their sound quality, so it may be more convenient to invest in a decent sound bar. Vizio makes outstanding sound bars for the money, so you may want to give those a good look.Standard-definition content generally does not look very good on modern HDTVs, so a Blu-ray player is highly recommended. Keep in mind that this will require purchasing Blu-ray discs as well. Some Blu-ray players will 'upscale' standard definition content to 'HD', but the results are often mixed. All of the brands that you mentioned offer affordably-priced Blu-ray players, and you can't really go wrong with any of them.Because it seems like you're building a new system from scratch, you'll need HDMI cables. Avoid the expensive ones sold at brick-and-mortar stores, since they have zero performance benefit over cheaper cables. Monoprice (www.monoprice.com) sells cheap HDMI cables that do the job just fine.Before committing to purchasing anything, I strongly recommend reading our Buyer's Guide.

      Posted on 7/9/2012 1:26 pm. In reply to katiem1 | Reply
      • obxlife obxlife

      Hello, I've been researching flat screen tv's. I am now completely confused. I don't care about 3d, I'd like a 47" with good screen quality. I'd like something that I can connect my laptop to and use as a monitor and to have enough plug ins. I'm basically tech handicaped and would love any input you have. My price range is around $700. And I'm hoping to purchase through Amazon as I do have some credit there. Thank you.

      Posted on 2/8/2012 1:54 pm | Reply

      There are a few TVs that fit your criteria, but each one requires some sort of compromise. LED LCD TVs are generally the most expensive type of HDTV around, so my recommendation is to look for standard CCFL-backlit LCD TVs or entry-level plasma displays. The Sony Bravia KDL-46BX420 LCD TV fits most of your criteria, but you might find it lacking in terms of connectivity. The Panasonic Viera TC-P46S30 plasma TV is also a good option, but it costs more than what you'd like to spend. Otherwise, there's the LG 47LK520 or the Samsung LN46D550. Both of these come closer to fitting into your budget, but at the cost of lesser picture quality.

      Posted on 2/10/2012 11:16 am. In reply to obxlife | Reply
      • pat p pat p

      I'm looking for a 46" LED TV for$600 or less - do you know anything about the Element brand offered by Walmart in the mid 500 dollar range ?

      Posted on 11/26/2011 3:54 pm | Reply
      • JRey JRey

      I recently purchased a Samsung 55" LED (Model # UN55D6050TFXZA) and have noticed some pixelation issues on certain programming. The Golf Channel is a good example - it's as if the TV can't keep up with the club. Occassionally happens with live feeds of football games as well, but I tend to notice it more with recorded content - be it DVR or, say, a recording on SportsCenter. Furthermore, the recorded content is not just isolated to sports shows. Drives me crazy and I'm thinking about returning the set, but am wondering if it's really the television or perhaps the source (AT&T U-Verse). A buddy suggested the connection might be the problem and that I should purchase a Monster cable. But he knows enough about electronics to only qualify as dangerous. Furthermore, the reviews I've read about HDMI cables suggest that the cheap ones (i.e. the one provided by AT&T) are just as good as the expensive ones (i.e. Monster). Any help/suggestions would be very much appreciated!

      Posted on 10/31/2011 5:08 pm | Reply

      AT&T U-Verse has a reputation for serving some of the most compressed 'HD' content around, so that could definitely be the problem. If possible, I'd recommend hooking it up to a Blu-ray player and playing back a Blu-ray disc to see if the problems persist. If not, you know it is most likely the source.I also recommended searching the web for recommended picture settings for your specific model, as that can make a big difference.Expensive HDMI cables are definitely a rip-off (especially Monaster Cable) -- they will provide no noticeable improvement over cheap cables from Amazon.com or Monoprice.Thanks,Jeff

      Posted on 11/1/2011 11:16 am. In reply to JRey | Reply
      • krn42 krn42

      I am new at this site and need help on the purchase of a new 42" TV. I want to purchase a LCD TV but I am somewhat confused by the ads/sale of LED TV's. It is my undestanding that LED TV's are, in fact, LCD TV's and refer to the backlighting for the displays and not the Class of TV's. However, the ads just say LED TV's and do not mention that they are LED/LCD TV's. If it just says LED w/o mentioning LCD, does that mean it is not necessarily a LCD?...krn42

      Posted on 10/2/2011 9:08 am | Reply

      Hi krn42,You'll see plenty of manufacturers pitching 'LED TV' models in their advertisements. You're absolutely right about the design of 'LED TVs' - they are simply LCD TVs with LED backlights - nothing more, nothing less. Furthermore, there is no such thing as a non-LCD LED TV, so don't let the advertisements confuse you too much.Thanks,Jeff

      Posted on 10/10/2011 12:30 pm. In reply to krn42 | Reply
      • Rhonda40 Rhonda40

      Hi Rob, I am looking for the best LED TV under $1200. Hoping for something between 50 and 55". I have been reading and it seems that the lighting of my room is an important factor (my room is fairly dark). I am not big on all the new technology and don't need 3D, but would like something with Internet capability.

      Posted on 8/22/2011 8:49 pm | Reply
      • cruizendude cruizendude

      I'm new too this site. I'm having a difficult time deciding on a 46"LED lcd tv. I've been researching online, at the stores and consumer reports. Thinking maybe a Samsung or a Sony. I want a tv that will last 5- 10 yrs, under $2000, w good picture quality, 1080p, 120or better frame rate, and a good vewing angle. Any suggestions? I currently have a vizio , and the picture quality is kind of pixelated w a narrow veiwing angle. Any suggestions Mr. Rob?

      Posted on 8/6/2011 5:48 pm | Reply
      • tom7044 tom7044

      Hey Rob,You sound like you REALLY know what your talking about so I was wondering if you were going to buy a LED set smaller than a 40" for space reasons what would you get? We bought the Samsung UN46B8500 2 years ago and are so spoiled by the picture, which is amazing...I'd love something just as good but smaller for another room. I know you've said the tech. sometimes of the smaller set of a same model can be different....What's smaller but just as good as my Samsung? Very grateful for your input:)

      Posted on 8/3/2011 9:24 pm | Reply
      • kitty kitty

      Hi Rob. I want a 50'' LED tv with 120Hz or higher, with White back lights for larger color scale, for a large room with 14 windows. I have a budget of 1,800.00 What brand do you recommend? Any comments or advise welcome! Kitty from Tennessee

      Posted on 8/1/2011 2:30 am | Reply
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