Although computers and smart phones play an integral role in family life, the individual nature of their use is very personal and solitary. High-Definition Televisions (HDTVs), on the other hand, continue to be a central focus for families as the entertainment hub for television and movies, and the latest models are working to integrate music, web browsing and more.
We’re also seeing the arrival of 3D as more than just a gimmick, and the latest HDTVs are incorporating 3D either via glasses, or in some cases without: LG’s Cinema 3D TVs being just one highly-recommended example. These days, the ability to produce crystal clear widescreen HD images is no longer a selling point; you must look even deeper at what else the HDTV has to offer.
Here’s a closer look at five of today’s best HDTVs and 3DTVs and a buying guide you should consider when contemplating purchasing them. Keep in mind that specific models may vary depending on the screen size you are looking for.
Panasonic TC ST50 Series
Panasonic provides a number of features in addition to HD signals and a reasonable price, making the TC ST50 series a great choice for families who don’t need to buy the top-of-the-line models. If you’re looking for 3D features, the TC ST50 series uses 3D eyewear and also has the ability to convert 2D images into a simulated 3D. We also love the super-slim built-in subwoofer which helps make the audio experience feel more theater-like. And one of the coolest things about nearly any Panasonic Viera-branded HDTV you’ll buy is the ability to download an app to your smartphone or tablet and use that device as your TV’s remote control or even as a control for specific games designed to be played on Panasonic TVs.
Sharp Quattron Smart 3D TV
The Quattron Smart 3D TV from Sharp delivers a number of features that may someday be standard on all TVs, but for now are tough to get all in one place. It’s got built-in apps to quickly allow you to stream videos and programs over services like Netflix, Vudu and CinemaNow, as well as social network integration with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. There’s also built-in wife so you don’t need to worry about hooking the Sharp Quattron Smart 3D TV up to an Ethernet or other cable to enjoy this streaming content. And the Quattron branding is indicative of Sharp’s patented use of adding a yellow pixel to the traditional red, green and blue ones that make up standard HDTV displays, which (according to Sharp) creates deeper and more vivid colors. One other cool feature of this HDTV: the ability to switch glasses into 2D mode, so that family and friends can all make their own choice as to whether to view content simultaneously in 2D or 3D.
Vizio Theater 3D Edge Lit LED with Vizio Internet Apps
With four battery-free 3D glasses included, Vizio’s Razor LED technology allows for the screen to get brighter and darker than many standard HDTVs, producing more detailed colors in full 1080P HD. The Vizio Theater 3D Edge Lit LED also has built-in Wi-Fi features and apps to allow for on-demand streaming of TVs and movies, as well as access to web browsing, music and more. To make all of this easier, there’s a Bluetooth remote with a full QWERTY keyboard. It’s one of the best HDTVs and 3D TVs out there.
Samsung LED 6420 Series Smart TV
Samsung is bringing HDTVs and 3DTVs to the cloud with what it calls the AllShare DLNA technology. Essentially, with a little work in connecting them all to the AllShare network you can access content straight from your PC, camera or other mobile devices, and view them on your Samsung HDTV. The other Smart TV features on the Samsung LED 6420 Series Smart TV include apps from Netflix, Blockbuster, Hulu Plus, YouTube, ESPN, Pandora, Facebook and Twitter, as well as an integrated search function which lets you easily seek out content across all these platforms as well as your own personal AllShare network. The Samsung LED 6420 Series Smart TV also comes equipped with 4 HDMI inputs as well as 3D glasses and the ability to convert 2D content to 3D.
Sony XBR Internet TV
Sony’s Bravia XBR Internet TV is made of gorilla glass, the same lightweight and durable material most smartphone screens are made of. By combining this with the OptiContrast panel, Sony promises that the XBR Internet TV can minimize light reflections while enhancing picture clarity. If the sleek design doesn’t grab your eye, a full suite of Internet features to allow on-demand streaming and social networking make the Sony XBR Internet TV an easy choice to quickly connect and mount to the wall to become the entertainment hub of your home right out of the box.