Eye Candy Galore: Five Stunning TVs That Will Make Great Gifts
Buying an HDTV is often like a buying a car, where you find yourself overwhelmed with choices and confronted by salespeople and/or friends and family trying to steer you this way and that. But if you go in with a game plan based strictly on your needs, you can’t go wrong with one of these stellar TVs below.
Last year, Smart TVs were a take-it-or-leave-it option. This year, it’s pretty standard to have Wi-Fi and smart apps built in even though there are tons of outboard media streaming devices out there like the Apple TV, Roku, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV — well, you get the picture.
Also, last year, “4K” Ultra HDTVs were a luxury. This year, well, they’re still expensive, but the price drop has come quicker than might’ve been expected, and you can find some decent name-brand 4K HDTVs for under $1,500.
For all and intents and purposes, we said a sad good-bye to the Plasma screen this year with Panasonic and Samsung ending production (but you can still buy them and should—our pick is below). But there’s hope if you’re a stickler for PQ (that’s picture quality for you non-TV geeks): the new “Curved” OLED HDTVs are suitably lustworthy. You’ve got to go see one in person. Then wait till next year for the prices to drop. (And we also put one on here anyway because, hey, it doesn’t hurt to ask Santa!)
On top of that, the average prices of TVs continue to go down. We live in a world where a 50″ Panasonic LED HDTV can go on sale for $199 on Black Friday, and it isn’t as insane as it sounds. But it’s still amazing.
If you’re fan of TVs, this is a great year to upgrade your TV and buy one for somebody who needs a new set. Let’s check out our picks for the best HDTVs of the 2014 holiday season:
Buy This for the Eclectic Risk-Taker
TCL Roku TV 48FS4610R 48-Inch 1080p LED Smart HDTV (2014)
If you want a smart TV and you love Roku but think they are redundant (mostly), then Roku has teamed up with Chinese TV maker to produce Smart HDTVs with Roku built in! I bet that solved your first world problems!
We’re not going to try to tell you that TCL is on par with Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Sony or even Vizio. But plenty of people are happy with this set, and while it may not have reference-level picture quality, it does have novelty going for it. And it’s priced to sell.
There’s also a 40-inch model (40FS4610R) and 50-inch model (55FS4610R) in the series.
Random spec geekout: Built-in 2×2 dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi, 120Hz refresh rate, 3 x HDMI inputs, edge-lit LED panel, Roku remote.
MSRP: $500 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $398
- Pros: Roku branding. Dual-band Wi-Fi. Good price point.
- Cons: TCL doesn’t have a great track record yet, but there’s always a first time for everything, right?
Buy This for the Smartypants With Good Looks and Money to Spare
Samsung UN55HU8550 55-Inch 3D Smart LED 4K Ultra HDTV (2014)
No “best of” HDTV list would be complete without a Samsung. They are the leader of the pack for good reason, and this 4K Ultra HD 3D LED Smart HDTV (say that three times) rattles off the checklist of pretty much every bell & whistle you’d want on a TV, including optional motion and voice control.
After all is said and done, what you really want is superb picture quality, and this TV delivers, beautifully framed by a minimalist 0.3″ bezel.
There are a plethora of other sizes in the HU8550 Series to meet your needs: 50-inch, 60-inch, 65-inch, 75-inch and an awesome 85-inch.
Random spec geekout: 3840 x 2160 resolution (UHD 4k). Quad-core processor. UHD dimming. Active 3D (4 x glasses included). 4 x HDMI inputs.
$4,000 ($2,000 avg. street price) | Lowest Price on Ben’s: N/A
- Pros: Does everything you want in a modern TV and more. Razor-thin bezel. Excellent remote. Includes four pairs of 3D glasses.
- Cons: It will cost you, but ultimately it’s not outrageous for what you get.
Buy This for the Nostalgic (i.e. Plasma Fan)
LG 50PB6650 50-Inch 1080p 600Hz Plasma Smart HDTV (2014)
Yeah, yeah, plasma’s dead. Well, the technology may be going away, but it still offers a fantastic picture for a great price, which means you’ll be able to find some sizzling deals on Plasma TVs this holiday season.
For the value, the LG 50PB6650 is one of the best remaining Plasmas out there. You can find this 50-inch screen for under $600, and around Black Friday, it’s sure to go back under $500 where we saw it earlier this year.
Random spec geekout: 600Hz Sub Field Driving. LG Smart TV. 3 x HDMI inputs (MHL).
MSRP: $900 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $499
- Pros: Bargain basement price. Great Plasma picture quality. Built-in Smart TV.
- Cons: The last of its kind. Smart TV is not LG’s new WebOS.
Buy This for the Parent or Grandparent
VIZIO M422i-B1 42-Inch 1080p Smart LED TV (2014)
If you don’t want all the fanciness, but just a solid performer that has many great customer reviews and might actually be something you see while strolling through Costco (yes, it’s there), then the Vizio M-Series TVs are an excellent choice.
It has solid picture quality with very good motion handling for sports programming (effective refresh rate of 240Hz with enhanced Clear Motion 720). It’s also got Vizio’s Internet Apps Plus with major apps like Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus and Netflix.
The Vizio M422i-B1 42-inch TV is just the right size for most living rooms and larger bedrooms but there are many other sizes in the series: 32-inch, 49-inch, 55-inch, 60-inch, 65-inch, 70-inch and even 80-inch.
Random spec geekout: Full Array LED backlighting. Effective 240Hz refresh rate with Clear Motion 720 enhanced refresh. Vizio Internet Apps Plus. 4 x HDMI inputs.
MSRP: $500 | Lowest Price on Ben’s: $500 w/ $200 Gift Card.
- Pros: Crowd-pleaser with good picture and all the important features like plenty of HDMI inputs (4), high refresh rate and built-in Wi-Fi.
- Cons: May be too middle-brow for the most discerning TV aficionados.
Buy This for the One Who Has It All
LG 55EC9300 55-Inch 1080p 3D Curved OLED HDTV (2014)
Plasma fans, there is hope and it is called OLED. With a picture quality that has won rave reviews from all quarters, this LG Curved 55-inch OLED HDTV has no rivals. It’s also gratuitously expensive, but what did you expect?
Adding to the sheer beauty is the startlingly thin body with curves to match (yes, we’re still talking about a TV).
Random spec geekout: OLED panel which can refresh images as fast as 0.1 microseconds and gives absolute black. WebOS Smart TV. 4 x HDMI inputs. 0.17 inches at its thinnest point. Standard 1920 x 1080 resolution. 4 pairs of 3D glasses included.
$4,000 ($3,499 avg. street price) | Lowest Price on Ben’s: N/A
- Pros: Ridiculously good picture quality and amazingly thin.
- Cons: Ridiculously expensive.