There are lots of sales on TVs right before the Super Bowl. But how do you know if the television that's on sale is going to be a great set in the long run?
Consumer Reports' tests can help you find a TV that really scores.
Consumer Reports' TV labs are lined with dozens of LCD and plasma sets. Of course there are ones that are 3D-capable, and plenty that are Internet-enabled.
Each television faces more than 10 tests. One sizes up picture quality at an angle in order to find out how far to the side you can sit and still get a good view.
Chris Andrade of Consumer Reports says, "In general, plasmas don't have a viewing angle issue, but it's a mixed bag when it comes to LCDs."
Testers also evaluate black levels in different lights. Even in bright lights, LCDs hold their black levels. But on some plasmas, the image washes out.
Consumer Reports also evaluates sound quality.
As TVs got slimmer, sound quality suffered. But the latest tests show that audio is improving.
And what about 3D? With more and more sets offering 3D as a feature, Consumer Reports created new test patterns to assess the quality of the 3D picture.
Andrade says, "Some of our top-rated sets are 3D, while providing you with excellent 2D picture quality. But you're going to pay more for a 3D set. However, those prices are dropping."
When purchasing a TV, Consumer Reports says people often buy a set that's too small for their room. For instance, if you sit eight to ten feet away from your TV, consider a 50 to 60-inch screen.
The 60-inch Panasonic Viera TC-P60S30 rated excellent for picture quality and has good black levels and audio. It costs $1400. And the remote is easy to use.
If that's a little too much TV for your budget, the same set comes in a 50-inch size. The Panasonic Viera TC-P50S30 also rated very good and costs $800.