We’re big fans of Plasma Televisions at AVForums and when it comes to providing value for money, at larger screen sizes, they’re a difficult proposition to beat. Due to the popularity of ultra-thin LCD TVs, we’ve seen a few manufacturers drop out of the plasma market in recent years, leaving us with just Samsung, LG and Panasonic to fight it out. It’s a shame as we feel consumers are often sacrificing picture quality at the expense of designer styling but at least the manufacturers that do remain understand the need to produce quality images at a price that won’t break the bank. With the sales upon us, now should be a good time to snap up a budget plasma television at a recession beating price and we’re here to help you look beyond the advertising and sales hype by bringing you our rundown of the Top 5 Budget Plasma TVs.
This 51 inch Full HD Plasma TV shares many of the same qualities that have made Samsung’s higher-end plasmas such a hit this year. This budget plasma television comes equipped with Freeview HD for subscription-free high definition goodness and boasts excellent black levels and contrast performance and, unlike LCD technology, plasma delivers the same level of performance from whatever angle it’s viewed from. The fact that Samsung can deliver such great images for such a modest price tag is astonishing when you consider what a 50 inch plasma TV would have set you back just a few years ago. Not only that but owners also have a choice of jumping on the latest industry bandwagon as the Samsung PS51D550 is a Full HD 3D TV, to boot, although 3D glasses will need to be purchased separately as there are none in the box. Mark Hodgkinson recently reviewed the D550 for AVForums and had no qualms in handing it a much sought after Recommended Badge, as we consider it a strong contender for the title of best value plasma TV from the current crop. If you’re looking for a cheap plasma TV but don’t want to sacrifice picture quality, you could certainly do worse than put the Samsung PS51D500 Full HD 3D TV on your demo list.
We’ve covered just about every other Panasonic Plasma TV in 2011 so we’re well aware of the merits the world’s leading plasma manufacturers displays bring to the table. Not only do they lead the industry in providing the best black levels - the backbone to great contrast performance - but they manage to do so at prices that won’t make your eyes water. The Panasonic TX-P50U30B boasts Panasonic’s latest, generation 14, Full HD Plasma Display Panel that combines accurate out of the box colour performance (in True Cinema mode) with super fluid movement, particularly with Blu-ray discs. Anyone looking for a plasma TV for gaming should consider the Panasonic U30 as this 50” plasma possesses ultra-fast response to controller input, meaning low input lag figures and the chance to get the drop on your online opponent. This 50 inch widescreen Full HD 1080p plasma TV with Freeview HD built-in is available online for under £550, at current prices, and as such is one of the cheapest plasma TVs on the market; but don’t let that put you off as this Panasonic Viera delivers truly price-defying performance.
Steve Withers got the chance to spend quality time with the PW450 back in September 2011 and was left staggered that the Korean manufacturers could pack so features in to a budget plasma TV and still make a business of doing so. The PW450 is a HD Ready television that even manages to be 3D Plasma at this lowly price-point. Featuring 2D to 3D conversion processing and a Freeview HD tuner, this 50inch plasma also looks the part with its ‘razor frame’ allowing images to virtually float from the screen. LG haven’t skimped in providing all the controls necessary to produce the very best images from the 450 and Steve manage to dial in near reference performance, which when you consider that this is very much in the realms of the bargain basement, is a real credit to the LG Plasma campaign. The PW450 HD Ready 3DTV also comes in a 42” screen size - in the 42PW450 - and Steve Withers also had chance to cover that model here that performed largely the same as its 50” 3D Plasma stable mate.
Sharing much of the same technology employed in the D550, mentioned earlier, this 43” plasma TV promises excellent performance for a low premium and may just fit in to the space where a 50” TV won’t. This HD Ready TV benefits from Samsung’s, typically contemporary, styling whilst also offering very respectable contrast performance and all the other advantages plasma TVs offer - wide viewing angles, smooth motion and perfect screen uniformity. Whilst some may be put off by the lack of Full HD 1080p compatibility, we’d urge readers to consider they may not be missing out on a display of this size; as to appreciate the higher resolution, owners would need to be within 6 feet of the screen. The PS43D550 is capable of playing back a wide variety of media files via USB as well as offering Anynet+, allowing users with compatible equipment to use the TV’s remote to control them. High definition material is sure to look a treat on this bargain plasma TV and we’re sure it’s well worthy of consideration for all you bargain hunters out there, especially as we’ve soon online prices close to £300!
This cheap Panasonic plasma boasts a Full HD 1080p panel and is an excellent performer at this price-point, there’s no doubt. Given the contrast heavy images, with excellent and consistent black levels, we think we’d struggle to find much competing in the budget TV sector of the market. There’s also full Viera Connect integration to take care of those with an urge for some Smart TV action. Mark Hodgkinson, who reviewed this Viera in November 2011, was very impressed scoring it an overall ‘Excellent’ with it drawing favourable comparisons to the pricier TX-P42G30B, he also reviewed earlier in the year. This Full HD Plasma TV with Freeview HD tuner will show a clean pair of heels to the majority of televisions at the price point, in terms of picture quality, and in the evening time, with lights down low, it will even likely satisfy those with videophile sensibilities. If you’re looking for an affordable plasma TV but don’t want to compromise on quality, the Panasonic TX-P42S30B, and Panasonic TX-P50S30B, should be right up your street!
If you need help on choosing a plasma TV or wish to discuss anything about plasma televisions, visit the plasma forums.