Motion processing, refresh rates, viewing angles and colour are the key factors
If you’re reading this then you obviously care about your sports and how they look on your TV.
We’ve already brought you guides on the current best picks for gaming TVs, 4K Ultra HD, budget TVs and good family sets but now it’s time to be that bit more specialist.
Whether you’re looking for the best TV for football or any other sport, the demands are largely the same. In assessing what will make a good TV for sports, we will, of course, assess motion handling as a primary concern.
Most of the TVs currently on the market are based on LCD/LED technology so screen refresh rates, backlight technology and motion processing become more important factors than in your general day-to-day viewing.
Viewing angles may also be important as sport watching, more than any other form of TV, can be a social event and you don’t want your guests seeing washed out pictures when they’re stuck out on the wing.
Colour accuracy, as ever, is also important. An unnaturally luminous green pitch or your team appearing to be wearing the wrong shade of colour is off-putting and can lessen the immersion factor, so that’s something else to look at.
Although whatever TV you currently have, you can make some simple picture adjustments to help with all that.
But let’s take a look at the current best choices for a new sports TV…
If you move very fast, you can still grab yourself a plasma TV and we think that if sports viewing is of major importance to you, they’re still a better choice than most LED TVs. The TX-P42X60B is available from one very notable retailer for the not-especially-princely sum of £299.99 (September 2014) and we think that represents outstanding value. OK, it’s not a Full HD TV – only HD Ready – but you’re not likely to notice from typical sitting distances and the silky smooth motion handling, deep contrast levels and colour fidelity are more than enough compensation for any loss of resolution. Plasma might be on its last legs in the high street but the X60 is proof that its death is probably premature so grab one while you can.
This Sony comes in choices of 42-, 50- and 55-inch, with prices (September 2014) starting at £580 and going up to £999, via the £829 mark. It even has a special Football Mode which attempts to recreate the audio ambience of a stadium. We’ll leave you to make your own judgements on that (it’s rubbish) but there’s no doubt the W829 delivers on the picture front. Odd as it may sound, opting for the ‘Movie’ mode in the Scene Select menu – and not Sports – will give you the most lifelike colours and Sony’s combination of Motionflow interpolation and backlight scanning technology, capable of 800Hz refresh rates, makes this one of the best TVs on the market for sports, right now. And if you like playing a bit of FIFA on your console, the W829 has very low input lag for gamers!
An IPS panel means this TV looks good from almost angle you view it from. Faithful colour representation has always been high on LG’s agenda and the LB730 certainly provides that, with natural greens for the turf and highly realistic primary colours for strips. LG’s Triple XD picture engine features TruMotion interpolation technology, which keeps movements crisp and clear and the LB730 can blink its backlight at 800Hz, which also helps. This TV comes in a large variety of size options – 42”, 47”, 55”, 60” and 65” – with prices (September 2014) beginning at around £560. The LB730 also comes with LG’s market-leading Smart TV platform so you can keep up with anything you miss with the built-in catch-up services.
With the typical sporting event featuring bright colours, the AS650 makes an excellent choice. To complement the faithful colour palette, this Panasonic features a mighty 1200Hz backlight scanning capability and Intelligent Frame Creation motion processing technology, which keeps things smooth on-screen. The AS650 comes in 42-,47-,50-,55- and 60-inch options with each packing the Freetime app for access to all the major UK catch-up services, so you can get at Match of the Day or Champions League highlights whenever you like.
Panasonic’s Smart TV platform also boats the my Stream recommendation feature so the AS650 will bring up plenty of further action for you to watch, without you having the bother of seeking it out. Whilst the speakers on-board this mid-range TV are reasonable, you might want to consider an out-board solution, if you really want maximum atmosphere. Nonetheless, the Panasonic AS650 is a great choice for sports lovers everywhere and it, too, features crowd pleasing viewing angles.
As with all our other articles, we’ll be keeping this one bang up to date, as and when new TVs come along that are worthy of inclusion.
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