When it comes to home cinema - contrast and colours count
We guess the very definition of home cinema is kicking back and enjoying a movie in the comfort of your own home.
We don’t know about you but regardless of whether your TV is Full HD or Ultra HD 4K, we think films should be watched in low light conditions – just like at the cinema – so black levels and contrast performance are critical. Considering the great lengths that movie production goes to in ensuring colours match the industry standards, we think your TV should to, so accurate viewing modes will also be an important factor.
Films are, more often than not, shot at frame rates you don’t get with broadcast TV so the ability for a television to portray 24 frames per second correctly is another consideration. Finally, and this will be a given in with each of the TVs on the list, size matters so we make no apologies for going large!
As with all our articles we’ll be keeping this one regularly updated as new TVs hit the market. Remember, we've already brought you guides to the best current choices for gaming TVs, 4K Ultra HD, budget TVs, sports and good all-rounders
With 4K Blu-ray just confirmed for Summer 2015, you might want to get set for the Resolution Revolution by equipping yourself with an Ultra HD TV. And whilst you’re waiting for the physical format, you can make use of the various UHD streaming and download services soon to be accessible through Samsung’s Smart TV platform. Netflix 4K is already up and running and Amazon’s is soon to be with us, so you’ll have plenty to keep you going and the Samsung HU8500 will do so in fine style.
In case the photo doesn’t give it away, the UE65HU8500 is one of the ‘new’ curved beasts and, just now and again, the bend lends an extra sense of depth to shots. The Movie picture is also extremely accurate, the dimming system provides very deep blacks and the motion handling is flawless. The 55UE8500 is currently priced around £2,199, whilst the 65-inch model will set you back the best part of £4,000. Not cheap, certainly, but this is one classy beast.
The TX-48AS640B is a TV with a bit more of a realistic price-point but still with great picture performance. As well as the 48-inch reviewed, there are also 42- and 55-inch models available, with prices (September 2014) beginning at £429. Unlike most of Panasonic’s LED TV range, this one provides deep native blacks so it’s not embarrassed when the lights go down and the True Cinema viewing mode is as faithful - in colour terms - to source as you are likely to need.
The AS640 also boasts an excellent Smart TV service, with plenty of video streaming services and handles film content at its native frame rate perfectly well. It’s also a pretty good 3D TV, too, so if that’s your thing, you’ll be well catered for there and there are free 3D glasses in the box. All in all, this a TV for movie lovers not wishing to spend the earth and well worth your consideration! You might even have enough money left over for a decent sound system to go with your new TV.
Apologies if this is our second 4K TV to make the cut but it’s so good, we couldn’t resist. This isn’t one you’re going to necessarily need a set of speakers to go with, either, as those either side of the screen are imposing from both sound and design perspectives. The video processing is so good that sources even well below 4K resolutions can look great and Blu-rays are delivered with absolute fidelity.
Excellent contrast levels, brilliant motion handling and some of the most precise colours we’ve ever measured all combine to produce one of the very best pictures we’ve seen in 2014 and the Smart TV Ultra HD ecosystem is growing by the month. Like Samsung, in addition to the existing Ultra HD Netflix app, Amazon’s service is on the way and nobody treats 4K quite as seriously as Sony so you’re sure to be well catered for going forwards. Stellar picture performance often equates to premium pricing and this is the case here; the KD-65X9005 retails for around £3,349 whilst the 55X9005B is a more affordable £2,399.
It had been an awfully long time in coming but when the LG EA980 finally did arrive, boy was it worth the wait. Nothing before has done black levels and dynamic range like OLED and this 55-inch curved TV is a work of art, both inside and out. LG’s engineers have even managed to find a way of providing a decent set of speakers in this ultra-thin telly by secreting them in the semi-transparent base. As well as virtually infinite contrast levels, the 55LA980 gives you astonishingly colours and exquisite motion handling, making it the best TV we’ve seen for movies ever.
It’s definitely not one for the gamers, however, there are better TVs for that but it’s certainly one for the connoisseurs with picture quality that simply has to be seen to be believed. You also get an absolutely superb Smart TV platform with a wealth of movie streaming services. Whilst it’s not exactly inexpensive, prices are tumbling quite rapidly, and at a current (September) online price of £2,999.95, we think it’s competitive for bleeding-edge technology. We dearly want OLED to be the future of TV tech and if it carries on like this, we see no reason why it shouldn’t be!
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