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94cm LCD TVs review

A large-screen TV may look impressive, but it might not be ideal for your room.
 
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01 .Introduction

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In this test you'll find the results for 7 LCD TVs with a screen size of 94cm (37-inch). We have also included details for six models tested that have recently been discontinued according to the manufacturer but may still be available.

Through our rigorous testing we reveal which TVs:

  • Have the best picture quality
  • Have the best sound quality
  • Are the easiest to use
  • Use the least energy on standby and in use
  • Have the most sensitive tuner

Models tested

  • Kogan 108037
  • LG 37LH20D
  • Panasonic TH-L37S25A
  • Samsung UA37C5000
  • Samsung LA37B530P7F
  • Samsung LA37B650T1F
  • Sanyo LCD37XR9SDA
  • LG 37LE5310 (A)
  • LG 37LH35FD (A)
  • LG 37SL80YD (A)
  • Panasonic TH-L37S10A (A)
  • Panasonic TH-L37V10A (A)
  • Toshiba Regza 37AV600A (A)

(A) Discontinued but may be available in some stores.

 Save money on your new television

Our report will save you money for years to come and goes beyond the sales hype to reveal:

  • Whether you really need to spend more on higher resolution.
  • Which of the cheaper models performed best.
  • Which of the televisions cost the least to run.

See all our television reviews.

CHOICE independence is guaranteed These independent ratings are only available through membership with CHOICE Online because no one tests products like we do. Arm yourself with our unique and exclusive information and make your next purchase with confidence.

 
 

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Out of the box

Most TVs are set in the factory to give a very bright display. This is done to try to make sure the TV isn’t overshadowed by other TVs in a showroom. They can provide a better picture and power consumption with some basic changes to their brightness and contrast settings. Some LCD TVs allow you to vary the backlight intensity, which can improve picture and power consumption in some situations.

The simplest way to make changes is to choose from the options in the “picture mode” menu. These usually have names such as dynamic, standard, normal or vivid, as well as many others which may or may not actually give you an idea of what changes they make to the picture. Take time to cycle through them all to see which one is best for your watching conditions.

Some TVs also offer an energy saving mode. It may look a bit dull compared with the very bright out of the box settings, but give it a little time to see if you can get used to it. You can always switch back to a brighter setting if necessary.

Essential features

  • Built-in digital tuner so you don’t have to buy a set-top box to receive digital TV. For most people standard-definition (SD) or high-definition (HD) doesn’t matter, as not much HD TV is being broadcast, but there will be more in future. All the TVs on test are HD and have HD tuners.
  • Look for easy-to-access sockets that allow you to get to the connections for DVD players, cable TV and other devices, particularly if you plan to mount the TV on a wall. Some have additional inputs, usually on one side.
  • Look for a remote control that’s easy to read with large, well-spaced buttons and clear labels.
  • On-screen menus should be easy to read and understand without having to resort to the manual.
  • If you’re likely to lose the remote control, choose a TV with easily accessible controls on the TV itself.
  • All models in this test are wall-mountable. However, none comes with wall mounts, so you have to buy a separate kit.

Connections

Look for easy-to-use sockets that allow you easy access to the connections for DVD players, cable TV and so on. Connections for each TV are listed in the comparison table.

Check that the input connections on the TV match the outputs on the devices you want too hook up to it, such as a DVD player/recorder, cable TV, or game console, and that there are enough connections for all the devices you want to attach at the same time. 

HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) is an all-digital connection for both sound and video in one cable. You may not have any gadgets with HDMI output at the moment but we expect more in the future, so it might be worth looking out for a TV with at least one HDMI socket.

If you want to use your TV as a computer display, you’ll need one with a DVI input for newer computers or a VGA input for older ones. An HDMI socket will do if your computer has an HDMI output, but not many do at the moment. DVI to HDMI adapters are quite inexpensive to purchase.

Which resolution?

It’s easy to get confused in the HD world. High definition for TV sets refers to the number of pixels on the screen — anything above 1366 x 768 is generally considered HD. On the other hand, high-definition sources such as Blu-ray and HD TV broadcasts, can be anything from 720 x 576p at the low end of HD broadcasting up to Blu-ray with 1920 x 1080p. The "p” stands for progressive which gives a more stable picture than an interlaced picture which usually has an “i” after the number.

There isn’t really a simple definition for high-definition TV sets either. However, 80cm or smaller screens with 1366 x 768 pixels or more should be capable of delivering an acceptable image from an HD source. The size of the screen has to be taken into account because it influences the size of individual pixels.

The quality of the image is not necessarily tied to the number of pixels. Colour accuracy, smooth transitions between colours and blacks that don’t look muddy or lose detail are far more important. The TV’s picture processor handles these functions, and more pixels may actually make it harder for the processor to deliver a good image.

This is assuming that most people sit about two metres from the screen. At this distance, we think 1920 x 1080 on an 80cm TV is overkill. To get some benefit from this resolution you’d have to sit about 125cm from the screen.

Comparing TVs in store

Viewing angles have improved in newer models, but some still have a dimmer picture when viewed from different angles, which is important if several people will be watching the TV at once. Stand square on to the screen then walk sideways until you notice the image quality drop. If you normally sit lower than the screen, make sure you try looking up at it as well.

Watch a variety of programs in the shop. Look for natural skin tones and texture on a person in a studio setting, such as a news presenter.
Check the picture for a colour cast, such as a pinkish or greenish.

05.Watching TV over your home network

 

Video content from the Internet is becoming an increasingly important part of our entertainment viewing mix. However most of us want to watch video in the loungeroom rather than in the study or home office. The Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) has been formed to help bridge the gap between content stored on a PC or home network and your regular TV. Companies supporting DLNA include Microsoft and Nokia, as well as home electronics companies such as Panasonic and Sony.

The goal of the alliance is to allow TVs and other home entertainment products to more effectively deal with content stored on a home network or streamed from the internet. Initially, those TVs that support DLNA, such as the Samsung LA37B650T1F, include a network cable (ethernet) connection, where the TV appears on the home network as a device. Future models with wireless capabilities will connect to a wireless or Wi-Fi router and play video, music and images stored on the home network or internet.

Digital tuner performance

Digital tuners pick up the signal from free-to-air digital broadcasts. They tend to deliver either a very good picture, nothing, or an image so badly broken up that it’s unwatchable. So it’s important to know how they’ll perform in difficult circumstances.

Even the poorest tuners in this test will handle most problems. The lower scoring models are likely to have a problem in particularly difficult circumstances, such as where there’s a lot of electrical equipment in use nearby.

They’re all high definition tuners which means they can accept and display both high and standard definition (SD) channels. Some free-to-air broadcasters are introducing different programs on their HD and SD channels, so an HD tuner has some advantage over an SD in that it gives you some more choice of programs, as well as higher resolution and better sound quality.

How much power do they use?

Although the amount of energy used by each TV when on standby is small, it adds up quickly across the nation. The more we can reduce the constant load on the electricity grid the less demand there will be for base load power.

The new standard for measuring TV energy consumption when in use requires “out of the box” settings, so our power consumption figures in the table take this into account. LCD generally consume less power than plasma TVs of the same size, but there’s a clear indication that higher resolution will mean more power use when running. Although the increase isn’t great, it’s yet another reason not to spend extra on resolution you don’t need.

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