Best TV to watch Olympics

How to select the best TV to watch the 2012 London Olympics

The Olympics seems to inspire many people to upgrade to the latest and greatest TV technology. Those who may have been considering waiting for a new technology to become main stream or the prices to come down, sometimes finally pull the trigger in order to be able to enjoy the games better. Today’s high definition, large, flat screen TVs provide such vivid pictures that the viewer can feel like he or she is sitting right in front of the athletes.

This year a new dimension opens up for viewers to immerse themselves in the games, literally. NBC announced that 242 hours of coverage from London will be in 3D. NBC says the coverage will be available to about 80 percent of US viewers, including just about every cable provider, the Verizon Fios TV and DirecTv (sorry, Dish Network customers are not included). The coverage won’t be in real time. Viewers will be able to see the events in full HD 3D the next day. NBC will use Panasonic’s state-of-the-art 3D production technologies and fully-integrated twin-lens Full HD 3D camera recorder products.

The 3D coverage may be a good reason to get a 3D capable TV. Since the original source is Panasonic product, there might be a slight advantage to buying a Panasonic TV. However, that advantage will end once the games are over.

Most of the Olympic sports involve fast movement. Therefore it is important to select a product that is good at following fast changes. In general Plasma TVs have higher refresh rate (for more information see post if LCD or Plasma is a better choice). When buying an LCD (LED) TV, it should have at least a 120 Hz rate.

The bigger the screen the better it is of course. The price point is such today that most customers will buy a 60 inch or bigger screen.

One thing a lot of customers do not consider until they buy an expensive TV is the importance of the quality of the signal going into the TV. The best TV may not help if the signal is not HD quality. The 3D capable TV will not work in 3D unless the signal contains the appropriate information. A good quality signal goes a long way to make the experience enjoyable.

The list below shows some of the better rated products on the market that fit in these categories.

Samsung PN60E6500
The second-highest-rated TV at CNET this year, Samsung’s midrange plasma earns my nod over the Panasonic ST50 (below) for this list by dint of its included pair of 3D glasses. It’s also currently cheaper, and since the two have nearly identical picture quality, aside from the ST50’s light output advantage, the Samsung wins.

Panasonic TC-P60ST50
Our current Editors’ Choice and a superb all-around performer, the ST50 packs a light output advantage over the Samsung above, which may prove beneficial if you watch a lot of daytime events live. It doesn’t include 3D glasses, but Samsung’s $20 specs do work with this Panasonic.

Sharp LC-60LE640U
No, this Sharp doesn’t have 3D, but since the 3D Olympics coverage is on 24-hour delay, you won’t miss it, right? If you can clear that mental hurdle, the 640U is one of the best LED values available, and if you can’t, there’s always the 745U (below).

Sharp LC-60LE745U
Looking for a good value in a 60-inch or larger 3D TV that’s not a plasma? Here’s our pick. The downsides? Its 2D picture quality isn’t quite as good as that of the 640U above and, perhaps just as important for people who want to enjoy 3D sports with their family, Sharp’s glasses are proprietary and expensive.

Panasonic TC-P65VT50

If the price is not a significant issue but picture quality is, this might be the right choice for the Olympics.

  • Screen Type: Plasma, 65 inch, 3D, 1080p
  • Refresh Rate 600 Hz
  • Wi-Fi
  • Internet streaming services Skype FOX sports SHOUTcast AccuWeather VIERA Connect Hulu Plus MLB.tv Pandora YouTub
  • Price: $3,000
  • Benefits: Exceptional picture quality (deep black, vivid accurate colors, uniform appearance over the screen, wide viewing angle without degradation); brighter than most competitors (good for day time viewing); it is expensive for a plasma but much cheaper than LED; great industrial design.
  • Disadvantages: Expensive; higher power consumption than LCD; screen more reflective than matte versions; 3D glasses not included; poor 3D picture crosstalk.
  • Conclusion: Exceptional picture quality for relatively high price.

Sharp Elite PRO-X5FD LED

If price is not an issue but picture quality and having an LCD TV is, this could be the best choice

  • Screen Type: LED-LCD 70 inch, 3D, 1080p
  • LED Backlight type Full-array with local dimming
  • Wi-Fi
  • Internet streaming services: CinemaNow, Netflix, Blockbuster, Pandora, Napster, Facebook, Twitter
  • Price: $7,000
  • Benefits: Very deep black color; great picture quality at non-optimal viewing angles; accurate colors; great shadow details; energy efficient; 3D glasses included; great feature set.
  • Disadvantages: Very expensive; accuracy of blue and green colors could be better; too much reflection.
  • Conclusion: Exceptional picture quality LCD (LED) for a very high price.
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