Things move quickly in the tech world, and when it comes to home theatre television it is one of the most turbulent categories we look after. Prices have tumbled this year, but don't look for this to continue as many companies are looking to increase prices by up to 30 per cent in the new year. So what TV should you be investing in from the last 12 months?
Looking back on a year of reviewing televisions, there are a couple of things that have stood out to us as significant. The first was of a television we may not see for another 12 months or more — Pioneer's Extreme Contrast Concept exhibited at CES in Las Vegas. There, black was truly black. Matte black. Indistinguishable from the black curtains. It was truly remarkable.
2008 also saw the adoption of several new technologies, particularly in LCD. The most overhyped of these was 100Hz, which while appearing to make a picture smoother actually caused problems elsewhere. Though the new Motionflow 200Hz is the best motion compensation engine yet, we'd still leave it off.
A positive one, however, was LED backlighting. It's a technology capable of providing deeper blacks, and more natural colours, and also works in some small way to make the television slimmer. LED-backlit televisions, the Samsung LA46A950 and the Sony Bravia KDL-46XBR45 both impressed us with their almost plasma-like image quality. The same two televisions also led the charge for media streaming capabilities with their DLNA compatibility, but we'd still rather use a PC or PlayStation 3 for that.
Style was also high on the agenda this year, and LG led the way with a bunch of pimped-out televisions based on its Scarlet concept. Meanwhile, Samsung had its glass-blown Crystal Design and Sony persevered with its increasingly ridiculous "floating glass" design.
Though they're pretty prolific now, the NEC PXT-32XD3 was the first 32-inch plasma we saw, and while not amazing it was proof that the technology was still able to adapt.
We've chosen a handful of televisions that have really stood out to us this year, and which have really pushed the price versus performance envelope. Though the charge was lead by LCD this year, our favourite television was definitely the Panasonic TH-42PZ800A with excellent image quality and a nice price. It's a pity we won't get to see any Pioneer plasmas in the office before the new year as we've been quite impressed by what we've seen of the ninth-gen Kuros so far. Oh well, they can fatten next year's round-up. Our picks from the past year are as follows