I’m not going to tell you that a high-end LCD TV isn’t better than a cheap one, but the difference in quality may not be worth the difference in price.
I’ve reviewed TVs from several manufacturers including Sharp, Samsung, Sony and Vizio and I’ve spent a fair amount of time in stores comparing different brands. And while I can sometimes find some difference in picture quality, I’ve yet to find a huge difference.
If you have access to a store that sells a variety of brands, see for yourself by watching the same source program on a variety of TVs. If you see a difference, it’s likely to be minor.
I thought about this today when I went out to buy a new TV for our bedroom. We don’t watch TV there much so I wasn’t looking for the highest possible quality. I started out with a 32-inch TV but realized that it was a bit too small because of the distance between the bed and where we keep the TV. I then noticed that Sears was selling Seiki 37 and 39-inch Seiki sets for $299 and $297 respectively (click here to see both). I never heard of the brand but the specs on these sets was what I wanted — 1080p resolution and 3 HDMI inputs for my satellite tuner, Roku Internet streaming device and BluRay player) so I took home a 39-inch model knowing I could return it if it doesn’t work out.
The Seiki SC391TS has some flaws but the picture and sound are great. I’m not sure if it’s as good as a Sony or other high-end set, but its quite good and the flaws I noticed were pretty minor. For example, to change inputs you need to press the Source button and an up or down arrow instead of just one key). I also found the stand to be slightly flimsy but hardly a problem. Of course I don’t know how long this set will last but I’d be very surprised if I have any problems with it for two or three years and, by that time, there will be better and cheaper sets on the market.
The difference between the 32 and 39 inch models is enormous in the room where I’m using the TV but the difference between a cheap and expensive model is pretty small.
My living room TV, which I bought several years ago, is a 55-inch Vizio model. It was one of the cheapest sets at the time and it still works great.