Not everyone can afford the premium prices that the latest top-end TVs demand. So, if the models in our recent Best 3D TVs of 2011 round-up are out of your reach, read on.
A few weeks ago we tested Sony’s end-of-range 32EX403, and found it to be a quite massive bargain thanks to the way its price had been gradually reduced since it first appeared in 2010. This got us to thinking that there might be plenty of other bargains out there too. And indeed, it didn’t take much searching at all to find all manner of crazy TV deals littering the Internet. So, if the models in our recent Best 3D TVs of 2011 round-up are out of your reach, here - with a polite reminder that these deals are only likely to be available for a reasonably short time - are the top six bargain TVs our research managed to uncover at the time of writing...
-Best Budget TVs 2011:£350 - £600-
Full Review:Samsung LE40C650
Price found: £520
This is the second Samsung TV featured here, but we make no apologies whatsoever for including it. For as with its plasma sets, the more Samsung seems to have become focused on its edge LED flagship TVs, the better the bargains seem to get with its ‘ordinary’ CCFL LCD TVs.
Not that the 40in LE40C650 is in actuality remotely ordinary. In fact, despite its knockdown price it features a Freeview HD tuner, Samsung’s Internet@TV online service (including the BBC iPlayer, Twitter, LoveFilm, Facebook and YouTube), extensive multimedia playback from USB or DLNA PCs, a really pretty design (featuring subtle injections of colour on some variations) and some of the best picture quality ever seen from a ‘straight’ LCD TV. Black levels, in particular, are terrific for such an affordable CCFL LCD TV.
The set doesn’t have any 3D capabilities, but if this doesn’t matter to you then we’d suggest that the LE40C650 is where the smart money should be heading right now - until they’ve all sold out, anyway - rather than in the direction of Samsung’s edge LED models.
Price found: £585
We could barely believe our eyes when we found this now-venerable Sony set still widely available. After all, we reviewed it way back in March 2010 - so long ago, in fact, that it was then the very first Freeview HD TV we’d seen! Presumably the 40EX503’s continued existence is down to persistent demand created by the fact that it’s rather excellent - one of Sony’s most accomplished combinations of value, functionality and performance.
It doesn’t have 3D - no bad thing, actually, judging by Sony’s past issues with 3D playback - but otherwise it’s surprisingly well equipped for its money, with its Freeview HD tuner being joined by Sony’s still-impressive Bravia Internet Video system (complete with the BBC iPlayer and Demand 5 catch up services), 100Hz processing, and Sony’s Bravia Engine 3 processing.
Its pictures are very impressive for a CCFL TV too, thanks in particular to some excellent sharpness with HD, good upscaling of standard definition, and pleasingly uniform and reasonably deep black levels.
The £585 deal shown here includes a free 5-year warranty if you buy the set in-store before June 30th, plus you can get better prices still - below £500 from richersounds.com, in fact - if you also trade in your current TV.
Full Review:Toshiba 37RV753
Price found: £350
Few sets better exemplify the success of Toshiba’s focus on the budget end of the TV market over the past couple of years than this excellent-value, still-widely-available 37in 2010 model. Obviously its main appeal is the simple fact that it’s a 37in LCD TV that only costs £350. But this certainly isn’t our sole reason for including it in our collection of top bargain TVs. In fact, the really key thing about the 37RV753 is that as well as being cheap, it’s actually quite good!
Pictures are bright, colourful yet also pretty rich in contrast by CCFL LCD standards, delivering black levels that are at least good enough to look natural during all but the very darkest of scenes.
Its features are a cut above the budget norm too, especially the inclusion of a Freeview HD tuner and some (slightly limited but still impressive for this price point) DLNA and USB multimedia playback facilities.
We rated this set a 9 for value when we reviewed it in October with a £430 price tag, so you can comfortably nudge this mark up to a 10 or, heck, even an 11, now it’s broken the £350 price level.