1st Place: Pioneer Kuro PDP-LX5090
Last year Pioneer's first generation Kuro TV walked away with the top Product of the Year accolade, and this year's second generation Kuro is every bit as impressive. So impressive is the 50in PDP-LX5090 that Riyad bought one before even seeing a review sample - rash perhaps, but his faith in the technology was vindicated by John's glowing 10/10 review.
Pioneer claimed that the second generation Kuro screens offered black levels five times as deep as the first generation sets, which was no mean feat considering that the original Kuro TVs redefined our perception of black level response. Unsurprisingly though, Pioneer's claims were borne out by the PDP-LX5090, with black levels and colours like no other screen on the planet.
The PDP-LX5090 is a great looking TV too, finished in glossy black, while the lack of integrated speakers adds a sleek, minimalist look. You can choose an under-mounted speaker bar or side mounted speakers, but most user will probably be using a dedicated amplifier and surround speakers.
Image quality is simply staggering, with the Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, with 1:1 pixel mapping offering a level of detail that puts almost every other TV to shame. But it's those black levels that really steal the show, and I defy anyone to sit down in front of this TV and not be impressed. Put simply, the Pioneer PDP-LX5090 is the best television that money can buy.
2nd Place: Philips 42PFL9803H
If any company was going to try to match Pioneer for its black level goodness, it was always going to be Philips. The Dutch electronics giant has a penchant for technological innovation, and that shines through in the 42in 42PFL9803H - the company's first LCD TV to incorporate LED backlight technology. Not only does this screen use LED backlighting, which in itself allows for a far wider and more natural colour gamut, but it also employs local dimming.
Local dimming allows the backlight intensity to differ across various parts of the screen - so if an image has a mix of high and low intensity content, the 42PFL9803H will do a better job of resolving all the details in both areas. This local dimming also results in a ludicrously high contrast ratio of 2,000,000:1. As such blacks are truly stunning and come seriously close to Pioneer Kuro levels. Motion is also handled with aplomb.
Like most Philips TVs, this one is a bit of a stunner to look at, and also throws Ambilight in for good measure. The 42PFL9803H doesn't just come close to the Pioneer Kuro PDP-LX5090 when it comes to image quality, it's also nearly as expensive. But sometimes you really do get what you pay for.
3rd Place: Panasonic Viera TH-46PZ81
There's no doubt that Panasonic knows how to build decent plasma panels - this is borne out by the fact that the company will be producing the panels for Pioneer in the future. However, with the PZ81 series of plasmas, Panasonic broke new ground by integrating a high definition tuner into the TV.
The TH-46PZ81 is a 46in plasma with a Freesat HD tuner, a Freeview tuner and an analogue tuner all squeezed into the chassis. So, assuming that you have a satellite dish strapped to your home, you can get HD content - like BBC HD and ITV HD - without the expense of a monthly subscription.
Of course the TH-46PZ81 also benefits from Panasonic's impressive image quality, with deep black levels and punchy colours, while its Full HD 1,920 x 1,080 resolution means that you can view a 1080p source in pixel for pixel clarity.
But despite the TH-46PZ81's party piece integrated HD tuner, and its generous 46in size, it only just scrapes into this category, being that it's now available for just over £1,200. OK, so the TH-46PZ81's pictures don't have quite the same jaw dropping impact as the two TVs above, but it does offer a great mix of performance and features at a very attractive price.