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This year has arguably been the most revolutionary in the TV world since HD made its first stride towards world domination. Why? Two reasons: 3D and Freeview HD.
We have already written at length about how to choose the best HD service and given our first impressions of 3D TV and it's time to pick the best products on the market.
Regarding 3D, the jury remains out on whether the public really want it; we’re hardly alone in having doubts about how many ‘ordinary folk’ will feel tempted to don a pair of chunky glasses to watch their TVs. Especially when those glasses cost around £100 a pair, making the 3D deal painfully expensive for anyone with a kid or two.
What hasn't helped 3D’s cause either, is that all the 3D TVs we’ve seen so far have suffered with a phenomenon known as crosstalk, where you see ghostly echoes of well-defined objects appearing to either side of the correct ‘central’ image element. This has proved distracting and tiring on all the LCD 3D TVs we’ve seen - which is why no 3D LCD TVs have featured in our top threes this year. Here’s hoping they up their game for 2011.
The only TVs that have suppressed crosstalk sufficiently to make 3D look truly convincing are the Panasonic VT20 range and the LG 47LD950. However, since the latter uses resolution-reducing side-by-side 3D technology, it’s fallen to Panasonic - in conjunction with Sky’s recently launched 3D channel while we await more Blu-rays - to keep the 3D flag flying.
So far, as the mass rather than early adopter market is concerned, it’s arguably Freeview HD that’s really affected most of our reader’s TV lives. Since the service started broadcasting just before Christmas 2009, Freeview HD tuners have already become an almost standard TV feature. This is, of course, a hugely significant development. For it finally, truly, brings HD to the masses - especially as Freeview HD tuners are being integrated into new TVs while adding seemingly very little to their cost. It’s a pity it’s going to take until 2012 for Freeview HD to be available across the whole UK, but even so it’s clear that Freeview HD’s arrival completes the HD revolution.
Other areas showing large improvements this year are LED lighting technologies and online content services. This latter feature is likely to become a major battle ground through 2011.
Turning to projectors, it has been a rather quiet year, at least at the mainstream end of the market, with most ‘innovation’ being based around crazily cheap pricing rather than new technology. The growth of LED lighting has been the biggest technical development, leading both to a splurge of new pocket-sized models, and the arrival of one or two outstanding high-end home cinema models with LED lamps reckoned to last the full lifetime of the projector.
The end of 2010 and early 2011 looks set to be a much more interesting period for projectors thanks to 3D and new LCD tech - watch this space.
Without further ado, let’s get down to the fun business of picking the finest TVs and projectors that have come through our doors since last November.