5 top 2014 big-screen TVs for watching the World Cup

OK, so the World Cup has started and you're watching it on a TV that was made before half the team members were even born. If you were looking for an excuse to buy a new TV, you've now got a great one. But what set should you buy?

Although the 2014 sets are just starting to arrive in droves at retail, we've tested a decent number of these new models, so we can make a few big-screen recommendations. Plus we have a few top picks among the 2013 sets, which may be available at especially great prices.

Here are some of our favorite 2014 TVs that have already been tested.

Samsung PN64H5000, $1,400. This 64-inch 1080p plasma TV—yes, they're still making them—is an all-around winner, with excellent picture quality and a great price for its screen size. But it's a fairly basic model without the smart TV platform found on many other Samsung sets this size. Also, its sound is only fair, so we recommend pairing it with a sound bar or other external sound system if you like your sports with some additional sonic oomph.

Sharp Aquos LC-60EQ10U, $1,400. Priced about the same as the Samsung, this 60-inch 1080p LED-backlit LCD set delivers excellent high-definition picture quality, plus Sharp's smart TV platform with access to online content.

Samsung UN55H6400, $1,400. Looking for a lot of bells and whistles? This 55-inch 1080p LCD TV has them, along with excellent high-definition picture quality and very good 3D performance. The set, a 120Hz model with an edge LED backlight, has Samsung's smart TV platform with access to online content, and it can respond to voice commands and even gestures (when used with an optional camera). It will also learn what shows you like and make recommendations about programs and movies. You get two pairs of 3D glasses with the set.

Panasonic TC-55AS530U, $1,000. This 55-inch 1080p LED-backlit set from Panasonic is well-priced for a full-featured TV this size from a major brand. It delivers excellent high-definition picture quality and the company's smart TV platform, with a home screen that can be personalized for each user. Its Swipe & Share app lets you share content between mobile devices and the TV with a simple swipe of your finger.

LG 50PB6600, $700. This 50-inch 1080p plasma TV combines very good high-def picture quality with a decent number of features, including LG's smart TV platform. If you don't need that feature, consider LG's new 50PB560B, which offers similar performance for just $500.

Find the right television for your needs and budget with our TV buying guide and Ratings.

Unless you're buying an Ultra HD TV, there's no reason not to consider the leftover 2013 HDTVs, especially since they're likely to be attractively priced. Here are a few models we think you should consider if you can find them.

Samsung PN60F5300, $850. A fairly basic 1080p plasma set that delivers on the essentials, mainly excellent high-definition picture quality.

Sony Bravia KDL-60R550A, $1,400. This 60-inch 1080p Sony LCD TV has excellent HD picture quality and a lot of features, including an edge LED backlight, 3D (though it wasn't great) with four sets of glasses, and Sony's smart TV platform with access to a lot of online content.

Vizio E601i-A3, $900. This 60-inch 1080p LED-backlit LCD TV has excellent HD picture quality and lots of features, including Vizio's smart TV platform, for a great price.

LG 55LA6200, $1,200. A 55-inch LED-backlit LCD TV that's loaded with features, including LG's smart TV suite, 3D (it comes with four sets of glasses), a split-screen game mode that when used with optional DualPlay glasses, lets each player have their own view of the game.

Samsung UN46EH5000, $600. A 46-inch basic LED-backlit LCD TV that doesn't have a lot of features, but it delivers excellent high-def picture quality.

If you are looking for a new 2014 set and don't have to buy it this week, check back soon: We'll be adding an additional 30 models—in all screen sizes—to our TV Ratings, available to subscribers.

James K. Willcox

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