Ever since CES back in January, we've been looking forward to bringing the hot new 2015 sets into our TV labs for a thorough evaluation. Now, after spending five weeks with 30 of them, we've identified a few clear winners. Since all these highlighted sets are either flagship or near-flagship models, the prices aren't for the faint of heart. But if you want to own the best—and have the budget to afford it—check out these three TVs, which represent the current state of the art in TV performance and technology.
Just remember that it's still early in the year; as a result, this first group of sets is concentrated on a relatively small number of brands compared to what we'll eventually have in our TV Ratings, which are available to subscribers. In the coming weeks we'll add more models from a wider assortment of brands, and by the end of the year we'll have performed in-depth reviews of about 250 models.
In the meantime, check out these three sets that impressed
—James K. Willcox
Samsung UN65JS9500, UHD LED/LCD TV, $5,000
Models from both Samsung and LG are among the early arrivals in the market, and those we tested did well in general. The top spot in our Ratings so far is taken by Samsung's 65-inch UHD set, the UN65JS9500, from its flagship SUHD series of 4K sets. This set is pricey—we paid $6,000 for it, though we've seen the price slip to $5,000 at several retailers over the past two weeks. (That's why it pays to get a price-match guarantee from a retailer when you buy a TV right after it's released.) But it is among the best TVs we've tested, with excellent high-definition picture quality, excellent UHD performance, and excellent sound quality. It also has very good 3D, a plus if you care for that feature, and its full-array LED backlight with local dimming helps produce excellent black levels for an LCD set. Our only complaint, really, was the limited viewing angle, not all that uncommon with LCD TVs.
The set, which features a curved screen, has tons of features, including the ability to display high dynamic range (HDR) content when it becomes available. And like other Samsung SUHD models, it has quantum dot (nano-crystal) technology, plus 10-bit color, for reproducing wider color gamut content when that becomes available. The TV has Samsung's new Tizen smart TV platform, which uses an array of tiles across the bottom of the screen to access content and apps on a single screen. The set's connections and the TV's processor are housed in a separate external One Connect box that in future years can be replaced to upgrade the TV to newer specs and features.
Find the best HDTVs and UHD TVs for your needs and budget with our TV buying guide and Ratings.
LG 55EG9600, UHD OLED TV, $5,500
We're huge fans of OLED TV technology, and this model clearly shows why, though a few flaws dragged down its overall score a bit. Still, this 55-inch 3D-capable model, the first 4K OLED we've tested, delivers excellent high-definition picture quality, very good UHD performance, and the benchmark-setting black levels we've come to expect from OLED TVs. Like all OLED sets, it has a nearly unlimited viewing angle. The TV has a curved screen and the company's webOS smart TV platform that lets you access content via a row of graphic tiles arrayed across the lower part of the screen. It has three HDMI input and comes with LG's point-and-click Magic Remote control. We'll soon be posting a full First Look at this set. None of its shortcomings were severe enough when watching normal content to change our opinion that it's one of the best TVs we've tested. And we give LG credit for being the only company pushing OLED TV technology this year.
Samsung UN65JS9000, UHD LED/LCD TV, $3,500
Just edging out LG's 65UF9500 flagship LED LCD UHD TV for 2015, this 65-inch JS9000-series Ultra HD LCD TV from Samsung—a step below the flagship JS9500 SUHD sets—is an excellent TV with a lot of features. Its price, now $3,500, is $1,500 less than what we paid for it. The TV, which has a curved screen, delivers excellent high-definition picture quality and UHD performance and very good sound, though its 3D performance was only good. Beyond the sound and 3D scores, the main differences compared to the JS9500 sets are that it has an edge, rather than full-array, LED backlight with local dimming and a slightly different version of high dynamic range (HDR) technology. Also, it lacks a built-in camera, though it can accept an optional one. Like the flagship sets, this model has a curved screen, quantum dot (nano-crystal) technology for reproducing wider color gamut content when it becomes available, Samsung's new Tizen smart TV platform, and the separate One Connect box.
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