High-end televisions of course provide a great picture, but the prices can sometimes be put off. In the midfield of the TV offer, however, you also find very good performances for a very strong price. That is why we compare four televisions in the middle-class segment.
What are we looking for?
We set a budget of approximately 1,350 euros, with a margin of 10 percent. For that price we hope to have a device in house that is equipped with all modern comfort. A good smart TV system, ready for all forms of digital television, and of course with the best possible picture and sound quality. This should be a decent all-round TV that performs well for both film and sports and gaming. With that in mind, we put 55 inch as the screen size, which is the size you can use in most living rooms if you want to go for that little bit more.
Our content comes from many different sources, and that requires a different image processing to achieve optimal results. Manufacturers develop specific image processors for this, and in this category you often find the same processors as in the top models. In that area you can look forward to good results.
OLED screens will not yet hit you in this price range. There are only LCD screens in our selection. Yet you can still make an important distinction. LCD panels in television fall into two major classes: VA or IPS. VA panels have an excellent contrast, but a fairly limited viewing angle. These types of televisions are a very good choice if you occasionally want to watch a movie with some eclipse, as long as you are not too far from the center. IPS screens have a better viewing angle, but a weaker contrast. They are a great choice if you regularly watch with the whole family, and as long as you look at some ambient light, the moderate contrast is not a serious drawback.
Some models are also equipped with a segmented backlight which, thanks to local dimming makes a better contrast possible. No hundreds of segments like the top models, but rather a limited number of columns. This approach results in less spectacular contrast differences, but nonetheless a visible improvement.
High Dynamic Range (HDR)
On a modern television HDR support should not be lacking. HDR10 and HLG are the standards that you will find on every model. But in these middle classes you will seek Dolby Vision support in vain. Whereas the advantages of dynamic metadata can be of greater importance just on these models (with limited brightness and color range). HDR10 +, the new HDR10 variant that also uses dynamic metadata, is available on some models (Samsung and Panasonic). But where there is a lot of content available for Dolby Vision, it remains to be seen how popular HDR10 + will become.
Brightnesses of 1,000 nits or more, or a color range that almost the entire DCI-P3 palette covers that are properties for top models. But still, you can expect reasonably good HDR performance on these devices. As a guideline we set a brightness of 500 nits in front and approximately 90% DCI-P3.
In this file we look at four televisions; the Philips 55PUS8303, the Panasonic TX-49FXW784, the Samsung UE55NU8000 and the Sony KD-55XF8505. Of all four models we have already published the reviews, to which we refer below.
The Philips 55PUS8303 can not boast about its sound quality. Combine it with a good sound solution for the best results. And Android does offer possibilities, but in the meantime it’s really up to a modern and more coherent interface.
But with that the weak points of the 55PUS8303 are listed. Yes, the contrast is limited, that is inherent to the IPS panel. But this television does not aim at hardcore film lovers, but rather at the large family and their varied viewing habits. It provides a clear and very colorful image, ideal for the living room. The movement sharpness is excellent and makes him a good choice for sports. The HDR performance is just in the range of where you really start to see the difference. The price we find particularly good for this 55-incher, which undoubtedly gives you a lot of viewing pleasure.
Panasonic TX- 49FXW784 (TX-49FX780)
The Panasonic FXW784 series is performing well as a versatile family television. The contrast of the IPS panel is limited, but Panasonic’s local dimming technique pulls it to a more than decent level, without any real disadvantages. The HDR display is good, but with a brightness and color range that is only sufficient. His real weakness is sound quality, which is ok for just watching television, but leaves points for film and music.
The TX-49FXW784 with its excellent image quality can safely serve for the occasional film, and thanks to good sharpening, it is also a great choice for sports and games. The wide viewing angle is an advantage if you look at a lot at the same time. My Home Screen 3 is a more modern and beautiful improvement of the smart TV environment. The design is particularly beautiful and well finished. The award puts him in the category of the Samsung NU8000 and Sony XF85 series, and they score slightly better, especially for HDR playback. However, depending on possible discounts, the Panasonic is a good alternative.
The Samsung UE55NU8000 shows that edge led backlighting using local dimming has to make important compromises to make. If you are too aggressive, the zones are clearly visible. If you dim more subtly (like this Samsung), the improvement of the contrast is limited. Together with the relatively small viewing angle, these are the main drawbacks of this device.
On the plus side we find a television with excellent image processing, good motion sharpness, and plenty of brightness for use in a well-lit living room. The audio quality is also good, especially when we look at the narrow design. Thanks to a strong contrast, for many film lovers he will also be able to display very attractive images with a bit of darkening. And for a very reasonable price you get good HDR performance, although they obviously can not match the images of his big QLED brothers.
The Sony KD-55XF8505 (XF85 series) is a nice illustration of the compromises you make for a subtopper. The IPS panel makes the unit less suitable for home cinema environments where you are obscuring. At first because the black value is rather poor, but also because of the IPS glow that can sometimes be difficult in dark images.
But there are a lot of good features. The screen provides a lot of clarity, and combines that with good global dimming technique to achieve a decent contrast. That clarity, the excellent motion sharpness and excellent color rendering make this Sony a very good choice for sports, and a good all-rounder for the whole family. Even for HDR playback, it has a lot of clarity and a sufficiently large color range in the house.
- Image processing
- Color rendering
- Strong contrast thanks to good global dimming
- Good motion sharpness
Conclusion – what is the best affordable 55-inch TV?
All our prices are checked ron d at the end of August. Keep in mind that the tested Panasonic is a 49 inch model, the 55 inch model costs 1,499 euros. In the set price range you will find very interesting 55 inch models, so much is clear. The image quality is generally excellent, with top image processing and good motion sharpness for all tested models. Even for HDR playback, performance is surprisingly good in some cases. Some models also benefit from excellent sound or nice extras. The device that can claim the ‘Best Tested’ crown is the Samsung UE55NU8000. Although local dimming does not deliver performance at the Q9FN level, the result is very good. He combines strong contrast with excellent clarity, and good color rendering. Even in HDR, the results are impressive. Add a rich feature set, good sound and a nice and handy smart TV system and you have a device that scores on all fronts.
Who delivers the best price-quality ratio? The choice is much more difficult, since small price shifts and personal preference for a certain extra can make the difference. Nevertheless, we find that the Philips 55PUS8303 just makes the difference. His image processing is very strong, he has the largest HDR color range, and links it to a very strong price. He gets the ‘Best Buy’ label.