FOGEY 5 Televisions

Jan 11, 2011 No Comments by


The Fogey 5 are the best five products in their class by virtue of expert and consumer review from at least 10 respected and authoritative websites.

TVs are a weird one.  Have a look at the TVs Buying Guide for more info.  Basically, there’s a price war going on that is squeezing manufacturers of premium-priced sets out of the market.  Pioneer have already opted out and Philips are soon to follow.  Ten years ago a decent 42″ HD TV would have cost around £2,000.  Now a Full HD (1080p) 42-incher can be had for under £500.  The reduction in price is partly a reflection of the speed at which manufacturers are incorporating new features, such as BBC iPlayer, a Freeview HD tuner and Internet connectivity (to access on-line content)  into their sets.  (And that’s all without the dreaded spectre of 3-bleedin’-D).  Older TVs without the new features are discounted.  There’s also the LCD versus plasma contest which LCD seems to be winning.  This, in turn, is making plasma TVs much cheaper than they used to be.  And don’t believe any negative blather about plasma screens.  They’re lovely.

So, much of what you’ll read below about specific sets is hopelessly outdated.  You’re unlikely to be able to shop for TV models as specifically as this Fogey 5 would like.  The best advice, then, is to shop for features at a price.  The Buying Guide will fill in any gaps in the information below.

From 14 sites there were over 100 TVs rated as best or best-selling by experts and consumers with 20 featuring on more than one list.  Of those 20 only two – the Panasonic TX-P42X10B and Philips 40PFL9704 – were common to more than two lists.

Panasonic TX-P42G20B plasma


A beautiful thing, packed with features: built in Freeview HD and Freesat HD, Internet enabled, accomplished when handling fast-moving action, THX-certified (so movies look as the director intended), Full HD 1080p, SD card slot for viewing snaps, 2x USB inputs, 4x HDMI inputs, component and composite (but no SCART).  Long life 42″ screen good for 100,000 hours – that’s eight hours a day for 30 years.  While not cheap – expect to pay £1,000 or less – it is great value for such an accomplished set. Launched Q1 2010.

More info here.  Buy Panasonic TX-P42G20B

Panasonic TX-P42X10B plasma

A bit long in the tooth by current standards but a fantastic 42″ set at a bargain price – £500 should get you one.  It’s not 1080p Full HD and doesn’t have the noodly Internet connectivity features to be found on later models but three HDMI ports, component video, two SCART, PC input, S-Video and composite video should accommodate most of your black box collection. There’s an SD card slot as well but only for showing still photos, not video.  An apparent advantage of plasma over LCD is the depth at which black is rendered.  Got time for a side-by-side comparison?  Could you care less?  Launched Q1 2009

More info here.  Buy Panasonic TX-P42X10B

Philips 40 PFL9704 LCD

The big thing with this set are improvements that make images crisper and more dynamic.  If we told you how this is achieved there would be no room to tell you anything else and you’d get a headache and need to lie down.  The contrast ratio is 5,000,000 to 1. Which is a lot, and good.  There’s a plethora of inputs, Internet connectivity and the brushed metal bezel (that’s the screen surround border) looks very sleek and Apple-esque.  It also has Philips’ unique Ambilight feature that creates a warm light halo around the screen. Why?  Why not?  It’s pretty.  I’m sure there’s some scientific justification for it but it makes people go ‘Oooo…’ so must have been worth the effort. The only downside is what you must pay for such gorgeousness: £1,300, or thereabouts.  Ouch.  Launched Q1 2010 and so hard to find, we couldn’t, so the link below is for a slightly different 40″ model that’s comparable in terms of performance and features while being much cheaper.

More info here.  Buy Philips 40PFL7605H/05

Samsung LE 32 C580 LCD

To be honest, any of the Samsung LE range is pretty good and they are cheaper than Smash, let alone chips.  This one supersedes the B550 and while both are 1080p Full HD, the C580 has Freeview HD built-in (instead of plain old standard definition Freeview), 4 HDMI inputs and a USB 2.0 input for playing movies from a camcorder or  USB memory stick. There’s no SCART, though, or Internet connectivity. But not only is it newer and better than its predecessor, it’s also cheaper at around £380.  Bargain.  Launched Q2 2010.

More info here.  Buy Samsung LE32C580

LG 42 SL8000 LCD

There’s a lot of guff written about processor speed or refresh rate (it boils down to the same thing) with digital TVs.  The speed at which the pixels that make up the image are able to change colour affects how sharp fast-moving images will look on-screen.  The standard used to be 100-120Hz but then Sony and Samsung went to 200Hz and everyone else went a bit doolally trying to keep up or go faster.  Claims of 600Hz should be taken with a truck-load of salt.  LG claims 200Hz for its SL8000 but it’s actually 100Hz plus a scanning back-light.  Not quite the real deal but better than 100Hz minus said backlighting wizardry.  What else?  1080p Full HD, all the usual inputs including 4xHDMI and 2x SCART, Freeview built-in (but not Freeview HD) and Bluetooth.  This latter feature isn’t that common but means you can listen wirelessly with a pair of Bluetooth-enabled headphones.  Launched in Q3 2009 for £1,000, it’s now trading at around £800.

More info here.  Buy