CR Quick Recommendations
The Ratings list models by performance. Quick Picks highlights models that you might want to consider based not only on how they scored but also on factors such as price and features. We have enough survey data to report on two brands, Panasonic and Sony, both of which have been reliable during the first year of use.
For top quality in a 50-inch set:
1 Panasonic $4,000
Panasonic was the performance leader across the board for plasma TVs, and this 50-inch model illustrates why. It displays excellent picture quality with all types of programming and is a good value for a screen of this size. It's digital-cable-ready, so it can receive digital-cable signals, including high-definition, without a cable box when equipped with a CableCard.
The best 42-inch HD sets:
7 Panasonic $3,000
8 Panasonic $4,000
Like their 50-inch sibling, these digital-cable-ready TVs are superb. Panasonic (7) is the better buy unless you want the added features available on (8). They include front-panel audio/video inputs, slots for memory cards used in digital cameras, and picture-in-picture.
If a lower price is a top priority:
18 Panasonic $2,000
This 42-inch enhanced-definition TV does not match its brandmates for HD picture quality, but it …