March 7, 2012 at 11:43 AM ET
Leading-edge technology nearly always carries a hefty price tag, and 3D TVs are no exception. A set with this capability can easily run well over $1,000 -- and most of the time that doesn’t even include the glasses. That said, these top picks from Cheapism.com can satisfy early adopters as economically as possible.
Plasma screens are a favorite of expert reviewers and generally offer excellent picture quality in both 2D and 3D, with very deep black levels. Low-cost LED TVs use light-emitting diodes around the edges of an LCD screen to improve black levels and color accuracy. Like other TVs with liquid crystal displays, these 3D TVs are best viewed straight on, rather than at an angle. To figure out how big a screen to buy, CNET suggests measuring the distance from your seating area to the designated spot for your TV and dividing by 1.5. For instance, if you sit 7 feet (84 inches) from your TV, look for at least a 56-inch screen.
Most of our picks use “active” 3D technology, which requires battery-powered 3D glasses that are typically sold separately for as much as $150 a pair. (Note that active 3D glasses work with only the corresponding brand of 3D TV.) The LG Infinia is a “passive” 3D TV that comes with four pairs of the not-so-heavy-duty glasses distributed at movie theaters. Viewers find that passive 3D generally delivers a more comfortable but less immersive experience.
All the 3D TVs on our list come with multiple HDMI ports for connecting Blu-ray players, video game consoles, and other devices. Component and composite inputs accommodate older DVD players and VCRs. PC, Ethernet, Wi-Fi, and USB connectivity are also available.
A 3D Blu-ray player is perhaps your most reliable source of 3D content, which is still scarce on television. The good news is that 3D TVs boast some of the best 2D image quality you can buy.
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