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Cheapism: Best budget 3D TVs

Jan. 8, 2014 at 2:33 PM ET

Consumers can get a 3D viewing experience at home with a budget 3D television. Cheapism.com has several recommendations.
Reed Saxon / AP
Consumers can get a 3D viewing experience at home with a budget 3D television. Cheapism.com has several recommendations.

As the new year begins, and many consumers resolve to yank their financial belts to the next hole, a 3D TV may seem like a needless extravagance. But TV buyers who dismiss this technology are missing out on some excellent values. Models with 3D capability typically boast a lot of other useful features and top-notch 2D picture quality — a key consideration, given that almost all television programming appears in two dimensions.

Here are four top 3D TVs from Cheapism.com

The Vizio M-Series M501D-A2R (starting at $800) costs less than most TVs with 50-inch screens and 3D capability, yet experts and consumers alike praise its 3D performance and overall picture quality in online reviews. This TV comes with eight pairs of 3D glasses included. Bargain shoppers can also find a 55-inch M-Series TV for under $1,000. (Where to buy)  

The Panasonic TC-P50ST60 (starting at $1,000) is a hot commodity right now: one of the last of the company’s acclaimed plasma TVs. Panasonic plans to be out of the plasma business by March, to the dismay of many expert reviewers. The Panasonic ST60 series, including this 50-inch model, has met with near universal raves. The 2D picture quality is outstanding, especially for the price. This TV comes with two pairs of 3D glasses. (Where to buy

The Sony KDL-47W802A (starting at $989) is a 47-inch TV that delivers solid performance in 2D and 3D, with no so-called “crosstalk” or ghosting, according to reviewers. It’s endowed with an array of input options for other devices, including four HDMI ports (one of which is MHL compatible for streaming video from a smartphone). Sony provides four pairs of 3D glasses. (Where to buy

The LG 47LA7400 (starting at $1,029) likewise measures 47 inches on the diagonal and includes four pairs of glasses. Of all this TV’s fancy features, the most distinctive is LG’s Magic Remote, which responds to motion like a Nintendo Wii controller and recognizes voice commands. Reviewers admire the TV’s picture quality. (Where to buy

These are all smart TVs, which can connect to the Internet via built-in Wi-Fi (or an Ethernet port) and access content from the likes of Netflix and YouTube. They display movies and TV shows in full 1080p high definition. With the exception of the Panasonic plasma, these are LCD TVs with energy-efficient LED backlights (as opposed to the fluorescent backlighting common in LCDs).

The Panasonic TC-P50ST60 employs a different kind of 3D technology than the rest. It’s an active 3D TV that requires battery-powered glasses to render a three-dimensional image. The other models listed above are passive 3D TVs, which use lighter, cheaper 3D glasses like the ones handed out at movie theaters. CNET gets into the pros and cons of the two technologies.

Keep in mind that your best source of 3D content is a 3D Blu-ray player. Without one, you won’t be able to take full advantage of this feature. Be sure any TV you choose has enough inputs to hook up devices such as gaming consoles and a cable receiver, as well.

More from Cheapism:

Full report on cheap 3D TVs 

Top LCD TVs under $600 

Inexpensive home theater recommendations 

Best cheap Blu-ray players 

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