HDTVs are designed for HD playback, but there are often problems in picture reproduction when playing back media in standard definition (SD), such as from traditional DVDs, cable, etc. The guys at Exteme Tech did a good thing and tested which HDTVs were best at cleaning up SD. The Pioneer Elite PRO-940HD plasma television took home the best rating in the test with 9/10.
The HDTV was the best in its class with regards to overall picture display in SD, but comes at a price of $1475 - $1974 depending on the retailer. Surprisingly, the Vizio VP42 gained an 8/10 rating. The wide viewing angle, excellent colour and contrast production as well as the cheaper price point of $900, secured this set as a favorite. There is a question of which sets they've tested, though. I'm sure there are some high end TVs with Silicon Optix or Faroujda sets that could have done exceedingly well.
Finally, in joint second place was the Sony KDS-55A2020. Also scoring 8/10, the UI and picture quality were both note worthy. This RPTV was considered to be comparable to higher end 1080p plasmas and crystal flat panels. For the performance, the $1799 price tag was considered very reasonable.
Hit the link to get more information on SD playback, including how you can set your own HDTV to better display standard definition content. [Extreme Tech]