The Best Big Screen 3D HDTV

No, the Super Bowl is not going to be in 3D this year. Again. But that doesn't mean you don't want a 3D set. Here's the thing: The best 2D TV is a 3D TV. The burlier image processors required to render the third dimension make everything look better.

So how are you going to watch the game this year? Huddled in front of your buddy's RCA, squinting at plays? No thanks, not when you can watch it on a screen big enough to make you feel like you're on the sidelines.

We tested four 3D-capable HDTV's, each with at least 60 inches of viewing area, to find the one that provides the best picture, clarity, color and most panel-defying 3D. We looked for one that was easy to setup, install, and use without calling in tech support. Because our ideal HDTV doesn't require a visit from from a specialist to get up and running, we set them all up using the THX calibration method, which you can find on any THX-certified Blu-ray. It's game time, after all, and you want your set ready to watch in minutes, not hours.

The Best Big Screen 3D HDTV

Fourth Place: Mitsubishi 75-inch LaserVue DLP LT 75-A94

The Mitsubishi 75-inch LaserVue DLP is, first and foremost, gigantic—like having a drive-in theater installed in your living room. And for watching movies it was stupendous. Its six-color processor provides a huge range of color shades, but they were never quite as bright or as intense as the other TVs we tested. The set's minimal edging was a plus, helping add to the sense of being in a theater. It worked wonderfully under dimmed lights but trying to watch early Sunday sports was a problem—some of us have east-facing living room windows, and this baby is afraid of the light. It's also afraid of subpar content: Any sort of digital artifact or SD quality video (like a Netflix show streamed over a slow Wi-Fi connection) was glaringly obvious on its massive screen, even from far away. The 3D picture was solid with a good depth to the image, but fast-moving action—whether a thrown pass, car chase, or slap shot—did tend to get blobby and blurred.

On the hardware side, the LaserVue is a bit limited. It can't be wall-mounted, the set itself is horrendously heavy—tipping the scales at 140 pounds—and takes about 15 seconds to warm up when you turn it on. It does have four HDMI ports, which should be enough for most people, but its lack of USB jacks prevents you throwing in a few pirated movies family photos on a whim. Initial setup was straightforward, but the remote, which is about the size of my forearm with more buttons than my keyboard, took a while to learn.

LaserVue DLP LT 75-A94 Specs

• Screen Size: 75-Inch
• Display Type: DLP
• Refresh Rate: 120Hz
• Connectivity: Wi-Fi, 4x HDMI, 2x component/composite
• 3D Type: Active Shutter
• Weight: 140 lbs
• Price: $6,000 MSRP

The Best Big Screen 3D HDTV

Third Place: LG 65" Class Cinema

The LG Class Cinema has a matte screen and its frame has a transparent bezel. The matte finish helps cut down on glare from ambient light while the bezel features an attractive touch interface for power, volume, and channel control. Like on the TNG-era Enterprise.

The color accuracy and 2D picture clarity are both fairly good but not outstanding—on par with other mid-priced sets. It employs 8-channel processing for each color and is capable of displaying 16.7 million possible shades. Black levels and shadow details, unfortunately, were only average. There was a notable loss of detail in dark movies, like Aliens.

The LG's passive 3D is a bit of a mixed bag. On one hand, the glasses are lightweight, flicker-free, and inexpensive, which means everybody in the room actually gets a pair and nobody will be getting nauseus extended sessions. The 178-degree viewing angle is also quite generous. On the other hand, the passive technology comes at the price of half the vertical screen resolution—1920 x 1080 images actually come across as 1920 x 540. It's not a deal breaker, but certainty noticeable. And, despite the 240Hz refresh rate, we also noticed some blurring during fast action scenes.

The LG offers four HDMI ports and double USBs, as well as component and antenna hookups and built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. None of its ports face the rear of the set, so it can be wall mounted nice and flush. The remote feels a bit cheap, though. Good thing the set also includes a slick five-button, motion-controlled SmartTV remote that can perform all of the same functions.

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LG 65" 65LW6500 Specs

• Screen Size: 65-inch
• Display Type: LED/LCD
• Refresh Rate: 240Hz
• Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Ethernet, 4x HDMI, 2x USB 2.0, 1x RF, 2x component
• 3D Type: Passive
• Weight: 104 lbs
• Price: $4,500 MSRP

The Best Big Screen 3D HDTV

Second Place: Samsung 64" PN64D8000FF

The Samsung 64-inch 1080p plasma is as gorgeous as it is slender. At a mere inch thick and 51 pounds, it's the thinnest and lightest set of the group. And, with slim, brushed-metal frame and inch-wide transparent bezel, there's very little to distract from the on-screen action.

The color accuracy was spot-on and the picture clarity was excellent—we barely had to make any adjustments during calibration. Colors were extremely vivid, much brighter and far more intense than any of the other sets. Combined with an anti-glare screen coating and Samsung's Real Black Filter, you can watch in a bright room without the picture getting washed out. 2D clarity was also fantastic, even with SD signals, though it did suffer from some digital artifacts when watching streaming content. The 3D image was very good with excellent—and adjustable—field depth. The active shutter glasses were a bit bulky though—you definitely notice them after a long 3D sesh.

It features four HDMI ports, two USB ports, and is Wi-Fi enabled. We were especially impressed with the remote, which has a Bluetooth QWERTY keyboard on the back side, making for easy-peasy username entering. Navigating the Samsung's menus was very intuitive, despite the amount of features it packs. Streaming content like Netflix and Hulu Plus are all there. Skype too, if you want to plug in a camera.

Samsung 64" PN64D8000FF Specs

• Screen Size: 64-inch
• Display Type: Plasma
• Refresh Rate: 240Hz
• Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Ethernet, DNLA, 4x HDMI, 2x USB 2.0, 1x composite/component
• 3D Type: Active
• Weight: 51 lbs
• Price: $3,800 MSRP

The Best Big Screen 3D HDTV

Bestmodo! Sharp Aquos Quattron 70" LC-70LE735U

The Sharp Aquos Quattron's screen is taller than the average American man. Its called Quattron because there's a fourth color—yellow—in its sub-pixel arrays (these colors are mixed to create the shade for each individual pixel), allowing it to generate nearly a trillion potential color shades. The black levels and shadow detail were equally impressive, thanks to the set's local dimming edge-lit LED back-lighting, with very little loss of clarity during dark scenes. The picture clarity was top-notch as well; there were significantly fewer jagged edges even on SD content. 2D HD content was clear enough that you could count the laces on a thrown football in flight.
The 3D was fairly good, though we did notice some halo effects with it turned on and some blurring during fast action (though that's pretty much universal in 3D sets). Screen flicker was, however, nearly nonexistent, and the 176-degree viewing angle was impressive.

The Sharp is Wi-Fi enabled, and includes four HDMI ports. No USBs, though, but you can push local content over your home network to play it . The streaming service selection was more sparse than the Samsung's offerings, but the amount and degree of picture controls were made calibrating the set dead simple.

Sharp Aquos Quattron 70" LC-70LE735U Specs

• Screen Size: 70-inch
• Display Type: LED/LCD
• Refresh Rate: 240Hz
• Connectivity: Ethernet, DNLA, 4x HDMI, 2x USB 2.0, 1x component
• 3D Type: Active
• Weight: 99 lbs
• Price: $4,300 MSRP