You’ll find two distinct layouts that utilize LED backlighting: full array and edge-lit. Full-array backlighting positions the LED backlight directly behind the LCD panel, much like the setup of conventional CCFL-backlit LCD TVs. This is often combined with local dimming’ in higher-spec models, which dims or switches off LEDs dynamically to obtain a deeper shades where they are needed. Edge-lit LED backlighting is just that the LEDs are placed at the edges of the screen, and the TV relies on special guides to carry the light to the center of the screen. This allows for an incredibly thin set, as seen on the Samsung UN55D8000. Full-array TVs generally provide better backlight consistency, but well-executed edge-lit models are capable of high performance as well.
Most, if not all of the best-performing LCD TVs available today make use of LED backlighting, so it’s definitely worth considering spending the extra money for the superior performance. Here are five of the best LED LCD TVs that you can find on the market today.
Why it's best: The Elite PRO-60X5FD caused a splash when it was released late last year, both for reviving the 'Elite' moniker on an LCD TV and for its eye-popping picture quality. The exorbitant price was enough of a turn-off to preclude recommending this otherwise outstanding TV, but street prices have dropped to the point where it is now merely expensive rather than unattainable. If picture quality matters most, the Elite PRO-60X5FD can't be beat. Read Full Review
Why it's best: Sony's flagship HDTV may seem excessively expensive, but the HX929 outperforms the vast majority of other high-end TVs when it comes to picture quality. This set makes use of full-array LED backlighting with local dimming, and can produce black levels deep enough to compare to Pioneers discontinued Kuro plasma TV. On the flip side, this configuration also introduces some noticeable blooming, which can detract from the movie-watching experience during dark scenes. Also, no 3D glasses are included with the set, further decreasing the value factor of the HX929. If youre looking for the best picture quality possible from an LCD TV, though, this is your best bet. Read Full Review
Why it's best: Sony's highest-performing 2012 model is the edge-lit HX850, thanks to features and technology borrowed from the HX929. This sleek LED LCD TV offers flagship performance without the huge price tag, making it a smart buy in this category. Combined with excellent features such as access to the Sony Entertainment Network, the HX850 is easy to recommend. Read Full Review
Why it's best: If you're looking for picture quality on a budget, the Vizio M3D550KD is a top contender. This LED LCD TV boasts a lengthy list of features including 240Hz refresh rate and passive 3D, and the company's aggressive pricing strategy results in outstanding overall value. Read Full Review
Why it's best: Buyers of Samsung's flagship LED LCD TV will be treated to unparalleled style, a long list of features, and superb picture quality in both 2D and 3D. This set is extremely expensive, but unique features such as gesture control and an upgradeable dual-core processor enhance its appeal for those who don't mind putting out the extra cash for one of the sleekest HDTVs around. Read Full Review