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Finding the perfect LCD TV

Thin and wall mountable, LCD TVs have emerged as the number-one choice among TV buyers. Prices have dropped dramatically since their introduction, and performance has improved just as much. But -- and here's the rub -- finding the perfect LED TV for you and your family can be a bit of a juggling act.

In an attempt to get buyers to open their wallets, TV makers have been adding lots of high-tech goodies to sets. There's 3D, of course, and "Smart" features that let you access content directly from the Internet or from your personal computer. Things we never had to worry about before, such as refresh rate, are now front and center on the features list and in advertisements. LED backlights are now the norm on even cheap LCD TVs -- which is why these sets are now called LED TVs by most -- but the type of back light (either edge-lit or direct-lit) is something you might need to think about before putting your hard-earned dollars down on your next set.

On the other hand, maybe you just want a TV with a great or simply a good picture at a price that's easy on your wallet. Image quality is defined by a few different factors including how deep a level of black a set can obtain, how accurate and saturated colors appear, how uniform the picture looks across the screen, and how free the image is of artifacts like curved lines that aren't smooth and other image-processing bobbles.

How much do you need to spend on an LED TV? If you're a perfectionist, be prepared to dig deep. However, others can find TVs with images that look perfectly fine -- in fact, pretty darn outstanding -- at more modest prices. And if 3D or Internet streaming don't get you all that excited, some excellent bargains can be had among LED TVs that lack all of the latest bells and whistles.

This report discusses the features and specifications that matter when selecting your next LED TV. We examine professional and user reviews to identify the sets that shine in terms of image quality, features, design and value, and name those our Best Reviewed choices. We also look at some TVs that don't fall too far behind and can be excellent options in their own right.

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