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Best big-screen TVs for the big game

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Are you in the market for a big-screen TV for the Super Bowl? Consumer Reports tests hundreds of televisions a year, and guess what—paying top dollar doesn’t guarantee top performance.

Testers size up hundreds of TVs every year to find ones to recommend. One test is for motion blur test. It is designed to expose how well a TV can reproduce fast movement, such as you might find in sports or action movies. Some LCDs tend to have trouble. But plasma televisions don’t have a problem with motion blur.

Then there’s the black level test. Better performing sets have a nice deep black level that will give a nice dynamic contrast in bright scenes as well as dark scenes. Whereas worse performing sets have a brighter level that doesn’t give you that deep contrast, so images will look flatter, especially in dark scenes.

Testers also evaluate how well each television displays color. A device takes a color temperature measurement from a solid grey screen to see how balanced the tones are.

Consumer Reports found plenty of high-priced sets that came in lower in the ratings than less-expensive ones. But testers did find several TVs to recommend, including the 55-inch plasma Panasonic Viera TC-P55ST50 for $1,200. It has an excellent picture and nice extras such as 3D and Internet access.

If you want to spend less, Consumer Reports recommends a 60-inch LG for $900. It’s model 60PA6500. Though it lacks some bells and whistles, such as online access and 3D, it has an excellent picture at a great price.