Great HDTVs for watching the 2010 Winter Olympics

Our picks to watch the fast-paced action at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver

We've rounded up some great TVs for watching the sporting action at the Winter Olympics. When picking out an HDTV — whether plasma or LCD — you want something that can keep up with the action without blurring, while providing a colour palette that ensures you can tell athletes from the snow. Here are our picks.

Samsung Series 8 LED-backlit LCD TV

Cheapest price: $3350

The Series 8 is Samsung's latest-generation LED-backlit LCD television. We tested the 46in version (UA46B8000) and can attest that the LED backlighting certainly does its job; this LCD TV has a 3,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio that will respond in an instant to quickly changing backgrounds. It's also got a 200Hz refresh rate, which makes it great for fast-paced action such as the luge or speed skating.

LG 47SL90QD LED-backlit LCD TV

Cheapest price: $3199

LG's 47in LCD TV might only have a 100Hz refresh rate, but it still boasts LED backlighting, the same 3,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio as Samsung's Series 8 TV and, in our opinion, it even exceeds the Samsung in picture quality. However, the biggest noticeable difference — and one of its biggest selling points — is its 'borderless' design.

This LCD TV also boasts DivX playback support, which means you can plug in a USB flash drive and watch highlights from the Winter Olympics that you have recorded on a computer.

Panasonic TH-P54Z1A plasma TV

Cheapest price: $4950

Who said plasma TVs are dead? Though Pioneer has exited the market, its display technologies still live on in Panasonic TVs, albeit with a few welcome modifications. The TH-P54Z1A offers great picture quality on a 54in display that is sure to bring the Winter Olympics to life in your living room.

The TH-P54Z1A plasma television boasts a 2,000,000:1 dynamic contrast ratio, 6144 steps of colour gradation and a 600Hz refresh rate; three times that of the best LCD TVs. It's very thin, too, because the all inputs and outputs are relegated to a wireless receiver, so you won't have to run any pesky cables through the wall. The receiver works over a 60GHz radio band — it delivers fantastic picture quality and won't interfere with the wireless networks and other radio-based products in your house.

LG 50PS80ED plasma TV

Cheapest price: $2766

LG's high-end plasma TV offers two HD tuners, which means your family can watch their favourite shows while the TV simultaneously records your Winter Olympics sport of choice (even curling).

Sony Bravia Z5500 LCD television

Price: $4999

You might think we're crazy for adding an LCD TV without LED backlighting into this mix but, when everything is as white as snow (literally), you don't always need seven-figure contrast ratios. Sony's Bravia television still offers a respectable 100,000:1 contrast ratio. The TV's 200Hz refresh rate and colour reproduction are standout features that you will appreciate when watching the Olympics.

Panasonic TH-L32G10A LCD television

Cheapest price: $1085

Despite the relatively small screen size (32in), the TH-L32G10A is still capable of displaying 1080p content and even has a 24p mode that should suit Blu-ray movies.

An SD card slot on the side of the TV lets you view pictures directly from a digital camera, while a 100Hz refresh rate will keep up with some of the faster athletes.

Panasonic Premiere Series plasma TV (TH-50VX100W)

Cheapest price: $5597

If you're looking for the best of the best, check out Panasonic's flagship plasma, the VX100W. Available in both 50in and 65in sizes, this plasma is built for the videophile who needs the best quality and will stop at nothing to get it.

Though certainly not cheap, the VX100W plasma TVs offers comprehensive options, an 18-bit colour processor and the ability to reproduce 120 per cent of the HDTV colour gamut. Unfortunately inputs are limited, but then again anyone who doesn't complement the TV with a suitable home theatre setup doesn't deserve it anyway.

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James Hutchinson

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