Rating the 1990 TV sets


September 30, 1990|By Hans Fantel

The count is in for 1990.

Nine hundred thirteen video dealers voted for what they considered the best products of the year in the annual poll by Audio/Video International, a leading trade journal.

The dealers, after all, are the most influential link between the product manufacturer and the consumer, the ones who guide customers toward the specific makes.

Sunday's report covers television sets, which were evaluated according to five criteria: picture quality, general level of engineering design, reliability, precision and craftsmanship of manufacture, and cost-performance ratio.

Based on ballots submitted by the dealers, the final selection was made by a panel of experts, much as presidents of the United States are chosen by the Electoral College on the basis of the popular vote.

Among small color television sets (up to 21-inch screens, measured diagonally), the NAD MR13A ($425) was ranked at the top for the exceptionally sharp and clear picture presented by its 13-inch screen.

With an image resolution of 440 horizontal lines, it sets new standards for small sets.

Moreover, it has a highly versatile remote control, as well as convenient connections for advanced VCRs using the Super-VHS or Hi-8 formats.

The other two winners in this group were 20-inch models. RCA's F20705DG ($499) was cited for outstanding image sharpness and a built-in sound enhancer, while Toshiba's CF2944J ($480) earned praise for its ability to tune in 181 broadcast channels, in addition to cable programs.

Sets with screen sizes from 25 to 27 inches are among the most popular and were given their own niche in these awards.

Winners included Sony's 27-inch KV-27XBR15 ($1,550), which was cited for extreme image clarity and good contrast, its dual tuners (permitting simultaneous split-screen viewing of two channels), freeze-frame capability and a built-in sound enhancer providing the illusion of surround-sound.

JVC's 27-inch 2779S ($950) won by dint of its exceptionally high 600-line image resolution, a remote control of unusual versatility and ease of operation and the uncommonly rich sound of its built-in loudspeakers.

The Philips 27-inch 27K291SB ($2,000), the third winner in this category, stands out by virtue of advanced digital techniques that produce a picture of surpassing clarity and steadiness.

In this group Mitsubishi's 35-inch CS-3505R ($2,899) offers 700 lines of horizontal resolution, plus a host of circuit refinements, making the picture remarkably detailed despite its size.

Sony also scored in the big-screen league with its 32-inch KV-32XBR10 ($2,500) whose most unusual feature is a circuit to simulate multidirectional sound.

The third winner in this category was Toshiba's 32-inch CF3264K ($2,000), whose outstanding 700-line horizontal resolution gives the large picture its requisite quality.

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