TechRadar Choice: Top 10 TVs for the Olympics

For fast moving action and bright colours

TV

Unless you've been on a lightyear trip to the Crab Nebula recently, you simply can't have escaped the blanket TV coverage of the Beijing Olympics.

Nearly a week in, billions of people have been tuning in to watch half-naked people do silly things such as flop around in pools of water, run round in circles as fast as they can, shoot long, pointy things at big, fat round things, and repeatedly punch each other in the face.

But which is the best way to watch? The Olympic Games is a spectacle and as such, it's best viewed on a television which suits the nature of the action on screen.

If you're watching the cycling in the Laoshan Velodrome, the fast moving action on screen requires a fast refresh rate in order to avoid motion judder. Likewise, the bright colours, reflective surfaces and high contrast involved in filming the swimming competitions, demands accurate colour reproduction and a high contrast ratio.

Here are ten TVs of all sizes and price ranges, all of which are ideal for watching the Beijing Olympic Games, and all of which get rave reviews on TechRadar.

SharpSharp Aquos LC-26D44E - check cheapest price

Available in shiny grey or glossy black, the Sharp Aquos' 26-inch screen makes it ideal for a kitchen or a bedroom. Switch on the LC-26D44EBK and the first thing that strikes you is the brightness of the screen. It's fantastic. Sharp quotes a 1500:1 contrast ratio and a 450cd/m2 brightness rating, while the Advanced Super view LCD panel retains most of its vivid colour through a viewing angle of 170 degrees. Black levels are satisfyingly inky, and the colours vibrant - making it ideal for keeping up with the Olympic action when you're not in your living room. Read our full review

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sharpSharp LC-32X20E - check cheapest price

For under £500, this LCD TV from Sharp is brilliant. It's got a full-HD resolution which makes it a stunning all-rounder for movies and gaming as well as watching sports. The full-HD resolution also helps the TV produce outstandingly subtle colour blends, thanks to its greater pixel density. Going back to colours, they're superbly saturated, and satisfyingly natural. Black levels ensure that even the most shadowy corners of the tracks look convincingly dark, but they're also deep and detailed. Read our full review

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panasonicPanasonic TX-32LZD80 - check cheapest price

Despite being one of the few brands left that still deal in both plasma and LCD technology, it's doubly hard for us to make comparisons with last season's crop of Panasonic LCD TVs when it comes to the TX-32LZD80. This 32in LCD TV, you see, is a totally different beast to before. One of this TV's best assets is its ability to upscale digital TV signals brilliantly. So if you're tuning into the Olympics using Freeview, the picture is fantastic. Read our full review

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samsungSamsung LE32A656 - check cheapest price

While rival manufacturers are still scrabbling around in a desperate attempt to catch up with the outstanding design prowess of Samsung's previous LCD range, the Korean brand has moved the goalposts again with its new 'touch of colour' models. It's nice to find both Samsung's Digital Natural Image engine (DNIe) processing and the latest version of the brand's Movie Plus processing. The former of these delivers all the usual improvements in colours, black levels, motion and detail, while the latter adds newly calculated extra image frames to reduce LCD's motion blur issues. Read our full review

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panasonicPanasonic TX-37LZD800 - check cheapest price

Despite being the only UK brand still making 37in plasma TVs, Panasonic isn't adverse to using LCD technology to make 37in TVs too. Particularly as its latest flagship model, the TX-37LZD800, effortlessly demonstrates the picture prowess that LCD tech is capable of. The TX-37LZD800's Clear Panel screen design helps it pull off a slightly cleaner and smarter appearance than the cheaper models, as well as helping it deliver sharper, crisper images. This TV has 100Hz processing, too, keeping motion judder on fast moving action down to a minimum. Read our full review

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samsungSamsung LE40A656 - check cheapest price

This really is arguably the prettiest TV we've ever tested. The subtle tint of deep red in the bezel - which becomes stronger towards the outer edge - gives the TV a stunningly individual identity, and makes it a talking point without ever looking garish. The LE40A656's pictures also benefit from its 100Hz processing. There's a brilliant contrast ratio on display here - the blacks are nice and deep. Read our full review

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panasonicPanasonic TH-42PX80 - check cheapest price

The Panasonic TH-42PX80 is a low-end plasma TV, and as such it doesn't have a full-HD resolution. But on hand to ensure that the UK's predominantly 1,080-line HD sources map onto the 42PX80 as well as possible is the latest iteration of Panasonic's V-Real processing technology, V-Real 3 designed to suppress noise and boost resolution, colour toning, motion handling and black levels. Also on board is 100Hz processing to reduce flickering and instability when showing camera pans and fast motion. Read our full review

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samsungSamsung LE46A656 - check cheapest price

With the 46in LE46A656A1F, Samsung's Series 6 range of LCDs is born. The full-HD and 100Hz screen is one of the first to use Samsung's Ultra Clear Panel (a step-up from the Super Clear Panel found in older models). And the DNIe picture processing engine has morphed to DNIe Pro. Add Wide Color Enhancer 2 and you've a very impressive feature list. Read our full review

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samsungSamsung LE46F86BD - check cheapest price

Despite Samsung's reputation for heavily-discounted, yet fabulous-looking, screens this 46-incher only just squeezes into the price bracket of its peers. Its plasma screens may go for a song, but when it comes to LCD TVs, the manufacturer concentrates on premium sets only. Befitting a bigscreen with a big price, the LE46F86BD's feature count is strong. Joining 100Hz Motion Plus is Samsung's DNIe system, which is responsible for boosting sharpness, contrast, motion handling and colour. An Edge Enhancer adds definition to contours and stops the dreaded jagged edges. Read our full review

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Pioneer Kuro PDP-LX6090 - check cheapest price

pioneerThe simple fact about the Kuro PDP-LX6090 is that it's the best television on the market, bar none. The black level response on both the LX6090 and the LX5090 is so intense that while the screen is on but not displaying an image, you can't see a thing in a darkened room. Nothing. Nada. This has a secondary benefit; while blacks retain their integrity, brightness (white) is also represented with pinpoint accuracy. If you've got the money to spend, this is the TV to get. Read our full review