If your television is in your living room, light can become quite an annoyance during daytime viewing. Light shining into your viewing area can reduce the perceivable contrast of the onscreen material, and if light is shining directly onto the screen, it can be very difficult to see through the reflection.
To help you find a TV that works well for your setup, whatever the brightness, here are pictures of the reflection and glare of the 2015 TVs that we have tested so far. We have evaluated them both in a room with a few lights and in a very bright room with windows, and we also list info about whether they have a matte, semi-gloss, or glossy screen finish.
Our 'Average Room' setup simulates a typical room with a few lights on at night, or without windows. We set the luminosity of the TV to a white of 100 cd/m2.
The reflection number that we measured is the ratio of the luminance of the light reflected compared to the original light. For example, a 2% reflection means the amount of light reflected is 2% of its original strength.
Our 'Bright Room' test setup is equivalent to a room lit by a few windows during the day. For this test, we set the luminosity of the TV to the maximum possible, and we measured the resulting white color brightness.
A purely matte screen has a very big disadvantage compared to a glossy screen: it reduces picture quality and clearness considerably. To reduce the amount of reflection, a matte screen diffuses the light coming into the screen. The problem is that it also diffuses the light coming out of the screen, which adds a little blurriness to the picture. Also, a matte screen reflects more ambient light. In a bright room, this reduces the perceived contrast ratio of the television.
It is hard to classify a TV as matte or glossy. Most new TVs are semi-gloss.
For these reasons, manufacturers are getting away from matte TV screens. Out of the all of the TVs we tested in 2014, and so far in 2015, none has had a pure matte screen.
Do any plasma TVs have a matte screen?
No. Plasma TVs need a glass panel to contain the gas cell. To compensate for this, higher-end plasma models have an anti-glare filter applied on top of the glass.
You can find more information about anti-glare filters here.
Thanks for the comparison! The TV Reflections guide top choice is a plasma TV (ST60). My understanding is that for a bright room with windows like mine, this model is the best choice, and better than any LED?
Not really. Yes, it has the least amount of reflection. However, there are two things to consider in a bright room: reflection and brightness. Plasmas (with the exception of the Samsung F8500) don't get very bright (82 cd/m2 for the ST60, compared to 300 cd /m2 for some LEDs). In a medium-bright room like the ones in our pictures, they are bright enough. However, if you have a lot of windows, you will need a TV which can get to at least 150 cd / m2.
We bought a Samsung LED, or LCD instead of a plasma. It is a 60 in screen. Problem is I can't see the picture from the side in the lighted room. Only when we sit right in front. We bought it because we didn't want glare, but now we can't see picture across the room. What do we do?
Samsung LEDs all have a very narrow viewing angle. If you haven't already, check out our viewing angle videos. If you need a wide viewing angle and want an LED, you are better off with an LG TV. Of course, plasma will have an even higher viewing angle, but entry level models have a lot of reflection.
I have a Sony SXRD kds-50a 2000 (green screen, therefore looking for a new TV) that does very well in my room facing four large windows and three more on the side. The only Sony TV I can find that seems to be a matte screen is the KDL60W850B. Do you think this will work in our 20x20 room? Seems like all the 4k models are glossy screens. Am I on the right track? I have been researching this for approximately two months, and I must say you have the BEST info that I can find (that applies to me) on the web. Thank you for this great site!
The KDL60W850B is semi-gloss, not matte. They don't produce pure matte TVs anymore. Glossier TVs have less ambient reflection, but in your scenario, the more defined reflections will be more of an issue. So go for the KDL60W850B. It is a great TV.
I find your site to be very informative, so thank you for that. I'm wondering why you don't have a section on vertical/horizontal banding, or the so-called "DSE"? It would be useful to know which sets suffer more from this, and which ones less so (or possibly even not at all, if such a set exists).
Thanks for the feedback. We will consider it when we update our test bench for next year, if we can come up with a good way of exposing it consistently for all TVs. Let us know if you have other suggestions! Update: We added this test in 2014. Thanks again for that great suggestion!
My LED TV is placed very near a window and exposed to direct sunlight every day. A friend recommended that I always pull down the curtains, but it's tiring to do that every day. Does it really matter? What happens to the screen if it's exposed to the sun?
It doesn't really matter (except for the reflections when you are watching, of course). The direct sunlight will not damage your TV. The TV will likely break by itself long before the sun can visibly damage it.
We purchased an LED TV, but unfortunately, as it faced a large window, the screen acted like a mirror and we couldn't see the picture. We took it back and got a full refund. Our old TV is a matte finish, and so is much better. Is there any way around this, as we want to purchase a new TV?
Not really. TVs are now only semi-gloss or glossy. Depending on the model, though, some are better than others (as you can see in the pictures above).
I find your site very informative as well, but was wondering if you would be able to put a section where you ask to buy the size you are looking for instead of getting all the sizes priced out that you don't want.
Thanks for the feedback. We have this tool to navigate by size, but as you mentioned, it isn't very good. We will create something better. Update: We decided to manually recommend TVs for each size group, for example.
In your bright room reflection test, I don't see any correlation between the numbers and the bright white reflections (max white numbers). Some have lower numbers and big white blotches. Others have similar blotches and have high numbers. Smaller white blotches have the same thing happening - high or low numbers. I know YOU know what you have tested, but the idea is not coming across. (I hate being the dumbest kid in the class, uhrrr...but I gotta ask to learn, sensei!) Are the high numbers good or bad?
You are right, this isn't clear. In the 'Average room' test, it is pretty straightforward, because the number we show is the amount of reflections. The lower, the better. With the 'Bright room' test, the number is the maximum luminance (brightness). Bigger is better. However, the score of the 'Bright room' test is based on the combination of the reflection + brightness. We will think of a better way to represent this (any ideas are welcomed).
I am interested in the 2014 Samsung pn64f5000 plasma. Have you had a chance to see this model? By the way, your site is #1 in my book. Better than CNET. Great reviews. Unbiased and no fluff. Just great unbiased info. Thank You!
Don't you mean the PN64H5000 instead? If so, we haven't. It looks just like the 2013 F5300/F5500 though. Those are great (except for the reflection problems).
I have searched the internet and plowed through big box TV stores for two months to replace a Toshiba with a matte finish or anti glare screen. None of the high tech stuff is of value if you cannot watch it without looking through reflections and making the eyes perform millions of muscular movements to respond to the picture and NOT the reflections in the room from a lamp, window light, etc. The high tech stuff is not practical. I need a simple 32 inch TV with a matte finish screen that I can actually watch for more than three minutes without eyes watering. Can you please help?
We didn't encounter any TVs with a matte screen in 2014, and it seems that companies are moving away from selling them. If you want a matte finish for your screen, you'll likely need to buy a filter and apply it to a TV yourself. Here is a company that sells them.
Keep in mind that the conditions inside of a store are different from what you'll get in your home, so you shouldn't base your decisions off of glare you might see on the showroom floor. TVs with semi-gloss screens tend to handle themselves well in light, and are usually suitable for bright rooms.
Hi! Can you please tell me what you would recommend for a 32" 720p TV? I will not have a cable box hooked up to it - just the cable from the wall - and it will be on a patio that will get indirect sunlight from the west. Thanks so much. I am really enjoying your site for the first time!
Since the sunlight is indirect, you shouldn't have to worry too much. Most decent TVs can get bright enough that some ambient light won't be a problem.
The best TV we reviewed in 2014 that is available in a 32" size is the H6350, which is a 1080p TV. It has good contrast and should have decent uniformity, and it comes with Samsung's smart features. If you want to save money and go for a 720p set, the Vizio E320i-A2 offers similar quality for less money (it has slightly worse black uniformity, but comparable contrast), though its smart offerings aren't as good.
I saw a recommendation that now is not the time to buy a new UHD Smart TV, because current models have 8 bit chip technology, and 10 bit chips will be introduced very soon. I don't want to invest in an immediately obsolete device. Your advice?
There will always be something new on the horizon. If you use that logic, you will never buy a new gadget, because it will be even better next year. The 10 bit adoption will be an even longer one than 4k in terms of content, so I wouldn't wait for that one.
I'm confused... in your "Bright Room" tests, you can clearly see that the H7150's reflection of the window is very minimal. Heck, you can still see some of the TV's images through the glare of the reflected window. So when other people have asked about this very problem, why did you recommend the H6350? Regardless of the screen finish, it seems to me the H7150 is still better. Maybe I just don't understand. Can you help me out? Thanks.
The H7150 reflects less light, yes. However, it is glossy. Even if you can better see the picture behind the reflected window, the eyes tend to focus on the reflection, not the screen. If the lights come from opposite of the TV (behind you), the H7150 isn't a good choice. But if the lights are overhead or coming from the side, the H7150 is better.
Most TVs seem to have lousy built-in speakers. I am looking at 48-50 inch sets with clear, loud speakers built in. I am trying to avoid buying the all-in-one speaker box you can set the TV on for around $300.
Unfortunately, we didn't test the sound quality on our TVs this year. We wanted to simplify our testing process and focus on picture quality. You are right that TVs have very poor sound in general. They optimize for the thinness of the TV, which is a problem when it comes to sound. Manufacturers don't really care, though, because not only does it help bring the cost of the TV down, but they can also sell you another device.
If reflection is a problem, wouldn't it be better to buy secondhand "old technology," say a non-LED LCD TV? My seven-year-old LG has virtually no reflections, even though there is an entire wall of windows behind my sitting area. There is nothing I would give it up for.
If you really want a matte screen, your best option is to apply a matte film to the screen. For example, this company makes some. Keep in mind that a matte screen reduces the apparent contrast ratio (and thus the picture quality).
We brought home three that looked like good candidates. They were awful from any angle. My wife said she can put on her makeup with them because they reflect so well. All the hype about picture technology, but what is it worth if you cannot view without the eyestrain of looking through the reflections? My close friend spent a bundle on one of those applique filters. They sent him a smear tool to lay it on and get the air bubbles out of it. He worked so hard on it for over an hour that he shaved off a bubble and left a huge hole in it. He got help from a sign company on the second attempt. They put expensive "wraps" on cars and buses. They did the same thing. Two filters ruined, house call from vinyl sign shop, and in the end it cost more than the TV. Thanks.
Glossy and semi-gloss screens aren't for everyone, so it's too bad matte screens aren't more available to those whose setups would benefit from them. It's true that it can be difficult to apply a filter to a TV screen, and people should take that into consideration when purchasing a TV with the intention of adding a filter. Thanks for sharing your experience with this.
We have a wide viewing area. Is there an appreciable improvement of color saturation and picture quality between the e70 and the m70? Is a dead pixel (black when screen is light) a normal thing, or a problem to be repaired and a possible indication of a bad set?
No, they both have the same viewing angle issue. As for the dead pixel, make sure it isn't just a stuck pixel. Apply slight pressure to it while turning the TV on and off. This often fixes the issue. If it stays there, return your TV.
Which is better, the Vizo M4221-B1 or the Samsung UN40H5201A, and why?
We didn't test the H5201, but we expect it would be about the same as the H5203. The Vizio M has less motion blur, which is important if you want to play video games or watch sports. It also comes with motion interpolation capability, handles itself better in brightly lit rooms, and it looks nicer aesthetically. The 5201 does have slightly better color uniformity, but its build quality is quite cheap, and its smart capabilities are sluggish. Overall, the Vizio M is a better buy.
Looking for the best anti-reflective TV I can buy in my area. The closest I have available to what you have reviewed is the Samsung H6300. Is that model similar to any that were reviewed?
Yes, the H6300 should be the same as the H6350, which we reviewed here. It performs quite well in a bright room. If the light source is off to the side, you might want to try to find an H7150 or H7100 (both the same TV), as those have a glossy screen that reflects very little ambient light. They aren't quite as good as the H6300 for light sources that are directly opposite the screen, though, as the reflections are quite defined.
Just bought an LG LF6090. When lights are on in the kitchen behind the family room (facing the TV) we get a string of colored star-like lights across the top of the screen. Get the same thing when a large lamp is on in the family room. What can we do about this? Thanks.
Unfortunately, your options are pretty limited here. Turning off the lights or re-positioning the TV would be the simplest options. If those aren't possibilities, you might want to get an anti-glare filter and put it over your screen.
UN78JU7500: Is the glare real bad with windows behind the viewing area, or do I definitely need blackout curtains? Thank you.
Just to be clear, are the windows are directly opposite the TV? If so, there will be quite a bit of reflected light. Blackout curtains would be best for that kind of setup. If the TV is in front of the windows, then you shouldn't have a big problem, though curtains would still help.
For many of the images of LG models, it looks like the reflections have a purple cast. What's up with that, if you know or can speculate?
It is the tradeoff to reduce the ambient reflections. We measured the least reflections on LG OLEDs, but this come at the cost of the purple tint and the glossy finish. For example, a lot of electronics devices (like the new iPads) use this kind of purple reflection technique.