Bowers and Wilkins’ 600 Anniversary Edition looks better, promises improved sound – CNET

Laptops, phones and TVs are replaced by new models every year, but for some audio components like loudspeakers, the time between updates is closer to four or five years. Not so the Bowers and Wilkins 600 series. We last saw an update to those speakers in 2018, but just two years on, the company has a new model that it's calling the 25th anniversary model (referring to the first 6xx series).

The 600 Series Anniversary Edition, now the seventh iteration of the iconic speakers, comprises four new models -- two bookshelves, a floorstander and a center channel.

The Anniversary model retains the silver Continuum cone of the previous version but includes an upgraded crossover inherited from the recent 700 Series Signature line. The speakers are available in matte-black, matte-white, oak or a red cherry finish as a special order. 

Bowers and Wilkins

Bowers and Wilkins says the speakers offer "greatly improved resolution and transparency" over the previous generation.

If I were to make a musical analogy, these appear to be a "remastered" version of the existing 606 S2 and not a remix or re-imagining like the Elac Uni-Fi 2.0 that was announced recently. At $900 for the 606 S2 these are pricey as an entry-level speaker, and it would be great to see the company revisit its earlier 300 series to offer fans a more affordable option.

The lineup includes:

603 S2 Anniversary Edition floorstander -- $2,000 per pair

Decoupled double dome aluminum tweeter, 6-inch FST Continuum Cone midrange driver, plus two 165mm (6.5-inch) paper-cone bass drivers.

606 S2 Anniversary Edition bookshelf -- $900 per pair 

Decoupled double dome aluminum tweeter technology with a 6.5-inch Continuum Cone mid/bass driver.

607 S2 Anniversary Edition -- $700 per pair 

Compact stand-mount or bookshelf speaker offering outstanding bass response and insight from its main 130mm (5-inch) Continuum Cone mid/bass driver.

HTM6 S2 Anniversary Edition center speaker -- $800

Decoupled Double Dome tweeter plus dual 130mm (5-inch) Continuum Cone mid/bass drivers.

600 Series Anniversary Edition Theatre -- $4,300 

5.1 speaker package featuring 603 S2, 607 S2, HTM6 S2 Anniversary Edition plus the ASW610 active subwoofer.

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Elac Uni-Fi 2.0 speakers pair better with AV receivers, start at $600 – CNET


When speaker designer Andrew Jones left Pioneer for Elac America five years ago, he came up with some great designs straight out of the gate. The Elac Debut and Uni-Fi are two of my favorite speakers for the money over the past 10 years.

Yesterday I spoke to Jones about his latest efforts. He said that when he released the Debut 2.0 in 2018, he also started fielding questions about when the successor to the higher-end Uni-Fi model would be available. Now it's finally here, in three new models: the UB5.2 bookshelf, the UF5.2 floorstander and the UC5.2 center channel.


Like the Debut 2.0 before it, the Uni-Fi 2.0 has been fully redesigned, Jones says, and it uses the slim version of the Uni-Fi speaker as its starting point. The three-way configuration is the same -- a concentric tweeter-midrange and a bass woofer -- but that's where the similarities end. Gone are the metallic green drivers, replaced with a more subtle gun-metal. The port is now front-facing, which may help with positioning the speakers near walls. 

The main improvements, according to Jones, have been in reducing distortion with the help of redesigned components. The speaker now features a new 4-inch midrange with a larger voice coil and a 1-inch wide-surround tweeter at its center. The bass woofer at the bottom features a "dished" design for "a smoother response and greater transparency," he said.

The three-way Crossover is also brand-new and Jones told me the 1.5-pound component is so large it needs to be glued in by the cabinet maker. It's designed to improve driver integration and deliver a true 6-ohm nominal impedance for "compatibility with virtually all AV receivers". Jones gently admonished me for testing the original, harder-to-drive Uni-Fi with a Sony STR-DN1080 (a Rotel was also used), but the new speaker should be an easier load for price-compatible equipment.

Pricing is equivalent to the previous Uni-Fis as well as Elac's new Debut Reference, though I'm anticipating the Uni-Fis will offer more midrange insight and "air" than the Debuts. I look forward to testing them at the earliest opportunity.

The Elac Uni-Fi 2.0 range is available now:

  • UB5.2: Three-way concentric bookshelf speakers: $600 for a pair. (International prices aren't available but this converts to about £450 or AU$820.)
  • UC5.2: Three-way concentric center speaker: $400 each.
  • UF5.2: Three-way concentric floor-standing speakers: $1,200 for a pair.

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Yamaha dresses 2020 AV receivers to the nines with 8K resolution and Wi-Fi – CNET


A/V Receivers have a tradition of being ugly. Great, yes, but ugly nonetheless. Only in once in a while does a manufacturer change things up with something that's a little more stylish. Yamaha's brand new RX-V range joins the Denon HEOS AVR in offering something of a conversation piece. Yamaha has dispensed with the "hearse"-like appearance of yesteryear, and its new models are right up to date in terms of specification. It will even do 8K (whenever that actually becomes a thing).

Unlike in previous years, the company is skipping over the number 5 in the US and concentrating on the RX-V4A and RX-V6A models instead. The $440 (about £335 or AU$610) RX-V4A is a 5.1-channel receiver while the $600 model offers Dolby Atmos compatibility in a seven-channel receiver.

I wasn't expecting to see the RX-V4A and RX-V6A's rounded, glass-like fascias, and my first response was literally "wow!" The hi-res LCD display and centered volume control also look pretty spiffy, offering a level of sophistication not usually seen at this price.

But looks aren't everything and it appears that specs-wise it offers everything an AV enthusiast will need for the foreseeable future. It includes HDMI 2.1 compatibility with built-in features including auto low-latency mode and quick media switching. The receivers will also support longer HDMI cable runs with a bolstered power supply. Yamaha claims its receiver has more 8K HDMI inputs than any other brand, including three on the RX-V6A (making seven inputs in total) and all four inputs on the RX-V4A.

Both models offer Wi-Fi support in addition to the company's MusicCast multiroom system, which can be controlled via Alexa, Google and Siri-enabled devices. It also includes AirPlay 2 and Spotify Connect, though no mention has been made of Bluetooth (it's probably there, just not included in the press release). The receivers also include compatibility with MusicCast Surround which allows wireless MusicCast speakers to be used as surrounds.

Products have taken longer to reach stores in 2020. And in the case of some, like Yamaha, the ranges have been slimmed down considerably or, like Sony, carried on from previous years. I have yet to hear any of the new 2020 models, but I expect the Yamahas will put in a good showing, especially in terms of sonics, build quality and feature counts. I look forward to reviewing the RX-6A in particular so watch this space.

RX-V6A at a glance

  • 7.2-channel, 100-watt AV receiver with Zone 2
  • 8K/60Hz & 4K/120Hz, HDMI 2.1 with HDCP 2.3 and eARC (seven in, one out)
  • Dolby Atmos, DTS:X and Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization*
  • YPAO multipoint automatic room calibration 
  • Voice control with Amazon Alexa, Siri (via AirPlay 2) and Google Assistant
  • MusicCast multiroom app control with optional wireless surrounds
  • $600, available September 2020

RX-V4A at a glance

  • 5.1-channel, 80-watt AV receiver
  • 8K/60Hz & 4K/120Hz, HDMI 2.1 with HDCP 2.3 and eARC (four in, one out)
  • YPAO automatic room calibration 
  • Voice control with Amazon Alexa, Siri (via AirPlay 2) and Google Assistant
  • MusicCast multiroom app control with optional wireless surrounds
  • $440, available August 2020

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Cricket Wireless offers 5G access, but only if you buy a $1,200 phone – CNET

Angela Lang/CNET

AT&T prepaid service Cricket Wireless on Friday announced access to nationwide 5G on the service's first 5G phone, the Samsung Galaxy S20 Plus 5G.

At present the Galaxy S20 Plus 5G is the only phone that will work on Cricket's network, which customers can buy in Cosmic Gray for $1,200 outright. If you buy the same phone from Samsung locked to AT&T, Cricket's parent company, it costs $950.

Cricket says that 5G phones from other providers aren't compatible, but adds it will have more 5G phones available soon.

Now playing: Watch this: Galaxy S20 vs. S20 Plus: Which Samsung phone to buy


Customers can access 5G on the company's Simply Data plans, starting at $35 for 20GB, or sign up for the $60 Cricket Unlimited More plan. Cricket is also launching the Simply Data Rate Plan with 100GB of data for $90 per month.

As a sweetener, Cricket is also offering a 30-day trial of HBO Max to all of its prepaid customers.

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Pioneer HDJ-CUE1BT: Hands-on with $99 DJ-style headphones – CNET


The HDJ-CUE1 headphone range.


When the original Beats headphones arrived way back in 2008, they created an instant market for DJ-style headphones and celebrity endorsements alike. While Pioneer's HDJ-CUE1 range doesn't have a celebrity tie-in and it doesn't look like a regurgitated Swarovski crystal, it is attractively priced. But is it a "DJ headphone" as Pioneer claims?

The HDJ-CUE1 is a range of on-ear headphones, and Pioneer says the models use the same drivers as the HDJ-X5 over-ear model and "accentuate important low bass and kick drum frequencies for mixing." The range offers a muted, pro look with a foldable design that lets the user turn both earcups a full 90 degrees. Just like the DJs do, but then again you can bet Tiësto isn't using $70 on-ear headphones on stage.


The HDJ-CUE1BT with the optional $30 add-on pack

Ty Pendlebury/CNET

Prices start at $69 per pair for the wired HDJ-CUE1 in dark silver finish, while the Bluetooth version HDJ-CUE1BT is available for $99 per pair (in a choice of matte black, matte white or matte red). The headphones can be supplemented by a $30 accessory pack that includes replacement earpads and a coiled cable in a choice of orange, yellow, green, blue or violet.  

Pioneer says the play time on the Bluetooth model is approximately 30 hours on a two-hour charge. The locking cable on this more expensive version disables the Bluetooth, the microphone and volume buttons.

Ty Pendlebury/CNET


The headphones are plastic and not very adjustable fit-wise. Yet even with my larger noggin I didn't find them uncomfortable.

I listened to a set of the HDJ-CUE1BT in both wired and wireless mode and found them to be as bass-forward as I'd expect from DJ headphones. They were best suited to the '80s dance floor beats of Tame Impala's Borderline or the slam of Gorillaz' Feel Good Inc. The song I found them most impressive with was The Beta Band's Life -- at 2:20 the song ends with a super-deep synth bass, but unlike with some headphones and speakers I've heard, each each note was played at an equal volume and without distortion.

The HDJ-CUE1BT offered enough presence to make vocals pop, even if there wasn't much that much treble coming through. When plugged in the sound became flatter; the bass prominence was still there, but the midrange sparkle was gone.

Pioneer knows that "serious" DJs aren't going to be using these on the dance floor, but if you want an attractive set of budget headphones that can do deep bass well, then these are worth investigating.

Pioneer HDJ-CUE1BT specifications

  • Type: Closed, Dynamic 
  • Frequency response: 5Hz to 30,000Hz 
  • Impedance: 32 ohms 
  • Sensitivity 104 dB 
  • Driver: 40 mm 
  • Weight: 215 g (without cable) 
  • Warranty: 1 year 
  • Accessories: 1.2 meter coiled cable

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Yamaha’s sub-$200 soundbars look to take budget crown from Vizio – CNET


The Yamaha B20A (top) and C20A soundbars


Yamaha has added two sub-$200 soundbars to its range, the SR-C20A and SR-B20A, which offer an all-in-one design and HDMI connectivity. The models also include Bluetooth.

The $180 C20A is the compact option at 23 inches long and 2.5 inches, and it includes a "built-in subwoofer" and dual passive radiators. It offers four different sound modes (standard, stereo, game, movie), in addition to a virtual surround mode. 

Yet for a little more at $200, the B20A appears to be the early pick, as it's reportedly an update to the older YAS-108 with a similar design and lack of Amazon Alexa. (The YAS-109, which came out in 2019, has the voice assistant onboard but costs more at $220). This 35-inch 20A includes dual built-in subwoofers, plus a step-up feature that Yamaha debuted several years ago -- DTS Virtual:X. At this price only the Vizio V21 has this sound mode and it's one of the most impressive ways that I've heard to boost immersion in movies without adding speakers.

The soundbars can be controlled with either your existing TV remote (HDMI CEC), the remote included in the box or the company's Sound Bar Controller App for smartphone control. Both soundbars can be wall-mounted via built-in keyholes. 

Yamaha is up against some tough competition at the price, with the excellent Vizio V21 debuting at $180 earlier this month. The Vizio exceeds the Yamaha for features with a dedicated wireless subwoofer and a (admittedly weird) voice assistant input. Yet, if you want something more compact without the need to place a soundbar, the Yamahas offer an intriguing alternative.

The $200 SR-B20A will be available in late summer, while the $180 SR-C20A will available in early fall.

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Plex adds 80 free, ad-supported streaming channels in grid guide – CNET


Streaming app Plex is adding over 80 channels of free television programming. The ad-supported channels come with a new program grid and include news from Reuters and Yahoo Finance, kids' shows Toon Goggles, lifestyle channel Tastemade, sports courtesy of the Fubo Sports Network, gaming and esports on IGN1and two new LGBTQ+ channels from Revry.

As with the free on-demand shows and movies Plex added earlier this year, you don't need a dedicated server or even a Plex login to watch. Instead you can use the app for Roku, Apple TV, Android and iOS as well as browsers. The app supports live TV tuners and music service Tidal, as well as streaming content from an attached hard drive or host computer via the Plex server.

Streaming providers have added more free TV content recently. The Roku Channel also added live TV channels to its offering with many of the same channels. NBCUniversal's new Peacock streaming service also has a free tier and a selection of grid-based channels. Meanwhile Pluto TV beefed up its selection of free shows with numerous ViacomCBS titles including South Park and Survivor.

Read more: Best free TV streaming services: Peacock, Plex, Pluto TV, Roku, IMDb TV, Crackle and more 

Don't confuse the free "channels" on these services with standard network TV channels available on services such as Sling TV and YouTube TV, however. The free channels are generally much less familiar and more limited. But if you're looking to save money on streaming amid financial turmoil, more choices in free TV can't hurt.

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Best projector for 2020 – CNET

As everyone continues to hunker down inside a projector is a great way to bright up those dull evenings. The latest projectors offer high brightness and excellent color, and you don't need to spend over a grand to get a good one.

Whether you're looking to go whole hog with 4K and HDR compatibility, want something that will make HD sources look great, or need something you can take outside in the backyard these are the best projectors for the money.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The BenQ HT2050A is the best projector you can get for the money. It offers a bright picture with great contrast and lifelike colors. It's also one of the only comparable models with vertical lens shift, which makes setup a little easier.  Read our BenQ CineHome HT2050A review.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

If you are susceptible to the "rainbow effect" on moving edges on a DLP projector, then an LCD-based projector is for you. The Epson Home Cinema 2150 is one of the most flexible projectors we've seen with a bright, colorful image and enhanced setup capabilities like a wider zoom and lens shift. Read our Epson Home Cinema 2150 review.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The Optoma HD28HDR is one off the cheapest HDR-compatible projectors and offers a bright image perfect for gaming or the latest movies. Unlike its Optoma stablemate above, it's only 1080p and it isn't the best for non-HDR content. Read our Optoma HD28HDR review.

Geoffrey Morrison/CNET

The M2 is about the size of a cake, but it comes with onboard streaming, and with the (optional) battery it's a good option for backyard movie parties (with the proper distancing precautions taken, of course). Read our Viewsonic M2 review.

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YouTube TV hiked price to $65: Sling TV and Hulu offer better value – CNET

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Live TV streaming services promise a cord-cutter's delight. They're typically cheaper than a cable TV subscription with similar channel lineups and no need to sign a contract, so you can cancel anytime. Unfortunately they also suffer one of cable TV's major flaws: constant price hikes. My former favorite such service and CNET's Editors' Choice, YouTube TV, announced a monthly increase of 30%, from $50 to $65, which takes effect July 31. During a normal year such a massive spike would be bad enough, but in the middle of a pandemic, with millions of Americans out of work, it seems almost cruel.

Google, which owns YouTube TV, used the now-standard explanation that "this new price reflects the rising cost of content." YouTube TV earned my accolades by combining great features like an unlimited DVR with an excellent channel lineup for the money. The price increase comes with a raft of new ViacomCBS channels -- BET, CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, TV Land and VH1 are available now while BET Her, MTV2, MTV Classic, Nick Jr., NickToons, and TeenNick will be coming later. (Editors' note: CNET is owned by ViacomCBS.)

As evinced by the vitriolic replies to YouTube TV's tweets, however, many subscribers don't think the new channels are worth the price hike. Personally I like Comedy Central, but given the choice I'd rather pay $50 per month and skip it. In short, YouTubeTV is no longer the great deal it once was. 

Now playing: Watch this: YouTube TV gets stronger in 2020


Google isn't the only one. Sports-centric service FuboTV snatched defeat from the jaws of victory by announcing its own price jump to $60, barely a week after finally adding ABC and ESPN. FuboTV has never been the best or most recommendable service in my book, and sadly this $5 price increase simply clinches it.

I will be updating my reviews soon to reflect the price hikes, but in the meantime here's my advice right now for YouTube TV and Fubo TV subscribers who don't want to pay more for live TV.

Jump ship to Sling TV or Hulu

If you want to continue saving money and streaming live TV channels, there is hope in the form of two other services I like: Sling TV and Hulu with Live TV. Here's how they compare.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Sling TV is my other current Editors' Choice and the company is taking full advantage of backlash against YouTube TV, announcing a price guarantee to new and existing subscribers: the price won't increase for a full year.

The Sling Blue package at $30 is the best deal in live TV right now. Even the bundle with Orange isn't too bad at $45. Sling TV's interface isn't as slick as YouTube TV's or even Hulu's, but Sling at least offers lots of upgrade options for people looking to add more channels. The major downside is lack of local channels (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC) in most markets, something YouTube TV and Hulu offer.

To address that lack, Sling is giving away the AirTV 2 OTA tuner to new users if you sign up for three months, allowing integration of local channel broadcasts into Sling TV's guide if you connect an antenna.  Read our Sling TV review.

Hulu Plus Live TV

$55 per month

Sarah Tew/CNET

In terms of channel lineup Hulu TV Plus Live TV comes closer to YouTube TV than any other, for $10 less per month. Unlike Sling it lets you stream local channels and its array of other channels, including sports networks and specialty cable staples missing from Sling TV, is top-notch. In my review I loved that the price includes "regular" Hulu on-demand, too.

Hulu's cloud DVR isn't nearly as good as YouTube TVs, especially because you'll need to pay an additional $10 to skip commercials. And the interface isn't as simple -- although a recent revamp helps. And of course Disney, Hulu's parent company, hasn't announced a price freeze of its own. In my opinion it's not a matter of if Hulu will raise live TV prices, but when. Read our Hulu With Live TV review.

Service comparison (after announced changes)

Sling TV Blue Hulu with Live TV YouTube TV FuboTV
Monthly price $30 $55 $65 $60
Number of top 100 channels 39 59 76 64
ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC channels No (Fox and NBC in select markets) Yes Yes Only CBS, Fox and NBC (ABC coming this summer)
Cloud DVR Yes (5 hours, $5 for 50 hours) Yes (50 hours, 200 hours and commercial skip for $10 a month) Yes (keep for 9 months) Yes (30 hours, 500 hours for $10 a month

How long can prices keep going up?

In the years since live TV streaming started, price rises have been one of the main constants. Until the services really start hemorrhaging customers, this is a trend that's likely to continue.

As shown by services like AT&T TV or Xfinity Flex, at some time in the future all of your "cable" TV will come down an internet pipe instead. It won't be a matter of saving money anymore -- it's just what you will do to get TV. Live TV streaming, as it is right now, is just a glimpse at this future. 

If you want to save money on cable the answer is increasingly not to subscribe to a live TV streaming service at all. Get yourself an antenna and an over-the-air DVR. In addition there are several free streaming services available which will give you some live TV (but little choice) including Roku Channel, Tubi TV and Crackle. As an adjunct to basic Hulu or Netflix these could serve quite well.

As consumers, the choice is in our hands. At the moment Sling TV is the best budget option (good for 12 months at least), and Hulu Plus Live TV is the best step-up service. Beyond that you could always build the on-demand streaming service bundle that suits you -- Hulu and HBO Max, for example -- and supplement that with a free TV streaming service and an antenna.

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Vizio’s 2020 LCD TVs bring quantum dots, more dimming zones, better gaming – CNET


Vizio, the No. 3 TV maker in the US after Samsung and TCL, has announced pricing and availability of its extensive 2020 range of TVs. The new 2020 TVs are available in store now and promise better color, better contrast and improved performance, for gamers in particular.

The biggest surprise for this year was the company's first OLED TVs but its bread and butter is still LCD-based sets like last year's M-Series Quantum and P-Series Quantum X, both of which scored very well in CNET's reviews. The company has five ranges of LED TVs -- four of which include quantum dot technology -- and their names are almost identical to those of their 2019 predecessors. A new year brings a revamped operating system, SmartCast 4.0, along with an all-new voice remote. 

Vizio 2020 M and P-series LCD TVs

Model Price Size Local Dimming Zones
P85QX-H1 $2,999.99 85 792
P75QX-H1 $1,999.99 75 480
P65QX-H1 $1,499.99 65 384
P75Q9-H1 $1,699.99 75 240
P65Q9-H1 $1,199.99 65 200
M65Q8-H1 $749.99 65 90
M55Q8-H1 $549.99 55 90
M65Q7-H1 $699.99 65 30
M55Q7-H1 $499.99 55 30
M50Q7-H1 $399.99 50 16

Vizio TVs have lagged behind competitors' smart TV systems, in particular Roku systems, but the new SmartCast aims to close the gap with faster response times, improved search, better customization and more apps. Vizio is using its own home-brewed voice system, however, rather than building in Alexa or Google Assistant (although you can still pair the TV with Alexa and Google speakers).


Vizio's new SmartCast 4.0 homepage.


For image quality Vizio touts an upgraded "IQ processor" that promises better upscaling, enhanced noise reduction and better control over brightness. All of the TVs support Dolby Vision, HDR10+, HDR10 and HLG as well as HDMI 2.1.

The M-Series and up TVs feature Vizio's ProGaming Engine, which offers support for Variable Refresh Rates, AMD FreeSync and 4K@120Hz. Vizio says the rngine offers a faster response time than was possible before, while the Auto Game Mode automatically enables low lag when the TV detects a connected gaming console.


Vizio's 2020 P-Series Quantum X


At the top of the lineup is the P-Series Quantum X, which Vizio says "arguably has the industry's best picture." It promises better contrast than before: 792 zones of local dimming (versus 2019's 384) and a brighter picture with 800 nits of full-screen brightness (up to 3,000 nits peak). It will come in a "bezelless" design in sizes of 65 inches, 75 inches and 85 inches.

Vizio's 2020 P-Series Quantum ratchets down the picture quality enhancements a little, for while it still includes the IQ Ultra processor it offers 240 zones of local dimming and 1,200 nits of peak brightness. The TVs are available in 65- and 75-inch sizes.


Vizio's new voice remote.


The M-Series Quantum's top 55-inch and 65-inch M8 models offer 90 local dimming zones and 800 nits of peak brightness. The number of dimming zones is set at 30 local – double the previous year's -- while the M7 TVs include up to 600 nits of peak brightness. 

Vizio 2020 V-series LCD TVs

Model Price Size
V755-H4 $799.99 75
V705-H3 $659.99 70
V655-H9 $469.99 65
V605 $399.99 60
V585 $349.99 58
V555 $339.99 55
V505x $299.99 50
V435 $279.99 43
V405 $229.99 40

Meanwhile the V-Series ranges in sizes from 40-inch to 70-inch models, each a budget-level TV with the gaming-friendly technologies and HDR support of the more expensive models.

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