4
   

TV advice

 
 
sozobe
 
Reply Fri 6 Jan, 2012 09:39 am
My husband is fond of saying we have a 3-D television -- it's a cube. A 1997 Sony Trinitron, 19 inch screen, and the whole thing is about as deep as it is wide (or high).

It's a dinosaur, and has been for a while. At some point in the recent past it went from being a point of Luddite pride (we loved it when sozlet's friends would whine about it and ask "where's your good TV?", we only have the one) and went over the edge into ridiculousness.

Maybe when I stopped being able to read the graphics when I watch NFL games? (Nothing about my eyesight mind you, just about pixels and cathode ray tubes and crap like that.)

Or maybe it was when things started being chopped off on either end because the aspect ratio is all wrong? (The screen is much more square than the current standard.)

At any rate... we have some Christmas money and I'm ready to just get a new TV already. If a) the Packers get to the Super Bowl and b) I can purchase the new TV before that, that would be awesome. But mostly I want to be careful about this and get a good one that will last awhile.

I've done some research (including talking to a very nice Target salesman at length -- he didn't run the other way when I said I was merely on a fact-finding mission, and he did an admirable job of stifling his giggles when I told him about our current TV), and have a general idea of what I'd like to get. The technology has moved SO far since 1997 though that I'd still like to get more feedback/ bounce ideas off of you guys before I commit.

I'm looking at the Panasonic Viera 42-inch TV.

Elements:

- I am not convinced that plasma is worth the extra cost. LED is fine.
- We don't really do any gaming (that may change in the future if we finally break down and get a Wii, but that's not something to plan on).
- We do upload movies sometimes, and would like to do that more. Currently do it from iTunes.
- We have no DVD player.
- We have Airport (wireless internet).
- We currently have a slow (1050 kbps) DSL connection, will soon be changing to a WOW bundle which will actually be cheaper than our current internet + cable bill, that will be 15 mpbs.
- We have basic cable, will continue with basic cable when we switch.
- We're not huge TV watchers but we'd like to have something decent for when we do watch TV. And right now we watch all movies on the computer. (21-inch screen.)
- One thing I'm not sure about is HD. Yes? No? I think yes with the option of no (the Viera is very adjustable) rather than no at all, but I'm not sure.

I'd love to have the TV connected to the computer for movies, especially. (We have one loveseat in the family room, which usually faces the TV -- when we watch a DVD, we pick the thing up and orient it to face the computer. Really getting pretty silly.)

Panasonic seems to get good reviews.

So, any thoughts? Reasons I should get some other kind of TV? Bigger? Smaller? Should I go for this one?

Thanks so much.

 
boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 Jan, 2012 09:54 am
@sozobe,
We just got a new TV maybe 6 months ago but Mr. B did all the research and I don't really know how he decided on the one he did.

I do know that I like the TV a lot! It's a Samsung Smart TV. It has a button on the remote that says "Smart Hub" and when you press it you are immediately connected to the internet.

The picture on it is great and the 3D feature blows you away -- WAY better than what you get at the movies. The 3D glasses for it are really expensive though.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 Jan, 2012 10:17 am
@boomerang,
Yeah, that looks like a nice one! We were looking at it when we went to Target. A bit above our price range though (we're hoping for something in the $500 range, that's what the Panasonic Viera is @ Amazon).

I'm still not used to the idea that a 42" TV is kind of mid-range, but apparently it is. (Still seems huge to me.)
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Fri 6 Jan, 2012 10:30 am
@sozobe,
If memory serves, TV prices always go way down after the Super Bowl and right before the Bowl is prime time for buying great used TVs.
sozobe
 
  2  
Reply Fri 6 Jan, 2012 10:34 am
@boomerang,
That makes sense. Evidently right now is an excellent time to buy TVs in general though... I was already on my quest when I saw this article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/27/business/tv-prices-fall-squeezing-most-makers-and-sellers.html

Quote:
It’s a great time to buy a television, and Ram Lall, a television salesman, isn’t happy about it. In a basement showroom of J&R, the huge electronics store in Lower Manhattan, Mr. Lall says the days of making big money from televisions are in the past. Pointing to a top-of-the line, 55-inch Sony television, Mr. Lall said it would have sold for $6,000 a few years ago. The current price? $2,599.

“We are making less money because the company is forcing us to slash prices,” Mr. Lall said, standing amid rows of flickering television sets.

Televisions have become so inexpensive that the profits have largely been squeezed out of them, a result of a huge increase in manufacturing capacity that has led to an oversupply and continued downward pressure on prices from low-cost manufacturers and online retailers.

The near fire-sale prices are great for consumers, who can now buy a television for a fraction of what one cost just a few years ago


(That is by the way some of why we've waited, not just pure Ludditism. We figured that if we waited long enough prices would come down a lot.)
DrewDad
 
  2  
Reply Fri 6 Jan, 2012 10:38 am
@sozobe,
Definitely get HD (I don't know if you can even buy non-HD sets anymore).

Unless you sit very close to the screen though (<6'), your eyes can't tell the difference between 720 and 1080.

Make sure you get 720p (not 720i). I think 720p is standard now, though.

We have a Visio that we're very happy with.
DrewDad
 
  2  
Reply Fri 6 Jan, 2012 10:43 am
@DrewDad,
Also,

I hear that sometimes you can get better quality for broadcast stations by using an antenna rather than cable. (Personally, I haven't tested it.) Apparently the cable companies sometimes try to increase compression on the data stream, which can cause loss of resolution.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  2  
Reply Fri 6 Jan, 2012 10:45 am
@sozobe,
Do you have a Sam's? They have a 42" Visio for $468.00.

Even if you don't, they have free shipping on that model.

Edit: Although you may want the one for $498.00 that has a 120 Hz frame rate.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  2  
Reply Fri 6 Jan, 2012 10:49 am
@sozobe,
If you use iTunes, then you may want an Apple TV (which is not a TV) to go with your TV.

Roku is another good option, which will stream Netflix, Amazon instant video, Hulu Plus, etc.
engineer
 
  3  
Reply Fri 6 Jan, 2012 10:50 am
@sozobe,
Quote:
- I am not convinced that plasma is worth the extra cost. LED is fine.

LED is superior to plasma IMO.
Quote:
- We have basic cable, will continue with basic cable when we switch.

What you need are high definition digital signals. Your basic cable has analog signals needed for your old TV, but somewhere it also carries digitial signals, at least for broadcast TV. An over the air antenna can also bring down HD digital signals for broadcast stations. Don't let the cable company tell you you have to get a "digital package."

Quote:
- We're not huge TV watchers but we'd like to have something decent for when we do watch TV. And right now we watch all movies on the computer. (21-inch screen.)

If you spend the money for a 42" TV, you should watch your movies on it. You can likely port your computer signal to your TV. Look at the TV before you buy to see if it has a computer connection into it.


Quote:
- One thing I'm not sure about is HD. Yes? No? I think yes with the option of no (the Viera is very adjustable) rather than no at all, but I'm not sure.

YES. Get a 1080p TV unless someone offers you an insane deal on a 720p. Analog starts to look horrible as you get bigger. You are not going to want to watch an analog signal on a 42" TV.

Quote:
Panasonic seems to get good reviews.

That's probably fine. Samsung seems to get the best reviews from Consumer Reports.

Quote:
So, any thoughts? Reasons I should get some other kind of TV? Bigger? Smaller? Should I go for this one?

TV size is really a function of budget and room size. If you are sitting around ten feet from your TV, 42" is fine. If you are more like 15", then 42" will still work but you could do more. Based on what you started with, I think 42" will make you happy.
Irishk
 
  2  
Reply Fri 6 Jan, 2012 10:55 am
@sozobe,
Newegg (one of my favorite online sources for electronics) offered this TV recently and it sold out quickly!

Link
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 Jan, 2012 10:59 am
Thank you DrewDad and Engineer! That was exactly the kind of thing I was going for.

All of this is new to me. I want to become more familiar with it so I can chart the middle ground between optimum (and expensive) and perfectly adequate for my needs (and more reasonably priced).
engineer
 
  2  
Reply Fri 6 Jan, 2012 11:05 am
@Irishk,
From the specs on that link:

Recommended Resolution 1080p - Good
PanelIPS LED-LCD Panel - Good, best for the money right now
Viewing Angle 178°(H) / 178°(V) - Good, about par for the course today
Refresh Rate 60HzVideo - Weak by today's standards. 120Hz is today's benchmark but 60Hz is probably fine for 42"
Support Video Signal 1080i/p, 720p, 480i/pAudio - No analog? Your cable won't work if the TV can't handle an analog signal. That doesn't seem right.
HDMI4 (1 side) - Good
WirelessWiFi Ready - But no built in wireless
Integrated ATSC Tuner - allows you to use over the air signals
Receiving System: ATSC/QAM/NTSC - QAM allows you to use digital signals from cable
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 Jan, 2012 11:05 am
@DrewDad,
As far as I can tell, the Panasonic Viera allows the connection, as in I wouldn't need anything else. Just that and Airport (which I already have) and then a way to connect it to the Airport (either directly, via cable, or indirectly through a thingie... this:)

http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-DY-WL10-Wireless-Adapter-Blu-ray/dp/B003960G1U/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

From a review on Amazon for example:

Quote:
The fact that it was wi-fi ready did not matter to me since I already had an Apple Airport Express for the entertainment system and could feed a CAT5 cable directly to the TV.


So, what I have in mind is that I'd upload movies from iTunes or whatever and be able to view it on the TV.

Do you think anything's wrong with that? (I don't know, just going by my research so far.)

Here's the Amazon page with more details on the Viera:

http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-VIERA-TC-L42E3-42-Inch-LED-LCD/dp/B004M8SB0W
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 Jan, 2012 11:08 am
@engineer,
engineer wrote:

What you need are high definition digital signals. Your basic cable has analog signals needed for your old TV, but somewhere it also carries digitial signals, at least for broadcast TV. An over the air antenna can also bring down HD digital signals for broadcast stations. Don't let the cable company tell you you have to get a "digital package."


This is useful, thanks.

Quote:
Get a 1080p TV unless someone offers you an insane deal on a 720p. Analog starts to look horrible as you get bigger. You are not going to want to watch an analog signal on a 42" TV.


Good to know.

Quote:

TV size is really a function of budget and room size. If you are sitting around ten feet from your TV, 42" is fine. If you are more like 15", then 42" will still work but you could do more. Based on what you started with, I think 42" will make you happy.


We sit about 10 feet away.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  2  
Reply Fri 6 Jan, 2012 11:08 am
@sozobe,
My recollection (it's been a year or more since I researched) is that LCD can have refresh rate issues. If you go with LCD, make sure you get a 120 Hz refresh rate.
0 Replies
 
engineer
 
  2  
Reply Fri 6 Jan, 2012 11:09 am
@sozobe,
I think you are fine with that.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  2  
Reply Fri 6 Jan, 2012 11:11 am
@engineer,
engineer wrote:
Integrated ATSC Tuner - allows you to use over the air signals

That's your coax input, I think. Usually, it will tune cable channels up to 99.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 Jan, 2012 11:13 am
@engineer,
Thank you!

Here are the full specs, other thoughts?

http://shop.panasonic.com/shop/model/TC-L42E3?t=specs

Especially, does that resolve the analog problem?
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Fri 6 Jan, 2012 11:14 am
@sozobe,
WiFi gets you a LAN/Internet connection.

My question would be whether the TV itself can communicate with iTunes, or whether you have to stream video from a media server. (And what software or client needs to be running on the TV to accomplish that.)
 

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