How To Buy The Right Flat Screen TV for You
Or, a snippet of what processes I went through to buy my very first flat screen TV, as a newbie flat screen TV buyer.
So there we were, staring at my old picture tube television. My suspicion was that since half of my picture tube was darker than the other half, then maybe my JVC television was taking a poop! I finally had an excuse to go out and buy a flat screen TV! Hoo ya!!!
But unlike the Nielsen families who dictate much about our television viewing, (advertisers spent around $10 billion on ads for the upcoming 2011-12 fall TV season!) and believe every ad they’re pitched, I tend to do my research before charging out the door with my hard-earned cash.
So I hit up a few websites, looking at what was available, and it was pretty much as I suspected… that the ads with the prettiest colors and best ad words seemed to make that brand look good to me. So I hit up a few consumer TV review websites and learned a little bit about what kind of flat screen TV I wanted.
Or more to the point, what brand seems most robust, and of that brand, what model might I wish to own. All in the hopes of having something that will last a while longer.
So here it goes… first up…
Plasma, LCD or LED TV?
First up I was wondering what kind of flat TV I wanted. My first inclination was for a plasma TV because they appear to have a wider field of view. Meaning you can sit way left or right of the TV picture and there’s no distortion in the image. Apparently, according to lore on LCD TV’s, the farther off-center you sit from screen center, the more likely the picture will appear dimmer. Though as technology gets better, that issue would seem to be becoming more moot. But that depends on how new a model of a TV you look to get.
So my first thought was plasma. But then I had restrictions in as much as the amount of space I had available to jam the flat screen TV. They don’t make plasma TV’s under 42 inches, so I guess it’s LCD or LED. (LED is really LCD, more or less.)
Then if I’m going with an LCD or LED TV, which brand? Which model?
Screen Size No Longer Counts? Bull!
Despite screen resolutions being referred to now as 720p or 1080p, the screen size referenced in model numbers still references the diagonal measurement… but that’s moot, considering how most flat screen TV’s are letter-boxed shaped.
As far as 720 or 1080p goes… the 1080p TV will have the ability to best display HD TV… but that doesn’t automatically do it. You still need an HD type feed like a cable HD box or movies from a Blu-ray player.
On the bright side: I’ve discovered that even though I don’t have HD cable, some networks still transmit in pretty good detail and it’s pretty yummy to watch. It depends on the TV show/network.
LCD’s are the more common type of flat screen TV. They’re slightly more pricey than like-sized plasmas. Some LCD’s are actually LED’s, and use LED back-lighting vs. the LCD fluorescent lighting. (When I returned my old tube TV’s to a local recycling center, they said that LED’s are much more environmentally friendly because they have no mercury in them. They also cost less to operate.)
Also, something to ponder is that LCD’s are typically brighter than plasmas. (Good for bright rooms)
If you’re looking for large, plasma is supposedly the way to go. I couldn’t tell ya for sure. They say plasmas have shiny screens and are more reflective. Plasmas though, have been known to be susceptible to burn-in, though that seems unlikely as technology improves, but the potential is there.
Flat Screen TV Features
This one is up to you! Dang, flat screens do have a bunch of options. There’s 3D, (pointless in my mind), Internet (Wi-Fi) ready or capable (They might be Internet capable. Ask if you need a wireless dongle to make that happen.), and other goodies.
My wife has had a Sony TV since, well, forever, and it keeps on ticking. That alone sways me in that direction. Meanwhile, my JVC tube TV gave up the ghost. Again, swayed a bit.
If you head out to shop, be aware that the TV’s in stores are put on a setting called ‘retail’ or ‘store mode.’ It’s a much brighter mode for the TV to show off in the brightly lit store. If you’re looking at more than one TV, see if you can have the salesperson take them both off that mode so you can see the real screen output levels.
Also I’ve been told to get them to take the TV off of a sporting program and see something normal. Sports use brighter colors. And they say you don’t need those expensive cables they try to pitch. (I can attest to that. A cable is a cable!)
As far as brands go, Panasonic, Sanyo, Sylvania, & Sony were the top four brands for LCD flat TV brands. In the Consumer Reports scale, it looked like Mitsubishi ranked on the bottom of brand reliability. IE, which had higher or lower repair rates.
So I had made a list of brands and LED TV’s and decided upon a Sony Bravia 32 inch LED TV. I picked the Sony Bravia TV due to some obvious design features that appealed to me.
I started looking around and no matter where I looked, there didn’t seem to be much undercutting of prices between competitors. I was looking at around a $700 price tag for the flat TV LED features that I wanted
When I figured I couldn’t find a store with a better price, as advertised online, I decided to head to my local Sony Showroom store. I wasn’t expecting much except to find my TV listed at full-price, but at least they had the exact model I had decided upon. If I didn’t go to the Sony Showroom and went to some other electronics store, I was going to have to settle as far as model.
But then I found my model at the Sony store, and I was very surprised to see that it was actually priced almost $200 cheaper than any other outlet! Who’d a thunk!!?? So don’t rule out the actual brand’s store front. Look at every option available and you’ll see it was worth it in the long run.
And thus, ended my pursuit for my very first flat screen LED TV, a Sony Bravia.
I’m not looking to push you into a Sony Bravia, it’s just what I ended up with, and so far, liking it. But resources listed below are just a jumping off point to websites that will provide you info about many other brands and such.
I hope this helps in some way, your own journey to buying a new flat screen TV.
Though I can’t directly provide the Consumer Reports links that I use (I’m a subscriber), but I did derive a lot of info from the site. But I did dig up a few other links for you to check out if interested: