Archive for the 'The Electronics Dude' Category

TV Power Consumption testing

I just got this link from my Crutchfield.com newsletter (Crutchfield being one of my favorite electronics retailers because they have exhaustive stats and specs for all the electronics they sell).

In a nutshell, on average, LCD flat panel TVs use less power than Plasma flat panels of roughly the same size.

Check it out.

http://www.crutchfieldadvisor.com/I-rEUPcUHH/learningcenter/home/M-UG835/TV-power.html

Happy New Year, all!

How much HDTV can I get for $1000?

Yahoo! My first Electronics Dude question.

Janice says:

37 – 42″ LCD with the biggest bang for the buck, since I won’t spend much more than 1000 of them.

Well, Janice, after doing a little research, I have some good news and some bad news.

First, the bad news. There are no LCD TV’s between 37″ and 42″ that are less than around $1599. For $1000 or less, today you can only get 32″ or smaller.

But who wants smaller right? This is the era of the biggest, awesomest, newfanglest, HDTV you can afford!

The good news, though, is that 6 to 9 months ago, there weren’t any LCD TV’s in that size range for less than $2499. [A $900 price-drop in less than a year is quite ridiculous; how do these guys stay in business???] You won’t have to wait very long before the right TV, in the right size, at the right price comes along. Also, the 42″ range is right around where PDPs (Plasma Display Panels) and LCD Panels converge in size, so you should see lots of price volatility in that space. Along the same lines, when you hit the 42″ range, you might also consider a PDP (even considering my qualms with Plasmas smaller than 50″, they still look gorgeous).

So, what do you do now? I would suggest you check out these models, and as soon as they hit the magic price point (which I would almost bet money they will in the next 4 months), you can rest assured you’re getting the most for your money when you buy one. At a very high level, I would go with only three brands for LCD panel HDTVs: Sharp, Sony, and Samsung, in that order. They are the top three manufacturers (at least at the end of 2006).

First, Sharp’s Aquos LC-42D62U or LC-37D42U.

The first is the newest 42″ model, so there’s a price premium on them in the near term (Circuit City has a sale price of $1899 right now). The 42″ is full-HD 1080p resolution (making it, arguably, more future proof), is bigger, has loads of digital video inputs (2x HDMI, 2x component), and a great contrast ratio.

The latter is a 37″ model, but is the previous generation. It supports a 720p resolution, which, on paper, is less than the 42″ model, but still 100% gorgeous with all of today’s content (both of my HDTV’s at home are 720p). It has the same number of digital video inputs, and the same contrast ratio. Because it’s the previous panel generation, it might get harder to find, and there seem to be a dearth of sub-40″/super-32″ models across the board.

I own the 26″ Aquos; it’s in the bedroom and performs very nicely.

Next, Sony’s Bravia LCD line. Look at the KDL40S2400 or KDL40V2500. These are both 40″, current generation panels, from Sony, and have some pretty amazing specs.

The V2500 has a 1080p video resolution, has 2x HDMI, and 2x component inputs. The S2400 differs only in its 720p resolution. These have a slightly better contrast ratio than the two Aquos TVs above, but you’ll pay nearly $700 more than the 42″ Aquos. I attribute this to the Sony brand-premium, but they do make great products. The retail price for the V2500 has already dropped nearly $750 from the $3000 suggested retail, which puts it at about $2250. I’d expect to see this TV near $1500 by summertime.

One thing to note about the Sony’s…don’t be dazzled by the XBR TV’s, Sony’s highest-end models. They fetch a crazy premium, and while having identical or nearly-identical specs as their non-XBR cousins, differ only in their exterior cabinet style or minor on-board speaker power. Owning an XBR is more about bragging rights than anything, in my opinion.

Finally, Samsung. Like Sony and Sharp, they have competing models in the 40″ range, differing only be resolution, but with a bewildering number of options. The LN-D4041D/51D/52D are the previous gen panels, with slightly less contrast ratio compared to the current-gen 92D (which has a different backlight technology). They are all 720p resolution TVs, and range from $1499-$1799 retail. The 1080p LN-S4096D is Samsung’s sweetspot, with near identical specs to the 92D, save the higher resolution. Samsung also has the dubious distinction of having TV’s with a white-colored bezel. If that design aesthetic is appealing to you, the 52D is a good choice.

Okay, so sum up. You’ve got $1000 you want to spend (now), and you’d like a TV between 37″ and 42″. You still have a few options as I see it.

  1. Wait. I’ve said this to people before, the great thing about HDTV’s is that you don’t have to rush out and buy a TV! If you put off purchasing for even short period of time (like 3 months), the better the TVs become, and they can be had for even less money.
  2. Check out one of the 32″ models. They are all sub-$1000 right now, and while they would mathematically be slightly smaller than 32″ or 37″ tube TV you have now when showing non-widescreen/boxy content, they are just as big if not slightly bigger when showing wide-screen, HD features or DVD movies.
  3. Check out some of the 42″ plasmas. As I said, the 40-42″ range is extremely volatile right now because that is around where PDPs and LCDs converge in size. I won’t extemporize PDP v. LCD in this post, I’ll save that for later, but there are different considerations when buying a plasma.

Hope that helps! If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment. And if any of my other readers have any HDTV, Home Audio, Speakers, or general electronics questions, go ahead and leave ’em in the comments, too!

Why do 42” Plasmas have a 4:3 aspect ratio resolution?

For a while now, if someone asked me what I thought about Plasma HDTV’s that were less than 50″, I would say, “Back away slowly…there’s something wrong with ’em!”

I had good evidence for that. They have a native pixel resolution of 1024×768. That is a 4:3 aspect ratio, not 16:9, which is the normal widescreen aspect ratio that any HDTV worth a damn must have. So how do all the PDP (Plasma Display Panel) manufacturers sleep at night pushing this bogus resolution on us?

I turned to the HT Guys to help answer the question. I recently started listening to their HDTV Podcast, and was impressed by the breadth of knowledge that they possessed, while at the same being accessible and comprehensible even to the lay person.

It turns out that there’s a simple explanation, although not necessarily a satisfactory on in my opinion.

That’s one of mankind’s unsolved mysteries.  Technically, because HD is measured by horizontal lines of resolution, those televisions are HD (they have more than 720 lines).  However as you pointed out, they don’t have the full width necessary to get a complete 16:9 image, that would require at least 1280×720.  To get a 4:3 aspect ratio on a 16:9 screen, they use rectangular pixels.  Strange huh?

It’s done for manufacturing purposes, and has always been that way.  But we’ve never heard a really good answer for why.  But that strange resolution means everything you watch on your TV has to be scaled, even 4:3 content.  You can’t even go pixel for pixel at 1024×768 since the rectangular pixels would look funny.  That doesn’t mean that they don’t look good.  They still look great, but everything has to be scaled.

If you want a flat panel in the 40-42″ size range, with a native 16:9 aspect ratio, you need to get an LCD.

There you have it my friends. Rectangular pixels! Even with this suspicious explanation, in the Electronic Dude’s opinion, steer clear of PDP’s in this funny resolution. That means, if you are getting a plasma, don’t get anything less than 50″!

Thanks, HT Guys, for the explanation. Keep up the good work!

The Electronics Dude is here for you!

Back when Tam L. used to work for us, he and I would routinely hop outside to just shoot the shit about the latest technology news, the latest home theater products from the big CE manufacturers (that’s Consumer Electronics, y’all), and overall just general tech-geekery. I really miss those conversations, and, honestly, really miss Tam!

I can’t do much about getting Tam back to Philly, but I can open up my door to talking about Consumer Electronics! So, I hereby dub myself as the “Electronics Dude (trademark pending)”, willing and able to answer any and all of your questions about consumer electronics.

So, if you’re noodling the purchase of a new HDTV, a set of home-theater speakers, a home audio system, even furniture to put it on, give me a shout and I’ll walk you through the pros, the cons, the haves, the must-haves, the things you should be excited about, and the things you should stay away from. I won’t try to sell you anything, I won’t steer you towards a particular brand, I’ll just listen to what you want to do, answer your questions about the gear, and hey, even come by your place and set it up for you.

Yes…I’m just that crazy about this stuff.

Who’s first?


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