Friday, January 29, 2010
Saturday, January 9, 2010
I bought a new flat LCD HDTV (Panasonic TC-32LX14), because my old Daewoo tube TV was crapping out (I thought. There will be more on this at the end of this blog because I like to create drama and suspense). I did a lot of research before I bought it. I went to stores and researched online.
The first thing I did was go on Craigslist. I had no idea what I was looking for, or what anything meant. So I hit the stores: Video Only, Bestbuy, and Walmart, because these are the largest electronics stores I know. I saw all kinds of TVs, and they all looked great in the stores. Some looked a little better than others to me, but I couldn't really tell the difference between the brand named units and the cheaper brands. I was able to compare sizes. I decided that I liked the 32". They were big, and yet, still portable for when I move next year. What I couldn't compare in the stores was 720p and 1080p. These numbers may confuse you as much as they did me. I'll get into it later. I stood in front of two TVs of the same brand and screen size; one with 720p, and one with 1080p; and I couldn't tell the difference. I left the stores with the brands and model numbers I was interested in, and I hit the internet.
This time, when I researched online, I had at least three windows open: Craigslist, Amazon, and Google. I wouldn't suggest buying a used TV from a person on Craigslist, but there are dealers and small stores that will advertise there. That's what I looked for. Then I would research the model numbers on Amazon, looking for reviews and to compare prices. Then I would Google the model number to find other reviews and any other sellers of each TV.
There are hundreds of reviews for every model you can imagine. The first thing I learned is that you don't want to go with an unknown brand name. Every time I found a cheaper brand, it was shredded in reviews. Most of the time, it had to do with longevity. I found one site particularly helpful. At cnet.com, not only are there owner reviews, but there is an expert staff that also reviews items. In many cases of brand named items, there are even video reviews. Those were extremely helpful, since I am more of a audio learner; and having a person explaining things while pointing them out on each TV made everything more clear. I even found a couple of reviews on youtube. There is no end to the research you can do.
After all the research I did, I found that the four main competing brands are Sony, LG, Panasonic, and Samsung. Sony is all about the brand name. I found their prices the highest for every single size and resolution, and their reviews were very mixed. LG was a little better than Panasonic and Samsung, but a lot more expensive. Also, the comparable LG units were bulkier than the others. The best value was in Panasonic and Samsung. I was leaning towards Samsung, because they were slightly cheaper over all.
I did not want to buy a TV sight-unseen. So I was looking for an outlet dealer on Craigslist that carried both brands. I found more than one, but only one felt right. There was one dealer who's Craigslist ads were very shady. There was no address on any of them; and every ad ended with "All sales are final". On the other hand, HDTV Depot, in Kent, had very professional ads. Each was very simple, with a picture of the TV, a model number, the price, an address, and contact information. So I went down to Kent.
It is a little store in a tiny strip mall in the parking lot of a Home Depot (if I remember right). Inside, I was immediately greeted by a guy named Brian. I told him that I was looking for a 32" TV, and that I was torn between Panasonic and Samsung. I also told him I couldn't figure out the difference between 720p and 1080p. Brian explained to me that it's the number of lines of resolution, and that at 32", there is no recognizable difference. It is at 42" and higher, that there is a noticeable difference. Brian showed me the Panasonic 32" 720p and the same in Samsung. In this case, the Panasonic was about 10% cheaper than the Samsung. The Panasonic had a very crisp-looking picture and a sleek design. It also held it's picture perfectly at a very shallow angle. I bought it. I want to make another note that Brian at HDTV Depot was very helpful, and knew his product inside and out. I was so pleased with the experience that I posted a review on Yelp.
The second I hooked the TV up to my RCA home entertainment system, it started blinking and going dark, just like my old TV. I thought I'd been duped. I was ready to go burn the store down. Just in case, I disconnected and reconnected all the different wires and cable connections in the whole system. It turned out to be one loose wire between the cable box and the RCA receiver. There was nothing wrong with my old TV to begin with. It didn't bother me a bit. Why? I'm in love with this new TV. I've had it for a couple of weeks now, and it makes everything beautiful, especially football; and just in time for the playoffs (Superbowl Party at Mike's; and all of you many subscribers are invited).
This blog is getting pretty long winded. Let's take a commercial break... And, we're back.
My new TV makes all my DVDs look really good, but I knew I'd want to get a blu-ray player and some blu-ray movies. So it was back to doing research. This time was a easier, since I had a little more knowledge than before. I also knew I wouldn't have to visit a store in person, and could buy it online if it was cheaper, which it always is. I actually thought that I needed a new surround sound receiver, and almost spent $350 dollars on one before I found out through my research that I was just using the wrong connection. In case you don't know, for surround sound, you need to connect the audio by either "coaxial", "optical", or the best "HDMI". Mine is an older unit that has no HDMI connectivity. This will prevent me from utilizing 7.1 surround sound, but the difference is negligible in a living space as small as mine. I've had this surround sound system for more than five years, and I've been using it incorrectly this whole time. I might as well have bought a new system, because it sounds ten times better.