May 06, 2005

The Pavilion MD6580n, HP’s 65-inch DLP TV

HP Pavilion MD6580n 65-inch DLP TV

We logged a few hours at the Home Entertainment Show yesterday afternoon, not a ton of major stuff (some big players like Sony decided to skip out this year) but we did get a chance to get up close and personal with the Pavilion MD6580n, HP’s new 65-inch microdisplay DLP TV. Not sure who’s actually building these for HP, but the MD6580n specs out quite nicely: 1080p, 8500:1 contrast ratio, HDMI, and support for CableCARD. Should be out sometime in July or August.

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06:01 AM in HDTV | Permalink

April 19, 2005

Toshiba LH100 LCD TVs With Integrated DVR

“A little time face” is the name of Toshiba’s new line of LCD TVs with integrated 160GB hard drive for recording purposes. Available up to 37 inches wide, the panels all feature a resolution of 1366 x 768 and brightness of 500cd/m2 (we don’t really know how bright that is, either). The “little time” feature provides for TiVo-like recording functionality, where you can pause/resume live TV with a single button push. As a side note, these units also feature an Ethernet jack and have full browser/e-mail functionality. There’s even a USB port for your digital camera.

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06:27 AM in HDTV, News | Permalink

March 14, 2005

Sony Flat-Panel Monitors

The good: Stunning design; unholy brightness; sharpness & contrast; dazzlingly vibrant colors; competitive price.

The bad: Only analog RGB inputs; wide bezel; minimalist feature set.

The bottom line:Everything you’d expect from a Sony: Incredible looks, great performance and, given its visual capabilities, a solid price tag.

At first glance, Sony’s latest SDM HS-93 Flat Panel LCD (liquid crystal display) looks incredible--and is even more stunning when turned on. From its mammoth 19-inch viewable screen, to a 170-degree viewing angle, to an almost unheard of contrast-ratio of 700:1, this head-turner of a panel will not only impress Sony-style fans with its sleek looks and visual prowess, but also laggards intending to make the transition from CRT to LCD. Forget extras, though; to keep pricing at a competitive S$1,699 (US$985) Sony has skimped on the SDM HS-93's feature set.

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06:39 AM in HDTV | Permalink

February 18, 2005

Consumer Reports' Five-Step Guide to Buying a High-Definition Television

Sky-high costs may have scared many consumers away from large-screen high definition TVs until now, but prices have dropped sharply and the March issue of Consumer Reports says that they could hit new lows in the coming months. Even with prices falling, a big-screen TV is still a four-figure investment, and shoppers will find a host of new display technologies to consider along with a growing list of unfamiliar brands. The March issue of Consumer Reports offers a step-by-step guide to buying a high-definition television and advice on financing, warranties and installation.

The experts at Consumer Reports recommend that shoppers ask themselves these five questions when shopping for a high- definition television.

1. How big a screen? - CR recommends that TV shoppers consider not just price but where they will be watching when determining screen size. Bigger screens not only take up more space but require more viewing distance. The experts at CR recommend at least five feet for a 36-inch screen or smaller set, and seven to nine feet for larger screens.

2. Thick or thin? Big-screen TVs range from a few inches to a few feet deep. LCD and plasma sets are the trimmest and priciest. No matter how large, they measure less than six inches thick, and typically cost about $1,800 for a 26-inch LCD; $4,000 for a 42-inch plasma. Rear-projection models using LCD, DLP, or LCoS technology offer a middle ground for both bulk and price, around 15 to 20 inches deep, and typically cost about $1,200 to $3,000 for a 50-inch (or so) set, depending on the technology.

3. Which type of display technology? CR outlines the following choices: traditional picture-tube sets (CRTs) - best for a fairly big HD set at a fairly low price, though bulky; LCD flat-panel models - best choice for a smaller flat-screen set; plasmas - best choice for a very big, very thin set; rear- projection models - best choice for a jumbo TV for less than the cost of a plasma set; and front projectors - best choice for video buffs who want a theater-like experience on a giant screen and are willing to deal with a complex setup.

4. Why HD? The experts at CR recommend that consumers who are springing for a big-screen set get a digital, HD-capable model. Those sets can display the sharpest, most detailed images. Plasma shoppers may want to consider an enhanced definition (ED) model. Though technically a step down, viewers may not notice the difference unless viewing up close.

5. HD-ready or built-in tuner? HD-ready sets require an external digital tuner such as an HD cable or satellite box or a set-top box used with an antenna to decode HD signals. Integrated HDTVs have built-in digital tuners that can get broadcast HD programming via antenna, but require an external tuner for cable or satellite channels. Digital cable-ready TVs can get both broadcast HD channels via antenna and also digital cable programming without using a box but by inserting a cable card into the set. Shoppers who receive their HD via cable or satellite can save money by buying an HD-ready set while they are still available in large sizes.

Advice on Financing, Warranties, and Installation

The experts at Consumer Reports warn of risks associated with buying high-definition televisions.

Loan Gotchas - In an effort to drive sales of higher-priced TVs and other electronics, some retailers now offer zero-interest loans for up to two years. But for many consumers, that means signing up for a credit card that carries a high annual interest rate - up to 29 percent. In many cases, if the loan is not repaid in full before the term expires, consumers will be charged interest from the date of purchase. With some loans, missing three payments in a row triggers the same penalty.

Warranty Costs - For most products, extended warranties aren't worth it. But CR experts advise that it may be worthwhile for high-priced plasma and LCD TVs and rear-projection sets using LCD, DLP, or LCoS, which are too new to have a track record for reliability. Extended warranties typically cover parts and labor for two to five years from the date of purchase and costs vary by the type of TV, its price, and the length of warranty.

Installation - Consumers who are daunted by the idea of moving a huge TV and connecting it to their existing gear should consider hiring a pro to do it. Prices can range from $100 for basic hook-up of a cable box and VCR or DVD, and over $1,000 to wall-mount a plasma or LCD TV and connect various components and hide wiring. Shoppers need to factor in another $200 to $500 for mounting brackets.

The March 2005 issue of Consumer Reports also includes the latest ratings of Projection TVs, Plasmas, LCDs, CRTs, and DVD Players and Recorder. A guide to projection TV lingo and a side-by-side comparison of display technologies is available for free at

06:00 AM in HDTV | Permalink

February 17, 2005

A Big LCD TV that Won't Break the Bank

HDTV has become the hot item in the consumer electronics world. The bull market on HDTVs kicked into high gear last holiday season and shows no signs of slowing. Most price/performance offerings leverage older panel technology to drive down price. Gateway attempted this strategy, with only limited success. A relative newcomer to the scene, The Syntax Group has brought its Olevia line of HDTVs to market this year, and today we take their largest LCD HDTV for a test drive.

Many 30-inch LCD HDTVs have street prices in the $2500 to $3000 range, Olevia's LT30HV checks in at around $1,700, and is one of the lowest-priced HDTV panels of this size that we've seen to date. There are now others around that price-point (Westinghouse, Albatron and ViewSonic to name a few), but this is the first offering we've seen in this price range that we'd actually want to recommend. To find out why, click on Read.

06:06 AM in HDTV | Permalink

October 25, 2004

High-definition TV from your PC for $199

ATI's HDTV Wonder includes digital video recording

If I had the money right now I think I’d like a huge flat-screen HDTV. Actually, make that two or three flat screen HDTVs: one for the living room, another for the bedroom and maybe one for the den. But who has that kind of money? Why not buy an ATI HDTV Wonder card to turn your desktop computer into an HDTV receiver for $199?

07:45 AM in HDTV | Permalink