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Holiday Gift Guide: HDTVs
December 8, 2009 08:57 PM

Recently, HDTV’s prices went down, and everyone throughout the nation wants to go out and buy one. However, because of the plethora of options, buying the “perfect” HDTV for your home can definitely be a challenge. Therefore, I hope that this quick guide helps you with your decision!

Things To Consider When Buying HDTV:

  • Browse for TVs online using Amazon.com and NewEgg.com.
    Use the filters they offer to narrow down by price and size.
  • Bigger isn’t necessarily better.
    Consider viewing distances when purchasing a TV.
  • Which resolution? 720p vs 1080p?
    If it’s over 50 inches, get 1080p for sure. If under, consider 720p.
  • What kind? Plasma, LCD, or LED?
    Skip to the bottom for more details!

Samsung PN42B450

Samsung PN42B450 Plasma HDTV 42-inch 720p

I am a student, so when I bought this TV for only $625, I was ecstatic. Now, this Samsung is once again around that price on Amazon, so I advise you to buy it! I love the quality when watching anything on this plasma. It does not have any internet connectivity such as the other two models listed below, but I can connect it to my laptop easily through either a VGA or HDMI cable and stream HD fine. If on a budget, pick up this TV!

Buy: Samsung PN42B450

Sony KDL 46Z5100

Sony BRAVIA Z Series KDL-46Z5100 LCD HDTV 46-Inch 1080p (240Hz)

The quality of this Sony impressed me from the start. In addition to its great quality, this TV features several HD inputs, internet connectivity, as well as online widgets to make your entertainment experience better. You can also connect your camera, USB storage device, or a mp3 player to the TV via USB ports.

Buy: Sony BRAVIA 46Z5100

Samsung UN46B8000

Samsung UN46B8000 LED HDTV 46-Inch 1080p (240Hz)

Although this TV comes with a hefty price tag, no one can debate its quality. At Fry’s, when I saw this LED, the picture I saw amazed me. Even though I knew that the salesmen purposely set its settings to their best, it was beautiful. It includes everything the Sony features and more. Also, the 1.2″ depth and light weight definitely impressed me.

Buy: Samsung UN46B8000

My piece of advice:
Articles from different sources concerning the differences between 720p vs. 1080p sometimes give contrasting advice. Here are my 2-cents on the issue: after going into several stores and researching online, I found that unless I sat two to three feet away from the screen, I found little to no differences between 720p and 1080p on screens smaller than 50 inches. I bought the first Samsung on the list below, and the quality, when watching HD satellite, looks almost the same when comparing it to my other 46 inch 1080p Sony Bravia back at home. But again, go into stores and see for yourself.

Watch out for salesmen being bias, they might try to mislead you! Quick story- I bought my TV at Fry’s Electronics. When I went into Fry’s, I already knew that I wanted to buy this TV, but I browsed around anyway to see other comparable TVs. I bought this TV on a budget, so I did not want to spend anymore money than what I already allocated. Anyways, as I am browsing around, I notice that my TV looked terrible when compared to the other ones in the store. I began talking to a salesman about the differences between 720p and 1080p, but he only talked about 1080p and gave me cons to 720p TVs. As I moved in closer, I noticed that my TV and the other ones in that section (all of which were 720p) looked dusty and poorly lit. In addition, unlike the other 1080p HDTVs, the ones in this section hooked up to DVD players and not Blu-ray players. I asked the clerk why they did this, to which he responded “Oh, well, uh…the building wasn’t set up properly for it.” Okay, seriously? Do you really expect me to believe that? (I did not say that, but I should have!)

When it comes to plasma versus LCD, again, check it out at a store! In the TVs I saw, plasma’s give deeper black levels and provide better viewing angles. However, LCDs can be found in larger sizes, weigh less, and do not have the “burn in” issue that some older plasma TVs have. With the newer plasmas, burn in is not really an issue. What about plasma vs. LED? LED TVs usually come with internet accessible features, a good number of HD inputs, and incredibly thin widths. LED, a relatively new technology, performs better in some respects to plasma, such as depth perception and brightness, but for the most part when comparing a 1080p plasma and 1080p LED, the difference between the quality is not worth the price paid. But then again, I am a college student, so I tend to be very frugal with my money. Don’t get me wrong- LEDs are beautiful and great for anything, whether it be movies or gaming, but I feel that the current prices are too high.

This Gift Guide is a part of our ongoing Skatter Tech Holiday Gift Guide.

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