Monday, September 24, 2007

Tech Q&A

In an effort to get back into the game (hopefully with a touch of regularity), today's post is in-response to my e-buddy, B. Good's tech question. She asked it in my chatbox (in the right margin); feel free to drop a note there, whenever you like... about whatever you like.

B. Good: West! My electronics guru. I'm in the market for a new TV. This TV will start off as my only TV (in the living room), and will eventually move to my bedroom TV once I get a 2nd TV specifically for the living room. I'm thinkin of goin with a 32" (or so) flat panel television. What do you think? Any brand you'd recommend?

West: B! I'm sorry, but I haven't turned on any of my televisions in over a year. :-O And before that, I hardly used them. Why? Because I believe digital projectors are the way to go. They offer far more bang for your buck, in my opinion. For more information, check out this old post of mine on the subject:

TECHNOLOGY: Digital Projectors Replace Big-Screen TV's

I hope that helps. By the way, here's a sample image from one of my projectors.

Click image to enlarge.
(Then you'll probably want to click, again, to see what a 93-inch picture can look like.)


Keith said...

Are you projecting TV shows or just DVD movies, or both? I never thought about having a projector for everyday use. How often do you change your bulbs? Do they even still use bulbs? The cost for a decent projector is probably still up there.

Frank 'viperteq' Young said...

Digital projectors, I feel, are still an iffy category when it comes to something to view television/video on. First off, with the Federal mandate for all broadcasts to switch to Hi-Def resolution within the next several years, I think you'd be hard pressed to find a projector that supports 1080p resolution much less 720p. And even if you do manage to find some units that do support those resolutions, the picture quality is still not going to be as sharp as intended since the picture is being projected onto a surface.

In addition, as previously mentioned, projectors are still rather up there in price.

Since this will be B.Good's primary unit until he/she can afford a secondary one, I suggest looking into a 22" or 27" LCD flat-panel. The reason for going with a smaller size is because you can get a set with great resolution (at least 720p HD resolution) for an affordable price tag. 30" and above are for when you got the nice cash rolling in.

Now before we go into brands, there are few things that you need to be aware of. Most people assume that Plasma and LCD televisions are one and the same. The truth is that they are not.

1) Typically only come in sizes of 37" and above.
2) Are made with glass screens which reflect light from surrounding sources.

1) Range in sizes from 5" to 50"+.
2) Are made with Matte-finish screens which reflect very little light.

Because Plasma televisions only start at 37" in size, they often come with a higher price tag. Unless you've got the cash to spend or you absolutely have to have a unit that is 37"+, LCD is the better way to go.

When it comes to brands, I usually don't put too much stock into a name because name-brand items come with name-brand prices. Off-brand units usually give you just as good a picture as a name-brand, although, there are a few mainstays: Sony and LG. Everything else is a toss up based on picture quality (which you can usually view in-store) and price.

There are a few things to remember when it comes to price:

1) Standard-definition units typically have price points of $500.00 and below.
2) Hi-Definition (480i, 720p and 1080p) units are typically $200.00 and up with all units 27" and under remaining below the $1,000.00 priceline.

What i would suggest doing is, researching units and prices (along with rebate deals) online. Check with the usual suspects: Best Buy, Circuit City, Staples, CompUSA, Wal-Mart/Sams Club and h.h.gregg. Once you've found a few units that fit within your budget, go to the local stores and see if they have product displays up for the units that you're interested in so that you can see the picture quality in person. Viewing the display unit will also allow you to measure the width, length and weight of the unit to see if it will fit the design and interior of your living room. Once you've settled on a unit that you like, buy it and get that sucker home A.S.A.P. so you can keep up with the Bionic Woman!!

B. Good said...

Ooo, la la. Bad Boys 2!! Digital projectors were SO not on my list, but now I'm gonna have to research them a bit. My living room isn't HUGE, so I figured that the projector would be doing too much. But, maybe there's something to it.

Wow, thanks for all the info frank! I'm a (female) size whore, so even after I sent this question to West, I upped my screen size to 37". But perhaps a smaller screen would be more practical.

You both have given me PLENTY to think about. Who knew TV buying was this intricate??

Thanks again!!

West said...

Glad to help, B. I wish I could've been of more help, but it looks like Frank may have you covered.

Incidentally, projector prices are extremely comparable to many televisions. I've purchased projectors for $499 and $599.

Keith, we've used our projectors for daily television- and movie-watching. The only one I've had to replace the bulb on was a refurbished model, so it already had hours on it. The new one that I bought two or three years, ago, is still going strong.

It all depends on your usage, though - and how bright you crank up the image. My newest model uses bulbs rated at 4000 hours. I believe they can double that with lower brightness settings.

Projectors aren't for everyone, but they work wonderfully for us - especially in-combination with a media center p.c.

B. Good said...

So West, do you hang your projector from the ceiling? Or do you have it posted up on a bookshelf or somethin?

West said...

The latter.

We've used bookshelves, coffee tables, etc. over the years. At this point, it's on an L-shaped desk in the living room, projecting onto a cream-colored wall.

When we move, I may install the screen I haven't used in the past year or so, depending on where we end up (and how it's set up).