or not TV
By Jim Bray
Part One: First Steps
Part Two: The Components We Used
Part Three: Buying a TV
Part Four: Buying a
Part Five: Accessorizing
Part Six: Buying a Receiver
Part Seven: Speakers
Part Eight: More on Buying Speakers
The question of which TV to buy is probably the most important decision
youll make in building your home theater.
Your television is the centerpiece of your home theater, so it pays to
put some serious thought into your purchase. There are a lot of TVs
from which to choose, based on your lifestyle, your room, and your budget,
but right off the bat you have a couple of decisions to make.
First, do you want a REALLY BIG SCREEN or something a little more manageable
and, undoubtedly, affordable?
Second, should you go for an HDTV set now, even though there isnt
a huge amount of HD programming available yet?
Readers ask me all the time to lecture on what brand of TV they should
buy, something I refuse to do because my feast may be your famine
and it isnt me who has to live with the purchase. In the next couple
of columns, however, Ill pontificate on what I think are the most
important things to consider when youre spending hard-earned after
tax income on a new television.
As for brand name, any major name brand will probably serve you just
fine. They all offer different features, looks, prices, and qualities.
Theyre all capable of making the odd lemon, too, though that's the
exception rather than the rule.
Thats why there are warranties. Just make sure you trust the retailer
from whom you bought the TV set to back you up if push ever comes to shove.
Buy the set you think has the best picture (not the one the salesperson
says has the best picture) and the one that has the features you want.
Ignore features you don't want, unless you hear a compelling argument
as to why you might want them. For instance, if youre using a satellite
dish you dont need to worry about the TVs tuner bringing in
hundreds of channels: youll rarely, if ever, use the TVs tuner
Hows the glare on the screen? This is pretty tough to measure in
the store, but if you get a lot of washing out from the buildings
lights, you may have a problem in your viewing room as well, depending
upon its ambient and artificial lighting.
Check out the remote control! This is your interface and you'll use it
all the time, so make sure you're comfortable with it (or think you can
learn to be). Dont just ensure the remote feels comfortable in your
hand, but that its logically laid out and easy to figure out.
If you have a favorite DVD, take it with you to the store, otherwise
make sure they play a DVD for you. VHS and cable thats split
to multiple TVs are positively lousy compared to a DVD when
it comes to judging picture quality.
As for screen size, the bigger the better depending on your room,
your budget, and your inclination. Below about 40 inches (measured diagonally),
youll be looking for a direct view set and above that
youre into the wonderful world of projection TVs. Either of
these beasts can give you spectacular results; twas not always the
case, but projection TVs have gotten so good in recent years that
its now safe to buy them.
If you're buying for the long term, think about getting an HDTV-ready
set (displays HDTV signals, but doesn't have the HD tuner built in). Within
the next several years, all TV broadcasts will be in HDTV and there'll
be HD DVD's as well, so you might as well be ready for them.
The same considerations apply to widescreen TVs.
Weve just gone through this in our own home. Were buying
a big screen TV for Christmas, so we bit the bullet and went for a widescreen
HDTV-ready model. On the other hand, we got a new bedroom TV recently
and, since those needs are so much different, we chose an inexpensive
13" direct view we can use for a few years and then donate to a landfill
somewhere (okay, maybe a charity...).
Whatever you choose, relax: it's just a TV! If you use your eyes and
your head, you should have years of enjoyment, even if it isn't one that
feels as if it were designed just for you.
Ill opine on buying a rear projection
Jim Bray's technology columns are distributed by the TechnoFILE and Mochila Syndicates. Copyright Jim Bray.
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