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Impulse Shoptus Interruptus

My final evening of 2010 was a bit... chaotic. Or perhaps just blundery. I pulled a video down from a bookshelf to watch, and in the process, broke the toy ax ann1962 gifted me with. Then I rolled out my television so the Sculptor and I could watch said movie, which we didn't end up watching after all, because we yapped for so long. Later, when I went to put the TV back, one of the casters on the TV stand fell out. We managed to keep the TV from falling onto the floor (it's a big, heavy tube model), then I dumped the stand over to put the caster back, which scattered my Star Trek Voyager Season 3 discs across the floor (I was a smidge drunk). I managed to step on disc 7 and scrape it up big-time, making it unwatchable. And it was all for naught anyway, since the caster was broke.

Not wanting this to be an omen of the new year, this morning I bought a replacement for my DVDs on-line, then headed out to replace the caster. Later I'm going at my ax with superglue. But, feeling grumpy about my bumbliness, I decided I was going to go to the big New Year's sale at Fry's Electronics and get myself a nice flat panel television.

I talked to the salesguy for about twenty minutes, telling him what I was looking for, and in the end, walked out empty handed, 'cause I didn't want to buy the wrong thing. The TV I am looking for:

(1) can't be a big screen. It's for a little, little room where I sit only six feet from eyeballs to television screen, and I'm far-sighted. The TV I have now, it turns out, has a 20" diagonal screen. I'm thinking 26", 32" max.

(2) can't be a plasma, with the glass screen that weighs ten tons. I need a TV I can lift by my lone wolf lonesome.

(3) I want it to have a DVD player in it (doesn't have to be blu ray, but if it is, it must be backwards compatible), just to cut down on all the wires going every damned place.

(4) So far, so good, but here's the tricky part. I'd like to be able to use it to watch Netflix downloads or other computer downloads, and I'm not sure what all my options are. The ones that come ready for wireless seem to be twice as expensive as the others, and I know folks on my flist do this without having ready-for-internet-hook up televisions.

(5) Number (4)? Can't be overly complicated. I have a fair bit of computer-fu, but I don't enjoy having to use those powers.

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( 32 comments — Leave a comment )
chickenfeet2003
Jan. 1st, 2011 08:16 pm (UTC)
You won't get plasma as small as 32" it's all LCD or LCD with LED backlighting. I would get a Blu-Ray player with all the stuff you need like Netflix and the ability to play .avi and .mkv files and preferably with built in wi-fi. You can connect that to the TV with an HDMI cable so just one wire plus two power cords. The new version of the LG player I have does everything you need for $200 bucks or so. Being able to stream content wirelessly from a PC or Mac to the Blu-Ray player is a real boon. All Blu-Ray players play standard DVDs and CDs.
masqthephlsphr
Jan. 1st, 2011 11:07 pm (UTC)
So those players that play netflix, etc on the television, are playing something that is simultaneously playing on my computer? I am really not sure how any of this works, but the idea is to by pass my computer so I can actually use the computer for other things while I watch TV.
chickenfeet2003
Jan. 1st, 2011 11:45 pm (UTC)
Not necessarily. You can buy TVs that do Netflix and Youtube. You can buy standalone devices for your network/AV setup that connect your computer(s) to your AV set up. Or you can buy devices that do many things. My choice was a 902.11n enabled Blu-Ray player that is hooked into the TV and sound system. Since it's 902.11n it functions on our wireless network like any other device and can play content from any of the computers or drives connected to them. It can also pull down from the Internet stuff like Netflix and Youtube because it is a node on our network and accesses the internet the same way our computers do.
(no subject) - masqthephlsphr - Jan. 1st, 2011 11:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
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cactuswatcher
Jan. 1st, 2011 08:29 pm (UTC)
I have one like you are looking for. It's a Toshiba 26". It's small enough to sit on a table instead of a dedicated stand, and big enough for a couple people to watch. Mine has the built in DVD player. I do not believe any HDTV under 40" has a 1080p screen which is the point at which Blu-Ray makes a difference. If my old model comes with Blu-Ray now, it's not a problem, it's just that Blu-Ray disks won't be any improvement over DVD disks on that TV. As Chickenfeet says I believe all Blu-Ray players play DVDs
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masqthephlsphr
Jan. 1st, 2011 11:02 pm (UTC)
So the moral here is I don't need blu ray on a small screen?
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atpolittlebit
Jan. 1st, 2011 08:40 pm (UTC)
I've had this one for several years and have been happy with it.

This is about the smallest screen-size I've seen that's both a blu-ray combo and netflix connectivity.
masqthephlsphr
Jan. 1st, 2011 11:03 pm (UTC)
What do I need to look for to know it will play Netflix downloads?
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spiletta42
Jan. 1st, 2011 09:40 pm (UTC)
1) You want the 32" so that all the traditional sized stuff is still plenty big when they utilize less than the whole screen. I have a 32" screen in a small space, but it's just right from my strategically positioned chair.

2) Plasma sucks, good call.

3) Wires going every damned place isn't so bad, you just tuck them all through some of those bendy plastic tube things, all nice and neat. This is of course my opinion, but I demand versatility in my electronics, and wires are a necessary evil. The tube things really neaten things up -- the back of my television is actually not up against a wall, but between the tube thingies and a carefully placed framed poster, it looks perfectly fine even for my OCDness.

4) The most recent gadget from Western Digital plays nice with Netflix and other downloads, plus it gets wireless for things like YouTube and Pandora. I have one generation ago, and love the thing. Again, wires, but again, black tube thingies.

5) Go with the Toshiba over the Vizio, then. We have both in the house. I have the Toshiba, and even when I do complex things with it, I barely have to engage my computer skills. My stepfather has the Vizio, and every time he tries to do anything, he has to call me upstairs to do it for him, and it often makes me want to kick it for being overly complicated. His system consists of a 42" Vizio (the menus are obnoxious and the screen width does not adjust automatically), a Panasonic DVD player with the touchiest remote I've ever handled, and TimeWarner cable. My system consists of a 32" Toshiba, a Pioneer dvd player, a Pioneer 6 disc CD player, a BOSE digital receiver, BOSE speakers, a Panasonic VCR, a Sony VCR, a PS2, a Super NES, a Saga Genesis, a Western Digital device for watching downloaded stuff, YouTube, etc., a 500GB hard drive, a Phillips AM/FM receiver, and a Sony Walkman circa 1984 that I connected in just because I could, and because it has auto-reverse and I like to sleep with audio books playing. The fact that mine works flawlessly with minimal effort and his is a huge pain in the ass is particularly telling for the Vizio, if you ask me.

ETA: I also have TimeWarner cable in the mix, but don't need a separate digital box with the Toshiba, even though the Vizio requires one.

Edited at 2011-01-01 09:43 pm (UTC)
spiletta42
Jan. 1st, 2011 11:19 pm (UTC)
BTW, this is the Toshiba I bought.
ann1962
Jan. 1st, 2011 10:13 pm (UTC)
Mine broke a while back too. I think I taped it, which adds a whole other tone to its ferocity.

Good luck with the tv search.

And happy new year.
masqthephlsphr
Jan. 1st, 2011 11:08 pm (UTC)
Black electrical tape?? Or silver duct tape?
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atpo_onm
Jan. 2nd, 2011 05:16 am (UTC)
Some previous comments have already addressed what I'm about to say, so just consider it chiming in.

Plasmas are not available under 37 inches, and I'm not sure Panasonic is still making that one-- it was the only one out there under 42 inches. A 32 inch plasma, however, would not be a lot heavier than an LCD if it did exist, and plasmas still have the best picture if you're going to be picky.

That being said, many current design LCDs are excellent, particularly those that use LED backlights and have a reasonably wide viewing angle. Look for ones that have these features if possible.

Toshiba is my first choice in LCD sets. I'd go with that brand if possible.

I understand what you're saying about screen size and viewing distance, but be careful-- modern video sources are DVD quality or better. You can sit very close to these and the picture looks excellent. Other than VHS, which will look poor on nearly any digital TV, good picture quality is now pretty much a given. So, don't get too small a screen. I'd certainly go for at least 32 inches, mimimum, and seriously consider 40 inch. It's not as big as it sounds when the screen's aspect ratio is the wide 16x9 format now standard.

Blu-Ray is not an issue on TVs with screens smaller than 40 inch diagonals, and it's often hard to tell the difference between standard DVD and any kind of high-def on smaller screens.

1920 x 1080 resolution is now common on all but small screens. I'd try to get a set with that rez if possible because most video programming out there now is natively in that resolution. Native resolution means no conversion is necessary to display it, and that helps with the picture quality.

Look for a set with a PC input connector on it-- most current digital sets should have them. All you need then is one cable (typ. HDMI) to connect your computer to it, just like any external monitor. You can then watch streamed sources on your TV. Yes, there are wireless options out there, but hardwired is A) simple and B) reliable. You'll pay extra for the wireless stuff.

A built in DVD player is very handy, but keep in mind if it quits, the whole TV will have to go to the shop to get it replaced, meaning it will cost more than buying a standard, seperate DVD player. So if that happens (out of warranty), I'd just forget the built in and get a seperate player and hook it up.

No matter what set you get, you should readjust the picture settings once you have it home. TVs are still factory setup for an unnaturally bright, super-saturated picture so they look OK in a brightly lit store. Your home isn't a store, so understand that if the picture looks unnatural once the TV is home, this is why.

Edited at 2011-01-02 05:19 am (UTC)
masqthephlsphr
Jan. 2nd, 2011 04:20 pm (UTC)
I'm still not sure about the TV-to-computer hook up and how that works. First off, am I playing the video on my computer at the same time I'm playing it on the TV? The whole point is to not have anything playing on my computer so I can use my computer to do other things while watching TV.

Which segues into my next question, which is, I'm six feet away from the TV happily using my computer to do other things, and I have to have a six foot cable connecting my lap top to the TV to use these features? That's just another wire to get in the way, not to mention having to disconnect it every time I want to take my lap top other places than next to the TV.

Isn't there a way to connect the TV to the internet and leave my computer out of it?
atpo_onm
Jan. 2nd, 2011 06:42 pm (UTC)
I'll see if I can get some info from actual Mac people this Monday when I venture back to my previous employer to return some repairs. My experience tends to be limited to PCs, since that's what I've always owned. On most recent PCs, you can use a dual-monitor function and have one app running on the PC display while another app runs on the outside monitor-- in this case, your new TV.

(Personally, I can't work on the computer and watch TV at the same time-- by which I mean I can't, my brain just won't do it. I can pay attention to either one or the other, so your ability to do both fascinates me.)

If you don't want a wire, then just rig up a wireless system, as others have mentioned. The dual-monitor setup should work the same, I would think.

An additional suggestion, based on what I would do if it was my setup, would be to simply dedicate a 2nd computer full time to the TV. I wouldn't even have to buy one, since I have several old ones lying around that could be easily modded to do this. Most computers designed for this app are known as "Media Center" PCs, but in fact any 'puter with the ability to handle video would work. Do you still own any of your previous computers?

Lastly-- what is the model/config of your current Mac? The Mac guru at the store will surely want to know. I'll get back to you late Monday night with an update.

Edited at 2011-01-02 06:43 pm (UTC)
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( 32 comments — Leave a comment )