Buying a TV in 2012’s crazy world

September 2, 2012

Buying a TV in 2012's crazy worldUsed to TV’s came in one flavor, vacuum tube.  The only difference was the “console” (box it came in)  and the size.  OK a long time ago there was also a difference between black and white or color but I digress.  These days TVs come in flat panel displays with differences like Plasma, LCD, LED, OLED, size, and now, HD, 3D, 4K and “Smart”.  You can get “Smart TVs” that combine Internet apps and your TV. Depending on which type and resolution you choose, you can enter the nose bleed section of the TV purchasing world pretty quickly.

Just to confuse things a little more, Engadget reports that Toshiba has just announced its new 4K, 3D, glasses free, 55 inch TV.  This TV is so cutting edge that it will make you bleed lots of green.  It will be selling for 7,999 Euros or $10,057.50.  Wait a few years and you can pick it up for a steal meaning closer to $2,000.  

For those of you who don’t understand just what all of those initials mean, let me just give you a brief idea.  HD (high definition – 1,920 by 1,080 pixels)TV’s are the ones that give you 1080p resolution meaning much sharper than the old vacuum tube TVs many of us grew up with.  3D (three dimensional) are TVs that will give you the illusion that what you are seeing is three dimensional and popping off the screen.  Various 3D TVs come with or without the need for special glasses to actually enjoy the effect and with or without the headache depending on your own personal physiology.  4K means four times the HD resolution or 4,000-by-2,000 to 4,000-by-3,000 pixels. 

Terminology aside, TVs have gotten much more complicated to purchase than many people realize.  Walk into your nearest Best Buy and start wandering the TV isle.  You will see TVs that very greatly in price depending on  the options mentioned above. While many of them would be wonderful to have, you need to keep in mind some basic fundamentals. 

First among them is the maximum you are willing to spend on a TV set.  I know this seems like common sense but that can go out the window when faced with all of the choices. It doesn’t matter how many fancy options the TV has if buying it means you can’t eat for three months or pay your rent/mortgage. Have a set limit in mind before you enter the store. 

PC Mag has an excellent article to help you decide between a Plasma, LCD, and LED HD TV. Of course all of these are flat panel.  Amazon has a nifty chart to help you choose the right size TV for different room dimensions.  That takes care of the three basic issues, price, type and size.

If you have the money to branch beyond those basics, you need to decide what else you would like to have on your TV.  Do you want to have a “Smart TV” that includes Internet capabilities? Do you want a 3D experience? Do you want the smoothest sharpest picture imaginable? Can you have all three?  Of course, you can have all three but refer back to the spending limit paragraph.  You will spend big, big bucks if you decide to buy a TV that has all three.  Remember the $10,057.50 price for a 55 inch Toshiba TV with all three.

Seriously, if you want a 3D TV spend some time in the store looking at the different options.  Try on the glasses.  Remember how much they cost to replace when they get lost or broken.  If you are getting a headache just watching one for a few minutes even a glasses free one, don’t buy it.  If you get headaches at 3D movies don’t buy one.  If you are inviting friends over to watch TV with you remember to purchase enough pairs of glasses for everyone.  Tell them you have a 3D TV.  Some people will choose not to visit because they get headaches.

Smart TVs are a geeks paradise. Hulu, YouTube, Netflix, etc. all built into your TV so you don’t need any special wireless streaming or set top boxes or any other gadget but your TV and your remote.  For many people who have given up on the 300 channel cable/satellite experience, this is the type of TV they want.  You can choose any movie to see at anytime.  You don’t have to record shows to watch later, you can simply order the commercial free series.  CNET Asia has more information on “Smart TVs” so you can sound knowledgeable when you go to buy your own.

So now it is up to you to decide first how much you can afford to spend, what type and size works best for the room(s) you plan to put it in, and what additional features you want to purchase.  Once you have those considerations sorted out, you need to find a site like Consumer Reports that will give you reviews and a prices for different TVs by different manufacturers and approximate prices.

And you thought buying your next TV was only going to take a quick hour at your local big box store.  Silly you.

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