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March 10, 2012 11:18 AM   Subscribe

Help me choose the right small HDTV.

We've moved my mother into an assisted living facility. She needs a small television in her room. The room is the size of a large college dorm room, and the TV will be placed on a dresser opposite her bed so that it is viewable from both the bed and the recliner. Here's the thing -- she's hard of hearing, and many of the reviews of smaller flatscreen TVs specifically mention the tinny sound quality. So I'd like to get her a 22"-27" HDTV with front-facing speakers that is easy to operate. Picture quality is less important than sound quality. I'd like to spend less than $300. I have Amazon Prime.

The only TVs I've seen in this size range which have forward-facing speakers and are available at my price range via Amazon Prime are made by Vizio. Are these OK sets? Anyone have one? What other brands should I be considering? Anything else I should know that I've forgotten to ask?
posted by BitterOldPunk to Shopping (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I have a newish Vizio 23" for a guest room. The picture is decent and people use it for a second monitor for their laptop. The speakers aren't great. However, the speakers aren't great for most small TVs. Consider just getting a pair of powered external speakers to plug in to the headphone jack. There's really only the added complexity of the on/off knob for those, and a decent pair with lots of volume runs well south of $50.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:26 AM on March 10, 2012


And I mean speakers like these.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:29 AM on March 10, 2012


Find a soundbar that can be simply controlled using the TV remote's volume via Audio Return Channel (ARC). Panasonic TVs have that feature. No special commands to learn - she'll just use the TV's remote to operate the speakers.
posted by Bushmiller at 11:48 AM on March 10, 2012


The problem with the ARC soundbar (I have a Panasonic setup in my bedroom) is that it needs to be enabled in the menu each time you turn it on. It's also another $100-150.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:51 AM on March 10, 2012


I have a Panasonic Plasma w/ soundbar too. You can choose the soundbar as your the default speaker and never have to access the menu again. My soundbar turns on and off simultaneously with the TV.
posted by Bushmiller at 12:03 PM on March 10, 2012


Vizio makes very decent LCDs. They aren't cinema-quality home theater sets, but that doesn't seem to be a concern here.

Something like this would be my bet ($10 more than your stated budget, so presumably still considerable), were I in your shoes.
posted by ellF at 12:08 PM on March 10, 2012


The direction the speakers face is not an indicator of sound quality.

Seconding the recommendation for powered, external speakers plugged in to the headphone jack. Nothing extra to fuss with; just louder, clearer sound.
posted by bhayes82 at 12:10 PM on March 10, 2012


Something like this ViewSonic would be good.
posted by jeffamaphone at 12:38 PM on March 10, 2012


Seconding the Vizio with low-end speakers. I have a Vizio 22" in the bedroom with very small computer-style speakers and probably paid less than $300 for the whole outfit. They claim a full 1080p, which at 22" is sort of irrelevant, but I've had the set for several months and am still very pleased with what I got for that money.

Not what you asked, but relevant to your mom's new situation: If your mom is sharing a room and is hard of hearing, some headphones might be in order instead of the speakers so that she doesn't disturb her roommate. Depending on the thickness of her room's walls, some headphones might be in order even if she isn't sharing a room. My mom was on the receiving end of a blaring TV when she moved into her (shared) assisted living room, and after many polite requests to reduce the volume failed, I had to get the facility staff to intercede with her roommate's family to get the roommate to use closed-captioning. All better now but it was a PITA for a few months.
posted by Currer Belfry at 1:19 PM on March 10, 2012


I got my mother a Vizio for Christmas back in 2010 and paid less than $300 then. The speakers are fine. You do have to turn off the TruSurround is all. Over a year later and no complaints. (Vizio's internet ready Blu-ray player is another story).
posted by zinon at 2:12 PM on March 10, 2012


I have a 26 Vizio that I'm happy with. The sound is fine.
posted by J. Wilson at 2:35 PM on March 10, 2012


My 80-some yr old mother, an assisted-living resident, has been increasingly hard of hearing for many years. She listens to the TV constantly with the volume way up, driving us visiting kin nearly crazy. My brother fixed her up with these. Genius! She is happy because she can follow the TV sound more easily. And it probably makes her neighbors happy as well.
posted by easilyamused at 11:27 PM on March 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just a quick note to reinforce BOP's request for a set with integrated speakers.

Adding devices that have to be turned on and off separately and that may not have integrated volume controls are probably not super desirable, though he will surely weigh in.
posted by mwhybark at 12:21 AM on March 11, 2012


...although since I take it that your mom is a big Black Flag fan, maybe just setting her up with a line out to a classic Sunn 4x12 would bethe way to go. Her neighbors would probably dig it too.
posted by mwhybark at 12:25 AM on March 11, 2012


Found a 32" Vizio on sale for $278!

Thanks for the help, y'all!
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:47 PM on March 12, 2012


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