Seeking recomendations for an analog 24"-27" TV flat screen stereo sound
October 6, 2004 12:24 PM   Subscribe

We're shopping for an analog tv, 24" - 27", flat screen, stereo sound. This will be our first purchase of a decent tv. My methodology consists of the usual suspects (amazon, epinions, cnet) and looking at boxes in the store and trying to determine which one looks the best.

  • Many of the geek sites don't even talk about the low-end.
  • Is there anything else I should look for, other than good sound and picture?
  • Should I just eat the extra $100 and buy a Sony?
  • Am I going to regret not getting HD?
  • We are going to use it primarily to watch an occasional dvd, and some light home teevee viewing.
  • We are not home theater people, per se.
posted by mecran01 to Technology (14 answers total)
The Panasonic Tau is about the same thing as the Sony Wega and is generally a bit cheaper ($50 or so). Most of the other stuff in this size range is commodity nowadays and not very impressive.
posted by smackfu at 12:58 PM on October 6, 2004

If you have specific models that you're looking at, check Epinions to see if anybody's said anything about it. Go to one of the large stores (Circuit City, Best Buy, what have you) and get them to show you the picture live, as in hooked up to its own DVD player rather than the split feed, since that makes all the TVs look pretty much the same.

Couldn't tell you about HD, though. What's the prognosis for regular TV signals? Are networks still planning on dropping them completely in the near future?

Also, make sure that the TV can handle the output of your DVD player (as in the physical connection, where quality goes RCA, S-video, component output - use the best one you can on the player, and match up progressive scan capabilities). We have a progressive scan player but our TV doesn't handle it.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 1:03 PM on October 6, 2004

I'm not familiar with the Panasonic Tau but in general for video I'd recommend Sony.
posted by substrate at 1:11 PM on October 6, 2004

Is there anything else I should look for, other than good sound and picture?

I wouldn't pay that much attention to picture quality in the store, except for things like screen flatness. In most stores, it will reflect where they put the tv more than anything else, since that's determining signal quality. I have heard that in clever stores, they manipulate the signal quality so that sets they want to move look better. At any rate, you can't trust that the set that looked the best in the showroom, hooked up to a crappy split signal, under very bright flourescent lights, etc, will look the best in your house playing a dvd.

Things you want:

Component inputs. Not composite. Component. These get you the best picture from your dvd player. Yes, it makes a difference.

If you can get it: 16:9 compression, or vertical compression, or anamorphic compression, or anamorphic squeeze, etc. This basically fools your 4:3 television into acting like a widescreen tv of the same width, as far as your dvd player is concerned. For most dvd players, this can get you about 1/4 better picture.

Should I just eat the extra $100 and buy a Sony?

I would. Just get a 27" Wega with component inputs and squeeze. It'll be about the cheapest tv you can get with these features. It's only about $400.

If you don't want to do that, the JVC D-series -- it will have a model number like 27D123 -- is good, but the screen isn't flat (so you get more reflection of the room) and there's no squeeze.

Am I going to regret not getting HD?

If you do, you can always get one later.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:28 PM on October 6, 2004

Toshiba's FST PURE is a good alternative to Sony. 'bout the same quality for couple of bucks less.
posted by rschroed at 1:31 PM on October 6, 2004

We just got a Sony Wega - love it!
posted by jalexei at 1:50 PM on October 6, 2004

Toshiba. They make "conventional" (non-flat) CRTs which are nearly indistinguishable from flat and are significantly cheaper than a true flat-screen. There's probably not much point to spending too much on a non-hdtv set...
posted by andrewraff at 2:19 PM on October 6, 2004

At the risk of inducing projectile-vomiting in the home theatre buffs, I bought a cheapo 27" Advent flat screen CRT(low $200's as I recall) an inexpensive Creative Labs 2.1 speaker system (< $30) plugged them into a refurbed panasonic dvd recorder ($200) and i've been quite happy. but i'm not very fussy. br>
Regarding HDTV, keep in mind the old computer industry saying: "You can tell the pioneers by the arrows in their backs." I'd wait.
posted by mojohand at 2:33 PM on October 6, 2004

I'd still recommend something with an anamorphic squeeze button (or autodetect). Sonys do this, as do some newer JVC's, Panasonics, and Toshibas (but not many 27" do -- it's more common at 32" and bigger, phworr)

If you're watching a dvd and the credits are all wobbly as they scroll across the screen, or a vertical pan goes all wonky-looking, that's the dvd player trying to fit a 16:9 image into a 4:3 set -- most just throw away every fourth line of the image, which makes things go blooey.

Anamorphic squeeze does stuff so that the dvd player thinks you have a 16:9 widescreen tv, and it doesn't throw away the lines, and things look better. One that autodetects, or where there's a button labeled ANAMORPHIC or WIDESCREEN, etc, right on the remote is better than one where you have to navigate menus to use it.

If you don't care, you don't care, and I won't tell you you should. Alls I know is that I still find it jarring and irritating, and I wish I'd sprung the extra $100 or so for a Sony with the feature back in 2000. If you're planning to keep your tv over 5 years, an extra $50 or $100 isn't much.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:29 PM on October 6, 2004

I also have the 27" Wega, and it's great.
If the Sony won't fit into your existing entertainment center (it has wide built-in speakers on each side of the screen), then the equivalent Toshiba is also a good choice.
posted by Coffeemate at 3:35 PM on October 6, 2004

Yet another vote here for the 27" Sony WEGA with the 16:9 squeeze. It's got the best picture of any TV I've ever owned. I run the audio through a stereo system, so I can't tell you if the speakers are all that great or not.
posted by pitchblende at 5:08 PM on October 6, 2004

I have a 27" Philips WEGA wannabe, and I'm pretty happy with it. If I ever got cable it would be happy, as it has two tuners and a raft of features I never use as it's little more than a monitor for my DVD player (component inputs, 16x9 squeeze) and my PS2.

It ran me $300 just over three years ago, but I bought it refurb and I was a Philips employee at the time.
posted by codger at 8:25 PM on October 6, 2004

Not a big help here, but the most recent Consumer's Report issue talks about TVs including HDTV, Plasma and LCD. They also had a section on conventional TVs that might be of interest. I just glanced at it quickly last night, but there were at least a half dozen conventional TVs reviewed.
posted by smcniven at 5:43 AM on October 7, 2004

Ooooh, these are excellent tips. I'm definitely going to check out the Toshibas.
posted by mecran01 at 12:32 PM on October 7, 2004

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