Recommend me an LCD TV!
November 19, 2009 7:33 AM   Subscribe

I'm thinking about getting a 32"/37" LCD TV. Primary applications are DVDs (and I guess, now, BluRay), NetFlix/Hulu streaming, and an existing PS2. I'm also eyeing the PS3 (or a Wii?) but haven't made a decision yet. We don't have cable/satellite, and don't typically watch over-the-air. What factors should I be considering?

I'm looking into a modern TV to replace our ancient 13" CRT. My budget is flexible, but I'd like to keep it around $500. Right now I'm looking at the Vizio line, through Costco. There are a couple of $550-ish sets -- one 37" 1080p, and one 32" 120Hz 1080p. I've checked out the AVSForum reviews for both, and they seem generally positive -- mid-to-low-end sets with features and performance to match, but okay quality.

Questions: Given the applications I've listed, where is my money going to be more useful -- the bigger screen, or the faster refresh rate? Am I missing any other obvious considerations I should be paying attention to? Brands I should be paying more attention to? Other places to get a better deal? I like Costco because of the warranty/return service, but I might be persuaded if I can get significantly higher quality for the price, or lower price for the same quality.
posted by Alterscape to Technology (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite That might be useful.

But I really popped in here to say that the Wii has no HD Support. It's only a standard definition system. The PS3 may be HD ready out of the box (with cables), I'm not 100% sure because I don't own one. FWIW: Xbox360 supports HD but you must buy a HD cable for it.
posted by royalsong at 7:48 AM on November 19, 2009

We have a 32" Vizio, and we REALLY have no interest in getting one larger or more expensive. It does 720p and 1080i, but realistically on a screen that small *ya rite, small* there's not much benefit to go 1080p over 720p. When you get to 37" that changes.

The 32" 720's are more like $350-380-ish right now, at least at local Sam's.

We rock the Vizio with HDMI in from the cable box when we had one, HDMI in from the PS3, RCA's in from the Xbox (orig, not 360). I run "PS3 media server" from my main desktop with torrents/movies/music, and we watch them on the TV in HD via the PS3. It transcodes on the fly so EVERYTHING is watchable. And now the Ps3 does the netflix thing almost natively, we used to use Play-On Media server... Extra bonus is that the PS3's browser now does flash, so you can run pandora through it.

Works a treat, and the bonus is the PS3 is our Blu-Ray and we get to play kickass games like Borderlands and Rainbow 6 on it too.

The 32" also has DVI in, I often use it for a second monitor when I'm working on someone's PC at home.

My two cents.
posted by TomMelee at 7:49 AM on November 19, 2009

Just remember you get what you pay for. If you are looking to watch more sports, get a higher refresh (hz) rate, though you really don't need 240, 120 is fine. The distance you sit from the tv is also key. For a 32" screen, the recommended distance is 4 feet.

Also, what sort of system do you have for sound? If none, look at the volume/surround options. I'm not that familiar with vizio, is this an lcd, or plasma?

Really, I haven't been able to tell the difference between 720p and anything higher.

PS3 is a fantastic accompaniment to a new tv- unpnp server software will stream anything from your computer to the ps3 and then the tv, pandora, netflix, blu ray, etc.

Look on cnet for reviews, they will be able to tell you everything you want to know about any brand. Personally, I absolutely love my samsung.
posted by TheBones at 8:00 AM on November 19, 2009

I have a 37" LCD TV that I use as a monitor and until recently as my main television. It is 60Hz refresh and I've never had any problems. I have read anything over 120Hz is overkill. My suggestion is that for all your stuff make sure you get something with a lot of different inputs. That being said I used a HDMI to DVI cable for a long time and it worked well, so even if you don't have every input there are options.

Any screen below 40" and 720p is indistinguishable from 1080p by the human eye. My 37" is about 3 or 4 years old now and is 720p. It still looks great and I have no complaints about a difference between it and my 46" 120Hz 1080p. It might actually be hard to find 720p sets now as the technology has improved, but if you're set on sub 40" and find a good deal on one don't count it out based on the smaller resolution.

As for the Wii it is important to note that they do not come with high definition video cables, but they can by gotten on the cheap. Even then the Wii does not put out 1080p or anything close. If you want something that generates HD content the PS3 is the way to go. I have both and they're both a lot of fun and look great. The PS3 plays Blurays and I've just started trying out their new Netflix streaming which has been working great and is free if you already have an account.

If you are planning to attach a computer to it the video card in the machine is as important as the TV. Also, if you plan on playing regular ol' DVDs you'll want to get an up-converting DVD player. They're cheap now-a-days. The PS3 up-converts as well.

For cables I'd suggest Monoprice. Don't get burned by overly expensive HD cables (HDMI, DVI, component).
posted by Gainesvillain at 8:46 AM on November 19, 2009

Dynex tvs, Best Buy's house brand, are generally very good for the money. A lot of them use Samsung lcds which are generally the best on the market. When I was looking I settled on a 42" Dynex because it looked as good as a lot of tvs that were almost twice the price. Currently you can get a 40" 1080p Dynex for $570 shipped. Unless you hate Best Buy, it's worth a drive up to the store to look at them in person.

Also, keep an eye out on sites like and you should find some really good deals.
posted by thekiltedwonder at 11:47 AM on November 19, 2009

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