I Want My M(ini)TV
March 7, 2010 12:41 AM   Subscribe

My friend is looking to replace her TV. She wants a very stylish/elegant small flat screen TV with built in DVD player, HDTV. Price is open (well not that open).

Her last TV (until it busted) was a Sony MFM-HT75W which she felt was the perfect size for her 19.5 x 11 x 20 ("17 inch" screen).

That Sony model is no longer available to purchase.

Overall width should be under 22". So I suppose we should be looking for a "20 inch" screen or smaller .

Given her priorities, can you suggest a replacement?
I haven't been able to find a good one using these filters.
posted by artdrectr to Technology (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I don't know much about televisions, but make sure to specify - "flat screen" only means the screen is flat, not that it has a slim profile. Normal TVs can be "flat screen" and yet be, like, five feet around on the back of 'em - "flat screen" is sort of a salesman-y gimmick.
posted by koeselitz at 12:44 AM on March 7, 2010

In other words, "flat screen" merely means "the screen isn't all roundy, like the TVs they had when we were kids."
posted by koeselitz at 12:45 AM on March 7, 2010

Best answer: 99.9% of the time when a nontechnical friend or relative needs a new TV, they say "like the old one!" with some innate fear that the decision maker will get something horrible to save a few dollars.

Forget the built-in DVD player requirement and help her get a decent HDTV TV with a decent DVD player as an add-on. If you stick the the same brand (e.g. Sony) it'll be slightly more seamless...

DVD players are almost a dime a dozen. Assuming you picked a decent TV with HDMI, find a DVD player with HDMI (as if you can even find one without) and plug in the single cable. Done.
posted by GoldenShackles at 1:03 AM on March 7, 2010

Response by poster: I don't know much about televisions
More than me.

GoldenShackels: I agree on all counts. It's the minimalist-style thing, however, that is the catch, the reason she wants the combo TV/DVD.
I'll ask if she can hide the DVD player somewhere. (TV will not be wall mounted).
posted by artdrectr at 1:16 AM on March 7, 2010

Here's a couple of 19" LCD TVs with built-in DVD players at NewEgg.

I know your friend isn't looking to change her mind here but the built-in DVD player is a bad idea. What happens if/when the DVD player breaks? Instead of buying a $20 replacement DVD at Wal-mart, she'll have to buy a whole new TV?
posted by CRM114 at 1:46 AM on March 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

Seconding NewEgg as a reliable and well priced retailer. I've gotten some good deals from them and have never had any problems.
posted by BeaverTerror at 2:08 AM on March 7, 2010

NewEgg is not the best place to buy things like TVs. Their return policy sucks compared to B&M retailers, and TV sets are very subjective things that you really need to see in person before buying (or at least have the option of returning/exchanging for a reasonable cost after buying). Of online retailers, Amazon is better for that sort of thing.

You can get a refurb 22" Toshiba from Best Buy right now for under $300 (the non-refurb is $350), though. That would likely be a good set, just based on Toshiba's tendency to produce decent TVs. Sam's Club has a new 22" Sharp for $300. Both are good brands, although anything in that size range will probably really be a rebadged knockoff. Just hopefully a rebadged knockoff with better than usual quality control. These 22" sets are both slightly under 22" wide, thanks to the magic of diagonal measurement.

If I may add a little personal aside, a 22" TV is pretty much worthless unless it's going on a desk. To be quite honest, I'd rather not have a TV than have one I can't see, but to each (her) own. My personal experience is that when I've had smaller TVs, I've always thought they were of reasonable size, but then when I get a new one that's bigger I find myself wondering why in the hell I didn't upgrade my viewing experience sooner. It really is a better experience to have the screen filling most of your field of vision. And it doesn't even have to look like ass. A lot of new TVs have nifty USB stick readers that can display slideshows if the complaint is the blank void on the wall when the set isn't in use. It's like a digital photo frame, only much, much bigger.

On the bright side, with a set that small at typical viewing distances, it literally does not matter what resolution the TV is. It could be 480i widescreen and it wouldn't matter. This makes the decision much simpler, as you're primarily looking for something that looks reasonably attractive and works in your friend's space. If it's a bright room, you definitely want something that can a) get bright, and b) has a matte screen. If it's a dark room, nearly anything will be decent as long as it doesn't have visible brightness variations across the screen. The house brands tend to have that problem, as do the newer Funai-made Philips sets (in Philips' case, all the Philips branded sets are now made by Funai, all the way from the teensy ones to the gigantic ones)

And for the love of everything good and right with the world, get one that has a 16:9 aspect ratio, not 16:10. This is a TV, not a PC monitor. You want this to be right. Nobody likes it when faces look the wrong width.
posted by wierdo at 3:55 AM on March 7, 2010

As a wild card suggestion, she could go for one of the new 21.5" iMacs which play DVD's and can be used as a TV by adding a tuner such as an Elgato.

It'd be hard to beat in a stylish contest.
posted by fairmettle at 4:13 AM on March 7, 2010

I concur about ditching the DVD player option. DVD players are cheap now. The ones inside a combo TV are crappy anyway, equivalent to the $30 decks you can buy at Target.

I have bought several TVs from Amazon now. The price was always extremely competitive, the delivery always right on time, and the setup free (except a tip for the deliver guy). One of them had a problem, and Amazon arranged the pickup and exchange quickly and with no hassle, and were extremely gracious about it. I recommend them very highly for TV purchases.

And having just done a ton of research on the subject before buying my new LCD HDTV, the bottom line for me was: buy a Samsung, any Samsung. Absolutely fantastic quality for the money, in my opinion.
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:46 PM on March 7, 2010

fourcheesemac wrote: "And having just done a ton of research on the subject before buying my new LCD HDTV, the bottom line for me was: buy a Samsung, any Samsung. Absolutely fantastic quality for the money, in my opinion."

Samsung is indeed one of the better brands. I think their plasmas are better than their LCDs, personally. Sort of like Panasonic (who, IMO, makes better plasmas than Samsung, although that's irrelevant to the OP's question)

Generally, if you want the best quality, you should stick with Sony, Sharp, Samsung, Panasonic, or Toshiba. The rest are pretty hit and miss. Philips used to be on that list, before they dumped their TV line onto Funai. Best value for money is probably the Sharp, Panasonic, and Toshiba trio. Samsung and Sony are overpriced for what you get, IMO. They are usually a little better than the other three, but not so much better as to justify the higher price.
posted by wierdo at 3:14 PM on March 7, 2010

2nding the imac if it really has to be minimal.
posted by bonobothegreat at 3:38 PM on March 7, 2010

Response by poster: UPDATE! NEWSFLASH!

She has ditched the TV/DVD combo idea! It will be separate components. YAY.

Looks like she is going to go with:
SONY BRAVIA 22" 1366 x 768 720p LCD HDTV KDL22EX308
Larger than her last Sony and she will be impressed.

fairmettle/bonobo: we thought about the iMac (in fact she uses an older G4) but it's not fast enough, and buying a new one (+ accessories) is not in the budget.

weirdo: this 22" will be placed at the side of her bed. It's in her face.

fourcheesemac: Samsung was on my list. I suggested the very stylish
Samsung 720p 60Hz LED-LCD HDTV UN26C4000
But being 26", it's too big.

I think we are good to go with the Sony, shipped from amazon (less $ than newegg) to her door.

Thanks to everybody for the input, very good stuff.
goldenshackles for the win: good advice about staying with Sony, losing the DVD.
posted by artdrectr at 11:26 PM on March 7, 2010

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