Transatlantic television technical teaser
January 2, 2011 10:32 AM   Subscribe

I have a USA-standard Samsung LCD flatscreen TV (specifically this one). I'm moving to the UK in a couple of months and would rather not have to replace it. What do I need to do to make it work in the UK?

After some Googling I'm a bit baffled. The whole PAL / NTSC problem seems to have been replaced with some new digital standards. But I'm not expecting the set to interpret transmissions directly - just whatever it gets from an HDMI cable from another box (DVD or digital TV decoder). Do those output the same everywhere?

And then there's some problem with 50Hz vs 60Hz based on electricity supplies. (Wikipedia says: "Most countries chose their television vertical synchronization rate to approximate the local mains supply frequency. This helped to prevent power line hum and magnetic interference from causing visible beat frequencies in the displayed picture of analogue receivers, but is of diminishing importance in modern digital display systems.")

I guess I'll need a 110V to 220V transformer - but that's pretty easy to get. I just don't want to ship the set and find it's useless.

Thanks for any help!
posted by TrashyRambo to Technology (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Don't know about the video signal issues, but you should be able to look on the back of the set, near the power input, and find out what power frequencies and voltages it accepts. If not there, the info is surely in the manual.
posted by Hither at 10:46 AM on January 2, 2011

One possible resource would be American expatriates presently in the UK. There are certainly groups online of American expatriates. Perhaps some of them read AskMe. But I'd do a google search for such groups, join any you find, and ask them this question.
posted by dfriedman at 10:52 AM on January 2, 2011

Most TVs these days ship with "world" circuitry, and they're pretty much able to play anything you throw at them. Regionalisation is largely in the plastic case styling, the branding/marketing and the power supply bits.

For example I frequently play PAL and NTSC DVDs and have done for at least 10 years, and my various TVs in that time have all auto-switched as needed. So its highly likely that your 2007 era set will actually be able to display a wide range of picture formats, PAL included.

But... that might be irrelevant. The UK has moved to digital transmission for terrestrial broadcasts and hence your set's tuner won't be able to receive any channels. If you want to keep the set then you're probably best thinking of it as a "dumb display" from now on.

If it has HDMI inputs then you just need to buy an HD tuner for your broadcast method of choice when you arrive in the Uk and hook it up.

Freeview HD boxes can be connected to a normal TV aerial and will give you all the local channels and a menu system, they're cheap at about £50 to £100. New Uk TVs have these built in. Some also have tivo/pvr type functions. Other choices (such as Freesat, Sky Digital and VirginMedia) give more channels but cost more and may need a satellite dish or local cable feed. As long as you can get an HDMI output from it I don't think you can go too far wrong.

In terms of power - the TV should have its input requirements printed on the back near where the cable enters the case. 220v (or 240v) at 50Hz can be plugged into the Uk mains. A USA set will probably be expecting 120V at 60Hz so a transformer is needed and NOT just a plug "shape" adapter.
posted by samworm at 11:18 AM on January 2, 2011

Response by poster: Hither: The power is 110V/60Hz as you'd expect. But that's fixable with a transformer.

dfriedmen: Nice thought.
posted by TrashyRambo at 11:20 AM on January 2, 2011

I have a lot of experience installing TVs in countries they were not meant to be used. Short answer, you shouldn't have any problem as long as you are not worried about PAL vs. NTSC inputs from a VCR or DVD player. If all your inputs are HDMI you are good to go. You will probably want to get a Sky (satellite TV) box once you are there and the new Sky boxes have HDMI output. If you buy a DVD/BluRay/DVR box in England it will talk to your TV if the output is HDMI.

Regarding power, Hither is correct, somewhere on your TV (as well as somewhere in the documentation that came with the TV) there will be a data tag that says what power is OK to put into it. MOST modern appliances accept 100 - 240 VAC and 50-60 Hz. This makes it easier for manufacturers such as Samsung to make one power supply for all of the TVs they sell anywhere in the world.

IF you TV says it will accept 100-240 VAC and 50-60 Hz then you can use it in England w/out any transformer. All you;ll need to do is get a new power cable or a US-UK adapter.

I just glanced at the tech specs in the review and it says 120 VAC. If this is true I would very much consider getting a new TV in the UK. A quick search comes up with this for 439 GBP. It seems a lot easier than dragging a TV across the Atlantic ocean, twice.

By the way, its probably a good idea to have a look at all your electronics that you want to take and make sure they all accept 100-240 VAC 50-60 Hz. Figure out how many adapters you need and order twice as many, they ALWAYS disappear! And you can never find adapters once you've used/given away your last one.

Good luck
posted by pandabearjohnson at 11:28 AM on January 2, 2011

The spec page says the TV consumes 195 watts, so a 200 watt voltage converter is your minimum. Here is a very cheap one. So cheap I'd get a couple as it won't last long especially as it is only rated for 2.5% more than your TV.

Ideally you would want a 250 watt voltage converter, but I can't find a cheap digital one. Normally they start to get pretty big and heavy around 250 watts. You are getting on to around 7 lbs. with this one.

For smaller appliances (electric toothbrush, small radio or CD player) this converter from Radio Shack is very useful. I've had several of these over the years and never had one fail. You still have to adapt the plug for the UK.
posted by pandabearjohnson at 12:31 PM on January 2, 2011

Have you done the math to see if it's cheaper to ship the TV to the UK or just sell it on Craigslist and buy a new TV in the UK?
posted by nathan_teske at 12:44 PM on January 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers.

My company will pay for shipping, so selling on Craigslist and buying a comparable new one leaves me a few hundred bucks out of pocket.

It looks like the video input isn't going to be a problem if I can source it from an HDMI cable. And the transformer's covered. It's just the 50Hz / 60Hz issue now - the back panel clearly says that it's 60Hz.
posted by TrashyRambo at 2:13 PM on January 2, 2011

I would get a better converter than that $12 one. I can forsee an inexpensive, almost maxed out, transformer not working well. Funny lines on the screen, TV blipping out unexpectedly, *possibly* even ruining the internal power supply for the TV. You probably DO want one that has some mass to it, because that means it has some good sized components that work better.
posted by gjc at 3:49 PM on January 2, 2011

Most TVs these days ship with "world" circuitry, and they're pretty much able to play anything you throw at them. Regionalisation is largely in the plastic case styling, the branding/marketing and the power supply bits.

So I got burmed by this (going sort of in the other direction tho... i wanted to use my PAL game consoles on a US tv fora bunch of dumb reasons)

Many people from PAL land (europe,australia,etc) are going to tell you that most TV's today are 50/60hz. This is true in PAL land, but to prevent parallel imports, many, many US televisions have 50hz modes disabled in firmware. Samsung _are_ one of the vendors who do this. So if you plug in a european DVD player into a US tv, you'll just get a blank screen (whereas the other way works - if you plug a US dvd player into a european TV, it all works fine, beacuse EU tvs enerally support both 50hz and 60hz),

My quick googling did not find the answer as to whether this applies to this model, but the easiest way is to buy some cheap PAL do-dad from a european amazon store and plug it in before you ship it. Preferably something battery powered for obvious reasons :)
posted by jaymzjulian at 4:38 PM on January 2, 2011

(that said, every spec list I've seen does NOT list 576i/576p as avaiilable resolutions, which are the european equivalent to 480i/480p), which is a bad sign
posted by jaymzjulian at 5:03 PM on January 2, 2011

« Older What is this pile of black ash in my furnace? I...   |   Traveling to Central/South America with an iPad Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.