Favoured TV Recommendation Sites
November 14, 2011 2:00 AM   Subscribe

So, where do people in the know go to find out what TV to buy? We're in the market after years and years of not having a TV and I am seriously ignorant of what to look for, what's recommended, et al.

What I need is a great source(s) to understand what type (plasma, LCD, LED/LCD?) to look into. Need to know what features actually matter, what's TV's have a great cost/benefit ratio.

We're not looking for the cheapest, the best, the largest, or the most new-fangled. Just looking for trusted places to actually find a current TV that would fit our needs, without knowing exactly what are TV needs are at the moment.

At the end of it, I want a recommendation for a specific television, not a general plasma over LCD, or 56" is better than 42".

Any thoughts?
posted by qwip to Shopping (12 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
My physical shopping choices are limited here, so I whittled down my list of suspects with reviews from Consumer Reports online, Tech Reviews from CNN and Popular Science/Mechanics, and WIRED reviews. I also compared reviews on Amazon and NewEgg. In the end, I went to Sears, looked at what they had in person, and then ordered online for the best price. Pay close attention to model numbers, one digit makes $100 or more worth of difference.

I am very satisfied with my Samsung 32" LCD 720p TV, which I purchased for about $287 on sale. Picture is crisp, no "shudder" during football games, nice deep blacks, and about the perfect viewing size from eight feet away. I wall-mounted it due to space concerns. It has a sleep timer and a wake-up timer (important to me), the sound is respectable enough that it's nice for Music Choice (cable radio) when I'm not watching a show, and 32" is about the cut-off point between 720p and 1080p where I can actually see the difference (YMMV). I bought this Samsung online, because it had the best picture (to me) when I was looking at the models in the showroom. I have also had good longevity from previous Samsung TV sets (not LCD). It worked fine with a normal cable hookup; it works noticeably better with my newer HDMI cable box and hookup. We have to have cable or satellite here, there are no local broadcast channels within 175 miles.

I watch cable movies, some network television, and the news channels. I occasionally watch anime, Cartoon Network, and animated films, and the color saturation seems pretty good. Subtitles are clear and easy to read. The TV also plays nice with my cable remote so I only have to have one remote out on the table.

Price was a consideration for me. Although I have power surge protectors on the house and at the plug for the electronics, it will die violently within three years due to an electrical storm. It's just a fact of life here.

This was my experience; I hope this is what you're looking for. I do not work for Samsung or the cable company. Good luck, it's a jungle out there...
posted by halfbuckaroo at 3:04 AM on November 14, 2011

Addendum: This is in America. I am not familiar with Australian broadcast standards. Should have been tipped off by "Favoured."
posted by halfbuckaroo at 3:10 AM on November 14, 2011

Honestly, you can't go wrong reading Consumer Reports magazine. It sounds like that's exactly what you're looking for.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 3:19 AM on November 14, 2011

I bought a TV recently - first went to a big box electronics store (BestBuy) to look at the wall of TVs and decide which two or three looked like good candidates. Then went home and checked the Amazon reviews on each. That did the trick.

(I did also check CNet and Consumer Reports, but they tended to focus on comparing a small subset of the TVs out there... surveying the wall of BestBuy TVs gave me an immediate overview that narrowed down my likely choices within a few minutes.)
posted by mark7570 at 5:20 AM on November 14, 2011

If you have a 500+ budget, are based in the U.S., and have a brand or model in mind, try AVS Forum in addition to the suggestions above. The conversations can get pretty geeky at times but the participants are knowledgeable and helpful.

I find the displays at Best Buy overwhelming; reading reviews beforehand helped me weed out some items. The Sears display isn't quite so busy and you might be able to get the salesperson to hook up a BluRay player to give you a demo, if you're looking for that functionality.
posted by Currer Belfry at 5:39 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

I just recently made a TV pruchase, but only after 6 months or so of researching, etc. (that's just me though, it may not take you that long). What I first did was clarify my needs: what do I watch, more films or more tv? More films, fine, what type of films - action, documentaries, etc.? how big is my space (which determines how far away you are from the screen which then determines the max size of your tv for optimal viewing)? Do I view dvd or plan to upgrade to blu-ray anytime in the near future? Do I want to watch tv in HD? Find out what you need first, then go to a high-end electronics store. Those salesmen are really well trained in understanding your criteria and then recommending the technology. Arrange for a demo, and take your time with this. Bring some movies that you would watch and see how they look. Now, you don't have to purchase a high-end tv, but at the very least your understanding of what's available will have grown. I watch more movies than tv and plan on upgrading to blu-ray very soon, my sofa is a bit over 2 meters away from the tv table and I have a 5.1 surround system, based on all of that (and review, etc) I purchased a Panasonic 50" VT30 plasma - and I LOVE IT.
posted by alchemist at 6:00 AM on November 14, 2011

Seconding AVSForum as an extremely useful resource. You'll need to sink some time into digesting all the info that's available there, but it's an absolutely great way to narrow things down and find out what you need about specific models.
posted by McCoy Pauley at 8:15 AM on November 14, 2011

I know you don't want general, but we have to start general: What is your budget? How far away from the seating area will you be mounting the television? Does the room have light control (heavy drapes, etc, that can keep light from streaming in and reflecting off the TV set)?

Do you want streaming video-type services available on the TV set? Do you/will you watch HD content? Will the TV be used with a home theater system, or will you be using its internal speakers?

If you don't want to answer these questions here, look at AVS Forum with the answers to these questions in mind.

IMO, pretty much any set you buy from a major manufacturer (and many of the Westinghouse/Vizio types, too) will be at least decent these days. The last one I bought I only spent about 20 minutes researching. I knew I wanted the least expensive 46" LED-LCD that has a game mode and is made by a major brand, so I browsed Amazon and bought the one that fit those criteria. (It ended up being a Toshiba) I'd be more picky if I were going to watch movies or other dark content on it, but I'm not, so I didn't really care.
posted by wierdo at 1:22 PM on November 14, 2011

Great tips, everyone. Researching AVSForum and Consumer Reports (with a little CNet thrown in). So far so good...
posted by qwip at 1:25 PM on November 14, 2011

Two things you need to know:

1: what do places like Consumer Reports think? You've got that covered.

2. How many dead pixels/stuck pixels can your TV have before they'll replace it? This helps you determine where to buy the television from.
posted by davejay at 4:31 PM on November 14, 2011

These sites aren't just for televisions but I do look at them for data on most electronics decisions:


Consumer Search

The Wirecutter
posted by screamingnotlaughing at 10:21 AM on November 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

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