May 5, 2012

I was going to buy a new TV, but it's too complicated.

When I need a new computer, it's easy to figure it out. A new TV? It's like having an extra job. What a chore! A TV is just for fun, so it's absurd for it to be a big bother.

Oh, but if you buy a new TV, please use this link.


rhhardin said...

There are plenty of TVs available in Ohio

Alex said...

Whatever you do, do NOT buy a Samsung "smart TV" or any TV with a built-in computer. Buy a good "dumb" 1080p television and hook up a good set-top box like Apple TV or Roku. The TV will last 10 years, but that allows you to update the set-top box every 3 years as the tech moves a lot faster there.

Erika said...

May I suggest that it might be less of a chore trying to figure out what to buy if, instead of buying it at Amazon, you visited a locally-owned electronics store and talked with a knowledgeable salesman?

Alex said...

Erika - actually there is way more to be learned by perusing product pages and looking at Youtube video demos then going to a local store and being pressured by a salesman. Essentially Amazon has killed the brick & mortar in everything(books, music, electronics). Heck people even buy tires there.

Alex said...

I can't rave enough about's product pages. You go on a TV product page and you end up scrolling for pages and pages of tech specs, comparison tables, photos, even demonstration videos. It's beyond amazing!

PatCA said...

I know what you're saying. I need one too, and a new receiver (do they still make receivers?) and the thought of shopping for those things exhausts me.

The last time I bought something like that the salesman closed the deal when he said, I will come over and set it up for you. And he did!

T J Sawyer said...

Too complicated? I bought my first HDTV in about 2001. I eded up knowing the name of the chief engineer at each of our local stations!

There were three choices for type of connection between an HD source and the receiver.

It's easy now. Just buy the highest contrast ratio in the screen size you want.

David said...

Ha. And you have not even installed it.

Apple is going to fix all of this for you one of these days.

lemondog said...

...and hook up a good set-top box like Apple TV or Roku

How does it work? I don't have cable. Do I need cable or something else?

David said...

Erika: Locally owned electronics store? Good luck with that in most parts of the country.

Rabel said...

The brutality of a woman's life under the paternalistic, androcentric oppression of marriage does have its bright side.

Meade? Step it up, Buddy.

EDH said...

Interesting, Althouse didn't attach her "the paradox of choice" tag to this post.

July 16, 2010
The Nation promotes the anti-choice liberal meme.

A couple weeks ago, I pointed to "that trendy liberal theme: Choice won't make you happy." Here it is again in "The Trouble with Amazon"

September 1, 2011
"I just want regular jeans. You know, the kind that used to be the only kind.”

This is the anecdote that begins Barry Schwartz's book "The Paradox of Choice." He "spluttered" that after a Gap salesgirl asked him if he wanted "slim fit, easy fit, relaxed fit, baggy, or extra baggy... stonewashed, acid-washed, or distressed... button-fly or zipper-fly?" His anguish was supposed to exemplify a big problem we have these days...
Get a grip, Barry!

My take:

EDH said...
I think there is something to the Paradox of Choice theory when it comes to more subtle and complex shades of differentiation, say in financial and insurance products, for instance.

But I don't think it applies to the dichotomous choice between fruits/vegetables and fast food.

It's not confusion over the subtlety or complexity of choices that's driving suboptimal decisions.

It's culture, convenience and inability to delay gratification.

Ann Althouse said...

"Whatever you do, do NOT buy a Samsung "smart TV" or any TV with a built-in computer. Buy a good "dumb" 1080p television and hook up a good set-top box like Apple TV or Roku. The TV will last 10 years, but that allows you to update the set-top box every 3 years as the tech moves a lot faster there."

Thank you! Very helpful advice.

Ann Althouse said...

"Interesting, Althouse didn't attach her "the paradox of choice" tag to this post."

Ha ha. Good point.

I want Steve Jobs to be around to figure this out for me.

David said...

Jobs has figured it out. They are still working on the roll out though.

EDH said...

I have a 2000 27" Sony flat tube TV and a 1990s Zenith 19". I still think the old TVs look better on old style non-HDTV broadcasts.

My last foray to search for a HDTV was a little over a month ago. In fact, I think the experience cemented my partial agreement (above) with behavioral elements of the Paradox of Choice theory.

I was then gravitating toward the new Samsung 51" plasma 3D Smart TV.

Needless to say, everything I've heard since then has contradicted that.

You need 60".

I got rid of my 50" plasma Samsung for a Sharp Aquos 60" LED.

Whatever you do, do NOT buy a Samsung "smart TV" or any TV with a built-in computer.


Okay, I give up. What's on the "tube"?

Original Mike said...

Julia would know where to turn for help.

Aridog said...

The daughter bought a top-of-the-line smart/computer TV ... didn't work worth spit ... went back to the store post haste. Wireless my ass, barely a signal in a open space loft in the center of the city ... the same space everything else perfectly with top reception.

I agree with those who say buy a "plain" TV and add tech gear to suit your needs ... the all in one packages just cannot be as good. And they ARE NOT as good.

Pssst: minor complaint ... the "size" of television screens today is BS compared to the older 4 by 3 sizing ... the wide screen make many shows run with wide black bands top and bottom, whihc means you're getting about 2/3'rds the "size" you thought you were buying.

This is similar to photography where 2 by 3 was standard, but 2.75 by 2.75 was even better ... no fussing with the camera orientation, using a high resolution you can just crop for the image you want. There are those to day who will bemoan the full size digital images versus the earlier images that were 1.5 or 1.6 larger than the focal length might provide full size.Bah ... with high resolution, as available to day in digital media, "cropping" is your friend and the images will be at least as good as the 1.5's , and in most cases better.

I am about to buy a full size image digital camera ... the bucks are high so far in the DSLR or RF fields, but if Fuji would just make their exquisite "bridge camera" Model X-S1 with a full size media I'd be in heaven.

Rant for today all done now ... sorry 'bout that. :-)

KLDAVIS said...

"Pssst: minor complaint ... the "size" of television screens today is BS compared to the older 4 by 3 sizing ... the wide screen make many shows run with wide black bands top and bottom"

Either you don't have it configured correctly, or you're not watching HD. New TVs are sized appropriately for HD programming.

Rabel said...

Ann's post from December 2011:

You know, I would consider buying a big new TV— but it just seems so complicated these days. I don't even know the difference between an LED and an LCD screen. Which is supposed to be better? Any advice? Built-in WiFi... is that the future or is the future about to overtake that technology? 3D... does that make the thing worse if you don't want 3D? If I wait 6 months, will everything be better and cheaper?

My reply:

I bought an LG 55LK520 thru your Amazon link about three months ago.
I hope that worked but I wonder if having to go thru the sign-in at Amazon drops the link?

Anyway I'm completely satisfied. It's a 2011 model 55" LCD.

A few opinions:

Smart TV with internet capability will be better in a few years. It's troublesome now, but a nice, if expensive, feature if you don't mind the complications.

Plasma better than LCD/LED in2011? - No. Just no.

LED is just LCD with a different backlight system. Almost no difference in picture quality but a fairly big difference in price.

3D? Not worth it. Limited content available, glasses, angles. Go to a movie if you want 3D.

Viewing angles on today's LCD's are great. You have to get way out of the line of sight to notice anything.

That said, a swivel base is nice to put you directly in front of the set so you can look right into Aaron's purty eyes pre-snap.

Thinness don't matter. They're all thin.

The set will be delivered to your door after a phone call from a freight company. It won't be tossed over the fence. Free shipping with Prime. I set mine up by myself. You can do it while Meade watches.

Be nice, use Indy's link.

Extended warranties are not usually a good idea, but I got a 5 year in home parts and labor from LG for $130. Seems like a win.

Prices have stabilized on the LCD's. The "smart" sets will come down but only gradually.

You will need hi def TV service and you will have to make adjustments in screen ratio when going from hi def to standard. I've got comcast and almost all of the good stuff is hi def.

Do it. You'll be glad you did. Also, go big. The most common complaint of buyers is wishing they had gotten a bigger set.

Aridog said...

@KLDAVIS ... no offense intended, because I get the point about "HD" as put out by the majority of broadcaster, satellite, or cable providers.

However, it is balderdash. The hypotenuse of a triangle will aways be longer (larger) if you stretch out the lateral dimension ...e.g., a "60 inch" television measuring 60 inches across the hypotenuse, as TV's are rated for size, does not give as much vertical rendition at 16 to 9 ration as it would at 4 to 3 just stretches out a smaller image.

But, hey, anything to sell new TV's is a fair market practice. It is also telling you that you need a screen to fit the broadcasts, which has nothing to do with image size per se....and is generally smaller versus older size dimension images.

edutcher said...

The Blonde wanted a 65" TV and it was a bit of an adventure to put up.

Not too bad, but the surge protector it needed looked like something out of NASA.

PS Just bought some books through the Althouse portal.

For TVs and such, we still want to kick the tires, metaphorically.

Aridog said...

Clarification: I cited the "hypotenuse" of a TV screen, when I should have also related that to the "diagonal" measure of the screen.

My apologies to Pythagoras.

Aridog said...

Oh, my ... must have said something wrong in my answer to @KLDAVIS. My response was there, then it wasn't and isn't. The Editor or Spam filter got me again.

Anyway, I explain how 60 inch sizing today on the wide screens (16:9) is actually a smaller "image" size overall compared to the older 4:3 ratio standard. My apology to Pythagoras comment somehow remains.

Donna B. said...

Size -- whatever you need/want. I bought a 40" because it was going in a relatively small room.

Features -- HD 1080 and several HDMI ports. If you're going to hook up some fancy surround sound audio system, well... have fun!

Cost/brand -- the cheapest you feel comfortable with. For me, that's the cheapest I can find. If I get three years out of my $300 set, I'll be happier than being locked into something that I feel should last 10 years for $1000. If my $300 set lasts 5 or 6 years, I'm even happier.

I have had bad experiences with buying 'expensive' and/or 'large' items from Amazon, all involving not ever getting the item and being completely disgusted with what I had to go through to get the money back -- because they insisted I had to return the item first.

If I'm looking for something priced over $100-$150, I use Amazon for pricing, reviews, and feature research.

Paddy O said...

Alex is right. There are just so many ways to access online media these days, that paying extra is silly. So too is 3D. Big gimmick.

Last year, I spent a bit of time looking around and got this one:

Samsung LN46D630

It was the only one I found that has top quality picture, with all the adjustments, but doesn't have smartTV extras.

LED is thinner and lighter and uses a little less energy, but the price is usually a lot higher and it's hard to find one without all the extra stuff.

Mel Plontz said...


theribbonguy said...

Hi Prof,

Long time reader, first time poster.

The truth of the matter is that TV technology has matured to the point that the industry has devolved to mostly a numbers game now, that is, practically any of the new sets are an order of magnitude (or more) better than anything you could buy 10 years ago.

First consideration...glare. If you have a lot of light streaming in you want a matte or semi-matte screen surface. The finest TV in the world is rendered crap if you have to watch through the reflection of your curtained window.Going to any box store and looking down the TV aisle at an acute angle will drive this home.

Second is size. When I was selling them I would point out that 7 feet from a 27" set would give the EXACT same perspective as 13 feet from a "40 inch set..even put tape markers on the floor to demonstrate this.

Third would be your source..garbage in-garbage out. Unless you are watching Blu-Ray, 720p is fine.

As an aside, most people are shocked to find that terrestrial broadcasts (off-air with an antenna) are far superior quality wise than cable or dish. The numbers game again. Cable/dish companies compress the hell out of the signal to fit all the channels in (think mp3 vs. cd).

Alex said...

Of course Apple will figure out how to integrate the media computer into the TV and it will all work automagically with zero bugs.

pm317 said...

theribbonguy said...

That was cool info. Thanks.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

A new TV? It's like having an extra job. What a chore!

I know!!! The decisions. We need to be able to view the screen not only straight on, but also at an angle when in the kitchen or sitting on one of the love seats. (We have a large all in one great room with kitchen, dinning and living area sections).

Wireless???? Roku Box?? Probably yes. If we could figure out how to get Fox Business Channel through the internet or other subscription, we would drop Dish in a second.

Hooking up to the speakers. Integrating with the wireless set up we have for on the deck.

AAAAAGH.....too much work.

Alex's advice was pretty spot on. I'll remember it.

Ann Althouse said...

I have UVerse, which is too expensive but easy and familiar. I don't think I'm ready to piece together an alternative. I have an HDTV, a Sony, that has always had a great picture, but isn't flat screen. It's a little small, but we sit close to it. I don't really watch it much. This is why I'm just at the edge of wanting to do something to make it better.

Original Mike said...

"This is why I'm just at the edge of wanting to do something to make it better."

Don't do it. It's not worth the effort (which is not inconsiderable).

OTOH, you could assign the task to Meade.

Original Mike said...

Better to spend your time playing with puppies.

theribbonguy said...


Your welcome.

Erika said...

@Alex--fair enough. We actually do have a small chain of locally-owned electronics stores where I live in Texas, but I realize that's not the norm in many places, sadly enough. Glad that Amazon's product pages are helpful to you, but I find that they heavily assume prior knowledge and thus they are largely useless to me for basic questions; being able to talk to a human being that knows the product is far more helpful. But mileage varies.

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Carnifex said...

I am not a luddite, but why would I need a high definition tv, when I have low definition eyes? I'll save my money thank you very much. When my tv quits/dies in 25 years, I have 3 in the basement people have given me because they've spent hundreds of dollars just to get the "latest and greatest". I suspect I'll be getting a high-def one the same way someday.


Don't have the bells and whistles package for cable either. Just the minimum, and the only thing I miss is "Archer".

Don't buy as many movies as we used to either. Our book consumption is constant though. You can buy books for 50 cents now. I'll go as high as $3 for a hardback!