Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Although I've neglected the blog for a long time, there have been some TV equipment changes here at the house so I'll get into those in a moment. First, I'll offer some excuses. Skip to the fifth paragraph if you're interested only in the TV stuff.
We went to the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque this year. We've been wanting to make it up there for several years but had put it off. And we have been to the Alpine balloonfest several times so that somewhat satisfied the need to see giant bags of hot air ascending to the heavens. We also had some living-quarters remodeling scheduled so we returned home from Albuquerque with just barely time to wash all the clothes and start moving stuff out of the way for new carpet and tile. As you might remember, I'm retired but the wife is still working. She decided that rather than retire, she would amass huge amounts of money to buy a new house or to remodel the current house. And since we decided to remodel, she had the advantage of safe refuge from 8-5 each day while tilers and carpeters had their way with my space. I survived the week-or-so and we now have nice new tile and "green" carpet that is really brown made from corn. Really. Made from corn.
The wife has also been steadily replacing furniture because, of course, one cannot have old furniture sitting on new carpet/tile. I'm not sure why but I really don't need to know why. I know I don't need to know because that's what I was told. And new furniture requires at least one new TV. That I understand because it was explained to me in detail... One piece of the new furniture is a TV stand which is 71-inches wide and requires a TV of similar size so that the TV does not look so small sitting on it. The viewability, or ability to provide quality entertainment has absolutely nothing to do with TV selection I now know. I offered a feeble argument that a television that size would make our modest-sized living room look like a drive-in theater but found myself looking through the selection of TVs on display at Best Buy.
Some people do not realize that an 80-inch television on display among ten or twelve 55 and 60-inch televisions does not look all that big. It will not look the same in your living room. Unless you have ten or twelve 55/60-inch TVs in it already. This argument I was able to win only after coming home and using masking tape on the wall to show the true size of a 80-inch TV. Genius, huh?
I was assigned to select a 60-inch TV and, after exhaustive research on the Internet, we ended up with a 60-inch Samsung TV that is Smart. I don't know exactly how smart our new TV is but I'll get in to that later. My research lead me to either the Samsung or a Sony for picture quality and the price difference made the final choice easy. Many people complain of "flashlighting" on LED backlit LCD televisions but with proper adjustment I see no flashlighting at all on ours. I copied the settings from several sources, particularly the AVSforum and CNET and was pretty pleased with the results except the sound. The only downside of a TV this size (or larger) is that any defects in the content are really obvious. I have some DVDs with 480i content that will just be unwatchable on this TV.
With our old Sony TV I used a receiver/amplifier with Radio Shack Minimus-7 speakers. These small speakers offer great sound in a very small package but the old JVC receiver seemed both out-of-date (not even optical output) and huge for this purpose so I set out to research my options. Hey, it's not my fault - She wanted the new TV and I was just trying to complete the setup. I eventually selected the Sony HT CT150 soundbar. Soundbars have become very popular for that gap between built-in TV speakers and Home Theater Surround Sound and the CT150 receives high praise from other geeks. I'm very pleased with the Sony soundbar.
Our Samsung is one of the Smart TV models but does not have built-in WiFi - it requires CAT5 or a proprietary wireless dongle. The smarts include apps for streaming content from Hulu, Netflix, etc. but I really couldn't care less about the networking feature in the TV because I have pretty much the same capability through my TivoHD. Yet, when I found a non-Samsung dongle at Newegg.com for less than $30, I ordered one anyway. (The Samsung dongle is $80, but the cheaper Rosewill uses the same chipset and is the only non-Samsung dongle that works with Samsung TVs and Blu-ray players.) My curiosity - no, my geekiness, require me to find out just how "smart" the TV is. I haven't received the dongle yet so I still don't know.
I've yet to decide on a Blu-ray player but am considering a Panasonic, a Sony or a Samsung. The Samsung or Sony would supposedly offer to integrate more seamlessly with the TV or the soundbar but the Panasonic seems to be rated higher for less noise and/or better upconverting of standard DVDs than the other two brands. All three brands apparently do 3D/Blu-ray playback very well but almost all the commentary in the forums focuses more on the networking ability of the players because, like TVs, new Blu-ray players are network compatible. My primary concerns in the differences of the models I've researched are the mechanical noise of the players, the DVD upconverting and the 3D ability so the Panasonic DMP-BDT110 is looking like the frontrunner for the money.
So that should just about catch us up. And by the way... Next time I'll vote to move.