Tell me about modern TVs

So I’m finally in the market for a new TV. My current TV is so old, yojimbo gave it to me when I moved to Ireland ten years ago and it was already old even then. To say it’s a bit primitive would be a slight understatement :smiley:

I’m looking up the new TVs and there seem to be a bewildering array of abbreviations and other features that mean nothing to me. I’ve worked out that I probably want LCD instead of plasma, and HD is good although I’m not sure the practical difference between HD-Ready and Full HD. I have no idea what all these “connectivity” options are all about (connecting things, obviously, but beyond that…)

Since I’ve put up with the old one for so long, clearly I don’t have a need for loads of bells and whistles. On the other hand, since it’ll probably be a long time before I get another one, I want to make sure the one I get isn’t made obsolete by new technology in a couple years.

So what are the key/necessary features in TV these days? Which features are really just optional extras? And do the Irish dopers have any recommendations for the best places to get deals?

I think this questions is better answered in IMHO, where you can get not only the facts but informed opinions. Moving from GQ to IMHO.

samclem, Moderator, GQ

1080p vs 780p, that’s the screen resolution. 1080p is a better picture but you need to have a big TV or be sitting close to a small TV to notice the difference (the bigger the TV, the further away you can sit and see the difference in resolution.) I have two 42" 780p TVs and I’m perfectly happy with them, but you may prefer the higher resolution.

Beyond that, it all depends on what you use the TV for and what you’ll be likely to use it for in the future.

My main TV has several different inputs, but I only use an aerial input for TV, and an HDMI input from my receiver (a glorified stereo.) Then I have an optical cable taking the TV sound from the TV to the receiver. The receiver itself takes inputs from an Xbox which doubles as a DVD player and a Wii. It then sends the video signal to the TV via the HDMI cable. So I could have a TV with very few inputs, but if I didn’t have a receiver then I’d need to use more of the TV’s inputs.

If you don’t know how you will be using the TV in the future, get one with several HDMI inputs, several component video inputs and at least one digital audio OUTPUT. HDMI inputs would probably be a priority as newer DVD/blu ray players, game consoles and so on have HDMI connections. At the bare minimum make sure it has suitable inputs for your current setup.

It’s difficult to go far wrong really, as even the cheap LCD TVs are pretty decent quality these days, and should have a full range of connectors. Has Ireland switched to digital TV yet, or will it be doing so in the near future? You probably want one with a built in digital receiver. 720p is 1280x720 pixels, while is 1080p is1920x1080 pixels.

SCART connectors are used for connecting up VCRs, DVD players, satellite receivers etc. at non-HD resolutions. Most TVs will have 2 or 3 SCART sockets.

HDMI is used to connect things like Blu-Ray players, HD satellite boxes at HD resolutions. Again, most will have 2 or 3 HDMI ports.

Most will also have a VGA connector, making it possible to connect your PC.


Any overseas dopers able to talk about the requirements of new TVs to have a tuner card for over-the-air broadcasts?

I can’t believe you still have that TV. I must be about 25+ years old. What a workhorse she was.

Pity you didn’t start this a few months ago. I had another spare then. Anyway, unless you’ve really got into tv I’d go basic and cheap.

The likes of this is what I say you should look at. Cheap and small but has everything you’ll need. Have a walk around some shops to see the sizes but the little thing you’re used to was something like 14" so they should all be bigger.

I don’t know. When I was hunting for TVs I didn’t notice any that didn’t have both a digital an analogue tuner, but I wasn’t looking at the cheapest options.

I can’t believe it either! The picture blinks periodically and I’ve been expecting it just to blow for about five years now. But it keeps hanging on…

I was looking at this one, it’s a little more expensive than the one you suggested but also a little bigger, any thoughts?

And yes, it will be all digital here in a year or so…

The most important question is how far away from the TV that you’re going to be sitting while you’re watching it. Very hard to make any sort of good recommendation without that info.

For reference, the two that you’ve noted so far are basically computer monitor size, and would be appropriate for about that viewing distance (no more than a few feet away).

I have this sneaking suspicion you may be watching footy on this new television, ruadh, so take it from someone who’s watched a lot of HD sports: If I were you, I’d spend the extra money on at least the 22" TV.

As Richard Pearse rightly says, the smaller the TV, the closer you have to sit to notice a significant improvement in resolution. And it seems the distances you need to sit to the TV are rather less than you’d expect: it’s been said for even the 42" screen I have that the optimum viewing distance is less than eight feet away, and IMHO it only starts looking fantastic at about five feet away. I don’t know how close you’d have to sit to a 19" screen but it must be rather close.

But it’s worth it, believe me. The colors alone will probably be stunning after 10 years of watching a 25-year-old box!

My only advice is to get as big a TV as you can based on your budget and maybe room size. IMHO, there is no such thing as “too big”. When I upgraded my old 35" tv a year ago, I had to decide between a 46" and a 52". A friend told me to go with the larger one. Best advice I ever got. The picture is gorgeous, and, if anything, I wouldn’t mind having a larger one!

That’s about right.

A couple things to remember. The human eye can’t tell HDTV from SDT on screens smaller than 30" so there’s no point paying extra for HDTV if you get a smaller screen

1080p is not currently used broadcasting standard. In other words no TV stations use this to broadcast. It is either 1080i or 720p.

I = interlaced scan and P = progressive scan

Interlaced looks better as a rule, except when it comes to movement. This is why FOX which depends heavily on football, used 720p. With things like sports that involve lots of motion, progressive is better. Some people can’t tell, so it’s up to you, whether or not you’ll see the artifacts with movement

Your TV will automatically convert whatever the TV station is broadcasting to it’s native resolution.

1080p is useful for Blu Ray and other High Def applications though.

The size of the screen depends on your room and how far you normally view it from.

As important is your set up. A poor set up of cable/dish/OTA will cause inferior pictures. Often times in stores like Sears and Best Buy the TV is not set up correctly so you don’t see the picture as good as it could be

You can go to AVS Forums and look around for really hardcore information. These people are really audio/visual enthusiasts so be prepared to spend a lot of time reading. But the info is very useful


I have a 22PFL3504-PHILIPS 22" LCD TV. It went from the box to the shelf, quick setup, scan for broadcast channels, and done.

Clear, sharp picture and clear sound. My older movies, 1940’s on up, look great (I use a Sony DVP-NS57P DVD player). Also, I get the broadcast stations without using an antenna anymore, too.

I put my 13 year old 13" Sharp TV in the closet as a backup, just in case.

And there’s 9’ between the TV and the seating group.

Not particularly true; as noted earlier, it depends entirely on how far away you’re sitting from the screen. At normal living room distance, I would agree with that, but assuming the OP is sitting at around computer monitor distance as he says he is, there will absolutely be a stark difference for pretty much any size.

The prices on the sites you guys are linking seem a bit high, but I have no real way of knowing by how much, given the exchange rate and particularly across-the-ocean pricing differences. I see that the 300 Euros that the linked 22 inch was priced at is something like 410 USD right now; for that price over here you could be looking at a pretty high quality 26 inch, or well into the 32 inch range if you didn’t need the highest set of features.

she :wink:

Everything costs more over here, unfortunately.

Very sorry! And yeah, I assumed that about the costing more. :frowning:
Looks like Amazon doesn’t ship TVs to Ireland, either; I would normally say them or Newegg as the first places to start for price checking, but looks like you might be generally out of luck there.

Because of the format change (a new tv is wider than than it is tall while the older tv is essentially square), a 19 inch new tv will look smaller than a 19 inch old tv. This is especially true if you are watching content that has not been reformatted (you get black space on the sides).

Do yourself a favor and get a piece of cardboard and cut it to the viewing size of your candidate tv. It looks like you will be living with this choice for a long time.

Go with 1080p if you can, the prices have come way down. I agree that you won’t see much difference in picture quality unless you have a huge screen, but 1080p matches the native format of computers much better and is much easier to sync up with.