Speaking as someone who, due to circumstances beyond my control (I’m poor), presently watches TV on a late ‘80s Panasonic behemoth that has outlasted Governments, wars, Glenroe and the Police Academy franchise, looking through the types of TV tech that will make a mark over the coming year became just a rolling series of me finding a product, going through the specs, and screaming ‘I want, I want, I want’.
For now, I’ll have to stick with the Panasonic (a machine so sturdy I’m nearly certain it could survive a nuclear attack ala that fridge in Indiana Jones), but for those with a little change in their back pocket there’s some great options out there. For one, we can start well away from enormo-screens or 3D hype and take a look at the Kula TV, announced last week by US-based Sungale and available in March.
The little fella delivers up TV treats via a modest 4.3-inch LCD screen and Wi-Fi connectivity “The Kula is the next big thing that will revolutionize the way people watch TV,” enthused Sungale vice president of sales Gary Bennett. Though he remained tight-lipped over any model for usage fees, TheTechHerald did report however that, “Content will be offered to prospective users through a number of different packages, which include Basic, Kid and Grand. While both the Basic and Kid options provide free access to between 20 and 30 channels, the fee-based Grand package will have more than 300 channels to choose from.” A similar system should be reasonably easy to set up this side of the Atlantic.
Including a flip-up Wi-Fi antenna for enhanced reception, 2GBs of internal storage (expandable to 16GBs via the on-board SD/MMC memory card slot), a built-in rechargeable battery, and multimedia file support for the likes of AVI, MPEG4, DIVX, XVID, WMV, WMA, MP3M, WAV, AAC, JPG, BMP, TIFF and PNG; this should find a few loyal followers when released in the US in March and worldwide soon after.
Thin is still in this year apparently and very little will be thinner than Samsung’s C9000 which comes with a gorgeous little Wi-Fi remote control—one that, as Gizmodo put it, “looks suspiciously like an iPhone and feels suspiciously like a Samsung phone”. The C9000 is as skinny as a pencil, a feat achieved by shoving lots of guts into the pedestal, which doubles as a wall mount. The set can convert 2D content into 3D as well. There’s no price for this fella yet though suggesting that unless you’re a Premier League footballer or an astronaut you just won’t afford it.
Last week of course we had Samsung beating their chests telling us that its line of 3D TVs will sell over two million units this year. Indeed, since the early part of last month barely a day has gone by without news of a new 3D TV, 3D TV station or various usages for that extra dimension (in no particular order – gaming, porn, sports analysis, adding some of it to make this rubbish look good) cropping up.
We also covered the topic in last week’s future of TV section, though for anyone serious about buying this year the general consensus is that the most impressive model on the market this year will be the spring release of the Panasonic TC-PVT25 series which will come with a set of custom 3D glasses.
As Cnet reported around the time of CES, “Panasonic will employ an active LC shutter system. The right and left lens in the glasses alternately darkens and lightens, too quickly to perceive, while the TV synchronously displays the corresponding right- and left-eye-specific images. The result is a stereoscopic 3D effect that, in the case of the VT25 mated to full-resolution 3D content, preserves all 1,920×1,080 (1080p) pixels for each eye.” The result is what Panasonic term ‘full HD 3D’.
It might take some patience and imaginative shipping to get that particular model into your living room though before the year is out and with this in mind we might just recommend the quite well reviewed Sony Bravia LX903 which will soon be available in 40-, 52- and 60-inch models, though pricing is still somewhat of a mystery but we will try to keep you informed on that one.
For those who don’t want to get on their 3D glasses to watch the news in another dimension (I don’t want Bryan Dobson in my living room) and instead are looking for straight down the line new LCD or plasma models, some interesting recommendations come via the always excellent ConsumerReports.org, which bigs up some of the following: the Vizio VF550M or Toshiba Regza 46XV645U for LCD fans and the LG 42PQ30 for those going down the plasma route.
The most interesting aspect of the article though is the tidbits on what you should remember when buying. Resolution for one thing – what about 1080p versus 720p? Consumer Reports makes the point that 1080p resolution (full HD), is now very common, but some 50-inch and smaller TVs still have 720p resolution. “Salespeople may suggest that 1080p sets have better picture quality overall, but it’s not always the case; however, a 1080p set does have the potential to display finer detail than a 720p TV because the screen has more pixels – the elements making up an image.”
The price premium for 1080p has shrunk but it can still make a €70 to €150 difference at times. If price isn’t an issue, the general wisdom though is to buy a 1080p set if the TV is 50 inches or larger. For those who want to go bigger, well unless you’re Oprah or John Terry’s lawyers, you most likely won’t be able to afford the few 2160p
Elsewhere, one feature you may want to keep on your wanted list if you’re deciding to spend big this year includes internet connectivity and with that in mind PCWorld’s recent glowing review of the Samsung LN46B750 should interest you greatly. Apparently, it brings together, “very good picture quality and excellent sound with YouTube viewing, Yahoo Widgets, and the ability to play media files from USB storage or your networked PC. And it does all that while being a remarkably easy-to-use HDTV”. It adds, “Internet connectivity and very good picture quality make the Samsung LN46B750 HDTV a worthy contender.”
It is however, not available in Ireland at the minute.
That is the frustration I suppose, as new models are announced in Japan, Las Vegas, California and elsewhere, Europe as a whole does tend to get the rough end of the stick. In fact, a quick glance through some of the best ideas coming in 2010 may need to be subtitled ‘what will be in Irish shops come 2011’. Still though, as some of the models mentioned above reach our little stretch of land we’ll be sure to keep you updated.
Now back to do some weight training with the Panasonic back home. Feel the burn!