September 30, 2007

SO I’VE HAD MY JVC HDTV for most of a year, and I’ve been very happy with it. My only complaint is that the HDMI connections are in a different — and hard to see — place from the rest of the connections and when I set it up I spent longer than I should have looking at the back and scratching my head. (The manual shows the HDMI connections, but only in close-up, so that didn’t help.) But the picture’s great, the connectivity’s great, and it’s been completely trouble-free.

This information is, of course, largely useless since almost a year is ages in consumer electronics time. But the new Consumer Reports has a big roundup with this unsurprising good news: “Bigger, better, cheaper — those three words sum up the major trends in LCD and plasma TVs this year.” If only everything got better this fast. That’s one reason I like gadget-blogging; it’s inherently cheerful because things pretty much always are better than last year.

There is, of course, a downside to constant improvement: Last year my TV was the one they liked best; this year it didn’t make the list at all, and this 50″ Panasonic plasma got the nod as producing the best picture they’d ever seen on a TV. And for less money than I paid for my TV last year . . . .

Looking at the reviews, though, the big news seems to be the price drop for smaller TVs in the under-40 inch category. They recommend this 37″ Olevia, and it’s only 800 bucks. For those interested in a TV in this size range, I’d say waiting no longer makes sense, as prices can’t fall that much farther. I’m glad I didn’t wait any longer for mine, though: Yeah, I could have gotten a bigger, better TV for the same money by waiting (or the TV I bought last year for less money this year), but the one I got was more than adequate for my needs, and I’ve had it for the past year. That’s worth something too. The other news is that last year people were saying that plasma TVs were on the way out, but this year the Consumer Reports people seem surprisingly bullish on them.

UPDATE: Reader Darren Miller emails about the 37″ Olevia:

I got one this past March, but it appears to be a slightly down-version of the one you linked to. I checked out all the reviews in advance and have to agree:

1. The remote *does* look cheap. It works, but it just looks cheap.
2. The tuner can take 3-5 seconds to change channels when you press the CH+ or CH- key, or when keying in a channel.

Other than that, I really like it.

Can’t beat the price. Older HDTV posts here and here — but bear in mind that the advice is even more dated than mine. And lots of HDTV questions answered, from the folks at Popular Mechanics.

Also, in response to another reader question, as I noted last year, I got my TV locally from H.H. Gregg, which matched the Amazon price. I think it’s probably fine to order ‘em from Amazon — obviously, lots of people do — but I kind of liked having somewhere local to complain to if something breaks, though that’s less and less of an issue as the technology matures.