How to Find a Flat Screen TV: An Expat Adventure
When my sisters gave me a much desired Wii and Wii Fit module for my sixtieth birthday, I was delighted at their generosity and thoughtfulness. Never having been a video game fan, I was surprised to see how much fun these electronic diversions can be. Of course it is easy for me to justify owning a Wii because I mostly use it for fitness training.
But I discovered that I needed one more thing to really enjoy my new adventure into electronic fitness and games. Frankly, I wasn’t enjoying my Wii set up at my house as much as I was at theirs. Why? Well, they each have these huge flatscreen TV while I was making do with a prehistoric 26 inch tube set! My husband and I decided that we’d get a new TV since we were already enjoying the fitness programs and the games on my new Wii. It had been so long since we’d bought a television that we did not even know the right questions to ask at first.
We also have the added factor of being U.S. expats in Europe
, with an international assortment of DVDs, so we wanted to make sure that a purchase of this magnitude would serve us equally well here as well as when we returned home. So here is how our shopping adventure developed.
Should We Buy a Plasma TV or an LCD TV?
That seemed to be the first question sales folks ask. Given that we were less than up-to-date on TV technology, we did a little research and discovered that really there are advantages and disadvantages to each. This sums up the comparisons we found:
Plasma TVs. These have better contrast, better blacks and color depth, better motion tracking, and more models to choose from if you want a really large screen and if price is not a major factor. They are not recommended for higher altitudes. Since we live just barely above sea level, that was of no concern to us. They can be heavier, which is a consideration if wall mounting.
LCD TVs. These consume less energy and thus, not surprisingly, put out less heat. They also weigh less and hold up better when shipped. Screen glare and burn in are less likely but burn out of individual pixels more likely. They can have impressive enough resolution at more reasonable prices even at screens over 36 inches.
What Other Factors Should You Consider?
Multi-system TVs. We quickly discovered that it is easy to find “multi-system” sets that will accommodate the variety of DVDs.
Blu-ray and HD-DVD compatibility. If you are planning to get a Blu-ray Disc or HD-DVD, this may be the best choice cost-wise since you can get a 1080 pixel resolution in a 37 to 42 inch set for less than you’d pay for a similar plasma TV. If you want a much larger screen, the plasmas can be more economical.
Can It Be Too Big? Be sure to plan out where you plan to put your wonderful new flat-screen television. The size should be proportional to the room you will be in. It’s hard to enjoy a 72-inch screen if you cannot move your sofa or chair back more than six or seven feet! These TVs come with manuals that suggest appropriate home theater configurations.
You should definitely check out actual models if you can before making your decision. We did, and we selected a 37” Hitachi LCD Multi-system TV and then ordered it over the internet along with a new region-free DVD player. Once we got everything in to place, we were surprised at what a fabulous difference it makes! Not only do we enjoy our Wii more, but we enjoy movies and DVDs a lot more as well. So here’s to happy viewing!