November 4, 2005
Shopping for reasonably sophisticated TVs and displays is a pain in the butt. Even if you go into a store where items of comparable size and technology are grouped together (instead of having to look at a 26″ LCD next to a 61″ plasma), and are all showing the same program, it’s still hard to compare image quality. This is mostly because you don’t know how each set is adjusted (nobody leaves remotes out, for obvious reasons), or whether they are using comparable inputs, etc.
You also don’t get the option of seeing how each well each TV displays standard definition content, high-def content, and DVD content — the store will be showing only one or another (usually a DVD or a high-def satellite channel).
Unfortunately, since the world is far from HD-only yet, how well a set displays SD content is fairly important to most of us, and some HD sets make SD look even worse than it already is.
I think I wore an inch off the bottom of my shoes pacing back and forth looking at TVs this week, before finally deciding to give the Philips 32″ Pixel Plus LCD (32PF7320A) a try.
My final comparison came down between a Sharp Aquos, a Sony, and the Philips. To my eye (and not knowing how they were all adjusted), the Sharp had the better black level, while the Sony had better shadow detail. The Philips was pretty much right smack between — better black than the Sony, and better shadow detail than the Philips. The case design was a factor too; the Sharp is stuck with large, non-removable side speakers that limit tight placements, and the Sony had speakers at the bottom that for some reason threw the “look” of the unit off to me. Once again, the Philips was the compromise; non-removable side speakers, but much smaller, with a more “balanced” look to the unit.
What finally settled it for me though was the feature set.