Back To School 2007: HD TVs for Cheap

It’s that time of year when those of a certain age are heading off to school. It’s a middle step in life, not moving into apartments or houses but into dorms, frat houses and various off and on-campus residences. For a lot of you, it’s your first time away from home for an extended period of time. I don’t think I would be going out on a limb by assuming that both money and space are going to be scarce. If this is the question you ask yourself, “how can I get my HD situation together?” then this round-up is for you. Prices have dropped and options have expanded to the point where more solutions are within reach. This info should help you make the right choice, while bringing you up-to-date about the HD marketplace.

The Westinghouse SK-26H59OD is a Digital LCD/TV DVD combo unit. This is a good thing, because when you have the DVD player combo you get a better DVD playback. The reason is that the DVD player is hard-wired into the TV/LCD. The signal doesn’t have to go from digital to analog and then back to digital, thus making the DVD image cleaner. This 26” HD/LCD has a resolution of 1366 x 768 and a response time of 8-milliseconds making it good for fast action. The contrast ratio is 800:1 with 2 Component and 2 HDMI inputs. Cheap enough, at $699 list price.

tv-wonder600_usb_sm1.jpgIf you have a laptop, you have a laptop, right? That settled, the ATI all-in-ONE wonder USB plug can turn your laptop into an HDTV. The ATI TV Wonder 600– Hi-Speed USB can serve as a PVR recording your shows. ATI accomplishes this with its Catalyst software suite making your laptop (or desktop) into a time shifting, video streaming, DVD playing self-contained unit. This is a good alternative for the really poverty stricken student, but be advised for the PVR and Media recording functions you better have a really big Hard Drive. Really cheap at $99.

vx1940w-1_right.jpgThe desktop solution from ViewSonic offers an excellent picture while serving as a computer monitor. The price doesn’t hurt and not to mention it’s also a space saver. Not exactly a wall hanger, this LCD has very good response time making it an excellent choice for gamers. Both 19 and 22 inch models feature 1680×1050 resolution, which is higher than today’s HD standard; $249 and $349 respectively.

vm60p3.jpgIf you are lucky and have space the Vizio Maximvs is a 60” plasma and at $2999.99 can be considered a bargain. The quality is there too, with Faroudja video processing, and unlike other flat panels the speakers are built into the screen. Vizio also has a 50” for $1,899 and 42” plasma for $1,099.99. Vizio is available at Costco and one of the great things about Costco is their liberal return policy.

Norcent is about good, low price points. The low cost LCD HDTV, stand alone 16×9 HD set is featured at Wal-Mart. The 25 series is 27”, 32” and 37” and are priced at $499, $649 and $899 respectively. These sets are 1080i and work just fine.

Samsung, one of the big boys in the HD field hopes to prove the saying, “You get what you pay for.” Yes, it is quality; the materials used are highly rated. The smallest LCD set is the LN 26 LCD HDTV at $899 and is 1080i with 5000:1 contrast ratio. It has two HDMI connections and PC input. They offer a matching Home Theater in a Box system 5.1 at $399. Featuring impressive styling and impressive stats, this piano black HT system has a Progressive scan DVD player included. Be forewarned, I have yet to hear any of these Home Theater in a Box systems sound good. If you’re interested in any HT in a Box, then be sure to listen to (test drive) it before you buy.
The iWear AV920 3D glasses for DVD viewing and games, used by the Military, can be fun but be careful. In the past 3D has made me sick to my stomach. Wearing these is a cocoon approach that feels really isolating. These glasses are for the student/geek that never goes out and has no friends.

I think I have proven my point; if you want HDTV you can have it. Where there is a will, there is a way.