So the old 27″ Sony TV — a 32″ CRT in the bedroom is — finally dying. Turn it on, and the screen goes on and off until its warmed up. I want to replace it with a bigger flat panel — I want 37″, the wife insists on smaller. Looks like 32″ will be the compromise.

I am torn between getting something really nice or a something that’s a really good deal. I am leaning towards the latter.  The TV in the den is kickass — and I really don’t want to be tempted to watch anything other than late night TV before bedtime.

I started looking around for a replacement, and I was stunned at how much prices have freefallen. The NYT runs full page J&R ads most days, and the discounts have been pretty deep.

Here’s what I scared up:

Good (720p)

• Panasonic VIERA X1 Series TC-L32X1 LCD HDTV ($400) (More info at Panasonic)

• Sony KDL-32L5000 BRAVIA L-Series LCD Flat Panel HDTV ($449) (More info at Sony)

Better (1080p):

• LG 32LH30 LCD HDTV ($449)  (More info at LH)

• Sony KDL-32XBR9 Class BRAVIA XBR9 Series LCD HDTV ($599) (More info at Sony)

Are there any better suggestions?

I’m leaning towards the cheap Panasonic VIERA X1 Series TC-L32X1 — a 2009 model that comes with an iPod doc — it turns the tv set into a audio system.

And since the Beatles box set forced me to upgrade to a nicer pair of front bookshelf speakers in the den, I have two pretty good satellite speakers to use with this in the bedroom.

Any preferences/suggestions/ideas?

Category: Economy, Technology, Television

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

46 Responses to “Freefall in LCD Prices”

  1. BTW, it helps to a friend in the business — I got the Pioneer and Kef wholesale.

    I wouldn’t bother him for a $400 TV . . . .

  2. Don’t people have better things to do in the Bedroom?

    is there, no longer, any sanctuary from yon’ Flickering Box?

    http://highhopesgardens.com/blog/2005/10/29/october-29-2005-maizie-it-is/

    are we, really, to be little more than ‘Nipper’2.0?

    BR,

    maybe the passing of the old Sony is sending a different message than, mere, ‘replace me’..?

  3. Advocatus Diaboli says:

    Get the Bravia XBR 9. What is a couple of hundred bucks for you?

    Think of the asian workers who depend on your consumption. Play your part in ‘pretend and extend’.

  4. JamesR says:

    CNET compared 720p vs 1080p in March 2009:
    http://reviews.cnet.com/720p-vs-1080p-hdtv/
    “We still believe that when you’re dealing with TVs 50 inches and smaller, the added resolution has only a very minor impact on picture quality. In our tests, we put 720p (or 768p) sets next to 1080p sets, then feed them both the same source material, whether it’s 1080i or 1080p, from the highest-quality Blu-ray player. We typically watch both sets for a while, with eyes darting back and forth between the two, looking for differences in the most-detailed sections, such as hair, textures of fabric, and grassy plains. Bottom line: It’s almost always very difficult to see any difference–especially from farther than 8 feet away on a 50-inch TV. “

  5. tradeking13 says:

    Do your local economy and the environment a favor and take your old TV down to the local TV repair man. I remember back in the day when I had to help my old man load the console TV into the wood paneled station wagon to take it to the repair shop. We are such a throw away society now.

  6. mkeenly says:

    Barry,

    Consider checking out the reviews on ConsumerReports.com. I think they do a good job at getting through all of the hype. They’re constantly updating their TV reviews. For example, they picked the:

    * Panasonic Viera TC-L32C12
    * Type: LCD TVs
    * 32-inch models
    * Price as tested: $430

    Overall score
    70 out of 100

    This 32-inch 720p (1366×768) LCD from Panasonic’s entry-level C12 series offers a compelling combination of very good overall picture quality, an extremely wide horizontal viewing angle–among the best we’ve seen–and a relatively low price. It only has two HDMI inputs, which could be an issue if you have lots of source component that will be connected directly to the TV.

  7. John Purcell says:

    Those J&R ads in the NYT get me into a very consumptive mood…but I definitely second B&H, especially for NYC locals (this coming from a Boston guy).

    I am such a sucker for clicking on the Pioneer Kuro link; after choosing the Televisions, I got to see the image of a Skyline GT-R on a screen I will never own. How things have changed since I wrote my first check towards my “top-tier” MBA in 2007.

    After 6 months of post-MBA unemployment, my two sons under the age of 3 remind me of how much more fun a Steely Dan/Stevie Wonder/Earth, Wind, and Fire mix can be compared to Conan at 11:35! The iPod dock choice sounds useful, but I have had more fun tinkering with my AppleTV from a remote console on my Linux machine.

    Not trying to be philosophical or push any ideological agenda….just saying that economic downturns are great for reminding us of inexpensive forms of entertainment!

  8. Its_Science says:

    I recommend this 720p Samsung. It’s now at $430 (cheaper on best buy than amazon at the moment), and it has great picture quality.

  9. screech says:

    I agree with JamesR. At 32″ 1080p is for the sheep. “Oh, dear this must be better, it costs more, let’s get it instead.” Actual difference negligible if any.

    From personal experience Sony is a good choice I would stay away from Panasonic. I browsed some other options from tigerdirect real quick. IMO Samsung and Toshiba are comparable brand quality to Sony. Vizio obviously low price leader makes good enough products to satisfy the masses.

    Samsung LN32B360 32″ Class LCD HDTV 720p $399
    Toshiba 32AV502R 32″ 720p LCD HDTV 720p $379
    Vizio VO320E 32″ Class LCD HDTV 720 $329

    Don’t be a sheep BR.

  10. bobmitchell says:

    There is no 1080p content, beside high end blueray movies. Even then they can only claim a 10% better picture. Log realationship between picture quality and stream size, double the size of the stream, 10% better picture.

    1080i and 720 p are the same stream size.

    Until cable (satellite too) and network providers completely overhaul the networking system of the US there is no way, within the next 5-10 years, that you will be able to see 1080p broadcasts. There isn’t enough bandwidth.

    That said, 1080p sets usually have more plugs in the back and are higher end models.

    Just don’t let the 1080p / 720p thing guide you, they are still both only viewing 720p streams for a long time to come.

    And never buy HDMI cables for more than $10. There are none that are worth it.

  11. Machiavelli999 says:

    I hate to turn this light hearted thread into something more serious, but it’s amazing how many old curmudgeons patron this and many other financial and political blogs.

    And it propagates itself into other discussions of economic policy where the overall mood of the commenters is basically

    “Government shouldn’t do anything. We should just take our depression and eat it. We all deserve it. And as long as we go through this punishment, we’ll come out better on the other side.”

    Which is complete BS, but it’s a nice moral story.

  12. “I wouldn’t bother him for a $400 TV . . . .”

    BR,

    ask him..his driving Volume through his accounts helps him..

    He’s involved in, at least, one Program that ups his spiffs based on vol. ..

    http://clusty.com/search?input-form=clusty-simple&v%3Asources=webplus&query=spiffs+reseller

    and, as you know, with those Margins, most likely, he could ‘price match’ + come out ahead by ‘clicking his counter’..

    ~~~

    BR: He owns the shop — so i dont think it mattes.
    Pioneer is the high end, Sharp the low end.

  13. Doctor Stock says:

    I’d stay away from the Sony… you pay a premium and receive nothing in return.

  14. sneezer2 says:

    The Panasonic Vieras are very nice. I’ve had one for a little over a year and am really satisfied.
    One point of interest is that 37″ and above gives you 1080p. I really like that and the other thing I like is
    that the set upconverts everything to HD (at whatever resolution you choose). The result is, we
    never bothered to upgrade our Dish network to HD service because the set displays a picture
    that is pretty close to HD anyway. The 32″ sets at “only” 720p probably upconvert too. You could
    check it out. Other makes upconvert as well but as far as I know, P is the best.

  15. Stav says:

    Barry, talk to your wife. I wanted 42″ my wife wanted 27″ (like old CRT). We ended up with 37″. Because the LCD is so much smaller than the CRT, wife is happy. Also, I fnd that the wide format cries for just a little more screen size.

  16. investorinpa says:

    Barry,

    Costco beats everyone (at least from my research)…here are a few I like:
    $379 bucks
    http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product.aspx?Prodid=11473619&whse=BC&Ne=5000135+4000000&eCat=BC|79|2341&N=4001374%204294899203&Mo=11&No=9&Nr=P_CatalogName:BC&Ns=P_Price|1||P_SignDesc1&lang=en-US&Sp=C&topnav=

    299 bucks (cheapest 1080 TV you will find that is at least 32 inches) http://www.costco.com/Browse/Product.aspx?Prodid=11481055&whse=BC&Ne=5000135+4000000&eCat=BC|79|2341&N=4001374%204294899203&Mo=11&No=11&Nr=P_CatalogName:BC&Ns=P_Price|1||P_SignDesc1&lang=en-US&Sp=C&topnav=

  17. saunderscc says:

    There is a mathematical formula to determine at what distance you can no longer physically resolve the difference between 720p and 1080p. I forget the specifics, but it’s not an issue for 32-inch displays in a bedroom assuming you don’t have some kinky display mount that hangs from your head board.

    Spend more time deciding which display has better contrast (whiter whites, blacker blacks) and color saturation as these factors will determine which display you perceive to have the better picture.

    What nobody has suggested is that you should just show up with a 37-inch display and eliminate any evidence of its size (box, manual). After 36-hours she won’t notice it any longer.

    Also, contrary to a previous post, 1080p content is now available via some satellite subscriptions. 1080i/720p are standardized HD broadcast formats. However, the “i” denotes an interlaced signal, which is a holdover from CRT days whereby the electron gun drew every other line on each cycle. For example, all odd lines on one pass and all even on the next, repeat. This is what caused the “flicker” you may remember when watching TV in the dark.

    All flat panels are progressive displays, the “p,” where the entire image is refreshed each cycle. As such they don’t have the ability to display interlaced signals. There is software that de-interlaces the signal turning it into the progressive format compatible with the panels.

    But seriously, just get the 37-incher and go on down the road.

  18. bobmitchell says:

    “1080p content is now available via some satellite subscriptions”

    No, it is not. The 1080p content is offered as pay per view, with an internet connection, a dvr, and a day to download it. Its still faster to go to the video store, if there are any left.

    I still stand by my statement, there is no broadcast of 1080p content.

    That particular satelite provider is getting away with a lot claiming “1080p”. When 1080p is finally adopted on the broadcast side, that provider will be the most behind the ball.

  19. IPC123 says:

    I have the Panasonic with the Ipod dock. It may not be the best in terms of picture or sound but the dock makes up for it. Its easy and intuitive to use. I play my music playlist, music videos, tv shows and movies on it. The quality is solid, better than connecting your computer to the tv via an s-video link. That was the way I used to watch my itunes downloaded items on the living room TV.

  20. texasradio says:

    @Machiavelli999
    You are mistaken. The overall mood is that government can’t do anything.

    Bernanke, Geithner, Obama, et al can’t print money fast enough to rescue the world you think you want to live in. Even if they borrowed all the printing presses in Argentina, they couldn’t turn back the clock to 2005. Printing money doesn’t create value, it dilutes existing value. Morality doesn’t factor into the equation.

  21. jonhendry says:

    I’m waiting for LED backlit LCD TVs to come down in price.

    I wouldn’t want to spend a pile on a big LCD TV, and have its backlight gradually dim like an old laptop.

    As far as 1080p vs. 720p, I suppose buying the higher resolution could be considered a hedge against something coming down the pike in the next few years which really takes advantage of it, perhaps a non-game app for a gaming console, or an App Store for the Apple TV.

  22. jz says:

    Unless you are hooking up a Blu Ray player or video game console, I don’t know why getting 1080p is warranted especially for getting just 32 inches. Sony and Panasonic both have good pictures, but to me, there is often a huge difference in speaker quality between TVs. I’ve had speakers blow out on two Samsung DLPs and two Olevia LCDs. A quick scan of the Amazon reviews showed the Panasonic had better sound reviews than the Sony.

    If you really want to save money, keep an eye out for specials at buy.com and Tiger Direct.com. I’ve seen Vizio, Westinghouse, Sylvania, and other brands going for as little as $299. The best deal going at Tigerdirect.com now is this 32″ Toshiba. See the link: http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/searchtools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=4517140&csid=_21

    And it’s at least $30 cheaper than your lowest pick.

  23. raybo says:

    Get a 42″ 720p plasma – LG and Panasonic have nice ones. Forget LCD.

    Ray

  24. tradeking13 says:

    The diagonal size ratio between equivalent height 4:3 and 16:9 displays is approximately 0.8171 [more precisely 15/sqrt(337)]. So, for example, a 32″ 16:9 display has roughly the same screen height as a 26″ 4:3 display (the wider screen adds the extra 6″ diagonally, but the height is the same).

    Maybe this can help convince your wife to get the 37″ (roughly the same screen height as a 30″ 4:3 CRT).

  25. pariscom says:

    I totally agree with tradeking13.
    The size of 32” HD TV is small. I recommend bigger one.
    And if you use the TV for more than 5 years, I recommend 1080p.
    They say there is no content now, but technology develops faster than our prediction.

  26. insaneclownposse says:

    we have a Samsung like the one Its_Science linked to. We’ve had it for a couple of years. No problems – knock on wood. Great picture. I think it’s a good set.
    We also have a Sony plasma. It broke exactly a week after the one-year warranty expired. It was very painful to pay to get that thing repaired.

  27. Mike in Nola says:

    Last I looked at reviews Plasma’s still had better pictures and none of the drawbacks that used to be associated with them. That was the end of last year. Panasonc Viera’s seeemed to be the best among the reasonably priced.

    Also, you may not need 1080 for a small screen. The eye generally can’t resolve that additional detail if you aren’t sitting relatively close in comparison to the size of the tv. There was a guide to that somewhere on the CNET site.

    CNET has some pretty extensive guides here:
    http://www.cnet.com/hdtv-world/?

    Consider inputs and controllers. Some TV’s now come with internet connectivity and Netflix and Youtube compatibility built in so you don’t need a computer to access them. Netflix has many movies and tv shows available to view instantly. You might want/need a wireless keyboard.

    Also consider the ability to recieve digital broadcasts. For example, the PBS station here in Houston broadcasts on three channels simultaneous in HD, but you can only get one from Comcast without paying for a higher tier plan. The digital broadcast is also generally higher in quality than the ones that come through cable because they aren’t compressed in order to squeeze 200 channels plus on demand into what can squeeze through a cable.

    As you have seen I can quickly complicate and escalate any tech purchase :)

  28. BR: He owns the shop — so i dont think it mattes.

    BR,

    “He owns the shop”, is the point..

    He buys the merchandise that he Sells, many of these ‘lines’ have “Rewards Points”-type Programs that benefit the Reseller/Owner.

    this: “Sales and Marketing

    We employ a direct sales team of six people in the U.S. and three in Japan. Each sales team is supported by inside sales personnel, product managers and application engineers. For our branded products, we also use value-added resellers, system integrators and distributors throughout the U.S. and Europe.
    For OEM sales, we use public relations activity, direct advertising and trade show participation to
    generate product awareness. Promising sales leads and known industry targets are followed up with sales visits. Depending on forecast volume and required lead times, we may sell component solutions, ready-to-integrate modules, complete solutions or totally custom products. As necessary, application engineers support and visit customers to promote ease of integration. A successful OEM sale will generally take from 6 to 18 months from the initial visit to the first shipment. However, once obtained, an OEM customer usually offers us a more predictable revenue stream.

    For branded products, we use public relations, third-party product reviews, trade shows and direct advertising to generate customer awareness. Direct sales calls are made to potential distributors and specialty resellers. Once a customer relationship is established, we support these customers with co-op advertising, sales “spiffs,” end-user rebates and other promotions…”

    is standard-fare throughout this ‘vertical’..
    http://cc.bingj.com/cache.aspx?q=spiffs+%22value+added%22+reseller+%22audio+visual%22&d=4823901158441703&mkt=en-US&setlang=en-US&w=db950522,a0b41110

    but, regardless, the point was ‘ask him’– who knows? there might be something to learn, at the minimum..

    “With all thy getting, get understanding~”, and, all that..

  29. Mike in Nola says:

    Forgot to mention that one of the big advantages to plasma over LCD is that the viewing angles are much wider. When you move off the main axis of an LCD, picture quality deteriorates rather quickly. On a plasma, it doesn’t. Depends on how you will be viewing it.

  30. flipspiceland says:

    You can’t really watch, “Planet Earth”, on anything smaller than 60 inches and not lose a lot.

    Watching a Great White devour a seal on 32″ just doesn’t cut it.

    Think bigger.

  31. Mike in Nola says:

    Agree with Mark on askng if he wants the business, although it can be touchy if he can’t match the price. Many retailers get credit for their volume, so he might want to sell it to you even if he doesn’t make anything.

  32. MayorQuimby says:

    I spent waaaay too much time researching this but my conclusion was – get a plasma. Much richer colors (wider gamut) and they no longer run ‘hot’. Their contrast is traditionally superior as well but that has largely changed. The new LCD’s are wonderful and use a bit less energy.

  33. steve from virginia says:

    Why don’t economists get any respect?

    Because most of them watch television. Be a man, Ritholtz and throw the lying machines into the trash and be done with it.

    There are books to read (and write), pictures to draw, gurls to (0000) and dogs to pet. Anything but TV …

  34. jason in charlotte says:

    BR – Which Pioneer tv do you have? Also did you consider getting floorstanding speakers, rather than the bookshelfs?

  35. jazztomato says:

    Future proof your TV and spend up for the better options. Picture quality leads the discussion.

    That said, 32″ does not require 1080p resolution since the realtively small screen size (pixel density) allows for a quality image. It is when screens get large and pixels become less dense that the higher resolution is important.

    In the best quality picture the blacks are truely black. Use that as a baseline for visual comparisons.

    TV’s in the stores are set on “vivid” which punches up the color and brightness. Do your comparisons at the “normal” setting.

    The distance from the TV to the bed should determine the size of the screen. Good luck. …Susan

  36. Thor says:

    Why on Earth would anyone in the market for a new TV waste their money on LCD? One of the main reasons the prices are falling through the floor is because the technology is being replaced with LED. I just made the switch, the difference in brightness, picture quality, color shading, the clarity of anything black, motion scanning is comparable to the differences from CRT to LCD. Nevermind the difference in weight (I can lift my 55″ LED with one hand and hand it on the wall with a picture hanger) or how much less power they use.

  37. tradeking13 says:

    @Thor

    Sorry to inform you, but your “LED TV” is just an LCD TV with LED back-lighting rather than florescent back-lighting.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LED_TV

  38. RadioFlyer says:

    Agree with Raybo, forget LCD – especially if you’ll be watching in an often darkened bedroom. And forget about 1080.

    This is what you want. About 50 bucks more than the Sony you picked:
    Panasonic VIERA X1 Series TC-P42X1 42-Inch 720p Plasma HDTV

    TO CONVINCE THE WIFE ABOUT SIZE (why is it TVs and the liquor store bill are the only thing they ever want smaller?):

    [This expands a little on what tradeking13 said:]
    I know they don’t usually respond to rational, methodical, numerical analyses, but compare a 42″ 16:9 (the plasma) to a 32″ 4:3 (the crt) – it’s only 15% larger in viewing area. A 32″ 16:9 is actually only about 2/3 the viewing area of a 32″ crt….

    Plug in the numbers here, might help make the case for you:
    http://www.cavecreations.com/tv2.cgi

  39. RadioFlyer says:

    Nevermind my math – brain’s still on Christmas break – was looking at the wrong row in each column….but you can still use that size calculator to compare the various sizes.

  40. Thor says:

    tradeking13 -

    Seriously?

    Did you miss everything else in my comment? Have you ever even seen an LED sitting next to an LCD TV and compared the picture, weight, color saturation, power consumption?

    Excellent link though buddy! I know I always head to wikipedia first when I’m about to buy a complicated piece of technology!

  41. Bob A says:

    40″ toshiba for $599..

  42. DiggidyDan says:

    I have a 32 inch flatscreen HD CRT tv and it has a better picture than any of the LCDs. The CRT’s don’t have any of that digital distortion you can see on LCDs due to the response time (especially when watching fast action sports like football, basketball, and hockey). For the best picture in an LCD, get the one with lower response time(therefore smother transitions in pixels and less noticeable distortion), higher contrast, and and better color saturation and gamut like saunderscc said above. If you don’t believe me, put an HD LCD and a CRT next to each other for the Superbowl. I don’t have cable, but the broadcast digital HD signals from my rabbit ears look fantastic, and upconverted DVDs are amazing as well. In the end, trust your eyes, not the specs!

  43. tradeking13 says:

    @Thor

    Your previous comment made it sound like LED TV was some new technology completely different from LCD TV, which it is not — LED TV is just LCD with LED back-lighting. In fact, some manufacturers have come under scrutiny for misleading consumers by calling them LED TVs (marketing ploy?).

    Having said that, the “LED TVs” I have seen *do* have incredible pictures, since they:

    1. Produce an image with greater dynamic contrast compared with CCFL-backlit LCD TVs.
    2. Can offer a wider color gamut, especially when RGB-LED backlighting is used.
    (from the Wikipedia article you dismissed earlier: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LED_TV).

    However, I still prefer Plasma TVs with their one micro-second response times versus LCD response times in the milliseconds.

  44. TonyRz says:

    I’ve had the Panasonic L32X1 for about a month, replacing a 27″ tube.

    Thoughts:

    Don’t forget the ratios: a 32″ 16:9 TV will be only almost as big as a 27″ tube when watching 4:3 content. This Panasonic is a good size for bedroom, actually.

    Weak audio: Volume levels on everything except my cable box are impossible to hear – I have to turn volume all the way up for many applications. This is noted in many online reviews.

    No analog audio out: Can’t “pump up the volume” with my old stereo receiver and an old RCA-type audio cable. Only one optical audio out, and I can’t accommodate that with my 15 yo stereo receiver. Boo hiss.

    Otherwise… good picture, lots of A/V inputs, and positively addictive intelligent features like renaming your inputs. My first-ever HD, my first-ever flatscreen, so take my comments as is, but I’m happy with it.

  45. Slippery Pete says:

    Thank you to every one that wrote a reply-I am serious. I learned a lot.

    Between the clowns that work at PC Richard and the guys I work with that don’t know a plasma from a taco I have been confused for a month.

    Thanks again and Happy New Year.