Purchasing a Down-Spec Television
I've blogged before about my home audio/video setup. The confluence of big recession-fueled discounts and product ownership envy (my wife bought herself a new car) induced me to buy a new television this weekend.
You might expect, given all of my interest in A/V tinkering, that I'd buy a top-of-the-line set with the best specifications. I didn't, and I thought it might be interesting to explain why.
My plan is to replace a Sony KV-30HS420 30 inch widescreen CRT television with a larger flat-screen set. The very best 40 inch LCD televisions are in the $1200-1400 range. We're talking 1080p resolution, 120Hz refresh, 10000:1 contrast ratio.
Those high-def sets sure do look fantastic on the showroom floor, but I don't think they make sense for me. I currently have no high-def content. I have no plan of moving to Blu-ray or getting HD cable in the near future. A 1080p television just doesn't seem warranted.
Most of the video I watch is 480p (progressive-scan DVD) quality (or worse). The only high-def content I have is my computer display, which running at a 1024x768 resolution only needs 720p. A 1080p television would be unnecessary for me.
Thus, it made sense for me to drop a whole tier down from 1080p to 720p televisions. Doing so easily knocks a third off the price of the set, making it much more affordable.
I see one possible risk in choosing the lower resolution. As a television screen gets larger and larger, 480p video looks increasingly worse. The solution is to "upscale" the image, synthesizing a higher resolution for the larger screen. My DVD player will do this, and I plan to use it to upscale from 480p to 720p. The question is, would the image look significantly better if I could upscale all the way to 1080p? While it would on a very large screen, I'm betting that it won't on a 40 inch display.
My current set, the wide-screen Trinitron, lasted about three years. It may have been the very last CRT model Sony made. I'm not the least bit sorry that I bought that and waited a few more years for LCD products to mature. I hope that a few years from I'll be able to look back at my decision to hold off from 1080p and be just as satisfied.