Monday, October 24, 2005

Waiting to Buy an HDTV? Smart Move!

Are you biding you time before investing in an HDTV? If so, you may be smart. As I mentioned in Sony's Groundbreaking New SXRD RPTVs, HDTV makers are improving the breed at a rapid clip just now. Not only has Sony just introduced a pair of attractive new rear projectors employing the version of Liquid Crystal on Silicon (LCoS) technology Sony calls SXRD, for Silicon X-tal Reflective Display, but JVC is also just entering the LCoS race with a vengeance.

Its 70FH96 rear projector is just about to hit the stores, says the Nov. 2005 Sound & Vision magazine (p. 26). This 70" 1080p behemoth, which sells for $6,000, is also an LCoS implementation, though JVC calls it D-ILA, for Direct-drive Image Light Amplifier. When it's high-def — and 1080p is the highest of high-def — JVC dubs it HD-ILA.

The same magazine also contains a blurb (p. 28) about Pioneer's latest plasma flat panels, among them the 43" PDP-4360HD for $4,500. These plasmas "boast better contrast than ever before," says S&V, mediocre contrast being one of the principal banes of plasma up to now, due to grayish black levels. The PDP-4360HD also has "multiple HDMI connectors" — so you can use more than one digital signal source without falling back on analog connections — "in a separate media box" — so you can make all external connections not to the flat panel itself, mounted on a wall, but to a separate box that connects to the flat panel by a small handful of two or three wires.

And if you realize you'll be needing a TV with a digital tuner one fine day but don't give a hoot about high definition, check out the blurb on page 20 about RCA's new digital standard-definition TVs. The 27" 27F634T, listing for $359, is shown. It has the "old-fashioned" squarish screen that we're so accustomed to and downconverts signals (including HD signals) to good old 480i, the "standard resolution for all analog signals." Translation: you can now spend what you've long been expecting to spend for a new TV — three figures — and get one that looks just like TVs of yore, in terms of picture shape and quality. But it's future-proof. It receives off-the-air digital broadcasts, so when analog transmissions bite the dust in the next year or four, you'll be ready even if you don't subscribe to cable or satellite TV.

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