Video and Audio Center Blog

Monday, April 28, 2014

Avoid Obsolescence — Get a New Flat Panel TV

What do 8-track and cassette players have in common? They all had technology built in that couldn’t be changed. So when CD players and then digital MP3 players came along, there wasn’t any way these earlier music players could compete with the enhanced quality of the “new kids” now being sold. Or the portable audio players they could be hooked up to. This lesson can be applied to TVs — tube based TVs couldn’t compete with flat panels that offered a better experience through enhanced definition and a cooler looking chassis and so disappeared from the store shelves.

But does that mean that if you get a new TV now, it’ll be replaced with an even newer model with even more features that you want to have, so you might as well put up with what you have now for a few more years? No. Certainly a 1080p HDTV can’t be turned into a 4K Ultra HD TV with just a wave of the hand, but doing without the latest model in the hopes of getting new features by just waiting and waiting and waiting is no way to live. Or necessary.

The two areas of a TV that affect viewing are the features and the hardware. Here’s what you need to know that will let you go ahead and get a new TV right now without any worries.

Smart TV

One of the biggest changes to TV has been the inclusion of “Smart TV” features. This consists of the flat panel TV being able to access the Internet through the owner’s home network (via a wired or wireless connection) and go to various places — Netflix being an obvious example, but also too many others to name, such as the Sony Entertainment Network if watching on a Sony 1080p or 4K Ultra HD TV. These “Smart TV” features also include the ability to play games, listen to music and do many other things. And while each manufacturer has their own way of doing things (for example, Samsung’s Smart Hub), the basic principle is the same. But what if your new TV isn’t “Smart” or you’re a fan of SEN but the TV is made by someone else? There is a solution and it’s a simple one. Just get a Blu-ray player (example: Sony’s BDPS5200) and you’ll have SEN because, once hooked up, the player’s “Smart TV” features can be used instead of those that came with the TV. The same goes for other BD players and even some audio amplifiers and sound bars. A side benefit is that the device is now a worthwhile addition to your home theater, adding an additional benefit besides supplying the “Smart TV.”


Flat panel TVs, like their tube-based ancestors, don’t let the owner change any of its parts — think of them akin to an iMac that comes fully assembled. But Samsung doesn’t put up with this, so you don’t have to either. A “Smart Evolution” compatible Samsung TV (example: the 60” UN60F8000) can be upgraded much like a PC, but with less trouble. The Evo kit is a chipset that ups the multitasking and processing power of the TV, so it can deal with what’s needed to provide a highly detailed and vibrantly colored picture, as well as take care of online issues requiring greater speed (like for playing “Cloud” based games). Additionally, new software can be added to enhance the viewing experience — integrating it into the menu as if it was there from the very beginning (example: S recommendation=TV shows and movie suggestions based on your viewing habits and preferences). The whole thing plugs into the back with minimal effort too.

So the only thing holding one back from getting a new TV from Sony or LG or Samsung or Sharp is that there are so many good choices. Would that all problems were so good.


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