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November 16, 2008

TVSnob's 2008 Holiday Buying Guide: Plasma And LCD HDTV's And Blu-ray Players

That time has finally come again: the holiday season. And you can bet you'll find some sort of home theater-related product on your buying list. To make your life a little easier, we've looked back over 2008 and highlighted the products providing the best value for your money this holiday season.

Plasma HDTV's

Pioneer Elite Kuro PRO-111FD-undoubtedly the best performing plasma of the year, Pioneer's PRO-111FD is priced accordingly. A huge $4, 499, the PRO-111FD is suitable if you have cash to burn and are looking for nothing but the best.

Pioneer KURO PRO-111FD-$4499.00 at Amazon

Panasonic VIERA TH-50PZ850U
-in terms of quality, Panasonic's 50-inch 850U isn't too far behind the PRO-111FD, but key here is its $2, 295 price tag will keep over $2000 in your pocket. Seems like a fair trade-off to me.

Panasonic VIERA TH-50PZ850U-$2295.00 at Amazon

Panasonic VIERA TH-50PZ800U-while it's black levels may be lighter than plasmas that cost more, Panasonic's TH-50PZ800U has a THX mode that improves the color accuracy and video processing enough to make up for it.

Panasonic VIERA TH-50PZ800U-$2050.95 at Amazon

Panasonic VIERA TH-42PX80U
-if you're alright with sacrificing 1080p resolution for 720p, then the 42-inch PX80U probably provides the best quality/value for your buck in the marketplace right now.

Panasonic VIERA TH-42PX80U
-$709.97 at Amazon

LCD HDTV's

The LCD TV battle continues between Sony and Samsung. While some budget models, such as Vizio, provide great value for your money Sony and Samsung provide the best overall quality available.

Sony Bravia KDL-55XBR8
-sporting the deepest black levels of any LCD TV on the market, and one of the best performing of the year along with its sibling XBR8 models, this 55-inch Bravia pairs high quality with a high price tag.

Sony Bravia KDL-55XBR8-$6999.00 at Amazon

Samsung LN52A650
-not only do the A650's break the traditional model of black bezels with the Red Touch of Color, but they've been the among the most popular selling LCD TV's online since their release earlier this year. Why? Tons of features and excellent picture quality combined with a fair price.

Samsung LN52A650-$1928.99 at Amazon

Samsung LN46A550
-take away the red bezel and lower the price a bit and you have Samsung's A550 series. The feature set isn't quite as extensive as Samsung's higher-end models, but the trade-off between price and quality is worth the sacrifice if you're working on a tight budget.

Samsung LN46A550-$1209.64

Vizio SV470XVT-Vizio is a brand name that pretty well guarantees great value for your dollar. In fact, last year while Samsung and Sony were asleep at the wheel Vizio was actually were the number one selling LCD TV in the United States. The 47-inch member of the XVT line is no exception, and while it obviously won't produce the dark blacks of more expensive models, it does produce an overall excellent picture quality with a 120 Hz refresh rate.

Vizio SV470XVT-$1370 at Amazon

Westinghouse VK-40F580D-granted we don't talk too much about Westinghouse home theater products around TVSnob, but the 40-inch VK-40F580D won our respect this year because only does it have perfectly respectable picture quality, but it has an integrated DVD player. All at a price point competitive with similarly sized LCD TV's with the same features sans DVD player.

Westinghouse VK-40F580D-$997.00

Blu-ray Players

Honestly, this editor is no longer sure about the long-term viability of the Blu-ray format. While prices are coming down in line with predictions made earlier this year (even a little more), most consumers seems perfectly happy with standard-definition DVD's or streaming. That said, I think it would be appropriate to think value-for-your-dollar if you're buying Blu-ray this year.

Sony's Playstation 3-while prices for standalone Blu-ray players are coming down now, and Profile 2.0 is beginning to change the game, the Playstation 3 still provides excellent value with Blu-ray playback and arguably the best gaming experience around.

Sony Playstation 3-$399.99 at Amazon

Panasonic DMP-BD35-of the standalone Blu-ray models, Panny's Profile 2.0 BD35 provides the best performance/value combination around. With excellent image quality and support for every audio codec, you can't go wrong with the DMP-BD35 if you're looking for a standalone model.

Panasonic DMP-BD35-$242.88 at Amazon

Panasonic DMP-BD55-it does perform slightly better than the DMP-BD35 for those with older receivers, but for most of us the cheaper model will do the trick.

Panasonic DMP-BD55-$320.67 at Amazon

Samsung BDP-S350-another Profile 2.0 Blu-ray player and a high-performing one at that, the only real downside to the BDP-S350 is that it doesn't support higher-end audio codecs like DTS-HD Master Audio. However, if you're looking for a cheap Blu-ray player, we'll bet you that very Blu-ray player that you won't find better deals this holiday season on any other.

Samsung BDP-S350-$244.96 at Amazon

LG BD300-there is only one reason why I'm convinced this is a great holiday buy. Aside from its Profile 2.0 capabilities, DTS-HD Master Audio support and good image quality of course. Why? Because it streams anything available on Netflix's Watch Now service. And remember, I've already dubbed Netflix Blu-ray's killer.

LG BD300-$322.99 at Amazon

Samsung's BDP2500/2550
-personally I'm a bigger fan of the LG model, but I know if I don't include these Samsung models also capable of streaming Netflix flicks, the detail sticklers will call me on it. So here you have it, a couple more Netflix-streaming Blu-ray players.

Samsung BDP2500-$299.99 at Amazon
Samsung BDP2550-$489.99 at Amazon

It's not over yet folks. Stay tuned for the TVSnob 2008 Holiday Buying Guide for streaming products and other home theater peripherals!


Justin Davey at Permalink | Comments (1) | social bookmarking

November 15, 2008

Coming Up This Weekend...

santa(2).jpgStay tuned this weekend for some great things coming up. First off, TVSnob's 2008 Christmas Buying Guide will be hitting the site, highlighting the best home theater buy's of this holiday season. Second, Sling Media has been kind enough to provide us with a Slingbox Pro HD which we'll be eagerly reviewing.

(Image Credit: krisdecurtis)

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May 5, 2008

How To Create A Kick Ass High-Def Gaming Setup

Picking and choosing all of the right products to optimize your high-def gaming setup can be pretty complicated. The choices that have to be made between different HDTV's, gaming systems, and routers can be not only infinite, but for hardcore gamers, beyond stressful. But gamers of the world can now relax, because the AVSForum has come up with guide to choosing the right HD gaming gear. Their recommendations? When it comes to displays, don't get sucked in by the Game Mode featured on some of the newer models. The gains are so small as not to be worth the money spent. The best sets to buy are average 1080p models with HDMI and component video inputs such as the Samsung PN50A550 and Sony Bravia KDL-46XBR4. If you want to take advantage of digital downloads or online gaming, a network adapter is a must-have. Look for a good 802.11b, or preferably 802.11g, model such as the Linksys WRT54G, Linksys WRT54GS or D-Link's DGL-4300 Wireless 108G Gaming Router. And what about speakers? Full surround sound is the way to go. If you own an Xbox 350, which only supports 5.1-channels, try the Logitech Z-5500 or the Pioneer HTS-GS1. On the other hand, if you own a PS3 which supports 7.1 channels and you want to go all out, try the Onkyo HT-SP908.

Via AVSForum

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December 21, 2007

Holiday Gift Guide: Last Chance For Online Shoppers To Get High-Def Gifts By December 24

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If you're planning on doing any last minute online Christmas shopping at Amazon.com, today is the last full day to order using one day shipping guaranteeing delivery by December 24. Back in November we posted our Holiday Gift Guide comprised of all the best Amazon products and prices and today is the last day to check it out if you want to get your high-def gift by Christmas Eve. Take a look at the best plasmas, LCD's, projectors, media streamers, and HD disc players of 2007. Just click on the text link above or the pic at the top of the posting.

Justin Davey at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

December 14, 2007

Christmas Approaching Fast; Use Our Holiday Gift Guide For Last Minute Shopping

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Christmas Day is approaching fast and the next few days are critical for those looking to order gifts online. Most online retailers are stating that you must order within the next 4 days to receive your gifts by December 24, just in time to get them wrapped up and under the tree.

So, for those of you who are really pushing things to the last minute, our Holiday Gift Guide is still going strong and will save you the precious time required to research the best HDTV models and prices on the web. We've already done it for you and have linked right to the product pages to make it as easy for you as possible.

The guide is separated into 5 separate mini-guides featuring the best products of 2007 in each category. The mini-guides outline the best LCD's, plasma's, HD DVD and Blu-ray players, media streamers and projectors of 2007. Just click on the gift guide image above to access the main page for the guide.

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December 2, 2007

The Woman's Guide To Buying Audio Gear

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Me Strong Like TVSnob Woman!

Audio technology dealer Klipsch has an awesome article entitled "Get Turned On: A Woman's Guide To Purchasing Audio Gear". Being the Christmas season, alot of TVSnob men are going to be asking for audio equipment to spiff up their home theater, and it usually falls on the significant other to go out and make the requested purchase. The problem is that alot of women tend to look at electronics as a "man thing" and find the concept of entering a big-box electronics retailer or specialty shop to buy speakers more than a daunting prospect.

Sarah Knight of Klipsch turns this myth on its head by explaining how she went from "audio illiterate" to a virtual technical connoisseur in the span of a few years. Rather than try to impress us with her knowledge, she lays out some excellent tips in laywoman's terms for women expecting to make speaker purchases. I encourage you to head over to Klipsch and read the article, but I'll condense it here into ten of the more relevant points. Before I do that though, I should also point out that this would be a great read for a lot of men looking to make speaker purchases as well.

Ten Tips To Remember When Purchasing Speakers

1. Don't buy into the myth that audio is a "man thing". Quality home theater sound should be enjoyed by everyone.

2. Do not let the box filled with a bunch of wires and plastic parts intimidate you.

3. The environment where the speakers are set up will effect the sound quality. Room dimensions, wall ornaments and furniture placement affect sound. Before going out to search for the perfect speaker system, draw up a diagram of the room you will place them in.

4. Know what the speakers will be used for. If they are to be used solely for listening to music, you'll need a different system than one that'll be used for TV, movies, and video games.

5. Pick up copies of well-known audio magazines such as Sound And Vision and Home Theater to familiarize yourself with brands.

6. Decide on your budget and then decide whether you'll be purchasing your speakers at a big-box retailer, specialty shop, or through a custom installer. The price tends to increase in the order of the three options listed.

7. Bring your favorite CD or movie when shopping for speakers so you can test it on different brands of equipment.

8. Do not buy speakers based on their looks.

9. Don't let a salesperson confuse you with technical jargon. They want the sale, so if you don't know what they're talking about, work with a different salesperson.

10. Once you have your speakers, you will need a receiver to funnel sound through those speakers. The more stuff you have hooked into your home theater system, the bigger the receiver you'll need. Buy a receiver with a little more capacity than you need in case you decide to add another component to your entertainment center at a later date.

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November 21, 2007

TVSnob's 2007 Holiday Buying Guide Finally Here

holiday_gift_guide.jpgWe've posted the initial segment of our long-awaited 2007 Holiday Buyer's Guide detailing the best plasma's and LCD's of 2007. We worked hard to find the best models that combined both value for you money and the best performance found on the HDTV market. This year we've also covered projectors, HD DVD and Blu-ray players, and media streamers. This evening stay tuned for the next segment of our Christmas guide with the best remote controls and gadgets for purchase this holiday season. Just follow the links below to find what you're looking for:

Holiday Buyer's Guide 2007: Top 7 Plasma HDTV's of '07

Holiday Buying Guide 2007: Top 7 LCD HDTV's Of '07
Holiday Buying Guide 2007: Best Media Streamers of '07
Holiday Buying Guide 2007: Best HD DVD And Blu-ray Players of '07
Holiday Buyer's Guide 2007: Best Projectors Of '07

Looking for more amazing gift ideas? Check out our extensive set of holiday shopping guides on electronics, fashion, cooking, and more.

Justin Davey at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

November 20, 2007

The Black Friday Battle Plan

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Gizmodo has come up with a Black Friday Plan, basically a listing of the best deals in each electronics category from GPS to HDTV, so you don't have to spend hours digging through the online Black Friday circulars trying to separate the real deals from the fillers. They do a good job of summarizing the existing circulars, but that unfortunately puts an emphasis on Best Buy, Walmart, and Circuit City for nearly all the best deals on the Gizmodo list. Definitely check it out, but we're pretty sure the best of the best deals will be found online.

If you're looking for something a little more comprehensive, not sorted by best deal, but still organized by product category, check out the DailyTech Black Friday Deals Roundup.

Via Gizmodo

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TVSnob Recommends Retrevo, Consumer Electronics Search Engine

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There is so much consumer electronics info on the web, it can make your head spin somedays. Finding reliable information and good deals is tough. You really never know what you can rely on. The first piece of advice I'd like to dish out is that you can rely on TVSnob, so keep coming back! The second piece of advice I have for you is in regards to a new search engine devoted specifically to consumer electronics called Retrevo. The beta search engine aggregates all of the information, how-to's, and best deals found on the web for any consumer electronics search term you enter.

I tried to enter a more general term, HDTV, and it pulled up fairly quickly in-depth information on 956 models, including the best current deals for each one and aggregated all of the related consumer education articles on the web. This is really an incredible resource. They even have a blog to keep you updated on the latest news in the electronics industry.

If you plan on going anywhere other than TVSnob for your TV fix, I would definitely head over to Retrevo.

Justin Davey at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

November 12, 2007

Holiday Buyer's Guide 2007: Top 7 Plasma HDTV's of '07

The variety of plasma brands, models, size ranges, and prices is becoming nearly impossible to navigate for the average holiday buyer looking for a flat panel plasma TV. Knowing this we've searched far and wide, sourcing some of the best consumer reviewers and reviews in the United States to come up with a guide detailing the best plasma purchases for this 2007 holiday shopping season.

Pioneer KURO PDP-6010FD 60" 1080p Plasma

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A full 23% off the list price of $6500 at Amazon.com brings one of the best TV's of all time down to $4989 and is shipped to your door for free. That's over a huge $1500 in savings! The Kuro features full 1920x1080 pixel resolution, a state-of-the-art, advanced cell structure for impossible blacks and amazing detail, and a ully integrated ATSC and Dual NTSC Tuners with a built-in CableCARD Slot. It also includes 4 HDMI inputs making this the perfect centerpiece for your home theater setup. The one major problem with this is the price, although this is a hot deal for a 60" plasma!

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Holiday Buying Guide 2007: Top 7 LCD HDTV's Of '07

LCD's have come a long way in the last couple of years. Faster refresh rates and response times have greatly eliminated motion blur and artifacting so common in earlier models, and while plasmas on average probably still have slightly better picture quality, LCD's have greater come down in price making them more economical purchases per dollar for the quality you receive. To make your holiday LCD shopping a little easier, TVSnob has come up with the top 7 LCD TV's for purchase during this 2007 holiday season.

Sony Bravia XBR KDL-46XBR4 46 Inch 1080p LCD

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Sony's 10-bit 16:9 Full HD 1080p Panel features the one of the deepest blacks in an LCD ever according to CNET.com and it's not surprising. The 10-bit display with 10-bit color processing means an extremely large color palette for true-to-life color and smooth transition from one color to the next. This results in a detailed, vibrant picture that is so good it seems real. Featuring the renowned Bravia Engine, the KDL-46XBR4 has an HDMI 1.3 interface and upconverts all video signals to 1080p. 24 frames-per-second video support and a 120hz refresh rate means you'll have an incredibly smooth picture with very little judder. Three HDMI and one PC connection makes this the perfect home theater centerpiece, and despite its amazing functionality, the Bravia's magnificent design almost trumps it. Its uniques floating glass frame is surrounded by a black bezel with interchanging colors to the TV can be integrated into the viewing room's decor. The most amazing part of it all is that you'll only pay $2788 for the Bravia this holiday season, a full 23% or $812 off the list price of $3600! And it's shipped to your door for free!

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Holiday Buying Guide 2007: Media Streamers

These days, home theaters are just not complete without a media streamer or set-top box to both bring web TV content to your HDTV, or HDTV content to your PC. It always helps in our busy lives to be able to record favorite TV shows for viewing at a later time, and fast forwarding and rewinding live TV and skipping through commercials. Convenience is the name of the game when it comes to streaming video, so we've compiled a list of media streamers that are not only cost efficient, but give you the most portability, flexibility, and ease of use.

Microsoft XBox 360 Pro

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The Xbox 360 Pro Value Bundle has built-in support for 1080i HDTV, supports 16:9 format, and 3 USB slots can be used to stream digital media content from your PC, mp3 player, or digital camera. The Pro Value Bundle also comes with a 20GB detachable hard drive, wireless controller, Xbox Live headset, HDMI port, AV and Ethernet cables and two games, Forza 2 and Marvel Alliance. Definitely a multimedia deal at only $350.

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Holiday Buying Guide 2007: HD DVD And Blu-ray

The Blu-ray/HD DVD war is going strong and we love it here at TVSnob. We are of the opinion that good old fashioned competition lowers prices, which is what we want for you this holiday season. Low prices aren't everything though, especially when it comes to high-def players. There is no point in "saving" a bunch of money only to find out your Blu-ray or HD DVD player is a dud. So we've compiled a list via our own research and that of some of the world's best consumer product reviewers, leading you to the best buys this 2007 holiday season, combining both price and value.

Note:Purchasers of Blu-ray players download this form to receive 5 free Blu-ray discs
Purchasers of HD DVD players download this form to receive 5 free HD DVD discs

Sony PlayStation 3 (80GB) Blu-ray Player

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The PlayStation 3 is hands-down responsible for the sales lead Blu-ray has over HD DVD at the moment. Too bad the majority of owners don't even know their machine has a Blu-ray player! The new 80GB Motorstorm Pack, in addition to its state-of-the-art video gaming capacity, also contains a Blu-ray player. Enhanced by IBM's "Cell" processor and exclusive Nvidia graphics processor, the PS3's Blu-ray connects to your HDTV through an HDMI output, bringing 128-bit pixel precision and 1080p resolution to your screen. Currently $499.99 including free shipping, the PS3 comes with the game Motorstorm and 5 free Blu-ray movies using this rebate until January 31, 2008.

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Holiday Buyer's Guide 2007: Projectors

There are those home theater fanatics who still appreciate the projector despite it's typical large hit on the pocketbook and the fun of setting it up and calibrating it. For those willing to go for it though, they're rewarded with the most theater-like experience outside of the movie theater around. This list is for you. TVSnob's 5 recommended projector buy's this holiday season.

SharpVision XV-Z20000 Projector

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Damn expensive, but a damn fine projector. Prepare to take a hit with the $9980 price tag, but after you've dealt with it, prepare to be wowed by this front projector from Sharp. Utilizing DLP 0.95" DarkChip3 1920 x 1080 technology from Texas Instruments in addition to Sharp's Computer Video & Integrated Composer (CV-IC System III) technology, the SharpVision will electrify you with full 1080p, 12000:1 contrast ratio, 1000 ANSI lumens and a 100 inch screen throw distance.

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