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Jewish World Review
Dec. 8, 2006
/ 17 Kislev, 5767
Enter the Digital TV Age
What's the difference between an old 27-inch television and a new
42-inch liquid-crystal display model? The past and the future, one
might say. Within a couple of years, all television programming in the
U.S. will be high-definition, and old sets will be just so many
paperweights without a special adapter.
Making a choice among plasma, flat-panel LCD and rear-projection LCD
models is challenging enough; then there's the question of screen
size. Do you want, or need, to sit close to the screen? It's likely
that something 42-inches or less will be a good idea. Want to mount
the display on a wall? Plasma or LCD is likely your best bet. (The
folks at Panasonic are offering their "Plasma Concierge" service free
through the end of the month, and promise objective advice, at least
among all the plasma players. Details are online at
Though determined to get a high-definition television, I was unwilling
to sell a kidney. You can find some utterly amazing sets between
$3,500 and $7,000, to be sure, and the choices are enough to make your
head spin. So, there was a number in mind, and it appeared my wife and
I would have to settle for a 37-inch LCD model. This would be fine,
but a bit of searching, and a little luck, changed things
In part, a piece of furniture our entertainment center helped make the final choice easier. It could only accommodate a set of a certain size. The furniture offered some depth, so a rear-projection
set was an additional option, since something 14 inches or so deep
wouldn't be a hassle. What's more, as a salesperson at Belmont
Television in Wheaton, Md., pointed out, the rear-projection unit can
be positioned up close to the front of the cabinet, giving a better
viewing angle than an LCD on stand, which would sit back in the unit.
That, plus a price cut by Sony Corp. that put this particular model
ahead of the others under consideration, brought the 42-inch rear
projection Grand WEGA to our home. The TV offers high definition at
what is called "720p" resolution, which has so far shown more than
enough detail of football and everything else. Higher-resolution
"1080i" images also display quite nicely I noticed no loss of
detail here, either. Indeed, my view of the aforementioned Redskins
was far better than any stadium seat my budget would allow.
It can't be emphasized enough that in order to get a high-definition
image on your new set, you need a high-definition signal of some kind.
This can come from satellite television providers, from cable or over
the air. A simple pair of rabbit ears can pull in high-definition
broadcasts from several local stations, by the way.
One side benefit of having this set is the ability to hook up a
personal computer and get the largest-ever display that I've ever
used. Ironically, this didn't work with the PC a manufacturer sent for
just such testing, because their model lacked the proper connector.
Apple Computer's MacBook Pro, on the other hand, fit the bill
perfectly, filling the screen quite nicely.
There's a lot to learn about all of this. I'd suggest more than a
little time on the Web doing research, and also getting a copy of a
great e-book, "Take Control of Digital Television" by writer Clark
Humphrey and published by TidBITS Electronic Publishing,
www.takecontrolbooks.com. This 77 page volume, list price $10, is a
phenomenal introduction to the subject that will help demystify a lot
of questions. Happy shopping!
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Mark Kellner has reported on technology for industry newspapers and magazines since 1983, and has been the computer columnist for The Washington Times since 1991.Comment by clicking here.
© 2006, News World Communications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of The Washington Times. Visit the paper at http://www.washingtontimes.com