After recently reviewing and panning all 3D TV’s and having spent the past several years touring CES for the perfect new TV, I haven’t seen even a single set that I would consider for my home (excepting of course, the fantastic Pioneer Kuro … but the price was a deal killer). So what to do? My Pioneer commercial grade monitor was getting along in years and was “only” a 720p set. I was “jonesing” for a new TV in the worst way … I loved plasmas, but the fear of burn-in has always been first in my mind of drawbacks of this design … I’ve seen so many burned plasmas over the years that it has put the “wrath of God” in me about being fastidious concerning this issue. After investing over 7K in a TV,       I didn’t want to have it ruined … and that was key in deciding on a LED LCD unit. I needed a set that was more in keeping with my current needs, rather than being strictly a home theater. Admittedly, LCD’s aren’t quite as a good as a plasmas, but in my case, a LCD held advantages that I couldn’t ignore any longer. Among them was weight (I had to do the install myself), heat (sweet Jesus, did my plasma get hot and the room with it), and resistance to burn-in (allowing long term usage of cable news channel news tickers or crawlers, and my wife’s Wii). So with that in mind, I reverted to my knowledge acquired at CES and found only one company that fulfilled what I was looking for.

I knew upfront that Sony certainly didn’t make the cut from the very beginning for many reasons I’ve discussed in a previous blog. Phillips, Vizio, Sharp and others weren’t for me for one of several reasons (eg. questionable build quality, lack of support, poor picture, gimmicks, etc.)
That only left LG, Toshiba and Samsung as the only real contenders.

A big problem for LG was unknown durability and service, and a few things I saw at CES worried me, although it did have a good picture. Toshiba had good image quality and a reputation for reliability, … however, the one thing that may not have been so important for others, but was critical for me, was the size of the case that held the picture screen. Why manufacturers choose to have such large cases (Panasonic, Toshiba and Vizio), when it’s so limiting for installation purposes, is a odd choice. When you’re dealing with huge screen sizes anyway, why make it even larger and heavier with such a big case? This is one of those times where bigger isn’t better.

With this in mind, I started shopping for my new Samsung TV. As usual, no store in town could even come remotely close to the price on the internet. I found my set in Michigan at an appliance store …. this could never have happened just a few years back as the best sets were only sold like high-end audio … at specialists.

Now the fun begins. How to buy a very expensive TV, when the old one still works and still stay married? There was no way I was going to convince my other half that this was a necessary purchase until projection holographic, surround sound, smell-a-vision TV was common on cell phones … in other words, never.

The only way I could see that she wouldn’t oppose (immediately) was the stealth mode … buy it, sneak it in and install it without her knowledge … and let the set do the talking for me. Risky, but as any dedicated technophile would agree, necessary. (Ok, maybe my logic was flawed, but that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it) And for my grand scheme to work, it had to be one heck of a TV.

Delivery day! – How exactly does one hide a giant TV from one’s spouse??? Fortunately, the garage is so stuffed with cars, tools and motorcycles that she won’t venture very far into it.

Next problem – too big … that means I have to cut up the custom cabinet and some how make it look like I didn’t … Success! Who would have guessed I had this skill?

Now for the really tough part … keeping my cool and waiting. It had to be exactly the right time and instance for my plan to keep me off the couch. After almost three days she finally decided to watch one of our favorite shows. Talk about an adrenaline rush! The high stakes crap tables in Vegas couldn’t be this exciting …

She walks into the media room and as expected, didn’t notice that the new set was a different color, size and on a chrome stand. I flipped to the desired HD channel and quietly sat back. She was oblivious to the tension in the room … thank goodness.

After about five gut-wrenching minutes, she turns to me and says “What have they done to the show?  I can’t believe how good it looks.” … At this point (trying to stay calm and act natural), I blithely asked “what do you mean?” … She went on to say the picture was simply amazing. … Now was the time to spring the big surprise … So I asked “you really like it?” … it was at this point I could see a light bulb above her head go on, and I knew she had figured it out. She couldn’t believe the difference and the fact that it was already perfectly installed. She was so impressed that it took her almost a minute to ask me what it cost … well, that one point didn’t go over as well as I’d hoped … I reminded her that she knew I was a geek when she married me … so this is partially her fault too … I don’t need to be reminded not to use that excuse again in the future.

However, the fantastic picture and the fact she could use her Wii and Guitar Hero on it were the saving grace for me.

This brief story illustrates a true high-wire act … I don’t recommend it to anyone else. I don’t foresee too many other wives who would tolerate their spouse’s addiction to cutting edge electronics.

But it does very succinctly show how much better the newest sets, really are. Although my Samsung is one of the newest and thinnest 3D devices, that had little to no bearing in the decision. The standard images are virtually 3D in appearance without the need for the absurd glasses. When you first starting watching it, it’s a little disconcerting as the image is so different from anything you’ve seen before. Still, after over a month, we haven’t adjusted to it completely. We both find ourselves saying “wow, amazing!”

This is one of those “must see” things to fully appreciate the change.

I bought the TV and got the matching 3D DVD player and glasses for free … and yes, the 3D picture with the glasses is awful. But the standard picture, in all formats (eg. DVD’s, streaming, HD satellite) is without peer in the LCD world. A plasma technically would have a slightly better picture, but given the previous facts, I now can confidently say that this was the best all-round choice. And even better, my wife agrees.

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