It's the moment no technology enthusiast wants to face. For me, it came the evening of November 10, during a screening of (embarrassingly enough) the Russell Crowe/Ridley Scott version of "Robin Hood" on Blu-ray. About halfway through the film, the picture on my plasma TV blinked off.
After attempting to revive the set by turning it off and on, unplugging and reconnecting the power plug, and other basic troubleshooting, I had to face the hard conclusion that my television was dead. At least it performed one last selfless act by saving me from the second half of "Robin Hood."
The set in question may not have been one of my wisest investments. Purchased almost five years ago in a brief thrall of frugality, it was a 42-inch plasma from Maxent (a company briefly in competition with Vizio for the king-of-bargain-TVs title). To be fair, it served with distinction for half a decade (and was better than the 2003 42-inch Daewoo plasma it replaced), but the Magnavox 32-inch tube TV that predated both of those is still going strong at nearly 10 years, despite being purchased as an open-box Circuit City display model.
The game is afoot Thus, the hunt for a new TV was on. And, as the past five years have seen an exponential explosion of options, features, and prices in flat-screen televisions, it was largely unfamiliar territory.
The very next morning, I consulted the TV-buying oracle: CNET's David Katzmaier. If you're shopping for a new TV, there's really no better resource. Even better, I was armed with the three words any guy would want to hear from his wife on the subject of buying a television: "Don't cheap out." (Your mileage in this area may vary; it helps that I'm married to a fellow technology journalist.)
I first asked Katzmaier if I could comfortably trade up to a 50-inch set (or larger). Based on my room size, with exactly 6 feet from the TV to the front of the couch, he said that 50 inches would be a perfect fit, neither too large nor too small. I already agreed with his general preference for plasma over LCD, so based on my size and budget, he came up with a couple of suggestions. … Read more