The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 33.0°F | A Few Clouds

Gadget Review

Flat Screen TVs

By Kailas Narendan

Staff Writer

Flat screen televisions are a costly (starting well over $1,000), but very cool tech toy for any room. Let’s face it, the days of the big “Boob Tube” are out, and the flat, sleek, modern look is in.

I found the picture quality to be very good for all digital applications (digital cable, DVD, etc.), but once you introduce an analog signal (such as from an antenna), the old version televisions actually look a bit better. The market for Liquid Crystal Display TVs isn’t huge; there are only a few big names that actually make and sell them. I evaluated products from Samsung and Philips in a head-to-head comparison to explore the pluses and minuses of each device.

Sound

Both TVs have integrated speakers that are nothing to write home about, so I won’t. While the sound quality is not bad, you could easily spend about $80 online on a good pair of computer speakers that will give you a better video experience.

Inputs and Features

The Samsung product beats out Philips when it comes to features and inputs. Philips provides a TV, while Samsung provides a digital display device that can be integrated into your room. In addition to a load of standard TV inputs (Aerial, RCA, S-Video, R/G/B), you get a monitor input, so you can actually use the TV as your computer monitor when you’re starved for space (and who isn’t in their dorm room?).

Functionality

I found that the Samsung unit is much easier to configure and operate. The menu browsing and remote control interface is more intuitive and user friendly. The simple fact that a TV can also function as a computer monitor, makes it much more useful piece of equipment. In addition, the picture-in-picture feature is very extensive and flexible, making it convenient to maximize your media digestion, watching multiple channels or input sources at once.

A huge drawback of the Philips TV is the physical design. While the TV looks cool, with its wide, smooth face, the stand is a royal pain. Rather than providing a standard, narrow, base, it has a huge, curving arc. This arc is conveniently too large and awkwardly shaped to fit anything under it (DVD, Cable box, etc.). This is a huge inconvenience if you are tight on space.

Cost

The thing that makes or breaks these high-end gadgets for those on a budget is always the price. I evaluated the 20PF-9925 20-inch Flat TV from Philips and found it for as low as $1,500 on the Internet. I found the 17-inch version of the same TV for as low as $1100. But wait. You can find a 17-inch widescreen Samsung Tantus for as low as $950. After taking cost into account, it is clear that the Samsung product is the way to go. You get a lot more features, and don’t sacrifice any noticeable quality. If you’re in the mood to lighten the wallet and “technify” your room, it is definitely the way to go!