Well, the other day I found myself shopping for televisions. I had a set budget of $500 (plus tax) to spend thanks to some credit card rewards points but I didn’t want to spend beyond that in the least. A few quick minutes of research brought up a plethora of quality displays that were under consideration. I hate choices. I needed to narrow it down so I went on a research binge. With me, these are drastic, involved, all-consuming things, so I made sure to set some deadlines in order to prevent permanent decision-making incapacitation. By the last day of my available time I had dropped the contenders down to two basic options. Not doing well narrowing it down that last bit, I took to the lazyweb to answer my quandry, and posted this:
Yep. A Twitter poll. What was I thinking. That shows my two final potentials, and the results were pretty clear, right? Nope.
I ended up going with the loser of that poll. I’m guessing the vast majority of you don’t care in the least, but some of the opinions were pretty strong that I should go with the larger display, so I might catch a little flak. Here’s my reasoning:
I’ve always been a proponent of spending money on the important things, rather than just getting whatever. With TV’s that’s always been picture. With my old 27″ CRT, I researched the snot out of the thing until I found the best possible value. With my one and only LED/LCD screen, I made sure to find a quality panel, but ignored any of the smart apps since they didn’t offer any added value to me. This time around, it’s become obvious that TV manufacturers aren’t bothering to put quality panels into non-smart TVs, so that was no longer a cost saving option. With these two TVs, I had the choice between a larger display at identical resolution, or a comparably sized display at the new hotness 4K resolution. The majority of people were suggesting to me that bigger was definitely better. In the end though, you know what else I found?
Better is also better.
Spec wise, the 43″ M-series display was a tremendously better TV than the entry level E-series. 2 more HDMI ports, more than double the local dimming zones on the backlight array, and obviously 4 times as many pixels. There really wasn’t much comparison between the two. however visiting the store in person is what sold me. Seeing the two TVs side by side, obviously the dedicated 4K stuff was incredible. It really was leaps and bounds above anything I’ve seen in “standard” High Def. The real telling aspect however was actually seeing the in-store standard promo loop, which I was told was only 720p. Seeing this footage side by side on both the Economy displays and the Midrange 4K screens showed much better upconversion on the M-series. The exact same “low-res” footage looked crisper and better on the nicer panel. This is important to me since I end up watching a fair amount still in those lower resolutions.
As it stands, right now there aren’t many 4K streaming sources available, and I don’t own ANY 4K local content devices, but judging by the popularity of 4K displays, those sources aren’t going to stay that limited for long. I fully expect a plethora of content to become available over the next few years. Since I don’t want to keep buying more tech so often, the more future-proof display seems smarter to me in the long run. I know there may still be some format disputes in that arena, but with the increasing fragmentation of ever-faster technological innovation, that seems inevitable no matter when you jump in.