Monday, April 23, 2012

TV Troubles

Due to a square peg in a round hole situation with my work desk here at home (the designated computer room's door was too small for my desk to fit through), my desk had been in the living room for nearly a year.  This was fine for me, since I work from home and I like to watch TV while I work and my primary TiVo and Sony LCD TV were right there.  Around Christmas, though, space in that part of the house was at a premium.  We had to put up the Christmas tree, Tara's whole family drove down from Minnesota to spend the holidays with us, etc.  Our master bedroom has huge double doors, so after some clearing of stuff, I moved my desk into there.  The only downside was that the TV in the bedroom was an ancient Toshiba tube TV.  That wouldn't do in the long run.

Come Tax Refund Time, I started looking for a reasonably sized and priced TV for the bedroom.  I settled on 42" being the right size given room available.  I looked around online and at the various local stores.  Price-wise, I was looking in the $400-$500 range.  I finally settled on a Vizio E420VA.  Within the price range and Vizio TVs have gotten good reviews on their newer models.  Right out of the box, I couldn't get the picture to look good.  It always had a washed-out look to the colors and blacks were bad.  I tried adjusting the settings, but I couldn't get it to look good.  My 46" Sony in the living room, two years old and a fairly base model, looked gorgeous out of the box and I've never had to make any adjustments.  It's always looked perfect.  This Vizio, not so much.  I finally decided to return it and get something else.  Luckily, Sam's Club where I bought it has an excellent 90-day return policy.  I returned it and before I'd left the store, the refunded money was back in my account.

I headed over to a different Sam's Club that had the replacement TV I decided on.  An LG 42LV4400.  It was an LED model instead of an LCD, 120Hz instead of 60Hz.  Only 3 HDMI ports, but that wasn't an issue.  I set it up and after a few minor tweaks, I got the picture pretty close to the Sony's.  I was happy.  The only small problem was that for some reason, when using my Logitech Harmony 650, the LG's inputs wouldn't switch automatically when I changed activities.  I had to do that manually.  That I chalked up to the Harmony, not the TV.  I bought that TV on Feb 11 and all was hunky-dory. 

Until April 21.  I watched some TV in the morning no problem.  I get back in the afternoon, and the LG decides it won't turn on.  When I hit the Watch TV button on the Harmony, the receiver turns on and I can hear sound from the TiVo until the TV tries to power on.  Then the sound stops and the TV just emits a buzzing noise from the back.  I unplug everything, try a different power outlet but to no avail.  It's dead.  Thankfully I'd saved the receipt and after packing it back up, I head off to Sam's.  As I'm at the service desk returning it, another Sam's worker behind the counter asks me how long it took the TV to fail.  I say two months.  She says "Me, too!".  Apparently she had an LG and after two months something happened and she'd need to let it warm up for a few minutes before the picture turned on.  So, yeah, no more LGs for me. 

I check over their current inventory and another Vizio model catches my eye.  I was hoping for a Samsung, but Sam's didn't have any 42" ones at either store I checked.  The Vizio, an M420SL, looked to be pretty fancy.  It was a bit more than the LG (which in turn had been more than the first Vizio), but it had built-in WiFi, Edge-lit LED, Internet apps built in (Netflix, Amazon Instant, and many others) and it's yearly energy cost was a laughable $9.  Since it was a different panel technology, LED vs. LCD, I decided to give it a shot.  I checked out it's various picture modes on the demo model and they looked fine.  I bought one and loaded it into the car.  Worst case, I could return it again. 

I set it up and plugged in the TiVo and Roku box.  It took a bit to get it onto the wireless at home, but eventually it connected.  That could have been some user error on my part as it comes with a fancy remote that has a full keyboard on the opposite side as the normal TV controls.  I configured Netflix on it and started playing Ghostbusters as a test.  I set it to the "Vivid" picture mode, said mode being the one that I liked best.  It looked really good.  I grabbed Tara from her marathon beading session with her sister for a second opinion and she agreed it was outstanding.  The inputs even switch like they should once I updated the Harmony with the new TV.  So far, the Vizio looking even better than the LG.  Still not quite getting a Sony vibe, but it's incredibly close.  Time will tell if it has better longevity than the LG did.