Doing our part for the economy

Back in the fall of 2002 and early winter of 2003, I spent months shopping for an HDTV, dragging Diane and Jeff from store to store (well, to Magnolia Hi-Fi, Circuit City, and LaserLand, since those were about the only places with a selection of HDTVs in those bygone days), debating between LCD and DLP (I knew I didn’t want plasma because we watched a lot of 4×3 stuff and I worried about burn-in, and our room wasn’t big enough to support a traditional projection unit).

Eventually, I settled on a Panasonic 52DL52, because DLP technology provided noticeably darker blacks than LCDs of the day. And I got a Good Deal on the unit through my antenna installer, too, including delivery in time for Super Bowl XXXVII so that we could host a commercial-watching party just a week before Jeff’s Bar Mitzvah.

But soon, I realized that this particular piece of DLP technology had issues — and ones which mattered to me, since I’m fairly sensitive to flicker. It also turned out that I could see the rainbow effect, but that never really bothered me — the flicker did. Panasonic replaced some of the circuit boards to reduce the flicker, but it was (and still is) visible at times.

Other than flicker, a bulb replacement, and a ballast replacement, it’s been good to watch, but design decisions are rearing their ugly heads — no HDMI (just one DVI input), no ATSC tuner (what were they thinking?), PC resolution limited to 800×600 (even though it’s a 720p set), and very slow response to the remote, to name a few. And the picture isn’t as clear or bright as the 37″ Vizio we picked up for Diane’s dad, or as last year’s 42″ set that we watched at a friend’s house last night.

In other words, I was ready to upgrade. And prices have been falling off a cliff over the last couple of months, thanks to the recession — but manufacturers are reducing production, so that’s not likely to continue.

Two weeks ago, we stopped at Magnolia just to look, and I was impressed by the Samsung LN52-A650 and the Sony KDL52-XBR6. I liked the Sony a bit better, but the rootkit fiasco still bothered me. And it cost $3150 (though they would throw in a free Blu-Ray player), while the Samsung was “only” $2600 — both more than I wanted to pay.

Earlier this week, I stopped at Circuit City, and noticed that they had the Sony for $2300 (with the free Blu-Ray) and the Samsung was $2200. This was more like it, but my faith in Circuit City is limited these days.

So today, we braved the crowds near Valley Fair and visited Magnolia, whose price for the Sony had dropped to $2500. But they were happy to match Circuit City’s price, including the free player (it helped that I’d saved last Sunday’s Circuit City ad). We had not been alone in finding the lower prices irresistable, though, and delivery won’t happen until mid-January, but that should still be in time for the Superbowl.

We’re not finished stimulating the economy, though, since we also need to buy something to put the new TV on (and to hold other electronics) — that was another problem with the old TV; it needed a custom stand because it had a funny shape.

Anyone interested in a lightly-used DLP HDTV? With a custom stand?