Unlike some AV enthusiasts who shop for the latest and the greatest, I held off my HDTV purchase until I finally have to: my 32" old CRT TV is dying. My condition of TV purchase are the followings: 1) cheap but with reasonable features, 2) can work within my existing home theater environment, and 3) can display 1080p. For example, I don't really need Picture-in-Picture, but I need to be able to change picture aspect easily. I don't want to toss out my otherwise working receiver just so I can use HDMI, which is lacking on my existing one. Also, since I waited long enough, 1080p should be my reward.
Given these preconditions, there are only limited choices in the 40-47" range 1080p HDTVs made from Sony, Vizio, Sanyo and Magnavox. At both 42 and 46 inches, Sanyo's offerings are the cheapest. So that satisfied price limit. Originally I wanted to buy the 42" Sanyo, but when I went into local Walmart to check out all the TVs on display, the 46" one looks better than all other TVs there (which include Vizio and others). Later I went to Sanyo and other vendors' website to check their TV spec., I realized that my eye did not fool me: the Sanyo 46" has got a 3500:1 contrast ratio, better than their own 42" (2000:1) or 52" (1500:1). With regard to competing offers, the Vizio's 42" is good (2000:1), but their 46" is not competitive ($100 more expensive, 1000:1, and *without* dynamic contrast feature). The dynamic contrast feature was missing from the 46" Vizio model Walmart sells, which surprises me since their 42" has that. This feature helps improve contrast in an all dark or all bright situation, but won't be able to do much if your image spread the whole light intensity range.
So I bought the 46" Sanyo for about a week now. It is easy to hook it up to my existing home theater environment. One complication compared to previous CRT TV is that now the Sanyo TV will not be just at the final passive video output end, but it will also produce digital audio which can be fed to my receiver to generate surround sound. So my connection now is to get the video from my receiver to the new TV, and also send the TV's digital audio via a coaxial digital audio cable back to my receiver.
1. Extremely satisfying video quality at 1080p. Our local public TV broadcasts most of their programs in HDTV 1080p, and that picture was really great. I think the auto picture mode work fine, but you can also choose to manually adjust picture settings. I bought the Blu-Ray Terminator2 disc which comes with a home theater calibration feature, that helped me adjust this TV.
2. No nonsense extra features; the user manual is easy to read and basically what I expect from a CRT TV replacement; you don't have to set the time on the TV, for example (why was that "feature" needed on a TV is beyond me).
3. The remote has an easy button Pix which switches among four different aspect video modes to suit your particular TV station signals. Still, many local TV stations broadcast in 4:3 ratio and having such a button on the remote saves a lot of trouble; note that the Vizios require you to go into the TV menu system to change this.
1. Just one composite/s-video input; I wish I could have another one for old DVD connection since the Macrovision DVD protection prevents my DVD video to be routed through my receiver. However, if you will be buying a new Blu-Ray or DVD upscaler this won't be a problem since you can use one of the three HDMI connector. On a side note I bought the PS3 as my Blu-Ray player and I like it.
2. The remote's up and down channel buttons do not stay within the type of signals you are selecting. For example, if you push up while you are in the last digital channel, it jumps to video input rather than the beginning of the first digital TV channel. Similarly, if you push down while you are in the first digital channel, it goes to the analog TV channel. There is also a INPUT button to switch signal types, so I would have limited the channel selections within each type if I had designed this remote. This is just a minor problem since you can also use the number keys to jump back to the beginning channel.
Over in all, this is the cheapest 46" HDTV 1080p I can find, and its value and quality is definitely not the cheapest. I highly recommend this TV if you are thinking about replacing your old CRT TV.
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