TVs & Home Theaters forum

General discussion

$180 Power Conditioner vs. $2 Radio Shack surge protector

by sws1967 / January 8, 2009 2:55 AM PST

I would like to know from Samsung what, if any, neccessity exits to use a power conditioner, such as the Monster HTS1000, over a cheap surge protector?

Here is my experience and observation to date:
First, my house was built in 1973; power is not perfect, but better than a home from 40s/50s. That said, we do experience brown-outs from the A/C (transient). With 3 people watching the same passage from "Planet Earth" in HD, I swapped the Samsung (LN52a750) power cord back and forth from the Monster MKIII1000 power conditioner to a Radio Shack $2 surge protector...none of my "test subjects" could tell a difference and neither could I. I also switched on the microwave and A/C at the same time and the line voltage stayed above 116.

What I'm interested in is why a "power conditioner" would be expected to have an effect anyway? My guess is the TV has its own built-in transformer and filter set - after all, Samsung doesn't require their set to be run on a conditioner, so they must have engineered for "dirty AC"? Most of the reviews where people have mentioned this gadget works are when they where running their cable line through a conditioner and then into the cable box...yes a cheap box can disrupt that signal, but that doesn't mean that buying this unit automatically makes that signal better vs running straight into the box. I've seen other people talk about how their audio and video sounds/looks better when filtered by this unit, but this unit doesn't filter those signals, it just "conditions" the power supply which is then transformed anyway inside your gear.

Anyway, I, and several other electrical engineers have been debating the merits of this gadget, and unless you have an existing problem to fix, I think this unit is unneccesary and expensive. I'm watching the LN52a750 right now through the $2 Radio Shack strip, and it looks AWESOME.

First, I would love to hear what Samsung has to say about why their TVs DO/DON'T need these condtioners? Second, can someone explain why/if this gadget has a REAL benefit over a surge protector? (note: I'm not debating the need for surge protection, just the need for the expensive "filtering").

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I hear ya.
by jostenmeat / January 8, 2009 3:43 AM PST

However, if one experiences brownouts, I think the best solution would be a UPS device as made by APC, Belkin, etc. Wouldn't you agree?

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what I mean by "brown-out" is...
by sws1967 / January 8, 2009 3:54 AM PST
In reply to: I hear ya.

I should probably clarify what I mean by "brownout" in this case. Occasionally, the power dips low enough to trip-off a digital alarm clock, and dim the lights for fraction of a second (although I've never seen it dip below 116V). I highly doubt that this would damage the Samsung, and if it caused an artifact in the picture, I would expect it to leave as quickly as it came...so, for the handful of times this may occur, I'm not really concerned. I can't imagine that Samsung wouldn't protect their TVs from damage due to "brownout"?

Other than damage, it's a rare enough occurrence that I'm not worried about video quality...for the record, I'm new to this high-tech A/V game, and I'm having trouble reconciling EE theory with these new products/claims. Thanks for the input...

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yeah, I hear ya again
by jostenmeat / January 8, 2009 3:56 AM PST

re: brownouts, there are those who believe sags in voltage are just as bad as the spikes themselves. I think certain electronics are more prone than others, and STBs seem to be one of them.

as for overpriced surge protectors, its really just about the joules. Of course, Bob The Moderator would probably tell you that with lightning nothing is enough anyways... so whatever...

TrippLite seems to be a good value.

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UPS
by bearvp / January 8, 2009 4:15 AM PST
In reply to: I hear ya.

I think the UPS units are good to have if you have a TV or other component that requires some time to power down while running its cooling fan after it turns off to avoid damage to the motherboard/CPU. My Sony SXRD runs its cooling fan for about 30 seconds after I turn it off to cool down its CPU, so having it suddenly go off during a power outage could lead to overheating damage. But I think the chances of that are pretty small.

All the filtering tech in some of the fancy surge protectors I think is a bit of overkill. I can't really tell a difference between filtered and unfiltered power.

Jostenmeat...is there a good home theater UPS unit for not that much money that you know about? All the home theater UPS units I've seen are near $1000 for ones with good features.

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bearvp
by jostenmeat / January 9, 2009 4:15 AM PST
In reply to: UPS

Im not the guy to ask, sorry. I'll tell you the little that I do know. My first advice is to call APC, as I hear their CS is good. I have heard TWO reliable sources say that their refurbs are prolly the best deals.

I use a Belkin only connected to my pj. It makes a bit of noise which is strange. My PC UPS does not. Hm.

What kind of features? 1k is a LOT.

What you will need to figure out is how many watts you'll need. And what really needs to be connected. Amplifiers can be a doozie, and that includes your sub. I've heard before that amps potentially draw the very most right at turn on, in order for the caps to be charged, for instance.

If amp/receiver and sub don't need to be connected, I think you can save a lot. Just use one to connect players, tv, etc, and you won't need a huge UPS I imagine. HTH.

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bearvp, couple links
by jostenmeat / January 9, 2009 4:32 AM PST
In reply to: bearvp
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thanks
by bearvp / January 11, 2009 11:34 PM PST
In reply to: bearvp, couple links

Thanks for the links, jostenmeat. I think what I am looking for is a UPS that can send out an IR signal to my TV to turn it off when the power goes out so I don't have to be home or at the ready. The APC regular UPS power strip looks like a good option if I want to just get something on the cheap for now.

I'll keep looking around.

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Belkin UPS
by bearvp / January 11, 2009 11:41 PM PST
In reply to: thanks

Jost - I found this Belkin UPS for under $200 from some online retailers:

http://catalog.belkin.com/IWCatProductPage.process?Product_Id=195291

It seems like it would get the job done without me breaking the bank

I might be able to live without the IR signal feature...just have to make sure my fiance is privy to how to handle a power outage if she is watching tv, hehe.

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It depends on your case. I do have a Monster HT line
by NM_Bill / January 8, 2009 6:20 AM PST

conditioner.

When getting first big screen installed it was a big deal expense for me & I was not totally satisfied with the picture. I politely had the installers back & then called the cable company.

The cable guy took a quick look then did a quick, simple demo. On general principle I had run the electricity through a surge protector I already had. With it in line my picture experienced noticeable artifacts of some electrical fuzz that were imperfections of the image on the screen.

He simply unhooked that surge unit & showed me the picture with the juice going straight to the components. It was the surge unit creating the interference!!!

So, I got a unit specifically labeled as being for audio video use. Yes, that was a tad more money, but did the job. It may seem peculiar that an old surge unit was responsible for introducing the artifact problem. But the difference was as plain as day to me in my circumstances.

Yes, I had collected some actual derision from a few regulars here as they are very well qualified with formal knowledge of electricity, etc. They made a point that copper is copper & clean looking sine waves can be seen on oscilloscopes. Yes, & watts are watts. One said I was seeing what I needed to see by being psychosomatic. But hey, if you see artifacts degrading the picture, they too, are fact.

I had crap degrading my picture; many other folks don't. If they seem unnecessary, than that is the easy way to go - without. Other makers have units costing a grand. That company makes high end stuff. There is a problem of voodoo science being involved as the makers may have an involved explanation that informed outsiders may say is unsupported voodoo science.

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Power Conditioner
by jasondtx / January 8, 2009 9:33 AM PST

Personally I would buy a Furman or MIT Power Conditioner. Monster cable power conditioners are self sacrificing meaning they basically are useless after a large surge or many smaller ones by degrading itself. They also filter out known problem frequencies. By doing this they sometimes will filter out a digital television channel when you run your coax through the unit. I have sold Monster in the past and compared them to other brands and Furman and MIT are some of the best 2 that I have found. Neither one are self sacrificing, they can take hit after hit after hit. Many pro audio companies and studios use these because of the better performance and because they don't break down. Check them out sometime if you get a chance. And yes a good UPS is nice to have in the system also.

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...surge in Los Angeles?
by sws1967 / January 8, 2009 1:52 PM PST
In reply to: Power Conditioner

I've noticed that many people are concerned about the surge protection, mostly from lightning/storms. Since I live in the Los Angeles area, I'm really not that concerned with major surge protection...in 20 years I don't think I've ever seen lightning here, so the only surge would be a relatively minor/typical power company surge, which I expect my $2 Radio Shack unit could handle? If it takes a hit, I can easily replace it, although I realized it might not be easy to tell.

My main concern, however, is not surge protection, it's the value of the "dirty A/C filtering" that I'm really skeptical about...and in my case, this does NOT involve running my cable coax through a box. Any reason to believe that the built-in Samsung power supply is not good enough?

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I agree on the brands.
by jcrobso / January 9, 2009 2:37 AM PST
In reply to: Power Conditioner

We have beat this subject to death many times is this forum!
Every body should have a surge protector! A good $20~30 power strip will do the job!
A couple of years ago I posted results of some experiments I did on this subject. Conclusion is that AC line noise is way overstated by some manufactures (AKA Mon$tor)of the kind of gear.
A UPS is a good thing, a $90~120 unit will do the job. I you have HDTV that has a lamp they are a necessity. John

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...surge vs AC noise
by sws1967 / January 9, 2009 3:02 AM PST
In reply to: I agree on the brands.

Actually, I've had a hard time finding reliable information relating to the "AC filtering" need, which was why I started this post. As I stated at the begining, my inquiry isn't about surge protection - I know that is needed. I really was hoping we could hear from Samsung (or the like) about the need for the filtering.

I've seen as many arguments for needing the filtering (people claiming they see a difference) as I have against, but I still haven't read any technical evidence to support either side...at this point it has all been opinion.

The subject wouldn't need to be beaten to death if we simply understood what the input stage to the TVs power supply is expecting...but, at this point, I still don't have that answer.

Either way, I've decided to take the fancy strip back, and just keep using my $2 Radio Shack unit.

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None to found!
by jcrobso / January 9, 2009 5:08 AM PST
In reply to: ...surge vs AC noise

"Actually, I've had a hard time finding reliable information relating to the "AC filtering" need,"
Most of the info you can find is FUD!!!!! Usually written by some company like Mon$tor to sell their over priced products. John

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...yep, and that's excatly what I'm
by sws1967 / January 9, 2009 9:09 AM PST
In reply to: None to found!

starting to think! (assuming by "FUD" you meant...uh, not true?) I guess that was really my point...I've studied the theory, and I see no basis for the claims made, but I've also not seen any good evidence. So...now I'm really interested in finding out what's really going on, and if this is all a bunch of marketing crap (which is what I expect now), I'll post my reviews on these products accordingly.

For the record, I grew up in Michigan in the 70s/80s, with major thunderstorms and lightning. I played guitar and owned "expensive" amps and stereo gear which was ALWAYS plugged directly into the wall. Not once did I ever have a surge problem or distortion issue...so, now out here in "no-weather" California, I'm really doubtful about the need for any of this expensive stuff. It looks cool, but I need proof before I waste my money.

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noise in the coax...
by sws1967 / January 8, 2009 1:39 PM PST

Your situation is actually pretty straight forward if I understand it correctly...you had your cable line running into a surge protector, and then into the cable box, and in that case it INTRODUCED distortion into your signal, because it was an inferior unit. It makes sense that you would see an improvement by running the signal through something better....

In my case, however, I could care less about the coax - I rent the box and if a surge smokes it, well then they can give me a new one. I'm certainly NOT convinced that a surge will pass from Coax, through the cable box, down the HDMI cable and into my gear (especially through a 24-28 AWG cable), so I run the cable coax directly into the cable box.

What I'm really looking for is why Samsung (or any other TV manufacturer) would "require" a consumer to use a power conditioner with "filtering" to "clean the dirty A/C" and thereby prevent distortion of their picture. In this case, I'm assuming a relatively stable situation to begin with, i.e., not the problem you mention, but how "conditioning the power supply" alone can keep noise out of a video signal that is NOT filtered by the "power supply."

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(NT) Have you tried the Samsung forum thread?
by NM_Bill / January 9, 2009 4:20 AM PST
In reply to: noise in the coax...
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...hmm, that's where I thought I was...
by sws1967 / January 9, 2009 4:35 AM PST

That's a good question...and I thought I had started this thread inside of the Samsung forum - at least that's what I meant to do:)

...mmm, did I start this in the wrong place? This is about the first time that I've participated in this kind of thing. I really would like to hear from an engineer from Samsung, and it was the "New Samsung forum" bit that I read that got me started...I'm an electrical engineer (degreed), but my focus was/is optics, so aside from the theory, I have no knowledge of common consumer products.

If this is outside of the Samsung forum, then it's my mistake...I'll take a look.

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The Samsung thread is near the top of the list of threads
by NM_Bill / January 9, 2009 4:50 AM PST

here in the Home Audio & Video. We do have a Samsung employee with the moniker of Mr. Samsung who posts here from time to time.

As a Samsung owner I have had problematic experience with Samsung customer relations. I was persistent enough that I was then given the phone number for "Executive Customer Relations." Persistence was again called for. It took 6 months to resolve a warranty problem.

We do occasionally get EEs posting here as well as equally technologically knowledgeable. I am merely an old small time audiophile.

But, take a moment to consider your reference to a $2 surge protector. Frankly, that sounds a bit high handed. Since surge protection is vital, won't you consider one rated for a high amount of joules? My old unit which introduced interference was not a $2 unit but around $40.

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...the surge protectors were $7
by sws1967 / January 9, 2009 5:00 AM PST

for 3 strips on clearance at Radio Shack...it wasn't my intent to be "high-handed," although I can see how maybe it came accross that way. In this case, I'm being literal. I'm using a $2.50 surge protector that is rated as follows:

UL suppressed voltage: 330V (L-N, L-G, N-G)
Max Surge Voltage: 6000V

In addition, they carry a $30,000 guarantee. I don't have the Joule rating in front of me now, but it was around half of the Monster HTS1000 rating.

Anyway, you are right that I posted in the wrong forum - thanks, for the heads-up. My post, however, is meant to be an honest, literal comparison.

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Being very literal myself, I think in terms of proportional
by NM_Bill / January 9, 2009 5:22 AM PST

response to problems.

I don't use a line conditioner for my personal audio. But is it folly to spend for a surge unit with very high joules ratings as an appropriate response to danger; & hence insurance because my speakers are $4000, my receiver is $4000 & my disk player is $1500. Those numbers were very serious expense for me. Only because I consider this my final & ultimate outfit after 50 years of loving recorded music. I sure as hell never let my wife know what these things were costing.

So, with a serious investment, why not regard $50 as reasonable for that level of surge protection. By the way, our moderator is an advocate of daisy chaining his whole house with multiple units for a redundancy of extra protection level. Still, nothing can guarantee you from a near hit of lightning. I have experienced ball lightning coming down & out the chimney & bouncing to a nearby wall, burning the wallpaper.

I also had a $20 surge unit save my computer a few years back by sacrificing itself by melting. Cheap insurance when the power company was changing out the nearby pole transformer. The workers wired it backwards. Talk about big surge. The next door social security office had their fluorescent lights melted as well as all 20 of their computers.

That is why I am inclined to spend more than the minimum for surge protection.

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...well, with that much invested...
by sws1967 / January 9, 2009 8:09 AM PST

yep...we are on different $$ scales here also. My Receiver is a new Denon 588, which I'm very happy with for the task, but it costs around $300 ($600 total with the Boston Acoustic MCS130 speakers). My DVD is Sony and under $200, but the TV is $2000 (which is why I'm more concerned about the TV). So...you can see why spending $200 on a power strip, when my A/V receiver was only $300 makes me wonder...anyway, my gear is under $30,000 which is the warranty "protection" available with my $2 strip.

And...I have a hard time seeing that a surge is going to blow past even a cheap surge protector AND past the unit's fuse, and then smoke my TV? (lightning strikes excepted, which I don't need to worry about...we have more earthquakes than lightning:). Like I said, EE or not, I'm new to this and I could be wrong...

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Keep it cheap
by Rick Cavaretti / January 10, 2009 7:31 AM PST

The age of the house really doesn't have much to do with it, directly. If there are a minimum numbers of circuits on a house, I've seen the line voltage dip a bit when too much current was being pulled...the dimming lights are giveaway. Most modern electronics have voltage regulators and dedicated input circuits in them to deal with this. As for dirty AC, have you ever hooked up an oscope to one of your outlets? My waveforms are perfect. This is coming from the electric company, not from a cheap $20 inverter putting out a modified sine wave (sawtooth, say it!) you picked up at the swapmeet. A surge protector is all you need. Whether it's a cheapo or expensive unit, most of them have a simple, cheap MOV (metal oxide varistor) in them to clamp the voltage. When it blows, it's just like a fuse, except more charred and smelly.

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...yep, the lights do dim...
by sws1967 / January 11, 2009 4:23 AM PST
In reply to: Keep it cheap

As a matter of fact, yesterday, we had an under-voltage condition, but no big deal...the TV shut down for a minute and then came back up, and the "Monster HTS1000 MKSIII wxyz" unit would have simply done the same thing - it says it "disconnects the power until voltage comes back up"; well it looks like my TV can do that all by itself for free (note that I have an LCD).

I've never put a scope on my home's AC, but maybe I will someday...my guess is I also have a nice sine wave, and for the occasional "brown-out," well, maybe I just won't watch TV for that .1 second? I agree with your assessment...my "Monster..." is already back in the packaging and will be on its way to Circuit City soon...:)

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well in my case
by iaquino2002 / January 10, 2009 11:57 PM PST

My house was build in the fifties with a not so updated electrical wiring and the area experiences a lot of dipps in power ,and so all my power outlet that has large appliances and electrical equipments are connected to UPS and APC is my brand of choice .But I am lucky I didnt buy these guys at retail.My intertainment system ie Samsung Plasma,Reciever,PC Media center are connected to the APC model with the power conditioner in it.

However in the long run ,(when we have the budget) I will have to update the house's electrical system to filter and clean the area's fluctuating power supply.

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...why UPS for appliances?
by sws1967 / January 11, 2009 5:53 AM PST
In reply to: well in my case

I'm seeing a lot of recomendations for UPS, but why would you need that for consumer appliances, or a TV and A/V receiver? If you have a computer controlling some object that is expensive and can be damaged without that control, then okay, I understand the need...or if you are using a desktop with no battery (I use laptops) then I can see how you might want UPS to keep from losing a file in the rare situation that power dies.

Aside from that...so what if your fridge, dishwasher, laptop computer, TV or A/V stuff experiences a loss of power? What will happen? They'll shut down, as if you hit the power switch, and then come back on...even appliances (Air conditioner, fridge) that use compressors already have built-in protection...at least they should. Anyway, why the need for UPS?

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a ups is good for anything with circuts and s expensive
by mementh / January 11, 2009 6:16 AM PST

a ups is good for anything with circuts and s expensive

going from your quote here, the circuts for the fridge/dishwasher might not be as vunerable as feared but a UPS does not hurt, but no proof it helps (point to you)

Laptops, Computers (in general), and TV's (and there accessories)
REQUIRE UPS's due to all the high cost of replacing them.

If a computer browns out the low voltage can cause things to mess up in the cpu or ram or the motherboard. ( As I understand it, browning out the power to a computer can cause the parts i listed to short at times destroying them and damaging the device)

TV's and accessories are the same deal somewhat. Some TV's want to cool there cpu/bulbs after the power goes off to cool them off and extend the life of the appliance.

I know a TV or accessory can be damaged just like a computer can with a undervoltage short.

Plus the noise or other line issues that are real. Someone mentioned saying th power company's power is 100% clean, sorry it may be good for your area at times, but there are always issues at sometimes, and its even worse if you loose power because surges/brownouts in the voltage that happens when it restarts after a blackout as as bad as the loss of power itself.

When you power a device down properly, you give it a chance to clean itself out of all the power and make sure it can start up properly next time.

|Aside from that...so what if your fridge, dishwasher, laptop |computer, TV or A/V stuff experiences a loss of power? What will |happen? They'll shut down, as if you hit the power switch, and then |come back on...even appliances (Air conditioner, fridge) that use |compressors already have built-in protection...at least they should. |Anyway, why the need for UPS?

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...if a TV "requires" a UPS, then...
by sws1967 / January 11, 2009 7:24 AM PST

You have just revisted my original question: If the TV "requires" a UPS (or any other gadget) as you state, then why doesn't the TV manufacturer state that in their manual?

I've read my whole LN52A750 manual, and no where does Samsung even recomend a power conditioner or UPS in order for it to be safe and function properly. Of course, it can't hurt - except for your wallet...and it's hard for me reconcile using some gadget that doesn't make sense to me electronically (otherwise, what was the point of all that schooling?).

My TV came with a warranty, and that warranty is NOT conditional upon having the power supply on a UPS or "power conditioning unit" (surge protection is a different issue). I'm concerned that we're all being "taken" by the EE voodoo science...has anybody read that their TV/other gear "requires" a UPS or conditioner?

As far as the power company sending 100% clean power...well if you can't see or hear the difference, then what IS the difference? If it is only occasional, then why spend the money?

I don't understand what you mean by a "undervoltage short"? If your AC supply shorts, you will have 0V on to the input stage, and your TV wouldn't know the difference. I don't see how a brown-out can damage a TV - if the voltage is too low, the input stage will send 0V DC to your TV, i.e., "off." It is true, however, that the "in-rush current" after power is restored can be high (only transient though)...but, that's why the surge protector is there.

Incidently, my $180 Monster gadget warranty is void in my case, since I'm not running my cable coax through it. Funny enough, my warranty on my $2 Radio Shack unit is more protective in my case:)

Appreciate the input, but I can't let it die until I understand from Samsung (my TV), why they would build a TV that requires this extra gear (or not), and then not mention it in the manual? If I need a UPS, fine, that should be clear from the manufacturer...same goes for "dirty AC filtering."

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There are several comments/questions that you can't let die.
by NM_Bill / January 11, 2009 7:47 AM PST

That is sort of an unrealistic attitude. If your questions are Samsung specific, for heavens sake pose those questions to Samsung.

You intend to be pretty much as cheap as possible when confronting things like surge protectors. Extra measures of joules come with additional increments of cost, but they seem not excessive to me.

If you insist on valuing your Radio Shack $2 warranty, why bother us with it? And you state your TV came with a warranty. Well yes, but testing the veracity of it is not a worthwhile proposition/goal. I hope you selected it with some mind to quality.

We are mostly a good intentions forum here. Especially considering your ample educational level, I don't understand why you haven't been in touch with Samsung technical service.

Questions are fine. I won't however entertain a battle of semantics. Let simple facts be simple facts. Give it a rest, dude.

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...you got it
by sws1967 / January 11, 2009 8:13 AM PST

It wasn't my intention to irritate anybody at this forum...so, sorry to those who are offended. It was my intention to obtain answers to the questions I originally posed, and although there has been some very good input, my original questions remain unanswered.

I did contact Samsung yesterday, and if I get a response, I will post, if anybody is still interested. Also, based on your suggestion (NB_Bill), I have moved this thread to the "Samsung forum," which you pointed out earlier. I am only responding when someone else posts, and I don't see why that's a problem.

You are correct, I don't have $200 to spend on a "power conditioner" that is not needed...so, yep, I'd prefer not to spend any more money than I have to. My guess is that there are others who are in my situation and I would like to really understand the true technical neccessity behind this market.

Again, I didn't mean to offend anyone. I'm not expressing opinion, just my observation and understanding. The question is NOT Samsung specific, except in my specific case.

If you like your gear, then keep it. I'm still looking for answers, and until I have them, I'll keep asking questions.

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