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LCD TV + DVD on a budget

by macandal / March 22, 2010 4:35 AM PDT

Both by TV and my DVD player are old. I still have a CRT TV and a DVD player that's about 10 years old. While the TV is still holding strong, the DVD is clearly on its last legs. It plays DVD when it wants to, and some of them don't play well at all.

Anyway, I want to replace both, my TV and my DVD player. I want to get the best I can within my small budget. I know that both of these can do things these days that my old systems couldn't do. Well, for the TV, I don't play games, I watch movies and sports (one, really, soccer). Anywhere from 32 to 42 inches would be fine for me. For the DVD, I want it to be able to do all the nifty things they're capable of doing (like the stuff this person lists in this thread:;lst;4#3236021
, except on a regular player not blue ray), like streaming movies, being able to watch Netflix movies through it, or stuff from my computer etc.

I don't have a whole lot of money to spend. Times being the way they are, money, I'm sure you'll agree, is a very prized commodity. I had set aside the perhaps unrealistic amount of $600 to achieve my goals. I figured I could get a decent TV for around $400 and a decent DVD player for around $200. I based this on the fact that sometimes, Costco and BestBuy have LCDs for around $450, although I don't know about the quality of these. And I figured that $200 for a DVD player would be plenty, that is before I started looking around and I saw that some of these were in the $600 range. Of course, these were BlueRay and I'm looking for a regular DVD, since all of my movies are regular DVDs. I may be shooting myself in the foot for not getting BlueRay, but I think they'll continue producing non-BlueRay stuff, and Netflix is mostly regular, aren't they?

Anyway, that's what I'm looking for. Am I being unrealistic in my requirement? I can go a little higher, but, like I said, times are tough and I can't go up much more.

Thanks, and I look forward to your suggestions.

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$200 for a basic DVD player too much for a budget purchase
by Pepe7 / March 22, 2010 6:06 AM PDT

If you are *truly* strapped for cash, IMHO that's too much to spend for something as basic as DVD playback. Just so you can at least taste the benefit of the HD format that your LCD HDTV is capable of, you might as well pick up a Blu Ray player since they are backwards compatible with all your DVDs and netflix rentals. This would future proof you a little as well. For example, Best Buy has a new Sony for $129. That gives you a decent chunk left for an economy LCD HDTV purchase @ Costco, etc. Keep in mind you won't really be taking advantage of the high definition format unless you get a screen size in the neighborhood of 37-42". This doesn't mean you won't see a clearer, sharper picture, it's just that your eyes cannot resolve the increased resolution at typical viewing distances (~10ft+).

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First I want to ask;
by ahtoi / March 22, 2010 8:48 AM PDT

Do you have broadband internet access? If yes, then google ROKU. Dvd player cannot stream video as far as I know (I have not seen one).

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Forget the Roku box.
by minimalist / March 22, 2010 11:53 AM PDT

You can get easily get decent blu-ray player that up-converts your existing DVD's and streams Netflix for 150-200 dollars. As cool as the Roku boxes are, it just doesn't make sense to spend 100 dollars on a standalone streaming box anymore when you can get a streaming plus blu-ray and DVD upscaling for 50-100 dollars more. Samsung, LG, and Vizio make players that do this in that price range.

400 dollars might be a bit low for a 42" TV but you may be able to find a deal at Costco or on the net. I'm guessing the brand selection will be based on what's available for that price.

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by macandal / March 22, 2010 1:37 PM PDT

Good to hear I may be able to get something with the budget I had in mind.

Blu ray will play regular DVDs??? Right on. I didn't know that nugget of information.

Now, since I'm a bit ignorant about electronics, can you guys recommend what to get? Which TV and which DVD player? I would appreciate this very much. It's not that I mind doing the research, I don't, but there comes a point when the stuff I read is all Greek to me. Thanks for all your help.

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Read this first:
by minimalist / March 22, 2010 2:38 PM PDT
In reply to: Thanks!!!

Its a bit out of date. Prices have come down even more and the disc selection has grown but the basic info is still useful. You'll have to search Amazon and online electronics dealers like Abe's of Main in your price range to see what available. Stick with brands you know... Samsung, LG, Panasonic, Sony etc *some have more streaming features than others). Don't be afraid to consider Vizio, especially for your TV, as they offer good value on the low end. Do blu-ray just make sure you get a profile 2.0 player with Netflix streaming and you'll be set. You'll likely have to supply your own wireless adapter or an ethernet cable at that price range.
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by macandal / March 23, 2010 10:06 AM PDT
In reply to: Read this first:

Thanks. That helped a bit, but every time I seem to have settled into a specific model, it turns out that it is missing some important feature. For instance, if it will play Netflix (one of my requirements), then it won't play content from my computer, or it will not have computer connection for firmware upgrades (one user made copies on a CD and then upgraded his player this way--this seems like too much work), or something else.

So, I went to the Netflix site and worked backwards. In other words, I started at which players support Netflix and then saw what features they had. So, I have tentatively decided on the Insignia ( or the Vizio ( What do you guys think?

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Any blu-ray player that can stream Netlfix will
by minimalist / March 23, 2010 10:16 AM PDT
In reply to: So.....

be able to download firmware updates off the web. Vizio is the better of the two brands (insignia is a generic house brand for Best Buy) but don't discount LG. Many of their players are feature packed: they stream Netflix, they stream content off your home server or LAN, some can can rent streaming HD movies from Vudu and of course they all play DVD's and Blu-rays. Plus their load times are lightning fast.

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by macandal / March 23, 2010 10:31 AM PDT

This one says it has no Wi-Fi option.

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No entry level players have built in wifi.
by minimalist / March 23, 2010 3:57 PM PDT
In reply to: But...

If you read the fine print its not the 180 dollar Insignia model that has wifi, its the next model up.

Just hardwire the connection or get a cheap bridge for your internet connection. Hard wire is best for streaming anyway. I'd go with a brand name over insignia. Order off the net and you'll get much better prices than buying at Best Buy.

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No, the $180 too...
by macandal / March 24, 2010 2:11 AM PDT
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What minimalist said
by Pepe7 / March 24, 2010 2:26 AM PDT
In reply to: No, the $180 too...

I'd stick to known name-brand entities in the Blu Ray arena. It isn't worth the hassle getting a half-baked Vizio or Insignia just for wifi, which to be honest tend to be more flakey on these devices than tried and tested wired connections for streaming. The headaches aren't worth the savings in my opinion.

If you *must* stick with those models/features, ideally you should still utilize a wired connection to improve your results.

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I might consider the Vizio. Forget the Insignia.
by minimalist / March 24, 2010 4:33 AM PDT
In reply to: No, the $180 too...

Wifi just isn't that reliable for streaming. You are better off paying the same 180 dollars for a better quality LG, Panasonic, Samsung, etc player without wifi and just hard wiring it with an cat5 cable. Streaming video can be very finicky (wifi audio and video streams routinely drop out with Microwave ovens, interference from neightboring phones, routers, etc).

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by Pepe7 / March 24, 2010 6:08 AM PDT

Panels, yes. BD players, nope ;).

My one gripe with an older(?) Vizio was that I had to download a firmware update on a friend's PC, burn it to CD, then load it in the player to upgrade. If I remember correctly it required a separate flash drive to do the BD Live stuff. Sort of a pain and hopefully the newer/more feature filled Vizio players don't make folks deal with this 8-).


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To be fair, my old Sony BDP-300
by minimalist / March 24, 2010 9:19 AM PDT
In reply to: Vizio

required that I go to the office to download my firmware updates (had to be done on a PC, not a Mac). Its was very, VERY irritating. And during the first year I owned it it always seemed to happened when I got a movie in from Netflix I wanted to watch.

I think we are well beyond those dark days with most modern blu-ray players. Unless you are buying a bargain basement model for less than a 100 bucks I wouldn't worry about it missing such basic features as RAM or ethernet connectivity.

I think the Vizio would be fine, but a Samsung, LG, Panny or Sony would outperform it.

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Maybe there is something I'm not getting...?
by macandal / March 24, 2010 9:44 AM PDT
In reply to: No, the $180 too...

Ok, being able to watch movies from Netflix is one of my requirements, so:

1) how does one connect to Netflix to watch movies?
2) when you guys say that Wi-Fi is not worth the trouble and that it is better to "hardwire" the connection, you mean that an actual cable will go from your internet connection to the player?

My computer/internet connection is in a different room from where my TV/Blu Ray player will be, that's why I preferred Wi-Fi, otherwise I will have to get a loooooooooong cable.

Thanks all.

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Netflix requires an internet connection
by minimalist / March 24, 2010 11:58 PM PDT

A hardwired connection (eliminating wireless links) is going to give you the best performance. If its not possible you can always get a wireless router or bridge and connect the blu-ray player to it. It doesn't HAVE to be be built in.

Or, if you have a second coax (for cable) or phone line (for DSL) coming in near the TV you could move the router and modem to the living room like I did. Then your computer would be connected wirelessly (easy if you have a laptop) and all your video heavy devices that need the most bandwidth have the hardwire connection.

The wireless link is the weak one.

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Powerline Lan connection might be a solution, but..
by ahtoi / March 25, 2010 3:15 AM PDT

those dawn adapters are not so cheap though (around $100). But will cost just as much if you have someone else put the cable through the walls.

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How important is the refresh rate?
by macandal / April 2, 2010 6:18 AM PDT

So, should I really make this a consideration when choosing which TV to buy? Should I really go for the 120Hz (or better yet, the 240Hz!) or is that of little importance? Prices tend to change quite drastically between a 120Hz system and one with lower refresh rate (I'm assuming it's lower because it is not even listed). Thanks.

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Not important.
by minimalist / April 3, 2010 1:05 AM PDT

120 hz is more than adequate. Go with the one that has the best picture quality. Play with the remotes and dig into the settings a bit too.

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But anything under...
by macandal / April 3, 2010 4:24 AM PDT
In reply to: Not important.

....anything under 120 would not be adequate? So it does matter that the TV be at least 120Hz, right?

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there is a significant difference between
by minimalist / April 3, 2010 9:14 AM PDT
In reply to: But anything under...

60 and 120 but not so much between 120 and 240.

I'd focus on picture quality more than getting lose in specs. Contrast ratio is the most important thing in determining PQ but it must be a comparison of static contrast ratios, not "dynamic" (which can mean anything the manufacturer wants it to mean). Unfortunately, few manufacturers give you the static ratio so you'll just have use your eyes and common sense. Spend some time with the remotes and get to know the picture settings. Try to compare the pictures in normal or "cinema" mode if possible.

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Narrowed down the TV sets (I hope)
by macandal / April 30, 2010 12:15 PM PDT

Okay, after too much deliberation, I decided to increase the amount I would pay for a TV and have gone for a verified brand name. I've chosen two Sony TVs. One has a good review here on Cnet, the other one doesn't, but has positive reviews at Amazon. I found the latter at Costco at $799.99. These are my two choices:

KDL-40EX501 and

The latter model initially had a flaw that has been corrected in latter models (or at least, Sony issued a patch or something).

What do you guys think? Thanks for all your help.

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by macandal / May 2, 2010 10:26 AM PDT

No comments?

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Lack of picture controls the only real difference
by Pepe7 / May 2, 2010 12:03 PM PDT
In reply to: ?

The other stuff is just fluff/minutiae.

As has been suggested, test each one in person and run through the picture controls. If you think there aren't enough adjustments on the 5100 for your taste, pick the one that meets your needs and also holds the best PQ based on your eyes.

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