Dave’s New “Temporary” TV

Dave Zatz —  December 4, 2010 — 10 Comments

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Our big move begins today, although the movers don’t actually arrive until next Saturday, and I’ve been debating how to best handle our television situation. At the time of purchase our bedroom and living room HDTVs were top notch and reasonably sized for their respective placements (and eras). But bigger is better… Except when it’s a large tube TV I no longer want to mess with. So the current plan is to hand down the 30″ Panasonic HDTV CRT tomorrow to the in-laws for basement usage, leaving a void in our new master bedroom. Ultimately, the 42″ Panasonic plasma will move up there. But I’m not ready to research and purchase our next living room television (~55″).

So I swung by Costco yesterday looking for a smaller and economical “temporary” bedroom television. And, as you can see from the pics, I landed on a Vizio — the 22″ M221NV, for $230. It’s probably not the best display, it’s definitely not even close to good sound, but it’s Yahoo widgetized! There was a nice looking 23″ Samsung at the same price point, but I figured the integrated apps might be fun to have around. Although Sony and Google would have us think different, Internet-connected televisions aren’t a new phenomenon. In fact, the folks behind the Popcorn Hour used to build HP’s retired solution and Yahoo TV has been around a few years.

By default, a number of widgets are pre-loaded and viewable in the collapsable ticker. Not only can you add and remove apps, but I discovered you can even load custom content for a quick look – like the local weather or stock prices (see bottom right pic). I couldn’t remember my Pandora credentials and gave up on the tedious text entry, but had better luck efficiently linking Netflix. Over the integrated 802.11n connection, a few minutes of playback was super smooth and looked good. I had wanted to link my Vudu account, but it seems like I may only be able to create a new one. Will need to examine that further.

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As far as what I don’t like, the remote is perhaps the worst fingerprint magnet ever. Also, it relies on the Yahoo Widget blue button to cycle through screen resolutions and viewing options – something that wasn’t apparent (as I skipped the quick start guide). Lastly, it’s not clear which apps can expand beyond a sidebar display into fullscreen or how I’d toggle it.

In the end, I assume this TV will be perfectly suitable for a few months of bedroom CNN and HGTV… and suspect we’ll also get in a decent amount of box-less video streaming. Although, we’ll save the big event content for our living room. At the end of its service period, I imagine the Vizio will become a kitchen TV or maybe an external 1080p computer display that could serve double duty for various blog projects. I continue to be amazed at how far flat panel display prices have fallen. Beyond that, it’s also pretty surprising that one can get a display with Internet-connected content for $70 less than the cheapest Google TV product.

Click to enlarge:

10 responses to Dave’s New “Temporary” TV

  1. By the way, to improve the audio from this set, I suggest disabling all virtual surround sound effects.

    And these aren’t the ‘droids you’re looking for… never mind that Windows 7 desktop wallpaper loaded onto OS X.

  2. Hard to beat the Costco/Vizio TVs. They’re a great value for the money. It’s also amazing to see where prices have gone – we got one of the first 46″ LCD sets in 2006. It is 720p and it cost nearly $3K. It’s still a fine TV, and we’ve enjoyed it over the years, but look what you can get now for $3K or less.

  3. Another point of comparison… In 2002 I picked up a 720p 4:3 projector for $2800 (list was $3200) and now you can get a much smaller, much quieter, much better looking 1080p 16:9 projector for under $1k. Although my days of messing with projectors are probably over – I’ve got enough projects. :) Maybe.

  4. depending on when you decide to buy a larger tv, you may be able to return that small vizio to costco. they’ve changed their return policy on electronics, but it may be worth checking out, assuming you’ll buy your new set from costco as well.

  5. I try not to return things unless I really have to. Not sure where my next television will come from – my initial thoughts were either another Panasonic plasma or a higher end Samsung. But I’ll do that research at a later date.

  6. CostCo’s electronics return policy is now 90 days.

  7. Dave,

    I will firmly recommend the Samsung C8000 Plasma as your next tv… That TV blows me away all the time at work… It’s amazing. 50, 58, or 63… Integrated Widgets/Apps, thin, 3D, solid remote despite I’m sure you use some type of universal.

  8. Dave,
    How’s the TV so far? We are thinking about picking this up as a gift for my sister-in-law, mainly because of the wifi and netflix apps. I heard some people think the sound is weak.

  9. Hard to say… we’re kind of living in two locations at the moment. I’ve got the Vizio and the Series3 in the new master bedroom, but our bed is still at the other place. I ran over this morning to reprogram the TiVo but it didn’t finish before I had to go to work. I’m a little bummed I couldn’t pull all the locals over a small antenna. But that is more likely the house and location, not the internal tuner.

  10. Dave,
    For what its worth, we picked up a 46″ Samsung at Costco recently ($1200?) and have been very very impressed. Puts my living room TV to shame really. The LED backlighting is really a big improvement. Easy to wall mount, thin, great connectivity (4 HDMI!), and the built in apps (Vudu HD, Pandora, Hulu Plus, Netflix) are good. I do wish there was a power button on the TV itself though…

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