Posts Tagged ‘digital tv’

Toshiba 26AV502R 26-Inch 720P LCD HDTV Review

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009
Toshiba's entry in the 26-Inch LCD HDTV market

Toshiba's entry in the 26-Inch LCD HDTV market

Budget HDTV week continues here at Today’s entry is the Toshiba 26AB502R 26-Inch 720P LCD HDTV. In keeping with the other HDTVs we’ve reviewed so far this week, the Toshiba 26AB502R is a 26-inch LCD TV. That should make comparison a snap.

The Toshiba 26AB502R features:

  • A sleek glossy black (“piano black”) finish on its frame
  • Dynalight backlight control — adjusts the backlighting according to how light or dark the content is onscreen
  • Native Mode — restores the 3-5% of the picture that’s typically lost on most HDTVs due to overscanning
  • Color Temperature Control — with three presets to adjust the warmth of the picture
  • Cinema Mode 24ps (with 3:2 pulldown) — when using film sources, the Toshiba 26AB502R is able to translate 24-frame film into 30 frame video eliminating the duplicate information for a clearer, more “cinema-real” picture
  • TheaterWide — special modes for viewing movies and other widescreen, letterboxed content
  • Gaming Mode — speeds up the time the signal from your controller/game console takes to reach the screen, resulting in more responsive gaming
  • Channel Browser — lets you scan the last 32 channels you browsed with images for the last five chanels
  • Channel Labeling — lets you name channels how you desire
  • Energy Star Compliant — for savings on your electric bill
  • Connections: 2 HDMI, 2 component, 2 composite, 1 S-video, 1 PC, one digital audio out — for plenty of last-gen and next-generation hookups

You also get a stand and a universal remote.

So how does the Toshiba 26AV502R 26-Inch 720P LCD HDTV stack up? The Toshiba 26AV502R delivers a crisp, clear picture. Dynalight feature isn’t as obtrusive as the comparable Sony backlighting. And sound out of the built-in speakers is decent (although again, we highly recommend a true Surround Sound setup for optimal home theater performance). Gaming mode is a nice touch, as the onscreen action was quick and highly responsive to controller inputs. Setup is also relatively straightforward and intuitive. And the remote control is well-laid out and the buttons glow in the dark, which is a nice touch.

The cons on the Toshiba 26AB502R are that sometimes the Dynalight feature can wash scenes out, changing the overall brightness levels for no reason. And sometimes color, particularly on non-high-def sources, can be washed out or overly green or orange. Even after adjustments, these issues remained. And of course, because it’s an LCD, you still have issues viewing the image from extreme angles to the side.

Overall Rating: 7/10

Recommendation: Probably buy another TV. If not for the sometimes fluctuating Dynalight and the odd color issues, this would be our hands-down winner. Game Mode and Cinema Mode are fantastic for gaming and movies, respectively. The TV looks fantastic with its glossy black finish, and the overall picture is nice. But picture quality is most important. And the issues are too big to overlook.

In case you are interested in the Toshiba 26AV502R, Amazon makes you add it to your shopping cart to price it. But it’s on sale now for $352.94. A good price, but not as good a value as the Samsung LN26B360.

The Myth of Monster Cables

Friday, August 14th, 2009
HDMI Cables provide the best-quality HDTV connection

HDMI Cables provide the best-quality HDTV connection

Monster Cable has made a small fortune selling people “premium” audio-visual cables for their home theater for years.  Featuring such buzzwords as “gas-injected dielectric,” and “high-density triple-shielding for maximum rejection of RFI and EMI,” Monster Cable charges through the nose for their “high-end” versions of equipment connectors.

Most of the time in life, you get what you pay for.  After all, a $2,000 mountain bike is significantly better than one you can find at Costco or Wal*mart for $300.  And a Mercedes is a lot more costly and high-quality than a Yugo.

Does the same hold true for cables?  Is it worth paying $84.99 for a one-meter Monster Cable HDMI cable?  Or can you get nearly the same quality with a regular cable, such as the Mediabridge 6ft Ultra High Speed HDMI Cable which goes for $9.99 on Amazon?

The answer is that you should buy the reasonably priced cables.  Popular Mechanics backs this up with their article Top 10 HDTV Myths: Fact vs. Fiction, Hi-Def Style:

Myth #7

To get the best-quality HD, you need expensive cables.

Fact: Not true. If the cables running from your DVD player or cable box aren’t particularly long, you should be fine with inexpensive video cables. The extra shielding in expensive cables that prevents interference in analog equipment won’t improve the image of digital video through HDMI or DVI cables — the signal either comes through or it doesn’t. And the savings can be huge: 6-ft. HDMI cables range from $20 to $160.

There you have it.  You can easily save hundreds of dollars on your home-theater cabling by going with a more budget-conscious model like the Mediabridge.  Pick up an HDMI cable for your HDTV today.

HD Movies on the Cheap with Netflix Instant Watch

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

Netflix Instant Watch and an Xbox 360 - a great, cheap way to get HD movies

Netflix Instant Watch and an Xbox 360 - a great, cheap way to get HD movies

Part of the new direction here at is giving you the product reviews and advice you need to make the most of your digital world. In this economy, it can be hard to go out and splurge on the latest Blu-Ray player or bigscreen HD TV. But you can enjoy movies, some in HD quality, for a very low cost.

Netflix Instant Watch is a great technology. If you have a broadband connection, you can watch over 12,000 movies from Netflix’s collection on a Mac or PC in fullscreen. Often, these films are available in HD quality (and if not, they’re standard DVD quality). Netflix Instant Watch works just like regular Netflix – you have a separate queue that you can add movies to and then you can select which film or TV show to view.

Best of all, Netflix Instant Watch comes as a free add-on with any Netflix plan of $9/month or more. Which means that for only $9 a month, you can subscribe to Netflix’s unlimited DVDs, one-DVD-at-a-time mail plan and get Netflix Instant Watch at no added charge.

And, as a special bonus, you can watch Netflix Instant Watch films on your TV, including your HD TV if you’ve got an Xbox 360 with an Xbox Live Gold membership or if you purchase a low-cost Roku box (the Roku box also lets you view Amazon Video On Demand content on your TV). If you’re already rocking an HDTV and an Xbox 360, it’s an easy way to add a ton of content to your home for just $9/month. If you’re looking to purchase a Roku box, they can be had for $99 from Amazon. You’ll need to link your Roku to your Amazon account or Netflix account) in order to watch content on your TV (or link your Netflix account to your Xbox 360), but it’s a very simple, intuitive process.

We’re Making Some Changes to

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

The digital transition came and went, mostly easily.  We’re now living in a digital world.

We know that this can be a bit confusing — you might want to learn how you can get HD programming on an old analog TV (short answer: a digital converter box, digital cable, or satellite); you might be thinking about purchasing a new HD TV or a Blu-Ray player or a cutting-edge gaming console.  Maybe you’ve got questions about what kind of surround sound is the best or which home theater audio equipment to buy

And that’s what we’re here for. isn’t just for reviews of digital converter boxes — we can help you out with all sorts of equipment and content, with reviews and advice.

So stay tuned in the days to come and we’ll help you navigate your way through our digital world.  It’s a great world to live in!

How Do I Get a Digital Converter Box Coupon?

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

The switchover to all digital television is happening June 12, 2009.  If you don’t want to upgrade your TV or subscribe to cable or satellite TV and you want to keep watching your television shows, you’ll need to get a digital converter.

The good news is, digital converters are fairly inexpensive.  Even better, the Federal Communications Commission is offering $40 coupons for the purchase of digital converters.  So you can be a part of the analog to digital TV transition at low or no cost!

And getting a digital converter coupon is pretty simple.

Just visit the Federal Government’s Digital TV website and fill out the request for a form.  They’ll ask you for some information, like your name and address and if you subscribe to cable or satellite TV.  Remember that you’ll also need a digital converter for each analog television in your house.  The FCC allows up to two $40 digital converter coupons per household.  Coupons are good for 90 days from the date you request them.

And if you’re a nursing home resident, there’s a separate digital converter coupon form to fill out.

Digital converter coupons are only good for certain digital converter boxes and at certain retailers, so make sure you check the FCC’s list of eligible retailers and eligible digital converters.  Also note that these coupons are not rebates – you have to use it when you purchase a digital converter, not afterwards.

How to Hook Up a Digital TV Converter Box

Monday, March 30th, 2009

If you have an old standard definition television and would like to continue watching your shows, you’re going to need a digital converter box.  The good news is that you can get a digital converter box for free or very little cost with the Federal Government’s digital converter box coupon program.

We have loads of reviews for digital converter boxes on this site – that’s what we’re all about.

Once you’ve picked out your digital converter box and purchased it, the only thing left to do is hook it up.

So – how do you hook up a digital converter box?  It’s as easy as hooking up a DVD player!

What you’ll need:

1)   TV antenna with coaxial (screw on) cable
2)   Digital converter box
3)   Coaxial (screw on) cable or RCA (red and yellow plug) cable

How to do it:

1)   Connect the TV antenna to the “Antenna In” on the digital converter box with the coaxial (screw on) cable

2)   Connect the digital converter box “Out to TV” to your television.  You will have the option to use either coaxial (screw on) or RCA (red and yellow plug) cable.  If using coaxial, connect it to the “Coaxial In” or “TV In” coaxial (screw on) plug on your television.  If using RCA, the red and yellow plugs to the red and yellow “TV In” or “RCA In” on your television.

3)   If using RCA (red and yellow plug) cable to connect your digital converter box, you will need to set your TV to either AV, “Input,” “TV/Video,” or “Device.”  This varies by TV make and model – consult your owner’s manual.  If using coaxial cable to connect your TV to your digital converter box, you will need to set your TV to either channel 3 or 4.  This varies by TV make and model – consult your owner’s manual.

4)   You will now be using the remote for the digital converter box to change channels.  You will use your TV remote for volume and power.  If you don’t want to use two remotes, think about purchasing a universal remote.

If you’re the type of person who prefers video instruction, watch the following:

What Do I Need to Watch Digital TV?

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

The upcoming switchover from analog to digital tv is confusing.  Without buying an expensive new high definition television, how can you still watch your favorite programs?

Fortunately, the situation isn’t as complicated as it seems.  There are three ways that you can continue to enjoy your television programs on your existing analog or standard definition television.

The first is through the use of a digital converter.  A digital TV converter works by transforming the digital signal high defintion broadcasts use into an analog signal.  Then, you can watch your shows on your existing TV.  This is the cheapest and easiest option.  The Federal Government is even giving out coupons for digital converter boxes, so you can get one for free or at very low cost.