Sound Advice: Smaller HDTV a perfect fit at only $500

  • Article by: DON LINDICH , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 19, 2010 - 3:19 PM

Also: Cheap key-chain camera won't work.

Q I have a large Sony TV that I love, but I will be living in a smaller place for a while, so I don't think I will be using it until my situation changes. I'd like to get something to get me by until then. What would you suggest for maybe a 37- to 42-inch TV that I could find easily in stores for less than $500?

A My favorite TV selling for under $500 is the Samsung PN42C450, a 42-inch 720p plasma HDTV. What makes it so appealing is not just the size and price. It's a real sleeper on the market, offering a sharp, natural picture with realistic color. It's fully capable of providing an excellent home-theater experience, and since it is a plasma, it does not have the motion blur or artificial look of LCDs, especially inexpensive ones. This makes it a great fit for sports, too.

The suggested retail price for the PN42C450 is $600, but it typically sells for $500. In fact, I can't remember a time when I have seen it selling for more than that.

Writing this makes me realize we are really spoiled these days when it comes to televisions. In the late 1990s, Mitsubishi offered a huge 40-inch CRT TV that weighed about 400 pounds and sold for about $4,000, and it wasn't even widescreen or high definition. The PN42C450 outperforms it handily for one-eighth the price and is much smaller and lighter. It's even bigger in diagonal screen size. That's progress.

Camera won't work

Q When I saw your review of the $8 key-chain camera, I ordered a few of them. Unfortunately, I can't make them work. I have written to the vendor in Hong Kong and he gave me some advice, but I still can't make them work. The instructions are poorly written, so I can't tell if the battery is charged or when it is recording. I inserted the MicroSD memory card, the light came on and I pressed the record button. When I looked at the card it was blank. Is there a way to see if the battery is charging and if the camera is recording?

A The $8 key-chain video camera was a big hit among readers. If you did not see the original article you can learn more by visiting www.tinyurl.com/keychaincamera, where there is more information as well as a sample video.

With the popularity of the key-chain camera, I received many e-mails such as yours. The directions that come with the cameras are hard to understand and have been poorly translated from Chinese. You can find clear directions as well as videos on the camera's use at www.chucklohr.com/808.

Submit questions and read past columns at www.soundadviceblog.com.

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