Answers to your multimedia questions.
Q Your columns on plasma TVs have been positive. I'm thinking of getting a Panasonic plasma, but my daughter has a friend who works in a TV repair shop and he said plasmas don't last long, about five years of screen life. I want a TV that will last longer. What's your take on the life of plasma TVs?
A Many early plasma TVs seemed to have a limited lifespan. About 10 years ago, a friend who had a repair shop showed me a room full of dead plasma TVs. This stuck in my mind, and for a while I didn't recommend them in this column.
Things have changed dramatically since then. I've turned from a skeptic to an evangelist for plasma technology. Panasonic 1080p plasma panels are rated to go to half brightness after 30 years of watching for eight hours a day.
Among my immediate family and close friends, we have had six plasmas (one Samsung, one Hitachi, one LG and three Panasonics) and one LCD (Toshiba) as our primary or bedroom television. All the plasmas have been flawless; the Samsung is almost six years old and still going strong. The only TV to fail was the LCD set, which I bought for my parents in 2007 and was the most expensive. It lasted less than three years. I replaced it with a Panasonic plasma, and they like it much better.
This is just one example. Despite LCD supposedly being more reliable, it wasn't in this case.
I recommend buying what you want, regardless of the technology. Plasma and LCD are extremely reliable, and it shouldn't be an issueHeadphones at a nicer price
Q My daughter will be attending college next year. She uses earbuds but would like to get headphones, perhaps noise-canceling ones so she won't easily hear noises as she studies.
My older daughter bought $350 Bose headphones. I think that was too much money, but she really likes them.
Is it possible to get good noise-canceling headphones for $100 to 200?
A I have always had great success recommending Audio-Technica headphones. Unlike Bose products, they can be found online at significant savings from suggested retail prices. They are competitive if sold at the list price, but when you take the discounts into account they are phenomenal bargains.
The Audio Technica ATH-ANC7B Active Noise-Canceling Closed-Back Headphones have a suggested retail price of $220 but can be bought online for only $115. In more than 500 reviews on Amazon, they have amassed a solid four-star rating, and many reviewers preferred them to the $300-plus Bose products.
For $115, I don't think you can go wrong.