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HDTV in mainstream media: NYT gets it wrong, St. Paul Pioneer Press gets it right


One day, two newspaper articles about high definition TV. Unfortunately, while reading this New York Times article, it immediately jumped out at me that they were playing into the common misperception that tube televisions are not high definition, and flat panel displays are.

"That means you should ignore any unit that says EDTV, standard definition or flat- tube TV. It's old technology." = OH NO YOU DIDN'T.

Now where did I put that soap box, because I have some street corner sermonizing to do.

Yes, CRT's are old technology, but they're old technology that works. If you're looking for a TV of 36" or less and don't want to spend a bundle they are probably your best option. Granted, the article is buying for the future, saying 15-20 years, but seriously, who is buying their TV with an eye to 20 years in the future? CRT's still have better image quality than that provided by LCD's, if it's good enough for Itagaki, it is good enough for me. The only knock against the old cathode ray tube is space and heft, and if you're willing to give up space in your living room for space in the wallet (like extra money to buy a surround system and get a really good experience), I wouldn't blame you. Newer slim-CRT's give back some of the space, but may cost a bit more.

The Times unfortunately is sending out customers who may not be fully informed on their choices and spend more than they have to. They spend the rest of the article going on only about DLP, LCD and plasma technologies, all of which make for excellent TV's, but not necessarily the best for everyone. They also pay lipservice to 1080p sets, but make no mention of the current lack of 1080p content or that some TV's advertise the resolution but do not accept it as an input.

In contrast, the Pioneer Press provides a pretty balanced look at all technologies available and their pros and cons. It's not especially in depth, but it gives a good base for people who might be confused about what they have heard so far.

"Picture-tube TVs are like sets of decades past, but with wide-format "letterbox" screens and improved image quality. The advantage: Because they are on the way out, they're cheaper. The disadvantage: They are bulky, and because of their heft, screen sizes typically don't exceed 34 inches.

But CRTs "look as good as anything we sell," said Ben Steenson, a TV expert at Ultimate Electronics in Roseville. "You get phenomenal contrast and good color. This is the most refined TV technology. It's been around for 80 years."

I hold no grudge against the NYT, but I hope to avoid any HDBeat readers having their holiday experience ruined by a cousin claiming their tube set isn't a real HDTV, or worse, opening a gift wrapped 1024x768 "HD"TV. That would be worse than another pair of wool socks. Point your most generous aunt to our holiday buying guide, or one of our previous guides to ensure a great time for all.

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