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As the HDTV Turns

So on lunch I rushed over to the store where I am purchasing this TV set and made a final decision: a Samsung 32″ . I decided that all other things being equal, and both TVs looking great side by side, the picture-in-picture on the Samsung would come in handy, so that when men are kicking oval balls I can put on another station and keep my eyes peeled for the start of 60 Minutes. I’m tepid about the shiny black case, which will show smudges, but other than that, no problem. The TV wasn’t in stock but they will have it in tomorrow night from another store.

Then only a minute ago Panasonic Tech Support returned a question I had asked yesterday by email: the Panasonic Panasonic TC-32LX600 model has HDMI 1.1 (whereas the Samsung LNS3251D is HDMI 1.0). How important is this? I don’t know. I asked on an HDTV discussion board, and was told that “HDMI is backward compatible, you shouldn’t have any issues with it.”

But the Amazon customer reviews for the Samsungs mention that some upconverting DVD players won’t work with HDMI 1.0, and I’m not totally convinced by the “be not afraid” tone of articles by HDMI industry insiders. I do think the article I’m referring to makes an excellent point–no matter what version of HDMI connector the TV offers, the TV will still never be any better than the TV’s capabilities (if the TV can’t support Blu-Ray, HDMI version Bazillion.5 won’t help it get there). But then, that makes me want to go back to the spec sheets and ask, am I limiting myself even further?

This all assumes that we’re using an upconverting DVD player, and we don’t even own such a thing. But I see that in our future (which is the same reason I insisted on two HDMI connections on the TV). (This issue has has nothing to do with the whole high-def DVD format duke-out; from what I’ve read, upconverting DVD players simply prink the output to maximize it for your high-def TV.)

You can get by with one HDMI connection if you’re going to use a home entertainment system, which will route the TV toward multiple HDMI connectors–or you could use a switch, though the messages I’ve read about trying to get switches to work didn’t thrill me about that option. But not only am I not using a home entertainment system now, but this set will eventually become our second TV (I predict in a year), and in that role it will never have switches, or entertainment systems, or anything else. It will sit on a dresser until it dies or becomes obsolete.

Then again, that will be true for the DVD player we buy for it, and I’d bet on some of them lasting quite a while.

I am sure I could walk in right now and do an even exchange–the TVs were the same price. But I am a bit deer-in-the-headlights at this point. (Being in the middle of a launch doesn’t help–though worrying about the TV is a great way to ignore the rest of my life.)

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