I had the chance to visit The Mines shopping fair yesterday. It has been years since I have been there and the place has grown a lot in recent times. In addition to a new wing, where the top floor was once a mini theme park with rides and games for kids, it is now an entire floor dedicated to technology products and houses Malaysia’s largest IT retail store (with a lowest price guarantee!).
I had the chance to visually examine the picture quality of an LCD TV versus a plasma TV. It was clearly evident that the Plasma TV had a superiour image quality, with vivid colours. In contrast, LCD image quality seems to be perpetually screened with a layer of grey. This does not just apply to the blacks but also to the other colours. Blue oceans look blue on a plasma while they look a little dull on an LCD screen.
There is currently a promotion for a 32″ plasma from Haier, which is going for RM1588 (Â£300). This is a rather tempting buy as the RM1299 LCD does not come with any warranty while this Haier comes with a 3 year warranty. The main drawback is that the screen resolution for plasma TVs (852×480) are typically lower than LCDs (1366×768), which was visible on closer inspection.
Nonetheless, this 852×480 resolution is perfectly sufficient for watching DVD quality videos, which are typically 720×480 (NTSC). In this case, the video would have to be down-sampled instead of up-sampled for an LCD TV.
I also had the opportunity of viewing DLP projectors used for home entertainment. While these projectors can project images at any size, the contrast ratio is the worst of the lot. Everything looks like the colours had been drained out of them. They are also a little more expensive than the 32″ screens. So, it would be unwise to actually use a projector for a home theatre system (unless you planned to build a 20 seater mini-theatre at home).
Toshiba is doing a promotion and selling its AV500E 32″ LCD for RM1599 only. If I only plan to use the screen for watching videos, then 854×480 is a sufficiently high resolution. However, if I plan to use it as a living room PC as well, then the 1366×768 resolution would be better appreciated. I have a feeling that I may actually end up getting the Tosh instead.
While I was out shopping, I found the perfect keyboard for a HTPC – Genius Luxmate 810. It was designed for use with Windows Media Center Edition (Windows HTPC). It has a keyboard, remote and mouse pointer built into a wireless keyboard. It was retailing for RM99 at the computer store. This is one wicked keyboard for any HTPC.