questionshow low will they go?

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Thanks for reminding me of the scourge of my job! :-( You see, I am in the Television repair industry and my company is pretty close to closing due to how cheap TV's are nowadays. For those out of warranty, it's better to buy a new TV rather than have your old one repaired. Bummer! :-<

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The next generation of TVs are the 4K sets. 4 times the resolution of 1080P. Just don't expect a lot of media for them for a few years. But by the time they become mainstream in 5-7 years, they will probably have 16k developed. But once they become popular, the prices of 1080p will be like 720p is today.

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@dealseekerdude: Unless you know how to repair it yourself. I bet 70% of repairs are due to a bad $10 capacitor that you can see has physically blown. Unfortunately, the TV repair guy wants to charge $200 - $300 to replace it.

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@dealseekerdude: You saw this coming, right? It wasn't an overnight thing (proliferation of cheap tvs)... Do you have something else lined up?

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@dealseekerdude: Mind if I ask you a work related question? I have a 65" DLP tv. It seems to be a bit dimmer than it used to be. Is this an easy (aka inexpensive) fix or something that will continue to degrade and eventually render the set useless. I've already gotten about 7-8 years of heavy use of this set, so I have definitely gotten my money's worth from it. Just wondering if it's worth fixing since, as you pointed out, I can replace it for about half of what I paid for it.. I don't care for LEDs, they seem flat to me.

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I think a similar but good question regarding the future of TV is the change in viewing experience. Electronic music formats lack the fidelity of records or reel-to-reel recordings, yet those media have gone the way of the dinosaur. Digital photos lack the versatility and data volume of 35mm photos, yet film cameras are headed the same way. To me, tube TVs produced a richer image with greater depth of field and color contrast than the modern TVs, with only plasma approaching the color saturation. But tube TVs are gone, and plasma are having trouble competing with LCD. Are we sacrificing the richer viewing experience for an enormous flat TV we can hang on a wall?

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I think the floor's the limit, basically. As more and more TVs have built-in app interfaces, it wouldn't be out of the question for future TVs to be free with contract much the way cel phones are today. Not necessarily a bad deal either: free TV, agree to at least 2 years on a bundle of streaming apps (Netflix/Hulu/whatever) costing, say, $50 monthly, and any additional apps or in-app purchases are pure gravy for manufacturers. Still cheaper than cable was. Everybody wins, except cable companies, and good riddance.

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As for how big/small TV sets will physically get, I don't think that will ever significantly change from what we have now. Most people wouldn't tolerate watching anything long like a TV show or movie on anything smaller than an iphone screen. In the 2000s there were several attempts at tiny-screen entertainment, such as Game Boy Advance video cartridges and the JuiceBox player, and they all flopped. The technology is there, but nobody wants it.

TVs are also as big as they'll ever get for home viewing too. I have a relatively inexpensive projection TV that quite nicely projects onto a decent-sized section of white wall, which is as large as indoor viewing gets without major home redesigns. I'm told the same projectors can still get a decent image on even larger surfaces outdoors, for turning a white barn into a giant screen at parties. So unless the houses of the future include 4-storey IMAX viewing atriums, I think we've quite literally hit the ceiling of how big TVs can get.

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The biggest problem repairmen face is the handyman who wants to ask" just one question" so that they can bypass the repairman and thus put him out of business.

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What I really see is the whole entertainment and home communication system merging. Right now I have a TV, Blu-Ray surround sound entertainment system, Wii, and desktop computer hooked together, but there's about a 50% overlap in functionality among these devices. I think in the not too distant future we are going to be seeing a TV with excellent surround sound speakers that can surf the internet, stream video, play media from disc or via USB, play a wide variety of game discs, make audio calls and allow video calling through Skype or similar services.

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@videowallart: But, ethically, a repairman shouldn't charge for simple fixes that could have been done at home.

To put it in another context, if I call my doctor and say I have a paper cut, they'll probably tell me to put a band-aid and maybe Neosporin on it, and wouldn't require an office visit for something that can be easily done at home. An ethical doctor wouldn't recommend an expenive, painful battery of tests on the paper cut, followed by amputation and a bionic replacement arm. Oh, and a few years of physical therapy.

That's one of the reasons people avoid repairing stuff unless they absolutely have to: the fear of being tricked into paying for something they could have easily done at home.

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@cengland0: Very true! Most of my warranty work recently have been just for capacitor replacements on older Samsung TV's. The out-of-warranty repairs I was mentioning were for Main Board replacements which are around $400 or more.

P.S.- I'm home writing this reply now since I went in to work and had ZERO service calls!! Guess I'll start searching the 'Help Wanted" ads! :-<

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@justagigilo85: Yep, it's been a slow and steady decline. My shop used to have 5 techs and there are only 2 of us now! Most days (like today) there isn't enough for both of us to stay busy. As I just replied to another poster, I'm home early today since I didn't have any service calls. There was also no work in the shop from "carry-in" customers either. Been thinking of getting back into Radio Broadcasting again. Had a stint back in the 80's but it didn't pay very well then. Probably hasn't changed much since.

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@moondrake: You're looking at one of the most common and easy fixes for the DLP TV's; you simply need a new lamp! They are real easy to change and my shop sells them for $130 but I've seen them listed on-line for $80 and up. If you've gotten almost 8 years on the original lamp you've done well! Most only last 2 to 3 years, on average. The dim picture is a tell-tale sign of a failing lamp. The TV will sometimes turn off and on by itself too. Good Luck!

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@dealseekerdude: Sorry to hear about you needing a new job.

The nature today is that we are in a throw away economy. I cannot remember the last time I got a piece of electronic equipment fixed. I just throw it away and buy another one. I've been known to buy cheap Harbor Freight tools that I expect to use only one or two times because they are cheap and I can throw them away 10 times before it adds up to the price of a Snap On tool.

Mechanical and "durable goods" are different. I've had to get my car fixed, lawn mower, A/C unit, microwave, and stove. Lucky for me, everything was still under warranty except for the A/C unit. In Florida, it's a constant struggle keeping A/C units running.

There's an idea. Go into the A/C repair business. People call you all day and night with emergencies. You can go without a TV for a month but how long can you go without your Air Conditioner?

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@cengland0: Thanks for the suggestion. May have to check into it. P.S. - Love Harbor Freight as well. Get most of my tools there. Low prices, not the best quality, but hey, they get the job done!

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@starblind: No. Just no. You're paying for their expertise. A doctor may want to avoid seeing you for a papercut, but they get regular visits and will possibly give that advice for free.

If you ask a question you don't know the answer to, then you are getting expert advice - and that's worth paying for. Even if you could Google it, you didn't - or you didn't implicitly trust whatever you found on the Internet.

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@moondrake: I'm not sure how a digital recording lacks the fidelity of reel-to-reel or vinyl. Sure, I can see that for overcompressed MP3's. But not for studio equipment capable of recording at 192KHz in a 48-bit dynamic range. Just because consumers have accepted low-quality media is not a limitation of the abilities of digital. For some reason, we're stuck in the same bit depth and sample rate as CD media, despite our computers being able to do better - and that's secondary to the compression problem, though most vendors offer at least a reasonable bitrate now.

Digital photography has only caught up with and exceeded film in the higher end cameras. But it's much more flexible. Even if you only get 15 megapixels with digital, you get it without much grain.

(continued..)

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(continued...)

As far as tube TV's that came out of the factory with exaggerated contrast and saturation settings, that's due to the limitations of the original NTSC color signals - which is just a simple piggyback signal on top of a B&W carrier signal. New TV's have finer-grained control and do not blast the color to extreme settings and ATSC broadcast or HDMI can do better than NTSC. The shame is that most people don't properly calibrate their TV's when they get it home and keep the TV in what is essentially store demo mode that values only picture brightness and high contrast. Proper film viewing requires the brightness to be turned way down as well as color saturation and contrast. It will look more like film projected in a movie theater - not like a TV from the 70's. Skin looks like real skin and so on.

Depth of field refers to which parts of the picture are in-focus - that's an artistic choice made at the time of filming. I'm not sure what you're meaning by this term.

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@dealseekerdude: If you can fix things and like working with your hands, I can't imagine it would be TOO difficult to find work (I'm thinking along the lines of heavy machinery). I'm sure the jobs are out there but if any are available... well, that's another story. Regardless, I wish you lots of luck in the future.

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@dealseekerdude: Thanks so much! Yes, it does occasionally turn itself off and on, I had no idea it could be the lamp. The TV gets used about 70+ hours a week and I live in a very hot climate (it was 104 here yesterday) and when it's humid like it's been (24% yesterday which is astronomical for us) the swamp cooler has trouble keeping the house below 85. So I have to give this TV set points for having slogged along all these years.

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@moondrake: Once you see a 4k screen, you realize that we are indeed recapturing that depth of field and color saturation. It's beautiful. (No, we didn't buy one, just played with the display at Fry's)

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@moondrake: As for your DLP, I think some of the older ones used a light bulb which gets dimmer with age. At least that was true with many of the DLP projectors. I don't know what the cost is for the bulb, but my guess would be around $100-200 (very specialized bulb).

It's a shame that LED TV's are the new normal, because I don't think most makers are using good enough phosphor coatings - the LED's still look too blue. I am staying with the standard CCFL-lighted LCD TV's for now.

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@omnichad: I have a serious lack of depth perception (shocks the optometrist every time) so I am sure it contributes, but to me the images on LCD screen images have no depth at all. Plasma and DLP are okay. When I bought the DLP, plasmas were still about 5x as much for the same screen size. But they have really come down a lot, so I will consider one for my next tv. But if all it will take is a +/-$100 bulb to extend the life of my DLP I will go for it.

@thumperchick: My buddy loves to moon over the big tvs at Best Buy, Sams and Costco. Standing there looking at them side by side is what really brought home the difference to me between the flatness of the LCDs and the greater depth and richness of the plasma images. I think I recall reading that a lot of that is attributable to LCDs having trouble generating a true black, but I don't know if that is still the case. I just know my eyes don't find the LCD picture pleasing or convincing.

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Yes, I am not just imagining it, see these two sections on this page:
http://www.diffen.com/difference/LCD_TV_vs_Plasma_TV
Deeper Blacks in Plasma TVs
Color in Plasma vs. LCD screens

Also:
http://plasmatvbuyingguide.com/plasmatvreviews/plasma-vs-lcd-picture-quality.html

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@moondrake: There shouldn't be any depth to a 2D television. Depth of field that you mentioned earlier refers to how in-focus objects are at different distances when shot. "Deeper blacks' just means darker - which is a problem with LCD and not plasma as you correctly stated. That's nothing to do with depth perception, which relates to being able to judge distance - in part by binocular vision. To refer to deeper blacks, you would use the term "black level" - I apologize for joining the confusion on the use of the word depth.

Today's LED TV's mostly eliminate the problem with light grey blacks (newer ones can do localized dimming), but many still suffer from a blue color cast. LED TV's are actually backlit with solid blue LED's that are coated with phosphors that emit yellowish light - and try to end up mixing to a pure white. It's hard to tell which ones do a good job of any of this in the store, because they're all calibrated for brightness.

Just wait until OLED is cheap!