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NEWS & FEATURES

 

Seven Signs That You Are Being Lied To

LINDA PRESTON

Would you know if someone was lying to you? Most of us like to think we would but every once in awhile we have to admit to ourselves that someone has pulled the wool over our eyes.

Private US Group Plans Mars Fly-by
in 2018

Plans are underway for the first manned mission to Mars -- just five years from now. The privately financed fly-by in 2018 would take a man and a woman -- both Americans -- on a modified existing U.S. spacecraft to within 160 kilometers of the surface of the Red Planet, and return them safely to Earth.

Spanish Is Not Only a Language ...

Spanish is not only a language, it is the heart of a culture, religion and history, and a communication tool shared by nearly 500 million people in 21 countries.

Mahjong Mysteries - Ancient Athena on Nintendo 3DS™ eShop Released

cerasus.media launched Mahjong Mysteries – Ancient Athena on Nintendo’s eShop service. Accompany the famous adventurer David on his most mysterious mission yet - the one that will change everything!

AC/DC Now on iTunes

Complete Catalog Available Digitally for the First Time; All Tracks Mastered for iTunes

Columbia Records and Apple® announced that AC/DC’s entire catalog is now available digitally for the first time exclusively on the iTunes Store® worldwide (www.itunes.com). From their 1976 debut High Voltage to seminal classic Back In Black and 2008 smash hit Black Ice, every one of AC/DC’s 16 studio albums, along with four live albums and three compilation albums, are available for the first time ever on the iTunes Store.

TV and the Internet: A Marriage
Made in Entertainment Heaven

If you have bought a new television lately, the chances are it is a lot smarter than your old one. Smart TVs, also known as connected or hybrid televisions, featuring integrated internet connectivity, currently account for around a third of TV sales in Europe. They are the end point in a huge and rapidly expanding value chain driven by the intensifying convergence of television and the internet.

 



Consumer Reports' Latest Tests of
HDTVs Show Quality Up, Prices Down

There’s no need to wait any longer to buy an HDTV. That’s the advice from Consumer Reports. Tests of 101 plasma, LCD, and rear-projection TVs for the March issue yielded more sets with top scores for picture quality than in years past. CR also reveals that prices are down as much as 40 percent on some TVs, so consumers continue to get more bang for their buck.

How to Choose & What to Buy

Consumer Reports notes that there are three major considerations when buying an HDTV: the type – LCD, plasma or rear-projection, the size of the screen, and whether it’s worth paying a premium to step up from 720p to 1080p resolution. CR recommends considering a 1080p model first, especially if price is not an issue.

But CR strongly advises that shoppers shouldn’t automatically rule out a 720p set. Not all 1080p sets were superior in CR’s tests, especially when selecting a smaller screen-size. CR found that on a 42-inch screen, the advantages of 1080p resolution aren’t as apparent as on sets 50 inches or larger. Some of CR’s top-rated TVs are 720p models. For example, the 40-inch Samsung [LN-T4053H], a $1,500 LCD set, was the top-rated model in its category. It has 720p resolution, sufficient for its screen size, and had deeper blacks than many LCD sets. Consumers interested in a 720p plasma set should consider the 42-inch Panasonic [TH-42PX77U], $1,300, a CR Best Buy for its combination of top picture quality and price.

CR also has several recommendations for shoppers looking for a larger screen. The top-rated 58-inch Panasonic [TH-58PZ750U], for example is a $5,000 1080p plasma model that has excellent picture quality, rich, vibrant colors, and deep blacks. Two 50-inch 1080p plasma sets from Panasonic, are among CR’s Quick Picks. Other highly-rated 50-inch plasmas include sets from LG and Pioneer.

Among LCD sets, CR recommends models by Sony [Bravia KDL-52XBR4], $4,000, Sharp [Aquos LC-52D64U], $3,000, and Samsung [LN-T5281F], $4,500. All of these 52-inch 1080p models did well for picture quality, brightness, image detail, and color accuracy. Other recommended sets include 46-inch models by Sony, Samsung, and Mitsubishi. The 46-inch 720p Sony [Bravia KDL-46S3000], $1,900, a CR Best Buy, did very well for picture quality. However, its 1080p sibling, the Sony [Bravia KDL-46W3000], $2,500, had finer detail.

If price, rather than screen-size is the priority, CR has quite a few recommendations. For under $1,000, consumers can get very good picture quality from the 37-inch 720p LCD Olevia 537H, $800 or the Insignia [NS-LCD37], $750. The 32-inch 720p LCD Vizio [VW32LHDT], $600, had comparable performance at a lower price. The best 32-inch 720p LCD sets came from Sony, Panasonic, and Samsung, all cost more than $1000.

The report also includes ratings of 14 rear-projection models. However, CR notes that a growing number of manufacturers – including Sony, Toshiba, Hitachi, and Philips – have exited the category and have stopped making rear-projection TVs.

What it costs to run a big screen TV

One new feature in the latest HDTV report is energy consumption. CR’s engineers determined the amount of energy used by typical LCD, plasma, and rear-projection TVs turned on for 8 hours a day, 365 days a year. Most sets didn’t use significantly more energy than a 32- to 36-inch picture tube TV. One exception was 50-inch 1080p plasmas, which used twice-as-much energy as the biggest picture-tube set, and more than a comparably-sized LCD. Not surprisingly, bigger screens of all types consume more electricity than smaller ones.

TV Reliability & Extended Warranties

According to Consumer Reports’ most recent product reliability surveys, repair rates for LCD and plasma TV sets have been very low, an average of three percent overall, especially during the first three years of use – the time covered by many warranties. In the small number of cases where a set did need servicing, most repairs reported by respondents were free, presumably because they were covered by the manufacturer’s standard warranty. The few respondents who paid for repairs spent an average of $264 to fix a flat-panel LCD, $395 for a plasma, and $300 for rear-projection sets.

The latest issue of Consumer Reports includes advice on how to handle repairs in warranty and out-of-warranty. CR also advises whether to repair or replace a TV depending on its type and age.

Consumer Reports’ latest product reliability survey data also reinforces its long-standing advice to skip the extended warranty. Rear-projection TVs have been more repair-prone, but even for these sets, an extended warranty usually won’t pay off. And, consumers may be able to get longer manufacturers’ warranty coverage on their set without paying for it. Some premium credit cards add up to a year on the manufacturer’s warranty at no cost if the TV is bought with their card. Also, Costco offers a free two-year warranty on sets purchased in its warehouse or on its Web site.

The full 15-page HDTV report is part of the March 2008 issue of Consumer Reports, available wherever magazines are sold. It contains Ratings of 101 HDTVs, buying advice, what it costs to run a big-screen TV, and how to get the most from HDTV. Portions of the story are available for free online at www.ConsumerReports.org.

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