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Consumer Reports finds LCD & plasma TVs as reliable as tube TVs

Posted Thursday, November 2, 2006

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“Annual Electronics Issue” includes Ratings and Buying Advice on LCD & Plasma TVs, iPods’ Weak Spot, Digital Cameras, Digital Video Recorders, and More

Yonkers, NY — No electronic items will be hotter this holiday season than LCD and plasma TVs, thanks in large part to prices that are half what they were two years ago. And reliability data from Consumer Reports indicates that during the first year or two of use, LCD and plasma TVs have been just as reliable overall as picture-tube TVs, which historically require very few repairs.

Consumer Reports latest product reliability survey shows no repair issues during the first year or two of use for LCD TVs from JVC, Panasonic, Samsung, Sanyo, Sharp, Sony, and Toshiba. Dell LCD sets have had higher than average repairs. In plasma, there have been no repair issues for Fujitsu, Hitachi, Panasonic, Pioneer, Sony, or Toshiba. The repair rate for Philips and Vizio plasma sets has been higher than average. Long-term reliability for flat-panel sets is not known, and cannot be estimated, at this time.

Consumer Reports testing shows that LCD and plasma technology have made strides over the past year or so, addressing weaknesses that detracted from picture quality. LCD TVs have had difficulty producing true black and natural-looking motion with no blurring. They’ve also had a narrower viewing angle than plasma sets. The best new LCD models have improved in those areas, contributing to high scores in Consumer Reports’ latest tests. The best plasma TVs have added features to minimize distracting reflections and screen burn-in, two issues for plasma technology.

“With more and better TVs now available from an ever-growing list of brands, it’s a great time to purchase a new high definition LCD or plasma set,” according to Paul Reynolds, electronics editor, Consumer Reports. “Yet, it’s also challenging, because the choices in TVs and technologies are so varied and fast-changing. The ‘Annual Electronics Issue’ is a comprehensive guide for the millions of consumers who will take the flat-panel plunge over the next few months.”

To access the complete report on LCD and plasma TVs, and the full reports from the November “Annual Electronics Issue” consumers can visit

Consumer Reports National Research Center conducted a survey of 3,000 Consumer Reports subscribers who own iPods and other players and found that overall, iPods have been as reliable as the other brands combined, but that the battery life per charge has been a weak spot for iPods. About twenty percent of iPod owners characterized their player’s battery life as excellent, compared with 30 percent for the other brands. This echoes CR tests, in which iPods often score somewhat below their best competitors in battery life.

CR testing can’t cover the effects of aging on batteries but in the survey, about 29 percent of those who owned hard-drive iPods that were one or more years old reported that battery life was much shorter now than when their player was new. Just 15 percent of the non-iPod group reported having that problem.

Consumer ReportsAnnual Electronics Issue” includes buying advice, Ratings, and First Looks of more than 70 digital cameras ranging from the subcompact to the digital SLR. The latest crop of digital cameras crowd more capabilities into smaller, lighter, more stylish models. Consumers will find special twists such as water resistance, large-type icons for the eyesight challenged, and – in one case – even a slimming feature that claims to take 10 pounds off the subject’s image.

Overall, digital cameras have been among the most reliable products in Consumer Reports’ subscriber surveys. Fewer than 10 percent of those purchased between 2003 and 2006 had ever been repaired or had a serious problem. But CR points out that there have been small differences in reliability between point-and-shoot cameras and same-brand SLRs.

The densely detailed images from high-definition video continue to spread on TV, but options to record those programs in HD remain very limited. Consumer Reports notes that some hard-drive recorders can handle high def and consumers will probably rent or lease them rather than buy. Most cable and satellite companies offer boxes that include HD digital video recorders, and TiVo’s first HD model should be out now.

Even though DVD recorders are still limited to standard definition, consumers may consider one to record regular TV programming on disc rather than VCR tape. But CR notes that in 2009 when all TV broadcasts are scheduled to go digital, today’s recorders might have limited functionality because they only have analog tuners. Starting in March 2007, all video recorders in stores must include an Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) digital tuner or no tuner at all. The “Annual Electronics Issue” includes advice to help consumers get through these confusing times and Ratings for DVD recorders.

Related info:
Consumer Reports
e-mail E-mail this page
print Printer-friendly page
Consumer Reports finds LCD & plasma TVs as reliable as tube TVs
During the first year or two of use, LCD and plasma TVs have been just as reliable overall as picture-tube TVs

Related info:
Consumer Reports
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