I bought and/or used quite some new gear the last couple of months and I’ve been meaning to write about my experiences and never got around to actually start. Because I like reading other people’s reviews before I buy anything, I’ll start writing my own now! Let’s start with the biggest one:

Why I ‘needed’ a new TV

When digital TVs came out, the price for full HD (1080 lines instead of 720) was very high. I remember seeing all those 2000€+ beasts and it just didn’t make sense to switch yet, also there was almost no source of Full HD video. Blueray was launched around 2008 and seemed more like a ploy to make you buy all your old films again in a slightly better format. However, the prices of Full HD has dropped a lot, and I had more and more devices at home that had HDMI outputs and 1080p output that I could not show in full glory. So I started shopping around beginning of this year.

I knew I wanted an A-brand, which boiled down to Sony, Samsung, Panasonic, Philips, LG or Toshiba. Shopping for digital TV is exhausting. Each brand  seems to have 150 different models which are sometimes hard to tell apart. I know I was thinking during the shopping: I wish Apple made TV screens: they would have a 32, a 44 and a 56″ model: just pick one. I wish I was able to say that I made a huge spreadsheet with all models, features and prices, created a N-variable price model and chose based on that, but honestly, I just picked one that looked nice in the shop (Vandenborre) and seemed like a good bargain. So I now have the Panasonic 42″ Viera TV. Vandenborre offered to come bring and install it, but I opted for picking it up in the shop.

My new TV

In fact, the experience with the TV has been a sequence of pleasant surprises. Most importantly, the image quality is impeccable, visible from all angles, sharp and light. But it’s when I discovered the ‘Viera Tools’ button that the surprises started. I can watch Youtube on the big screen (one of the applications in the Viera Connect menu). For long videos like Bernstein explaining music theory, it’s more convenient. The TV can also do slide shows or play movies from an SD card or USB stick.

But the function I use most of all: the TV connects to my NAS (storage server) to show me all the music, photos and movies. (Technical: DLNA connection, to an 8 TB Synology). The TV reads most video formats (AVI, Quicktime, MKV, MP4, although I sometimes have problems with XVID) and now allows me to watch any movie or TV series straight on the TV. I no longer have a DVD player linked to the TV, all my DVDs are ripped on my desktop PC to .M4V (with Handbrake, in 720p ‘Apple TV’ format) and I view them from my sofa.