Seiki SE32HY10 32-Inch 720p 60Hz LED HDTV (Black) Product 2014 US

Seiki SE32HY10 32-Inch 720p 60Hz LED HDTV (Black)

Seiki SE32HY10 32-Inch 720p 60Hz LED HDTV (Black)


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CUSTOMER REVIEW
review
Where to begin…where to begin? Well, I won’t bore the readers with a story; but here’s a little background info about this TV.

This Black Friday, I had a choice between standing in line at Walmart and waiting for a 98 dollar Funai or being smarter and getting a 98 dollar Seiki TV on Amazon. The reason why I went with Seiki is because I have yet to run across a review for a Funai TV; and secondly, I’ve actually seen the Funai in action via a family member that got one. While the Funai wasn’t bad, it certainly lacked some of the connections and presented a less crisp image. Anyway, onto the review-

TV build/Accessories-

This Seiki 32 inch TV comes with a remote, 2 batteries, a stand that you’ll have to screw on with a Phillips head screwdriver (which is standard), an instruction manual and a one or two page colored diagram that shows all the TV’s features and connections. It could’ve come with an HDMI cable, but being that I own about 5 of them, it’s no big deal. However, in the accessories department, an HDMI cable included would be the only thing that’s missing to make the deal a little sweeter.
The TV’s build is a bit on the light side. In fact, the TV is extremely light and can be picked up by anyone.
The stand is just alright; but I’ll get into that part later.

Score- 9/10

Connections-

This TV’s connections includes 3 HDMI ports, a USB port, a Component port, VGA port, Composite/AV port, 3.5 mm audio cable (this can be used for headphones/earphones/speakers/and supporting soundbars), A Coaxial cable In port (also for soundbars) and finally, an RF cable out which would be used for antennae support.
So as you can see, the Seiki gives you a lot of options for connections, however, I only wished this TV had stereo AV in ports for AV stereo AUX support with soundbars. If you have an AUX out soundbar, you’ll need to get a two-way 3.5mm audio cable which are really cheap.

Score- 9/10

Image clarity/Options/Menu options-

Ok. Here’s the more important part of the review that I saved just before I list the cons of this product. The image clarity!!! This is important to me because I’m a gamer and light TV watcher, I also watch my Roku box and Youtube with apps such as Hulu Plus, Netflix, Crackle and PBS etc.

The image quality for this TV is really good. In fact, I own a Vizio, Samsung, LG and a Magnavox as well as the worst of my TV’s being a DYNEX (DO NOT BUY A DYNEX) and I’d have to say that the Seiki’s image clarity is on par and in some ways better than my Vizio, It’s somewhat on par with my LG (but I’ll give the LG a slight edge in crispness)…heck, even the Samsung’s quality is about on Par with it but I’d still give Samsung a slight, and I mean very slight edge. One of the problems I have with this Seiki TV is that the contrast and color are really, really good but can be a bit overbearing to the eye. In fact, how I tuned this TV was by turning the contrast and color down a load and fiddling around with the Dynamic Luminance. Here’s a tip if you end up buying this TV and want a high contrast setting. Simply turn down the color and blast the contrast. In any event, it has a bright, colorful and crisp image.
Initially, I was afraid that the SEIKI wouldn’t hold up; but the quality is impressive, especially considering it’s price and the size of the set.

The menu options include Picture settings, Audio settings, Time settings, Parental Lock and a channel set up. Within these options you’ll be able to fine tune the TV’s color, color temperature, Noise reduction for image clarity, enhance the sound with PCM or RAW sound output with supported surround sound and equalizer settings between bass, balance and treble. It also supports French, Spanish and English audio. There’s also a built in NTSC/AIR antennae tuner, a QAM tuner, and a cable tuner with IRC and other options.
The channel scan is relatively fast and lasts about 4 minutes. Yes, it does pick up DTV channels and local channels, all you need is a cheap antennae or some rabbit ears. Perhaps even a piece of wire would work as well. Currently, I have a normal antennae plugged into the RF port and it found over 40 local channels in 4 minutes. I didn’t bother adjusting the antennae since I really don’t watch much TV except for news, some movies (which I watch on Roku anyhow) and perhaps some sports games. Overall, it has a load of options, but it is missing some features that I would’ve liked. It also does have an LED backlight and luminance option.

Score- 9/10

Gaming/Xbox 360/Xbox One/PS3/Wii/PS2/etc-

Being that I game a bit, here’s the rundown with gaming.
This TV does support 1080p resolution. On the Xbox 360 and Xbox One, it’s pretty good. However, with consoles like the Wii, I’ll have to tune the color a little and turn it almost all the way down because the color’s really strong. I’ve tested it with PS3 and PS2. With PS2 I noticed that gaming does look a bit better especially if you have component cables (blue, green, red, white, red)and honestly, the PS3 games look amazing on it, especially at 1080p.
At first I assumed since this is a 720p set, it would only upscale, but the games are actually in 1080p at 60hz, so playing games like Killzone, Call of Duty, Battlefield, Gears of War, Mario etc look really nice. The image is really crisp. With some games I’ll change the video output to 720p or 1080i being that 1080p tends to pixellate some games horribly.
The response time is good. I tested this online with Battlefield Bad Company 2 conquest mode and I haven’t noticed any lag, again, the image is crisp, although to be honest, I may prefer the color of my Magnavox because it isn’t so strong…once I tune the color or simply put it on a setting, it’s just fine.

Cons-

The biggest con thus far with this TV is THE STAND. Let me clarify, the stand is supposed to be screwed in, which I did, however, it’s slightly wobbly. Not to the point that if you bumped the TV it would wobble, but the stand’s built awkward and the TV has a minor lean. Despite the minor lean, the viewing angle is excellent, so I haven’t had any problems but it’s still worth noting.

The second con would be that the Tint option is grayed out for some reason. I’m not sure if it’s grayed out because the tint adjusts based on the color temperature or if it just doesn’t have a tint adjusting option, but in any event, it’s just a gray option that I haven’t been able to fiddle with.

Finally, there’s the audio. Yes, you get many options, but the sound is not good at all. It’s just passable. But in comparison to my Vizio (which has excellent sound), LG and even my Magnavox, the sound is bad. It either sounds really tinny or just cheap. I found that adjusting the bass and boosting the treble really high helped a bit, but overall, it still sounds terrible, especially during some commercials or when listening to music. Do yourself a favor and get some speakers or a soundbar. I highly recommend soundbars by Haier or RCA.

Overall-

I highly recommend this TV for anyone on a budget who’d like a quality TV with a crisp image. While certain cons such as this TV having one of the worst screw-in stands, a lack of tint customization and the TV’s audio which sounds really cheap even when tuned nay bug some, the overall image clarity and the viewing angle of this TV is fantastic. It has really vivid colors and again, produces a crisp image. It’s not bad to view TV on or watch Roku/Apple/apps, it’s great for gaming and it’s lightweight. This was a steal for Black Friday, but I could see myself buying this tv full price. The only reason I give it 4 stars is because of the stand and the audio. If it were possible, I’d give it a 4.5/5 but Amazon doesn’t have half point increments.

Edit (December 8th, 2013)

I also neglected to mention the following features of this Seiki TV. This TV features a memory store for color/audio and picture settings on each source chosen. In other words, If I picked HDMI 1 and set the color, then chose TV and set the color, then chose HDMI 2 or component or AV, it will memorize all color settings for each source chosen.

I have finally resolved the “Tint” issue with this TV and it’s a little weird. First, you’ll have to go to factory settings by pressing “Menu” and then hitting “0” four times. (then look for “Others” then select “Color Temp” and adjust IF YOU WANT TO. To exit this mode, simply press exit or menu twice. I am not telling anyone to go to the factory menu) Keep in mind that when entering this menu, you DO NOT WANT TO MESS WITH ANY SETTING THAT YOU’RE NOT FAMILIAR WITH. (I accidentally enabled “Burning mode” and got a screen full of colors until I held down the power button on the TV for 10-20 seconds and pressed it again to get it off)
Anyway, from the factory menu, there are settings to add “Green” “Red” and “Blue” or to “offset” Green, Red and Blue, and what I did was slowly add small amounts of Green and red to even out the tint.
The downside to doing this is that it will save it to one of the color picture presets and you’ll have to keep the preset in mind. I personally used this for the “Cool” temperature setting in picture settings just to knock the reds back a tad. (But again, that’s just me)
The good part about the factory menu is, there’s also settings for the “Backlight” which I’ve put all the way up to 100. There are settings to enable QAM as well. But I just wanted to speak on the QAM being enabled through the factory menu a second because I saw other recent reviews that are a little misleading. If you enable QAM, indeed, you’ll get a few more channels, but don’t expect every cable channel possible. For the antennae channel scan, at best you may get 10 or more extra channels. (at the moment, my tuner found 58 channels via antenna with QAM enabled, whereas, before, it found about 40 or so channels. It’s a difference, but it’s not a huge difference)
Also, there is an option available to scan cable channels, which I’m assuming works, but you’ll have to give Seiki an e-mail (which is provided if you call their customer service line. In fact, it’s an automated message and it’s literally the first thing they talk about before connecting a call), I got my code via e-mail in about a minute flat. (It seems to be an automated e-mail anyway)

I also resolved the TV stand issue by simply and carefully tightening the stand screws, and it wobbles a lot less.
Anyway, I still stand by my review. This TV has been great.

VIZIO E420i-B0 42-Inch 1080p 120Hz Smart LED HDTV Product 2014 US

VIZIO E420i-B0 42-Inch 1080p 120Hz Smart LED HDTV

VIZIO E420i-B0 42-Inch 1080p 120Hz Smart LED HDTV


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CUSTOMER REVIEW
review
I bought this vizio tv after thoroughly looking online for the best picture for my limited budget. After seeing the difference in person between a standard led tv and this full array led tv, I was sold. Gaming on this tv looks amazingly smooth, bright, and crystal clear. Didn’t need to adjust any of the picture settings either, the gaming setting gives me a picture quality that I feel is more than sufficient. The only gripe I have against this tv is that the stand is flimsier than older vizio models that I’ve seen and when I turn the tv (which I do frequently) I’m afraid that it’s eventually going to wear out and break. If you’re looking for a great quality picture without spending a lot of money, I highly recommend this tv.

UPDATE:
I’ve had the tv for almost a month now and I’m still just as happy with it as I was the first day I got it. There is a light indicator on the tv to let you know that the tv is on, it’s disabled by default but I enabled it in the TVs settings. As far as gaming lag goes, I’ve had the picture set to gaming mode and haven’t noticed any at all. I’ve been playing call of duty ghost on the ps4 on this tv a lot, and it’s performed beyond my expectations. Also I read a review that states that the smart feature is slow to start up this is both true and false. The tv doesn’t maintain a constant connection to the internet, when you turn the tv off, the internet connection is off. I’ve noticed that if I try accessing one of the apps such as netflix immediately after I turned the tv on, it takes a while for it to connect. If I turn the tv on, wait a few seconds for it to connect to my router and then try accessing netflix, the app starts very quickly.

Sling Media Slingbox 350

Sling Media Slingbox 350

Sling Media Slingbox 350


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CUSTOMER REVIEW
review
I have been using this for several months. I got an email from Sling asking me to write a review to post on their web site. Here is the review I posted:

"Not as great as I expected. I bought my first slingbox (the solo) about 10 years ago. It was such a great device then, and continues to be a great device today. I bought the 350 in order to step up to a higher quality picture. What I ended up with was a marginally improved picture, with an absolutely terrible web interface player. It’s always been pretty bad, but now with the 350 I can no longer use the desktop software. It was so much better than the web based plugin, plus it seems as if I have to update the plugin every time I use it, which just takes forever. The Chrome plugin is buggy, and doesn’t work well within a multi-monitor setup. When you make it full screen, you can’t see your mouse cursor on the other monitor. I reported this bug months ago and Sling has yet to fix the issue. What also drives me nuts is that on the iPad player, when I’m at home, it absolutely never automatically selects the right quality. I always have to manually select it even though it’s on auto mode. The player also seems to auto change the aspect of the video signal both on the web and iPad. If you compare the picture to what’s on the actual TV, some pictures are perfect, and others you can tell are squished or stretched. Would I recommend this device? Yeah, especially at the price. It’s just not as good as I expected."

A couple days later I got an email from Sling saying: “Your review has been moderated. It cannot be published to the web site, but… Our staff has read your review and values your contribution even though it did not meet all our website guidelines. Thanks for sharing, and we hope to publish next time!”

It didn’t meet their guidelines because it’s not a hugely positive review. Sling Media is attempting to make their product look better on their site than it actually is. They will obviously only publish 5 star glowing reviews. So now, I’m posting terrible reviews on every web site I can.

Thanks for being a great company, Sling. Thanks for contacting me and asking what you could do to make my experience better. Thanks for taking the time to actually fix the problems that exist in your product. Oh wait… you didn’t do any of those things.

Roku 3500R Streaming Stick (HDMI) (2014)

Roku 3500R Streaming Stick (HDMI) (2014)

Roku 3500R Streaming Stick (HDMI) (2014)


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CUSTOMER REVIEW
review
These are my thoughts after just starting with the Stick so my review may not be as thorough and complete as I would like it to be but I will keep updating it over the next couple of days. However, I don’t believe I’ve missed a lot because, as a current Roku 3 and Roku LT and Google Chromecast user, this is an easy to write review.

BROAD ASSESSMENT

There are several Roku models out there and then there’s Chromecast so one good question that needs to be answered is “why a Roku Stick and not a Roku 3?” or “why a Roku and not a Chromecast?” or “why not a Chromecast rather than a Roku?” As an owner and user of Roku LT, Roku 3 and now a Roku Stick and also a Chromecast, I will try to briefly provide some answers below but, first, let me state what the Stick is about and what it can and can’t do.

[Roku Stick vs. Roku 3]

The Stick does very much everything a Roku 3 does, except that there are no games on it and it doesn’t come with headphones. I confess that I never cared about playing games on the Roku because just about anything from a cheap phone to a gaming console beats the Roku gaming experience and I don’t care about the headphone attachment either so not having these and paying less for your Roku is a good compromise but anyone who wants Roku games and a mono earbud should order a Roku 3.

The Stick lets you access the same enormous amount of channels as the other Roku devices, mostly VOD (video on demand) but also live streams. Almost all the popular ‘pay’ channels (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Plus, HBO Go, MLB.TV , PBS, Showtime…) are there and hundreds of streams you never heard of but may end up watching every once in a while. The on-screen channel store breaks it all down into categories and you can easily browse Roku’s store on a computer or tablet and order your channels to your device. to choose from, including most popular ones. And if there’s something that you can’t find in the official store you can always check the private channel listings. When it comes to ‘content’ Roku 3 and the Stick should be almost indistinguishable.

The Stick can pair with Roku’s free mobile app to browse and select channels to stream and it should allow for cross-media searches so, for example, you can see where on the (major) channels/services a show or movie may be available and at what price.

The Stick features the same 1080p resolution as Roku 3 but browsing through menus appears to be slower than on the Roku 3, more like what you get out of a Roku 2 or a Roku LT. Wi-Fi is as good as on previous models, easy to set and so far stable.

And the, of course, the Stick costs only half as much as the Roku 3.

[Roku Stick vs. Chromecast]

As I stated, we have a couple of Rokus around the house and a Chromecast attached to the big TV in the living room. I still like the Chromecast, especially its ability to cast my Windows computer screen but after I temporarily replaced it with the Roku Stick I am inclined to keep it this way, at least for a while and this is why.

+ Remote control (Roku): Yes, controlling the Chromecast from a Chromebook or laptop or tablet or phone is fun but the remote is easier and I don’t need to mess with my other gadgets. Yes, it’s one additional remote and it’s not likely it can be easily integrated into a universal remote but it happens to be what I prefer.
+ Channels selection: this is were Roku’s strength lies overall and it’s ‘hundreds’ or ‘over a thousand’ for Roku vs. about a dozen (but growing) for Chromecast. Notably, Chromecast does not have an Amazon app and, given the Google/Amazon rivalry, it’s not likely to have one soon but Roku does.
= Screen casting works well with YouTube and Netflix and it’s the same quality as what you get out of the Chromecast. Both Roku and Chromecast are likey to add more apps.
- Casting off a browser is what may cause some to pick the Chromecast over a Roku. Yes, it only works with Chrome at this time (on Windows or a Chromebook) and the quality is very much affected by your computer’s CPU and your Wi-Fi network but it does give you a lot of flexibility, especially with live streams.
- Chromecast is less expensive.

MY EXPERIENCE

If you’ve never used a Roku before but decided that you wanted one the Stick is probably the best bet because it’s the least expensive Roku now unless you can get an LT on sale.

Installation was as easy as attaching the Stick into your TV’s HDMI port. Like the Chromecast, the Stick works with a power adapter that needs a wall outlet. Since I already had a Roku account, I used my existing credentials but for those who don’t it’s easy to create one but you will be asked for credit card info. Then… go to the channel store and order whatever you want from there. For pay services such as Netflix or Amazon you will have to go through additional steps involving separate authentication and access codes but it’s pretty self-explanatory and it’s only done once.

The streaming is exceptionally smooth. I first set the Stick on the second floor which is some 60-70 ft. and two floors away from our dual-band Wi-Fi router located in the basement. Worked perfectly.

Remote control operation is generally smooth and the interface is intuitive. I am very familiar with the Roku interface so this is no surprise for me but I found it intuitive even on ‘day one’ albeit I was using it with a different Roku model then.

So far, the Stick was as stable and reliable as our Roku 3. There were no crashes and I didn’t have to revisit my Wi-Fi setup after the initial installation. Will update once this changes.

The ‘universal search’ feature I like very much. You simply type in the name of a movie or show even an actor and you will see all your options on all channels and you will know in advance whether it’s going to be free or exactly how much it was going to cost. On the Roku 3 all information appears almost instantly.

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THE FAQ

I will try to keep this section as objective (factual) as possible. Some of the topics concern Roku in general, not specifically the Stick.

Q: Why would I want a Roku?
A: Roku has, by far, the largest number of ‘channels’ vs. any other competing product. If you like exploring content beyond the popular services (Netflix, Amazon, etc.) you should consider a Roku?

Q: Why would I want a Roku Stick?
A: The Stick is the least expensive Roku at this time. It’s also the smallest and therefore inherently portable.

Q: When I shouldn’t pick a Roku Stick over other Roku models?
A: The Stick is HDMI only, does not support games and does not come with the earbud attachment. It’s also somewhat slower when compared to Roku 3.

Q: Can I use a Roku Stick with a TV lacking an HDMI port?
A: No.

Q: What are the best screen resolution and audio supported?
A: 1080p, 7.1/5.1 surround sound.

Q: Is the Roku Stick energy efficient?
A: According to Roku, typical power consumption is 3.5W when streaming HD video.

Q: Is there an Ethernet (wired) port?
A: No. The Stick supports Wi-Fi connections only.

Q: Is everything included to make my Roku Stick work besides a TV and an Internet router?
A: Yes. You get the remote (batteries included), the AC wall adapter, the Get Started pamphlet.

Q: Do I need ‘line of sight’ to control the Stick?
A: No, it comes with an RF remote so you can operate it with the remote even if it’s sitting at the back of your TV.

Q: Can I stream off a PC?
A: Yes through a supported service such as Plex (I know there are others but Plex is the only one I’ve tried so far).

Q: Are the Roku channels free?
A: Many of them are but Roku also streams ‘premium’ channels for which you will require a separate subscription.

Q: What are private channels.
A: These are channels that, for whatever reason, are not listed by the channel store. You can easily make them ‘appear’ on your TV by picking them from one of the sites that lists such channels. See the first comment to this review for the URLs of such sites.

Q: How much it costs to use a Roku?
A: Once purchased, it could cost you nothing. Or you may subscribe to one or more premium services.

Q: Can I have more than one Roku tied to one account?
A: Yes.

Q: Can I search for a specific movie or show across all of Roku’s channel?
A: Yes. You can also search for other related information such as movies featuring one specific actor. Only keep in mind that the not all services may show up in searches but all major or popular ones usually do.

Q: Can I watch YouTube on the Roku?
A: Yes.

Q: Can I cast from a phone or tablet?
A: Yes for Netflix and Youtube at this time but more services should be added later.

Q: Can I get live news channels on the Roku?
A: Yes. You may be able to find such channels at the store or as private channels listings but most US ‘mainstream’ news channels only offer a selection of recent on-demand videos.

Q: Are non-video streams supported?
A: Yes, radio stations and music streaming channels such as Pandora are supported.

Cheetah Mounts ALAMLB Articulating Arm (20” Extension) TV Wall Mount Bracket for 23-55 inch LCD, LED and Plasma Flat Screen TVs up to VESA 400x400 and 66lbs, with full Ballhead Tilt, Swivel, and Rotation Motion, Including a Twisted Veins 10’ Braided High Speed with Ethernet HDMI Cable and a 6” 3-Axis Magnetic Bubble Level

Cheetah Mounts ALAMLB Articulating Arm (20” Extension) TV Wall Mount Bracket for 23-55 inch LCD, LED and Plasma Flat Screen TVs up to VESA 400x400 and 66lbs, with full Ballhead Tilt, Swivel, and Rotation Motion, Including a Twisted Veins 10’ Braided High Speed with Ethernet HDMI Cable and a 6” 3-Axis Magnetic Bubble Level

Cheetah Mounts ALAMLB Articulating Arm (20


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CUSTOMER REVIEW
review
We have installed (2) of these mounts. (1) on a 26” LCD and (1) on a 32” LCD. Both installations were easy, with the product meeting expectations. The second mount we installed was missing a couple of minor parts so I sent a quick e-mail to Cheetah mounts. An hour later, I had the 2nd day air tracking number for the remaining parts. While it was frustrating to be missing the parts, I was amazed by the quick response.

Apple TV MD199LL/A

Apple TV MD199LL/A

Apple TV MD199LL/A


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CUSTOMER REVIEW
review
I own both the new Apple TV (1080P/2012) model and the Roku2 XS. I found myself doing a side by side comparison of the two products and here are my findings.

AppleTV
Pros: Works out of the box, minimum effort to setup, really easy to use interface + wifi. Can Restream old purchased episodes. Netflix App much cleaner and more superb. Streaming and buffering causes no delays or degradation of picture. AirPlay makes up for a lot of the limited channels (with Mountain Lion the functionality goes up even more). iPad Remote easy to use
Cons: Limited Channels…needs an open API like Roku to build more channels

Roku2 XS
Pros: Many Channels available, Cheaper ($10), Free Movie Channels like Crackle, AmazonPrime availability, Vendor neutral. iPad Remote easy to use
Cons: Missing iTunes integration, Poor quality and buffering (constant downgrading the image quality on NBA League Pass and Netflix). User UI is just bland and could be cleaner. Bugs and issues. Most channels you have to pay extra for. Roku disconnects from my wifi network randomly whereas the AppleTV never does during side by side streaming. Setup takes longer and more tweaking needed by the user.

Summary:
While the Roku offers you many more channels the end user experience on the AppleTV makes it much more simple to utilize. If you have some form of Apple Eco System then the AppleTV is for you. If you hate Apple then the Roku is for you. Each product has their own advantages and disadvantages. For me in the end it was about the user experience and ease of using the player and the AppleTV edged out. It’s not to say I won’t be using my Roku but until there are some updates to fix some of the buffers and issues the AppleTV is by far the better product.

UPDATE: Completely Dropped my Roku in favor of Apple TV now. For some of the comments below I have a 30 Mbps down, 10 Mbps Up and being a network engineer and having quite an impressive armada of enterprise switches in the house I know it’s not the network but the Roku. It’s either the memory or the application code that keeps causing issues itself. Also for those that claim they cannot view movies due to apple protections…download airparrot and VLC. It works perfectly.

Samsung UN32EH4003 32-inch 720p 60Hz LED HDTV (Black) Product 2014 US

Samsung UN32EH4003 32-inch 720p 60Hz LED HDTV (Black)

Samsung UN32EH4003 32-inch 720p 60Hz LED HDTV (Black)


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CUSTOMER REVIEW
review
So I took the plunge and finally upgraded my bedroom TV to a Flat Panel Samsung LED 720p 32” (Model UN32EH4003). I bought it during the Black Friday time frame directly from Amazon for $247.99 (Free Shipping, 14-Day Price Guarantee). I went in knowing that I was buying the cheapest 32” Samsung Flat Panel that you could buy and knew that I wasn’t getting every bell and whistle, which is fine with me. My goal for this TV is to use it as a bedroom TV with a Verizon FIOS cable box and a media player (Ethernet connected, not WiFi) and watch it from about 8 feet away. No gaming, minimal DVD, etc. That’s basically it.

Just for some background, I’m upgrading from an old 20” Generic Tube TV in the bedroom. I do have an HDTV in the living room, but it is also a Tube TV. There I have a 34” Sony widescreen Tube TV that I bought about 7 years ago that was basically the biggest widescreen Tube TV made that I know of. Back then a Tube TV picture was much better and cheaper than Flat Panel.

First Impression - This TV looks nice. Clean front. It is extremely light. The base feels sturdy and big enough to support the TV without risk of falling over. It was simple to put together with 8 screws in the base.

Setup - It has 2 HDMI’s and then some regular RCA and Component hookups. My setup consists of Verizon FIOS Cable Box and a WD Live TV Media Player (to be replaced by a Boxee Box within the week, but that’s another story). Plugged the Cable Box and the Media Player into each HDMI port using new Amazon Basics HDMI cables. The TV on-screen setup was easy enough to figure out without pulling out the instruction manual. Everything came up perfectly the first time with just a press of the Source button.

Picture Quality - I tested the TV out with several different types of media and sources.
1) First with SD Cable. A little blocky up close, which may just be the source, but from a normal viewing distance, I the quality was just fine. The kids’ cartoons were fine.
2) Second with HD Cable. This picture seemed really nice. Didn’t see any kind of distortion. Seemed nearly as good as the HD Tube TV that I have downstairs from an 8 foot viewing distance. I was happy with what I saw.
3) Third with a normal 720p Video file via the Media Player. Picture was really nice in this case also. Everything seemed crisp. Very happy.
4) Finally with a fast motion 1080p Video file via the Media Player. This is where I expected the worst, but to my surprise, the fast motion scenes seemed fine also. I only tested a couple of files, so we’ll see if other scenes have a problem, but so far so good.

Overall I was very happy with the picture quality. The colors on the default setting were pretty terrible, so I tried the presets and settled “Dynamic” Picture Mode and Cool Color Tone in the Picture Options setting which was pretty much perfect in all instances. Looked pretty natural with nice colors.

Viewing Angles - Side viewing angles seemed really good. This was one of my pet peeves and most of my reluctance to move to a flat panel TV in the first place. Many flat panel TV’s look terrible when you aren’t watching it straight on. This TV seems to have much better side viewing than many of the competing TV’s out there.

Screen - The screen edges do have a few very faint white areas that I have noticed, but they are barely noticeable and only when the screen is completely black. I don’t notice it at all when there is any kind of picture on the screen. I probably only see it because I am looking for it after reading a few comments about backlight bleed. For me, it doesn’t seem like anything to worry about. I always buy SquareTrade warranties with all my electronics, so if the screen does have a problem, I will be set.

Sound Quality - This is where I had the most trouble. Granted, I’m upgrading from a old TV, but out of the box, the Samsung sounded very hollow and words were hard to understand. It seemed to be completely missing any low end, not talking about booming bass, just lower frequencies seemed to be missing. I tried every sound preset that they had and all were pretty bad. I finally gave up on the presets and used the included 5 band Equalizer which finally did the trick. Per request, I posted a picture of the settings in the customer images section of this item. [THIS SECTION HAS BEEN UPDATED BELOW: I basically maxed out the low and high frequencies and made a bell curve of the middle frequencies, raising the one that controlled voices until I has happy. This seemed to do the trick just fine and I am now happy with the sound.] Granted, if you are expecting a booming surround sound feel, you’re shopping for the wrong TV, but for what I think this TV is meant for, it sounds just fine.

Bells, Whistles and Other Stuff - I haven’t toyed with this TV too much yet. There are lots of menu settings to go through. The power button on the bottom of the TV seems pretty cool. It is like a combined button/joystick that pulls up a menu when pressed that you can use the button to move through, or just turn off the TV. I won’t use it much since the Cable Box remote will do most of the work, but it is a nice to have since the actual TV remote will probably sit in a drawer once everything is set up. It does have a USB port that is supposed to play pretty much any type of media format. If this works well, it is a great feature. For me, I plan on continuing to use a dedicated Media Player, so I probably won’t use this much, but for anyone else, it would save you $100 on having to buy a media player if you have a use for it.

I’ve only had this TV for one day, but this is what I think so far for a pro/con list.

Pros:
1) Great price ($247.99 at the time I purchased it, put a camelcamelcamel price alert on it for when the price drops again).
2) Great picture quality, especially for the price.
3) Very good side viewing angles.
4) Easy setup and connection to Cable Box and Media Player.
5) Enough picture and sound settings to get the quality you want for your individual preference.
6) Fast motion scenes seem ok so far.
7) Energy Star cost of $6-$12 per year to operate. That just sounds crazy, but I’ll take it.

Cons:
1) Sound presets are terrible, but can be adjusted manually.
2) Concern about possible backlight bleed, but covering myself with an inexpensive SquareTrade warranty.

In conclusion, I’m giving this TV a 5 Star Rating based on how great it is for it’s low price. I’ve only had this TV for one day, but I love it so far. I will continue to update this review as I use the TV more and learn more about it.

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ONE MONTH UPDATE (12/26/2012):
So I’ve had this TV for about a month now, and I still love it. I am very happy with the video performance and I have continued to refine the audio settings. The picture is great. The viewing angles are great. I haven’t had a single instance of any kind of motion blur from any fast motion scenes yet. No change in the very minor backlight bleed which I still think is no big deal. Its working great with the Verizon FIOS HD DVR and the HD Media Player (now upgraded to a Boxee Box).

The one negative regarding this TV is the sound. I posted a customer image and talked about my manual Equalizer settings in my original review. Since then, I had found that those setting were still not quite right. During many scenes, the background music seemed to overpower everything and voices were becoming impossible to understand in many instances. I kept tinkering with the Equalizer and finally settled on updated settings. It seems that the 300Hz setting was the one that was controlling most of the background music, so I dropped it way down and words became much clearer. I have now been using these updated Equalizer settings for a couple of weeks now without messing with them, so that tells me that they sound pretty good to my ears. Again, for the low price of this TV, I’m not expecting the best sound, so it hasn’t had any impact to my 5 Star Rating now that I have fine tuned the settings. Attached is a link to the customer image of my updated Equalizer settings in case you want to try them.

http://ift.tt/1cCCrEN

Long story short, I still highly recommend this TV for the price. It seems to hover around the $250-$300 mark and it is a great deal at that price point.

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FOUR MONTH UPDATE (03/28/2013):
Just a quick update. This TV is still performing great. It works great with our Verizon FIOS HD DVR and our Boxee Box Media Player. We love the picture. We have still never seen any motion blur. We have not messed with the sound settings in months so the sound is pretty good with the settings I mentioned above. Still no concerns about backlight bleed or any other quality issues. Overall, this TV is great. I love it. It makes me want to buy a new Samsung TV for my living room.

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ELEVEN MONTH UPDATE (11/03/2013):
Just another quick update since we are coming up to the Black Friday/Christmas Sale time frame. The TV is still going strong. The picture still looks great and the sound is still good enough for a bedroom TV. I haven’t seen any mechanical problems with the TV at all after using it for almost a year and I still have a 4 Year SquareTrade Warranty (only $35 at the time of this update) in case something does come up. This is still a great TV for the price. After 11 months, we are still extremely happy with our purchase. Still Highly Recommended!

Sony BDP-S5100 3D Blu-ray Disc Player with Wi-Fi

Sony BDP-S5100 3D Blu-ray Disc Player with Wi-Fi

Sony BDP-S5100 3D Blu-ray Disc Player with Wi-Fi


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CUSTOMER REVIEW
review
Update
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Please note that there is a new version of this player to be released soon. The BDP-S5200. The higher end BDP-S6200 is available now and you can find out what I thought of the player on the product page here>

Sony BDPS6200 3D Blu-ray Player with Wi-Fi and 4K Upscaling

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Original BDP-S5100 review:

This is a full featured BD/DVD/Network player.

The player uses the same XMB (Xross Media Bar) interface as last years players and the PS3. All the same services are on this player as last year, including all the popular ones - Netflix, Amazon, VUDU, Hulu and Crackle. The Netflix interface supports the new Super HD (5800kb/s) stream, with Dolby Digital + audio. Amazon also supports Watchlists and Dolby Digital 5.1 bitstream. I mention this, because its one of the few players out there that does.

New for 2013 is the Youtube app, that gets a serious facelift, and supports HD streams and a new look.

Disk start up times have also being improved over last year by at least 10 seconds (compared to the top of the line BDP-S790 from 2012).

A lot of folks complained about text input on last years player, as the onscreen keyboard used a numeric keypad to provide the input. This year, Sony replaces it with a full QWERTY style onscreen keyboard, which is certainly easier to use.

What else is there. Well again the Sony player is very good for supporting local media playback through DLNA. This bluray player supports more file formats and codecs that most, and is best used with the Serviio DLNA server.

Also new for 2013 is the players ability to work with Sony’s new 2nd screen app called TV Sideview. This gives folks the opportunity to interact with the player using a iOS or Android device. You are able to search across multiple network services (Netflix, youtube) and local content too … although i’ve not had much luck with search … the system seems to have a few bugs in it right now. Early days though.

One other new capability over last year is the built in Opera web browser. It has being improved and will support “some” HTML5 video streams … such as youtube, within the browser. Again, my experience with it wasn’t ideal, and I really wouldn’t recommend using this blue-ray player to browse the net! Its just too slow to render the pages.

Visually, its a nice looking player, and has a semi metal case, compared to last years all plastic one. Its suppose to have improved WIFI reception too … although I only tested it with a wired Ethernet cable.

If you’re looking for a solid disk and network player, the BDP-S5100 is well worth a look. Is it worth upgrading from last years BDP-S590? … well, only if you are a heavy youtube user would I consider it. The BDP-S590 was already a excellent Bluray player, and Sony has only done a few incremental improvements here.

Final thoughts … note that this player has no analog outputs; not even for audio .. so if you have non HDMI equipment, don’t even consider this player. No Digital optical output either (Only Coaxial) Also this player won’t come with a HDMI cable, so plan ahead !!

I can’t comment on its 3D abilities as I don’t have any 3D displays.

For folks that may have a issues with video cutting out intermittently, do yourself a favor and turn off “deep color” in the screen settings. No content uses this feature anyway.

Thanks for reading.