Monday, December 31, 2012

Things That Drive Me Crazy: HDTV

I have been thinking about buying a HDTV.  (Okay, that makes me the last person in America to do this, I know.  Many welfare recipients have had HDTV for ten years now.)  Right now, the audio out on my TV feeds a 1970s stereo receiver, which feeds either some pretty spectacular speakers or alternatively, a wireless headphone set.  I would like to take the audio out of whatever HDTV I buy and feed it into the RCA jacks on the back of the stereo receiver.  Some TVs apparently have a coax out for headphones and surround sound systems; there are boxes that convert coax out into two RCA jacks (and they aren't hideously expensive).

When I go to various web sites trying to pick out a TV, the question that I can't find on Amazon or Wal-Mart's web site is: what sort of audio out connection does it have?  When I went into Wal-Mart the other day to look at HDTVs (and to be honest they were all so close in image quality that I couldn't see any argument for picking one over the other), I asked the guy in electronics which of them had RCA jack output.  He indicated that some of them did, but he did not know which ones, told me to look at Wal-Mart's website to find out, and made no effort to find out.  The reason that I am prepared to pay more at a brick and mortar store is that someone can answer questions.  If you can't answer questions, why bother with a brick and mortar store?

Second question: HDTVs have digital tuners in them, so the RCA box that converts digital broadcast to analog signal won't be needed.  Am I correct that HDTVs with digital tuners use coax input from an antenna?

UPDATE: It appears that HDTVs do use coax input for broadcast TV.  The RCA 42LB45RQ (a 42" LCD screen) looks like my best choice on this right now.  It has a variety of RCA jack inputs and outputs, including audio, which means that I would not need a converter to switch from digital coax to RCA jacks. Now I just need to make sure that the Blu-Ray player/NetFlix interface box has an HDMI connector.  I can't imagine that it wouldn't, but it was a refurb when I bought it several years ago so you never know until you look.

UPDATE 2: All questions answered.  I ordered the Sanyo 42" LCD 1080p and the HDMI cable from Wal-Mart's "ship to store" option, primarily because this model was in the store already.  Yes, on Amazon it would have been $20 cheaper, but shipping would have made it more expensive, and I would not have seen it for a week or more.  In four weeks, my wife and I will be back teaching, and our evenings will no longer be free.

UPDATE 3: So much for Wal-Mart inventory.  They were out at the store that they said had it.


  1. Just go to Crutchfield or manufacturer's sites for the precise info.

  2. I bought a new RCA 46 inch just before Christmas for less than $500. They are even cheaper now. It accepts a coax cable. The coax also carries analog and digital channels although I will need a box for HDTV which it will do. I have a pretty good selection of channels from a local free cable source and haven't yet decided to change providers and get a box for HDTV. The image is great and I am slow to decide if I want to pay for HDTV.

  3. As technology has progressed rapidly, the idea of posting actual specifications seems to have gone away. Your complaint is one I have frequently as I shop for this or that. Often even the manufacturer's site doesn't give you the info, unless you can find and download the instruction manual, which might tell you how to hook it up.

    Amazon is really bad this way, and it drives me nuts. Flashlights for sale, but who knows what batteries are needed. Monitor mounts without dimensions or details on the way it connects to your desk. Etc. Etc.Etc.

    I did notice today that Amazon now puts a question on at least some pages asking what information they left out, so there is some hope.