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Samsung prices 2014 TVs at the high end, adds curved offerings

Today Samsung announced official pricing on its vast array of new 2014 TVs, including numerous curved and 4K/UHD sets first introduced at CES 2014 last January.

They ain't cheap.

Samsung's 4K models start at $2,499 for a 50-inch size. Compare that to Vizio, for example, which is charging $999 for its cheapest 4K 50-incher. On paper, the Vizio even has a picture quality advantage over the Samsung, offering full-array local dimming compared to Samsung's edge-lit variety.

Then there's the company's newfangled curved TVs. The entry price there is $1,999 for a 48-inch … Read more

HDMI vs. optical: Which digital-audio connection to use?

When it comes time to connect your shiny new sound bar or AV receiver, your two main choices are HDMI or optical digital audio.

The simplest advice is to go with HDMI when you can. But if you can't it's not the end of the world.

Here are the pros and cons of each.… Read more

Roku Streaming Stick vs. Google Chromecast: How do they stack up?

Roku's new Streaming Stick bears more than just a passing resemblance to Google's Chromecast.

They're both tiny sticks that connect to the back of your TV, use a nearby USB port (or power outlet) for power, and stream media from a variety of sources like Netflix, YouTube, HBO Go and Pandora. So which one should you get?

I haven't had the chance to fully review the new Roku Streaming Stick (which comes out in April), but from my brief hands-on time, it looks to deliver the same Roku experience that's available on the company's … Read more

Ultra HD 4K TV Cheat Sheet

Ultra HD, colloquially known as "4K," is the latest buzzword, and the latest push from TV manufacturers.

While your next TV might not be Ultra HD, the one after probably will be.

Here are the basics of what you need to know about this latest advancement in TV technology.… Read more

Hands-on with Mohu Channels: Over-the-air TV, streaming apps meet in an Android-powered box

Mohu made its name selling flat antennas for receiving over-the-air TV, but it's now the latest company jockeying to provide the media box in your living room.

The Mohu Channels set-top box was announced yesterday via a Kickstarter campaign and it's already nearing its $35,000 goal. It's part over-the-air tuner, part streaming media box, part Web browser, and the idea is to bring all of these types of content into the traditional channel grid.

The box: Small and unobtrusive

The box itself looks more like a jumbo inline antenna amplifier than the traditional set-top box design … Read more

A plasma lover's guide to LED LCD

If you're fan of plasma TVs, last year's announcement by Panasonic that the company was no longer going to make them likely came as quite a blow.

So now what? What do you do if you want a new TV but want the picture quality of a plasma?

This guide leads you though all the available options. Some good, some bad, some painful. Welcome to the TV world of 2014.… Read more

Where should I put my TV?

No matter what size or type of TV you're considering, ponder placement for a moment. Maybe that spot that's always been home for the TV isn't ideal. Maybe a slight shuffle of furniture will yield better picture quality, or allow for a larger TV.

I can't come to your home to help with ideas (sorry), but I can give you some dos and don'ts when it comes to TV placement, to point you in the right direction (i.e., toward the screen). … Read more

Black frame insertion: Busting blur from Oculus to LCD TVs

Black frame insertion (BFI) is, to put it simply, inserting full-screen black images between the original frames of a source.

Hmm, OK, that didn't really put it simply, and I'm pretty sure I defined a term with the term.

How about this: black frame insertion is a way to reduce motion blur on LED LCD and OLED devices, which is definitely a good thing.

Here's what it does.… Read more

LED local dimming explained

One of the top buzzterms in LED LCD marketing is "local dimming." Ostensibly, local dimming can dim the area of the screen that needs it, while keeping the bright parts of the screen bright. This technology can really increase the contrast ratio to make a better image.

But not all local dimming works the same, and certain types of local dimming work better than others.

Here's what to look for. … Read more

Can LED LCD look as good as plasma?

For many years now, plasma televisions have been the standard for picture quality and value. Sure, there have been some great-looking LCDs, but for the best overall image, the best plasmas couldn't be beat. Now plasma is going away for good.

OLED certainly can beat plasma, but we're still years away from OLED TVs being affordable.

In the meantime we're stuck with LCD. So is it possible, through various tricks and advancements, for LED LCD to look as good as plasma? Maybe.… Read more