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Can You Buy a Flat Screen TV for Under $500

Are your kids complaining about having to watch that 1950s 17″ console TV that you just can’t seem to get rid of?  Is it time for one of those new-fangled flat screen TVs but you don’t want to spend a fortune to in order to join the 21st century?  Well, here are a few suggestions on flat screen TVs that will make the kids happy and keep you out of the poor house.

$500 is a great price range to buy some of the best LCD flat panel TVs in the 40 inch size range.  A few years ago, it was virtually impossible to find a flat screen TV close to the $500 mark.  Even today, while you can find great flat screen TVs under $500, don’t expect to get a flat screen TV that will rival the size of a drive-in theater.  The “big” flat screens are still pricey… although nowhere near the 5-10 thousand dollars that they were when first introduced.

Plasma or LCD?

Without going into a bunch of technical mumbo-jumbo about the differences in technology between the various types of flat screen TVs, let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of the two most popular types of flat screen TVs, Plasma and LCD:

The Pros of owning a Plasma over a LCD:

  • The Plasma has a better contrast ratio and ability to render deeper, darker blacks.
  • With a Plasma you will get better color accuracy and saturation.
  • The Plasma beats out the LCD in motion tracking (little or no motion lag in fast moving images).
  • A Plasma TV will give you a wider side-to-side viewing angle.

The Shortcomings of a Plasma TV compared to the LCD include:

  • The Plasma is not as bright as an LCD, it is best suited for rooms that are dimly-lit.
  • You will likely see more reflection from the screen surface with a Plasma.  The Plasma is more susceptible to glare with the screen surface reflecting ambient light sources.
  • While newer Plasma TVs have made strides in preventing this, Plasma TVs are more susceptible to burn-in of static images. This is a result of a bright image that was left onscreen too long.  What happens is that you are left with a “ghost” image that is always there.
  • Due to the need to light the phosphors to create the images, Plasma TVs generate more heat and use more energy than LCD TVs.
  • Plasma TVs can lack performance at higher altitudes.
  • A Plasma TV has potentially a shorter display life span than the LCD.  However, 60,000 hour life span rating are now common, with some sets rated as high as 100,000 hours, due to technology improvements.

The Advantages of a LCD TV over the Plasma

  • The LCD TV runs considerably cooler.
  • There is no worry of “burn-in” of static images with a LCD.
  • The screen surface on most LCD TVs is much less reflective than their Plasma counterparts.
  • LCDs offer an increased image brightness over Plasma, making the LCD the best choice for bright rooms.
  • An LCD TV will weigh much less than a Plasma TV of the same size.
  • Typically a LCD TV will out-last the Plasma TV in hours of operation.  However, most of the LCD and Plasma TVs manufactured today boast at least a 60,000 hour (or higher) lifespan.

The LCD cons over a Plasma TV

  • You will usually find a lower contrast ratios when it comes to LCD sets.
  • An LCD can often have trouble with fast moving objects and may exhibit some lag artifacts.  As with all of the “cons” for both types of TVs, technology is constantly improving and the gap between the two has narrowed.
  • With a narrower effective side-to-side viewing angle than the Plasma, you will have to take into consideration the seating in the room that you are going to use your new TV.
  • LCD TVs will usually cost you more than the Plasma TV of an equal size.

After looking over all of the pros and cons of both types of TVs, it really comes down to what looks the best to you and which TV fits within your budget.  Here are five TVs that are under 500 bucks and will blow that 1950s black and white TV out of the water!

  1. At $437.99 from Amazon.com, this factory refurbished, 40 inch LCD from Samsung is a great buy.  The Samsung UN40EH5300 has built-in WiFi, 1080p HDTV for a better picture and comes with a TV stand.
  2. LG 42CS570 42 inch LCD.  This LG 42″ LCD TV has full 1080p HDTV, a built-in tuner, 3 HDMI inputs to connect games or a computer and is wall mountable.  All of this for $479.99 from overstock.com.
  3. The JVC LT-42EM73 from Walmart will set you back only $399.00!  This is another 42″, 1080p LCD TV that is wall mountable and is only 3 inches thick!
  4. This refurbished LG 42LN5200, 42 inch LCD, High Definition TV is only $298.00 from our friends from Walmart!
  5. Coming in at the least priced TV in the list is the Sceptre X405BV 40 inch LCD.  Like the others , this TV is High Definition 1080P, has a wide 176 degree viewing angle, a digital tuner and can be mounted on the wall.  This flat screen will only cost you $278.00 from Walmart.

So as you can see, you should have no problem finding a new flat screen TV for under $500.  Just shop around, look at as many different TVs as you can find, and then pick the one that will give you the most features, look the best in your opinion, and will fit in your budget.


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