Last month I bought myself a TV.
Unless you know me personally, you won't realize what a big deal this is. I haven't owned a TV in about ten years and prior to that my TV was a tiny, rarely used 12" CRT. But watching TV was not a major component of my life and when it finally died I didn't worry myself about it. I installed a TV tuner card into my computer, just in case, but on the whole I was much happier without having to worry about who won on American Idol. I admit, in some respects I became this guy.
But when I saw the Westinghouse TX-42F810G 42" LCD HDTV for $400, I knew I had to buy it.
Having not owned -nor wanted to own- a TV for a decade, I had not kept up with the technology of flat-screen TVs. But even to my uneducated eye, I could tell that this TV was not particularly good. Sure, it boasted 1080p resolution and had a good number of connections (although only 2 HDMI ports), but its contrast ration (a pathetic 4000:1) was abysmal (most televisions offer ten times that) and its response time was average at best. It also featured the odd choice of rear-facing speakers and it was obvious even from the brightly-lit video playing on the floor model that it had problems displaying true blacks.
But it was 42", and even with tax and a 3-year store warranty the whole thing came to less than $500.
At home, its deficiencies became even more obvious; this TV does not have a great display. It's terrible with non-HD content and even with higher-quality images there is a lot of pixellation. The image is often dark and muddy as well, due to the lack of acceptable contrast. And those rear-mounted speakers? They aren't loud to begin with and much of their power is pushed out in the wrong direction.
So, this is not a good TV. But I love it anyway.
Okay, that's mostly because it is so big. Did I mention my last TV was only 12"? Heck, my computer monitor is half that size; watching anything on a 42" display is an awesome experience even if the quality is only a few notches above standard definition TV. Plus, it also helps that I still don't watch much actual TV; its primary use is for watching DVDs (usually with the lights down, which not only enhances the experience but also minimizes the effect of the poor contrast ratio) and playing games on my aging XBox (the high-contrast cartoon-like visuals also disguise the screen's deficiencies). For these purposes, the TV works fine.
Ultimately, I'd have a hard time recommending this TV to anyone who wasn't in the same situation I was; it's probably better to spend two or three hundred dollars more and get a decent 32" plasma; the Westinghouse TX-42F810G is going to disappoint the average viewer. But I'm an edge case and for my limited needs it suits my purposes.