Samsung PS-37S4A Manual
Samsung PS-37S4a TV, size: 2.9 MB
Samsung PS-37S4a Easy Manual
Samsung PS-37S4a1 Easy Manual
Samsung PS-37S4a1 QSG
Samsung PS-37S4a QSG
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User reviews and opinions
|Jeremie||9:40pm on Wednesday, April 14th, 2010|
|Great Value for money, in my opinion! Good definition on colours and blacks and HD ready! Perfect for the average size living room.|
Comments posted on www.ps2netdrivers.net are solely the views and opinions of the people posting them and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of us.
Outputs for external devices.
h) COMPONENT1, COMPONENT2
Video (Y/Pb/Pr) and audio (L-AUDIO-R) inputs for Component.
c) EXT.1, EXT.2, EXT.3
Inputs or outputs for external devices, such as VCR, DVD, video game device or video disc players.
i) ANT IN VHF/UHF (75)
75 Coaxial connector for Aerial/Cable Network.
d) PC INPUT (RGB IN / AUDIO)
Connect to the video and audio output jack on your PC.
j) POWER IN
Connect the supplied power cord.
e) ONLY FOR SERVICE
Connector for service only.
f) AV2 (S-VIDEO / L-AUDIO-R)
Video and audio inputs for external devices with an S-Video output, such as a camcorder or VCR.
Infrared Remote Control
TURNS THE PDP ON AND OFF WHEN YOU PRESS A BUTTON , APPEARS ALONG WITH SELECTED MODE (TV, VCR, CATV, DVD OR STB) AND REMAINING BATTERIES ON LCD PICTURE EFFECT SELECTION SOUND EFFECT SELECTION TELETEXT CANCEL MAKE THE REMOTE CONTROL WORKS FOR TV, VCR, CATV, DVD PLAYER, STB
DIRECT CHANNEL SELECTION AUTOMATIC SWITCH-OFF/ TELETEXT SUB-PAGE PICTURE SIZE/ TELETEXT SIZE SELECTION VOLUME INCREASE NEXT CHANNEL/ TELETEXT NEXT PAGE/ TELEWEB FORWARD
TEMPORARY SOUND SWITCH-OFF VOLUME DECREASE
EXTERNAL INPUT SELECTION/ TELETEXT PAGE HOLD PREVIOUS CHANNEL/ TELETEXT PREVIOUS PAGE/ TELEWEB BACKWARD INFORMATION DISPLAY/ TELETEXT REVEAL TV MODE SELECTION EXIT TELETEXT EXIT TELEWEB (DEPENDING ON THE MODEL)
TELETEXT DISPLAY/ MIX BOTH TELETEXT INFORMATION AND THE NORMAL BROADCAST MENU DISPLAY/ TELETEXT INDEX
MOVE TO THE REQUIRED MENU OPTION/ ADJUST AN OPTION VALUE RESPECTIVELY PICTURE STILL TELEWEB DISPLAY (DEPENDING ON THE MODEL) FASTEXT TOPIC SELECTION CONFIRM YOUR CHOICE (STORE OR ENTER) SOUND MODE SELECTION TruSurround XT MODE SELECTION PIP FUNCTIONS; - PIP ACTIVATING OR DEACTIVATING (PIP ON) - SWAPPING THE MAIN AND THE SUB PICTURE (SWAP) - LOCATION SELECTION (POSITION) - SOURCE SELECTION (SOURCE) - SIZE SELECTION (SIZE) - SCAN - SELECTING THE CHANNEL OF SUB PICTURE (P )
REMOTE CONTROL SETUP IF YOUR REMOTE CONTROL IS NOT FUNCTIONING PROPERLY, TAKE OUT THE BATTERIES AND PRESS THE RESET BUTTON FOR ABOUT 2~3 SECONDS. RE-INSERT THE BATTERIES AND TRY USING THE REMOTE CONTROL AGAIN.
VCR/DVD FUNCTIONS; - REWIND (REW) - STOP - PLAY/PAUSE - FAST FORWARD (FF)
The performance of the remote control may be affected by bright light.
Inserting the Batteries in the Remote Control
You must insert or replace the batteries in the remote control when you: Purchase the PDP Find that the remote control is no longer operating correctly
Remove the cover on the rear of the remote control by pressing the symbol ( ) downwards and then pulling firmly to remove it. Insert two R03, UM4, AAA 1.5V or equivalent batteries taking care to respect the polarities: - on the battery against - on the remote control + on the battery against + on the remote control Replace the cover by aligning it with the base of the remote control and pressing it back into place.
When the television is initially powered ON, several basic customer settings proceed automatically and subsequently. The following settings are available.
If the television is in Standby mode, press the POWER ( on the remote control. Result:
The message Plug & Play is displayed, and then the Language menu is automatically displayed a few seconds later.
Move Plug & Play Enter
Select the appropriate language by pressing the or button. Press the ENTER ( Result: ) button to confirm your choice.
The message Antenna Input Check is displayed.
Make sure that the antenna is connected to the TV, and then press the ENTER ( ) button. Result: The Country menu is displayed.
Antenna Input Check
Select your country by pressing the or button. Press the ENTER ( Result: ) button to confirm your choice.
Country Austria Belgium Croatia Denmark Finland France Germany More Move Enter
The Auto Store menu is displayed. ) button.
To start the search, press the ENTER ( Result:
The search will end automatically. Channels are sorted and stored in an order which reflects their position in the frequency range (with lowest first and highest last). When it has finished, the Clock Set menu is displayed.
Auto Store Press ENTER to start channel memory 40 MHz 0% Start Enter Stop
To stop the search before it has finished or return to normal viewing, press the MENU ( ) button. Press the ENTER ( ) button to set the clock.
Press the or button to move to the hour or minute. Set the hour or minute by pressing the or button. When it has finished, the message Enjoy Your Watching is displayed, and then the channel which has been stored will be activated.
Auto Store Channel store in process. Storing. 57 MHz 1% Stop Enter Stop
Clock Hour 01 Adjust Move Min 00 Stop
Enjoy Your Watching
Plug & Play Feature (continued)
If you want to reset this feature.
Setup Time Language AV Setup Digital NR Miscellaneous PC Setup : On : English
Press the MENU button. The main menu is displayed. Result: Press the or button to select Setup. The options available in the Setup group are displayed. Result: Press the ENTER ( ) button.
Press the or button to select Miscellaneous. Press the ENTER ( ) button. The options available in the Miscellaneous group are Result: displayed. Press the or button to select Plug & Play. Press the ENTER ( ) button. Result: The message Plug & Play is displayed.
Select your country (or area) by pressing the or button. If you have selected the Others option but do not wish to scan the PAL frequency range, store the channels manually (see page 19). Press the ENTER ( ) button to confirm your choice
Press the or button to select Auto Store. Press the ENTER ( ) button. Result: The Auto Store menu is displayed. ) button to start the search.
Auto Store Channel store in process. Storing. 57 MHz 1% Stop Enter Return
Press the ENTER ( Result:
The search will end automatically. Channels are sorted and stored in an order which reflects their position in the frequency range, (with lowest first and highest last). The programme originally selected is then displayed.
To stop the search before it has finished, press the MENU ( ) button.
When the channels have been stored, you can: Sort them in the order required (see page 22) Clear a channel (see page 21) Fine-tune channel reception if necessary (see page 31) Assign a name to the stored channels (see page 23) Activate/deactivate the Digital Noise Reduction feature (see page 38)
Storing Channels Manually
You can store up to 100 television channels, including those received via cable networks. When storing channels manually, you can choose: Whether or not to store each of the channels found The programme number of each stored channel which you wish to identify
Prog. 9 Channel C -Manual Store Colour System Auto Search 59MHz Adjust Sound System BG Store ? Return
Press the or button to select Manual Store. Press the ENTER ( ) button.
The option available in the Manual Store group are displayed with Prog. is selected.
Colour System Auto Search 59MHz Adjust
Sound System BG Store ? Return
To assign a programme number to a channel, find the correct number by pressing the or button. If necessary, select the broadcasting standard required. Press the or button to select Colour System and press the or button. The colour standards are displayed in the following order. (depending on the model). Auto - PAL - SECAM or Auto - NT3.58 - NT4.43 - PAL60
Channel C - Move
Manual Store Prog. 9 Channel Colour System Auto Search 59MHz Adjust Sound System BG Store ? Return
Press the or button to select Sound System and press the or button. The sound standards are displayed in the following order. (depending on the model). BG - DK - I - L
C - Move
Storing Channels Manually (continued)
Manual Store Prog. 9 Channel C - Move Colour System Auto Search 59MHz Adjust Sound System BG Store ? Return
If you know the number of the channel to be stored, see the following steps. Press the or button to select Channel. Press the or button to select C (Air channel) or S (Cable channel). Press the button. Press the numeric buttons (0~9), or button to select indicate the required number.
Add/Delete Prog. 5 ----------------------------------------Added Deleted Deleted Deleted Deleted
Sorting the Stored Channels
This operation allows you to change the programme numbers of stored channels. This operation may be necessary after using ATM. You can delete those channels you do not want to keep.
TV Add/Delete Sort Name LNA Child Lock
Edit : Off
Press the or button to select Sort. Press the ENTER ( ) button. Result: The Sort menu is displayed.
TV Prog. 6 ---------------------
Select the channel that you wish to move by pressing the or button. Press the ENTER ( ) button. Select the number of the programme to which the channel is to be moved by pressing the or button. Press the ENTER ( ) button. Result: The channel is moved to its new position and all other channels are shifted accordingly.
TV Prog. 6 --------------------------------------------- ----Sort
Repeat Steps 6 to 7 until you have moved all the channels to the required programme numbers.
Assigning Names to Channels
Channel names will be assigned automatically when channel information is broadcast. These names can be changed, allowing you to assign new names.
TV Add/Delete Move Enter Return
Sort Name LNA Child Lock
Press the or button to select Name. Press the ENTER ( ) button. Result: The Name menu is displayed with the current channel automatically is selected.
Name Name ---------------------
If necessary, select the channel to be assigned a new name by pressing the or button. Press the ENTER ( ) button. Result: Arrow indications are displayed around the name box.
Press the or button to select a letter (A~Z), a number (0~9) or a symbol (-, space). Move on the previous or next letter by pressing the or button. When you have finished entering the name, press the ENTER ( button to confirm the name. )
Name Prog. 6 --------------------Name ---------------------
Using the LNA (Low Noise Amplifier) Feature
This function is very useful in the situation that the TV is used in weak signal. LNA amplifies the TV signal in the weak signal area, but not noise.
Press the or button to select LNA. Press the ENTER ( ) button. Result: The options available are listed.
Select On or Off by pressing the or button. Press the ENTER ( ) button to confirm. If the picture is noisy with the LNA set to On, select Off. LNA setting is to be made for each channel.
: Off Off On
Activating the Child Lock
Activating the child lock This feature allows you to lock the television so that it cannot be switched on via the front panel. It can, however, still be switched on via the remote control. Thus, by keeping the remote control away from unauthorised users, such as children, you can prevent them from watching unsuitable programme.
TV Prog. 6 ----------------------------------------Unlocked Unlocked Unlocked Unlocked Unlocked Move Enter Return
Press the or button to select Child Lock. Press the ENTER ( ) button. Result: The Child Lock menu is displayed with the current channel automatically is selected. Blue Screen is displayed when the Child Lock is activated.
Press the or button to select the channel to be locked. Press the ENTER ( ) button. To lock the channel, select Locked by pressing the or button (to unlock the channel, select Unlocked). Press the ENTER ( ) button to confirm.
Unlocked Unlocked Unlocked Unlocked Unlocked
You can view the channel information and setting status you select by pressing the INFO ( ) button on the remote control.
Picture Sound 00 : 00
: Dynamic : Music
Changing the Picture Standard
You can select the type of picture which best corresponds to your viewing requirements.
TV Mode Custom Colour Tone Colour Control Film Mode Size DNIe PIP Move
Picture : Dynamic : Normal : Off : 16 : 9 : On
Press the MENU button. The main menu is displayed. Result: Press the or button to select Picture. The options available in the Picture group are Result: displayed. Press the ENTER ( ) button. The Mode is selected. Result: Press the ENTER ( ) button again. The options available are listed. Result: Select the option by pressing the or button. The following modes are available depending on the Result: input source. Dynamic - Standard - Movie - Custom High - Middle - Low - Custom (PC or DVI Mode). Press the ENTER ( ) button to confirm.
TV Mode Custom Colour Tone Colour Control Film Mode Size DNIe PIP Move Picture : Dynamic Dynamic Standard : Normal Movie : Off Custom : 16 : 9 : On
You can also set these options simply by pressing the P.MODE ( : Picture Mode) button.
Adjusting the Picture Settings
Your television has several settings which allow you to control picture quality.
Picture : Dynamic : Normal : Off : 16 : 9 : On Return
Selecting the Picture Size
You can select the picture size which best corresponds to your viewing requirements.
Size Auto Wide 16:9 Panorama Zoom 14:9 4:3
Press the or button until the Size is selected. Press the ENTER ( ) button Press the or button to change the setting. Auto Wide : Expanding and pulling up the picture from 4:3 to 16:9 ratio. 16:9 : Sets the picture to 16:9 wide mode. Panorama : Use this mode for the wide aspect ratio of a panoramic picture. Zoom : Magnify the size of the picture vertically on screen. 14:9 : Magnify the size of the picture more than 4:3. 4:3 : Sets the picture to 4:3 normal mode.
PC to DVI Mode
TV Auto Wide 16:9 Panorama Zoom 14:9 4:3 Size
) button to confirm.
You can select these options by simply pressing the P.SIZE button on the remote control. The picture size can not be changed in the PIP mode. Depending on the input source, the P.SIZE options may vary.
Positioning and Sizing the screen using Zoom
Resizing the screen using the Zoom enables the positioning and sizing of the screen to up/down direction using the or button as well as the screen size. Move the screen up/down using the or button after selecting the by pressing the or button. Resize the screen vertically using the or button after selecting the by pressing the or button. Screen enlargement operates only in TV/Video/ S-Video/Component1,2 input modes. PC/DVI modes prevents the screen enlargement function.
Selecting the Film Mode
You can automatically sense and process film signals from some sources and adjust the picture for optimum quality.
Press the MENU button. Result: The main menu is displayed. Press the or button to select Picture. Result: The options available in the Picture group are displayed. Press the ENTER ( ) button.
Picture : Dynamic : Normal : Off Off : 16 : 9 On : On
Press the or button to select Film Mode. ) button. Press the ENTER ( Press the or button to change the setting (Off or On). On : Automatically senses and processes film signals from some sources and adjusts the picture for optimum quality. Off : Switches off the Film Mode.
Not available in the PC, Component (480P, 576P, 720P, 1080i) or DVI modes. Mode discrepancies, such as turning off Film Mode while viewing a film source or turning on Film Mode while viewing non-film sources, may affect the picture quality.
Press the or button until the Picture is selected. Result: The options available in the Picture group are displayed. ) button.
Picture : Dynamic
: Normal : Off On : 16 : 9 : On Off Demo Enter Return
Press the or button until the DNIe is selected. Press the ENTER ( ) button. Press the or button to change the setting. On: Switches on the DNIe mode. Off: Switches off the DNIe mode. Demo (Option): The screen before applying DNIe appears on the right and the screen after applying DNIe appears on the left. Press the ENTER ( ) button to confirm.
Setting the Blue Screen
TV Setup Time Language AV Setup Digital NR : On Miscellaneous : English
If no signal is being received or the signal is very weak, a blue screen automatically replaces the noisy picture background. If you wish to continue viewing the poor picture, you must set the Blue Screen mode to Off.
: Off : Off
Plug & Play Blue Screen
Press the or button to select Miscellaneous. Press the ENTER ( ) button. Result: The options available in the Miscellaneous group are displayed.
Press the or button to select Blue Screen. Press the ENTER ( ) button. Press the or button to change the setting (Off or On). Press the ENTER ( ) button to confirm.
Move TV Melody Plug & Play Blue Screen
Enter Miscellaneous : Off : Off Off On
Blue Screen is displayed while no signal from the external device in the External Mode, regardless of the Blue Screen Setting.
Setting the Melody Sound
You can hear clear melody sound when the television is powered on or off.
Miscellaneous Melody Plug & Play Blue Screen : Off Off On : Off
Press the or button to select Melody. Press the ENTER ( ) button. Press the or button to change the setting (Off or On).
Viewing the Picture In Picture (PIP)
You can display a sub picture within the main picture of TV program or external A/V devices. In this way you can watch TV program or monitor the video input from any connected devices while watching TV or other video input.
Press the MENU button. The main menu is displayed. Result: Press the or button to select Picture. The options available in the Picture group are displayed. Result: Press the ENTER ( ) button.
Select a position by pressing the or button. Press the ENTER ( ) button. Press the or button to select Prog. Press the ENTER ( ) button. Select the channel that you want to view through sub picture by pressing the or button. Press the ENTER ( ) button.
PIP PIP Source Swap Size Position Prog. : On : TV : : : P08 P 1
If the sub picture is no signal and the main picture is output from a Component, PC or DVI signal, the sub picture will be blue. If the main picture is output from a Video signal, the sub picture will be black.
Easy functions of remote control. Buttons PIP ON SWAP Feature Used to activate or deactivate the PIP function directly. Used to interchange the main picture and the sub picture.
When the main picture is in the Video mode and the sub picture is in the TV mode, you might not hear the sound of main picture when pressing the SWAP ( ) button after changing the sub picture channel. At this time, reselect the channel of main picture.
Used to move the sub picture counterclockwise. Used to assign a source of sub picture (TV, Ext.1, Ext.2, Ext.3, AV1, AV2, S-Video, Component1, Component2, PC, DVI). Used to select a size of sub picture (Large, Small, Double1, Double2). Used to scan every memorized channel in order. To stop scanning, press it again. Used to select the channel of sub picture.
SIZE SCAN P /
Using the Digital NR (Digital Noise Reduction) Feature
TV Time Language AV Setup Digital NR Miscellaneous PC Setup
If the signal received by your television is weak, you can activate this feature to help reduce any static and ghosting that may appear on the screen.
Press the MENU button. The main menu is displayed. Result: Press the or button until the Setup is selected. The options available in the Setup group are displayed. Result: Press the ENTER ( ) button.
Setup : English : On Off On
Press the or button until the Digital NR is selected. Press the ENTER ( ) button. Select Off or On by pressing the or button. Press the ENTER ( ) button to confirm.
Changing the Sound Standard
You can select the type of special sound effect to be used when watching a given broadcast.
TV Mode Sound : Standard : Off : Off : Off
Equalizer Auto Volume SRS TSXT Internal Mute
Press the or button to select Sound. Result: The options available in the Sound group are displayed.
TV Mode Equalizer Auto Volume SRS TSXT Internal Mute : Off : Off Sound : Standard Standard Music Movie Speech
The Mode is selected. ) button again.
Select the option by pressing the or button. The sound effects are displayed in the following order. Standard - Music - Movie - Speech - Custom.
: Off Custom
You can also set these options simply by pressing the S.MODE ( : Sound Mode) button.
Adjusting the Sound Settings
The sound settings can be adjusted to suit your personal preferences.
TV Mode Equalizer Auto Volume SRS TSXT Internal Mute : Off : Off : Off Sound : Standard
Press the MENU button. The main menu is displayed. Result: Press the or button to select Sound. The options available in the Sound group are displayed. Result: Press the ENTER ( ) button.
Press the or button to select Equalizer. Press the ENTER ( ) button. The Equalizer menu is displayed with the current Result: option. Select the option (volume, balance, equalizer) to be adjusted by pressing the or button. Press the or button to reach the required setting. When you are satisfied with the settings, press the MENU ( button to store them. )
1K 3K 10K
Adjust Move Return
If you make any changes to the equalizer settings, the sound standard is automatically switched to the Custom.
Adjusting the Volume Automatically
Each broadcasting station has its own signal conditions, and so it is not easy for you to adjust the volume every time the channel is changed. This feature lets you automatically adjust the volume of the desired channel by lowering the sound output when the modulation signal is high or by raising the sound output when the modulation signal is low.
TV Mode Equalizer Auto Volume SRS TSXT Internal Mute
Sound : Standard : Off : Off : Off
TV Mode Equalizer Auto Volume SRS TSXT Internal Mute : Off Off : Off On : Off Sound : Standard
Press the or button to select Auto Volume. Press the ENTER ( ) button. Select the option (Off or On) by pressing the or button. Press the ENTER ( ) button to confirm.
Setting the TruSurround XT
TruSurround XT is a patented SRS technology that solves the problem of playing 5.1 multichannel content over two speakers. TruSurround delivers a compelling, virtual surround sound experience through any two-speaker playback system, including internal television speakers. It is fully compatible with all multichannel formats.
Using the TeleWeb Menu after Displaying the TeleWeb
Bookmarking the current page.
On the page you wish to add to the bookmark list press the MENU button. Result: The TeleWeb menu is displayed.
Bookmark List Add Bookmark Home Page Current programme. Selected provider. Service is loading. Move Add
Press the or button to select Add Bookmark. Press the ENTER ( ) button. Result: The current page is added to the bookmark list.
You can register up to six pages. If you add another URL when six bookmarks have been listed, the first URL will be deleted and the new URL will be listed as the sixth.
TeleWeb Bookmark List Add Bookmark Home Page
Entering the bookmarked URL.
Press the MENU button. Result: The TeleWeb menu is displayed with the Bookmark List is selected. ) button.
Current programme. Selected provider. Service is loading. Move Enter Exit -------
The stored URLs are listed.
Bookmark List SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS TARA SYSTEMS KIA MOTORS MICRONAS OLYMPIC NEWS ECONOMICS Move Delete Exit
To erase a URL, select a required URL and press the TeleWeb (red) button. Result: The selected URL is erased and the listed URLs moves up one by one.
Select the URL you wish to enter by pressing the or button and press the ENTER ( ) button. Result: The current page moves to the selected URL and the menu is disappeared.
Opening the Home Page
Bookmark List Add Bookmark Home Page Current programme. Selected provider. Service is loading. Move Enter
Press the MENU button. Result: The TeleWeb menu is displayed.
Press the or button to select Home Page. Press the ENTER ( ) button. Result: It moves to a home page.
Easy Accessing the TeleWeb Service via the Remote Control
Function Activate or deactivate the TeleWeb feature directly.
Display the forward page of the TeleWeb Display the backward page of the TeleWeb Select a option.
Confirm your choice.
Connecting to the External Devices
MONITOR OUT are used for the equipment with an RGB output, such as video game devices or video disc players.
Rear of the TV
Decoder / Video game device
Video disc player
This end can be fitted with:
A SCART connector Three RCA connectors (VIDEO + AUDIO-L/R)
If you have a second VCR and wish to copy cassettes tape, connect the source VCR to EXT.1(EXT.2,
EXT.3, AV1 or AV2) and the target VCR to MONITOR OUT so that you can redirect the signal from EXT.1(EXT.2, EXT.3, AV1 or AV2) to MONITOR OUT. and the VCR to MONITOR OUT so that you can redirect the signal from EXT.1(EXT.2, EXT.3, AV1 or AV2) to MONITOR OUT.
When you wish to record a programme, connect the receiver to EXT.1(EXT.2, EXT.3, AV1 or AV2)
Setting up Your PC Software (Windows only)
The Windows display-settings for a typical computer are shown below. But the actual screens on your PC will probably be different, depending upon your particular version of Windows and your particular video card. But even if your actual screens look different, the same, basic set-up information will apply in almost all cases. (If not, contact your computer manufacturer or Samsung Dealer.)
On the windows screen, select in the following sequence: Start Settings Control Panel.
When the control panel screen appears, click on Display and a display dialog-box will appear.
Select the Settings tab in the display dialog-box. The two key variables that apply the television-PC interface are Resolution and Colours. The correct settings for these two variables are: Size (sometimes called Resolution) - 1024 x 768 pixels Colour 32-bit colour Shown at left is a typical screen for Display dialog box. If a vertical-frequency option exists on your display settings dialog box, the correct value is 60 Hz. Otherwise, just click OK and exit the dialog box.
Input Mode (PC/DVI)
Both screen position and size will vary depending on the type of PC monitor and its resolution. The table below shows all of the display modes that are supported: Video Signal Dot x Line 640 x x x x 480 Vertical frequency (Hz) 70.086 85.080 85.080 70.087 85.039 59.940 72.809 75.000 85.008 56.250 60.317 72.188 75.000 85.061 60.000 72.000 75.000 60.004 70.069 75.029 84.997 Horizontal frequency (kHz) 31.469 37.861 37.861 31.469 37.927 31.469 37.861 37.500 43.269 35.156 37.879 48.077 46.875 53.674 29.838 36.072 37.650 48.363 56.476 60.023 68.677 Vertical polarity N N P P P N N N N N/P P P P P Horizontal polarity P P N N N N N N N N/P P P P P
IBM PC / AT Compatible
800 x 600
848 x 480
nVidia chipset N N P P N N P P
1024 x 768
(N: Negative / P: Positive) The interlace mode is not supported. The television might operate abnormally if a non-standard video format is selected.
The PC text quality for PS-37S4A is optimum in XGA mode (1024 x 768@60Hz). When this television is used as a PC display, 32-bit colour is supported. Your PC display screen might appear different depending on the manufacturer (and your particular version of Windows). Check your PC instruction book for information about connecting your PC to a television. If a vertical and horizontal frequency-select mode exists, select 60Hz (vertical) and 48.3kHz (horizontal). In some cases, abnormal signals (such as stripes) might appear on the screen when the PC power is turned off (or if the PC is disconnected). If so, press the SOURCE button to enter the Video mode. Also, make sure that the PC is connected. When connecting a notebook PC to the television, make sure that the PC screen is displayed through only the television (Otherwise, random signals might appear). When horizontal synchronous signals seem irregular in PC mode, check PC power saving mode or cable connections. The Display Settings Table above complies to the IBM/VESA standards, and based on the analog input. The DVI support mode is regarded as same to the PC support mode. The best timing for the vertical frequency to each mode is 60Hz.
SCART Connector (EXT.1/EXT.2/EXT.3)
Pins 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15 and 16 are used for RGB processing and are only wired on the EXT.1 or EXT.3 connector. Signal Audio output R Audio input R Audio output L Audio chassis return Video chassis return (RGB blue) Audio input L RGB blue input Switching voltage Video chassis return (RGB green) AV-Link (Ext 1) RGB green input Pin Signal Video chassis return (RGB red) RGB red input Blanking signal (RGB switching) Video chassis return Blanking signal ground Video output Video input Screening/chassis return
PC Input Connector (15Pin) Pin 15 PC IN Red (R) Green (G) Blue (B) Grounding Grounding (DDC) Red (R) Grounding Green (G) Grounding Blue (B) Grounding Reserved Sync Grounding Grounding Data (DDC) Horizontal sync. Vertical sync. Clock (DDC)
DVI Input Connector (24Pin) Pin Signal T.M.D.S. Data2T.M.D.S. Data2+ T.M.D.S. Data2/4 Shield T.M.D.S. Data4T.M.D.S. Data4+ Clock (DDC) Data (DDC) Not Connected T.M.D.S. Data1T.M.D.S. Data1+ T.M.D.S. Data1/3 Shield T.M.D.S. Data3T.M.D.S. Data3+ +5V Power 5V Grounding Hot Plug Detect T.M.D.S. Data0T.M.D.S. Data0+ T.M.D.S. Data0/5 Shield T.M.D.S. Data5T.M.D.S. Data5+ T.M.D.S. Clock Shield T.M.D.S. Clock+ T.M.D.S. Clock-
Troubleshooting: Before Contacting Service Personnel
Before contacting Samsung after-sales service, perform the following simple checks. If you cannot solve the problem using the instructions below, note the model and serial number of the television and contact your local dealer. No sound or picture Check that the mains lead has been connected to a wall socket. Check that you have pressed the I button (On/Off) and the POWER ( ) button. Check the picture contrast and brightness settings. Check the volume. Check the volume. Check whether the volume MUTE ( has been pressed. ) button on the remote control
Normal picture but no sound
No picture or black and white picture Sound and picture interference
Adjust the colour settings. Check that the broadcast system selected is correct. Try to identify the electrical appliance that is affecting the television, then move it further away. Plug your television into a different mains socket. Check the direction, location and connections of your aerial. This interference often occurs due to the use of an indoor aerial. Replace the remote control batteries. Clean the upper edge of the remote control (transmission window). Check the battery terminals.
Blurred or snowy picture, distorted sound Remote control malfunctions
Programming the Remote Control for Other Components
CABLE CODE LIST
DVD CODE LIST
Anvision GI Hamlin Hitachi Jerrold Macom Magnavox Oak Panasonic Philips Pioneer RCA Regal Regency SA Samsung Scientific Atlanta Sprucer Stargate 2000 Sylvania Texscan Tocom Universal Viewstar Wamer amex Zenith
017, 003, 024, 031 025, 030 038, 039 025, 030 019, 023, 003, 022, 027, 037, 044 019, 021, 023, 028 018, 020, 004, 044 014, 022, 015, 023 042, 043 000, 001, 002, 003, 004, 005, 006, 007 042, 033, 034 019, 021,023, 017, 029, 035, 037, 045
Samsung Samsung JVC PROSCAN, RCA Panasonic LG(Goldstar) Sony Denon Curtis Mathes
Programming the Remote Control for Other Components (continued)
VCR CODE LIST
Admiral 020 Aiwa 025 Akai 027, 004, 032 Audio Dynamics 007, 026 Bell&Howell 018 Broksonic 022 Candle 002, 006, 003, 015, 008, 055 Canon 021, 056 Citizen 002, 006, 003, 015, 008, 055 Colortyme 007 Craig 002, 024 Curtis Mathes 002, 017, 007, 008, 021, 025, 056, 064, 066 Daewoo 003, 015, 010, 011, 012, 013, 014, 016 DBX 007, 026 Dimensia 017 Dynatech 034 Emerson 001, 003, 006, 021, 022, 025, 030, 032, 034, 040, 047, 050, 052, 060, 063, 065, 066, 067, 069 Fisher 018, 024, 028, 029, 048, 051, 061 Funai 025 General Electric 017, 002, 021, 005, 056 Go Video 002 LG(Goldstar) 006, 007, 008, 009, 010 Harman Kardon 007 Hitachi 019, 025, 041, 042 Instant Replay 021 JC Penny 002, 007, 018, 019, 021, 026, 037, 041, 054, 056 JVC 007, 008, 018, 021, 026, 037 Kenwood 007, 008, 018, 026, 037 KLH 070 Lioyd 025 Logik 038 LXI 025 Magnavox 021, 036, 056, 059 Marantz 018, 021, 007, 026, 037, 008, 062, 036 Marta 006 MEI 021 Memorex 006, 021, 024, 025 MGA 034 Midland 005 Minolta 019, 041 Mitsubishi 019, 034, 041, 046 Montgomery Ward 020 MTC 002, 025 Multitech 002, 025, 038, 005
NEC Optimus Panasonic Pentax Pentex Research Philco Philips Pioneer Portland PROSCAN Quartz Quasar Radio Shack/Realistic
018, 007, 026, 037, 008, 062, 021, 056, 071, 072 019, 021, 036, 056, 059 021, 036 019, 026, 039, 053 015, 049, 018 021, 056 006, 018, 020, 021, 024, 025, 029, 034, 048, 056 RCA 017, 019, 002, 021, 035, 041, 043, 057, 068 Samsung 000, 001, 002, 003, 004, 005 Sansui 026 Sanyo 018, 024 Scott 003, 047, 052, 067 Sears 018, 019, 006, 024, 028, 029, 041, 048, 051 Sharp 020, 034, 045, 015 Shimom 027, 033, 038, 058 Signature 025 Sony 027, 033, 044 Sylvania 021, 025, 036, 056, 059 Symphonic 025 Tandy 018, 025 Tashika 006 Tatung 037 Teac 025, 037, 068 Technics 021 Teknika 021, 006, 025, 031 TMK 066 Toshiba 003, 019, 029, 051, 052 Totevision 002, 006 Unitech 002 Vector Research 007, 026 Victor 026 Video Concepts 007, 026 Videosonic 002 Wards 002, 003, 006, 019, 020, 021, 024, 025, 034, 038, 041 Yamaha 007, 008, 018, 026, 037 Zenith 023, 027, 033, 073
On the whole, the image projected on the silver screen was pretty good. It had a rather a cinema-like look. It was clearly not processed the same way TV's process images -- both in the good and the bad. The tonality was nice, but the separation between in-focus and background elements wasn't. Moreover, because of the way an LCD projector works, there was occasional temporal aliasing -- flashes of "rainbow" color as the eye moved rapidly across the screen. A projector/silver screen setup is clearly for the dedicated home theater only. Because of the time the projector takes to warm up, the need to properly darken the room, and the sheer size of the picture, ordinary TV is simply out of the question. And for pure image quality, the projector in the end doesn't match up to comparably priced plasma, LCD, or rear-projection sets. But for a really "cinema-like" experience, it's great -- assuming you have the room to spare.
Since I already had a pair of decent speakers and my amplituner was becoming unusable, that was the first thing on my shopping list. After interviewing some audiophile friends of mine and determining that an amplituner they found respectable cost way more than I intended to pay for it, I started doing some research on the net and in magazines. This is the conclusion at which I arrived: Any integrated amplituner from a major brand with the connectors needed to plug in your stuff will do. In practice, this means an entry-level 5.1 home theater amplituner from, say, Yamaha, Sony, or Pioneer. Even the cheap ones are really good nowadays, with S/N ratios and harmonic distortion levels better than on pretty respectable gear, say, 15-20 years ago. There's actually precious little difference in the way the damn things sound until you get up to the 700+ euro price level -- and at that point, the amplituner would really require better speakers to do it justice, at which point we're easily looking at $3000+ for the sound only. What you get by going up from the basic 300-or-so-euro model is nicer finish, more and better connectors, eventually 6.1 and 7.1 sound capability, a snazzier remote, and so on. But the sound is really not that different -- and in any case, the speakers, the space you set them up in, and your ears will matter more than the small differences between them. However, I would recommend staying away from the integrated DVD+amplituner "home theater packages" if you care at all about the "natural" quality of the sound: those things sound just plain weird.
If you're considering a "surround" home theater speaker kit, do yourself a favor and get yourself a pair of something like these instead. They'll cost less and sound way better. The 7.2's are discontinued, but I'm sure the 8.2's you can get for under 200 euros are not worse. Oh, and I've no reason to think Wharfedales are better than any of the other major brands; capitalism being what it is, I doubt any of 'em are actually bad and many could be better.
The numbers -- 5.1, 6.1, 7.1 -- indicate the number of channels on the amp. That is, you can attach 5, 6, or 7 speakers and a subwoofer (for the low sounds) to it. My not-so-humble opinion is that even 5.1 is overkill most of the time, and 6.1 and 7.1 is just nonsense unless you actually have a room you can dedicate solely to home theater and enough rather nice speakers to make good use of the sound. in which case you probably won't be looking at 300-euro amplituners anyway. Several audiophiles I've both talked with and read are emphatically of the opinion that a solid pair of stereo speakers will whup any boxed 5-6-7.1 set any day of the week -- even in the "three-dimensionality" of the sound. A boxed set will sound better than a TV, and having a center speaker will help cover up some of the most glaring deficiencies in cheap speakers, but a pair of halfway decent (which does not necessarily mean super-expensive) primary speakers will always sound much better. This certainly jibes with my experience of the Sony 5.1 boxed set that I discuss above.
My choice: The Yamaha RX-V350. Why? Because I got a demo copy for cheap, it was decently built, had good connectors for the main speakers, and I imagined I liked the sound just a hair better than the corresponding Sony and Pioneer that I also listened to. Of course, a few days later I came across the next model up for just about the same price I paid (another demo copy). But really, I'm pretty sure that I'd have been just as happy with any of them. What I learned: Steer clear of "surround" boxed sets. Instead, go with a dedicated amplituner and a pair of dedicated main speakers. Even inexpensive ones will sound much better than a kit that may actually end up costing more. If you want a significant improvement over that, be prepared to budget several thousand euros -- and while certainly real, the difference between a 500 euro setup and a 10,000 euro setup may be smaller than you think. (Yes, I have listened to both.) If you have to choose between good
Another Kind of Picture primary speakers and anything else, get the good primary speakers. Then add a subwoofer (but only if needed -- even pretty small speakers can handle bass better than you might expect nowadays, and adding a poor subwoofer would only add more bass rather than better bass). Consider the other "effects" speakers only if you have good primaries and you have a dedicated room big enough to set them up so that they're not barking in your ear if you're sitting close to them. If your room is big and you'll have people sitting towards the side, the center speaker will help. If so small that the people sitting towards the sides will be sitting just by a rear speaker, the rear speakers may do more harm than good. Whatever you add, buy at roughly the same quality as your main speakers; if they're worse, they'll only muddy up the sound, and if they're better, you won't be making the most of them. My experience: Well, a new cheap Yamaha sounds better than an old dirty NAD, no question about it. The sound is clearer and "breathes more easily," there's noticeably less amplifier hum, and of course everything works -- and it's designed to work with a home theater. The sound also compares surprisingly well to my father's way more expensive Genelec setup -- nope, it's not in the same class, but when I listen to his stuff and then come home to listen to my stuff, the transition is less painful than I'd have expected. No gripes.
A TV is a pretty major purchase for a consumer durable. Therefore, I put a good deal of effort into researching them, and just looking at them. I carried a copy of the Two Towers DVD in my satchel and asked to watch it on some models that interested me. It was an interesting quest, and one where my original specifications got turned around almost 180 degrees. I started on my quest because my eye had been caught by some pretty impressive-looking and not horribly expensive LCD TV's in the 30-32 inch category. Some ViewSonics were on display at a store I often visit. The size felt about right for the pretty small space I have, too. I also felt that it would be very important to have HDTV capability for the not-too-distant future. So I originally started scouting for a 30-32 inch LCD TV with a vertical resolution of at least 768 points. I fairly quickly discovered a number of things: The panels are all pretty good, but the image processing varies. While the quality of the picture on LCD TV's looked very impressive at first sight -- sharp, punchy, colorful -- the more I looked at them, the less I liked them. Almost all of them had an unnatural, "plasticky" look to them, much like photos that have been de-noised with too much NeatImage and then had the poop sharpened out of them. I also found both the higlights and the shadows often lacking in detail, and many of them had weird and often unpleasant shifts towards the blue in shadow areas. As a group, LCD TV's, especially the inexpensive ones I had originally looked at, often had the same things wrong with them as inexpensive point-and-shoot digicams: oversharpened, overly colorful, and overly contrasty at the expense of shadow and highlight detail. Clearly, response times were an issue on some of them, too: in pan shots, the background smeared into a blur and "flattened out" the picture where others (and especially any plasma screen) would retain a crisp image even when it was moving very quickly. The exceptions: Panasonic, Sony, and to a degree, LG. When looking at the TV's as a group and picking out the ones that I really like, these three invariably stood out, in this order. The Panasonics in particular had a low-key, natural look about them, with excellent skin tones and especially skin textures -- the people looked like people instead of plastic mannequins. The Sonys were close, and the LG's not far behind especially when looking at DVD's. The Panasonics were clearly the best at making the most of a poor signal. Interestingly, none of these were the ones that initially grabbed my attention -- my eye was rather naturally drawn to the punchiest of the bunch first, and these three weren't there. However, when looking at the ranks of TV's on the walls, the ones that I liked most were never the LCD's. They were the plasma panels. I can't say exactly what it was that I liked more about them, especially compared to the best LCD's, but the image just somehow looked more natural and "film-like" on them. Moreover, the LCD's that I really liked, especially the Panasonics, cost almost as much as plasma screens anyway. So, at the next step I moved my sights up to 37-inch plasma screens: the biggest
size I could comfortably fit in the space I had in mind. So, more research followed. I read reviews and studied specs, and looked at pictures of the things: after all, you'll be seeing a TV even when it's off, so being ugly is a major point against it. I originally stuck to my original specification of "HDTV capable" which meant that I eliminated all of the so-called "EDTV" plasma screens, with a resolution of only 480 lines vertically. This meant that I was looking at low-end 37-inchers from Samsung, Sony, Thompson, and a few others -- the high-resolution Panasonic being out of my budget. The one I liked most from the specs and design was the Samsung PS-37S4A. It looks downright cool, with a simple, understated elegance, has a "megapixel" panel (1024 x 1024), decent contrast ratio, all the connectors you could wish for, and the price was right. I had already practically made up my mind to buy it when I marched into the store, trusty Two Towers in hand. But I didn't buy it. The reason was that I just couldn't get the kind of picture out of it that I wanted, even from the DVD let alone broadcast TV. The shadows were completely blocked, and the skins were polished to a plasticky sheen worthy of Ken and Barbie. Which only goes to show that specs can tell you only so much. So I informed the salesman who had kindly set up a DVD player for me that unfortunately that one was out, but he had a really good chance to sell me something else. What he said was, "Fine: let me plug this into that one; yeah, I know it's only EDTV but I think you'll like it, and if you do, I can sell it for the same price as the Samsung." What "it" was, was the Panasonic TH-37PA50 -- the little brother to the HDTV-capable (and good deal more expensive) TH-37PV500 (which they also had on display).
As far as I can tell, this model is not sold in the US; however, the same panel appears to be used on the "industrial" series TH-37PWD7UY [http://reviews.cnet.com/Panasonic_TH-37PWD7UY/4505-6482_7-31137096.html].
Hell yeah, I liked it. Once I turned down the "everything at 11" store settings, the picture was everything I wanted: subtle shadow and highlight detail, beautiful skin texture, beautiful but low-key color, and a "three-dimensional" look that very few of the TV's had managed to create. Yep, it only has about half the pixel count of, say, the Samsung, but at normal viewing distance of a moving picture, there was no noticeable difference in sharpness. What I don't know, of course, is how it will look with an HDTV signal compared to higher-resolution screens, but I have a feeling it will acquit itself well: even on a DVD with pretty good production values like Two Towers, the weak link in resolution is clearly the signal and not the panel -and a higher-resolution signal won't make the shadows and highlights look any better on the Samsung.
The Panasonic TH-37PA50. In my opinion, it had the best picture of any TV in this size class irrespective of pixel count (other than its higher-pixel-count sibling, the TH-37PV500. and that was damn close to a draw). (Picture ripped off the Panasonic website; presumably it's there for this kind of use so I don't think I'm breaking any rules here.) So there we are, my choice for TV was the Panasonic TH-37PA50: just like with cameras, the number of pixels turned out to be less important than the quality of the pixels. However, there was another one on display with a similar price tag and a higher-resolution panel, better connectors, and very similar picture quality: the Sony KE-P37XS1. Unfortunately it was a no-go because of the speakers on the sides: it would have been too wide to fit in the spot I wanted for it. What I learned: There are differences between sets that are very real but not immediately obvious -- and that are often masked by the garish "look at me" settings the sets have in the store. By the numbers, LCD's ought to be better than plasma screens. However, I just didn't like the way they looked -- they looked "artificial" and "digital" in a bad way. Image processing is the bee's knees -- TV's with the same panels looked wildly different depending on what was feeding them. To my eye, Panasonic had the best image processing with Sony a close second and LG another standout; I wasn't too impressed by any of the others. And finally, just like with cameras, the quality of the pixels matters more than the quantity: a great EDTV looked much better than an average HDTV. I wouldn't have bought one otherwise. My experience: The picture on the Panasonic is even better at home than at the store, what with the better lighting and all. It's actually at its best in moderate room lighting: if the room is completely darkened, I have to turn the brightness down a fair bit which means that the shadows go "noisy" -- since plasma cells have a certain minimum discharge level, the TV renders the darkest tones by switching off some pixels, which shows to the eye as noise. If there's some ambient light and the brightness is turned up to match, this isn't visible. I would like the TV to have a few more connectors -- DVI and HDMI would be nice, although the three SCART's and the component connector do get the job done. I'm mostly thinking about the future: the only way to get an HDTV signal into the box is through the component connection, and if I have a Blu-Ray DVD player/recorder and HDTV tuner, what then? But I figure there will be some way. I like the looks and the build of the TV too, and the usability is at least acceptable, although I would like a dedicated control to switch between viewing modes (instead of going through the menu) and find the "wait for the second digit" pause when switching channels via the number pad mildly annoying. But for the picture quality at this price I'm happy to put up with them.
Sources -- DVD and set-top
Today's a confusing time to buy widgets that plug into your TV. Take two fairly basic things -- a DVD player and set-top box. With the DVD player, you're already confronted with a huge number of options: the different types of connectors, signals, regions, features, and media boggle the mind. There have got to be tens of thousands of possible combinations of features, some of which make a huge amount of difference and others precious little. Here, in a nutshell, is what I learned about the topic.
Start with the connectors
Make sure the DVD player has the best connector available on your TV -- or, at worst, the second-best. On the other hand, if you insist on the latest-generation connector that your TV doesn't even have, you might be overpaying by hundreds of euros for a feature you won't even need -- and that might cost peanuts by the time you've upgraded your set to take advantage of it. In rough order of preference, here are the connectors to look for: 1. HDMI. This is the new, fancy connector for HDTV signals. The image quality is great and the usability is simple. If your TV has one, it would be good that your DVD has it too. 2. Component video. This is actually a set of three connectors, for red, green, and blue separately. The quality is just as good as with HDMI, but it might need some mildly puzzling configuration to set up properly. 3. S-VHS. This is a distinct step down already: usually doesn't support progressive scan (see below). 4. SCART. This you'll find on any TV and DVD. Dead simple but not the best for quality. If, like me, you end up using component video rather than HDMI to connect the stuff, you'll need a separate audio connector. In order of preference, look for: 1. Optical digital. You need this to support multi-channel sound. 2. Coaxial digital. If you only have two speakers, this is just as good as optical digital. 3. RCA stereo. Being analog, it's more prone to interference, bad connections, and such, but if correctly set up you really have to have a golden ear to tell the difference. You need either HDMI or component video to support progressive scanning -- the single most important feature on a DVD player you want to plug into a nice TV.
A regular TV signal is interlaced. It consists of frames. A TV picture is made up of horizontal lines. In an interlaced signal, every other frame transmits the odd lines, and every other, the even lines. Now, a digitally-driven high-tech TV takes this signal, and interpolates the missing lines for each frame, and draws a solid picture every time. This makes for a less flickery, steadier image. However, a DVD contains MPEG video, which isn't (internally) interlaced: it generates the interlaced signal out of it. In other words, the DVD player grabs half the data in a still that makes up the movie, passes it to the TV, which interpolates the other half and shows it. Then it sends the other half. This is repeated for every frame. Obviously, this is pretty inefficient: information is lost, and artifacts (from the interpolation) are introduced. This is where progressive scanning comes in. A DVD player that supports progressive scanning will pass complete, "intact" frames of video to the TV. This results in a steadier, more detailed and more natural-looking picture. (Yeah, it really does -- the difference between my old interlaced DVD player and my new progressive-scan one is huge.) So much for the theory. In practice, this is what you need to know:
Get a TV that supports progressive scanning. It'll have either an HDMI or component video input (or both). Get a DVD player that also supports progressive scanning. If both have HDMI connections, great. If not, component will give a picture that's just as good, but perhaps with a bit more trouble. Make sure to connect the two through the HDMI or component video connectors and set both to use progressive scanning. At least with component video, this isn't necessarily the case by default. If you need to use component video output and you want to use surround sound, make sure the DVD has digital optical audio out.
Seriously. If there's one feature on your DVD player that you need to look out for, it's progressive scanning and connectors that support it and match your TV.
There's a lot of other features associated with DVD's that don't really mean much. For example, some machines convert a DVD signal to an HDTV signal. Others have fancy image enhancement circuits. These don't really matter: they can't make the signal any better than any ol' progressive scanning DVD player with good-quality connectors and plugged in with cables that aren't absolute rubbish. However, some other features that won't affect the picture will make a significant difference with regards to usability. You may or may not need them. You may want to make note of: Format support. In addition to vanilla store-bought DVD's and CD's, many players can handle CD's, SACD's, CD-R's with JPEG's, DivX's, MP3's, and so on. If there's some particular format you want to be able to play, keep an eye out for it: just because it fits in the tray doesn't necessarily mean it'll play. Multiregion support. Most if not all DVD players are "hackable" to work with DVD's from any "region." Some are multiregion out of the box. However, some are easier than others, and some can't be hacked without a special remote or other weird tricks. If you need to play DVD's bought elsewhere than your region, make sure you can get them to work. If it's a recorder, what happens when you switch it off? It makes a big difference to usability if the signals from the antenna and the video/audio in get passed through even when it's off. General usability. There's a big difference in sheer usability between different makes of DVD players. Some are beastly, others are really nice. Look at the remote. If it looks simple with barely any buttons, the player is probably a breeze to use. If it has a zillion tiny buttons you need a ball-point pen to even push, it's probably hell. Even if you use a different remote. This is a good indicator of how much attention the designers paid to usability. In particular, Sonys are usually excellent, while most of the no-names are pretty horrible.
To record or not to record?
Back in the day, life was simple. If you wanted to record a TV program for later viewing, you got a VCR and plugged it into your TV with an RF cable that only went one way, or, later, a SCART connector that was just as simple. Assuming you could figure out how to set the clock, you were pretty much all set. Not anymore -- especially if you have digital TV, cable, or satellite decoders to deal with. Your options for recording stuff include: Good ol' VHS or S-VHS VCR, either standalone or in combo with a DVD player. I suggest you forget it. The quality sucks. Get your precious tapes transferred onto DVD and chuck the tape player. DVD recorder, either with or without a hard disk.
Digital TV decoder with a hard disk. These hard-disk equipped widgets are known as TiVO.
My strong recommendation would be to go with a DVD recorder. I went with one without a hard disk, simply because all the hard disk adds is capacity and a tiny amount of convenience, but it costs rather a lot. Why? A DVD recorder allows you to record both analog and digital signals, from any source. Digital TV decoders are in a state of flux. DVD recorders are mature technology. A DVD recorder is cheaper than a digital TV decoder with a hard disk. You pay less for recording capability, and you get a more versatile, simpler, and longer-lived system. And last but definitely not least, a DVD recorder simplifies your connections and the control of your mess o' stuff a great deal. Even if you rarely record anything, you might still want to look into getting a DVD recorder just for the added convenience of not having to switch between different types of AV sources depending on what you're watching.
Choosing a digi-TV decoder
Again, a mess of options to choose from. Here I'm even less of an expert with the rest of my stuff. In my opinion, this matters the least. If it's a decent brand, not known to have serious teething issues like the crashes on some Nokias (shame!), and is known to have decent usability, any will do. If it's officially supported by your cable company, great. If it has more comprehensive connectors than the basic RF and SCART, awesome. If it supports both cable and antenna, fabulous -- you won't have to sell it even if you move. I picked the XSat CDTV410 -- a basic box with uncommonly good connectors and both cable and terrestrial support, for very little more than the cheapest cable-only boxes. The real trick is in stringing it together.
Plugging it all in
Here's the problem: if you did like me and got boxes with lots of good connections, you'll find that there are literally dozens of possible ways to string them together. Some will produce a better picture than others. Some will be much more straightforward in use than others. So it really makes a lot of difference how you connect them. Here's what I did: My antenna connects to my DVD recorder (RF In). The RF out on my DVD recorder connects to the RF In on my digital cable decoder. The RF out on my digital cable decoder connects to the RF in on my TV.
Could it be simpler? Yeah, a little -- in particular, timed recording is a bit klugey. However, this is a far cry from having to toggle between different AV inputs at the TV, some of which are progressive and some of which aren't -- not to mention trying to figure out exactly what the DVD is recording when I'm watching something. Point being, it works without much hassle and gives the best quality my widgets can do.
The next obvious problem I encountered was that of the remote. Because I had happily shopped across brands, I had a set of wildly different and non-interoperable remotes. I was vaguely aware of the existence of universal remotes, but had no idea about the huge variety among them (nor that some of them cost more than my damn TV). Fortunately, I'm more than passingly familiar with usability design and have a very good idea of how I use the widgets I use, and how I want to use them. This helped me a great deal in finding something that worked -- indeed, something that works much better than I expected a universal remote could work. In the "LCD or hard button" fight, I'm a hard button fundamentalist. I really dislike touch-screens because of the lack of tactile feedback. I learn widgets with my fingers, and if my fingers have nothing to grasp, I find using a widget very very tedious. So I knew I wanted something with enough hard buttons for all the functions I regularly access. However, I also wanted something that's laid out nicely, with the most important buttons at the thumb and less important ones spread around, and all the buttons big enough to easily push. I knew I needed the "learning" capability, since I wanted to be able to control the entire setup as a unit and I expect to use the remote as the system evolves. And I didn't want to spend an insane amount of money for it.
A design that "just works" -- the Philips SBC RU 760/00 doesn't draw undue attention to itself, and manages to simplify the insanely complicated task of controlling a raft of different home electronics devices elegantly and (almost) seamlessly. after a period of adaptation, of course. I was surprised to discover that something almost exactly like I wanted actually existed, and wasn't even very expensive. It's the Philips SBC RU 760/00. It has a deceptively low number of nice, chunky buttons, no screen of any kind, is fully programmable (and comes with preset codes for hundreds upon hundreds of devices), and is extremely well-built (the top is aluminum). The only thing I would've done differently is switching between devices -- now it's done sequentially with a single button, while there would've been room for separate buttons for each of the devices. However, what with the Shift button and the learning capability, it was a snap to set it up to control two or even three devices at a time in a single mode: for example, if I'm controlling the DVD player, now using the Shift button with the menu controls allows me to get into the TV's menus, and the audio controls with no counterparts in the DVD player control the amplituner. On the other hand, if I'm in TV mode, the play control buttons control the DVD. And if I'm listening to music, the controller controls my amplituner and my CD player at the same time. In other words, it integrates the mess of different brand widgets I have into a whole almost as seamless as the Bang & Olufsen wonder my boss has at his home. This little marvel is without a doubt the best remote I
have ever used, and that includes the B&O one that came with a TV I used to own.
Cables and stands and stuff
The final item that needed purchasing was a TV stand. I took a tour of the local furniture stores with my wife, and was surprised to find out that apparently people are ready to pay more for a TV stand than I paid for the entire set of stuff I bought. Moreover, most of the stands were either made-to-measure (and very pricey) or rather inconvenient sizes. In the end and after a fair bit of legwork, I found one that was just about right -- fits at least four standard-width AV devices, has nice smoked-glass doors, carries 100 kg of weight, and even suits the color and styling of the TV. It was also a steal at 79 euros at IKEA. Cables are the subject for a major war among audiophiles. Some golden ears believe that high-end cables costing in the hundreds of euros per meter sound better than basic cables costing cents per meter. Fortunately, at this level it hardly matters. As long as the contacts are OK, any cable will work. In fact, for the coaxial digital audio connector I found that a regular ol' RCA-plugged cable worked fine, ohms be damned. (Digital cables either work or they don't; if they do, there's no conceivable way they could affect the sound.) The only cable where I did notice a difference between two I tried was the SCART connecting my DVD to the TV, so if you're in the mood of buying cables, I'd suggest you prioritize that one -- I needed one, to connect the digital tuner to the DVD recorder.
You Gets What You Pays For
The biggest eye-openers in the process of shopping for this home theater were the fact that resolution really isn't such a huge deal, and the difference that a good universal remote can make. Accepting the former brought a major leap in image quality at this price point, and discovering the latter removed the nagging feeling that it would be best to stick within a single brand for interoperability. It was also interesting to find out how much money it would be possible to spend for things that don't significantly improve the quality or the usability of the system -- made-to-measure stands, remotes with big color LCD touch-screens, exotic cables, and so on. The way technological development has brought what would have been a high-end home theater experience a few years ago within reach of mere mortals was a quite a discovery too. The old rule of "you gets what you pays for" that applies so well to cameras applies just as well to home theater. most of the time anyway. There's no doubt that spending five or ten times more would've gotten something seriously better -- real surround sound, a bigger and sharper screen, better "future-proofing" meaning that it could take full advantage of HDTV and Blu-Ray once they hit the market in a year or two and so on. However, whether it would've been five or ten times better is debatable. I believe that this kind of setup -- a low-end dedicated amplituner, low-end hi-fi speakers, good-quality EDTV plasma screen, good universal remote based on hard buttons -- does provide much more bang for the buck than most alternatives. It retains significant upgrade capacity (e.g. more speakers), and will handle the future just fine. Improving it significantly would easily double or triple the cost and require a much bigger space to put it in. Moreover, it's a great deal better than the default choice at this price point: an inexpensive set of surround speakers, a higher-resolution (possibly bigger) display from a cheaper brand with poorer image processing, a combined DVD player/amplituner. For a novice like me, the temptation is big to buy by the numbers -- more pixels, more channels, more speakers, more connections. Yet it's not the best way. Just like with cameras, with home theater sometimes less is more.
Stuff I Looked At
Some of the stuff I looked at (and think may be worth looking at) during my adventure:
Philips SBC RU 760/00 [http://www.consumer.philips.com/consumer/catalog/catalog.jsp?fhquery=fh_secondid%3Dsbcru760_00_fi_consum
Another Kind of Picture -- it would be hard to improve on the design of this universal remote. Seriously. Add more stuff and it becomes harder to use. Remove stuff and you won't be able to do everything you want. Rearrange it, and it'll be less accessible. Looks and feels good too.
Kaxs TV stand by IKEA [http://www.ikea.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10101&storeId=15&productId=15218& -- I honestly couldn't find one that looked better or fit better, and the cheapest of the ones I did find cost over three times at much. Not everything IKEA sells is a winner, but this one looks like it.
Panasonic TH-37PV500 [http://www.panasonic.fi/modules/page/show_page~id~FA33B4943412445CA5BD44C93FE5DFC3~tabletarget~d -- if money was no object, I would've bought this one. However, while it was better than the one I did buy, it wasn't twice as good (which is almost what it would've cost).
Panasonic TH-37PA50 [http://www.panasonic.fi/modules/page/show_page~id~00B203CCA63A4B3696ACBCF4F531FF60~tabletarget~d -- the Panny I did buy. These two are sort of like the EOS-350D and EOS-20D: the cheaper one is about 90% as good as the more expensive one at about 2/3 the price. Made sense for me. ProCaster AV4330 7.1 amplituner [http://www.soundcenter.fi/procaster.htm] -- if I had felt less leery of buying "no-brand," and if the fittings on the front panel had struck me as a little bit better put together, I might have bought this one. It quacks like a bargain and it walks like a bargain, but I'm not confident enough to say that it isn't actually a duck to go and buy one. Wharfedale speakers [http://www.wharfedale.co.uk/home.php] -- not all of them expensive, and some of the cheap ones are emphatically not junk. I'm entirely certain that you could do enormously worse than going with, say, their 8.2 or Pacific Pi-10 speakers.
Panasonic TX-32LX50 [http://www.panasonic.fi/modules/page/show_page~id~CDB9F254EC0B49CAA1A9028AB5611E30~tabletarget~d -- the best of the LCD TV's I looked at. Cost it, too. Samsung PS 37S4A [http://www.samsung.com/fi/products/tv/plasmatv/ps_37s4a.asp] -- I liked everything about it other than the picture.
Sony KE-P37XS1 [http://www.sony.fi/view/ShowProduct.action?product=KE-P37XS1&site=odw_fi_FI&category=TVP+Flat+Panel+ -- If the speakers had been below the screen rather than at the sides, I would probably have bought this one. To my eye, the image quality wasn't quite as good as the Panasonic I did buy, but the connectors and "future-proofing" is better. LG RZ-30LZ50 [http://www.lgenordic.com/index.html?content=http%3A//www.lgenordic.com/cgi-bin/surf.cgi%3Fid%3D1241] -- I liked this almost as much as the Sony and Panny LCD's. No surprise, though: it costs about as much too.
Panasonic DMR-E65 [http://reviews.cnet.com/4505-6473_7-30673454.html] (recently discontinued and available for pretty cheap) and Panasonic DMR-ES10 [http://www.panasonic.fi/modules/page/show_page~id~08A2B71C9F8441D7A3F0E0B89D435543~tabletarget~da -- two very similar reasonably priced DVD recorders, either of which would probably have fit my bill. The E65 is older but has even more connections than the ES10, but the ES10 supports more formats and was multiregion out of the box. The E65 wasn't easily multiregionizable, and the other was out of stock, so I didn't buy either of them in the end. Samsung DVDR-120 [http://www.samsung.com/fi/products/dvd_players/dvd_recorder/dvd_r120.asp] -- This is the one I bought. Sort of combines the nicest features of both of the Panasonics -- excellent connections and comprehensive features, and very "polite" with the other equipment. Comes with a
Another Kind of Picture remote that works with most common brands of TV, but is still a poor substitute for a real universal remote. I like it a lot so far.
Unless otherwise indicated, all materials on this site are by Petteri Sulonen. They are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/1.0/fi/]. I would appreciate it if you dropped me a line if you want to reproduce them. Any trademarks are property of their respective owners; their use is purely editorial and does not constitute an infringement.
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