Console TV sets, camcorder-computer compatibility

Week of January 7, 2006

Q: Our 18 yr old console TV’s reception is becoming worse and soon we’ll have to replace it. I would like to go with a flat screen, HDTV model- however, I haven’t seen any that come in a console. Our house is small and does not have a family or game room; the living room, which is not huge, is where we watch TV. Consequently, the TV has always been a piece of furniture as well as an electronic appliance.

We have looked at TV stands and cabinets at local unfinished furniture shops, but there are not a lot of choices. Without any major rearranging of the living room and wiring/cabling reconfigurations, we cannot go any larger than a 32″ LCD wide-screen monitor with the speakers on the bottom instead of the sides or a 30″ wide screen CRT, such as a Toshiba, again with speakers on the bottom. Do you have any suggestions?

-John Hancock, McCandless, PA

A: Every once in a while I receive an email lamenting the demise of that American icon, the console TV. I grew up with them and many people are still attached to them. Believe it or not, console TVs can still be purchased though they can be a bit hard to find. You won’t find them in HDTV models, but if you are willing to settle for an analog TV if you check out the smaller independently owned, mom-and-pop stores you can find them. I’ve even seen console TVs advertised in my home town of Pittsburgh, and a recent visit to a small local store showed several to be available in a 27″ size.

LCD TVs vary greatly in picture quality, even when spending thousands of dollars. Some look fantastic, others are barely watchable. The best I have seen is the newer Sony LCD models. They are quite expensive, but worth it- you will have your TV for many years.

Your choices in a 30″ CRT TV with the speakers on the bottom are limited. I don’t know of any other than the Toshiba. Your email did not say it specifically, but it sounds like you are trying to get a TV to to fit within a cabinet you are considering from the furniture shops. If this is the case, I would concentrate on choosing a set by picture quality rather than the furniture it will be placed on. After all, you will be looking at the television image, rather than the furniture the TV is placed on!

In CRT HDTVs, I like the Sony models the best for their excellent picture quality. The Panasonic 30″ widescreen CRT has speakers on the sides, but they are very slim so you may want to check it out as well. The Toshiba is also a good choice, though I don’t think the picture is quite as good as the Sony or the Panasonic models.

Q: I read your recent column about video editing, camcorders and computers where you discussed a Macintosh computer and a Sony digital camcorder. I have a Macintosh computer (an iMac) and a miniDV camcorder, but it is a Canon video camera, not a Sony. Will they work together?

-Hannah Lyons, Minneapolis, MN

A: Yes, they will work together. MiniDV is a standardized format that will work with both Apple and Windows computers.

It’s a good question to ask, however, as not all camcorders work with all computers or editing packages. Incompatibility is rare nowadays, but a few years ago certain camcorders wold not work very well when connected to a computer.

Today most of the kinks in the system have been ironed out and compatibility problems are rare.   If you have an older camcorder and are having trouble getting the camcorder and computer to connect, check manufacturer’s websites for potential compatibility issues. If you stick with Canon, Sony, and Panasonic camcorders it is very unlikely that you will have compatibility problems- they are the three major players in the market and have been reliable from platform to platform.

Comments are closed.