Home Theater/42-46" smart TV
Hello: We are looking to replace our current TV with a smart TV, and have been looking at reviews, articles, etc. This would be our first "smart" TV, and we are not techies, so we are looking for a set that is fairly easy to set up, has built in Wi-Fi and web browser., as well as streaming video capabilities. At this point we are looking mainly at a couple of Samsung models (5300/6300). Would these TV's fit our requirements, or do you have any other suggestions? Sound quality is a concern, since the 7 year old Toshiba we have now does not have very good sound quality. Thanks.
Samsung generally makes a fine product, you may also look at Vizio as well - they may cost less relative to the features they offer (and they make a fine product as well). Sony should also be considered, if your budget will allow you to go beyond their "entry level" offerings (in general budget-oriented Sony products are a less-wise purchase opposed to other manufacturers, but higher-tiered Sony products may (in many cases do) offer functionality not found elsewhere). The primary factors I would suggest looking at would be screen size relative to viewing distance (the further away the TV is, the larger it will have to be, relatively speaking), input support (especially important if the TV is meant to be used as a stand-alone device; it must be able to connect to all of your devices), and finally the additional streaming features that you desire (more on this later). You should also consider if 3D is important to you, and if your other hardware will support it (it requires a 3D compatible Blu-ray player as well).
Another thing to note - depending on the capabilities/condition of your current TV, it may be much cheaper to simply add the web functionality you want with an external device, like Roku, a GoogleTV component, or a gaming console (like the PlayStation 3) - generally these devices will cost less than a complete television. However they generally require an HDTV for full functionality. Keep in mind that "video streaming capabilities" will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer (excepting game consoles, which are much more universal in their application support) - do you have a specific service or feature you would like? (Generally speaking, TVs and similar devices will not have as universal a handling of multimedia content as would something like a PC or game console) Further, keep in mind that the web-browsing abilities of a TV (or game console) will be limited relative to a full-fledged PC; not all functionality may be available due to the software and hardware limitations of such an embedded device. If you need extended functionality, it may be more worthwhile to connect a PC to your television, or otherwise rely on a PC. Just something worth noting; for basic browsing (like checking weather or movie showtimes), many modern embedded devices are quite adept.
Regarding sound quality - most modern flat-panel TVs have poor sound quality as they generally lack the space/dimensions to include large or powerful speakers. There are a variety of external solutions that can remedy this, such as a soundbar, if you are so inclined. This is by no means required, but seemed worth mentioning as the cost is generally not as high as it once was.
If you have further questions, feel free to ask.