The Sunday Supplements (6/25/06)
Browsing through this week's Best Buy circular on Sunday morning, I noticed a product I hadn't seen before - the widescreen SDTV (from Toshiba; $599 for 30" and $399 for 26" tubes). I'd been wondering when something would come along for the digital TV buyer who balks at HD prices but would rather not view their widescreen programming letterboxed on a 4:3 screen.
Pricewise, you'd expect this product to come in south of a HD equivalent, but north of a 4:3 SDTV of roughly the same size. But this first offering (that I've seen, anyway) seems too close to the HD price range (at least for the 30" model) to make the sacrifice in quality worthwhile, especially since it's 480i, not 480p.
At $599, the 30" model is only $119 shy of the Samsung 30" HD tube model available at Circuit City for $719 (net of "instant savings"), but a full $300 more than the $299 than Circuit City charges for a Sylvania 32" 4:3 SDTV (Best Buy has a 32" Sharp SDTV for $329).
It's somewhat more difficult to draw a meaningful comparison for the $399 26" model, since I couldn't find any widescreen HD sets in that size in this week's ads (OK, I could hunt down something online, but the idea behind "The Sunday Supplements" feature is to focus on what retail is advertising this week, so...). There was a 26" 4:3 HD set from Magnavox - for $749. That seems a bit of an anomaly, but there you are.
So I'm left wondering if the 30" model has a future at that price point, but if a 26" widescreen is enough for you (and if you suspect that the difference between HD and SD might not be as obvious at that size, and if money is tight), then this might be something to consider.
At least according to this week's Sunday supplements.
UPDATE (6/30): Added info about the resolution. Thanks to Ben Drawbaugh from HD Beat for the catch!