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THIS WEEK’S FOCUS: Choosing a Big-Screen TV


When you want a larger display for a bigger room (anything over 40 inches diagonal), you need to step up from a traditional direct view set to a rear-projection television (RPTV). RPTVs present a good value in terms of price and performance and come in a variety of different display technologies.

The lowest-cost RPTVs are powered by three small (7- to 9-inch diagonal) cathode ray tubes (CRTs). The process involves separating the video signal into three separate colors—red, green, and blue—that are then fed to three separate CRTs, one for each of those primary colors. The three CRTs are aimed at a reflecting mirror, typically located toward the bottom of the set, which reflects the picture onto the television’s screen. The separate red, green, and blue pictures combine into the single full-color picture that you see on the screen.

Compared to other types of rear projection sets, a CRT projector has a few unique advantages. The chief advantage, of course, is the price: CRT projectors typically cost $500 to $1,000 less than similar-sized DLP or LCD projectors. Also attractive is the picture, which has a film-like quality not yet duplicated by other technologies.

On the downside, CRT projectors are big and bulky, taking up a lot more floor space than competing microdisplay projectors. CRT sets also output less light than other types of RPTVs, and those three CRTs require careful (and constant) convergence to keep the three colors aligned. Off-angle viewing is also somewhat problematic; if you have a chair or two sitting off the side of the screen, this might not be the right type of TV for you.


On this date in 1897, Dr. John Kellogg served the world’s first cornflakes to his patients at a mental hospital in Battle Creek, Michigan. In 1906, Kellogg’s brother, Will Keith Kellogg, added sugar to the recipe and began marketing cornflakes as a breakfast food.


Here’s a gadget for the spouse of the ultimate home theater enthusiast. The Couch Potato Tormentor is the "anti-remote," a small device that interferes with your television viewing. It randomly changes the channel your spouse is watching, which leads to all manner of hilarity (and possible spousal conflict). Buy it for $14.95 at http://www.couchpotatotormentor.com.

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