I'm a gadget nut. Ask anyone who knows me. My house is filled with way more gadgets than the average single guy would need. I have three TVs (all Sony, all 'old-fashioned' picture tube models), I have surround sound receivers, I have two DVRs (one a Tivo, one not), I have satellite TV, I have lots of Apple hardware. One thing I do not have, is an HDTV.
It's not that I've been ignoring these things. I've been keeping an eye on them for years. Of course I avoided buying one for the biggest of reasons - price. When they first came out they were $5K-$10K or more. These days, they've dropped into the $1-2K range for most of them, even the big ones. However, I'm still very hesitant to get one. Yes, one of the big reasons is the price. $1-2K is a lot of money to spend on a TV that realistically I don't watch a whole lot. I might watch it for an hour or two a night. Plus, it's not just the cost of the TV. You also need a new Blu-Ray DVD player, a new stereo receiver (for the HDMI signal coming from the Blu-Ray player), a new satellite dish (to receive the HD television signal, a new Tivo (to record the new HD television shows). etc. All those new gizmos add up to several thousand dollars! Not something I want to spend! But there is one other reason, irregardless of the money that makes me hesitant. Quality.
As I said before, I have three Sony SDTVs in my house. The oldest of which is over 15 years old and it still works perfectly. The most recent of these TVs is the 32" Sony I use as my main, living room TV. I think I paid about $400 for this TV about 5 years ago. Of course it still works flawlessly. Compare the perfect 15 year track record of my oldest TV with what appears to be a pathetic track record of these big screen HDTVs.
About 4 years ago, I bought a nice 20" Dell LCD monitor for my computer at home. I used it for about 3 years happily. I loved the thing. Perfect picture, looked nice, worked well. No complaints. About a year ago, I upgraded to a 24" Samsung LCD monitor (which honestly I'm not that happy with). So I put the 20" LCD aside for a month or so. About a month later, I decided I wanted a dual monitor setup at work. I knew the company wouldn't buy me one so I brought in my old 20" Dell to work and connected it. I used the old Dell as my main monitor and my previous monitor as the secondary monitor. However, as soon as I connected the Dell at work, I noticed a distinct difference in how the colors looked on the old Dell versus the newer (cheap) Acer LCD I had at work. My Dell had noticeably worse color. It was still bearable, so I kept using it. Within a year of installing it at work, however, my nice Dell monitor died completely. A large swatch of the screen right down the middle just went bonkers and I couldn't fix it. The monitor was dead. Looking back on this I realize that this monitor had started to go bad a year before it died. When I first moved it to work I noticed the colors it displayed were not quite right. Despite that I used it, bad colors and all for the better part of a year. This means that essentially my monitor had started to go bad only 3 years into owning it! it's possible that those colors could have started going bad even before that, but I didn't notice because I didn't have another monitor next to it to compare it with.
What does the story of my dead LCD monitor have to do with the quality of HDTVs? Everything. Most HDTVs sold these days are LCD - the same technology used on my dead LCD monitor that only lasted 4 years (3 if you count from when I started noticing the colors were bad). Now LCD computer monitors are fairly cheap these days. You can buy them from anywhere from $200-$400. If they only last 4 years, not a big deal. An HDTV, however, runs at least $1000 and that thing is expected (at least for me) to last a good 15-20 years! The problem is, I don't think they will. If an LCD computer monitor only lasts 4 years, what's to lead me to think an LCD TV will last 15? It won't. I just can't bring myself to spend that kind of money on a TV that will die in a couple of years. What am I going to do, spend $1500 on a TV every 5 years or so? That's ridiculous! Now you may argue that LCD technology has improved over the years and these LCD HDTVs should last a lot longer. I don't believe it. I've noticed HDTVs in electronic stores that are clearly defective. The colors are WAY off, and I've even seen images permanently burned into the screens. I was in Sam's Club yesterday. They had a big display of HDTVs showing Wall-E (one of my favorite movies from this year) in HD. So I paused to admire the great HD picture on these TVs for a moment. That's when I noticed that one of the TVs had a image permanently burned into the screen! If a TV that runs 8 hours a day for maybe a year can suffer these issues, then that means that if I were to buy one, and it ran maybe a couple of hours a day in my home, the thing would only last a couple of years.
I just can't bring myself to spend that kind of money on a technology that doesn't look very reliable.