Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Two little words

The shopping frenzy continues to ramp up as Christmas day draws closer. The most recent Target flier has a great gift suggestion, and an example to illustrate the importance of careful consideration before the sale –- even on Christmas Eve!

On sale now is the Memorex flat-screen TV/DVD/VCR combo for $199.88. For a dorm room, or other small spaces (like our front room) it’s a great idea. The price is right, and Memorex is a reputable brand, so I think anyone who purchased this looking for a simply TV combo player would be happy.

Unless, that is, the buyer was confused by the similarity of two little words.

"screen" vs. "panel"

LCD and plasma TVs are known as “flat-panel” displays. Most traditional CRT (cathode ray tube) TVs use curved glass. About the time flat-panel technologies hit the market, higher end CRT sets were being made with flat screens, which helped reduce glare and distracting reflections.

Flat-panel displays are in high demand. CRT sets –- even those with flat-screen displays -– not so much.

Flat-panel is an accurate and commonly accepted term for LCD and plasma displays, and flat-screen is the same for a certain kind of cathode ray tube. And therein lies the potential for confusion.

If you’re not sure of the difference between “flat-panel” and “flat-screen,” there are some other clues you can use to determine what this set actually is. Flat-panel TVs, even small ones, are still relatively expensive, while CRT sets are dirt cheap. The price suggests this might be a CRT set. The full-front shot in Target’s flyer can make this look like a flat-panel TV, but their website image, which is slightly angled, gives you an idea that it’s a tube TV (it’s also why I went with the photo I did for this post).

Even –- or rather especially -– when you’re last-minute shopping, take the time to make sure what you’re purchasing is really what you think it is.

If you want a compact all-in-one video player, then you (or your gift recipient) should be happy with this Memorex TV. If, however, you just rush in and grab this off the shelf, equating “flat-panel” with “flat-screen,” then you may have an unpleasant surprise when you open that box.

- Ralph

No comments:

Post a Comment