Ten years ago, at the turn of the new millennium, a 42-inch plasma screen would go for close to $20,000. This would get you a standard-definition set that let you watch your 90s shows in a whole new light, not to mention saving you a considerable amount of electricity. It was as 21st-century as you could get.
Today, the same set would cost you under a thousand dollars. Throw in a few hundred more and you get HD capabilities, a larger screen, and the option to hook up to digital TV. But while the technology has gotten cheaper, on the higher end of the scale, the prices haven’t stopped growing. Here are some of the priciest sets from Australia’s Big Four brands: Samsung, Panasonic, Sony, and LG.
Samsung Series 9
This 55-inch LED/LCD set comes with a stylish stainless steel bezel and a swanky remote with its own screen, but as Samsung itself says, it’s as much about style as it is about substance. The remote control screen is able to stream content from the television set through a WiFi connection. It’s also got full internet capacities with the Internet@TV system, allowing you to download apps, movies, and TV episodes. It’s also 3D capable. Retail price as of 2010 was around $10,000.
Not comfortable putting an entire college fund in a TV set? “Downgrade” to this $7,500 model by Korean manufacturer LG—you get the same screen size and technology, with a strong contrast ratio making for a smooth, seamless image. An Intelligent Sensor adjusts picture quality according to your screen settings to make the picture easier on the eyes. Other features include sleek, flat speakers and a Wireless 1080p media box. The only downside? It’s not 3D-capable, so you may need a re-upgrade soon.
Panasonic lives up to its name as the leader in plasma technology by putting a plasma screen on its frontline, the only major manufacturer to do so. For just under $6,700, you get a 65-inch screen with a slightly lower contrast ratio than the LG, but a sleeker build (only 2 inches) and more connectivity (including four HDMI ports). Its strongest suit, according to Panasonic, is a 600Hz subfield drive, which reduces blur in fast-action media such as sports.
The HX800 boasts Sony’s Bravia 3 engine, wireless LAN and Internet TV capabilities, 200Hz MotionFlow, 3D compatibility, and an Ambient Sensor that adjusts screen settings to the lighting and time of day. For $4,699, it’s about as feature-packed as you can get, at least among the big-name manufacturers. You’ll need to buy peripheral add-ons to be able to enjoy the 3D, though, so your total expenses might be more than that.