IT Show 2013 Buying Guide
IT Show 2013 is currently taking place at Marina Bay Sands for the very first time, at level 1 and basement 2. The show is on from the 7th to the 10th of March, and is opened from 12 noon to 9pm. One of Singapore's longest running tech shows, IT Show 2013 features more than 800 exhibitors, and covers over 350,000 square-feet of exhibition space, with products ranging from notebooks and tablets to televisions, automotive accessories, and more. As usual, admission is free!
As usual, there are literally thousands of products at the show, so in this buying guide, we'll be giving you some tips and tricks on what to look for when buying a particular product. And of course, we'll tell you some of the great deals we've uncovered at the show floor. So be it a new TV or a new pair of headphones, remember to read this before heading out to Marina Bay Sands.
Buying Guide Index
HardwareZone IT Show 2013 Portal
For more on the IT Show, including maps, brochures, and Twitter updates, click on through to our IT Show portal.
TV Buying Guide
If you're buying a flatscreen TV today, chances are, it'll either be an LED TV or a plasma TV. Truth be told, an LED TV is actually an LCD TV. The main difference is that the former uses LED backlights (hence the name LED TV) instead of CCFL backlights. This has resulted in improved picture quality as a whole, and it also allows manufacturers to engineer slimmer housings.
A few years ago, we recommended that those on a shoestring budget to consider LCD TVs using CCFL backlights; but now, LED backlight-based LCD TVs are as affordable, so there's no real good reason to buy their older and thicker predecessors. That said, those who watch movie content a lot, and want a TV that can produce super-deep blacks and super-high contrast might want to consider a plasma TV. Many of the higher-end plasma TVs are also equipped with very fast refresh rates that often process motion better than similarly priced LED TVs.
Besides LED TVs, the other two buzzwords you tend to hear in advertisements or see in brochures today are Smart TVs and 3D TVs. Simply put, a Smart TV is an Internet-enabled television. It enables users to surf the web, view free or pay-per-view video streams, share networked content, as well as engage in interactive media such as social networking applications on a single platform. On the other hand, a 3D TV, as the name implies, allows you to watch 3D content. Technologies used on a 3D TV can be complicated to explain in a matter of a few paragraphs; but in a nutshell, a 3D TV usually uses one of these two technologies: active 3D or passive 3D. While many TV enthusiasts love active 3D TVs for their 'better' image quality, those looking for cost effectiveness are often drawn to the passive 3D camp due to its use of lightweight, lower priced polarized glasses.
With shrinking prices and the fact that all TV makers have long shifted their production focus to LCD TVs using LED backlights, chances are, an LED TV is what most new TV buyers are likely going to end up with then they're shopping for a new TV today. The other good piece of news is that you no longer need to break the bank to afford a full HD set. For example, S$1,500 these days can easily land you a 47-inch, edge-lit, 1080p LED TV with Smart TV features, such as the LG 47LS5700 shown on the right.
While there are only a handful of plasma TV makers left in the market now, the ones that remained have continued to churn out products that took our breaths away. To compete with LED TVs, plasma TV makers have mostly focused on improving what the technology does best, mainly black levels and motion control. Take for example the 65-inch Pansonic Viera TH-P65VT50S, which is fitted with a NeoPlasma panel treated with an Infinite Black Ultra filter, and a 2,500Hz Focused Field Drive system. Hence, when it comes to picture quality, many TV experts still prefer plasma TVs over LCD TVs.
LED TVs and plasma TVs are so named because of the technologies (panel, backlight type) they're based on. On the other hand, Smart TVs (which also go by other names such as Connected TVs and Internet TVs) are so named because of the smart features they possess. A modern Smart TV is usually accompanied by widgets, apps, games, and a web browser. The important thing to take note here is that Smart TVs are powered by each brand's own proprietary software. So don't assume that a Smart TV feature on a Samsung TV is also present on an LG Smart TV, and vice versa.
Both active and passive 3D TVs have similar price range, but the latter have a slight price advantage because they use glasses with simple polarized lenses, as opposed to active glasses that have more electronics and run on batteries, and are thus heavier and more expensive to deploy in scale. And for the uninitiated, if you've a 3D TV, you also have an HDTV capable of displaying high-def 2D content. But be aware that the ability to convert 2D signals to 3D on the fly is usually a feature found on premium 3D TVs. And even when you've bought a 3D TV, you still need 3D content (e.g. a 3D Blu-ray disc) and a 3D source (e.g. a 3D-capable Blu-ray player) - thus the investment may be greater than you initially thought.
Of course, one couldn't be more wrong to assume that the holy grail of TV tech is already achieved. Judging from the announcements at CES 2013, TVs can only get slimmer, larger, and more high-definition in the years to come.
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT HDTVS, SMART TVS & 3D TVS?
Have we aroused your curiosity and you now wish to learn more about the workings of HDTVs, Smart TVs, and 3D TVs? If so, check out our HDTV Buying Guide Essentials, Smart TV Buying Guide Essentials, and 3D TV Buying Guide Essentials.
In any case, before we dive into some of the top TV deals at this year's IT Show, here are some reminders:
- A 3D TV isn't necessarily a Smart TV, though most of the time 3D sets do come equipped with Smart TV features.
- Don't assume that apps found on UK or US Smart TV models are available on app stores here as well. This applies to video-on-demand services in particular. If you're keen on a specific service, check with the manufacturer if it's available locally.
- If you foresee yourself spending more time on the web browser rather than multimedia apps, be sure to try out the Smart TV's browser when you're at the show. Some models have less responsive web browsers, while others do not support certain plug-ins like Java or Flash.
- To stream high-definition content, it's best to have a broadband speed of 10Mbps and above to avoid video stutters or intermittent buffering. For optimal wireless network performance, we'd recommend using a wireless N-router at the very least.
- Don't purchase a Smart TV simply because you feel compelled by consumer trends. Most TV vendors offer a cheaper 'non-Smart' alternative under their HDTV line-up if you prefer a more traditional display set. The same goes for a 3D TV. Do you really need a 3D TV? Have you thought about where you're going to get 3D content from?
Check out the latest TVs at our HardwareZone TVs Product Guide.
TV Deals at IT Show 2013
Sad to say, besides Samsung, there are no other TV brands at the IT Show this year. So, here are our top two TV picks from the Korean CE giant:
Samsung ES7500 Smart LED TV (55-inch)
IT Show 2013 Offer
Samsung ES5500 Smart LED TV (40-inch)Looking for a big-screen LED TV for under $1,000? The UA40ES5500 from Samsung may fit the bill. This 40-inch Smart TV uses a full HD panel, has a 12mm slim bezel, and features the company's AllShare Play that allows you to stream content from a compatible device. Besides a Smart Hub that shows your apps and lets you search for content, you can also enjoy family, fitness, and kids learning services. The TV is equipped with three HDMI ports. Yes, it doesn't do 3D, but we feel that the price is right.
IT Show 2013 Offer
Level 1, Booth 1421
Level 1, Booth 1421