"I like the to watch films & sport and I want it as eco friendly as possible but I don’t have any HD inputs, what can you recommend?"
The sales assistant said I should get FreeSat as Standard Definition (SD) would be poor and then went onto to show me a football match (that I actually attended) that he’d recorded. First off SD – oh good grief it was worse than I’d thought, the players had a horrible halo around them, big chunky pixelated squares – yuk. Then he showed me a HD recording and it was better. I admit I didn’t spot the trick at the time, but in fact I’ve just watched a SD football match of my new TV and it’s fine. The trick was the he’s used a hard-disk recording device and obviously set SD to use a higher compression ratio. That’s why it looked like something recorded on a web-cam. So beware of that trick, sure getting a HD source is important but you don’t have to purchasing ugly Sat dishes if you’re just interested in watching TV.
The next problem I had was asking about the sound. The TV I had my eye on hadn’t got the greatest reviews for its sound so I asked to hear a comparison with one of its rivals. The sales guy couldn’t be bothered to do this possible and just gave me a demo with the TV wall-mounted on their flimsy "cool" designer wall. It sounded worse than I thought. So I had to make a difficult choice between picture and sound. In the end I went for picture as I could solve the the sound problem via an amp. One I got the TV home and put it into a sensible position, the sound was fine. Ok not award winning but general TV watching, without the eco-unfriendly cinema amp on, it’s decent enough.
Knowing that my DVD player was also on it’s last legs and that I should get some sort of HD source I decided I’d also get a blu-ray player. I asked about the difference between two players, especially regarding DVD upscaling (as I have a few DVDs). The assistant couldn’t tell me the difference and said upscaling is a waste of time. Hmm, oh well I had a pretty good idea of the player I wanted so I was about to buy the player and the TV and then thought I just check they included the necessary HDMI cable to connect the two. "Oh no you have to buy that". Good grief, what exactly does this guy get paid to do? So I finally got my player & TV home and thankfully it works fine. Oh and after comparing the same DVD (after being conned into owing two copies of Battlestar Razor) you can really notice the upscaling, thanks guy.
So in summary;
1. Do a bit of reading, magazines, forums, etc
2. Find some shops to give you a demo but be very mindful of the source they’re showing you – if you can take your own source, such as a TV recorded on DVD then do so
3. Have a list of questions before you go the shop, because you can’t rely on the sales people
4. If you have the time (I didn’t) get them to demo in a proper demo room.