I'm also in the market for a 40/42" LCD TV.
I've been reading the US forums ( LCD Flat Panel Displays - AVS Forum ) quite a bit, but find them very misleading for someone buying in HK.
Many US models have the same (or similar) model or series numbers as in Hong Kong, but their specs can be very different.
I too am pretty disappointed with the state of HD tv's in HK. It's amazing how HK can be so ahead of the curve with some consumer electronics and so behind the curve with others.
Even when I compare the HDTV offerings in HK with a place like Vietnam, HK HDTVs have less features and are overpriced
Someone in this thread was saying that there's only 3 LCD manufacturers, implying that there's no big difference between the cheaper and more expensive brands. I think this is a very simplistic way of looking at this. There are some very important other factors that make a good HDTV:
- backlight quality: allows for better blacklevels and more natural colors (ask for a WCG-CCFL backlight! or LED Backlight if you have the budget).
- transformer: the difference between a quiet tv or one with a buzzing sound.
- Image processor: a good processor upscales standard definition content much better and handles things like sports matches better (less blur!).
- Shielding quality: a TV with good shielding prevents other electronic sources from disturbing the image.
- Speaker quality: while many people have some surround system, I still find it important that my TV has good quality speakers.
So while all companies buy their LCDs from 3 manufacturers, the cheaper brands often cut corners on the above points.
I personally like the Sony W400a series. Be careful with reading reviews of the Sony W4100 series (US Model). Both sets look identical, but have very different specs: W400a has a 10bit panel vs. 8 bit panel, wcg-ccfl backlight vs. standard ccfl panel... just to name a few differences).
When comparing the Sony W400a with the Samsung 610 series, both seem to have very similar specs. The picture quality seems pretty much equal. Some important differences however are:
- Sony has a matte screen and Samsung has a glossy screen. If you have a bright apartment, a glossy screen WILL be a problem as you'll see alot of glare and may see your own reflection in the TV when watching a movie.
- Sony has much better quality speakers as the Samsung, so if you do not have a dedicated surround system, this is an important consideration.
- The Samsung 610 however has 4 HDMI ports vs. 3 on the Sony w400a (if that is important to you).
- I've heard people SAY! (but have not experienced this myself) that Sony has better after sales support as Samsung.
Importing a set directly from the USA is something I would not recommend. Many features that the US set will have will be useless in HK. Adding an external transformer could cause the TV to buzz and could interfere with picture quality. Most importantly, I don't think you can use your warranty here in HK. Imagine the scenario where your set has some defect!
Finally, I have a question: since many people are talking about built-in HDTV tuners, what channels do you get with these tuners? As an expat, I barely ever watch the two English HK channels, so if that is all I'm getting, I could care less about these tuners.
I subscribe to NOW TV and IF! I choose to subscribe to their HD channels, they will provide the HD tuner for that anyway. Their HD offerings are however very limited and seriously overpriced, so for the time being I'll be getting most of my HD content from Bluray disks.
What I'm really hoping for is that Sony will announce the Z series here in HK soon. While it will have more or less the same specs as the W series, it does have a very slim bezel and is thinner. Anybody know if the Z series if coming to HK any time soon?