Question: I have seen your columns regarding plasma TVs and every one has been very positive. I am thinking of getting a Panasonic plasma but my daughter has a friend who works in a TV repair shop and he said that plasmas do not last very long, mentioning five years or so as to the screen life. I want a TV that will last longer than five years. We had an RCA console TV that lasted for over 22 years and I would really like my next TV to last at least 10 to 15 years.
Elk River, Minn.
Answer: Many early plasma TVs did have what seemed to be a limited lifespan, and about 10 years ago a friend who had a repair shop showed me a room full of dead plasma TVs. This stuck in my mind and for a while I did not recommend them in this column. Things have changed dramatically since then and it turned me from a skeptic to an evangelist for plasma technology.
Panasonic 1080p plasma panels are rated to go to half brightness after 30 years of watching for eight hours per day. In terms of personal experience, in my circle of immediate family and close friends we have had better luck with plasma. Above 42-inch screen size, between us we have had six plasmas (one Samsung, one Hitachi, one LG and three Panasonics) and one LCD (Toshiba) as our primary or bedroom television.
All the plasmas have been flawless and the Samsung is almost six years old and still going strong. The only TV to fail was the LCD set, which, sadly, I purchased for my parents for Christmas in 2007 and was the most expensive of the lot. It only lasted 2.5 years. I replaced it with a Panasonic plasma and they like it much better.
This is just one anecdotal example, but despite LCD supposedly being more reliable it wasn't in this case here. I recommend buying what you want, regardless of the technology. Both plasma and LCD are extremely reliable and it should not be an issue
Question: My daughter will be attending college next year. Currently she uses earbuds and would like to get a pair of headphones, perhaps noise-canceling headphones so she won't easily hear noises as she studies. My older daughter bought $350 Bose headphones and I think that was too much money. She really likes them because she does not hear other noisy people in the dorm.
We don't really have a budget, but wonder whether it is possible to get a good pair of noise-canceling headphones for $100 to $200. Do you have any suggestions?
Answer: I have always had great success recommending Audio-Technica headphones and, unlike Bose products, they can be found online at significant savings from suggested retail prices. They are very competitive if sold at the list price, but, when you take the discounts into account, they are phenomenal bargains.
The Audio Technica ATH-ANC7B Active Noise-Canceling Closed-Back Headphones have a suggested retail price of $219.95 but can be purchased online for $114.95. In more than 505 reviews on Amazon, they have amassed a solid 4-star rating and many reviewers preferred them over the $300+ Bose products. For less than $115, I don't think you can go wrong.
Read product reviews by Don Lindich at soundadviceblog.com.