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Best TV to dim at night.

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Looking for a new bedroom TV. The wife likes to dim the display to almost dark at night. Currently she's using an older Toshiba LCD. Plasma seems like it would be best but she is disabled and can't do much else but watch TV. The set is on 12 - 20 hours per day. The Samsung EH5000 series looks interseting with it's good ratings and an ambient light sensor. Tried one in the store though and it seems like the LED backlight will not go nearly as dim. Not sure the automatic feature will help if the screen won't go dark enough. Any ideas on what would be best TV in 37" - 40" size for dimming capability? Preferably it would be more than $500 - $550.
post #2 of 5
Personally I do not like auto dimming functions in a TV. It’s a nice idea, but I don’t find them to work very well.
Plasma displays are not good at being dimmed on a basic level, and are far more likely to irritate in a dark room if she is sensitive to things like flicker or other temporal artefacts.

I would suggest looking into one of Sony’s LED sets.
Their backlight can go quite low, and you can always reduce the contrast even further.
Some of their MotionFlow options use backlight scanning that can potentially introduce some flicker (depends on sensitivity) but will appear to dim the backlight even further.
They have an “auto light limiter” function that will reduce the brightness of bright images on-screen. (e.g. An ad that flashes a full white image)
They have good picture controls that are easy to understand, which will make the image easier to view at very low light conditions. E.g. Shadow detail etc.
They have a “Theater” button on the remote that toggles between the current scene mode and the “Film” preset temporarily. You can use this to have the TV start in a very dim preset, and then switch to a higher brightness preset for daytime viewing.
post #3 of 5
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the suggestion. I had ignored Sony because I have no experience with them and general rumors of them struggling in the market. Unfortunately, they don't seem to have many mid sized models and very little in my smaller town to see. What I did find is that some 2011 models had a presence sensor that could totally blank out the screen after a time of no motion, but leave sound (until shutting off completely after another delay). This is exactly what she wants - to hear the TV at night but not light the room. Even if it did detect her move at night (she can't move much in bed) we could always cover the sensor at night. Unfortunately, I can't find any reference to this feature on 2012 models.
post #4 of 5
I think there were only a limited selection of 2011 models that had the presence sensor, with a strange distribution. It was available on some lower-end models, and the very highest LX range, but not most of the mid-range sets if I recall correctly.
All of Sony's models offer a "Picture Off" power saving mode, but it's several layers deep in the menus (Menu > Settings > System Settings > Eco > Power Saving > Picture Off) so it may as well not be there.
They also have an "idle standby" option that can be set to turn off the TV after 1, 2, or 4 hours of inactivity. A message pops up on-screen for a couple of minutes and if you don't press any buttons on the remote, the set will switch off. Unlike the old sleep timers where you had to keep pressing a button to set a countdown timer, this is always on once set.

If all you are wanting is audio, you should be able to set up any TV to have a picture that is very dim (having a picture that is very dim, but still looks good is a different thing) and depending on what it is you're trying to watch, you could probably just hook up a set of speakers or headphones directly to a set-top box or other device's audio output and bypass the TV altogether.
post #5 of 5
Thread Starter 
Yes I realize she can continue customizing one of the modes to set up a dark picture. She does that now with a very dark mode. I think she would like the presence sensor. I can't break her of turning TVS on and off 10-20x a day as she motors around the house in her routine. She was raised by depression era parents who think you must shut everything off if you are not going to use it for even 2 minutes. I'm the engineer who cringes at every power cycle waiting for something to pop. I swear I replace more CFL light bulbs than I ever did with Incandescents. I like the Idea of LED backlight on a TV but from what I've seen they are even worse than CCFL at dimming. Neither can compare to the picture control we had on an old NEC CRT. It adjusted both brightness and contrast at once with an up/down button directly on the remote.
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