Thrifty HDTV Options, Vista Mods. Do Data Safes Work?

Robert Heron picks the Best HDTV Ever, Blu-ray players. Protect Your Data from Fire, Flooding and Old Age. DIY HDTV Calibration. Fix a Broken LCD Screen. Vista Start Menu Mods. HDFury HDCP Bypass.

Robert Heron, aka PCMag's HDTV analyst (and co-host of DL.TV) co-hosts today! (You can also catch Robert's blog

Where's Veronica? She's in Japan at the Tokyo Game Show

Pioneer's KURO PDP-5020FD is Robert's pick for the finest HDTV you can buy, at least without spending more $$$ on a Pioneer Elite or Signature panel!)

Feeling the credit crunch? The Vizio SV420XVT is a low cost 120Hz LCD that looks good after calibration, but Robert says its 120Hz tech isn't quite as effective as the best he's seen. That would be in Samsung's latest HDTVs, including the LN52A750.

Someone at BestBuy said calibrating my HDTV will extend its life and save me money on my power bill? Is that true? Is it worth $300? We've got answers, Mike!

Yes, you can calibrate my HDTV for less. Sort of. For under $20 online, Joe Kane's Digital Video Essentials: HD Basics offer an excellent reference and setup disc.

Robert adds, "I forgot to mention video processing in the video calibration question - I find myself spending just as much time verifying proper video processing in a HDTV as I do adjusting the other picture characteristics. What's the point of having optimal color and contrast if the TV's video processor is dumping half the video information before it hits the screen! Every major TV manufacturer has shipped a model (or 2 or 3) that had buggy (or simply unfinished) firmware that resulted in up to a 50% loss of detail with high quality HD video material - sometimes there is a setting to compensate/fix the issue; othertimes you have to request and apply an updated firmware file. For anyone interested in learning more about why effective video processing is important, I suggest checking out HQV.com.

Frustrated with the Vista Start Menu? Then you'll love this week's Freebie download pick, Vista Start Menu! This simple program makes Vista's Start Menu more intuitive, convenient, and easy to understand.

Best Blu-ray player that's not the PS3? Good question, Winston!

Stan wants to know about GPS units with external antenna connections: his current rig is blocked by the overhang on his RV.

Website We Can't Get Enough Of? AVSForum.com is one of Robert's favorite places online to get great info, honest opinions and ideas to solve problems with home theater equipment, HDTVs, and just about anything else that falls under 'audio and video.'

Anger management issues + remote control + 42 inch LCD HDTV = a broken 42 inch LCD HDTV. Jonathan wants to know if he can replace that busted LCD panel.

What's the best storage medium for long term storage of data, tape, DVD or thumb drive? Which would stand up best to heat or water that may occur even inside a fire safe in case of a house fire? Maybe it's just that we live in Earthquake and Fire and Flood country (or have family that do) but we love this question, Chris!

Those 'my stuff survived the house burning down in a SentrySafe' stories.

Could u do a review of the HDFury and see if it'll work on my laptop? We'll do our best, Ryan.. we take it you want to use the VGA on your notebook for an HDTV with no analog inputs, maybe? Basically, the HDFury brings HDCP compliance to any RGB monitor.

Adam in Oklahoma has a new HDTV, an Xbox 360 and a pile of standard definition equipment. He asks: "Is there a component or composite to HDMI converter that actually works, or should I just use the component and composite ports for my DVR, DVD player and my Xbox 360?" Robert's got the info for Adam... and we've gotta add that a good upscaling DVD player with an HDMI output might be a good addition. Check out Oppo Digital, along with upscaling offerings at your local big box store!

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