Compared with 1999 sets, today's leading-edge TVs are cheap

Consumer Reports

If you still need a new TV to watch the Super Bowl, there's a good chance you'll get a good deal. That's true even among the leading-edge TVs—that is, models that comprise the 10 best TVs for the big game—the top-rated 65-inch Ultra HD Sony XBR-65X900A costs just $5,000.

Think we're nuts? How is $5,000 for a TV a bargain?

We'll explain. When you compare that Ultra HD Sony—which gives you four times as many pixels as a 1080p set and a jaw-dropping, stunning picture—to the first HDTV sets we tested in 1999, $5,000 is something of a steal.

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Back then, we described the Sony KW-34HD1 as “a fine set” with “certainly the best TV picture we’ve ever tested." Pretty impressive, but that model had a relatively puny and primitive (by today's standards) 34-inch vacuum-tube screen.

The cost for state-of-the-art technolgy in 1999: a whopping $8,000—or, after adjusting for inflation, a staggering $11,186 today. (Download a PDF of the complete article from March 1999.)

In that same March 1999 article, we noted that high-def content was limited. (That's a familar refrain for early adopters. Just ask anyone who went 3D a few years back or someone with a 4K set today.) One show that was available in HD 15 years ago was “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno." Proving that what's old is new, Leno is stepping down next month, with Jimmy Fallon replacing him.

Anyone know how Leno's and Fallon's compensation packages stack up?

—Paul Eng



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