Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Which Is Best For Home Theater - Plasma Or LCD?

t's become one of the great home theater rivalries...Plasma television versus LCD. Which one do you buy as the showpiece for your best home theater system? Plasma or LCD?

Maybe it's a guy thing... I'm not sure but when I went shopping for my television, my better half, my gorgeous wife or "she who must be obeyed"... call her what you like, just didn't seem to care what type of television I purchased, Plasma or LCD, just as long as it produced a good quality picture.

Let's make some comparisons about the respective merits of either version. When setting up a home theater center the television is the centerpiece so you want to make sure you get this right. I will list what I consider the advantages of either type.

Plasma Advantages

1. Definately screen size. Plasma tv's are available in size from 32 inches, all the way up to over 100 inches. Certainly an advantage if you prefer the bigger screens.

2. Viewing angle is an interesting debate. Some say plasma while others say LCD. Maybe plasma "by a nose" but there is nothing in it. LCD's have improved markedly though and are rapidly gaining the upper hand in this area.

LCD Advantages

1. LCD tv's are definately tougher and more durable, not that you'll be tossing the thing around the back yard! They certainly hold the upper hand in the "durability stakes."

2. Installation is usually a breeze with LCD's where plasmas require a little more installation know how.

3.LCD's are lighter although this could have something to do with the fact they are smaller however, they are also thinner than plasmas. Whether this is an advantage I'm not sure and in the end, it may be up to "the eye of the beholder!"

As you can see, there is not a lot of difference in my opinion.

Life Span

There is always an argument for and against concerning plasma and LCD life span but to be honest, there is not much difference between either version. You could reasonably expect to get 15-20,000 hours use from either television before backlights need to be replaced however, replacing an LCD part will cost you more than a plasma at this stage of the evolution in technology.

Picture Issues

LCD's are perhaps more consistent in the area of picture brightness during normal conditions of light but under home theater situations, plasma will have the edge.

Pixel issues are again line ball with both plasma and LCD having their for against arguments. Burn-in issues were once a drawback with plasmas but technology in recent years has "levelled the playing field" in this area.

Which Is Best?

I'd rate plasmas as the choice television for a home theater set up. Let's face it, you'll more than likely use your home theater to catch up on plenty of movies. However, with technology advancing so rapidly, LCD's are gaining more and more of a foothold.

What did I buy? Plasma. Why? Because in the end, I got a great deal on a set which was on sale and hard to resist at the price. I'm betting this may ultimately sway your decision as well. And yes, my better half was more than pleased!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Ways To Save Money Grocery Shopping

Grocery shopping bills can really add up! Most people tend to wait until they get to the store to see what they need on a shopping trip, but that can add up to a whole bunch of overspending at the grocery store. In this article, we'll offer up some tips on how to save money when taking your trip to the grocery store.

- Before you leave the house to hit the supermarket, it can be a good idea to check your pantry and do a quick inventory so that you can see exactly what you need. Plus, if you have some odd ingredient hanging out in the cupboard, you can buy something to go with it when you go to the grocery store.

- Check weekly supermarket ads to see exactly what's on sale. Combine that knowledge with what you've already got in your cupboard, and you should be able to come up with some recipes for the week that incorporate what you already have and what's on sale.

- When you see something for sale that you already have, but you often buy, buy it anyway. When you buy things that you would buy anyway on sale, you're saving yourself plenty of cash in the future.

- Do your best to avoid making small purchases at places such as convenience stores. These smaller stores usually charge a premium when it comes to their grocery goods, and you can save a few dollars a week by just making one big trip to the supermarket.

- When you make a grocery list, stick to it. Do your best to avoid impulse buys, since they are usually unnecessary and costly.

- Red meat can be very expensive. If you're looking for ways to get your protein intake without spending a whole lot of cash, it may be your best bet to avoid red meat, opting for poultry, tuna, peanut butter, and eggs instead.

- When buying poultry, opt for whole chickens as opposed to breast meat. They are a much more cost-effective way of getting chicken.

- When you see something advertised as a sale, be sure that it is actually a good deal. Compare the product to similar products in the area to determine whether or not you'll be saving cash by buying the deal item.

Following these tips can save you a lot of money when it comes to your supermarket trips. Since the cost of foods can really add up, you may find yourself with some spare pocket money if you are a prudent and informed shopper.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tips On Purchasing Loose Cut Diamonds

Purchasing loose diamonds can be an effective diamond buying strategy for both cost and quality. Loose cut diamonds refer to diamonds that have already been cut and polished, but have not been placed in any particular type of setting yet, such as a ring. If you are buyloose cut diamonds, you will then have the ability to place the diamonds in a variety of settings after your purchase. By focusing first on the diamond, you will be able to get the best quality diamond for your money.

A diamond will usually be characterized by the four c's: carat weight, clarity, color, and cut. While caret weight is a consideration, don't make the mistake of focusing solely on size. Shopping forloose cut diamonds based strictly based on carat weight would be similar to purchasing an appliance based just on capacity, without considering the features and styling that would work best to fit your needs. The other diamond characteristics can greatly impact the look of your diamond even more than the carat weight.

Another important consideration is clarity, which refers to the number and type of flaws that are found in the diamond. Unfortunately, clarity is very difficult to judge accurately, as most flaws are only visible under a microscope. You can ask a variety of jewelers to point out the flaws in a variety of stones, using a microscope, until you can judge for yourself. However, since most people will be admiring your diamond with their naked eye, you can usually rule outloose cut diamonds with flaws that are clearly visible, and not worry too much about microscopic flaws.

Diamonds come in a variety of colors, but for a traditional, non-colored diamond, the clearer the better. Although you will bepurchasing loose cut diamonds , it is good to have an idea about what type of setting you will have your diamonds in. If you plan on mounting the stones in white-gold or platinum, the whiter diamonds will be much more effective. Yellow metals, like gold, will be much more forgiving to more of yellow-colored diamonds.

The cut of your loose diamonds is perhaps the most important consideration. The cut will determine, to a large extent, the brilliance of your diamonds, and also suggest the best diamond setting. A brilliant cut usually has triangular facets that surround the stone, leading to what is a flat top, or often called a table. These differ from the more traditional emerald or step cuts, but provide the shiniest diamonds available.

Purchasing loose cut diamonds can be a jewelry investment that lasts a lifetime. By spending some time familiarizing yourself with the many choices before your purchase, you be a much more informed consumer. Your diamonds will then be available for a variety of creative settings.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Finding the Perfect 50th Anniversary Gift

Fifty years of marriage is certainly a reason to celebrate. Sometimes finding the right gift can be difficult whether you’re shopping for your parents or for friends. You will be spoilt for choice as there is such a wide variety to choose from.

Let’s assume you’re shopping for your parents. You know them best so think about what they would like. If you can’t ask them about it, keep your ears open to find out what they would really value. Often people mistake costly items as being of high value. But when it comes to finding a50th anniversary gift, something as simple as a black and white framed photograph of the couple, can make a big difference.

Try and find gifts that can be used by both people. For instance a ‘Him and Her’ gift watch set in complimentary designs may work well, if your budget allows it. The idea is to gift something that bonds them both together. It is after all a celebration of their togetherness. Another sentimental gift is to give them something from the past. Probably a diary filled with messages from old friends and classmates. Or perhaps a special poem written by the grandkids, artistically framed with photos to boot!

Another good idea would be to gift them a holiday. After years of trying to give you a good life, your parents deserve a break. This could take the form of a cruise, an adventure holiday or even just a dinner for two at a romantic getaway. Wouldn’t you love to see their faces light up when you tell them about the holiday?

Although there are a plethora of options, not every idea may work. So you need to do a little homework and find out what they would value the most. Choose from the heart, it always works!
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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

How To Save on Brand Name Items

’ll be honest, I like to shop. Whether for shoes or pots and pans, I love the feeling of going to the stores, seeing the different items on the shelf, and imaging where in my house I actually could store all of these items. The internet has just fueled my shopping addiction because now I am no longer restricted to the stores that reside in my immediate area; the sky is the limit! If I want a lamp shade from a small store in New York, I can get it. If I want coffee from Seattle, it's just a click of a button. This new found shopping arena on the internet has been a blessing, but has also made me realize the importance of budgeting and saving. That being the case, I have found that I am more thrify than ever in my shopping, and want to pass some key tidbits in money saving on to you. These ideas and suggestions aren't unique, this is just a testimony that they work, tried and approved by an avid shopper.

Thrift Stores: Digging Is Rewarding!

One of the best ways to save money is to visit thrift shops. I have found amazing deals here, even finding brand new items on the shelves! These items may be used, but if you dig long enough you will find amazing deals on gently used items. Here are some hints when shopping atthrift stores:
• Dig! At times there can be racks and racks of items. If you are not content to looking for items, you probably won't find the best deals. Go to thrift shops when you have time to browse. Patience is definitely a virture and holds true in any thrift store shopping. Visit each rack, and take time to look at each item. You just never know what you might find! My sister ended up finding barely worn $400 shoes and paid about $20.
• Look for tags. You would be amazed at how many brand new items make it to the thrift store shelves! I believe that many people impulse buy items, and then throw them in a closet, only to be discarded at a later time. If you see an original store tag on an item, consider this a very good find and take it right up to the cash register!
• Looking for Retro? Try thrift stores! Small boutiques and even trendy stores at the mall often make you pay an arm and a left for retro items. Why not try the thrift stores to look for TRULY retro items. You will end up with authentic items while paying a fraction of the price.
• Goodwill, Salvation Army, and more Donating to these places often benefits a truly cause wrothy group. But you know that if you are donating to these places, other people are doing the exact same thing! Visiting your local Goodwill gives you a sense that your shopping is not going without a greater reward. You can also find excellent items. I know that the Goodwill in a neighborhood I used to live in was packed on the weekends! Goodwill is also an excellent place to find DIY project items as things can often be restored.
• Plato's Closet and other trendy stores Gently used clothing is back! Stores, like Plato's Closet in Colorado, offer shoppers a way to both save and make money. These stores acceptbrand name used clothing, and pay shoppers for their contributions. In turn, shoppers can buy other brand name clothes at great prices! You can find Gap, American Eagle, Juciy Couture and more in these stores, and look hot without breaking the bank. Plus, if you are tired of your current wardrobe, exchange your clothes for greatbrand name items!

Retail Bliss!

If thrift stores aren't your cup of tea, there are many retail stores out there that sell brand name, never been used items at discounted prices. These stores receive extra items from larger stores. For example, if a large department store does not sell all of a particular type of jacket by the end of the season, they sell these to stores like TJ Maxx and Ross at discounted prices. This discount is then passed on to you. There are variety of stores that participate in this, including dollar stores! Below is an outline of my favorite stores:
• Ross: If you like brands like DKNY and Express, this is the store for you! I am notorious for losing sunglasses, especially if I have spent a pretty penny on them. I have a hard time buying a cheap pair, so Ross offers me a good in between. I love to buy the DKNY sunglasses at Ross, and spend about $15. This is just as much as you would spend on a pair anywhere else, and you know you are getting a quality brand. Then, when I inevitably lose these sunglasses, I don't have a heart attack because I spent a ton of money. They have a great shoe and clothing selection, as well as home items that I love. Check this store out!
• TJ Maxx/Home Goods: This combination is dangerous, mostly because I love everything in here! I LOVE to decorate my house, and since I just bought a new one I can justify needing more pictures and mirrors. Home Goods has fantastic home decor items, including area rugs and small pieces of furniture. I have also been able to find framed art that I have seen in other stores for twice the price! If you are in need of home decorations, I would visit this store today.
• Tuesday Morning: At Tuesday Morning, you can receive 40%-80% off retail prices! This store does not focus on clothings, but has everything you need for home and garden. My mom was able to get a beautiful stainless steel coffee pot that normal retailed for over $180 for only $65. It was a steal in itself! And I'll let you in on my little secret: I am a big Barbie Collector and have found Tuesday Morning to be a secret depot for collectible Barbies. I have been able to get Gold Label collectibles (retailing normally at over $130) for $60-$75. I justify my collection by telling myself it is an investment. Plus, I just love them!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Repeatable Gifts - Give the Same Thing Again and Again

Have you ever wanted to give the same gift twice? To not have to think of new ideas each year? There are gifts you can safely give multiple times to the same people and they will be extremely happy each time.

For collectors you simply need to find out what they need for their collection and get it for them. Now for some collections this might be expensive, but there is usually a low cost alternative. Starting off a collection for someone can be a great idea. For a child you could start with stamps. A large number of foreign stamps along with an album may start a life-long hobby. You may want to check with the parents before starting a collection that may prove expensive. For teenagers you could try a charm bracelet that can be added to each year. You could buy a jacket with patches that you can add to. For sports fans try sporting memorabilia. For those that like ornaments and small decorative objects you could purchase tea-spoons, thimbles, paperweights and the like.

Magazine subscriptions are a good bet for a repeatable gift. These can be given each year and provide interest throughout the year. Depending on the type of publication you may even be able to tell yourself that you are making a positive contribution to their life. Browse a store selling magazines or try the internet for ideas. There are many to choose from including National Geographic, Readers Digest and more specialist magazines.

There are many items that are published yearly that can be given as repeatable gifts. Consider diaries and address books for example. These can be purchased in all sorts of price ranges. If the person has a paper personal organizer then consider buying the refills. Not very exciting, but extremely practical. Some organizations and charities produce this sort of item. You can buy from one that they support. Calendars are especially good as alow cost gift. Calendars showing particular places or themes are very popular. Many TV shows, films and famous people have their own calendars that may be of interest.

Consumables are often given repeatedly. Especially her favorite perfume, or his favorite aftershave. You will need to be careful if buying this sort of gift as the choices of a scent is often very personal and you would not want your gift to languish in the bathroom cupboard. Many companies produce gift baskets and presentation sets with bath products and the like. You could consider giving basic skin care products to a man or woman. You may need to enclose an appropriate note to make sure that they do not get the wrong message!

How about giving the recipient something they have never had before? How about an unusual or luxury type of food or drink? There are presentation sets available for all sorts of different food items such as preserves, fruits, meats and cheese. The same is true for alcohol where you could decide to buy a selection of fruit liqueurs for example. Obviously you could also buy one large item. If the recipient is in a foreign country then consider sending there favorite food from home. You may need to use a specialist company to do this. There is always the choice of chocolates and candies. There are now specialist suppliers that provide many varied and interesting different types of chocolate including chilli-chocolate and 100% cocoa chocolate.

If you want to give a surprising gift then there are gift vouchers available for air flights and holidays. More mundane gift vouchers are available for use in particular shops or malls. There are gift schemes on the internet for companies such as iTunes and Amazon. Gift vouchers and certificates are not as exciting as a well chosen gift. However, they do ensure that the recipient will get something that they want (and you can give them multiple times).

You will usually want to warn the person that this will be an annual or regular gift. You should check if this is OK. They may be able to suggest a more appropriate repeatable gift themselves, such as a different magazine. Giving repeatable gifts frees up you mind to think of ideas for those people who are really difficult to choose gifts for.