If you want a do-it-all notebook that's a replacement for a desktop, check out the Sager NP8886 or NP8887
notebooks. There's a forum for Sager owners sponsored by their leading reseller, the Sagerforums.com
Personally, I'll probably get the NP5660 with the wide-angle panel (2.8GHz, 1GB memory, and 60GB 5400 rpm drive) and no TV capability because we want to be able to use the computer and a TV at the same time... except perhaps when watching DVDs with the notebook on the writing table on the left side of the couch (thus the wide-angle panel). The 5670 is right around the corner though with 128MB M9 video and 3.0HT processor, so I may wait for that... or the M10 version with a 7200 rpm drive this summer.
The NP5660 should also work well with the ATI TV Wonder USB
if we TV on the notebook. Some of the things to watch out for with a USB tuner is to make sure it's one that takes the audio through the USB with the video, instead of plugging into the soundcard. The audio and video are less likely to get out of synch. Also look for an S-Video input for a satellite tuner (most notebooks only have an S-Video output) or composite video input for VCR.
The only problem with USB tuners is that they sometimes can't keep up with the frame rate. USB2 should fix that, but I don't know if any of the current tuners have that. I also don't know if the IEEE1394 Firewire input could be used from a tuner that output that.
One of the major problems with the LCD TVs is when they put speakers on the side and make them 6-7" wider... too wide to fit on the typical Airstream credenza.
Sharp is now finally importing the narrower version of their AQUOS line with the speakers on the bottom, such as the LC-15E1U
available in black, silver, and white. They also make a 20" version that's only 19.5" wide, so it may fit on the credenza without too much overhang.
The Sharps are only 640 X 480 VGA resolution, and not HDTV, but frankly neither are most small (42" and under) plasma panels, which are also only 480 lines high, but by 854 wide for 16:9, and THEY look awesome. The Sharps DO input 13V at 4.5A for 15" and 5.4A for 20" for boondocking. The narrower models, which are about $100 cheaper than the ones with the speakers on the side, are still pretty expensive for standard definition.
Especially compared to the new 16:9 17" Sony SDMV72W
, which is 1280 X 768 and displays ATSC (HDTV) 720p natively (and it scales 1080i, which is essentially 540p), as well as 480p from a progressive scan DVD player, up to 720p. At 18.5" wide, it should also squeeze onto an Airstream credenza. However, like most Sonys, its DC input is somewhere around 21 volts, so you'd need to run it with an AC adapter in an inverter (same as the sat receiver) for boondocking.
Keep in mind, the Sony has NO TUNER. AFAIK, none of the HDTV grade LCD monitors have even an NTSC (Standard Def TV) tuner, since they expect the owner to pop for a $600 HDTV Satellite/OverTheAirATSC/NTSC) combination external tuner.
That's now the case (tunerless) with the 4:3 Samsung 151MP and 171MP
, which are 1280X1024 (and can thus do 720pX1280 HDTV in the center 3/4 of the screen), and have component video inputs. You CAN get an optional NTSC tuner for these at extra cost. The models these are replacing, the 150MP and 170MP
, DO have the built-in NTSC tuner, but are only 1024X768 and can only display SDTV, not HDTV.
Besides Samsung, there are other 17" Korean LCD monitors that can be had with an NTSC tuner. Keep in mind that "cheap" applies to the tuners too, and that VCRs usually have NTSC tuners, so you may not need one with the right monitor.
Frankly, I'm not into HDTV, which is STILL a mess after all these years and if Hollywood has their way, will eventually only work on HDCP copy-protected DVI inputs that aren't the same as PC DVI. One thing to note is that you DON'T need a special antenna for HDTV... the Winegard batwing is fine. Most of what I watch, such as NASCAR, will probably be 4:3 for a long time to come, and that 20" 4:3 Sharp is sure attractive for that!
With a 16:9 panel, you get a 4:3 image in the center 3/4 horizontal of the screen with black bars on either side. And with a 4:3 panel, you get a 16:9 image in the center 3/4 vertical of the screen, with black bars on top and bottom, which most are more familiar with from watching 1.78:1 or 1.85:1 DVDs on a 4:3 set, or watching 2.35:1 DVDs even on a 16:9 (1.78:1) set. Here's a good site to compare screen size and aspect ratios
The main thing with LCD is that you don't have to worry about screen burn-in in the non-black section, the way you do with CRTs, especially the high-intensity ones used in rear projection.
Anyway, I've been looking at this too, so I'll pass this on in case it helps anyone.