Flashback 2001: A 32-Inch HDTV

My how times have changed. Fifteen years ago in the September 2001 issue we reviewed Samsung’s Tantus 32-inch HDTV Monitor. It was the early days of high-def and, yes, those clunky vacuum tube TVs that dominated TV for half a century were still around.

“This 32-inch beauty is the company’s least expensive big-screen [emphasis added] set capable of displaying high-definition programs fed by an outboard digital tuner,” wrote reviewer David Katzmaier. “With its traditional 4:3 aspect ratio, however, it’s better suited for displaying conventional programs than HDTV—not exactly a huge problem when you consider that most TV programming will be in the squarish standard for some time to come.”

His conclusion? “At $1,600 the Samsung Tantus costs less than the similarly styled 32-inch Sony Wega HDTV, and it offers many comparable features. That alone would be enough to recommend it, barring the few problems I mentioned with picture quality, especially its ability to hold blacks. But if you want a no-compromise picture quality you can expect to spend a lot more. Samsung’s Tantus HDTV monitor proves that you can get into digital TV without going deep in debt.”

Factoring in inflation, $1,600 in 2001 is the equivalent of about $2,200 today, which will get you a high-performing 4K/Ultra HDTV with a screen size more than twice the size of the Tantus—Samsung’s 65-inch UN65KS8500 LED-backlit LCD TV with high dynamic range capability is just one example.

Which raises an interesting question: What will be the TV of choice 15 years hence? We welcome your predictions and nostalgic recollections from TV days gone by.

Olden Ears's picture

Great flashback! It makes me laugh:) I still have a 26" Toshiba HDTV (1080i) in my basement that my kids use when they play Wii. It didn't have an internal tuner, so I use a Samsung external tuner that is really finicky. The picture is small, but pretty good, and it weighs a ton!

dommyluc's picture


I actually saw this TV at the time, and it looked pretty damned good (it even had a built-in DirecTV tuner), but there were really no playback devices that were worthy of what it could do. Super VHS and Laserdisc were about the closest things, and even they were analog video with a top resolution of about 425 lines. It was also about the size of a Buick Roadmaster, but then so was every other large-screen CRT. It also listed for about $3500 (probably well over $4K in todays dollars). I could buy one helluva TV today for even $3500!

brenro's picture

I had the RCA F38310. 230 lbs. worth of CRT. The picture was stunning but it was all hands on deck if you wanted to put it somewhere else and that somewhere else better be good and sturdy. HD Net was one of the first hi def channels and I can remember sitting for hours watching Sunrise Earth being completely mesmerized by a moose wading around in a pond.

mround's picture

I just retired our LG 30" tube HDTV. Picture was still great, tuner was still working and better than anything modern, great sound, but heavy and hot/power hungry. The remote control receiver on the mainboard (not the r/c itself) was starting to get flaky and nobody does TV repair any more (a new one is cheaper than even the diagnostic charge would be).

Replaced it with a new (to me; about 5 years old) Panasonic 46" plasma. It's as big as I can fit in the space, has a great picture, can do full HD (the LG topped at 720p/1080i), so-so tuner, and tinny transistor radio sound. Those last 2 seem to be universal these days - and I do need a decent tuner to work with the attic antenna. It also needs one more composite video input than it has (multiple game consoles); old one had 3. Once the old monster speakers come back from a re-do, I may get a modest amp and use them for TV sound.

dnoonie's picture

Nice flashback!

My first HDTV (actually the first TV I got new and not used) was the Sony KD34XBR960 34 inch XBR TUBE TV in 2004. I got it with a Sony up converting DVD player which I returned for the Denon DVD-2910 (still have the dvd player). I sold the Sony to a buddy that still uses it and got the Pioneer 60" Kuro Elite, that was 2007.

I'm still using the Pioneer, blacks are a little grey but less so know that I got a meter and calibrated it (I was able to push settings in one area, then bring them back into spec in the CMS to trick the set to calibrate and also give me better blacks). I'm waiting to upgrade till the HDR/WCG dust settles but I'm pleased that there are TVs available that are actually an upgrade!


sandeepmohan's picture

I have a Philips 29PT8836, that has off late been giving me some trouble. It was bought in 2007. Off course, it is now retired to the living room of my grand mothers house. Interestingly;the picture tube used is a Samsung, whereas the circuitry is all Philips. Excellent tv. It was expensive for its time. $400 back then.

canman4pm's picture

I'd love to find an old, large Sony tube HDTV. My old NES and PS2 both have light gun games that don't work wth flat panel TVs. I figure if I'm going to get a tube TV for that purpose, might as well get the best.