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Top Five Television Sets for the Elderly

by: Max Baumgarten
Top Five Television Sets for the Elderly
seniors entertained by tv Note: For More TVs and Informantion about HDTVs with Elder Friendly Features, see the recently updated "TVs" category page. As any consumer who's in the market for a new television can tell you, not all televisions are created equally. The variables that you have to keep track of can seem somewhat overwhelming to the uninformed buyer, and include picture quality, flatness, resolution, size, sound and, of course, price. For the elderly, this process can seem even more perplexing because television sets aren’t necessarily produced or marketed with this demographic in mind. In other words, it’s not obvious to the uninformed buyer which television sets are “elder-friendly.” That’s where ElderGadget enters the equation. Venturing out into the Best Buys and Walmarts of the world, we tested a number of televisions to determine which sets fall under the guise of “elder-friendly.” Some of the factors we took into consideration included crisp sound, low gloss, (relatively) light-weight, simple setups and minimal upkeep. Our list is also limited to television sets with high definition (or HDTV, as it’s referred to in most circles) functionality. Generally speaking, HDTV enhances the clarity of the picture itself because it has a higher resolution than tradition television systems. Given that most new television sets are made with HD functionality and the picture enhancement appeals to seniors with inferior eye-site, we are going to stick with HDTV for the purpose of this list. Furthermore, even though size does matter, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean better. We can’t tell you what exact size works best for you because that really depends on the (a) space for the TV set, (b) the optimal distance between where you are sitting and where the TV stands, and (c) the dimensions of the room itself. But we have a few general size-related tips. First of all, if the diagonal measurement of a television set is 30 inches or smaller, then that set will likely work best for a bedroom or kitchen. If this measurement more than 30 inches, that set is probably best for a common space like a living room or den. When it comes to optimal viewing distance, here are a few wise words, courtesy of About.com’s Robert Silva: “If you are planning to buy a 25-inch or 27-inch television, you should be about eight feet away, for a 32-inch TV you should be about 10 feet away, and for a 35-inch or 36-inch TV you should be about 11 feet away. Needless to say, you should have at least 12 feet to 15 feet to work with when installing a 50-inch or 60-inch big screen set. For more information on the optimal viewing distance for a particular size TV screen, check out the Viewing Distance Calculator." All in all, Sony TVs should be considered “elder-friendly” because its products are known for their minimal excess reflection, low gloss and crisp sound. However, instead of stacking the list with only Sony brands, we made a conscious effort to diversify the list. Without further ado, we’d like to present the top five television sets (in no particular order) that best suit the needs for senior television watchers. 51pSkIIcieL._SL160_ 1. Sony Bravia L-Series KDL-32L5000 32-Inch 720p LCD HDTV The Bravia KDL 32L5000 is a true standout. The price, usually running anywhere from $489 - $550, is comparable, if not better, than its 32-inch flat screen competitors. This TV is equipped with nice big buttons on the side, a simple remote control and four easily accessible inputs in the back. For its size and functionality, at 25 pounds, it’s a pretty light-weight V if you need to adjust or move it. 51dq65kX-wL._SL160_ 2. Panasonic TC-32LX85 32-Inch 720p LCD HDTV If you have difficulty distinguishing or making out colors, we recommend that you look into this Panasonic Viera. In terms of simplicity, the internal graphic interface is simple and intuitive to manage. And the remote control, while not backlit, is known for its ergonomic design. 41ug+rrN4YL._SL160_ 3. Samsung LNT4061F 40-Inch 1080p LCD HDTV We have one main elder-related complaint with this product — the remote buttons are pretty small. But if this isn’t a pet peeve of yours, then this Samsung might be a good buy, especially if you're looking for a screen that's around 40 inches. This Samsung is also well priced for a 4- inch TV, costing approximately $1,300. The picture and sound quality are considered fantastic, and the television's set up and on-screen menu are quite simple. 71eh4qjkyiL._SL160_.gif 4. Toshiba REGZA 47HL167 47-Inch 1080p LCD HDTV This a large and hefty television set and, to be honest, you will likely need someone to help you move it around. Don’t let its stature deter you, however. The color is fantastic and the picture is quite pristine. The television's remote and buttons are large, which are definite pluses for the arthritic. 3120VzL18CL._SL160_
5. LG 22LG30 22-Inch 720p LCD HDTV At 22 inches and 16 pounds, we like this television set. For a smallish TV, it has nice sized buttons both on the TV and on the remote control. For its size, the picture is pretty clear and the sound is impressive. Note: For More TVs and Informantion about HDTVs with Elder Friendly Features, see the recently updated "TVs" category page.

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  • Joy 08-04-2009 08:13 PM
    I am comparing a 40'" RCA and a 40" Sony tv. How important is contrast ratio? The RCA has 25,000 contrast ratio:1" and the Sony has 30000:1". The RCA is 598.00 and Sony is 888.00 Is the Sony worth the difference?
  • Berniece Brown 09-01-2009 06:10 PM
    Are there any 19" inch digtal TVs with closed caption option??? My husband is hard of hearing and even with hearing aids can not understand voices on a TV. We want the smaller one for our camper but need the closed caption.... Thanks
  • ElderGadget 09-02-2009 03:02 PM
    Hi Troy,

    Thanks for your question.

    Many articles have been written about the differences between LCD and plasma televisions, some of which I cited below.

    In my opinion, the features of LCD and plasma televisions that are worth comparing are:

    • Picture quality and resolution
    • Viewing angle
    • Fast motion blur
    • Altitude
    • TV Lifespan
    • Power consumption
    • Price
    Plasma seems to have the edge in picture quality, contrast, motion resolution and blur, and viewing angle. On the other hand, LCD TVs generally have higher native resolution than comparable-sized plasmas. They also have muted screens, which don't reflect as much light as the glass screens featured on plasmas, making LCDs easier to see in well-lit rooms. Plus, LCDs consume less power.

    Both televisions last for more than 60,000 viewing hours, and I have read claims that some of the newer plasmas may last up to 100,000 hours. Plasmas are reputed to be more fragile than LCDs, and can be problematic at higher altitudes, while LCDs, at least the older models, had problems with viewing angles and fast motion. Some of the newer models have closed the gap between the two.

    For those of you who play computer games or the Wii on your big screens, the plasma may be the better choice because it handles motion blur better. You can, however, find more LCDs with computer interfaces, and the newer 120-hz and 250-hz LCDs have closed the motion blur gap significantly. Price is generally the same for similar-sized models. You should also note that you don’t typically find many plasmas less than 42 inches. As with all electronic purchases, we recommend that you visit your local vendor to check the gadgets out firsthand before making your choice.

    In conclusion, the plasma is our recommended pick if you: you have a room with a lot of light; generally watch television during the day; watch a lot of sports; have multiple people watching your television from multiple angles; or play a lot of video games.

    We recommend LCD TVs if you: are concerned about power consumption; want a TV smaller than 42 inches; desire a higher "native" resolution; or live at a higher altitude. Remember, just like people, each TV is different and it is important to check them out and ask all your questions before you buy.

    Enjoy your new television.

    All the best,
    EJ from ElderGadget

    If you want more information on LCDs and plasmas, check out these articles:

    "LCD TVs vs. Plasma TVs vs. Projectors" at: http://www.projectorpeople.com/resources/lcd-plasma-projector.asp

    "Plasma TV vs. LCD" at: http://www.plasmatvbuyingguide.com/plasmatvreviews/plasma-vs-lcd.html

    Cnet's "Four Styles of HDTV" at:

    Cnet Asia's "Home AV Buying Guide: Plasma vs. LCD vs. LED" at:

    Gadgetphilia's "Top 10 Differences Between an LCD TV and a Plasma TV" at:
  • Gerald Rasa 10-07-2009 06:44 PM
    I just "happened" onto your website, and found it most interesting and informative. Hope to hear more about its findings. Thanks!
  • ElderGadget 10-07-2009 08:24 PM
    Thank you so much. Lots of new things coming soon. EJ
  • Troy Miller 09-01-2009 12:21 PM
    Whats the difference between plazma and LCD and how long does each last?
  • From James 07-25-2009 09:54 PM
    Hi Lynn. Good question. In our opinion, sleep timers are a must to help get a good night's sleep. All the TVs listed in Top 5 Telelevision Sets for the Elderly do have sleep timers. If you would like to read more about gadgets for a good night's sleep, take a look at ElderGadget's recent review of sleep gadgets "Gadgets for a Better Sleep." Thank you so much for visiting ElderGadget. Bye for now, EJ
  • Lynn Oberkirsch 07-25-2009 11:15 AM
    Two questions please:
    1. do any of these t.v.'s have a "sleep timer"
    2. What is the difference between Plazma and LCD

    Thanks so ooo much for your help!
  • Joy 08-04-2009 03:29 PM
    How important is contrast ratio? I am comparing an rca 40" and a Sony 40" rca is 598.00 and Sony is 888. 00 Is the Sony worth the difference?
  • Lynn Oberkirsch 08-06-2009 10:11 AM
    I would like to know the answer of "Joy's" comment above. Can you tell me please?
    Email: lynnoberkirsch@att.net
  • ElderGadget 08-06-2009 12:29 PM
    Thank you for your question. A lot has been written on this issue. I have provided a list of some of the good articles I have run across below. Simply put, the "contrast ratio" is the ratio between the white and black parts of a picture, or in this case a television picture. Generally, the higher the better, especially for a person who has low vision, like the elderly, because higher contrast makes it easier to see. However, higher numbers, by themselves, don't necessarily give you a better viewing experience. Other factors are whether the numbers reflect "static" or "dynamic" ratios. (The articles cited below discuss the difference and implications.) Additional factors include the room lighting, the room in which the TV is located, the distance from the viewer and the measurement method and terminology used by the manufacturer. As a gross term, it gives you some information about the clarity of the picture, but many experts are of the opinion that "contrast ratio" is of much use because of the differing standards of measurement, the differing terms used to describe it, and the many other factors which make for a better viewing experience. See Home Theatre Contrast Ratio - the Useless Statistic," which can be found at http://blog.hometheatermag.com/geoffreymorrison/111705contrast/, for more information about its unreliability.

    With this background in mind, my answers to your questions are that if the contrast ratios were much different, then it would be important to know whether the listed contrast ratio is "dynamic" or "static." However, in the case you present, in my opinion, the difference between 25,000:1 and 30,000:1, by itself, should not be the deciding factor, and personally, I wouldn't pay an extra $300 for that difference alone. Without more information about the specific models you are comparing, it is difficult to give you any specific opinion or analysis. Generally, all things being equal, a Sony is usually better. But you should look "side-by-side" at the TVs you are comparing, and at any features which may be different, including service plans, at reviews written by people who have bought them, and at your budget of course. If you are looking for a TV for a senior or elderly person, look at the criteria ElderGadget used to form its oppinions, and the TVs we considered the most elder friendly to guide you. Perhaps the most important factor is simply how the pictures compare for you. I hope this answers you questions. All the best, EJ

    Additional Information can be found at:

  • Shirley Sellers 08-15-2009 05:51 PM
    Do you have to have an HDMI cable for your TV if you are not going to attach a DVD player, etc. ?
  • kj 09-21-2009 09:40 PM
    Need TV that has headset capability, hd, lcd, $350.00 or less; 26" = 32" thank you, kj.
  • ElderGadget 03-03-2010 09:35 PM
    Wow! It sounds like you have been through a lot! I am not sure what common volume problems they were talking about, although I have also experienced large volume swings, usually when a commercial starts, and often times late at night. It is probably caused by commercial makers who want to make sure you are listening. Other times, i have found that the sound seems to have a mind of its own, getting louder and softer seemingly randomly. Sometimes when I am watching, and the sound gets louder suddenly, I am accused of being hard of hearing myself - and I am not either, so I understand your plight. Generally the sound on flat screens is not great, and I suggest finding a simple inexpensive sound system you can easily plug into the tv, which at least for me sound much, much better. I haven't yet figured out how to deal with the sudden loud and soft problem yet, but I am now going to look into it.

    Now to the TV! I have never heard of letting a flat screen rest. That may have been true at one time with Plasma TVs, but I haven't heard that recently. Sorry about the Samsung. In my experience, it is a very good TV. I fact i have one, and lots of Samsung monitors as well. As far as other brands, Samsung is very good, as is Sony, Panasonic and Toshiba. If you are interested in the new "3D" technology coming out, i would consider a Panasonic 3D ready Plasma TV. A TV is personal and depends on many things including budget and room size. You might want to take a look at the lcd, plasma and lcd comparison article we wrote a while ago in that regard. I happen to like the new LED technologies as well. You should probably go to a TV store (other than the one that told you to rest the tv) and take a look at some of the newer models. And ask about what size is good for the distance you will be from the TV. Most good stores have charts to tell you the right distance. As to the question whether the bigger screens are better, it depends on the screen and the distance from which you will be watching it. Find out the optimal size, then pick a tv you like, with a remote that works for you, and with a decent external sound system you can plug in. I hope this helps. All the best, EJ
  • ElderGadget 01-04-2010 06:57 PM
    Hi. Sorry for not getting back to you sooner. In response to your and many others requests about remote controls, we today posted a guide to senior friendly remote controls. It is presently on the front page of the ElderGadget.com site. Let us kow what you think about it and if it helps. If you need additional information, just let me know and i will look into it further. All the best, EJ
  • D. D. Henderson 09-22-2009 01:38 PM
    What is the power consumption of and lcd compared to a tube
    model viewing screen?
  • Joann L. Suggs 01-07-2010 03:11 PM
    Why can't I find a flat screen, HD, PIP TV?
    My old PIP TV just died. I can hear it very well but I cannot get a picture.
  • kittie 02-13-2010 08:08 PM
    I have a NS-L42Q10-A Insignia and my volume bar only goes to #63 is this typical on this model or should the number be higher? Some channels are o.k. but others I can hardley hear.
  • Jacque Christy 11-27-2009 12:14 AM
    EJ... I have a suggestion for REGINA OBEY, the lady with the 73 yr old father in Staten Island. There are volunteers all over America that help seniors, by visiting, or calling, or shopping or driving them to appointments. I am such a volunteer for SENIOR CORPS.... The Senior Companion Program. You can find the one nearest your father on the gov't website: Volunteering.. You may be able to find thru your local Lutheran Church, since they allow us to use their office space in some parts of the country. The volunteers are also seniors but agile enough to get around and act as teachers when it comes to the TV remote.
  • ElderGadget 11-27-2009 12:52 PM
    This sounds like an amazing resource. Anyone else have any experience with them? Do they have branches all over the country? Thanks for the information. Have a great day! EJ
  • ElderGadget 11-23-2009 02:11 PM
    Much less, and LED and much less than LCDs.
  • paula 12-29-2009 01:07 PM
    If you have done any further research re: simple remotes with the elderly in mind, I'd be very interested in your findings. My elderly mother is getting increasingly frustrated with the Comcast remote she uses w/ her Dynex t.v. (We'll need a remote that can handle a cable box.) She has hearing issues and has problems with arthritis in her hands, so her lack of dexterity also contributes remote debacle. I am at my wit's end in my efforts to help her. It seems that a simple remote shouldn't be that difficult to design!! Thanks in advance!
  • ElderGadget 11-23-2009 01:30 PM
    Thank you for your questions. You are a wonderful and caring daughter. Your father is lucky to have you. It is extremely frustrating at times to deal with the remotes made for perfect vision, perfect fine motor skills and joints, and a perfect agile mind, especially when you have two or more remotes needed to operate the TV, DVD, Cable Box and whatever else is connected. You have several options which depend on your father's unique set of challenges. If the challenges are low vision challenges, then a big button, high contrast, or voice recognition remote control might work, but you would have to make sure it was compatible with the TV and cable system you have installed. These may also help if his challenge is an arthritis or fine motor skills challenge. If his challenge is memory or attentional, then a remote control or other interface that has few steps which follow in logical order might help, or perhaps some practice and training with someone who can help him practice the steps until they become habit. Regardless of the challenge, I believe that getting him a single remote is very important, and many times the cable company will come out and set it up for him. You might also ask them if they have any special setups for seniors. (I would really be interested to know if they have even though of the possibility of an easier interface.) We are in the process of writing a series of articles about friendly interfaces and sound devices, which should shed some light on this issue. I am hoping the first of the series will be out in about one to two weeks. Another possible solution, although it is not ideal, is to program the cable box or any other peripheral (that has the option), to change the channel to his favorite stations automatically, so all he has to do is turn the TV on and off and change the volume as necessary. While that may be overkill for him, other seniors with more difficult challenges might find such a solution useful. If you need any help looking into these options, let me know and I will try to do some research for you and your father. I hope this helps. Feel free to reply if you need clarifications or additional help. All the best, and once again, your father is lucky to have you. EJ from ElderGadget
  • Blanche Schley 03-03-2010 04:11 AM
    I have a 26 inch Samsung that was purchased in December, 2008 I have had problems with the volume, but they tell me that this is common with the programs on cable now days...but I don't like to have to turn the volume up and down...my hearing is not the problem.
    A salesman told me that you have to let the flat screen TVs rest every so often....Granted the TV that I purchased was a brand that I had not had previous experience with, has certainly not be as good as Magnovix, and other brands. The TV that I have questions on is the 26" Samsung which this morning died. Now I am thinking of getting another brand....what would you suggest? Also does the size of the screen denote a better or not so good TV?
  • Hazel M Welton 03-02-2010 04:23 AM
    I am looking for the best discount on 1080 approx. 40" TV for under $500.00, My income is very low and I really would love to have a flat screen TV before I leave this world. Thank you if you can help me, and I thank you if you can't help me. If its a used operating one I will consider.
  • Regina Obey 11-20-2009 05:23 AM

    My father is 73 and is struggling to understand how to use the remote. With the switch away from analog TV, my father was forced to get cable TV. My father lives alone and uses Time Warner cable, but in order to change his channels he has to use the remote and it is not user friendly to him. He is use to being able to change his channels directly on the TV, but of course he must now leave it on channel 3 in order for his cable to work properly and when the cable crashes, he is told that he has tor reset the TV by unplugging it. My father's main activity during the day is watching TV. He is terrified that if he does something wrong, he won't be able to access any TV and so he's been leaving it on one channel. I live in Maryland and he lives in Staten Island, New York, so I am not able to help him with this on a regular basis, and he has no other family or friends in the are. He really enjoys watching TV and this has become a significant hardship. Do you know of any remotes or TV set ups that are particularly user friendly for seniors?
  • Dan Pitkow 01-26-2010 09:26 PM
    Hi: Here is a new remote control designed specially for senors. Thanks, Dan
  • Mary 02-19-2015 08:44 AM
    I want to totally CUT THE CABLE. All I need are the free channels but I do need a new television set. I want a 32" set with 1080p (I think) but am totally confused.
    We watch dvd's and local news occasionally.
    What can you recommend?