Rich Warren: Things too good to be true sometimes are great

Rich Warren: Things too good to be true sometimes are great

Sometimes a product seems too good to be true, yet it is true.

Last November, after discovering that LG's small TVs lacked audio outputs, I chose the 22-inch Vizio E221-A1 that cost about $135, approximately $40 less than the 22-inch LG (and $60 less than the comparable Samsung, which also lacked an audio output).

Furthermore, the Vizio fits in tight spaces because, rather than having a conventional pedestal stand such as on the LG, a rear prop like a tabletop picture frame supports it.

After four months of enjoying the Vizio, my amazement continues that a picture this good appears on such an inexpensive, yet full-featured TV. The well-detailed, accurate picture impresses with every viewing, even in bright light. True, the design of the remote control lacks the classy appearance of the LG remote, but it works just as well.

In 1959, I owned a 16-inch GE black and white TV that cost about $100. Adjusted for inflation, the Vizio would have cost about $13 in 1959 dollars, or the GE would be about $788 today.

Don't be overly concerned with famous brand names. Certainly LG, Samsung, Sharp and Sony offer the "nth" degree of performance in their premium models, but you can enjoy about 98 percent of that performance for a lot less money with brands such as Vizio. Maybe that explains why Vizio has become one of the best-selling TVs (if not the best-selling TV brand) in the United States.

Murfie, another item recently mentioned, also sounds too good to be true, but once again, it seems to be true. This is a service that offers to rip your own CDs to the cloud or you can buy the CDs from Murfie and they will rip them to the cloud and then either store them for you or ship them to you.

The cloud is jargon for a giant computer server that stores exabytes of data and makes your data available nearly anywhere on any device via the Internet.

A little over two weeks ago, I sent Murfie a stack of 50 CDs. While they provided a box, packing tape and UPS shipping label, I used my own box and opted to mail the CDs to them and save $10.

As promised, five days later, I received a notice that my CDs were now available from the cloud.

I created an account with Murfie with user name and password, and almost as if by magic, on both my PC and iPad, 50 CDs appeared with the album cover artwork and track lists. Simply tapping a key delivered my music with surprising good fidelity. You also can download your music as an uncompressed, full-fidelity file to store on your local computer.

Murfie will either store your CDs for you or ship them back. UPS just returned my CDs as I write this. Either you or Murfie, as your custodian, must retain possession of the CDs for this to be legal under copyright law.

To say that I'm thrilled, amazed and gratified to take my 50 favorite albums with me anywhere and everywhere there is Wi-Fi is an understatement. If you have a cell-enabled tablet or a smartphone, your music is yours anywhere there's cellular reception. Since audio requires minimal data, it probably won't even come close to your phone's data cap.

I mentioned 50 CDs because this was the experiment to which Murfie and I agreed. Obviously, if you wanted to spend the time you could rip 50 CDs to your tablet or iPhone. But murfie.com can rip 1,000 CDs (or more) at $1 each (plus 25 cents per disc return shipping) within a couple of weeks to the cloud if you desire.

You can call Tyler at Murfie at 608-515-8180 for more information and a custom quote for their dozens of services. The ability to hear all my music on any device nearly anywhere puts me on cloud nine.

Rich Warren, who lives in the Champaign area, is a longtime reviewer of consumer electronics. He can be emailed at hifiguy@mchsi.com.

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