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RPTV's, DLP, and Plasma flat panel


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#1 of 25 OFFLINE   Bill Griffith

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Posted March 27 2003 - 11:39 PM

I thought I new quite a bit about the pros and cons about these TV's but the DLP TV I'm not to familaiar with. Its been my experience that the following is true for RPTV's Large screen for little money, excellent black levels, with calibration the Picture quality will be very good, and with the ISF calibration the picture quality is even better (comparable to Plasma TV's but with more accurate blacks) Can someone please post a quick adavatage disadvantage of each. And maybe a comparison of the best picture you can get with each. Assuming buying TV's of similar price say $2k - $2.5k for the RPTV and now more than $6k for the DLP or Plasma.

#2 of 25 OFFLINE   Rich H

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Posted March 28 2003 - 05:14 PM

Bill,

I own a plasma, so that's my bias I suppose.

Sorry I'm not going to give you the run down on each display type. You probably know most of it, and others who own them can better inform. I can only tell you why I chose plasma over the other types of display.

1. Picture quality. RPTVs produce bigger images, nice blacks, and a relatively smooth cinematic look. Projectors, of course, even more so. But I still found the best plasmas produced the most mesmerizing picture. It can be brilliant, sumptuous in a way even projected film in the cinema can not. I have a 42" plasma, which is not big enough for many HT enthusiasts (hence the popularity of RPTVs and FPs). However, it has the most realistic, reach-in-and-shake-hands-with-the-actor image anywhere around it's size, which to me is compensatory enough for it's smaller size.

2. It fit beautifully into our family room/HT room. Guests agree that, unlike so many HT devices, the plasma enhances rather than distracts from the decor.

3. This model (Panasonic) actually looks better with NTSC than our previous Panasonic Tau direct-view. That's a lot more than I can say for most displays this size, or bigger, which tend to look cruddier with NTSC signals.

4. At this point buying a plasma still means being an early adopter. And, as early adopters know, the one compensation for paying more than everyone else is going to pay is: you got to enjoy the experience early on. I gotta admit, firing this thing up still makes me feel like George Jetson :-)

5. It's been a win/win purchase: every single thing about this display is a better experience than owning our CRT.

-- I hope owners of the other display types will chime in and offer some balance Posted Image

(DLPs, as far as I know, offer easier set-up and advantages in brightness levels, but still fall below their CRT-based cousins in providing deepest black levels. As well there is something called the "rainbow" effect you might want to look into regarding DLPs. Bugs some people, not others.)

- Rich H.

Click Here To See SCREEN-SHOTS from my Plasma

#3 of 25 OFFLINE   Rich H

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Posted March 29 2003 - 04:00 PM

Still around Bill? Posted Image

If you've done any comparisons, what did you think of each display type?

Rich H.

#4 of 25 OFFLINE   Bill Griffith

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Posted March 30 2003 - 07:32 AM

I've seen the plasma's and really like the picture quality. But when I compared a RPTV reight next to a 50" Plasma, 2 things happened. 1. I noticed the black levels. Now this probably wouldn't bother me if I was just look at the plasma because I never noticed it before. It was just having them right next to one another that made it stand out. 2. The price tag. I just can't justify a $4k price difference. I don't have a problem with space, and I don't feel the improvement in PQ is that much ($4k) better. I have yet to actually see a DLP TV

#5 of 25 OFFLINE   Mike Matheson

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Posted March 30 2003 - 11:00 AM

Hi Bill,

It can be tough to see a well-setup plasma. When something like the current Fujitsu 50" is calibrated, the blacks are handled pretty well--and the image as a whole is spellbinding. Doesn't negate the $4K+ factor though.

When you do finally find a DLP TV, realize a couple points:

- blacks will not be as good as you may be used to on RPTVs
- many don't provide settings control on a per input basis (makes it more difficult to maximize picture quality between DVD, Sat/Cable, and HDTV)
- bulbs will wear out, and are pricey to replace (they don't wear out too quick though)
- some people see rainbows on DLP RPTVs
- typically outstanding picture sharpness
- more easily table-top in configuration; lower weight

Overall, I'd recommend not buying a DLP RPTV until you've seen one and considered these kinds of points. They're really perfect for some folks--the real question is if you're one of them.

BTW, Pioneer 5030HD plasmas (a high quality 50" plasma) can be found for $6K+, which may be closer to $2K-$3K+ over DLP RPTVs (unless you're considering the Toshiba unit, then plasma might be cheaper Posted Image ).

#6 of 25 OFFLINE   Robert P. Jones

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Posted March 30 2003 - 07:02 PM

Rainbow effect on DLP is actually strobe effect. As your eyes dart from one part of the screen to the other, following the action, your eye can "catch" on the individual reflections as they whiz by, every once in awhile. At CES I talked with Texas Instruments guys at some length, and among other things found that the DLP chips are now turning their mirrors an additional 12 degrees this year, resulting in deeper blacks, from being able to have the "light sink" be farther off the light path. Still not CRT grade, but better than last year. They have also improved on the optics and the light path, resulting in less of the refraction I was seeing in the previous year's models, a foot and a half from the right and left edges of the screen. This was caused by everything coming from one lens, and having to project it with a very short throw distance, in an attempt to make it as thin a unit as possible. It showed up as a separation of the red, green and blue images. With a CRT based unit, this would have been correctable. With no convergence possible on a fixed pixel device like a DLP, no correction is possible. If you are going to be looking over any of the fixed pixel devices whose blacks are challenged, DON'T make any final decisions until you see it in a COMPLETELY black environment. Not real easy in a showroom. When I got together with Scott Ross of Digital Domain to calibrate his brand new Pioneer Elite plasma, it looked pretty good when we arrived at his home in the daytime. But after it got dark, the green glow stood out like crazy. No getting around it. If you run your fixed pixel device in the dark, you know what I am talking about. Doing grayscale on such a device is OK at the mids and highs, but in the deep darks and blacks it is impossible to get it done right. Add to that what happens when your DVDP does not pick up blacker than black, and as Andrew Dice Clay would say, "It's a horror show..." Add to that the inherent screendoor effect if you sit close enough to your display to really immerse yourself in the action... Nothing yet does it like CRT, no matter what the price. Mr Bob
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#7 of 25 OFFLINE   Rich H

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Posted March 31 2003 - 02:56 AM

"Nothing yet does it like CRT, no matter what the price."

Hmmm...this statement is far too general for me to agree with. It implies to the consumer that CRT-based devices produce a de facto "better over-all image," vs the fixed pixel competition. Many people, myself included, have found otherwise. Even my friends with big HT CRT direct-view sets agree the plasma produces the more realistic image, and the "better" home theater experience over-all.
(It was pretty funny watching one guy with a nice HD wide-screen CRT who completely poo-pooed that he might prefer a plasma...until he visited, watched some of his DVDs on my plasma with his jaw open, and did a 180 degree flip in his opinion).

I did an on-line poll of people who had lived with both plasma and CRT-based displays, asking which they preferred. This included those upgrading from the big CRTs (e.g. Sony 32,34,36" XBR displays), and RPTVs (including Pioneer Elite RPTVs). Virtually every respondent (about 38) felt the plasma image was superior. In fact, most enthused that with DVD and HD their plasma "blew away" the images on their CRT device. My friends with FP systems also feel that in some ways my plasma looks better than their system.

Along the same lines, Tom Norton of Stereophile Guide To Home Theater wrote in his review of the Fujitsu 5002 50" plasma:

"I had two video projectors in my studio: a $60,000 Madrigal CRT and an $11,000 Sharp DLP. While both had their strengths—the CRT's blacks, of course, chief among them—neither provided consistently better overall subjective image quality than the Fujitsu (plasma)."

So, I'd say the the old generalization that "CRT = Better Image Quality" is in some dispute. I hope I'm forgiven for taking the opinions of some pros with a grain of salt as final judgments of PQ are pretty subjective :-)

(Of course if Mr. Bob means "Nothing does it for _him_ like CRT," that's indisputable. Or even that "the best CRT has to offer is better than the best plasma has to offer" - I generally agree the better high-end CRT projectors are as good as HT gets).

Otherwise, as a long-time plasmaholic (seen and demoed them all) I would echo Mr. Bob's excellent advice: if you are even thinking of plasma, look at the different brands and if at all possible view them in a dark environment, and check out which viewing distance you are comfortable watching them from.

I certainly agree about the Pioneer plasma's black levels. They bother me too.

BTW, I view my Panasonic plasma in the dark for films, and it performs wonderfully. Some plasmas look washed out in the dark, but the Panasonic's performance seems to take off with the lights out. I'm a stickler for black levels, and would not have bought a plasma had Panasonic not delivered models that actually produce deep, satisfying black (perhaps not as deep as the best CRTs, but deep enough for a satisfying, dimensional picture no matter how dark the scene).

BILL: If you look at plasmas again, look at Panasonic models..everyone else is still playing catch-up to their black levels. Check out the Fuji 50" plasmas, which use the Panasonic screen (which supplies the excellent blacks) and upgrades the electronics.

BTW, I like Front Projector systems, but they often bring a slightly frustrated response from me: They look "cinematic," but not really as good as the real thing (projected film in a decent movie theater). Thus, I feel like I'm watching a sub-standard print in a sort of poor cinema.

Those FP systems that do not make me feel this way are veeerrry expensive, so I'm stuck looking for alternatives (and for me plasma has filled the bill).

Rich H.

#8 of 25 OFFLINE   Robert P. Jones

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Posted March 31 2003 - 05:36 AM

Well said. And even movie theaters don't produce "total" blacks either, like CRTs do. 35mm - or 70mm - or 16mm - film is not capable of COMPLETELY stopping the raging fires of an arc lamp, which has the same intensity as an arc-welding tool. If you want to replicate the true conditions of a movie theater, you have to allow just a trickle of light thru in the blacks, even on CRT based units, in setting your brightness level. Mr Bob
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#9 of 25 OFFLINE   Rich H

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Posted March 31 2003 - 06:40 AM

Robert, I'm so glad you mentioned that, as I think many people might be surprised at what you just wrote (and surprised if they actually examine the black levels in the typical cinema image). That's amazing about the "arc-welding" light levels. I've always felt that it you presented videophiles with, say, a CRT direct-view that accurately reflected the black levels of the cinema, the enthusiast would be somewhat dissapointed. I LOOOVE going to the movies, but it would seem that Home Theater technology has the potential to eventually surpass the image PQ in the cinema! Rich H.

#10 of 25 OFFLINE   steven pm

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Posted March 31 2003 - 08:18 AM

I'd hold off on DLPs. The technology is still evolving and improving. As for plasmas, I have yet to see one that I like. Or that has good blacks (which I really notice the lack of!) OTOH, I have *not* yet seen one of the newer Panasonics, but I will keep my eyes open for them. Of course, I don't watch my tv in total darkness, but with a low level of indirect lighting (which is recommended). So I don't think turning out all the lights is an acceptable fix for better plasma black levels. Right now, if space is not an issue, crt-based rptv's are the best bang for the buck IMO. You can get a 55" or 65" HD-ready set for well under $3k. (Esp. the tweakable Mitsus!) There is a plasma in my future; just not yet.... $^)

#11 of 25 OFFLINE   Rich H

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Posted March 31 2003 - 09:06 AM

steven,

I agree that RPTVs are probably the best bang for the buck.
While I personally have a problem with some aspects (I don't care for what I perceive as a "beamy" looking image),
they can offer an amazing heaping of cinema-like PQ. Recently I saw an excellent Sony RPTV playing some DVDs (and HD) and it was terrific!

Regarding the Panasonic plasmas, while you wait to encounter one in the stores, you might have fun looking at one vicariously through my screen shots. I created a "virtual" gallery of various films playing on my Panasonic 42" plasma (taken with my digital camera). Yeah, it's not as good as seeing the real thing, but kinda fun nonetheless...you may get a hint of the realism and dimensionality of the plasma image from some shots.

Click Here For Link To PLASMA SCREEN-SHOTS QUICK TOUR

BTW, I agree: DLP looks promising, but most of the displays I've encountered in stores and shows aren't "there yet," in terms of being able to properly serve a wide range of source material. Maybe soon...

Rich H.

#12 of 25 OFFLINE   Robert P. Jones

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Posted March 31 2003 - 10:29 AM

"Right now, if space is not an issue, crt-based rptv's are the best bang for the buck IMO. You can get a 55" or 65" HD-ready set for well under $3k. (Esp. the tweakable Mitsus!)" Hear, hear! And even with a full calibration tacked on. Mr Bob
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#13 of 25 OFFLINE   Juan_R

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Posted March 31 2003 - 05:28 PM

Rich, those screenshots look real nice.
Juan

#14 of 25 OFFLINE   Robert P. Jones

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Posted March 31 2003 - 11:00 PM

Wow! I'll say. Took me sideways. NICE shootin'! Plenty of contrast ratio there, and talk about realism! What an excellently saturated and balanced calibration that display has on it. If it came from the factory that way, my compliments to the techs there. Such pictures are made, not born. Excellent! I may have to rethink my opinion of plasmas. Thanks for sharing that with us. Mr Bob
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#15 of 25 OFFLINE   Rich H

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Posted April 01 2003 - 04:30 PM

Thanks! I'm really glad you guys enjoyed the screen shots. At my viewing distance, which is where I placed the camera, the screen door (visible pixels) effect is gone, and the image takes on smoothness, palpability and realism (guests keep remarking that it's as if they could reach in and touch the actor's skin). Before I took those photos I did an extensive search of screen-shots on-line, from every type of display. The common denominator is that they all looked like "screen-shots" ie. snapshots of a projected, or a TV image. Whereas I found a good screen-shot from a plasma comes closer to a photograph of the real object itself, rather than "the object on TV or theater screen." But that's my perception: feel free to disagree :-) Bob, The calibration you see in those screen-shots is my own, before I had my plasma ISF'd by a pro. The factory settings of this model actually track quite a nice gray scale, but I took it's NORMAL setting out of "torch" mode, dialing down contrast and brightness, de-saturated color a bit etc. It's still a bit higher color temp than ISF standard. ---- I wouldn't make a case for plasmas being the "best" Home Theater display. I've seen gorgeous images from all types of Home Theaters, and many do a terrific job of re-creating what we see in the cinemas. However, when it comes to "realism," the sense of looking at real objects I can reach out and grab, plasmas perform this trick more consistently than any type of display I've seen. Given their "perfect focus" and screen geometry, perfectly even brightness - unwavering with viewing angle - and a natural light quality, plasmas seem to remove lots of the artificial cues found in other technologies, allowing me to more easily "believe" the image. I'd hoped to capture some of that quality in the screen shots. - Rich H.

#16 of 25 OFFLINE   Robert P. Jones

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Posted April 02 2003 - 12:37 AM

You did. Again, my compliments to the calibrator. You did a great - make that fantastic! - job on that sucka. Is it markedly better now, after the ISF cal? Looks to me like you had it pretty much nailed already. Mr Bob
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#17 of 25 OFFLINE   Rich H

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Posted April 02 2003 - 02:10 AM

Robert, Re my settings vs the ISF settings: Before my plasma was ISF'd I used AVIA. However, what really worked best for my purposes was eye-balling it with each DVD. I'd simply take a really good transfer, and adjust all settings until I had the least artificial-looking, most realistic image I could "create." Although these settings work for most DVDs, I will still tweak the settings if a DVD needs it to look better. I understand it's not the ISF way, which looks for a more consistent standard for accuracy to the original source. However, my approach did meet my goal. What's interesting is that when my ISF guy measured my settings eye-balled from DVDs, he remarked that they were very good (which surprised me). However, the ISF settings do look different. The gist being, the ISF'd settings look more cinematic, more like film, whereas my settings look more realistic over-all. Switching between settings is like "watching a movie" (ISF) to a little more like "watching the action through a window" (my settings). My sense is that, while most display types almost demand ISF calibration to look their best, perhaps plasmas are a little easier for the average joe to work with (given that geometry, focus etc are already taken care of in the design, and especially with a plasma that already comes with good gray scale performance). For instance, I notice that the plasma allows greater latitude with contrast settings vs my CRT. On plasma I can get more realistic contrast out of the image, without noticeable blooming or loss of detail in the high-lights. (I know...clipping...but it's darned hard to spot if it's happening). FWIW. Rich H.

#18 of 25 OFFLINE   Robert P. Jones

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Posted April 02 2003 - 02:24 AM

When you say settings you personally worked with, do you mean grayscale also? Or has that been constant, and did the ISFer change that at all? I get that you mean color and tint, brightness and contrast. No, plasmas don't bloom like CRTs do. The only thing you have to watch out for on plasmas when the contrast is too high is nonlinearity of the grayscale and premature phosphor aging. I have always said that the bottom line is suspension of disbelief. My ISF cals are dedicated to that, more than to instrumentation. For instance, with red push, the blue isolation test cannot be trusted for setting color and tint correctly. With red push, you actually have to do it by eye, focussing primarily on fleshtones. I have rarely seen any conflicts between ISF settings and intuitive settings. But with yours, the proof is in the pudding. I would go with your settings over ISF settings, if they give you a higher sense of suspension of disbelief - which if your screenshots are any indication, they most likely do. The more 3-Dimensionality, the better, IMHO. Mr Bob
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#19 of 25 OFFLINE   Rich H

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Posted April 02 2003 - 03:10 AM

"I get that you mean color and tint, brightness and contrast." That's right. The gray scale of the Panasonic is pretty good out-of-the-box (especially it's "cinema" setting), so I didn't touch it in the advanced settings. The ISF guy did tweak the gray scale a bit flatter, and brought it more in line with D6500 etc. I'm conscious of the phosphor aging. The bulk of the display's on time is devoted to my family watching cable TV. For that the picture contrast/brightness settings are cranked waaaaay down (almost as low as they go) and the picture still looks fine. I allow the contrast/brightness up in my settings for DVDs (although still far from factory torch mode). Thanks for the enlightening comments. It's great to see that you not only bring knowledge to your craft, but are also open-minded and customer-oriented. Great combo! Rich H.

#20 of 25 OFFLINE   RANDY FISHER

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Posted April 02 2003 - 04:43 AM

"Right now, if space is not an issue, crt-based rptv's are the best bang for the buck IMO. You can get a 55" or 65" HD-ready set for well under $3k. (Esp. the tweakable Mitsus!)" I disagree. Excellent FP quality can be had for under 2k now with projectors like the Z1, X1 and 300U. And in my opinion space is less of an issue with FP than RP. I am currently using a 36" XBR but FP is my next step. Think outside the box! Randy
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