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Bought bigger house, need bigger TV

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#1 of 11 OFFLINE   Don Petsche

Don Petsche


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Posted April 19 2003 - 09:22 AM

My 27in Sanyo just isn't enough any more. I know now how very little I know about screens, having started reading HTF. Wow, what a wealth of information! I want something respectable out of my first foray into the larger sets. My budget is at most $3K, and I want it to last 8-10 years.

1. How Big is Big Enough?
My new viewing distance is 12' to 16' depending on where one sits in relation to the corner the TV must be in, not to mention the open view from the kitchen 30' away. How big is ideal, without totally overwhelming my wife (and visitors) with a huge black/silver enclosure? I have small children and cats, does this impact feature needs? What is the rule of thumb, distance divided by 3? Sit distance equal to double the screen height? As big as you can afford, quality be damned? Is a set, a set, a set until a certain price point? When is a set no longer a set but a proud measuring stick for social status, or a symptom of screen envy? Posted Image

2.Is screen position important?
Is a corner position in the room OK for rear projection and resulting angle viewing? Is this a reason for a 36-40in Direct View when a 50-60in projection is possibly more appropriate given room size? Is LCD and or whatever these new projection technologies are called worth waiting on for lower prices? I'm don't think I'm talking flat panel here, which I think is totally out of my price range. Plasma scares me anyway (burn in, shorter lifespan?).

3.How much HDTV is HD enough?
I have a progressive scan DVD player I've never used in progressive mode. I like to watch movies, so I think I want Digital 16:9, and 480p. 1080 sounds great, although I wonder if I'll know the difference 480, 720 or 1080 when I see it. If I'm going to end up with a large set to better room viewing, will standard cable tv broadcasts be tolerable, or result in a fuzzy mess on the big screen between two black bars? Of the 14 hours a day the set is on, probably less than 4 are spent watching a disc. Speaking of cable(s), what are the correct cabling options among A/V equip? I have an old lower end Sony receiver that does do Dolby surround if I take the time to hook up the rear speakers. Given all of my speakers are cheap, could a screen with built ins do just as well? I also have a Gamecube the kids and I enjoy, can it be safely connected hi def?

4.How can I buy a TV with confidence?
How does one buy a set that looks good when the electronics stores seem ill informed and the sets often appear neglected? Can this be done purely scientifically in that reading and understanding can somehow replace previewing? Aren't the sets in the box different than those on display anyway? Should I consider a higher end shop? But aren't markups sometimes unreasonable? With a complicated purchase, how does one trust retail? What is all this calibration talk? Do I need to save money to have the set tuned after install? How much does that cost? Is there ongoing maintenance to think about here?

Thanks for reading the post . . .and for your time to reply.

Best Regards, -- Don

#2 of 11 OFFLINE   Kami



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Posted April 19 2003 - 02:36 PM

I'll give opinion on what I can.

1. With a viewing distance of 12-16 feet, I would try to go for a 65 inch set. This is my personal preference though. A lot of people say the optimal "movie theater like" experience is having a viewing distance of 1.5x the screen size. In the case of a 65 inch, this would equal a little over 8 feet. Personally that would be a little too close for me. 10 feet or so is what I would probably prefer for a 65 incher.

Also remember, the set might look ridiculously large when you first get it, but after a week it will magically shrink and you'll wish you could have gone bigger!

2. Viewing on a small horizontal angle should be fine, I think it is only with large vertical angles that RPTVs can look dimmer. Oh, and Plasma doesn't suffer from permanent burn in like CRT RPTV's do. Burn in won't be a concern either way if you setup your set right and are responsible with it.

3. If you want your set to last 10 months, let alone 10 years, a 16:9 480p capable TV is mandatory. End of story. You will definitely notice the difference between 480, 720 and 1080. OK, a massive difference. Posted Image Standard cable should look decent (but not even close to DVD and other sources) with a viewing distance of 12-14 feet like you stated, but satellite and/or digital cable should look better.

As for cables, buy a set of Component cables for your DVD player. I would use your current speakers instead of the in-TV speakers unless they are absolutely atrocious.

Gamecube should look great on a HDTV but remember that video games can cause burn in if you aren't careful. Steps you can take in avoiding this is #1 buy a calibration DVD such as Avia or Video Essentials and #2 don't play for hours on end, give the set a break every couple hours.

4. Since you want your TV to last for 8-10 years, buy the absolute best you can afford. It's simple as that. MAKE SURE you get a set with DVI input as you will most likely need it in the years to come if you want to enjoy HD-DVD and possibly even future HDTV. Also be sure to get a 6 year extended warranty from wherever you purchase it (6 year is the largest I have ever come across, there might be larger ones).

hope some of this helps

#3 of 11 OFFLINE   BruceSpielbauer


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Posted April 19 2003 - 03:51 PM

My opinions: 1.) 65 inch, at those seating distances. Anything less than that size, I believe you will regret it later. 2.) Regarding placing the TV in a corner, your viewing will probably be fine. Trying to get any surround sound to work properly with the set in a corner is a much bigger headache. With most RPTVs, the viewing remains bright enough at pretty sharp angles... in most rooms, you would hit a wall before this becomes a concern. I would worry more about whether you can achieve speaker placement if the set is in a corner (if you plan on this). 3.) If you want to own this set for the next 8 - 10 years, you definitely should plan on going with high definition capable (we are in a transition to digital TV... you do not want to be caught with an anlog set when MOST programming and content finally is digital). And, since the high def standard calls for 16 X 9, you should also go this route, even if most of today's broadcast stuff is still not in 16 X 9. It soon will be. Standard Cable can be "tolerable to good," depending on your signal quality. It will never look "great." "Good" is the best you can hope for. Unfortunate, but true. The large size, and the fact that these sets ARE so good, means that they tend to magnify a poor image, and most Cable TV ranks right down there with the poorest. It will maginify a great image, but it will magnify a lousy image, too, so any defects are also magnified. I have a 65", and initially I thought my analog Cable was going to be unwatchable. Initially, it pretty much was. Then, I brought in a Cable TV service tech, who found my own signal was weak coming into the house. Next, I discovered my Cable lines were split inside the house so many times, I was watching a "split" of a "split." The Company goosed my signal, and I added an in-line amp for $25... and now my Cable TV is "good." Better than watchable. Good. Progresive Scan DVDs and HDTV are where these sets really shine. They will look great. Even "jaw opening," with HDTV, at times -- when it is material that was actually shot using digital high definition video cameras, like live sporting events, the Oscars, Grammies, etc. Regarding audio, and your question about using the TV's built in speakers... Your set will never do near as well as setting up that (older) receiver, and those surrounds. I also strongly recommend you add a powered subwoofer at the first opportunity. It does not take much to equal, and even improve on the sound you hear every time you go to a movie theater. My sound is much better than my local film houses, and my total budget for audio was $1400, cables and all. You have some of the necessary equipment. Use it, and add the final pieces to the puzzle. The speakers in that TV set are too tiny, cheaply-made, lack the necessary amplification and separation, and are too close together to even begin to simulate directionality of sound. Your GameCube can be safely connected, but you need to be wary of static images left on the screen for long lengths of time. SOME games have static menus on the bottom of the screen which do this, so just monitor this. And, do not let it revert to a static menu while you drop off to sleep. 4.) You asked: "How does one buy a set that looks good when the electronics stores seem ill-informed and the sets often appear neglected? Can this be done purely scientifically in that reading and understanding can somehow replace previewing?" You are on the right track, by coming here. Read. Read what others have said. Read reviews in the magazines. Read reviews at web sites. Visit this forum, and the ACS Forum, and the Spot forum, and the S & V Forum, and others. Learn to use the search function, and set the clock back. When considering any brand, search the forums for what owners have said about them. Do your homework, so you are not depending on the horrible ignorance of the usual Best Buy or Circuit City sale guy who knows less than you do right now. I visited every type of store, when shopping. I found some of the high end ones were willing to negotiate. I ended up buying at one which was not a true high end shop, but yet it was a definite step above the Best Buys / Circuit Cities. A "medium-high end" audio and video dealer. I managed to get them down to a point which was lower than the two electronics super chains. Some stores do no calibration. Most, as a matter of fact. In many, the only calibration may be the 16 year old snot-nosed kid who was just having fun with the remote 20 minutes before you walked into the store. Until the salesguy finally chased him off. His idea of fun was to make everyone look as green as he could. Some stores do "calibrate," but their only goal is to get a picture which will look better in a brightly lit showroom with flourescent lights, often with windows, and with 45 other neon bright sets around it. This is NOT anywhere near the proper picture you want in your home. Trust me. Most of the more reputable shops will let you return the set during the first 30 days, usually with no questions asked. As to whether you should pay to calibrate, if you want your set tuned by an ISF professional so that it truly meets the NTSC standard, then yes. It will improve your picture. Many casual viewers find a simple calibration DVD will let them come close enough, using the regular user menus. I would try this first, and then see if you need to pay for an ISF cal later. You do not want to have this done for a few months, anyway, until the set has truly been "broken in." Costs vary widely, depending on how much you want done, but if you hire the pro, plan on anywhere from $250 to $750. Some calibrations take three hours. Some take 12 or 14 hours. It depends on your needs and wants, your TV (how many types of signals do you have coming in?), and whether you want the "best in the country" or will be satisfied with a "good calibration." There is not a lot of ongoing matainence, unless you just enjoy tweaking yourself a lot. Some videophiles constantly tweak, re-doing their convergence every few months, checking and re-doing the focus, etc. Others just have it calibrated once, or do their own calibration once, and then leave it alone. I would gently disagree with only one item in the earlier (excellent) reply you received. I believe that plasma sets are very susceptible to the phenomenon known as "screen burn in." As a matter of fact, some claim they are even more susceptible to this than rear projection TVs are. Other than that, the other reply also has some GREAT advice. Read it carefully. -Bruce in Chi-Town

#4 of 11 OFFLINE   Kami



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Posted April 19 2003 - 04:15 PM

[quote] I would gently disagree with only one item in the earlier (excellent) reply you received. I believe that plasma sets are very susceptible to the phenomenon known as "screen burn in." As a matter of fact, some claim they are even more susceptible to this than rear projection TVs are. Other than that, the other reply also has some GREAT advice. Read it carefully. [quote] Whoops :b I thought I remember reading somewhere that Plasmas can sometimes get "burn in", but it fades away and is not permanent. Maybe this was LCDs. Ah, that's what I get for only researching regular RPTVs. Posted Image Thanks for the correction.
And thanks for the compliments. Posted Image

#5 of 11 OFFLINE   Rich McGirr

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Posted April 20 2003 - 02:21 AM

Any display will get burn in if a static image is left on the screen for a long time (ie playing a first person shooter game) and if they are set in "torch" mode (contrast up too high). I have the 42" panasonic PT-42PD3 plasma, ED television. I play "Halo" off of my X-box into this unit. The longest time I played was for ~5 hours and there was no burn in, heck there wasn't even ghosting. Am I worried about burn in? In a word "Yes". If you are diligent in making sure that you do not display a static image for a long time and have calibrated the unit (many of these units come with the "contrast" or "picture" setting at its peak), I do not think you will have a problem. Then again, plasmas can cost more than comparable RPTV's' (37" go for ~$3K and 42" can go from ~$3.2K to ~$4K, 50" are ~$5.5k and 60" are ~10K). IMHO, I don't believe HDCP will be an issue as there will always be some industrious person able to hack the flags of HDCP (remember pay-per-view cable and all the box hacks that came out). Further, HDTV doesn't necessarily have to come from cable or even sat, it can also come OTA. As far as life of a plasma, recent technological improvements have made it possible for plasmas to go ~30,000 hours before "half" brightness, experiencing decreasing dead/stuck pixels (many companies will replace the unit if there are more than three). Viewing for 7 hours a day equates to ~11.75 years. Many plasmas do come with DVI already as they are still mainly targeted towards commercial applications. Our plasma is mounted on the wall and is ~11' away. The PQ from progressive DVD is AWESOME, not totally immersive as with a bigger set, but still head and shoulders above my 3.5 y.o. Mits VS-50705. PQ with cable and dish sat is good, a little soft but no jaggies and very, very few artifacts, if any. Just my .02.
- Rich

#6 of 11 OFFLINE   Don Petsche

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Posted April 20 2003 - 05:23 AM

Wow. Thank you for the great replies! I only asked about 50 questions inside the four. I appreciate those of you who made it through the post! If I may add a follow on, one of the things I'm most curious about is the new rear projection technologies, like LCD found in the newer sony grand wega. As an example, there is the Sony KF-60XBR800 I was reading about over on CNET. I'm just curious if this, what I believe is newer technology in rear projection, is worth the extra $$$. Its more than I want to spend, and its inches smaller than you all are recommending. Will prices come down any of you with crystal balls? How would you all go? I want to refrain from asking who's TV is better than who's, as I can get detail information in the forums from past posts, but, well, anyone want to group the top 5 I should start researching for comparison against all others?

#7 of 11 OFFLINE   Eric_L



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Posted April 20 2003 - 12:32 PM

Welcome to HTF. I joined late last year when I was where you presently are now.

I have a room with similar dimension as you, even with the kitchen overlooking a large livingroom. I'd include a photo if I weren't such a HTML 'tard.

I have three children(6,5 and 2) two cats and one spouse.

My first question is why you must put the TV in a corner. Viewing it is no prob, but the surround will be less than optimal. *Trust me, the sound is half the fun*. Set up your surround. Within reason, screen size in a room that large is as big as you can afford.

To solve the trouble of having a 'monolith' in my living room I went with a front projection DLP and a retractable screen. The cost is similar to a quality 65", but there is no monolith. And the picture is much larger.

Since a projector is expensive to run, and light sensitive, I still have my old 27" there for the kids to watch 'Spongebob' on all day. They really are not interested in image rendering...

I have the screen centered against one wall. On nights when we have company I swing the sofas into a 'V' shape for more seating. I put those sliding disks under the sofa for more mobility. No need for new furniture unless you are married. (She has to get something in the deal to keep her cooperative!)

Re: HDTV, I can't be much help. I don't watch much network TV anyway and the signals are poor in my area. I opted for satalite rather than cable since the local cable co. are jerks. Re: 480, 720 or 1080 I went with a FPTV that is Native: 1024x768 Pixels. I have recently been awakened to Home Theater PCs (see http://www.hometheat....?s=&forumid=13 ) It will help with the scaleing on various image inputs as well as a broad range of other features, for a reasonable cost. With my res. I should get some fantastic pictures! For now the picture isn't bad, but I want to push for more.

Re sound, your amp is likely fine, but it is time for some speaker shopping. Since you are on a budget, you can piece meal this. I'd start with a new sub. In a room like that your bass will get lost. I bought a Polk 10" and it was inadequate so I returned it for a Velodyne 15" from Circut City for around $700. They will knock some of the price off if you bring in a page print from an on-line vendor, but don't expect them to match it (hey, they provide service online cant match)

I am VERY happy with my sub. It is one thing to see the Enterprise crash land on a planet surface, but a whole different experience to FEEL it!

Next replace your fronts, center, then rears. I haven't done my rears yet. Fronts are Infinities, but speaker choice is VERY subjective. http://www.hometheat....?s=&forumid=46 Re: builtins, They're for 'Spongebob' and nothing else.

Regarding cables, for audio you don't need to break the bank, but don't skimp on video. Composite is best (except for HTPC which can have other choices) If you have to choose, long audio cables, short video.

Re: Gamecube. I have an X-Box. Whoopin ass larger than life! AND X-Box has 5.1 sound!!!!!! woot woot!

Regarding calibration and maintenance, it will vary based on your TV type. Expect some 'tweaking' to be happening, only because men have a hard time leaving well enough alone. We gotta play with it for what we pay!

Oh yes, and as for my projector, it is a NEC LT-260. My screen is 6' X 8' and retractable. We are going to commission an artist to paint a fresco on the wall behind the screen. (someday)

The projector cost $3000. I later bought the screen $700 + - (I forget) and then the sub $700 and the fronts $500 and another $200 on cables for the whole mess. (had over 125' of speaker cable) I will be spending about $250 to upgrade my PC t a HTPC.

Price of hearing my children SQUEAL when the dragon is chaseing Shrek? - Priceless!

Good luck, Don, and keep us informed.

Oh, almost forgot: Re the price coming down. Technology is ALWAYS improveing. The price won't stop and wait for you. You gotta decide when YOU are ready, then 'Just do it". In 10 years the top of the line will still be very appreciable, but consider what was top of the line 10 years ago, and 10 yrs before that, and 10 before that, and so on.

It does not pay to wait unless lost opportunities are something you value.

#8 of 11 OFFLINE   Don Petsche

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Posted April 20 2003 - 02:20 PM

Hmm. I Hadn't really thought front projection as an option, now you've got me thinking. I occasionally use projectors at work (I'm a computer systems manager by trade), so I know how truly stunning they can be on BIG screens. I'm afraid of the cost of replacement lamps though, and I think it may be longer to afford, I assume there is going to be some installation? Is this a fair assumption?

As for the room, I've got a fireplace that fills the wall across the room from the open banister and stepdown from kitchen. The third wall is glass with french doors that swing in from the sunroom that the previous owner added on. The TV sits in the corner between the sunroom doors and the edge of the fireplace mantle.

The corner the 27" lives in now has a custom cabinet we also bought from the previous owner for $400, so a screen that retracts in the ceiling in front of the fireplace mantle suddenly has me thinking. It sort of avoids my wife's arguement regarding replacing the custom wood cabinet if the 27" saysPosted Image . . .powder puff girls at my house, spongebob hasn't caught on yet. There is a ceiling fan in the middle of the room, 10 ft ceiling, I assume the projector would ceiling mount ahead of it? I assume a retractable screen is a bit more expensive?

Ah, trouble here is I'd have to move the funiture. I'd have to plan to entertain. I'm afraid I'd spend the money and then be cleaning the cobwebs off the projector and screen, I'm a couch potato in every sense of the word, if I'm not already using it I could see myself sitting on the couch watching the 27" thinking about how much energy I need to muster in order to setup the screen.

But, it sure would be impressive!

I do have a cheap RCA theater speaker set, it includes a subwoofer, boxed in the basement. I'm using a pair of technic bookshelves right now on the floor hooked to the 80 watt by 4 sony. No prologic, but with dolby surround. My wife doesn't want to see the speakers, and I haven't really thought of what it would take to mount them in the walls. It probably isn't an option on this floor. When the kids get older though, I'm already dreaming of revamping the playroom in the basement!

While I'm now pondering front projection (thanks!), I'm starting to see a trend here at HTF towards the Mitsu WS65551 over the Toshiba & other 65" RPTV in this price range?

#9 of 11 OFFLINE   Eric_L



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Posted April 20 2003 - 06:24 PM

Glad to know I got yer wheels turning.

As far as cost goes, a cheaper projector could be had. Maybe down below $2000 if you have good control of light - or do like me and watch only at night.

My electric retracting screen cost around $700. It operates on a wall switch. You can ceiling mount the projector for permanence. I have a 14' vaulted ceiling so I opted to place it on a shelf instead. It is not centered, but then, neither am I. Thank God for keystone etc. correction.

As far as speakers goes, you can make them dissappear. The center goes on the mantle. Put a light cloth over it and place a curio item on top of it. For the left and rights you can get some pretty dang small speakers that will wedge into corners. Same for the rears. The only trouble will be the sub. I wish you could come hear mine. It is SO worth it. Can you bribe your wife with anything?

One thought, with Dolby 5.1 you can set movies on 'nightime' mode where the dialog volume is increased and SFX/music is decreased. - helps keep from waking the kids.

My 17" sub is about the size of a small end-table. I have it placed next to my component tower. Maybe you can try the cloth/curio approach w that also. It is a small trade off compared to a 65" TV cabinet. Position it that way with her.

For speaker wires I used a very thin - like masking tape - speaker wire that I was able to stick to the walls and plaster over and paint. I'm not sure, but I have wondered at times if I could have just used a circular saw to cut a 1/4" deep groove in the drywall and ran regular speaker wire in that, then plastered over it. Would have been much cheaper. Oh well, its done now.

There will be some set-up with the Screen and projector. If you have attic access it is pretty simple. It is just barely more complicated that putting up a new light or outlet in a room. If you work with computers it should be a snap. If not an electrician will do it for about $100.

The ceiling fan shouldn't interfere with your projector. If it is in the way you can hang the projector lower or put it to one side or the other. Different projectors have different throw ranges, so you'll probably be ok. Also, you can flush mount the fan. (no drop rod)

Replacement lamps, at $500 or so are no small matter. The average life is around 1500 - 2000 hours. Using the projector just for movies, about 2 hrs each, means that if you watch 3 movies / week the lamp will last 333 weeks, or 4.8 to 6.4 years.

I'd suggest bringing a projector home from work if you can get hold of one. Watch a fun movie with it and see how it feels. It can be projected on a wall in a pinch, and the texture will quickly become un-noticeable unless you really look for it.

As far as my set up goes: My projector is permanently placed so it'll hit the screen just right.

To watch a movie I take the protective and decorateive cover (that my wife made) off of my projector and turn it on. I press the 'down' button for the screen that is on the wall by my stereo. I thrown the cat off my recliner, grab the remote and turn on the DVD + stereo and then press 'play'.

There, I think you may be out of excuses now... Posted Image

PS, just for kicks, you can videotape your fireplace, then burn it onto a DVD. Then, drop your projection screen in front of your fireplace and play that DVD on your projector to turn your screen completely invisible....

Ok, it is late and I am tired. My mind wanders....

#10 of 11 OFFLINE   Eric_L



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Posted April 20 2003 - 06:34 PM

Here is my room: CRAP, THE MAP DIDNT WORK

#11 of 11 OFFLINE   Eric_L



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Posted April 20 2003 - 06:40 PM

Here is my room: DOOR XXXXXX XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX X........... S C R E E N...X <---- COMPONENTS THIS CORNER X..........................X X..S.......................X X..O....................... X..F.......................G X..A.......................L X..........S.O.F.A.........A X..........................S X..........................S X..........................D ...........................O ...<-DOOR..................O ...........................R ........................... XXX SERVING ISLAND.........X X..........................X X.....KITCHEN..............X SOFA IS ABOUT 10 ' FROM SCREEN. RECLINER IS BETWEEN THE SOFAS. I'M NOT SURE HOW YOUR ROOM IS, BUT I WOULD THINK THAT THE FIREPLACE IS NOT IGNORED. WHEN YOU WANT TO WATCH A MOVIE I COULDN'T IMAGINE YOU HAVE TO REARRANGE MUCH. MAYBE YOU CAN SHARE YOUR FLOOR HERE, BECUASE I AM NOT VISUAL ENOUGH TO SEE YOUR PRIOR DESCRIOTION. BTW - SORRY ALL CAPS, I LEFT IT ON FROM ALL THE XXXXX'ING.

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