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what widescreen TV should I buy?


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7 replies to this topic

#1 of 8 OFFLINE   Antoine Peltier

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Posted March 07 2005 - 10:37 AM

Hi all,

I haven't been on this forum in awhile, but I recently got the audio portion of my HT together and will be purchasing my new TV in the next couple weeks.

Here's what's up:
I have a Harman Kardan receiver AVR 335 with a Totem Acoustic Dreamcatcher speaker package.
My place is rather small so I want my TV to remain between 40 and 55 inches in diagonal.
I'm leaning towards DLP because it just seems like the best value but might go with LCD or Plasma is the arguments are valid.
I couldn't care less about the audio/speaker portion of teh unit as all this will be handled by my receiver and external speaker set, so I'd prefer something that's closer to a great monitor then a full blown TV.
Finally, I live in Canada and my girlfriend works at Future Shop so I'll be getting an employees discount of around 20-30 % on any unit of my choice. So while my budget is around $3000 canadian dollars ($2500 US), I can probably get something worth about $4000 canadian.

What do you guys suggest? I'd like to narrow the list to about 3-5 units and then just go see them for myself in store.

#2 of 8 OFFLINE   Charlie Campisi

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Posted March 07 2005 - 10:57 AM

How far from the wall is your main seating area?
Will the monitor be hung on the wall or in an armoire if it is a flat panel? (Just trying to get an idea of how far from the screen you will be sitting, accounting for the depth of the monitor.)
Do you need to worry about some wide viewing angles from any of the common seating areas?
Is the room subject to bright light or glare?
Are you sensitive to black levels looking black? Do you watch a lot of dark movies?
Have you (and your girlfriend if she lives with you or spends a lot of time watching tv at your place) taken a look at the DLP's to confirm you don't suffer from "rainbow effect?" (Some viewers see rainbows on dlp screens.)

Those are some of the considerations/questions to help you on your way. Oh yeah, welcome back to the forum!

#3 of 8 OFFLINE   Antoine Peltier

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Posted March 07 2005 - 11:07 AM

Thanks for the reply:

the screen will be 8-9 feet away from the couch
right now, i'd say I would place the TV on a stand (if it was hung, I'd want to run the wires behind the dry wall, which I'll do in my next place). On that note, i do plan on getting a bigger place in the next year so I'd prefer to get something a bit bigger, even if it appears slightly awkward in my current smaller place.
The wider the viewing angle the better, but essentially i just want it to be perfect for a 3 seat couch placed right in front of it, all I do is watch widescreen movies and play video games on it (no TV or pan scan stuff).
I have blinds that can kill any lights or glare.
Yes i watch a lot of dark movies so I like my black looking black if possible.
I've never seen rainbows on DLP.
Does that help?

#4 of 8 OFFLINE   Charlie Campisi

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Posted March 08 2005 - 08:26 AM

No tv technology is perfect these days. Old tube tv's are about as close as you can get picture wise, but the downside is that they are heavy, bulky and and limited to about a 34" diagonal.

Your seating position is on the close side. About 2x the diagonal is usually the minimum amount of distance you want. Here are some brief downsides to the technologies and some things to look for when you go to shop:

Rear projection tv's usually give the best black levels, but are susceptible to glare from outside light (not a problem for you). They are bigger than most sets and the screen will be roughly 2 1/2 feet from the wall, further cutting your viewing distance. CRT based models also suffer from burn in, so you'll have to be careful with your gaming. (I have a CRT RPTV myself and it is the perfect set for me.) There can be some viewing angle issues as well.

LCD tvs throw off more light than the RPTV. The blacks are getting better with new technology, but some sets will have problems with blacks looking gray. Some people also complain of the "screen door effect" where it looks like you are looking at the picture threw a screen door if you are too close. Burn in not an issue. No viewing angle issues. Some issues with viewing fast movement.

Plasma also throws off a ton of light. No viewing angle issues. Burn in is a problem so beware your gaming, watching programming with static logos and try not to watch too much 4:3 programming without using a stretch or zoom mode (goes for all tvs that are susceptible to burn in).

DLP - Some complain that DLP has the grayest blacks. Some people see rainbows on the screen. No burn in issues. Good viewing angles.

Those are the basics. Figure out what size screen you would like and measure the distance from your seating area to where the screen will be - measure as if you were talking about a DLP set (2' deep with space left behind for wiring) and a flat screen. Then go to the stores and look at some models, making sure you are viewing from the same distance as if you were in your primary seating location at home. Also make sure you are at the proper height (crouch down if there isn't a couch nearby). At 9' viewing distance, the angle can change drastically if you move just a little bit.

Look at the different pictures and compare looking for the screen door effect and picture quality in general. Narrow down the technologies that way and then start to compare models. When you get down to comparing models, you may want to bring a dvd with you that you know well to see how the tv reproduces blacks. I like underworld or the darker scenes in LOTR for this. But ... be mindful that most if not all of the sets in the store are not calibrated correctly (they come from the factory this way) so you may not see a true representation of what it will look like at home.

Sounds fun doesn't it? Once you get settled with a technology, it really isn't that bad though it can be daunting at first. IMO, the toughest obstacle you have to overcome is your short viewing distance, and secondarily the gaming if you do a lot. Once you figure out which technology is most appealing to you, forum members can start to suggest specific models.

#5 of 8 OFFLINE   John S

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Posted March 08 2005 - 08:36 AM

Charlie, that is one great post!!!!

#6 of 8 OFFLINE   Antoine Peltier

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Posted March 08 2005 - 08:43 AM

Yup, thanks for the thorough reply.
So I did a ton of research last night, as usual that just complicates things instead of making them easier...ignorance is bliss Posted Image

Right now, I'd say I'm leaning towards plasma: I don't want any blurring eeffect from LCD and I didn't realize you have to regularily change the bulbs on DLP, and I don't want to pay for speakers and a tuner I wont' be requiring.
Plasma has the color, the blacks, the viewing angle, the wall mountability and will alow me to gain viewing distance in my smaller space. I'm also interested in having future-proof connections and I've been reading about HDMI and would like ot have a connector like this. So what do you recommend for a 42" plasma screens in the 3-4000$ range with HDMI? And have I overlooked anything here that I should be aware of with plasma? I don't watch TV, I'll try to use widescreen as possible, and i don't plan to do computer work on it so I think I'll limit the burn-in.
And one HDMI question: if all signals are in one cable, how do I get the audio to my receiver? I could care less about it coming out of my TV speakers which the set hopefully won't even have.
Thanks for all your help!

#7 of 8 OFFLINE   Charlie Campisi

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Posted March 08 2005 - 09:47 AM

I can't help you with specific models of the plasma, it was never an option for me so I never did a model comparison. I've read good things about the pioneer elites though I think the 43" lists for $5k. You might be able to find it below list. Now that you've narrowed it down to plasma, others can likely be more helpful than I. Don't rule out LCD altogther btw, just start narrowing it down to plasma and compare with LCD once you have some models you are interested in, just to confirm you are getting the best set to suit yourself.

Don't worry about the audio. You can connect your source (dvd player, satellite box etc.) to the tv via the hdmi and should still have an optical or coax digital output that can go to your receiver. If the dvd/sat box is high-end enough to have hdmi, it will most likely have the optical/coax output as well.

#8 of 8 OFFLINE   John S

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Posted March 08 2005 - 10:08 AM

I don't really have any good stuff for you on HD Plasma panels either. My friends and I, really only have budget for the Panasonic ED Panels, which I highly favor as far as bang for buck goes. The color tracking and grey scalling is really quite remarkable on them for under $2K price they can be found for. I actually seem to favor their commercial line on them, which is what most internet dealers are selling.