Advice on first HDTV purchase

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Mr. Brian, Nov 1, 2002.

  1. Mr. Brian

    Mr. Brian Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm considering buying my first HDTV within the next couple months, and I'm looking for some advice. Here are the things I know for sure:

    This will go in my living room, which is around 23'L by 12'W. I think for that size room I would like a set between 55 and 65 inches. The way the room is set up, we will have around a 10 foot viewing distance between the sofa and the tv. Is that ok for a 55-65 inch HDTV?

    I have a budget of $5000, but it could go up if there is a set out there that is really worth the extra money. I definitely want a widescreen 16:9 set. From what I've looked at and read, I think a rear projection CRT based display is the way to go. Or would DLP, LCD, LCoS, etc. be worth my time?

    I will use this set mainly for watching DVD's, OTA HDTV, and video games. I live about 40 miles from Madison WI, where all of the stations are broadcasting DTV, so I think I would be able to pick those up OTA. For that reason, I I'm interested in an integrated HDTV, with the tuner built in.

    Brands I've looked at so far that I like include Toshiba, Mitsubishi, Sony, and Hitachi. I've been especially impressed with the XWX series by Hitachi. I'm attracted to them because the tuner is built in, there are a lot of inputs (including DVI and Firewire), and the picture quality looks great. The price for the 57" model is around $4500, with the 65" model just $500 more. Does anyone have experience with these models? Others that are better?

    I'd really appreciate any help that anyone could give me on my first HDTV purchase.

    Thanks,

    Brian
     
  2. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    Brian,
    The only advice I'd give is to buy a set without the integrated ota tuner. There is a lot of good HD material on HBO, Showtime, HDNet, and Discovery HD right now and more coming (ESPN, 3 more HDNet channels) that will only be available off satellite or cable, and the built in ota tuners on an integrated model won't pick these up.

    DirecTV and Dish tuners will tune not only satellite but also your local ota stations, both digital and standard ntsc. In many cases the costs of these separate tuners is less than the price penalty you pay for a set with integrated ota only tuning.

    The Hitachi SWX models should be equivalent in picture quality to the XWX, lacking a few audio features perhaps, but costing at least $1000 to $1500 less.

    A Hughes E86 HDcapable DirecTV tuner will set you back $500 max, and the oval dish is another $125 or so. This along with the local ota antenna you'd need anyway with an integrated tuner set will get you all your local ota stuff plus HBO, Showtime, and HDNet.

    With the integrated tuner, you'd be restricted to local commercial channels in HD, showing just regular network programming complete with commercials, and PBS if available in your area.
     
  3. Mr. Brian

    Mr. Brian Stunt Coordinator

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    Steve, thanks for your advice.

    How much does it cost for DirectTV/Dish HD monthly service? Would I need the oval dish in addition to a rooftop antenna to pick up local channels? The reason I ask is that I'm not in to TV that much anyway. The few shows I watch are mostly on the major networks. If I went with the SWX series, I would lose the IEEE 1394 inputs that are on the XWX series. Maybe that wouldn't matter though.

    Brian
     
  4. Mr. Brian

    Mr. Brian Stunt Coordinator

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    Could anyone else give me advice? I'm debating what size set to get: 57" or 65". I would like the bigger set, but room considerations come into effect. I have Definitive Technology BP 2000tl speakers, so I would need to fit all of that in a 12' wide room. Would a 65" set be worth having a possibly tight fit over a 57" set?

    Also, I noticed that there is a digital audio optical output on the back of the Hitachi XWX series. Can this be used for receiving digital sound from OTA TV? That would be a big improvement over the usual analog audio connection from TV to receiver.

    Thanks,

    Brian
     
  5. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    Brian,
    To get HDNet, HBOHD and Showtime HD, you would have to get DirecTV's cheapest basic package plus the Showtime and HBO packages. HDNet is included with all basic packages but you have to tell them you want it. You have to buy all the HBO and Showtime channels to get their HD feeds. I have a lot of other stuff in addition so my monthly bill is about $70. You could probably shave $20 off that. To get the HD channels from the satellite you will need the oval dish plus a "Sat C kit"--about $125 or so. You don't need any dish at all to get the local HD channels, but if you don't activate DirecTV service you will get hit with a charge if you got a discount on the box based on making a commitment to activate DirecTV service. STBs that only tune OTA, no satellite, are available and may be the way to go if you don't feel the need for 200 channels and won't miss the 3 HD channels from the satellite. OTA only stbs can be had for about $300. If 200 channels is overkill for you and you feel $50 or so is a bit steep for 3 HD channels, then the integrated set may be the way to go after all.


    From a 10 ft veiwing distance, the 65 inch model will probably look fine for dvd and HD, but ntsc isn't going to look good unless the signal quality is really excellent.

    I sit 13 feet back from a 57" Sony, and could easily have gotten away with a 65" model.

    The optical audio out on the back of the XWX is for digital sound from HD channels, but should pass regular tv sound as well as that from the digital broadcasts--the ones on HD stbs do. Depending on the local station you will get DD 5.1 on some HD broadcasts. ABC's HD programs all have 5.1, but not all stations pass it as such. My local ABC station does and it's quite nice, especially for movies.
     
  6. MichaelFusick

    MichaelFusick Second Unit

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  7. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    The new Sony HD-200/Zenith 520 boxes are said to be far superior in upconversion of 480i to the Hughes but cost $300 more. They also output your choice of 480i, 480p, 720p, or 1080i thru the component video outputs. The Hughes will only output 1080i, either native or converted from 720p or 480i thru component video. The 720p conversion is nice but 480i to 1080i is kinda nasty looking.
     
  8. DavidGT

    DavidGT Stunt Coordinator

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    Michael,
    The world would be most grateful if you could lead us the way of better choices then that Hughes HD receiver.
    Thanks so much my man!
     

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