Buying a TV that will last

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Alyn, Jul 6, 2002.

  1. Alyn

    Alyn Auditioning

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    A friend of mine currently has a 23 inch television he's had since college, and he finally wants to buy a bigger one. His budget isn't huge, but he want's to get something good, he figures that if you're buying something like a TV, you'd might as well get the best that you can afford.

    He's been shopping around at several different Best Buys, Circuit Cities, and all the salesmen tell him different things. At first he was looking into HDTV, but he's sort of turned away from that. I was hoping the people on this forum could give him some advice, based on what he needs.

    He wants a big, rear projection model. He has digital cable, but no HD signals are sent through it. He watch's a lot of movies, but he doesn't have time to watch "a lot" of movies, he doesn't watch one every day, just when he has time. He uses his Playstation 2 for DVD's.

    His figuring, was that he'd buy an HDTV ready TV, buy a HD box for it later when there is more programming available. Then after looking at some models, (which pretty much outnumber the older analouge models at these stores), he reasoned that he won't be watching HD signals anytime soon, so the only good aspect of a widescreen television would be movies, that he doesn't have enough time to watch a lot of in the first place.

    He is also set on watching TV in its square aspect ratio, no stretching, or cropping. Its funny, the guy at best buy kept switching it to stretch mode and said it looked ok like this...it really doesn't.

    He doesn't want to buy a square HDTV, because that sort of defeats the entire purpose. With all the looking around, he's ready to buy a 53inch Sony analouge television, and not worry about HDTV until later. Is there any other course of action he can take?

    His budget is no more than about $2000. He watches mostly sports and news on TV, movies when he gets the chance, and DVD's. Are there any suggestions? Thanks.
     
  2. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Welcome to HTF, Alyn.

     
  3. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    While I'm a strong advocate of widescreen HD-ready models, I don't think that would be the best choice for Alyn's friend, who's priorities don't match mine or those of most hard-core HT enthusiasts.

    This is a transitional period, and if one's priorities are best performance with current ntsc pictures with not stretch or zoom, a 4/3 set is a logical choice.

    That being said, I agree that buying a large screen analogue rptv is not a good idea at this time if one has any kind of decent signal source. While the line doublers in HD-ready models can make poor ntsc signals look pretty bad, they can indeed make a good ntsc signal look better. The scanlines evident on an analogue rptv can get pretty annoying.

    My last set was an excellent 53" analog Hitachi Ultravision, and from 13" away the scanlines were still visible. The line doubling in a similar sized HD-ready model would make it watchable from a much closer distance.

    I also disagree that a 4/3 set necessarily negates the advantages of HD or anamorphic dvd. With a true raster squeeze as all current 4/3 models can do for HD, and some for anamorphic dvd, the only difference is the black bars.

    Sony, Toshiba, and Hitachi all make nice 4/3 HD-ready sets in the 53" range that sell for only a bit over $2k, and imho would be the perfect compromise for someone who puts a very high priority on unstretched 4/3 ntsc but still wants to be reasonably "future proof."
     
  4. Jan Strnad

    Jan Strnad Screenwriter

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    Alyn,
    Your friend needs to sort out his priorities.
    He doesn't watch a lot of DVDs, but when he does, what does he want from them? Original aspect ratio? The sharpest picture possible? Or, does he not really care about that stuff?
    He has to look at his critical viewing and buy the TV that best meets his needs for that source. For me, that's DVDs, which means that I'll accept stretching or gray side bars or whatever on broadcast television, but I want a widescreen TV for DVD films.
    Your friend may feel differently!
    From what you say, I feel that he'd be happy with one of the new 50" more-or-less widescreen projection TVs. (I just ordered a 42" Toshiba from OneCall.com for $1569.10, so that let's you know where my biases lie.)
    There is no guarantee that anything will be acceptable ten years from now. The technology and the standards decreed by the Federal Government (gaaah!) are in transition and it's unlikely that anything your friend buys today will survive the changeover. Personally, I'm figuring that the TV I just ordered will be my main TV for about 5 years, tops, before I have to replace it with something more current.
    I'd say...stay tuned! This is the time of year when the new models are coming out, so your friend can either get a great deal on an "old" model or get the latest and greatest in another month or two!
    J.
     
  5. Alyn

    Alyn Auditioning

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    Thanks for all the responses so far, your advice has been far better than anything that the people at Best Buy or Circuit City has said to him.

     
  6. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    I've had both a high-end analog and a widescreen HD-ready tv connected to dvd and analog cable.

    The good cable channels look better on the HD set, the poor ones look worse.

    All the HD-ready sets have excellent comb filters, which are needed for composite and RF cable connections, but not for S-video, so you won't lose much if anything because you need to use composite rather than S-video. I use analog cable with no box, run the cable straight from the wall to the set's antenna/cable connector.

    The picture quality of analog vs HD ready tv would also be the case on a 4/3 analog vs 4/3 HD-ready set--we need to separate line doubling from screen aspect ratio here. On a 4/3 HD ready set your ntsc picture will be line doubled but not stretched, so the picture on it will be the same quality as on a widescreen set in the gray sidebar mode.

    DVD looks better on an HD-ready set for 2 reasons:

    1) the HD ready set will display a progressive scan picture, either natively from a progressive scan player or via the set's line doubler from an interlaced player like your friends PS-2
    This virtually eliminates scan lines.

    3) on a widescreen set, anamorphic dvds do not need to have a quarter of the scanlines discarded by the player in order to be shown in the correct proportions.

    A 4/3 set that can perform a "squeeze" does the same thing as a widescreen set--the scan lines are compressed vertically into a 16/9 area in the center of the screen, giving the exact same picture you'd get on a widescreen set. The Sony 4/3 HD-ready sets can do this squeeze for anamorphic dvds, the picture will be just the same as it would be on a widescreen set, but of course the black bars will be bigger.
     
  7. Jan Strnad

    Jan Strnad Screenwriter

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    It's only a TV??? Man, you are in the wrong forum!!! [​IMG]
    Okay, seriously now:
    The American TV world is going wide. 4:3 is the aspect ratio of the past and of most of the present. It won't stay that way. I can't predict the point at which your friend will want 16:9, but it'll come. Maybe in a couple of years, maybe in five, maybe ten. If it's ten years away, a widescreen set would be a poor investment. But with each passing year, he'll get more good from his widescreen investment.
    At least, that was my thinking when I bought a widescreen set.
    Then there's the matter of esthetics. I think that a widescreen set just looks better than a 4:3 set. I can get a wider screen for movies with a 16:9 set and still obtain Spousal Approval, so that made the decision for me. Your friend may not have this consideration. [​IMG]
    Jan
     
  8. Arthur S

    Arthur S Cinematographer

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    The title of your thread is "Buying a a TV that will last"

    Since your friend wants a good size rear projection set, according to Consumer Reports, the most reliable brand of rear projectors is Hitachi.

    Artie
     
  9. Jeff Kleist

    Jeff Kleist Executive Producer

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    Might I suggest a front projector? He could pick one up for 5-600 more, and would solve the screen ratio problem for the most part.
     
  10. Chris Perkins

    Chris Perkins Stunt Coordinator

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    Just throwing my 2-cent reaction to Mr. Schaffer's reply concerning cable quality. I have digital cable running into my Panny 47" using s-video, and it is a huge improvement over just standard connects. Picture quality and color saturation is real sweet. Running cable straight from the wall into your set is asking for trouble. I actually saw a grown man cry after a lightning strike "electrified" his cable and fried his two week old 53" RPTV.
    Chris
     

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