Consumer Reports Does Big Screen TVs

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Arthur S, Feb 2, 2002.

  1. Arthur S

    Arthur S Cinematographer

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    HD capable rear projectors were rated primarily on how they handled standard definition signals and HD signals. Hitachi and Pioneer tied for first. Direct views were rated using the same criteria. Sony XBRs led the pack, but most of the direct views scored higher in picture quality than the rear projectors.

    Oh, by the way, the top rated HD ready rear projector is a 4:3.
     
  2. Brian Harnish

    Brian Harnish Screenwriter

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    This pretty much shows how clueless some reviewers are in determining an HDTV set for best picture quality. Next thing you know they'll be saying "This set is the best because more than 75% of movies are going to fill your screen."
     
  3. Jah-Wren Ryel

    Jah-Wren Ryel Stunt Coordinator

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    Before this turns into another rip-on-CR thread, think about this before you post:

    1) CR is about getting the most value for your dollar. Thus the high-end stuff where the amount of improvement per dollar spent becomes less and less is not something that CR will value.

    2) CR is very clear about their criteria for rating equipment, they try to be as objective as possible by using as measurable and reproducible results as much as possible. When they do include subjective tests as part of their evaluation they are pretty up-front about exactly what they are trying to measure and why the test must be subjective.

    So, just because CR rates a certain model as a best buy does not mean that their criteria for making that decision matches *your* criteria. But, at least with CR you know exactly why they make the decisions they do as oppossed to most touchy-feely 'reviews' in other, for-profit, magazines where the methodology is barely revealed and just as likely to be based on the purely subjective opinion of one guy as it is to be based on scientific research.
     
  4. James Zos

    James Zos Supporting Actor

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    Not to mention the fact that CR accepts NO advertising, and actually purchases EVERYTHING they test: In other words, no accepting a review sample from some company, they either go out and buy it in a store or they don't evaluate it, period.

    Still, having said that, they are writing for your average mainstream buyer, and their information is geared toward that individual...those with more exacting tastes will of course want to do their own research, which no doubt includes many of the posters here.

    Bottom line: if you don't have a lot of information already about a product, CR can certainly help you avoid getting taken, but if you are willing to invest a lot of your own time and energy weighing the pros and cons, you'll end up finding their reports a little on the light side.

    I'll always take my hat off to them, if only for their relentless honesty and objectivity. They're not for sale at any price.
     
  5. Earl Simpson

    Earl Simpson Supporting Actor

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    Thats why I bought the Hitachi 61sdx01b. Most bang for the buck. 10 years from now I will make a different decision=based on programming and unit cost. If I had the dough, I would get a $20,000 overhead HD projector and have a 124" picture![​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  6. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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  7. Bob Christensen

    Bob Christensen Stunt Coordinator

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    I have subscribed to CR for years. I also subscribe to the motto my Daddy used to tell me: "Buy the best and you will never be sorry" But I was bummed to see CR top rate a Bose "sugar cube" system in their review of speakers. Huh! But they redeamed themselves when they rated my CRT TV (36 inch Tosh) highly. Just gotta remember that they are their to give you some unbiased views of products, NOT to make the final call for anybody. They are pretty good about pointing out major flaws and especially potentially dangerous products. Some of the "high brow" audiophile mags could take some lessons on how to present their results, like defining the measurement criteria, and especially pointing out subjective measurements and how they effect the ratings.

    Am I likely to buy a product solely on the CR rating? Not likely. But then again, I am unlikley to buy a product based solely on the a single review either. But it IS a useful resource, just like sites like audioreview.com is useful for spotting any potential "flies in the ointment" for a particular product, or to get you pointed in the right direction for purchases of products you know nothing about (like when I bought a hand mixer).
     
  8. matthew_rm

    matthew_rm Second Unit

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    I dont find CR to be very good for HT/music reviews. They care about whats on paper, and how much they paid for it. A technics Reciever beat an Onkyo? They didn't test sound qualitiy at all.

    Also, for speakers, they tested "accuracy." Not how stuff sounded to the human ear, a Bose 301 beat out allmost every other speaker on their test! So did some cheep rat-shack/sears technics. ect.

    I hope that if they used their ears to test, they would favour the paradigm reference series, and klipsch refrence series over the fiberboard and plastic bose/kenwood/technics radioshack "loudspeakers."

    I know that they document how they do their tests, so their not really "screwing" anyone. They do say to test with your ears and similar gear you own, and not just go buy what they say.

    I don't think they sould do test like that. Stereophile doesn't review cars, and Road and Track doesn't review power amps..
     
  9. Bill Will

    Bill Will Screenwriter

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    I wish CR or any other mag. in fact would start publishing where the products are made or assembled it would be especially useful I think with electronic products.
     
  10. NickSo

    NickSo Producer

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    What was the model of the #1 TV?

    Do you know how the Toshiba HX series ranked (specifically the 53HX71?)
     
  11. Arthur S

    Arthur S Cinematographer

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    NICKSO

    The top rated HD ready set is the Hitachi 53UDX10B. Remember, this is a 4:3 set. Most places, like Sears, Circuit City, sell the set for $2,500.

    The top rated 16:9 is the Pioneer SD-533HD5. This one goes for about $3,300.

    They did not test the 53HX71. They tested the 50H81 and said it is a good value and excellent with HD and progressive DVD.

    Please bear in mind that their TOP criteria was picture quality with standard definition signals. All of the HD ready sets looked great with HD signals, so to me it makes a lot of sense to rate them on standard definition source like cable. In a few more years when their is a lot more HD material available, standard definition source won't be as much of a consideration.

    Artie
     
  12. Earl Simpson

    Earl Simpson Supporting Actor

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    I stopped by CC today and looked at the new line up. The wide screen Sony's look great. The Hitachi's were the only other brand in the line up. And for the price, the picture was very close to the Sony at $1000 t0 $2000 less in price.
    But the 65" sony was awesome!![​IMG]
     
  13. Michael St. Clair

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    To get a good NTSC picture out of the Sony RPTVs, you must use a mode with no (Pro) or little (Movie) SVM and turn the sharpness all the way down to zero. The SVM and sharpness hugely exaggerate NTSC noise. And of course, contrast and brightness need to be adjusted.
    They look like completely different sets when you do this. Somehow I doubt they did.
     
  14. John Sully

    John Sully Stunt Coordinator

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    I read the CR article today. It seemed that they had a reasonable set of criteria for rating the sets. Given the lackluster amount of HD programming available today it makes sense to rate them mostly on NTSC picture quality. They also stated, correctly, that you should choose the aspect ratio of your set based on your viewing habits -- 4:3 if you watch mostly OTA stuff or 16:9 if you are a movie buff. The reason given for making this choice was burn in -- a topic of much discussion around here.

    I can't even discount their rankings too much. The Hitachi Ultravision sets I've seen recently have had pretty darn good pictures, and Pioneer and Toshiba sets have been perpetual favorites in this forum.

    So, what's the problem?
     
  15. jeff peterson

    jeff peterson Supporting Actor

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    They also rank the repair history for a few brands. I was surprised to see Hitachi had needed the least repairs. I always had an instinct that they were cheaply made; no real facts, just a feeling. Maybe Michael TLV can give his opinion on Hitachis? I don't recall him weighing in on the brand.
     
  16. Marc Rochkind

    Marc Rochkind Second Unit

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    I think the report is being misrepresented by some of the posts here.

    The rating score was indeed determined by how well the HD TVs handled standard pictures. But, in the comments for each set, they indicate which handled progressive-scan DVD input best, which says to me that they indeed know how these sets are to be used.

    The reality is, judging by the numerous posts I've read in the TV section here over the last months, is that (1) the ability of an HD set to handle standard pictures varies enormously from set to set, and (2) it's a very frequent source of frustration and disappointment on the part of people who post there.
     
  17. JohnHN

    JohnHN Stunt Coordinator

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    Having finally received my issue of the current CU in the mail, I thought that they did a good job on the RPTVs, and I have been critical of them in the past. I don't have any quarrel with their rankings or their basic methodology. It was a judgment call on their part and their position is defensible. But there are some curiosities in the issue.

    First, they still don't seem to get progressive scan DVD. In the same issue, they continue to rank progressive scan DVD players by interlaced performance, even though they list the progressive players separately. They do list in the notes that the Pioneer 444 has a picture that is "less smooth" than that of the other progresive sets, but this has zero effect on the Pioneer's rating. Very weird.

    Second, they do not make any mention of the fact that some of the RPTVs reviewed assume that any progressive signal is anamorphic. We know that there are workarounds for this (e.g. a scaling player like the Panasonic 91) but I think that this is precisely the sort of issue that CU should flag. Again, I think this reflects the fact that CU doesn't take progressive DVD players seriously.

    Third, CU's viewing distance recommendations are aggressive (e.g., 7' from a 50" 16:9), and may implicitly assume HDTV rather than DVD viewing. Some of us do sit as close as this for DVD (I do) but my sense is that most of us don't. But while I might quibble with this recommendation, it is a welcome change from the one in their last report on HD ready sets. There they recommended viewing distances that were almost twice as large (although they did qualify this at one point for HD material).

    Fourth, this is really more an oddity than a criticism, in its RPTV review CU calls 3:2 detection and compensation "motion compensation." This is a strange choice of terminology. It is usually applied to algorithms for deinterlacing video rather than film. The Secrets article on deinterlacing has this to say about motion compensation:

     

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