HDTV for dummies(mainly...me)

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Phil O, Feb 27, 2003.

  1. Phil O

    Phil O Agent

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    I'll make this simple...I need TV recommendations based on my situation and criteria:

    About my situation:

    1.) Broken 55" Magnavox 4:3 with repair costs of roughly $700. Translation: TV is history and going to charity; too much to fix.
    2.) I am willing to spend around $2k(give or take a few hundred) on a new TV.
    3.) My viewing habits are mainly satellite TV(direcTV), DVD movies, and XBox gaming.
    4.) I have a 5.1 DD HT set-up.
    5.) I will purchase a progressive scan DVD player.

    I suck at buying TVs and there are so many it is driving me crazy. Hence, the need for some much appreciated help.

    My criteria based on what I've gathered here/there and learned:

    1.) 16:9 rear projection HDTV with DVI or DVI upgradeability.
    2.) Doesn't "lock in full" for all 480P signals because that is bad [​IMG] ...even though I'm not quite clear on the repurcussions or downside besides, more than likely, distorted aspect ratio and loss of picture quality for non-anamorphic and pan-and-scan DVD watching???.
    3.) Avoid Mitsubishi or any TV that cannot do 720P.
    4.) Good picture quality but what do I know. It's all subjective to me but I tend to go with public opinion.
    5.) Brand is known for quality and low repair/service rates(although I'm sure this is hit or miss depending on the TV alot of the time).
    6.) Good stretch modes as I will be viewing alot of 4:3 regular programming due to lack of HDTV programming.

    My initial choice is the Toshiba 57 HDX model for $1799 at Costco. I would buy it at Costco because of their sweet return policy in case things go awry. I'm a bit concerned about this flicker problem but I can alway return the TV for exchange or refund at Costco for the foreseeable future. Please recommend some other TVs and/or TV brands to consider!!! Thank you.

    I really don't know much about HDTV or buying one. I just know I want one fairly soon [​IMG]. Knowing my set-up as described above, what do I need to receive HDTV signal. I know I will need an external HDTV tuner unless one is built into the set. I will probably want one that does over-the-air and DirecTV. What will I need to upgrade on my satellite system for HDTV besides an external tuner to receive HDTV signals? Do I need a new dish? A third LNB(only have dual-LNB now)? Should I buy a DVI capable HDTV tuner capable of doing DirecTV and over-the-air? What tuners are recommended and what are the criteria for buying them? How do I figure out what over-the-air programming is available in the D/FW area? I take it DirecTV movie channels and some PPV are the only channels offering HD signals(what about satellite local programmming?). Whew...question city. Sorry bout that...note to self...no more spouting off questions like that.

    Please help me if you can. I know this question has probably been asked a thousand times before. But, I think you'll can help me or I wouldn't be here. I'm not totally clueless but I'm no expert on HDTV(pretty obvious, huh?) or picture quality. I just want to get in the game and not miss out on any latest HDTV technology which I may need in the near future...such as DVI....now that I basically have to replace my broken TV. Thanks for any help!

    thanks, Phil
     
  2. Phil O

    Phil O Agent

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    Well, Costco apparently has the 57H82 and not the 57HDX82...so that's probably not the one I want. I thought the price seemed to good to be true. Hmm. Back to square one.
     
  3. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    Phil,

    Other brands to consider would be Sony or Hitachi, don't know why you reject Mits but they do have their advocates.

    1799 for a 57" Tosh HDX is a sweet deal and they are a well regarded set--you won't go wrong. It won't display 720p natively, as far as I know, but will convert it to 1080i and do it quite well. All current HD tuner boxes will also do this 720p to 1080i conversion.

    I know lots of people think native 720p capability is a must have solely because of the XBox. If you're one of them you might consider one of the DLP based sets from Samsung, or a plasma display.

    I've seen the conversion done on ABC HD broadcasts on my Toshiba stb, and it looks just as good as native 1080i.

    For Directv you would need an oval dish with triple lnbs. This will tune all DirecTV channels, regular and HD, as well as all local OTA digital and analog channels. You'll need a separate antenna for OTA stuff. Nobody makes a DirecTV HD capable box with DVI outputs, which so far are only necessary if you want to record HD stuff on one of the JVC DVHS units-a $1000 vcr.

    Samsung makes an HD tuner that has DVI, but it's OTA only.

    By the end of this year, DirecTV will introduce a DirecTivo unit capable of recording HD material from satellite and OTA sources. It will have component outputs for use with tvs that lack DVI, don't know if it'll have DVI or not.
     
  4. Phil O

    Phil O Agent

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    Well, I don't know of any xbox games out yet that are 720p so I don't think this is required. I am aware there would be an upconversion to 1080i if it could not handle 720p natively. I believe the Toshibas do handle 720p natively. That is...if I'm not misinterpreting the specifications when I read them. I assume you lose something in the upconversion from 720p to 1080i? I probably don't care anyway so...you're correct...I should not discount the Mitsubishi based on that.

    Besides the HDX models having DVI and the H models not having DVI(but are upgradeable to DVI), what is the difference between the Toshiba models? Is the HDX a newer model or generation of HDTV? The HDX model is more expensive and the better deal can be had on the H model at Costco for $1799. I probably won't even need DVI as I don't plan on recording HD any time soon(could be nice, though) and the tuners support component and whatever else.

    This HDTV tuner says it does DVI for both direcTV and OTA...unless I'm again misinterpreting the specs? I'm not sure I need DVI right away or even...at all. I like the idea of recording HD programming in the future and I assume you gain quality in picture over component when using DVI...although I have never experienced it to know its actual benefits.

    Thanks for the input. Please keep the input coming.

    Phil
     
  5. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    The Toshiba spec is a little misleading, but if you actually check their glossary for the feature in question, you'll find that it does indeed upconvert 720p to 1080i.

    Also, not all HDTVs will support 720p, whether we're talking upconversion or native support. If you really need 720p support, make sure your choice of TV has it. For example, the Panny's do not support 720p at all.

    Depending on how important the 720p format becomes, hub/switching devices that provide upconversion to 1080i might become more commonplace, but you shouldn't count on it. So far, the Samsung SIR-T165 HD OTA-only tuner provides this capability. Don't know if any others will offer this. I'd think though some sort of upconverter specifically for the XBox (or what have you) would be available if there's a market for it.

    RE: DVI, currently, DVI seems to be positioned as a playback only connection, not recording. Firewire is more likely the one that will be needed for recording, but you shouldn't need that on the TV since you're not recording from the TV. Basically, the recording device would record via Firewire and then output via HD component or DVI--that's actually what the D-VHS recorders do right now. This seems to be where the industry is slowly heading. There are "good" reasons why they want to go this way, but we can save that for some other discussion.

    Anyway, don't dismiss DVI w/out knowing the facts. Basically, the content providers are pushing for these solutions in order to keep their content as piracy-proof as possible. In the process, they might try to obsolete HD component inputs on the TV because there's no copy protection at all w/ HD component. Nobody knows how the dust will settle. There may come various lawsuits, blackbox converter devices and what have you over these next few years.

    So far, the consensus opinion is that this battle won't affect OTA broadcasts and might only affect premium content like premium movie channels, pay-per-view and such. HD-DVD, whenever that actually happens, will probably be affected too. So if you really expect your TV to last you a very long time and you care about those services, you should probably get a TV w/ DVI/HDCP just to be safe.

    _Man_
     
  6. Phil O

    Phil O Agent

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    I am already tired of looking at all the various TVs. I think I will go with the Toshiba 57H82 from Costco for $1799. It doesn't have DVI w/ DHCP out of the box but is upgradeable in the future.

    Mainly, I like what I've been reading on the picture quality, 4:3 signal zoom quality, and the price(great deal at Costco). The reviews have been very good for this set. I don't think I can go wrong.

    I will heed the advice and turn my contrast down. I will do a calibration using one of those calibration discs. Do you have to break the set in for a number of hours before doing the calibration? I was reading that in some other threads. After a longer break in period, then I will probably pay for an ISF calibration. A 56 point convergence sounds like it probably should be done but I have doubts as to whether I can do that myself given I'm not picture guru. I might be happy with the 9 point convergence anyway.

    Anyone recommend a good progressive scan DVD player to go with it that is a reasonable price? Maybe I should buy a Toshiba also?

    This is exciting! My first 16:9 HDTV! Woohoo! A broken 4:3 TV is kind of a blessing in disguise as now I get to upgrade! Between the $700 it would have cost to repair my old TV and my tax refund, that almost covers the cost of the HDTV! Good times!

    I learned one thing from this experience...I dunno jack about what a picture should look like and whether it is correctly calibrated or not. I guess with a calibration disc anyone can do minimal adjustments. But, for a big difference, ISF calibration is in the cards down the road. I understand the formats and everything else to a degree so I'm not a complete HDTV dummy.

    thanks, Phil
     
  7. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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  8. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    Phil,

    The Samsung 160 direcTV HD capable box does have DVI, but it cannot be used to record to a JVC D-VHS machine as it lacks Firewire capability.

    The OTA-only Samsung does have Firewire.

    There is still no DirecTV capable HD box that one can record HD material from.

    If you check over at AVS Forum you will find that there is a hack available for the RCA DTC-100 that supposedly will allow recording of HD material from DirecTV, but it's very fiddly and doesn't work very reliably at all.
     
  9. John_Drake

    John_Drake Extra

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    I would also recommend the Panasonic DVD players.
    Panasonic makes one of the best progressive scan players.
    I find the deinterlacing on the Toshiba less than satisfactory.
    A friend of mine brought his Panasonic progressive player over and we ran it through my Toshiba 65HDX82. It was night and day difference from my Pioneer standard player.
    You might want to check out this link:
    DVD Progressive Scan Shootout
    I hope this helps...
     
  10. Phil O

    Phil O Agent

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    Do the Hitachis do 720p natively?

    Hitachi or Toshiba 57" widescreen...which would you do?

    The Hitachi has DVI and Firewire capabilities. The Toshiba HDX model has only DVI . I believe they price out about the same.

    Also, how are the Hitachi zoom modes for regular 4:3 programming?

    I know I will have to go check these out first hand but I wanted to get some input from all of you.

    thx
     
  11. John_Drake

    John_Drake Extra

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    I believe the Hitachi's also upconvert 720p to 1080i.
    Also, I had a friend who purchased the UWX series Hitachi just recently and he wasn't happy with the picture. He complained that it was too "grainy" (I have seen this too on the sets in Circuit City). I have read that most people prefer the SWX series Hitachi (better picture). I believe he was going to return it for either the SWX Hitachi or the Toshiba HDX.
    As far as I know, there aren't any RPTV's on the market that do 720p natively (just some plasmas and Front Projectors).
    I have also heard that the Hitachi zoom/stretch modes are not as good as the Toshiba.
    I originally was looking at the Hitachi but after looking at the Toshiba models I went with the 65HDX82. I can't complain...
    I hope this helps.
    - John
     
  12. Alan Bansen

    Alan Bansen Auditioning

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    I, too, am new at the HDTV game. Nowhere near as knowledgeable as Phil and all this is very interesting and have been deciding between Toshiba and Hitachi.

    I rejected Mits because a friend said his sister-in-law's Mits was off in the stretch

    I noticed nobody mentioned the Sony KP-57SW500 or others in that line. Was there a reason? Is it competitive. Thanks a lot for your help.

    Alan Bansen
     
  13. Phil O

    Phil O Agent

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    I've learned alot from reading this forum and doing research. Alan, may check into a flicker problem with the Sony line that has been discussed heavily. I'm not sure if it applies to that particular model.

    Unfortunately, I've learned so much that I've basically talked myself out of buying a HDTV for cost reasons. I have many expenses which include purchasing a house in the near future. I just feel that to get a decent HDTV with DVI/HDCP...I will have to spend at least $2500 for the size I want in a RPTV(57"). In addition to that, I will have to buy a set top box, a new satellite dish, possible ISF calibration, and a new progressive scan player. All those costs wind up being over the $4000 mark even though I know I wouldn't have to do it all at once. Still, this DVI/HDCP technology is so new that they are literally ripping you off for it on the set top boxes(prices start ~$599) and HDTVs just to have that capability when the complete direction of inputs/outputs on HDTVs is as of yet still a little unclear.

    So, I made a decision and probably not a very good one. I feel there is a lot of life left in my existing 4:3 TV after repair. So, I bit the bullet and am currently getting it repaired(albeit a pretty damn expensive pair). I am keen to waiting anywhere from 1.5 - 3.0 years to jump into HDTV. By then, all these new digital inputs/outputs will hopefully have been worked out satisfactorily and prices will have dropped even further. Plus, I am by no means a videophile although HDTV would be great but most of my programming is still 4:3 in nature. Zoom and non-zoom burn-in is obviously something not to be taken lightly.

    Also, by the time I do decide to buy, I may even drop RPTVs for something different...like FPTV. I kind of need to know how my new house will space out before then where HT will definitely be a decision for myself in any future home purchase.

    But, these last few weeks have been very enlightening and I have learned much. Thanks for all the feedback and good luck Alan. I am interested enough now to read these threads and understand them while also looking out for future HDTV happenings.

    Phil
     
  14. Alan Bansen

    Alan Bansen Auditioning

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    Phil,

    You are a wise and frugal person, Phil and I applaud your conservative approach. While I may be able to handle the higher budget, particularly if I go slowly, it's certainly worth considering going more slowly as you advocate.

    I'm not eager to jump into HDTV but having the ability to do so -- at least with the TV -- while at the same time getting the home theater effect on your DVDs IS appealing to me.

    Will investigate further.

    Thanks again for the input!

    Alan
     
  15. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Phil,

    Are you sure you want to plunk $700 into fixing a 5+year-old non-HD RPTV?

    I took a quick look back in your old thread to see what needed fixing. Since the TV is that old AND the fix doesn't even replace the CRT tubes, I don't think it's a good idea. Depending on how many hours you actually put into the TV, you might not get too many years of good use out of it. I know all you want is another 2-3 years, but is that really worth $700 for an old analog RPTV?

    Have you considered spending less and buying a transitional HDTV like some of us do? For example, you can probably buy a 50" Toshiba 4x3 HDTV for $1500-1600. There might also be better deals if you really shop around. The 50" Toshiba would only be a little smaller than your old Magnavox. Just sit 10% closer, and you'll get the same viewing size. But w/ the new TV costing little over 2x your repair cost, you'll get a bright new, better picture all-around even if you don't buy an HD receiver. AND it should last well beyond just the 2-3 years you're thinking. If you do upgrade in 2-3 years, you can always sell it or donate it away for a tax deduction. But who knows? Maybe in 2-3 years, you'll again find that you're not sure you want to upgrade because the next best thing is still just around the corner.

    Also, w/ a new TV, you'll get a new warranty. With the old TV, you might be setting yourself up for more repairs while you wait for HDTV technologies to progress and mature.

    _Man_
     

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