LCoS and Plasma and Tubes! Oh, my!

Discussion in 'Displays' started by Joseph DeMartino, Oct 4, 2005.

  1. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    OK, I'm in the market for a new display device, but I've been out of the loop so long (the set I'm replacing is a Toshiba widescreen analog RPTV) and have worked so hard to avoid temptation these past few years that I have no idea what to buy. I'm working again and the same insane housing inflation that makes it impossible to simply move into a better place has nearly doubled the value of my condo in two years. So armed with refi money and a bad attitude I'm ready totally redo the place and to rebuild the home theater I boxed up in August 2003 and start over.

    Based on room size and layout I'm leaning toward something at least as big as my current 55" 16:9, maybe a touch bigger. (If this doens't bust the budget, which is currently about $4,000. If I really fall in love with something I could probably steal enough from the flooring and kitchen budgets to add a few bucks. [​IMG]) HD sets hold up to close scrutiny better than NTSC sets did, and I love the "giant screen" movie feel. I figure 60" to 65" is probably my absolute top end. From my limited research I gather 50" plus pretty much rules out LCD (too pricey) and plasma. (Ditto) I don't need a flat panel or to hang it on the wall, but I do want something a bit slimmer than the ancient Toshiba. (And the clunky custom-built wall unit it's in, which is going.)

    Light control is an issue during the daytime (skylights in a 15 foot ceiling and no extra grand in the budget for shades.) My reading suggests that DLP might get me the biggest bang for the buck, but my head is so full of specs and numbers and opinions of various critics that I think I know less about this subject now than I did two weeks ago when I started looking around.

    Take pity on a Noob. Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope.

    What should I be looking for?

    Keep in mind I'd also like to be able to use the monitor for a computer with a wireless keyboard/mouse combination, so some kind of HD-PC like beast (sans DVD player and sound decoder, which would be redundant) would be nice (even if it is just my current laptop in a niche in the wall unit.) I want to be able to caputre and edit video from my DV camcorder and photos from my 5 MP camera, as well as archive TiVo2Go files from my TiVo. (Which I want to keep because I love the service and I can live with standard def copies of BookTV) The TiVo, of course, will need a network connection. (Luckily my home office with the DSL router/gateway and my main Desktop PC are just the other side of the wall where the main HT components will be located, so I just need to run some cat-6 cable to connect everything up.)

    I'm still going to use my old Denon AVR and Atlantic Technology speakers, for the time being, and my trusty Pronto remote. Down the road I would imagine I'll want a switching AVR capable of handling the digital inputs, but right now I can't even picture how that would work and don't know if there are any easy switching options for all my sources at this point.

    I'll have the following:

    My old Apex region-free single disc DVD player (for my handful of Region-2 discs)
    My old laserdisc player (For the original original trilogy [​IMG])
    My Onkyo 6-disc DVD Changer (for TV on DVD sets [​IMG])
    My VCR (for old time's sake.)
    My Pimary TiVo (Londo. G'Kar, the back-up, is connected in my home office.)
    One computer or another.
    My Denon Receiver
    My Digital cable box (only $1.68 more expensive than HD service without the box)
    My new TV/Monitor/Whatever

    Some kind of power conditioning/surge protection/battery back up system. (Currently have a couple of small computer-grade UPSes to prevent the TiVo from skipping or components losing memory, but am open to upgrading if there is really something to gain.) I'll also have my Lexmark color all-in-one inkjet on a table next to the wall unit and will probably want to tie it in somehow as well.

    Where do I start?

    What do I need?

    What should I do?

    [​IMG]

    Thanks,

    Joe
     
  2. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Gee, I was hoping a light-hearted and amusing title might encourage more people to reply sooner. [​IMG]

    Any, I remembered a component I left out that also has to be worked into the mix: A Sony 110 disc CD changer with digital output. (Optical I think. It's still in a box at the back of a closet along with a lot of other stuff.)

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  3. John Whittle

    John Whittle Stunt Coordinator

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    First you need to find a display that you like. Personally I'd wait until the JVC 1089p Lcos sets show up towards the end of this month and have a look at the 56 and 61 inch sets. They have the computer input and also take a cable card which might be handy if you decide you want to use something else that has a HDMI connector and don't want to invest in one of those expensive "switches". The JVCs have two HDMI with HDCP inputs, ATSC tuners, two 1394 firewire ports, a pc port and optical digital out to go to your receiver.

    The JVC won't have any problem with your lighting and will be within your budget (we don't have street prices on the new FH series which are the 1080p versions) but you could get a 720p version for about half your budget via mail order.

    BUT first and foremost you need to look at the displays. Microdisplays have problems that are different than those you (and I) have with crt projectors. DLP might be a consideration but the Lcos (JVC actually calls them D'ila) have a chip for each color and thus don't have rainbows. They also have pixels for all 1080 pixels unlike current DLPs that use a wobulation of 960 mirrors to get 1920 picture elements. (Full display is 1920x1080)

    Plasma has certainly improved but I don't know if they have really solved the burn in problem.

    Others will present other devices, but only you can decide by seeing them and picking the picture you like best for the type of source material you'll be watching.

    Right now there isn't any 1080p source available commercially but I want to see the picture on one of these displays before I'd commit to purchasing anything now.

    John
     
  4. Gregg Loewen

    Gregg Loewen Video Standards Instructor, THX Ltd.
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    HI Joe
    Your lucky, your good friend Gregg, is in the industry. :)
    Give me a call at any time to discuss your needs.
    Regards

    Gregg
    201 232 3380
     
  5. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Gregg:

    I certainly will, especially WRT to backlighting and switching (I was looking over some of the stuff on your site.) We verterns of the first HTF National Meet need to stick together. [​IMG]

    One other caveat I forgot to add:

    I'm going to be pretty much limited to local brick and mortar stores, at least for the TV itself. Whatever I get is going to be big and at least moderately heavy, and there will be some set-up involved. I live in third floor walk-up and have a bad back. Local code does not require elevators, not even for frieght, until a building goes over three stories. I've learned the hard way with other frieght delivered items that they drop it at the curb and then you're on your own. Arranging for local folks to meet the delivery is hit or miss at best. Rather than pay cross-country freight and a local delivery charge, I'd rather deal local and be able to arrange a proper delivery, even if there is a bit of a surcharge.

    Second, because I'm doing this as part of a general refurb of my condo, there are cash-flow advantages to spreading out the payments on the electronics, at least for the major components, and saving as much as possible on interest. So the current 27 month no interest deals some of the Big Box folks are offering make sense to me - given that I have the discipline to pay them off before the due date and the bill paying service to ensure that the bills either get paid automatically or the checks go out far enough in advance that missed or late payments won't be an issue. (I'm a computer and networking geek, myself, but I've worked for a law firm, a mortgage bank and an EDI company that serves the credit industry and understand very well how these things work - and what the possible pit-falls are.)

    By the way - I'll be painting the whole place as well. The wall the HT is going on is pretty much its own thing, separate from the rest of the room. (There is a wall mostly consisting of a sliding glass door at right angles to it on one side. On the other side there is a hallway, and across the three foot gap the kitchen and the dining room.) There will be two towers for the electronics joined by an adjustable light bar (all in dark grey/black with chrome and glass accents.) In between will either be a floor-standing RPTV (probably LCD or DLP) or a similar TV on table that matches the wall unit. Some of the wall will be visible. I'm assuming I need to pick a paint color that will not defeat the purpose of the back light. (The dining room walls and the wall behind the sofa, opposite the HT, will be a deep green.)

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  6. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    But here I still have the problem I've always had in judging which TV "looks best": I seriously doubt that all the sets are properly calibrated and dialed-in to the factory spec, and in some stores the two models I want may not be sourced from the same hi-def speed. (Not to mention what cables, distances, splitters and repeaters can do.) So does that Sony really have a much better picture than the JVC next to it? Or is one so maladjusted that the picture looks nothing at all like what I'll see in my home?

    I remember seeing DVD "demos" in the early days of the format that looked worse than VHS because the sets they were being played on were so hideously maladjusted. (I once smuggled the remote from my Toshiba into the local Best Buy, which was running a DVD demo on the 40" version of my 56" Theaterwide, so I could fix the levels. [​IMG])

    Right now I'm seriously considering a Panasonic 720p 61" (a 1080p version was shown at the Consumer Electronics show, and evidently scheduled to ship in September, but nobody has the things or any news about them) and a Samsung 61". Both are LCD rear-projectors and cost about $2500 - a grand less than a Sony 60" that also looked good to me. With the difference I could put a nice 32" flat-panel in my home office/exercise room and use if as my PC monitor and to watch DVDs while on the treadmill. (The room is mostly dimantled at the moment, but when it is back together I intend to resume my Murphy Brown workouts. Sitcoms time out to just about the 20 minutes my doctor recommend for the treadmill, and help pass the time. [​IMG])

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  7. Allan Jayne

    Allan Jayne Cinematographer

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    All of these technologies (LCoS and Plasma and Tubes) continue to exist because each has its disadvantages.

    You will have to decide for yourself which shortcomings are least objectionable.

    CRT -- weight, unit size, frequent tweaking, burned phosphors
    LCD -- black levels
    DLP -- rainbow effect, to some extent price
    LCoS -- price, to some extent black levels
    Plasma -- price, burned phosphors, high power consumption

    Video hints:
    http://members.aol.com/ajaynejr/video.htm
     
  8. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    LCD -- black levels

    That's the usual knock on LCD panels and projectors, but I have to say that in looking at LCD RPTVs, DLPs and even plasmas side-by-side, I don't see the problem in current sets. In fact the Samsung 61" I mentioned above, the one I thought comparable to the similarly-priced Pansonic, is a DLP set while the Panny is an LCD. I saw no difference in the black levels.

    DLP -- rainbow effect, to some extent price

    Another thing I've heard about, but have never seen. (I hear lots of people don't - or can't - see the rainbow effect, although it can be really annoying to those who do.)

    So I guess from my point of view neither DLP nor LCD (projection, anyway) have any serious drawbacks.

    I would be intereted in knowing what, in the experience of the members, are the pluses of these technologies, to balance the minuses.

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  9. Allan Jayne

    Allan Jayne Cinematographer

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    The plusses:

    CRT -- Best blacks, can have infinite no. of native resolutions.

    LCD -- (Small) unit size for direct view and front projection, weight.

    DLP -- Unit size for front projection, weight, better blacks than LCD.

    LCoS -- Unit size for front projection, weight, better blacks than LCD.

    Plasma -- Flat panel, better blacks than LCD.

    Black level shortcomings may be less noticeable in a not so dark room. I have an older technology LCD RPTV which I feel has a washed out picture when viewed in the dark (mistake to begin with?), but perfectly OK in a moderately lighted room. Just got an LCD front projector (Sanyo PLV-Z3), chose LCD because I do see the rainbow effect in DLP.
     
  10. andrew markworthy

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    How much TV do you watch?

    Unless you are someone who watches TV 24/7, then for at least some of the day you will have a large object in the room that has to look decorative in itself. We recently got a relatively small LCD in preference to a larger plasma in part because we thought plasmas are still over-priced, but also because the designs of the stands/surrounds of lot of larger TV sets are pretty hideous, and when the TV is switched off, we didn't want to be looking at an ugly piece of furniture.

    In other words, although picture/sound quality are important, bear in mind you've got to live with the set design as well.
     
  11. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Whether floor-standing or on a table, the new TV will be surrounded by an entertainment unit with two glass-shelf towers and wire management for the electronics, tied together by a bridge that can hold the center channel speaker. A matching table is available if I go with a set that needs one. The whole thing looks perfectly fine to me.

    I don't watch TV 24/7, but when I'm in the room where the TV is located it is generally on. If I'm reading or eating or working on the computer, I'm usually somewhere else.

    I live alone, so the only "people" looking at the thing when I'm at work or otherwise away are two cats. And they've never expressed any strong preference regarding the furniture, except for certain chairs they claim as their own. [​IMG]

    The new stuff will be replacing an already bulky RPTV and a custom-built entertainment center that worked well in the house for which it was designed but which is far too big for the condo wher it resides now.

    As a single guy I have no serious objection to a wall-full of matte black, brushed aluminum, chrome and flashing lights. [​IMG]

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  12. Len Berkoski

    Len Berkoski Stunt Coordinator

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    Or a complete matched set of Babylon 5 the Series proudly displayed over the set?

    (From one lurker to another, that also happens to be shopping for an HDTV upgrade right now)

    Len B
     
  13. John S

    John S Producer

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    If you leave your set on a lot, even when not really "in-use" you may very well be best off with LCD direct view. Lamp life is a factor. A recent family I talked into an LCD RP, has lost a lamp in seemingly short order, their set is on almost 20 hours per day. This was not really conveyed to me at the time. That is a lot.
     
  14. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Actually, I was trying to indicate that I don't leave my set on a lot. (Obviously not very successfully. [​IMG]) Responding to the possibility that the set might not look very good when not turned on, I was trying to show that between work, other activities and the fact I lived alone, there's nobody around to see the thing for the vast majority of the day, when it is turned off. When it is turned on it is because I'm in the living room watching it. So the aesthetics of deactivated set are not that much of an issue.

    Here's the TV table version of the unit I'm looking at:

    [​IMG]

    And here's the projection TV version without the table:

    [​IMG]

    Regards,

    Joe
     

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