Plasma Monitor for Home Theater

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by BrianN, Feb 13, 2003.

  1. BrianN

    BrianN Auditioning

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    First off, I'm new and I have a lot to learn. However, I want a 43" or greater plasma or LCD monitor for my home theater system and television. With so many models to choose from what should I look for? Is there a particular brand which is best suited for this application? Most of these monitors seem to be used for corporate presentations and not home theater. Thanks for any replies.
     
  2. Rich H

    Rich H Second Unit

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    Brian,

    Your best source of information on plasma displays is the AVS Forum - with apologies to this forum :)

    Go to: avsforum.com

    The AVS forum hosts a "Plasma and LCD Flat Panel Displays"
    forum where people with lots of experience with plasmas can help you with your plasma angst.

    But to try and quickly address a portion of your questions...

    Are you sure you want plasma for your home theater? Are you aware that you can get a much bigger screen in an RPTV or front projector?

    I own a plasma for my home theater, and happen to prefer it over the other technologies, but a lot of people prefer as big a screen as they can afford.

    I would avoid LCD screens for Home Theater, as there are currently few big enough to be cinematic, they are even more expensive per square inch than plasma, and are still in the growing pains stage as far as picture quality. (For instance, the LCD makers are still trying to get their refresh rate times faster so the LCDs will handle the fast motion demanded by movie images. Right now you'll see a fair amount of smearing in moving images on most LCD screens. That may change within the next couple years though).

    There is no particular brand of plasma that is "best" for home theater. All have their trade-offs in terms of user-friendliness, upgradability, picture quality and price. It's up to you to weigh the differences and find out what you value most in a plasma display.

    Things to watch for: Don't get sucked in by demoing plasmas in the stores playing only HD signals, or even DVD signals. Ask to see regular broadcast signals too, from cable or satellite (or whatever you use at home).
    Plasmas vary in how well they handle different signals. Some look great with HD signals, then start to look a little blocky and "noisy" with DVDs. Some are good with HD and DVDs but begin to suck loudly with regular old NTSC signals. You should decide how much HD or NTSC you are going to watch, along with DVDs, and investigate which plasma will suit you.

    As far as the monitor aspect, I'd think it shouldn't be a problem for you if you are using it in a home theater application. It's likely you'll be using outboard speakers for your home theater (?), so you don't need those. Ask yourself how you're going to use the display. Myself, I own a plasma monitor, hooked up to a dvd player and cable box receiver. I don't need any tuner in the plasma and the display works beautifully as a "TV" and as a home theater display when the lights are dimmed and the pop-corn is popped.

    Right now everyone and his crack ho sister is putting their name on a plasma screen, so it seems like there is a billion to choose from. However, there are actually few makers of plasma technology - so many of the displays you see are re-badged from another company. A few companies that actually make a substantial amount of the plasma technology are: Panasonic, Pioneer, NEC, Fujitsu.
    As a starter, check out the plasmas by these companies, as they are consistently ranked the best by magazines and educated plasma owners.

    I don't know how much money you are willing to spend, but if you can afford it I'd advise going for a 50" plasma, which will provide a more cinematic experience than a 42" or 43" plasma. Panasonic, Pioneer and Fuji make killer 50" plasmas (NEC makes 50" plasmas, but they are far less represented in the stores, making them hard to demo before buying).

    Make sure you check out the black levels and contrast when you demo your plasma. Some have fairly poor black levels, which makes the picture look a little gray and flat for darker scenes. The Pioneer Elite line has pretty good black levels, but are bested by the Panasonic brand, which exhibits the deepest black levels you can buy. The Fujitsu
    50" plasmas use glass made by Panasonic, which incorporates their special deeper black technology.

    Many people agree that the best 50" plasma currently made is the Fujitsu P50XHA10US 50" Plasma TV Monitor. It uses the Panasonic glass which gives it excellent black levels and contrast for deep rich images, while incorporating some Fujitsu technology that improvesthe brightness and color specs over the Panasonic brand. But, the price per inch of the Fuji plasmas is steeper than other brands, as they are strict about brick and mortar sellers only. Thus, you'll find the prices much more competitive if you look at the other brands. (If the Fuji 50" plasma intrigues you but is too pricey, you might search for last year's model, the 5002, which is essentially the same picture-quality wise, but might be found at a discount).

    Best of luck. I heartily endorse plasmas for home theater -I bought my Panasonic plasma 10 months ago and every time I turn it on I'm still in awe.

    Rich H.
     
  3. Haris Ellahi

    Haris Ellahi Second Unit

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    It also depends on how far you'll be sitting from the Plasma.
     
  4. Rich H

    Rich H Second Unit

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    Brian,

    Did any of this help? What display are you considering?

    Looks like he's gone...(to another forum?)..

    Rich.
     
  5. BrianN

    BrianN Auditioning

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    Thank you everyone for your replies. Thank you Rich for your indepth and informative reply. I learned a lot and feel more confident knowing someone else is using a plasma in the same way I want to.
    One other question, Rich. How do you have your DVD player and Cable box connected to your plasma. Are you using component video inputs from your DVD and S video from your cable box? How are you doing that?

    Brian
     
  6. Rachael B

    Rachael B Producer

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    Brian, before you go drop $5000 to $10000+ on a plasma go look at Elite RP's and consider what you could have. I'd buy the Elte 530 53" RP for less money than most of the plasmas. Besides, you can check out the Elite plasmas too. I'd like to have a plasma myself someday. I love those stands where you mount them on poles. I'd like to replace my living room TV with one someday. There's plenty on light coming in there and a bright plasma would be the ticket. You could get the Elite 64" for less than most, if not all, 50"+ plasmas. Plasma is tempting....Best wishes! [​IMG]
     
  7. Rich H

    Rich H Second Unit

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    Brian,

    My set-up is a little different from most peoples. But the "normal" set-up is: DVD player into the component input of the plasma (you need to use component connections for a progressive scan signal). S-Video signal from the cable box.

    But, there are quite a few variations, depending on which cable box/dvd player/plasma you buy.

    Some plasmas, like the current Panasonic models, offer only one component input. So if you also have an HD receiver and progressive scan DVD player, that's two component sources. The way around it is to either have a receiver that switches video signals for you, or buy a component video switcher (which range from really cheap at Radio Shack, to very pricey for industrial-spec models).

    Many other plasmas these days have two component inputs, though.

    If your receiver (cable/sat box) does not have HD capabilities, just use the S-Video or composite output.
    However, even if your receiver offers HD component outputs, I still favor using the S-Video output of the receiver for non-HD regular channels. This is because an HD receiver will digitize normal NTSC signals to send them along the component inputs, which tends to soften the NTSC image even more than it already is. If you use the S-Video connection for regular cable/sat channels, you'll get a slightly clearer, sharper picture.

    Just decide what you need, and look at the connection options for each plasma. I chose the Panasonic 42" ED model because I felt it had the best picture quality in that
    size range. Since I have HD and Progressive scan signals, I can either route them through the AV receiver I bought, or the component video switcher I own. I've found the Panasonic picture quality was worth that little bit of extra hassle...YMMV.

    Rich H.
     
  8. Haris Ellahi

    Haris Ellahi Second Unit

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    I just bought the Panasonic TH-42PW5 Plasma yesterday. It will be here on Saturday. Can't wait! [​IMG]
     
  9. Rich H

    Rich H Second Unit

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    Haris,

    Wait until you see it. Not to over hype you on it, but I'm willing to bet the plasma will look even better than what you saw in the stores (if that's were you demoed the plasma). If you are going to play any computer animation DVDs (like Shrek) on the unit when you get it, be sure to be sitting down :)

    Please report back when you've had a look at it.

    Rich
     
  10. Haris Ellahi

    Haris Ellahi Second Unit

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    Rich,

    It looked great in the store. [​IMG]

    Yup, I'm sure it will look much better once it is calibrated with AVIA! [​IMG]
     
  11. Mike Matheson

    Mike Matheson Second Unit

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    Brian,

    A well-setup plasma certainly can offer a tremendously captivating image. Me, I love them, but not everyone feels the same.

    What will be your viewing situation? How far back will you be sitting? Any special mounting considerations? Will you be using HD at some point?

    The plasma models vary a good bit between manufacturers (well, some vary a lot) and between current models and older models--the implication here is to be sure to do a bit of homework--they're not commodity items (at least not yet), so a little research will pay off big in terms of getting a great unit.

    Some of the online sellers (like www.plasmaextreme.us) not only offer first class service at a great price, but also can be a big help in your deciding which model to choose (Lisa at Plasma Extreme really knows her stuff; she's also pretty active in the AVS plasma forum).

    Cost no object in the 50" size, I'd look at the Fujitsu. For a price-conscious 50", I like the Pioneer 503CMX. In the less than 50" size it'd be either a Panasonic or Pioneer for me. Over 50" I don't have much experience with (I like the feedback on the Fujitsu though).

    Good luck with it all. How about some feedback here after you make your decision?

    Regards,

    Mike
     

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