Purchasing-decision woes

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jacob Shafton, Aug 23, 2001.

  1. Jacob Shafton

    Jacob Shafton Auditioning

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    Greetings, all.
    This is my first post, and it's a big one, so go easy on me.
    I'm in the market for a new TV, and I'm hoping for some advice. I've been browsing through all the good HT forums for a week or two now, and I'm having a bit of trouble finding a good path for me.
    So I figured I'd post my current habits and some questions and see if you guys can help me on my way to video-viewing bliss.
    My budget:
    I'm willing to spend up to $3000, but would rather spend less and maybe get a Pronto and/or TiVo.
    My desires:
    * I like an immersive experience, and to me, that means a big screen. I have an apartment, so I can't go too big, but I was thinking either a 36" direct-view or a 50-55" RPTV.
    * Ideally, I'd like a set that's going to last me more than a couple years.
    * HDTV ready/upgradeable
    * Good 4:3 satellite picture (I guess I don't need to get too immersed in the Food Network)
    * Great 16:9 DVD picture
    My current viewing habits:
    * I live in an apartment, and the TV is in an open living room with several windows that have blinds.
    * I currently sit about 7.5 - 8 ft from the TV.
    * 90% 4:3 TV via a DirectTV signal that may be split amongst my entire apartment complex (I don't have my own dish, there's just one for the complex)
    * 10% DVD watching. I watch 1 or 2 a week, and it's important to me that they look good.
    * I'd like to pick up some HD (particularly HBO), but I'm not sure if I can get it through my strange DirectTV setup.
    Here are my questions:
    1) Is it short-sighted to buy a 4:3 TV now with HD looming in the not-so-distant future? As previously stated, I don't particularly want to buy a new TV in a couple years.
    2) How much worse can I expect my regular satellite picture quality to be on an RPTV compared to a direct-view? I'm having a seriously difficult time determining this from all the AV stores I've visited. It seems like the same set can look totally differet in different stores. I don't know if it's the input source (cable vs digital cable vs satellite) or the calibration or what. Most of these places don't seem very professional, so it's hard to compare as in a controlled environment.
    3) How do you guys like the 55" Mitsubishi (can't remember the model #, but I think it's the Plus) vs the Toshiba 50H81 or 56? I've heard good things about the Toshiba, but they don't look so great in the showroom, which doesn't necessarily mean anything.
    4) Any recommendations for or against the Hitachi RPTVs? In particular, the 53SWX01W? Of all the sets I've seen thus far, this has been my favorite, but it may be due to the better showroom.
    5) What's the deal with burn-in on 16:9 sets displaying 4:3 images? Everyone seems to be concerned about it, but there seem to be varying opinions. I read something about Toshiba having a mode that moves the picture slightly from time to time to avoid burn-in, and the guy at the store that sold Hitachi told me I wouldn't have to worry about it unless I watched my tv in 4:3 mode for many hours a day for several years. Are either of these legit? If I get a 16:9 TV, will I be able to watch 4:3 material without stretching for a couple years?
    6) Can you recommend some good AV dealers, either online or in the greater KC area? I haven't liked most of the places I've shopped at -- unprofessional, unknowledgeable staff, horrible equipment setups (like no DVD players attached to their sets) -- and I'd hate to give them my money if I don't have to.
    7) Are there any other features I should or should not be looking for?
    I know that's a lot of questions, so I'd appreciate any answers in any area I can get.
    Thanks in advance for any and all help!
    - Jacob
     
  2. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    Jacob,
    With so much of your viewing being 4/3, you might want to consider whether you're going to be happy with the various stretch/zoom modes on a 16/9 set before purchasing one. If you don't stretch or zoom, you're going to have gray bars on the side of the 4/3 image.
    Mitsubishi recommends against using this mode on a widescreen set more than 10% of the time in order to avoid burn in. Of course, they're assuming the set will be left in factory default "torch" mode (contrast and brightness way too high). Properly adjusting the set with contrast down around 30% should minimize any concern about burn in, but it's still a possibility.
    A better choice may be a 4/3 HD-ready model that is capable of doing an anamorphic squeeze for dvds and HD 16:9 material. The Sony HS-10 rptvs can do this, Toshibas will but only for HD, not 480p dvd. The soon to be introduced Tosh 4/3 sets may do it for 480p, but I don't think anyone knows for sure yet.
    I have a non-hd 4/3 Hitachi Ultravision, and based on my experience with it am very impressed by Hitachi as a mfr of rptvs. The 53SWX01(?) you mention is about to be replaced by a 53SWX10 model, I'd wait for the new ones to show up. They will have the option to turn off SVM (scan velocity modulation) in the user menu. Hitachi's aren't as tweaker friendly as others--you have to remove some panels and press a button inside to get into the service menu. That being said, I've never felt any need to get into the service menu on mine. I have a gorgeous picture just with a thorough AVIA calibration with the user-available adjustments. My set has had heavy use for almost 2 years already and has been totally trouble free, with no picture degradation. I haven't even had to clean the screen--seems to repel dust somehow.
    The line doublers on Hitachi HD-ready sets seem to do a better job with ntsc sources than a lot of the other makes--not as many digital artifacts as Mitsubishi, yet less blurry than Toshiba or Sony.
    Mits sets are highly regarded but have a "red push" problem which requires an inexpensive device commonly available at radio shack to be added to one of the component video cables from the dvd player. Of course this won't help any other source.
    Toshibas are very popular here, offer a lot of bang for the buck, and there's lots of tweaking information available. The 50H81 16:9 set I looked at over at Best Buy was damned impressive running their HD feed, but I didn't see it displaying any other image source, so can't judge how it does with DirecTV.
    If I were in the market for a 16:9 set right now, I'd be looking at Hitachi and the new Toshibas in that order.
    For a best-of-both worlds HD-ready 4:3 the Sony HS series is a pretty popular choice. They will present 4:3 material with no burn-in concern, yet the squeeze gives the same 16:9 performance as a widescreen set.
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    Steve S.
    I prefer not to push the subwoofers until they're properly run in.
     
  3. Jacob Shafton

    Jacob Shafton Auditioning

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    Steve,
    Thanks for the response. It's good to hear positive comments about the Hitachi, although I'd rather hear negative things so I could rule it out. [​IMG] It looked great, but was pricier than the rest.
    I think I've decided that I can put up with some distorted 4:3 for a short time while waiting for more 16:9 material. I'd rather have a larger and more immersive image available to me in a set that will last me longer.
    So basically this leaves me with 3 models to choose from -- the Mitsubishi, Toshiba, and Hitachi -- and a quest for a good dealer.
    -Jacob
     
  4. John Morris

    John Morris Guest

    Jacob: Here is my 2c. Based on cost lower than $3K and on image quality, I'd opt for either the 16:9 Toshiba 57H81 or the 4:3 Toshiba 53H71. I just really like what Toshiba has done with its' internal line doubling and de-interlacing scheme. To me, the pictures with HD input and especially with cable TV input looks superior to everything else I've seen in its' price range.
    My continuing obstacle with buying a 16:9 set is when watching sports. The best stretch mode, Theaterwide 2, cuts off the top and bottoms of the screen... right where the scores and stats are usually located. This one thing alone may make me opt for the Toshiba 61H71 which gives me a nice big 4:3 screen for non-HD sports while giving me a 16:9 screen as big as a 56" 16:9 TV. The new xxH71 sets also now do anamorphic squeeze.
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    Take Care,
    merc
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    DFAST, 5C, DVI, HDCP, SafeAudio, Macrovision and Lewinski!!!
     
  5. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    Jacob,
    Actually, Hitachi will have 2 lines of 16:9 Ultravision sets.
    The UWX10 series is already available in 43 and 53 inch sizes, with a 61 coming shortly. These have a 4-sensor magic focus self convergence feature and 5 element lenses on the crts. I've seen the 43 inch and 53 inch UWX series models at CC, and they were pretty nice but not noticeably superior to the Toshiba 50H81 as far as the HD picture quality. I didn't have a chance to check out how they look compared to the Toshiba on ntsc sources. The 53 inch model was priced at $2999, compared to $2499 for the Tosh 50H81.
    The top line Hitachi 16:9 sets will be the SWX10 series, not out yet. These will have an 8 sensor magic focus system and 6 element lenses, and will probably run around $500 more than the UWX models. I would expect the Toshiba 50 and 57HX81 models to be competitive with these, and cheaper.
    There seem to be more reports of DOA units and other problems with Tosh around here, but that's probably due to the fact that a lot more of the HTF folk have bought Tosh than Hitachi.
    I'm sorta fortunate that my finances don't really allow for a major upgrade of my tv so soon after the purchase of my present set less than 2 years ago. I get to wait until all these new models have been out long enough for some feedback to develope regarding quality of picture on ntsc sources and reliability issues.
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    Steve S.
    I prefer not to push the subwoofers until they're properly run in.
     
  6. Matt_Stevens

    Matt_Stevens Supporting Actor

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    As a new 16x9 HDTV owner who moved up from a Sony Wega with the 16x9 squeeze, here are my two cents...
    With the amount of 4:3 TV viewing you will be doing, the ONLY way you can buy a 16x9 TV is if you can live with the picture either zoomed in (cutting off top & bottom) or stretched out across the 16x9 screen. Otherwise, your set WILL suffer burnin and that is NOT covered by your warranty.
    If you go 4:4 HDTV, then make sure it can do the 16x9 squeeze for DVD's because the difference is not small. It's night and day and even my girlfriend, who has somewhat poor eyesight, can instantly tell if I am watching an anamorphic DVD or a non-anamorphic. Scan lines just disappear with 16x9 DVDs played back anamorphic.
    Only Sony & Toshiba's 2002 models can do this. The other manufacturers have not caught on for some reason.
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    www.deceptions.net/superman
     

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