[Though this post concerns the reliability or otherwise of RPTVs, it's more "philosophical" in nature than the sorts of posts one finds in "TVs and Projectors." Hence, I put it here.] In the current issue of Stereophile Guide to Home Theater, a reader wrote in the Letters column about his four-year-old Pioneer RPTV having expired on him. He went on to complain that the unit had been in a service center for three weeks and that none of the technicians had even looked at it. Bad enough. But then the letter-writer asked about the reliability and lifespan of RPTVs in general. Editor Thomas J. Norton, in replying, justifiably noted that the magazine has no reliable way of tracking the service records of major manufacturers. Yet--and this is the truly disturbing part--Mr. Norton stated that four trouble-free years sounds like a pretty good deal for an RPTV. Really? Is that the best one can expect after having plunked down $2,000 or more for a current HD-capable RPTV? Of course, RPTVs are more delicate and finicky than their direct-view cousins. But, in my view, I would expect much longer trouble-free service from any television for which I have paid more than a thousand big ones. Some OEMs are better than others, of course. Televisions with weak power supplies and which are constantly overdriven can be expected to fail sooner than a better-made set from a quality OEM that has been properly calibrated. That letter-writer, being an SGHT reader, probably operated his Pioneer within its limits. A four-year lifespan does not seem reasonable at all. True, the products coming from Thomson, for example, are not good bets in terms of reliability. But a Pioneer? A Panasonic? A Toshiba? We expect more from those OEMs. Don't we?