Wait - you like or dislike the Sonys?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jonathan Hayes, Nov 29, 2001.

  1. Jonathan Hayes

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    I've joined because I'm in the process of updating my HT system. I've been doing a bit of reading in the threads in this forum, and am now a bit confused.

    I'm looking for a 32 or 36 inch, HDTV-ready direct view TV set. I'd been heading towards the Sony XBR450, both out of brand loyalty and because of generally good reviews, but now I'm not so sure.

    Many people here seem to have the Sonys, and love them. But I was just reading that long thread about problems with a brown bar on one side of the screen, which seems to be ubiquitous in those models. (It's amazing to me that something like that can be considered acceptable in a $2000 TV set, by the way.) And there was also a thread about problems with colour accuracy on those sets. So, is the Sony a good choice or not? These problems seem to be fairly common to me.

    I know it's a familiar question, but I'm going to throw it out one more time. What should I get?

    I divide my viewing time approximately 70% cable TV (I live in New York City, and am not able to install a satellite rig in my buidling), 20% video games (PS2, Xbox and Gamecube) and 10% DVD. My cable TV reception is via TiVo.

    And I'm looking to spend somewhere between $1500 and $2000.

    Thanks in advance!

    Jonathan
     
  2. brian cr

    brian cr Auditioning

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    Hi Jonathan.

    Strictly a personal opinion, but I have to say that I don't understand purchasing a television as advanced and expensive as the XBR 450 if you only watch dvds ten percent of the time and cable is your broadcast source. From what I've seen, the Sony Wegas make cable reception look worse in most cases. With HD and dvd, the XBR 450 is a spectacular set, but a very expensive and source-sensitive one too.
     
  3. Jonathan Hayes

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    Interesting, Brian. My understanding has been that DVD (oh, and LD) images would be really enhanced, that videogame output would be fantastic, and that my cable system (TIme Warner) is gradually switching over to a purely digital delivery. I hadn't realized that these sets would make my standard cable look worse. Why is that? And in what way do they look worse?

    When my local cable company (I'm in New York City) advertises Digital Cable, is that something that would be worth my while getting? I mean, is digital cable of a sufficiently higher quality that it would make having an XBR-type set worthwhile?

    I mean, I'm still reeling in shock from the discovery that a 16:9 set might not be ideal for me!
     
  4. Jonathan Hayes

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    Also, does the fact that I'm using cable through a TiVo have any bearing here?
     
  5. Joseph Young

    Joseph Young Screenwriter

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    Jonathan,
    Allow me put in my 2 cents on the subject since I have both 1) a (admittedly non XBR) 32FV27 32" WEGA and 2) digital cable. I have to assume that you are not looking at actual 16:9 sets but instead the 1080i compatible XBR. If not, please disregard the below information.
    The problem with the uneven brightness on the left side of the screen is not exclusive to the XBR series, although that problem has been reported with the XBR models. It's a problem that has been acknowledged by Sony, but Sony has not gone out of its way to educate consumers that there is a problem. Rather, if you dig deep enough, you can discover that you need to replace a coil in the television that in most cases will alleviate the uneven brightness. In some cases it will not.
    I love my WEGA, but the problem with the dark bar on the left side of the screen is [rant]very distracting[/rant]. If you want the TV primarily for films, you'll find that the optimal setting to get a filmlike image on your XBR will also reveal the brightness issue at its worst, unfortunately. [​IMG]
     
  6. Jonathan Hayes

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    This is EXACTLY the sort of advice for which I was looking!

    So, what would people recommend? I seem to recall that I read somewhere that Sony offers some non-HDTV-ready sets which have some sort of system for optimizing a widescreen image displayed on a 4:3 set. Is that so? And I've loved my Sony stuff in the past, but am not married to it. Is there a comparable Panasonic?
     
  7. brian cr

    brian cr Auditioning

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    Yes, the non-HDTV Wegas have a 16:9 mode. But keep in mind what Joseph said about his non-HDTV Wega making cable look

    worse.

    I believe the Panasonics have this mode in the service menu, which would be a bit of a hassle to access every time you played a dvd.

    The Toshiba's also have it in the service menu(see the thread I started about it). I think the non-HDTV Toshibas offer an excellent dollars spent to picture quality ratio, and you will find that a lot of people "in the business" agree. Plus, Toshiba has a one year IN-HOME warranty versus

    Sony's 90 days( appalling for televisions this expensive).

    Oh, btw, imo the Panasonic color is too red and the blacks

    are too black (no shadow detail).
     
  8. CaspianM

    CaspianM Stunt Coordinator

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    Sonys warranty is same as Toshiba and that is one year.

    The non-HD Wega do not make the cable worst that it is. I have a Wega 36"F26 with a very nice off cable picture. I read that some owner of early XBR with DRC made some cable and SAT channels soft and/or grainy. The recent models have good performance. If you can shell out the extra get Sony but shop around and compare before purchase. No TV set is without its flaws.
     
  9. Grady

    Grady Extra

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    I have a 36XBR400 and TWC Digital Cable. To be honest my picture with cable was less than great. The lower channels looked the worst. I kept after TWC and they discovered I was suffering excessive signal loss. They took one look at my set and told me they were aware sets like mine called for a strong signal. They replaced the line coming into my house with a more modern cable than what I had. Since I have three sets they installed a signal amplifer. I then had the set ISF'd. The NTSC broadcast picture now ranges from outstanding to good.

    In my case the set had some convergence errors, red push, a color temp that was off the scale and a poor incoming signal. While we shouldn't have to go through all this as consumers we must since most aren't as picky as we are. My end result turned out to be worth the effort. Cable on my Sony looks far better than on my Elite 510. HD and dvd, well thats a little different!
     
  10. ChrisMatson

    ChrisMatson Cinematographer

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    I have had my 36XBR450 for about 4 months now and I love it. Standard cable and digital cable both look quite good. DVDs through an S-video connection from my Pioneer DV333 look amazing. PS2 games look great. The twin view picture-next-to-picture feature is useful. I have not had any problems with picture quality, colors, banding, etc... I have calibrated the set with AVIA, keep the SVM off, and have the picture mode in "Pro." The only problem is that now watching TV elsewhere is painful.

    -Chris
     
  11. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    I still like my FV-series WEGA.

    It should be pointed out that most magazine reviews note that the XBR's "Digital Reality Creation" (DRC) internal scaler seems to be at fault for making cable signals--especially bad cable signals--look worse; upconverting 480i to 960i results in a soft, noisy picture.

    The better the source, the better the picture.

    Color decoding is not up there with Toshiba's, but can be compensated for somewhat by mucking around inside the service menu (so call the Imaging Science Foundation).

    Uneven brightness hasn't been a problem with me--though I can detect it on a blank screen in the 16:9 mode.

    I also agree that an XBR is a rather ambitious, sophisticated display if all you plan to do is watch cable (digital or not) and play video games. Screening DVDs should be the primary reason for getting an XBR--that, and, of course, HDTV.
     
  12. Jonathan Hayes

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    Thanks everyone. Very interesting.

    I find myself in an unusual position - I have had a really good year and have a decent amount of money to spend. I'd thought of going the HDTV way not because of the state of things now, but more because it's my understanding that we're at the beginning of a gradual evolution to digital/HDTV. My father used to buy things that were flashy but cheap; from his example, I learned to spend a bit more money to get something that would last. I was thinking that I'd buy a good set now, and not have to replace it for 10 years.

    So I can afford the XBR, but if the consensus is that cable isn't going to look as good on it as on one of the other non-HDTV-ready Sonys or Pannys or Toshibas, and that videogames won't look as good on an XBR as on one of the others, and that the improvement in DVD watching isn't really all that great, then I shall stick to a good non-HDTV-ready set.

    I guess the question is: If you had my viewing habits, and could afford to go with the XBR, what would YOU do? (And if you're going to say "Non-HDTV", I'd appreciate knowing your preferences as to brand and model in a 32" set!)

    Thanks.

    J.
     
  13. Allan Mack

    Allan Mack Supporting Actor

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    I'd go for the XBR. I've got one, and I'm very satisfied. My cable reception is very good, and HDTV looks fantastic on it.
     
  14. Rick Radford

    Rick Radford Supporting Actor

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    Jonathan,
    I have analog cable and was concerned about using a digital TV with it. In my case, a digital set improved my cable picture considerably. I have the Hitachi 32UDX10S set.
    YMMV. much is dependent on the quality of the cable coming into your home. AFAIK, digital cable offers nothing over analog except more channels.
    Other good sets to consider would be Panasonic 32/36HX41, Toshiba 32/36HFX71, and the Hitachi 32/36UDX10S.
    Or spend about $2300 and get the Panny 34WX50 (16:9 DV) from J&R there in NY. (or the Toshiba equivalent).
    [​IMG]
     
  15. JaimelM

    JaimelM Agent

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    I hate anything that's Sony, sorry folks.
     
  16. WilliamG

    WilliamG Supporting Actor

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    Rick,

    I was reading up on the Hitachi that you have and found out that it is not a flat screen. Do you prefer yours over a flat screen? I, too, was thinking of a 36" Wega and this subject came up.

    Thanks,

    William
     
  17. Rick Radford

    Rick Radford Supporting Actor

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    William,

    The Hitachi was the least expensive way I found to get a 1080i capable set. (not that I need 1080i yet.. but I wanted to have a digital set that could do the squeeze for my DVDs). I figure it'll work as a bridge set until I jump into the RPTV arena.. which may be a while.

    I probably would have preferred a flat screen.. but not for the $$ difference, and the predecessor to this unit (the 36SDX01S) was generally highly regarded over at the AVS forum.

    If I get a STB, I'll hafta start using my Onkyo 989 for switching since the Hitachi only has one set of component inputs.

    But since OTA HDTV won't be in my area for a while, I'm not worried about it.
     
  18. Jonathan Hayes

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    Thanks, guys, this is great.

    Armed with some of the suggestions and recommendations here, I went and poked around Circuit City. I have to say that I was blown away by the Panasonic CT4WX50 - everything about it looked great, from the image to the design.

    It was playing, fullscreen, the same image that was playing on the 4:3 monitors around it, but, while they all seemed a bit squeezed vertically, the image on the Panny seemed very naturalistic. The salesman, however, told me that the Panny was showing a standard, non-letterbox image digitally stretched to fill the screen. I don't think that was true - I think the Panny was showing a letterbox image fullscreen, while the others were somehow compressing the image to fill up the 4:3 ratio viewing field.

    My initial enthusiasm for this machine was based on the notion that the stretching it was doing might be tolerable, and that I could watch everything fullscreen and not worry about burn-in. Now I realize that I have no idea what a 4:3 image would look like after having been run through whatever stretching algorithm the Panny uses.

    That said, I'm pretty smitten with this TV. It also seems, somehow, less bulky than all of the 32" and 36" units at which I was previously looking.

    Damn, I wish these TVs only cost $25 - picking one would be a whole lot less painful!
     
  19. Taka

    Taka Agent

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    Let me chime in along with Rick- I also have the Hitachi 32UDX10S and it is quite nice.

    My budget did not allow for an XBR (I would have gotten one if I could, believe me), as I was originally considering a JVC 32D503, a much cheaper television. When I upped my budget to consider an FS series Wega, I found that I wasn't gaining that much by spending much more for a "regular" set, and just by chance, I found the Hitachi at Circuit City.

    The Hitachi blew away the Panasonic, Toshiba and JVC sets and pretty much equalled the XBR in the super-brightly-lit store off of their feed. I was amazed at that alone.

    Having it now at home for a while, I find that my DirecTV feed is rather mediocre-looking going through either the antenna input or through S-video (I think the box has a lousy S-video output), it looked better through composite before. However, having to run a composite and an S-video feed out to the TV from my receiver was a bit much and I have not done anything about that as of yet- my PS2 is using the Monster S-video cable, so I needed S-video output to the TV. Now my VCR is still composite, so I may have to go back and read my receiver manual to see if it will output composite and S-video with both cables hooked up- if that is the case, I think I'll revert to composite for the satellite box.

    BTW- DVDs look incredible on the Hitachi- Episode I looks like film, other DVDs vary depending on the quality of the disc.

    Taka
     

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