WANTED: advice for a cheap troglodyte

Discussion in 'Displays' started by eddieZEN, Jan 20, 2005.

  1. eddieZEN

    eddieZEN Second Unit

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    Here's the situation: the only time I ever watch TV is maybe 3-4 Netflix DVDs a week. I have no interest in cable or local TV watching, other than the occasional weather forecast or news broadcast.

    Am interested in upgrading only because 90% of Netflix DVDs are now letterbox only, and though my DVD player has a zoom function I don't like knowing that 1/4 of the picture has been chopped off.

    Here's what I have: a truly humble 20" Panasonic curved CRT, about 4 years old, doesn't even have S-video let alone component video inputs. To give you a good idea of just how unpicky I am when it comes to video, I actually think the picture quality of DVDs on my ancient RCA connection is pretty good!

    My 3 choices, in no particular order:

    1. Sharp Aquos 26" LCD, around $1300 online shipped after rebate. Super sharp, and 16:9 ration great for all the letterbox DVDs I watch, supposedly has more letterbox viewing area than a 32" 4:3 TV. Cons: 4 times the cost of other choices and not sure how durable LCD is in the long run since it's such a new technology. Not sure about long term reliability of Sharp products against the biggies like Sony, Toshiba, Panasonic, etc.

    2. Toshiba AFA33 32" curved CRT, $350+tax at local Target. Always rated best picture quality for curved tube TV by Consumer Reports, great reliability record, despite screen size is not very deep so no new stand required.

    3. Sony 27" flat CRT, $350-400 + tax locally. Best picture quality of a 27" flat CRT I've seen, it's a good 33% more screen than my current 20" and still doesn't require a new stand unlike the hulking 30" (16:9) and 32" (4:3) flat CRTs.

    My top priorities:

    1. Budget. I really don't watch that much TV to really want to invest much money in it, I'm a lot more into audio.

    2. WAF: she loves the compact sleek looks of flat panels.

    3. Mobility: am currently in an apartment and will move again at end of lease probably, so don't want to lug any mammoth leadweight box around esp. since I will only live in 2nd floor or higher apartments. Also don't want to have to buy a new stand to accommodate a big TV that's why I've ruled out 32-36" flat CRTs.

    Don't need sound quality since my DVD player is hooked up to a pretty decent audio system.

    Wouldn't mind having an LCD projector but buying $250 replacement bulbs scares me plus the added expense of the screen and need for low-light conditions are other deterrents. Are there any decent LCD projectors well under $1000 out there?

    Anyways, your opinions and comments would be most appreciated. At present I'm leaning towards the Toshiba, I can't quite overcome my reluctance to spend 4 times as much on the Sharp which I'll be using less than 10 hours a week. I know there are cheaper offbrand LCDs out there like Olevia but am leery of buying something that might die on me shortly after its 1 year warranty is over.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Jim Mcc

    Jim Mcc Producer

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    Eddie, I also would get the Toshiba. To spend $1300 for a 26" screen is ridiculous. I spent $799(new) for my X1 projector, and I use a 106" diagonal screen.
     
  3. eddieZEN

    eddieZEN Second Unit

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    Jim,

    How do you like the X1a? I understand it's supposed to be a business projector but lots of folks are using it for home entertainment.

    Very tempting, Cirucit City has it for $850 plus free 60" roll down screen right now...

    Unfortunately I know didley about projectors, will need to do a little research on that. I figure with my 10-12 hour a week viewing habits that $300 light bulb should last me a good 5 years or more, hopefully.

    The only thing is, don't know anything about long-term reliability esp. of obscure makes like InFocus or Benq, but they are much less than the big names' projectors.

    Can you watch it only at night? My viewing room has tons of light, and skylight so it'd be hard to cover everything up during the daytime.
     
  4. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    I recommend the Sony 27" TV or maybe the Toshiba. The Sony should have the 16:9 "squeeze" function, which compresses the picture into the widescreen shape for DVDs. Your DVDs will look great! If the Toshiba does not have that feature, don't even consider it.

    As for the LCD - I agree that $1300 for a 26" screen is silly. The 27" Sony will be much heavier, but it can be carried by two people easily, if necessary. Or, with the $1000 you saved, you can pay someone to pack and move your apartment, including TV, for you.
     
  5. PeterMano

    PeterMano Stunt Coordinator

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    There's a big difference between the x1 and the x1a. The x1 has a very good de-interlacing chip from faroudja onboard, the x1a does not. Infocus neutered the x1 with the x1a as they wanted purchasers to gravitate to the 4805 which is designed expressly for the home theater market.

    The x1 is a discontinued product but you should still be able to find units in the inventory channel.
     
  6. eddieZEN

    eddieZEN Second Unit

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    Dave,

    How exactly does that 16:9 compression feature work? I mean, if the Sony has a 4:3 screen, how can that screen possibly fit the entire 16:9 picture of a letterbox DVD without chopping off part of the original picture?

    I wish I knew someone who owns one of these so I can check that out, the stores always have their TVs running into some cable.
     
  7. eddieZEN

    eddieZEN Second Unit

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    Peter,

    So is there any projector that is similar to the X1 in features/quality but at the X1a's pricepoint?


    I was surprised to find that the X1 has a dimmer bulb than the X1a but higher contrast ratio...so you think that the X1a's picture quality is significantly lower?
     
  8. eddieZEN

    eddieZEN Second Unit

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    Jim,

    Where'd you buy your X1, and how long ago was that?
     
  9. BradZ

    BradZ Stunt Coordinator

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    How about one of the 30" CRT 16:9 HD-ready sets. I know Samsung, Phillips, Sony, Toshiba and others have models this size. Should be a nice upgrade from your current set. Should be able to get one for less than $1K. Much better picture than the LCD flat panels and take advantage of progressive scan DVD.
     
  10. eddieZEN

    eddieZEN Second Unit

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    Brad,

    Yeah, Panasonic has a really beautiful one for about $800 and Samsung has a real cheap one for $500. Problem is size and weight, i.e. moving issues and also WAF.
     
  11. ChuckSolo

    ChuckSolo Screenwriter

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    Wal-Mart sells a Sanyo HDTV 30" widescreen tube set for less than 700 bucks. The picture isn't too bad at all and of course it would please the wife with it's flat picture tube. They sell another couple of 30" HDTV sets too, one being a 30" 4:3 TV and another brand of 30" widescreen besides the Sanyo both which are way under 1K bucks.
     
  12. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Eddie - the scan lines of the TV are verically compressed so the entire TV picture is in the middle of the screen. Now, the picture is the same width as before, but not as tall so it's the 16:9 widescreen ratio. You set your DVD player to widescreen output and you get a much better picture.

    On Sony's, it's normally under the Setup option of the on-screen menu, labeled "16:9 Enhancement". On the analog sets, you could manually select. For HDTVs, it's an automatic feature when it detects a widescreen signal from e.g. a DVD player.

    You might be able to get a demo at your local store. I think it makes a big difference in the picture quality.
     
  13. eddieZEN

    eddieZEN Second Unit

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    Chuck,

    I know exactly which Sanyo you're talking about, because I've already tried (w/o much luck) to sell my wife on it the other day when we were there! [​IMG]

    She definitely likes how the widescreen TVs look from the front, it's the bulk and weight that are deterrents because we have one of those Ikea long low Oppli entertainment centers rather than an enclosed or built in one, so it would be like putting a huge block in the middle of the living room. Plus I think that the 30" and above flat CRTs are too deep for the Oppli and neither one of us wants to get a new stand.

    http://www.ikea.com/webapp/wcs/store...roductId=11149

    So I'm starting to look into the Infocus 4805...
     
  14. eddieZEN

    eddieZEN Second Unit

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    DaveF,

    So with this 16:9 Compression, do you still get those horizontal black bars at the top and bottom of the screen?
     
  15. Allan Jayne

    Allan Jayne Cinematographer

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    With 16:9 compression you will still have black bars. The finished picture will have the same dimensions and shape compared with not using compression and setting the DVD player to 4:3.

    Don't buy it if it has just one composite input, just one S-video input, just one pair of audio inputs, and just one video or AV selection on the remote. This means you can plug in just one thing at a time.

    Video hints:
    http://members.aol.com/ajaynejr/video.htm
     
  16. ChuckSolo

    ChuckSolo Screenwriter

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    Eddie, one of the problems you're gonna have with ANY direct display tube TV of 27" or more in size is the bulk and rear protrusion of the picture tube. Your only options to reduce bulk are the smaller LCD sets out there and as you know, even non-HDTV LCD sets are pricey. To me anyway, an LCD screen of just 26" costing 1300 bucks wouldn't even be considered, but then again my circumstances are different than yours. If I were in your shoes, and HDTV was not that important, I would go for Toshiba simply because as time goes on, you will come to realize that bigger IS better.
     
  17. PeterMano

    PeterMano Stunt Coordinator

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    Eddie, I hate recommending this outlet as they could give a damn about home theater, but they do have a sale for one week starting jan. 31st on a 4805 with a screen. You have rebates involved, but after the rebates are included, you should wind up with a price at around a grand or so. Ahem, costco.

    That said, I really don't know of anything at the x1 price point that I would really consider suitable for home theater. The prolem here with the lumens ratings is projectors like the x1, x1a and x2 are designed for the business world. The high lumens rating is for your powerpoint slide presentation in an auditorium. it's totally useless for the home as you get a washed out picture. The theater modes on these units features a lumens rating considerably lower. In my estimation, too low and when you take into account that the brightness rating on your bulb degrades over time, things will just get worse, not better.

    I know some people use a benq6100 which is pretty cheap, but once again we're talking about a mulitmedia projector intended primarily for business use. The key feature of the x1 is that faroudja chip. it does an excellent job of eliminating jaggies, providing a stable, artifact free picture. What's in the x1a and x2 now, can't compare.

    480p native widescreen projectors designed for home theater are available now with price points between around $1200 to $1300 and even lower if you shop around. I think the nec 410 just had a price drop, so that one might be had for around the grand mark.

    Various choices in this segment.

    Infocus 4805
    Optoma H30 and H31
    Benq 5120
    Nec 410
    Toshiba MT200

    I've only seen the 4805 and MT200. The 4805 has outstanding PQ, but I find it a bit loud. I honestly think people are better off moving to these units at the higher price points. They're not that much higher. Save up if you don't have the money. Their lumens ratings are designed for home viewing and the chipsets are using the latest advancements available, plus you have proper inputs for component and dvi and don't have to monkey around with adapters.

    Good luck on your choice.
     
  18. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Yes, as Allan explained.

    Regardless of what you buy, you will encounter "black bars." With a 4:3 set (square, traditional), you will have black bars when watching widescreen movies or widescreen TV shows.

    With a 16:9 set (widescreen), you will have bars on the side when watching regular TV shows and older movies (Citizen Kane). You will have small black bars on the top and bottom when watching widescreen movies with aspect ratios of 2.35:1.

    In all cases, you can stretch, zoom, and crop the picture to get rid of black bars, but that's frowned upon by movie/tv aficionados. [​IMG]
     
  19. eddieZEN

    eddieZEN Second Unit

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    Allan,



    I don't think that'll ever be an issue for me because the only two things I'd ever hook up to the projector would be a DVD player and a VCR, since I never play video games nor watch normal TV (cable or otherwise).
     
  20. eddieZEN

    eddieZEN Second Unit

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    > Eddie, one of the problems you're gonna have with ANY direct display tube TV of 27" or more in size is the bulk and rear protrusion of the picture tube.

    Yep. But it gets exponentially worse at 30" and bigger for the flat-screen CRTs...the Toshiba 32" flat CRT is something like 70lbs heavier than its curved screen sister.

    I think my choices are now: 1. Toshiba curved 32" CRT, 2. Sony flat 27" CRT, or 3. Infocus 4805.

    I love the tiny size and mobility of the projector but will have a hard time justifying to myself spending $1000-1300 for something that I'll only use maybe 10 hours a week. Not that I won't try to rationalize it, of course! [​IMG]

    I guess the question boils down to whether a flat 27" CRT produces enough of a better picture than a curved 32" CRT for DVD viewing to justify its smaller screen size. What do you think?
     

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