It has been 4 years since my last TV, a flat screen CRT with component video. Wow! After getting a feel for the LCD/Plasma markets and watching prices fall for years. I finally decided that the market was at a point where prices had fallen substantially for most TVs, the technologies on the TV unit itself, and broadcasting sides were fairly consistent, and I couldn't wait for ever. I knew that I would need a wall mount, a new entertainment system, new cords, a new satellite/cable subscription, and I had to be careful about past equipment that I already had, and future ones that I might want.
Last spring I started visiting websites once in a while, and store models when I was waiting for my wife to finish shopping. I started getting educated on different things, and developed my own opinions/tastes. After I had some idea, I would ask my wife to look as well and give me her opinion.
Along the way I found a few good websites that got me started.
Educate yourself on everything HDTV related - TweakTV
From there I Googled specific issues/topics and then ran across blogs and forums.
My priority list:
1. Great picture
3. Reasonably price
4. Ports for my equipment
I narrowed down the field to plasma, because my family stretches all around the living room from different angles. It also, in my opinion, looked the best and was the best product of the 2 (vs. LCD) from research.
I settled on a 50 inch because of my room dimensions, and at that size 720p would look great if I decided on that resolution, and finally anything over 50 inch was very expensive.
The whole 720p/1080p debate was confusing, I will admit. But I saw little difference when looking at models that I knew were connected to HD. I also looked at the Circuit City display at my local store and they were right in presenting the incredible difference due to signal (SD vs. HD). Since it appeared that difference stations/broadcasts sent out signals at different resolutions, I could easily pick up another TV in 3-5 years at the 1080p if everything was made just for that.
While I would have gone for 1080p, the price leap was astronomical. I couldn't justify it to myself since I have a family and am the only one working.
Panasonic (TH-50PX80U, TH-50PZ80U, TH-50PZ85U) and Samsung (PN50A510, PN50A450, PN50A550, and PN50A650) became my favorite two brands to look at.
For Samsung, they had the edge in features and ports, but Panasonic was a better picture.
From there, I took a break and looked at entertainment centers. Anything less then $300 was made of particle board, so I went to my local Solid Woods center, and picked up a real full hardwood cherry for $150 more then I was about to dish out. This occurred after looking online (Overstock, Amazon) and local (Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart, Sears).
Just as I was about to look for sales, the new Panny TC-P50X1 came out at my local Sears and Best Buy. Comparing it to their previous model series, this was the one for me. Reliability, great color, great contrast ratio 30000:1, good darks, and plenty of ports (3 HDMI, 2 Component, 2 Composite, and DIG opt out). But, it was 720p. And new. Go for it. I did. I had it delivered for free, and the BB knocked off 100 due to them lowering the price the next week. I ordered pizza and carefully installed the mount.
I picked up a Level Mount DC65T tilt for screens 33-65 inches. It was very reasonably priced through Wal-Mart. I didn't want a 35-50 inch because that would be on the border of what my 50 in. TV could take. This thing is pure steel. It's heavy and made of parts that will only melt off the wall. I think the wall might fall off before it ever moves. The in mount level works well, although I had my own, and the stud finder is barely adequate. My iSensor stud finder had conflicting ideas around outlets and I really want to tear down that wall just to prove to myself that one of the studs is not 16 inches away from another! Stupid builders! Anyway, I was just barely able to mount it to 3 studs. The TV is really light, I could have lifted it myself but I didn't dare. It locked in very well in 6 different ways. Tilting is a one time thing but requires two people. My hands were just big enough to fit in behind the TV.
The ports on the TC-P50X1 are on the back right and easily accessible. There are a few on the side too. On the left hand side are easily accessible TV buttons if you lose your remote every few weeks like I do.
I had mapped out all the connections to my equipment:
-Wii with an upgraded component cord
-Pioneer VSX 515 Audio Receiver (no HDMI)
-a new SONY DVD player DVP-NS700H
-a new Vip722 from Dish
-my SONY amp
I had to read through all of the instructional manuals to update/relearn all of the menus, features, setups, etc.
I ordered 2 HDMI through Monoprice.com, the new Wii component cable, a Digital optical cable, a new component, an extended telephone line, and an iPod stereo output all for under $40.
The Panny TV was very easy to connect to, I still wish they had an aux out but that's becoming old school! The menus are easy to scroll through and you can change settings very easily. Check the online owner's manual (I did the same for the Vip722 Dish receiver and SONY DVD player to get an idea of what to expect and for the spec section).
Colors are wonderful, NASCAR Sunday was so real. It does all the thinking/processing of different signals very quickly as it upscales and downscales and pulls 3:2 menus blah blah blah. I was wondering if I should let the Dish receiver output 720p or 1080i, but I could see no difference either way, nor could my wife. I reasoned to leave it on 720p output because of fewer steps to get to the 1368x768 res of this TV.
I am completely impressed with this P50X1, with HD signals, with the new technologies, compared to the black and white 16 inch I grew up with, or the 22 inch color my parents bought, etc. The jump between SD to HD is huge, the jump between various broadcast signals and various program signals in 720p or 1080i, at the 50 inch stage, is negligible in my opinion. I save money all along the way by researching and asking questions (470 from Dish by asking them to match what DirecTV would have given me...free installation, new receiver, new intro packages, etc). The speakers are fine, what do you expect on a flat screen? They really work well. I use them when I don't want to turn on my sound system (to keep things quiet).
My lasting impressions will be that the P50X1 is built by a company that has been making plasmas a long time, and the previous year's model, from which it was built, was highly successful because of price/product ratio. Time and time again, people pointed out in real life, forums, blogs, and reviews, that you either have to wait 3+ years for broadcast stations/satellite to set up an HD standard for signal broadcast, or you have to get a tv over 50 inches to really just BEGIN to see a small difference in 1080 and 720. Now I'm not an HD expert, this is my first one, I don't buy them to review them. I'm just an Language Arts teacher, (try to find grammar mistakes above if you're bored), but, this is a great respectable buy for most consumers at this point in time if you want to pay about 1 grand for a tv. Enough said. I'm going to leave my computer and go enjoy it right now!
Oh, btw, I'm waiting on Blue-ray for a few years before I buy one, but with HDMI, it will enter into my system with ease. I took my SONY DVR and put it in the master bedroom with my CRT flatscreen.