Buying my first HD blog - making the decision through purchase - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 16 Old 01-03-2007, 10:01 AM - Thread Starter
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My wife and I have decided to take the plunge and buy an HDTV. I figured I'd put my thoughts up and see what you guys think, and if you have any feedback or suggestions.

Today we have a 28" Samsung CRT tv in our 11'x14' living room, SD digital cable (Charter), a Sony progressive scan DVD player, and a stereo receiver. I'm not much of a videophile, but I've wanted a 16:9 picture for years. I tend to like sports (esp. hockey, also football), and widescreen movies.

Here's what I'm looking for: 37"-42" display and an upgrade to HD cable.

Price range: $1200-$1500...maybe a little higher if needed.

Things to consider: LCD vs. Plasma, which set, how much to spend, where to buy.
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post #2 of 16 Old 01-03-2007, 10:31 AM - Thread Starter
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So far, my research has consisted of reading what I can find online (AVS Forum, Amazon, Epinions, Consumer Reports, CNet, etc...), and going to a few local retailers around the Boston, MA area to look at sets (BB, CC, Tweeter, etc, plus Costco and BJ's to see what they have).

My initial impressions from what I've read:

LCD's: Sony XBR, Sharp Aquos (37") got good reviews. Samsung LN-4092 mentioned by CR, LN-4096 by CNet.

Plasma: Panasonic TH-42PX60U seems to be mentioned everywhere.
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post #3 of 16 Old 01-03-2007, 01:23 PM - Thread Starter
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I had my first look at tv's about a week ago at Best Buy in Watertown, MA. This was the first time I've looked with an eye towards possibly buying something. Some random thoughts...

...Sony LCD's look nice, but I didn't like the case of the highly rated Bravia XBR as much as other models (KDL-40s2010, KDL 40v2500).

...not crazy about the case on the highly rated Panasonic.

...I really like the looks and picture on the Samsung sets, both LCD and plasma. The 1080p LCD (LN-4096) was the most impressive picture to my eyes.
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post #4 of 16 Old 01-04-2007, 01:31 AM
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Specs are fine, but in the end, it'll be your eyes/mind/heart and wallet that make that final decision.

Take a favorite DVD to the stores when you know they won't be busy. Get the sales weenies to set the TVs up to play the same passage from the DVD on each set you are considering. Now, which one still looks the best to you?

All things considered and bearing in mind that most all store TVs are incorrectly set up for contrast, brightness, sharpness, etc. - is there a set that stands out from the other contenders?

Best of luck in your decision making - and WELCOME to the forum!

Ottawa Ontario Canada
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post #5 of 16 Old 01-04-2007, 07:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maltobello View Post

My wife and I have decided to take the plunge and buy an HDTV. I figured I'd put my thoughts up and see what you guys think, and if you have any feedback or suggestions.

Today we have a 28" Samsung CRT tv in our 11'x14' living room, SD digital cable (Charter), a Sony progressive scan DVD player, and a stereo receiver. I'm not much of a videophile, but I've wanted a 16:9 picture for years. I tend to like sports (esp. hockey, also football), and widescreen movies.

Here's what I'm looking for: 37"-42" display and an upgrade to HD cable.

Price range: $1200-$1500...maybe a little higher if needed.

Things to consider: LCD vs. Plasma, which set, how much to spend, where to buy.

First welcome and I would second Frost147's suggestions.

I would also consider carefully your viewing environment, its lighting and your viewing distance.

First lighting. A large number of people including myself believe that plasma yields the best picture available today. However, there is one caveat. Plasma displays do reflect light due to the glass layer. As long as you can reasonably control strong light reflections, get plasma. If you just cannot reasonably deal with your lighting at all, then get an LCD.

Next viewing distance. This effects the resolution and size you should consider. 1080p is great if you sit right on top of the display, say 4-6' or so. Beyond 8' for a 50" display you cannot tell the difference. I assume for a 42" display it would be even closer.

Plasma prices have fallen a lot lately but 50" is still outside your range. The look of the case is entirely a personal matter but most would agree with you that Panny needs to improve. Still their 600 series can be had at the top of your range from a forum sponsor and looks a LOT better than their 60 series. For what it is worth, I think the picture on the Panny is very very good. For even less, you can consider their commercial series monitor if you don't need speakers and can deal with fewer connections. The commercial look much better because they do not have the silver and they handle adjustments better.

Cheers,

Gary
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post #6 of 16 Old 01-05-2007, 11:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Frost, Gary,

Thanks for your feedback. I thought this would be a good way to summarize what I've found and the process that I went through in making my decision. This forum is such a great resource, with so much information, and well informed members.

The hardest thing for me is that there's so much to absorb, and almost no way to understand what will matter most to me out of all of these things. On top of that, I want to get through it so I can get my TV and start enjoying HD.

These posts cover the very first things I've found out. I've looked a couple of more times and need to get those findings posted as well.

Mike
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post #7 of 16 Old 01-05-2007, 02:01 PM
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That's what weenies like us are here for, Mike And there are literally thousands of other, more qualified people that can also be tapped for their wealth of knowledge on these issues. Just have to ask, as they say.

We've all been through it at one time in the past, and if our experiences can be of any help in the process, well then, we've done our due diligence in welcoming yet another convert to the HD party.

Take care.

Ottawa Ontario Canada
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post #8 of 16 Old 01-06-2007, 09:23 AM
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would appreciate comments regarding selection. 16ft viewing distance with moderate light. 63" phillips 720p plasma vs 65" panasonic 1080p plasma. i'll spend the money if necessary but prefer not to. thanks
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post #9 of 16 Old 01-07-2007, 05:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maltobello View Post

My wife and I have decided to take the plunge and buy an HDTV. I figured I'd put my thoughts up and see what you guys think, and if you have any feedback or suggestions.

Today we have a 28" Samsung CRT tv in our 11'x14' living room, SD digital cable (Charter), a Sony progressive scan DVD player, and a stereo receiver. I'm not much of a videophile, but I've wanted a 16:9 picture for years. I tend to like sports (esp. hockey, also football), and widescreen movies.

Here's what I'm looking for: 37"-42" display and an upgrade to HD cable.

Price range: $1200-$1500...maybe a little higher if needed.

Things to consider: LCD vs. Plasma, which set, how much to spend, where to buy.

Are you ruling out DLP? you can get a bigger and better picture than with LCD for less money.

Tim
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post #10 of 16 Old 01-07-2007, 08:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rgarza3 View Post

would appreciate comments regarding selection. 16ft viewing distance with moderate light. 63" phillips 720p plasma vs 65" panasonic 1080p plasma. i'll spend the money if necessary but prefer not to. thanks

Welcome,

First off you are right to look at larger screen sizes for that distance.

At that distance, you will not be able to appreciate the 1080p resolution so 768p will be just fine (BTW it is 768p not 720p).

That aside, the Philips has not received good reviews from AVSers. The 65" Panny is certainly a good option. For less, you could also consider a 60" Pioneer. Some might suggest the 63" Samsung; it's worth a look although I do not think it is in the class of the Panny and Pioneer.

I do think plasma will yield the best picture but if size vs price is a concern, then there are larger DLP and SXRD displays that are quite good for less $. Sony has a 70" SXRD that is quite good but the value champ might be the Samsung 6767 DLP at Costco for around 3k w/stand. Nice looking, all black, a good picture with Samsung's latest technology, 67" is a great size, and all at 3k.

Mits also has a DLP with a terrific picture around 72"-73" but it is quite a bit more than the Samsung.

Later this year I expect to begin to see more 60" and up plasmas and hopefully these larger displays will finally begin to drop like the 50" have already.

Cheers,

Gary
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post #11 of 16 Old 01-08-2007, 05:44 AM
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A few tips:
1. Buy from somewhere w/ a solid return policy like Costco - You can return it for any reason within any reasonable timeframe. Great insurance if you find you picked the wrong set.
2. If you watch movies much in the dark and want the most lifelike color, choose plasma. Plasmas have have superior gamma (can display more colors in the spectrum) and offer notably better black levels making their picture superior in the dark. At the 42" size you get more TV and better PQ for your money in plasma. Also, to my eyes plasma has a less digital look to the picture than LCD, lending it greater realism. Much of this is merely attributed to the fact that plasma is a more mature tech as LCD is improving in all these areas. Stick w/ Pio, Panny, Samsung, in that order.
3. If you have a lot of windows that could cause glare and generally have a bright viewing environment, LCD may be a better choice. Stick w/ Sony, Sharp, Samsung, in that order.

Just my .02.

Cory
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post #12 of 16 Old 01-09-2007, 03:10 PM - Thread Starter
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After taking my first look, I went back to do some more research. Since I was impressed by the picture on the 1080p Samsung LCD (4096), I think I did what a lot of new HD buyers do, and started to believe that resolution is the king of HD display specs (I've come off of that idea though). I was kind of disappointed looking at plasma specs for 1024x768 displays, and assumed that these pictures couldn't be nearly as good as a 1920x1080 LCD, or even a 1366x768 LCD. I was also starting to talk myself out of plasmas because they use more power, and LCD's are better for viewing in bright rooms (we have 3 windows in our living room, so there is a good bit of light in there in the daytime).

But I found some good discussions here and on other sites on the 1080 vs. 768 issue, and learned that for the size TV's that I'm looking for (40-42"), it's almost impossible to differentiate between the higher res display at a normal viewing distance (>8'). This was good news because the Samsung 4096 (and 4095, which I found was another good option), is a bit outside my price range. I wondered if I might be just as happy with a 1024x768 plasma or a 1366x768 LCD. I also learned that the Sammy 4092 LCD was had most of the improvements that were made ftom the 4051 to the 4095, but had the 768 panel, and was $200-$300 cheaper than the 4095. I figured I needed to look at more TV's....
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post #13 of 16 Old 01-09-2007, 03:31 PM - Thread Starter
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My next trip I went to Nashua, NH and checked out Circuit City and Best Buy, and also went to BJ's and Costco to see what they carry in case I need to go there for a deal. At Best Buy they had a nice display with two Sammy 4253 plasmas side by side, one with an SD signal, one with a HD signal. This was during the Pats game, so I got a good sense of how nice the display looked, and a chance to see SD programming.

I was starting to get concerned that SD programming would be much worse on my new big screen, HD tv than it ever was on the 28" crt we have now. It certainly wasn't as nice as the HD signal, but it was pretty good.

I was really impressed by the picture on the plasma, and didn't see any of the reduced detail I was expecting between the 1024x768 plasma and higher def (well, 1366x768) LCD's. I understand that the vertical resolution is probably most important, but I really expected there to be a visible difference with 30% less pixels in the horizontal direction.

I had read a lot about the Panny TH-42PX60U, and was keeping an eye on comparing it with the Sammy 4253 plasma. My first trip, I had seen them side by side, and just thought the Sammy had a nicer picture (and I liked the case better as well). It sounds like a number of people have the opinion that the Samsung has a better picture out of the box, but the Panny has a better picture once it's adjusted and calibrated. One criticism I'd heard was that the picture on the Samsung 4253 had more noise. Watching the Pats game, I could see some noise, but only once in a while...like when they flash a graphic on the screen as the switch to a replay.

I think that's one of the hardest things...picking up what some of these subjective things mean in real life. Something like the noise...I noticed it only a couple of times in the broadcast, and I only noticed it to recognize what it was. I am not a videophile, and I think I could pretty easily ignore that if I wanted. I think the Panny and the Samsung are both really nice plasmas, and I'd be happy with either one, even though they probably each have strengths and weaknesses against each other. The flip side of that is figuring out how much you'd give up to go with a cheaper option (vizio, wesinghouse, etc...)
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post #14 of 16 Old 01-09-2007, 04:23 PM - Thread Starter
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I have it in my head that I should try to see different tv's in different locations to see if my impressions hold up from one place to another. With that in mind, I stopped by Best Buy in Braintree, MA to take another look...

At this point, I'm really starting to like some of the plasmas that I've seen, but I was still impressed by LCD's and haven't ruled anything out. The first trip I took I was really impressed by a Samsung 4096 LCD I saw. After reading up, I figured the 4095 would be just fine as I don't need the cable card slot. I also like the 4051, and even the 4041 (the matte finish on the 4041 was especially nice). I really wanted to see the 4092 though to compare 768p apples to 1080p apples.

At the Braintree BB I found both. I liked the 4092, and I think it was somewhat better than the 4051, but again I think I'd be pretty happy with either one. In the end, I think the 4095 had the best picture. I don't know what it is....maybe it's psychological. I love the idea that I could save a few hundred bucks and get a 768p picture that I couldn't tell from a 1080p, but I have to believe it. When I look at the two different sets, I think I can see the difference. Maybe it's because I'm standing too close, but I can see it.

The big question still seems to be LCD vs. Plasma...watching the Pats game on plasma definitely opened my eyes to plasma again, and made me think that could be the way to go. Also plasma displays (at least the ones I'm looking at) are cheaper than LCD. Sports (football, baseball and particularly hockey) are one of the main reasons that I want to go big screen HD. I haven't had a chance to compare hockey on LCD vs. Plasma, so I'm not sure if there's any cause for concern there. When I've looked at the Sammy 4253 straight up against the Sammy 4095, I think the 4095 has the edge in detail, and the slight edge in overall picture quality. The 4253 has a nice balanced image, good contrast, but maybe slightly more noise in the picture.
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post #15 of 16 Old 01-09-2007, 04:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tundrSQ View Post

Are you ruling out DLP? you can get a bigger and better picture than with LCD for less money.

Funny you should mention this...for the past couple of years I've been drooling over DLP TV's. I've always been a big fan of the Samsung DLP's and I've seen some great deals on them recently (esp. the 42"). We'll also be putting the TV in the corner of our living room, so a RP set is no problem as far as form factor. I have a few concerns about the DLP though...
  1. The amount of light we get in the room in daytime....
  2. The viewing angle issue on DLP's seems more severe than recent Plasmas and LCD's...
  3. Bulb replacement cost seems like it makes up for the initial savings on the DLP after a couple of years.

Also, comparing to current Plasmas and LCD's, I think the DLP's picture isn't quite as good (I'd rank them as similar to, but just below 768p LCD's like the Sammy 4051, which is to say a really nice set, but I think I'd spend the extra money. Between the DLP and a budget plasma though...no question I'd get the DLP).

Thanks for your feedback. I feel like I'm just pulling straws here, so it's helpful to have feedback from people that have actually had these in their home.
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post #16 of 16 Old 01-09-2007, 04:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by housecor View Post

A few tips:
1. Buy from somewhere w/ a solid return policy like Costco - You can return it for any reason within any reasonable timeframe. Great insurance if you find you picked the wrong set.
2. If you watch movies much in the dark and want the most lifelike color, choose plasma. Plasmas have have superior gamma (can display more colors in the spectrum) and offer notably better black levels making their picture superior in the dark. At the 42" size you get more TV and better PQ for your money in plasma. Also, to my eyes plasma has a less digital look to the picture than LCD, lending it greater realism. Much of this is merely attributed to the fact that plasma is a more mature tech as LCD is improving in all these areas. Stick w/ Pio, Panny, Samsung, in that order.
3. If you have a lot of windows that could cause glare and generally have a bright viewing environment, LCD may be a better choice. Stick w/ Sony, Sharp, Samsung, in that order.

Just my .02.

housecor...thanks also for your feedback. The purchase is the whole other question. I'd like to develop a short list of TV's that I'd like to buy, then shop for the best purchase option (price plus support). I might be leaning slightly towards plasma now, at least for the money (a co-worker picked up a Panny 42" plasma at a one day unadvertised sale for a great price...If I got that, I'd buy without a second thought). Your brand recommendations seem spot on with what I've seen and heard.

the Pio plasma is pretty much out of my range (but a great choice), so it may come to the Panny and Sammy for a plasma. Both seem to be nice sets...

Sony LCD's are a bit too much for me too, at least the Bravia XBR2, which gets all the raves. Lesser Sony's don't have as much on the Samsung 4095 which I really liked a lot. Sharp's are great, and the Aquos 37" LCD is a great set that I might be able to afford. My wife has been pushing for a smaller screen, so we may look closely at that one too.
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