Originally Posted by Reynard
I will certainly be getting a new tv in the not so distant future and it will be one of these two display types. Now I'm not worried about picture quality, clouding, IR, off angle viewing, etc. I can work all that out to fit my needs on my own well enough.
What I would really like to hear from those of you qualified to answer (that is either with enough personal experience or technical know how)
is what sets would you reach for if build quality
was your #1 buying criteria.
This is very
important to me as I do not want nor have the means to buy a new tv every couple of years. The 1st color tv in my family, a 19" Mitsu CRT, was used for 20 years without a hitch. Subsequent CRT's were also used without ever failing and only replaced for larger screens. Finally went HD and bought a Mitsu DLP in '04..... uh oh, those of you in the know may say
and I had thought I got a tv that would stand the test of time, only needing cleaning and lamp replacement to keep on trucking. Needless to say, that's not the case and I now have a non-working (unless I'm able to resurrect it myself... again)
tv that if it was running fine, is only worth about 5% of what I paid for it.
I'm scared to get whatever is the latest tech off the boat because I don't want to get burned again. I think I'd rather try to find a model that's a couple years old if I can that's had a really good track record. So if any of the wise ones 'round here (no fanboi's please)
have any opinions, I'd love to hear 'em.
Build Quality. Per Consumer's Reports, Panasonic and Samsung receive the absolute highest marks in HDTV for customer satisfaction and frequency of repair. If memory serves correctly, both around 2% to 3%.
Sony, Toshiba, Hitachi, Sharp and Vizio fall in the next tier at around 4% to 7%.
There were a few brands, I believe Mitsubishi was one, at around 9% to 11%.
From the various posts on the LCD and Plasma forums, Panasonic and Samsung seem to have the highest following and the highest customer loyalty right behind Pioneer. However, Pioneer left the HDTV business last May to the disappointment of many of us who never quite had a big enough nest egg to purchase one of their marvelous televisions.
From my limited personal knowledge and from what I read, Panasonic probably has the most conscientous customer service, should you have a problem. Samsung seems to be hit or miss. With either, if you purchase from a brick and mortar store (Best Buy, HH Gregg, Sears), most offer 30 day return policies if you are not satisfied or if you feel there are definite problems. If you purchase an extended warranty from Best Buy or Sears, they will replace your TV with the current similar model if it breaks more than a certain number of times or has major defects within the warranty period. These warranties are usually rather expensive, however, most of the stores are willing to negotiate the price or throw it in at a reduced price if required to make the sale.
Plasma and LCD's both have pluses and minuses. My personal opinion is to never make a decision based on what you see in a retail environment as these sets are not setup anywhere close to what they should be for home use.
I own both. Have LCD's in my home office and two bedrooms. Plasma in the family room.
- Crisp picture - excellent for viewing text if used with a personal computer or HTPC
- Bright picture - a positive for a room with too much light or direct sunlight. Caveat, neither technology does well in an environment with too much light. Plasma and LCD's with reflective screens reflect. LCD's with matte screens wash out but are marginally better for these conditions.
- Lowest energy consumption. This may be a factor for some people. I am one who is not too worried about using up the planets resources as our known reserves for oil, coal and natural gas are roughly ten times today what they were when I was in my 20's and seem to be actually growing all the time. Cost to me is also a non-factor. Based on a 50" plasma (what I have in my family room) and a 52" LCD, the monthly difference in energy costs are insignificant. Watching my plasma about 32 hours per week probably costs less than six dollars a month for electricity. The 52" LCD would probably reduce my costs by two dollars or so per month. I would not make an HDTV purchasing decision based on the cost of a cheeseburger per month in energy savings.
- Limited off angle viewing. This only comes into play if you have a room with distributed seating and more than one or two people watching. Unfortunately this problem seems to get worse as you go up in picture quality and price. Panasonic uses a slightly different technology for it's LCD's which give a more extended off-angle viewing experience.
- Sometimes known for bright spots, flashlighting and other anomalies. Have never seen these phenomonon from any of my LCD's. Have seen the colors shift and black levels change with off-angle viewing.
- Excellent off-angle viewing. Most plasma's maintain their picture quality with zero change as much as 170 degrees off angle. No one watches the TV from such a ridiculous angel, but if you have a large family or entertain (watching college and professional sports), it is good to know that everyone sees the picture as it should be seen. This applies to all current plasmas that I am aware of.
- Typically deeper black levels. The theory has always been, the deeper and truer the blacks on a television, the more robust the other colors look. There are a number of top end LCD sets that can now equal the best plasmas in black level with the trade off that this black level shifts to the gray scale as you move more than 15 to 20 degrees off axis. If this is for a signle guy or young couple, the LCD may make perfect sense.
- Faster response times. Less input lag. These are things I have read and been told by my son who also has both technologies in his home. I don't play games, so this is strictly hearsay, but I believe it to be accurate.
- Picture is prone to wash out under bright lighting conditions. I do not have this problem in a room with a total of eight 6' x 6' windows with 6' x 3' arched skylights above each. The windows have blinds which can be used to modify the light, the skylights are uncovered (orders from the master). I do not have any direct sunlight on the set as it sits in a corner. If you have direct sunlight and watch a large amount of television during daytime hours, this could be a deal breaker.
- Image Retention (IR). This is the tendency of certain images to stay on the screen after the picture has changed. Typically only a problem after long periods of gaming. Some people report it from static logos or information bars such as those used by ESPN. Even then, these are typically only viewable on a screen with black input (most of us get tired of watching the screens with blank input). Also, most modern plasmas have anti-image retention technology that prevents this for the most part. I am on my second plasma and have never witnessed it. My son has possession of the three and one half year old plasma and he and his wife do extensive gaming on it. I do not see any evidence of this while visiting their home and watching television.
- Break-in. Plasma sets do not officially need to be broken in. However, the manual that comes with most has warnings about avoiding static images and less than full screen images during the initial 100-200 hours (depending on brand and model). This is also a deal breaker for some people as they do not wish to baby their new television set.
Myths about plasma - I only mention this as on a visit to Best Buy last summer I heard this being told by a young sales person to an older couple. I did not feel the sales person way intentionally lying as he seemed quite sincere. I think he actually heard this from someone else and was passing it along as what he considered fact. It was hard to keep my mouth closed.
Plasma is prone to burn-in. FALSE. It is almost impossible to get permanent burn-in on modern plasmas. I won't say it is completely impossible as I am not acquainted with every unit for sale. Have not personally seen or heard of this in the last four or five years.
Plasma needs recharging. FALSE. There was an early myth, obviously still passed around, that you had to add plasma gas to the tube after xxx number of hours. There is no way to add plasma to the set and the gas is in there permanently.
Plasma will not last as long as LCD. FALSE. The half-life for the plasma tube for almost all current sets is 100,000 hours. This is when your brightness has reduced by half at which time you would need to burn up the brightness. LCD panels have roughly the same life span. Some people say that you may have the backlight burn out after 30,000 to 40,000 hours. This can be replaced. But that is still a significant amount of time.
Plasma is not bright enough. Most plasmas have a mode, just as LCD's do to allow a picture that goes up to about 70ftl to 80ftl. This is way too bright to watch comfortably in a normally lighted room. Both technologies look their best at about 35ftl to 40ftl and both are more than capable of displaying an excellent picture at that brightness level.
Your primary concerns with either technology is not the display itself, but the various electronics (boards) within the set. These are usually the first thing to fail. I have been quite lucky that after eight HDTV's, I have experienced only one failure of any type. That was a really cheap (CHEEP) 19" off-brand (made by Phillips) LCD. Lasted one year, then died. Could not find anyone to look at it much less work on it.