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Late Adopter - difficulty choosing

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
So maybe I am the last person still using an old tube style TV! But never the less, I am finally wanting to get a HD flat panel and I am totally confused by the choices. I am currently using a 36 inch Wega (Sony) bought in the early 2000s. It's not HD. It works perfectly and has a great picture. My only reason to upgrade is that I hate how the picture is often cutoff in the 4/3 mode that this TV displays and I also would like something bigger. I watch a lot of sports and some movies.

Anyway, my goals are to have at least as good a picture as the Wega and something that is reliable. I am leaning toward plasma in the 50 inch models of either Samsung or Panasonic. I don't understand all the hoopla about the glare since my current TV is a sheet of flat glass and therefore very reflective. It is a bright room with blinds that we keep shut (but still a lot of light during the day). I am also concerned about the buzzing noise I am hearing about on many of the plasmas. We are using U-Verse for our service and currently I am using a Roku for streaming. It all works flawlessly - almost scares me to change anything! I have seriously thought about just buying something like the 50 inch Samsung E550 which is pretty economical right now - that way I wouldn't risk much if it didn't work out. But then something tells me I ought to consider better models since I keep sets a long time (even though the E550 seems to have high ratings). I'd like internet access but 3D isnt' important.

I know all of you have made this switch out many years ago but thought I could get some perspective if anyone has the patience to reply to such a post. Much appreciated.
post #2 of 3
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdigeorgio View Post

So maybe I am the last person still using an old tube style TV! But never the less, I am finally wanting to get a HD flat panel and I am totally confused by the choices. I am currently using a 36 inch Wega (Sony) bought in the early 2000s. It's not HD. It works perfectly and has a great picture. My only reason to upgrade is that I hate how the picture is often cutoff in the 4/3 mode that this TV displays and I also would like something bigger. I watch a lot of sports and some movies.

Then a good Plasma is the best choice. You're going to be very happy with how a new Plasma compares to your old Tube TV. I switched from a 32" Tube TV back in 2005 to a 42" Plasma and after the initial adjustment of going from a 3-foot cube of a TV sticking out 2 feet from the wall to a big beautiful slab flat glass i was really enjoying the switch. Although the screen was wider and taller, the flatness of the new TV made my living room feel larger since i no longer had this big square peninsula of a TV jutting out into the middle of the room :-) It's Anti-Reflective Filter also made it a LOT better to watch in my bright west-facing living room on the weekends.


Quote:
Anyway, my goals are to have at least as good a picture as the Wega and something that is reliable. I am leaning toward plasma in the 50 inch models of either Samsung or Panasonic.

The 2012 Panasonics have better overall picture quality than the 2012 Samsungs - most notably the Panasonics are brighter, have a better contrast ratio, and better black levels. And the Panasonics are a little more reliable than the Samsungs, but that shouldn't really factor into your decision. But inventory on the Panasonics is getting low since production ceased in early December and there are some really good deals on that remaining inventory. The new 2013 Panasonic models are due to be released around March/April and are said to be a very small improvement in picture quality (they're re-using last year's 2012 panels but with slight tweaks to software and drivers) but they will have more internet features.


Quote:
I don't understand all the hoopla about the glare since my current TV is a sheet of flat glass and therefore very reflective. It is a bright room with blinds that we keep shut (but still a lot of light during the day).

Most of that hoopla is from owners of older LCD TVs (back when pretty much all of them had matte screens) but it's also from uninformed people and also from Plasma haters who still use Glare as a reason to avoid Plasma, yet they fail to also mention that most of the current LCD TVs and LED LCD TVs now have glossy reflective screens and are actually MORE reflective and mirror-like than the mid-level-to-high-end Plasmas. LCDs do get brighter than even the Panasonic Plasmas, but if a room is too bright for the Panasonics then it's already too bright of an environment to be watching TV in.

Quote:
I am also concerned about the buzzing noise I am hearing about on many of the plasmas.

There's a lot of dis-information about buzzing but the bottom line is that if you can hear any Plasma buzzing beyond a foot or two away, there is something defective inside and the TV should be returned, replaced, or repaired, period. Regardless of brand. Loud buzzing is definitely not normal. Some people just accept excessive buzzing that can be heard from their couch and complain instead of getting it taken care of, and i just don't understand why. My own 50" GT50 is virtually silent from one foot away and i can only hear the normal low-level buzzing when i stick my ear behind the TV. But nothing from in front of the TV. This is normal operation and is how it is for the vast majority of us Plasma owners. Plasmas do buzz a little (just like my Tube TVs did), but hearing buzzing from say 4 feet or farther away is not normal Plasma buzzing and is caused by a defect. Causes vary - but usually it's one of the many coils used on the various PCB boards has gone bad and vibrates or buzzes loudly, but sometimes it's a defective power supply transformer or simply loose screws that are vibrating, or even an out-of-spec Plasma panel (rare). This is why it's important to buy from a retailer with a good return policy (like Amazon or Best Buy). My buddy's first ST30 buzzed from like 5 feet away upon delivery so we made the driver take it back, but his replacement TV a week later was virtually silent. Several months later the TV started buzzing and we could hear it from 10 feet away so he called for service, and the repair man replaced a board and 30 minutes later the TV was silent again. Buzzing can be fixed. Anyone telling you otherwise is just wrong or stupid or has some anti-Plasma agenda.

Quote:
We are using U-Verse for our service and currently I am using a Roku for streaming. It all works flawlessly - almost scares me to change anything! I have seriously thought about just buying something like the 50 inch Samsung E550 which is pretty economical right now - that way I wouldn't risk much if it didn't work out. But then something tells me I ought to consider better models since I keep sets a long time (even though the E550 seems to have high ratings).

Well you might be disappointed then - some of my friends and neighbors have AT&T U-Verse and their HD picture quality is the worst of all HD TV providers (but their SD signal is actually pretty good). I've set up a few Plasmas for people with U-Verse and the larger screen size reveals the flaws in the signal and it's not the fault of the TV - it's their crappy HD signal. I always bring my trusty old Rabbit Ears Antenna when i do an install and am able to show them how NBC/CBS/ABC etc looks perfect over the antenna and now it compares to their cable/satellite/U-Verse etc provider and U-Verse is always the worst (although some Time Warner and Comcast areas are pretty bad). It's not horrible, but it's definitely not as good as Antenna, FIOS, or DirecTV's PQ. You might want to use an Antenna for local broadcasts if AT&T's signal looks too poor.

As for all your sources working flawlessly with your existing Tube TV, it should even better with an HD-capable TV.

Quote:
I'd like internet access but 3D isnt' important. I know all of you have made this switch out many years ago but thought I could get some perspective if anyone has the patience to reply to such a post. Much appreciated.

Well pretty much all of the decent to good TVs now come with internet and 3D capability whether you want it or not so i just ignore it since i don't have any interest or use for any of it. The 3D models do benefit from better processing and panel quality which helps regular 2D content so that's a good thing. Lots of people like and use the internet widgets. 3D, not so much.

My recommendation for a TV today is the Panasonic ST50 series - all last year it was widely regarded as the best bang for the buck with PQ almost as good as their flagship model. It also has the same Anti-Reflective Filter and Plasma panel as the higher models. There are some great deals on it right now but supply is dwindling. The new model that's replacing it is the upcoming ST60 series but the initial release price will be higher than the clearance pricing on the ST50. Of the Samsungs, the PNE6500 and PNE7000 have a similar AR Filter.

If you can do without the Anti-Reflective Filter, the lesser UT50 or U50 series is a fantastic bargain - but they are very reflective and have less picture adjustments. The Samsung E550 also has no AR Filter and is very reflective, but is a great bargain as well.

Although i'm not a big screen person i'd recommend going with a 55" over the 50" screen size if you're say 10 feet or more from the screen since the screen seems to "shrink" after you get used to watching it over the next several months. My boss went from a 36" JVC Tube TV to a 50" Pioneer Plasma 8 years ago and always regretted not going with a bigger set, but was extremely glad he ditched the big Tube.
post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
Randy I really appreciate the info you provided. You answered everything and more. Funny thing I had the Panny gt50 in my cart at Amazon for the longest time back around the holidays and never pulled the trigger. It was around $1100 back then and is up a couple hundred from that now. Still the st50 is in that range and from what I understand very comparable.
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