Well, I spent the last two weeks of 2009 away from the 747i and in the loving arms of a Samsung LN52A750 52" HDTV with 120Hz refresh rate. It's a 2008 HDTV my father and stepmom bought for themselves and the one I watched/played around with while on vacation at their place. There was Blu-ray and HD-DVD, high-def cable (Cox) and a just-installed SA HD-DVR. Only thing missing was an OTA antenna to test the Sammy's gimped antenna-or-nothing PIP options but other than that I got to spend quality time with what was at one time Sammy's top-of-the-line HDTV on the market as far as CCFL backlighting was concerned (since eclipsed by LED models). Sitting distance from the big comfy couches to the TV was a whooping 13 feet but I solved that problem by sitting less than five feet from the thing on a bench I dragged off from the living room. I have a pic but out of respect to my folks I'll resist the temptation to show my ugly mug to the world in their otherwise pristine TV viewing room.
First thing that stood out was just how freaking AWFUL
the speakers on this Sammy TV are (no surround sound at my father's). The only sound options were 'Auto Volume OFF' (sound barely audible) or 'Auto Volume ON' (louder but lots of static noise during quiet scenes with various sound levels). We watched "2001: A Space Odyssey" on HD-DVD and during the reveal of where astronaut Dave has ended up after going through the stargate the sound kept jumping up and down (sometimes both within seconds) because that last scene is both quiet but with lots of weird noise going on in the background. On the opposite end during the louder musical sections of "2001" the 52A750 shook from the sound the poor 10W speakers were struggling to get out. Even when headphones were plugged (so I could watch some "Law & Order" and "Cardcaptor Sakura" after everyone else had gone to bed) the same audio problems persisted. I knew the 50W speakers on my 747i were good but now that I've heard a Samsung HDTV for two whole weeks my respect for the 747i's built-in sound has shot up tenfold.
Now the 120Hz refresh rate thingie. I tested it (Off, Low, Medium and High) with all sorts of media: hand-drawn animation ("Snow White" BD, "Cardcaptor Sakura" DVD's), CG ("Ratatoille" BD), sports (local NFL football matches on 720p Fox and 1080i CBS affiliates), shaky-cam action (the "Bourne" flicks on HD-DVD), local/national news, etc. My conclusion is that at 'Low' the 120Hz refresh thing actually it's not a bad thing, especially for live sports or anything that already has a 'video' look (like newscasts or soap operas). Yes, it's a little too smooth-looking (it was hard to get used to "Law & Order" looking like this at first) but after a few days I got used to it. At 'Medium' or 'High' the 120Hz thing becomes extremely distracting and cheapens any movie or thing to a degree you stop following the plot/acting and just become hypnotized by the weird 'smooth' look of everything. Only "Ratatoille" (a 1080p/24Hz source) benefited from 120Hz technology and gave a quasi-3D look to the movie but outside of animated CG I'd rather most folks with 120Hz refresh (or 240Hz) keep it at 'Low' to preserve some of the integrity of the picture. Didn't take any videogame consoles on my vacation besides the portable PSP so I didn't get to try out the Sammy's 'Game Mode' or alleged 6-4m response time.
Now that I'm home I thought it'd be days before I could go back to the 60Hz 747i signal I've had all these years. But after just one night I've gotten used to the old look of TV again. Except for an infrequent TV ticker stuttering (usually on "The Today Show" or ESPN) the Realta really does a good job keeping filmed material looking like film and videotape/real-life sources playing along smoothly. The Sammy's blacks were OK and in high-def sources I'd say it was an equal or better than the 747i. Standard definition looked OK (about as good or slightly worse than my 747i) but it was the Cox cable boxes doing the upconverting, not the TV itself. "Rachel Ray" (an SD show) looked identical on both the HD channel and the SD one so my stepmom stuck to the SD version to get her 'What's For Dinner Tonight' DVR'ed fix. The 52A750's glossy screen reflected lights from the patio windows across it like mirrors, forcing me to watch a good chunk of daytime programming with the torch 'Dynamic' mode activated (which automatically makes the picture DNie). Ughh, what an overprocessed and ugly picture Dynamic mode brings. It did its job of canceling out the reflections but in the process the daytime shows (usually "Price Is Right," "Maury" or "Rachel Ray" along with MSNBC-HD and CNN-HD with an odd daytime "L&O" show just for kicks
) became Technicolor demo reels. Not pretty, but during the dawn and nighttime hours the Sammy's regular 'Movie' and 'Standard' modes were every bit as smooth and customizable as the 747i (better even since there were many adjustable backlight options besides just 'Dark/Medium/Bright Room').
Overall, it's nice to know that when the 747i eventually croaks (hopefully not for a few years more) I can get a TV like my father's 2008 model for less than $1,500 (much less if I shop around) when I paid close to $3K for my 'cutting edge' Olevia model in early 2007. Heck, for $3K you can probably get the just-announced 72" Vizio LED on a Black Friday sale.
Since I'm a PIP whore and live in a small apartment with paper-thin walls the 747i was... nah, is the right HDTV for my needs. It was nice to spend some quality time with a high-def mistress that dresses up all pretty with 52 inches and 120Hz refresh rate though, as long as she keeps her tiny 10W speakers shut tight.