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I live in Minneapolis, and I'm considering getting a ~50" 16:9 RP HDTV set with the intention of receiving HD content through an antenna. I've been gathering all the information I can on this subject, but I have some topics I'd like to discuss with you folks who are "in the know":


1. Reception. I live in a 3rd-story apartment in Burnsville (~20 miles south of town) on top of a hill. Whatever antenna I would use to receive HD broadcasts would have to be compact and usable indoors. Given my circumstances, could I expect to receive broadcasts without many hassles by using a standard $50 amplified rabbit ear / loop antenna? Could I even get away with a non-amplified antenna? Would a bowtie be better than a loop? Also, do the Minneapolis HD channels simulcast non-HD content, or would I have to switch back and forth between the HD and regular channels depending on the programming?


2. The TV. Like I said, I'm thinking about a ~50" 16:9 RP HDTV set, and I'm probably willing to spend $2500-$3500 for it. The consensus seems to be that a separate decoder is the way to go for the time being, so I don't need one built in. I'd like to be able to easily switch between side-boxed 4:3 and stretched 4:3, because some of my video games and most of my DVDs are anamorphic 16:9, but I'll want to preserve the aspect ratio for other 4:3 content. I'd like multiple S-Video and composite inputs, and I want to be able to switch easily between the antenna decoder feed and my standard cable feed. A wide view angle would be preferred, and a stereo audio out would be nice, too. Could you guys offer some personal recommendations of sets that meet most of these criteria? Could you give me some guidance about which of these sets tend to have the best line doubling? Also, for those of you who live in Minneapolis, can you recommend some knowledgeable, hands-on HDTV retailers in the southern suburbs?


3. The decoder. Any recommendations? Would certain decoders work better with certain TVs, or are they pretty independent? Does 720p look awkward when it's converted to 1080i?


4. Burn-in. I would probably be using the TV for a fair amount of side-boxed video gaming and 4:3 content. Is burn-in going to be a major issue? Are some sets less prone to this than others?


5. Is there anything obvious that I'm overlooking in my deliberations? This is all new to me...


Thanks in advance for your answers.


- Jer
 
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