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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

HelpI really need some advice! We are replacing our ancient (11+ years) tv and sound system and the more I read the more overwhelming I get. We are not gamers, are daytime and nighttime tv and movie watchers (we have Verizon Fios if that matters at all) and as you will see below, not really into the nitty gritty technical stuff. We have a $6,500 budget, not including the wall unit, for tv, blu-ray player, sound system and any other things we may need (would really prefer to be way below that $$!).


Requirements are 60 - 65" tv with a wide angle view and 3d (we started off 55" LCD with no 3d - go figure!), which led us to look at plasmas. The tv will be going in a 20' x 16' room, opposite the tv is a wall of windows, the side wall to the tv has 2 windows and it's an open layout adjacent to a 21" long kitchen that also has windows, so there is a lot of natural light (direct sunlight only in early am). I initially thought plasmas were definitely out, but after reading CNET reviews and we're talking about adding curtains/blinds to help, we looked at plasmas and have narrowed our picks down to 2 plasmas - the Panasonic TC-P65VT25 and Samsung PN63C8000. I have several questions below:


1) Samsung PN63C8000 :

- Per CNET review, excellent bright-room image for a plasma. Does anyone have experience with the PNC8000 in a bright room? Do you have glare? Reflections?

- Pro: Approx $1,000 less than TC-P65VT25.

- Con: Doesn't come with 3d glasses.


2) Panasonic TC-P65VT25:

- Does anyone have experience with the VT25 in a bright room?

- Per CNET, the VT-series is one of the worst standard-def performers we've tested recently. Does that mean that the DVDs we have will not look good on this tv (I know the won't look like hd channels or blu-ray disks, but I don't want it to look crappy!).

- I read a review tonight (can't remember where - perhaps Amazon) that said b/c of the oval base, when this tv is in a wall unit (which we plan to have) it has to sit further back in the wall unit and looks recessed. Has anyone seen this? Do you have pictures of this tv in a wall unit? I will have to check out this tv again at the store - I didn't pay attention to the stand.

- Pro: This tv comes with 3 pair 3d glasses, Panasonic DMP-BDT100 blu ray player, Avatar 3D movie and extended 2 year warranty that starts after Panasonic's one year warranty ends. How important is an extended warranty that goes out 2 years past Panasonic warranty? Is it advisable to get an extended warranty on plasma tv?

- Con: $1,000 more than Samsung PN63C8000.


Now to the sound system, which is where I am very confused! Currently, with our ancient tv & sound system, when we watch a movie we have the sound go through the receiver to the speakers (big, old JBL speakers!) that we also use for playing CDs and radio. I see that there are so many different set-ups for surround sound that I have no idea what is best! I don't want a lot of components and a lot of speakers or something complicated to use. Can it be multipurpose to use the surround sound for the hd audio and also use the same speakers for playing CDs and radio? We were looking at the Bose CineMate that plugged right into the tv and although I know that it isn't true surround sound, it did sound pretty good and that meant that we wouldn't need to upgrade to a HDMI receiver. But then when I was looking at a blu-ray player (Panasonic DMP-BDT100), it only has a single HDMI output and we would have to upgrade to a HDMI receiver to get the HD audio. So what would be the best set-up? What's the criteria to determine this?? I don't want to skimp on the sound system, but I also don't want to pay $2,000! Any advice would be greatly, greatly appreciated! Thanks!!
 

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You are looking for a lot of equipment at once. I'd break it down a bit and do it incrementally.


Either of your display choices are fine, I own a Panny and a Sammy plasma and I feel the Panny is a more solid product. I would not worry too much about the Panny SD issue as the blu ray player will do the upconverting to 1080 not the TV. And most Blu ray players do a pretty decent job of that at a very reasonable price.


After you get the display and Blu ray I'd look seriously at a good 7.1 channel receiver. There are a vast number out there. I opted for an Onkyo 7.1 last spring and could not be happier. I do not use the rear speakers in the 7.1 setup, instead I use the Wide option, it really adds depth to the sound field.


After you have these pieces in place I'd start looking at speakers, again there are a massive amount to choose from. To get the most punch you will need a decent sub woofer, and you can go with full range speakers or smaller satellite type speakers. I'm using the smaller speakers with a very good sub and again I'm very satisfied. I would not recommend built in type speakers, the sound quality is not there. And please, stay away from anything Bose...


All in all you should be able to pull this together well under your budget wiht some smart shopping. Have Fun!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by heidigo /forum/post/19638706


2) Panasonic TC-P65VT25:

- Does anyone have experience with the VT25 in a bright room?

- Per CNET, the VT-series is one of the worst standard-def performers we've tested recently. Does that mean that the DVDs we have will not look good on this tv (I know the won't look like hd channels or blu-ray disks, but I don't want it to look crappy!).

- I read a review tonight (can't remember where - perhaps Amazon) that said b/c of the oval base, when this tv is in a wall unit (which we plan to have) it has to sit further back in the wall unit and looks recessed. Has anyone seen this? Do you have pictures of this tv in a wall unit? I will have to check out this tv again at the store - I didn't pay attention to the stand.

- Pro: This tv comes with 3 pair 3d glasses, Panasonic DMP-BDT100 blu ray player, Avatar 3D movie and extended 2 year warranty that starts after Panasonic's one year warranty ends. How important is an extended warranty that goes out 2 years past Panasonic warranty? Is it advisable to get an extended warranty on plasma tv?

- Con: $1,000 more than Samsung PN63C8000.


Now to the sound system, which is where I am very confused! Currently, with our ancient tv & sound system, when we watch a movie we have the sound go through the receiver to the speakers (big, old JBL speakers!) that we also use for playing CDs and radio. I see that there are so many different set-ups for surround sound that I have no idea what is best! I don't want a lot of components and a lot of speakers or something complicated to use. Can it be multipurpose to use the surround sound for the hd audio and also use the same speakers for playing CDs and radio? We were looking at the Bose CineMate that plugged right into the tv and although I know that it isn't true surround sound, it did sound pretty good and that meant that we wouldn't need to upgrade to a HDMI receiver. But then when I was looking at a blu-ray player (Panasonic DMP-BDT100), it only has a single HDMI output and we would have to upgrade to a HDMI receiver to get the HD audio. So what would be the best set-up? What's the criteria to determine this?? I don't want to skimp on the sound system, but I also don't want to pay $2,000! Any advice would be greatly, greatly appreciated! Thanks!!

I would go with the Panasonic. DVDs will look fine on that set (not HD or Bluray quality obviously), but more than acceptable. Th extended warranty is really your call. It offers peace of mind to some people and if you fall into that camp, then you should go for it (personally, I didn't opt for it on my plasma). You should also call your credit card company as many of them (Visa Signature cards, for example) automatically double the manufacturer's warranty on most items you purchase in full with the card (including tvs).


As far as your audio setup goes, Matt offers some great advice. You can definitely have your surround sound system double as your home audio system. The question you need to decide is what kind of audio quality is acceptable to you and how much are you willing to pay for it? You can go with a Home-Theater-In-A-Box (HTIB) type setup or a simple soundbar and save some money that way but those types of solutions don't offer the kind of sound quality that audiophiles prefer. They are easy to setup though and many people find them perfectly acceptable so if you can't tell the difference, then no point in spending more money on a higher end system. However, if you want really high-quality audio and don't mind paying for it, then separate components are really the best way to go. That option really isn't something that people can spell out for you here. There are literally thousands of options as far as receiver and speaker combinations go and its really going to depend on your personal audio preferences in terms of what you end up choosing. The only real way that you are going to end up with a system you are truly satisfied with and proud of is to really research it, narrow it down to a few models, and then start asking some specific questions about those models (just like you did with the two tvs you singled out). Start with the receiver, decide if you want 5.1 or 7.1, etc and figure which one is a good fit for you then move on to the speakers. Denon, Pioneer, Onkyo, Harman/Kardon, and Yamaha are some solid brands to look at for the receiver. And when you get to choosing your speakers, as Matt mentioned, stay as far away from Bose as possible. Its tempting to want to get everything done at once and just be finished with it but as I mentioned earlier, taking your time and really researching your options will definitely yield a system that you are proud of and satisfied with. I recently redid my home theater system replacing nearly every component and while it took me two years to get it all done, I'm really glad I took the time to figure out what were the best options for my unique situation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks so much for the info Matt and Marty - it is much appreciated! I didn't realize a blu ray player could play a DVD so that clears up that question re: SD quality on the Panasonic. And good point, Marty, about checking with credit card re: if they extend the manuf. warranty - I didn't even think of that. Thank you!!


Yes, you are right, I think I am looking at a lot of equipment at once and I think that's why I'm getting overwhelmed!! I didn't think the sound system would have so many options which makes it complicated (at least for me), but I agree I do need to do some research, both on-line and in store. So, what are the best websites for researching and reviews? And what are the best stores to go to see the different sound system setups in person? Any suggestions on where I should start?


We still haven't decided yet on the Panny or Sammy - gotta go check them out one more time and then just do it! Funny how all this technology is supposed to make life more efficient, but in the past when getting a new tv I don't ever remember spending even a fraction of the time that I've spent researching for this new tv!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by heidigo /forum/post/19644048


Yes, you are right, I think I am looking at a lot of equipment at once and I think that's why I'm getting overwhelmed!! I didn't think the sound system would have so many options which makes it complicated (at least for me), but I agree I do need to do some research, both on-line and in store. So, what are the best websites for researching and reviews? And what are the best stores to go to see the different sound system setups in person? Any suggestions on where I should start?

Check out the amps/receivers and speakers forums on this site, lots of information at your fingertips. For the receiver, start with the brands I listed, figure out how much you want to spend, then narrow it down to the models within those brands that fit your budget (keeping in mind that many of the models that may be just outside of your budget can often be found at substantial discounts by buying online). Followup by weeding out the models that don't have the features you want (wattage, 5.1 vs 7.1, Dolby Volume, etc). Visit the manufacturers' websites to see all the features and/or do comparisons. Then once you have it narrowed down to a couple of models, just do simple google searches for the various models followed by the word "review" and you should get lots of good information. Then once you know what models you are targeting, go check them out in person at places like Best Buy and your local audio/video stores.
 
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