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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After going to college my freshman year with just a laptop, I found myself spending most nights where I wasn't out doing what you may call 'typical college activities' in my friends' rooms playing games or watching TV, and so I've determined to buy a TV for this year. Because it's a dorm room, I won't be that far from the TV, and the viewing distance would most likely be 6-8' for normal viewing so I started looking at 40" TVs. I've narrowed down my choices somewhat to:


*Samsung LN40A550/LN40A650

*Sony 40S4100/40V4100

*Philips 42PFL7403D


The main use of the TV would be for using a PS3 to play games such as CoD4 and blu ray/dvd movies (possibly as a TV monitor as well), and I'm trying to get the best bang for my buck pricewise. I've read reviews and they all seem passable (the upper end Samsung LN40A650, very much more than passable) and when I tried to check out the image quality on them at Best Buy, I immediately noticed that the quality on even the Samsung LN40A650 was awful and ascertained that the signal to each TV was 1080i... over coaxial cable and it seems I'm not going to get to see each set shown off at full ability.


Ideally, I'd like to spend closer to 1200 than 1500, but if the extra money is worth it, then so be it. If there's any set that would be a clear better option than those I've listed, I'd love to hear about it.


Thank you for any help.
 

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I think if you're looking for just "passable" quality, just about anything on the market now is decent enough, even a low-end Vizio or Olevia.


That being said, you do have good choices on your list. I've heard that Phillips models, though I'm not sure of that particular TV, have some quirky firmware issues and they tend to have simplistic menus (i.e. no backlight adjustment as one example).


How long do you plan on having this as your main TV? Do you anticipate buying a new, bigger, better TV when you graduate and have a real job and a real apartment? If so, you may want to go lower-end for your time in the dorm (less of a worry about friends doing stupid stuff around it, less concern when moving, and less of a possibility of it getting stolen).


I have a Samsung 46A550, so I may be a little biased (also note that I'm only sitting about 7' away and I think the 46" is a perfect size for that). The 550 series is a good TV, the only thing that would make it better is 120Hz. That being said, if you watch movies on your laptop and the telecine judder doesn't bother you, you probably won't care about 120Hz (so the 650 may be too much for you). The speakers are pretty crappy though, so you'll probably want some separate speakers if you get the 550.


From what I've heard about the Sony V4100 series, the PQ is roughly equivalent to the 550 series, but it has an extra HDMI port and better speakers. There does seem to be some issue with "sparkles" reported in the owner's thread though (if I could get the V4100 and the 550 at the same price, I'd probably go with the V4100 assuming the sparkle issue was addressed. Supposedly better shadow detail, but the processing seems to deal with crappy sources marginally better than the 550).


No idea about the S4100 series, but it apparently doesn't have the Bravia processing engine despite having the Bravia name?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'd probably keep this as my main TV for the next 3 years at least, and I plan to move off campus next year to escape what seems to be a poorly thought out housing expansion program, so I'd like to invest in it to some degree now. I've looked at Vizio, Olevia, Westinghouse TVs and while I won't knock any of them for not being perfectly acceptable for the price, I'm willing to spend a little more to get a little more.


I tend to watch AVI/MKV files on my laptop, so the judder is rather unnoticeable compared to the compression - actual DVDs are left at home. My 56" set at home is a rear projector that was bought something like 4 years ago and only goes to 1080i, I think that may help smooth out things (as well as detail) in a way a new LCD would not.


I looked at the 46" models, but was concerned that they might be too big for a dorm, but I'll take your word that 7" is a good distance for that size. Checking prices on newegg, amazon, etc, I found the 46A550 is almost $100 less than the 40A650, and is almost $400 cheaper than the 46A650 (best of both worlds for screen real estate and features).


I can't seem to find if the Sony S series uses a Bravia panel, but the sonystyle page for it touts '24p True Cinema Technology', which I cannot find an explanation of. It's not worth it to get an S series 46" as it costs more than the 46A550, so that's out. The 46V4100 costs more than the 46A650, so that's out. The 40V4100 is close to $200 more than the 40A550, so that's out.


This leaves (since I'm sure that was confusing):


*Sony 40S4100

*Samsung LN40A550

*Samsung LN40A650

*Samsung LN46A550

*Samsung LN46A650

*Philips 42PFL7403D


The Philips seems to be rather new - I've heard that the firmware could use some work from other sources as well, but haven't really stumbled across a comprehensive review. Its price is comparable to the LN40A650. Since the LN46A650 is somewhat out of what I'm comfortable spending on a luxury item, the question is whether size or quality is more important (e.g., LN40A650 vs LN46A550). Or, on the cheap side of the spectrum if the sony s4100 series compares to Samsung's LNxxA550 series, and on the expensive side just how good a picture the Philips set has.
 

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I personally think the main advantage of the A650 over the A550 is 120Hz first, and PQ second. If you've seen the difference a glossy laptop screen makes, it's somewhat similar, though the A550 has a semi-glossy screen so the difference is smaller, though still noticeable. The A550 and A650 owner's threads are filled with comparisons, if you want to read through those
.


If you like the glossy, reflective screen of the A650, you can get the A540 or A580 which are the A550 with a glossy screen (the A580 may only be available at BB, the A540 is at Costco). Costco is rumored to be having a sale on the A540 at the end of July which would put it near the price of the A550. Another possible alternative is the Samsung A530 series, which based on user accounts seems to be the A550 but with a slightly different bezel.


I would probably say the A650 is worth maybe a $250 premium over the A550, though that's very subjective.


As for the Sony, I'm not sure about the S4100 series, though people seem to think the V4100 and A550 are the comparable ones.


In regards to size, based on this viewing distance calculator , you can't fully resolve 1080p (i.e. can't see pixels) if you're farther than 6ft away using a 46" display. HOWEVER, having lived in my share of dorm rooms, I'd be would have been hard pressed to find a place to fit the physical size of the TV.


There is also the fact that a larger TV tends to make the deficiencies of crappy sources more visible, so if you're planning on watching mostly AVI/MKV files, that may be something to consider. On the other hand, I've never heard anybody say that they got a TV that was too big (other than for space constraints).


Last note on the Phillips -- though I don't have one nor have I ever seen one, I believe they use an IPS panel, which should give better viewing angles at the expensive of dark blacks, if that's important to you. The A550 isn't bad, but the blacks definitely get lighter if you're more than 40 degrees or so off axis.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I've pretty much narrowed it down to the Samsungs - LN46A550 seems to be my most likely choice, or the LN46A650 if I come into some unexpected money (no, I'm not spending all my money, but I like to save around half of what I earn). However, what's up with the LNT series by Samsung? e.g., if I would be happy with the LN46A550, how would I feel about the LNT4665?
 

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yeah dont be afraid of the audio issues with this tv!!! Some guy made audio settings to make it sound the same if not better than all the other "stock" speakers on tvs.
 
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