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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone! I've been thinking about buying a flat-panel tv for a while now and I am ready to get one. I figured that this is the perfect place to pose several questions. Please understand that, while I have learned much about CRT televisions, I know very little about LCD TVs ... but some of them seem so impressive to me, that I think I should get one.


First, here's how I plan to use an LCD TV. The TV will go in a bedroom, and I've already determined that a 26-inch screen would be perfect (anything smaller is too small, anything larger is both too large for the space and also for my wallet). I will be using it, at least for now, only for watching DVDs -- no satellite, no cable, no broadcast HDTV. I rarely watch TV, so I don't need those types of hook-ups right now. However, I love movies and want to get the best possible picture I can afford and also have the advantages of widescreen. Some people (including my brother-in-law) think I am crazy for wanting an LCD if I don't plan to watch HDTV -- because DVDs only output 480, as opposed to 720 or 1080. But I'm tired of watching DVDs on a regular TV, and I also don't really want to buy a widescreen CRT. (However, if any of you have reasons why I shouldn't go LCD for this purpose, I would actually be happy to hear what you think).


The LCD TVs I am considering are: JVC LT-26X575, Toshiba 26HL84, and Panasonic TC-26LX20.


Here are my questions:


1. How important is contrast ratio? What is a good contrast ratio?


2. While I will be using this exclusively for DVDs, I certainly want something that will not be obsolete if the future if/when I decide to get HDTV signals. Is there anything (such as connections) that I should look for?


3. The JVC model displays a 720p picture. Does this mean that DVDs will be upconverted? Also, what happens if it is only capable of 720p but a station broadcasts at 1080i? Will the signal be down-converted?


4. How important is response time? I read in an article that LCDs originally had trouble displaying fast-moving scenes -- is this still a problem?


5. Finally, some of the DVDs I have (particularly of older films) have a 4:3 aspect ratio. Will LCD TVs force the image to go widescreen, or can I still view them in their original ratio (with black bars on the sides)?


I know some of these are basic questions, but if anyone can help, I'd apprecaite it. Also, if you have any additional ideas, advice, suggestions, I'd love to hear them.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by plasticboy
The LCD TVs I am considering are: JVC LT-26X575, Toshiba 26HL84, and Panasonic TC-26LX20.


Here are my questions:


1. How important is contrast ratio? What is a good contrast ratio?
Very important for getting a good picture quality. In layman's terms, contrast will basically determine how black are the black objects in the image, details/gradations of black objects. This is especially imprtant for dimly lit rooms like bedrooms. There is no "good" contrast number. To day, the best contrast is achieved on CRT displays. Plasmas and DLPs trail CRT slightly behind. LCDs vary from poor contrast to very comparable to DLP-ish black levels.

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2. While I will be using this exclusively for DVDs, I certainly want something that will not be obsolete if the future if/when I decide to get HDTV signals. Is there anything (such as connections) that I should look for? [/b]

For watching DVDs you need component or DVI or HDMI inputs. Down the road when and if you decide to connect an HD receiver, you will need to connect it most likely to either HDMI or DVI inputs. This is as future-proof as you can be today.

Quote:
3. The JVC model displays a 720p picture. Does this mean that DVDs will be upconverted? Also, what happens if it is only capable of 720p but a station broadcasts at 1080i? Will the signal be down-converted? [/b]

Basically, you got it right. As a fixed pixel display, JVC will up/down - convert (and if needed will de-interlace as well) any video information to 720p to be able to show it full-screen.

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4. How important is response time? I read in an article that LCDs originally had trouble displaying fast-moving scenes -- is this still a problem? [/b]

You are asking all the right questions: very important. Older LCDs had significant motion blur because of a slow response time. Current LCD panels usually have average response time of 12 or 16 ms which is still not enough to completely eliminate the blur on fast panning scenes, but is already quite watchable. I used to have an LCD TV with 16 ms response time and motion blur was not an issue for me at all, I did not notice it.

Quote:
5. Finally, some of the DVDs I have (particularly of older films) have a 4:3 aspect ratio. Will LCD TVs force the image to go widescreen, or can I still view them in their original ratio (with black bars on the sides)? [/b]

Now, that depends on a model. In most cases your LCD TV will offer you a rather good control of the aspect ratio (4:3; 16:9, etc) and zoom functions. The LCD TV I owned (Sceptre 30" LCD TV) had several stretch/zoom modes, basically allowing you either to watch 4:3 material in either native AR or stretched to fill the screen. Iposted detail photos of these modes in "Interesting 30 LCD TV" thread in this forum. Do a search and you should find it. Btw, you will find there many more photos and answers to your questions.


On a general note, given your size/budget limitations, you are pretty much limited to either a direct view CRT or LCD TV. RPTVs are out of the question, plasmas do not come in size smaller than 37" and still cost quite a lot.


So, you have to decide whether you want a better picture from a rather bulky and heavy CRT TV, or a very decent picture with an LCD panel. If you are a videophile, then go with CRT, if you are not fixated on less than perfect black levels, then get an LCD and it will serve you right. If you compare the two side by side, you will most likely prefer CRT, but once you place an LCD TV in your bedroom alone, pretty soon you will get used to its picture. Again, in the thread mentioned above I posted quite a lot of screenshots which should give you an idea of a picture quality.


LCDs differ greatly in the PQ quality. Big brand names are not necesserily a guarantee of a better picture. I personally dislike the picture of Samsung LCDs, giving preference to Sharps, Panasonics, Sony. But, I was very happy with 30" Sceptre LCD and it fits basically all of your requirements both in terms of size and budget (you will spend around 1500).
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
TauRus,


Thanks very, very much for your detailed, thoughtful reply -- that's quite helpful and informative. I appreciate that fact that you went through each question/concern one-at-a-time.


As a follow-up, I have a question:


Is it "better" to have a fixed pixel display (like the JVC, which displays at 720) or is it "better" to have a non-fixed display (like the Panasonic, which displays 480, 720, and 1080)? I'm asking in a general sense, even though, as stated in my original post, I will be using the LCD exclusively for DVDs, which obviously only output at 480. Getting a general sense of which is "better" (this might be subjective) will help my just in terms of deciding which LCD model will be the most flexible for future use. (Two of the LCDs I am looking at have fixed displays.)


Also, as a follow up, I have thought about a widescreen CRT in the past -- it's just that the advantages in terms of size, depth, and especially weight make the LCD more appealing. However, I haven't 100% ruled out a CRT and perhaps might do a little comparison shopping for peace-of-mind.
 

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While there are subjective preferences, there are also objective ups and downs for each type of display.

Keeping in mind that at least for the foreseeable future you only plan to watch DVDs (480i/480p), I would say a non-fixed pixel CRT display might (or might not, depending again on the quality) give you a sharper image. A fixed panel display, most probably 1280x720 or 1280x768, will need to scale the original picture to fill the screen up (line-doubling), whereas a non-fixed pixel display will dive you native 480 (interlaced or progressive, depending on whether your TV is analog or digital) lines of DVD video.


On the downside, CRTs can suffer from uneven brightness and geometry, flicker. LCDs do not have such issues.


So, again its your pick one way or another. It is difficult to give recommendations in general. Once you will narrow down your choices to a couple of displays the preferences will help you pick the right one.

As for me, I guess I will not go back to CRT TVs despite their great picture. They use up too much of space, too heavy and bulky, especially if you place them in a bedroom.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Again, that's quite helpful. I'll spend a little time trying to compare the fixed displays with the non-fixed as I shop (and I'll be taking DVDs with me to compare). I'd be interested to see if there is a difference in the image sharpness between the two types (or, to be more precise, to see if my eyes can tell a difference). Both types of displays would be such a huge jump from what I currently view (interlaced, on a very small CRT analog TV) that I'd probably be happy with either one -- but I certainly want the most I can get for my dollar.


You're right about CRTs -- the bulk, especially for bedroom use, is prohibitive. I think the tradeoff (losing, as you mentioned earlier things like perfect contrast) might very well be worth it.


If you or anyone else has additional thoughts on things to look for, advantages/disadvantages of LCDs, I'd be happy to hear them -- the more knowledge I have when I walk into the store, the better off I am.
 

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Some things you would want to check out on a LCD panel:


1) Viewing angles - better LCDs do not distort colors even at sharp angles and virtually do not lose brightness. So, position yourself below and above, to the right and to the left of the display and try to see if the viewing angles satisfy you.

2) Aspect ratio / zoom/ stretch modes - try to bring both 16:9 and 4:3 material to see what aspect ration and zoom options the panel offers.

3) make sure there is and HDCP compliant DVI or HDMI input aside from the usual component, S-Video, etc.

4) pay close attention to the built in deinterlacer. In case you will be connecting your DVD player via DVI your LCD will be doing deinterlacing (converting DVD material from interlaced to progressive). If you see DCDi logo anywhere on the LCD or its manual that would be a good sign. Otherwise, watch for jaggies around brightly lit objects, especially red ones. If you have a Disney animation, like Toy Story or Monster's Inc for example take them with you - if they look good on the panel then the chances are the deinterlacer is decent

4) Greyscale - I usually take a old black and white movie with me to see how grey/black the picture is, if there is not any bluish or purplish tint to it. Off the top of my head, you could take PLeasantville movie - it has lots of black and white episodes.


Most likely the panels will not be properly calibrated, and of course there is little chance you will be able to calibrate it right in the store. So taking a well known material with you is important.


That's about it, I guess. Look through the thread I referenced earlier - it should give you ideas as well. Perhaps, someone else will chime in with more advice. Good luck! :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
TauRus -- thanks for the additional tips. I hadn't thought about deinterlacing or checking grayscale (and the other tips are great ideas too -- I'll be taking several DVDs with different aspect ratios and color/B&W scenes). I'll also make sure to mess around with the display settings, particularly in regard to aspect ratio.


There's something exciting about this -- I look forward to searching for an LCD and having an entirely new experience with my DVDs.
 
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