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Discussion Starter #1

Newbie here, and probably know enough to be dangerous.

 

I'm in the market for a flat screen TV. It will be the first one I've ever bought. I think I'd like a plasma, but I think I may have too much light.

 

it will go on a huge wall in my family room. Could be mounted at any height (or on a stand) and have plenty of space all around.

 

Viewing from 9-10 feet away sitting on the sofa, sofa is about 8 foot wide.

 

The family room has skylights. During the day, it's not what I'd call "bright", but there is definitely no need to turn on any lights in the room during the day. There are shades on all the windows so they can effectively be completely blocking the light so it's only the skylights letting light in (well, there's some ambient light from the front side of the house, and our floor plan is open).

 

I am a college professor and I don't work all day 9-5 or anything, and am home with my kids in the afternoons and during the summer. So there is a good chance that I'll want to catch the occasional mid-morning movie, and I do watch TV often around 6:30 PM, and in the summer it's still light outside until 8 or 8:30 at the height of the longest days. Putting it on that wall would also make it possible for me to watch from the kitchen (probably another 7-10 feet away) so I might do that while making dinner, anywhere from 5:30 or so on.

 

I'm looking to spend not more than $1,000.00 USD. $750.00-850.00 is a happy range for me.

 

I'm way behind the times and I don't have HD from satellite - just regular signal.

 

Here's what I have to plug into it:

 

Sony Blu Ray player (1 year old, has wi-fi)

DirectTV DVR (older but I apparently can get a free upgrade to the latest "basic" model)  - non HD!

Wii and/or Xbox

Mac, or Kindle???

 

I guess I don't need a "smart" TV because the Blu Ray and mobile devices could handle that.

 

We do use Netflix a LOT. In fact, I'm strongly considering ditching Satellite, and going Netflix, Amazon Prime, DVDs (though don't actually watch many), and maybe I'd be willing to pay for HULU because despite commercials on HULU Plus, it's not like there aren't commercials on subscription satellite stations I'm paying through the nose for!

 

For those reasons, I would like to have a built in tuner of some sort to at least pick up local stations especially if the internet goes down (we do not have FIOS, and there are no plans to support our city in the foreseeable future, and Cable modem is possible but the only company here is rated so poorly - that's why everyone has DirectTV!)

 

I don't care for 3D. Would be rarely used, if at all. We will rarely pay to go see the 3D version of anything at the theater.

 

I would like pretty decent sound, because I'm probably not going to be able to buy any kind of fancy surround sound system any time soon. The TV will be investment enough (this is a HUGE investment for us, and it's going to need to be something that lasts).

 

I don't think it needs to be huge, but I'd like as big as reasonable for the size of the room and features - but I'd rather have a 50 with better picture than a 60 with not as good a picture - I think.

 

I've seen other people's TVs and sometimes the images look like "cutouts". It bothers me when I watch something that's supposed to be black but the black has all kinds of varying shades moving around in it. I've heard people say "soap opera" effect and I'm not sure what that is. But if you ever see a Videotaped Twilight Zone versus a Filmed one, I don't like the Videotaped image - I think that's what happened with Soap Operas back in the old days which is why they looked different than things shot on Film (or like old British shows that used 16mm for outdoor scenes and 35mm for indoor scenes, or something like that).

 

I do NOT watch any sports whatsoever. I watch a lot of old B/W TCM movies, as well as modern TV shows and all kinds of movies. I would expect Enter the Dragon, Star Wars, and The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly to look and sound  as close to a theater experience as I can afford in a "basic" TV at my price point :)

 

Any and all help much appreciated!

 

TIA
 

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A Panasonic ST60 would have been a good choice but can no longer be found. Other plasmas in that range will not offer any decent daytime filters.


Plasma's in your price would be the Samsung F5300 (not a smart TV and would need a Roku or something else for smart features) and the F5500. They can look okay during the day depending on how the light is to hit the TV. Contrast levels will be worse during the day as well as blacks levels but there are people that do own these TV's and claim to enjoy it even during daytime viewing.


LG makes some plasmas but I think you might be better off with the Samsung if you were to go the plasma route.


Cheaper LED's will also be highly reflective although keep better blacks and contrast in well lit rooms and has the ability to get brighter but sometimes that brightness will still not be enough to overcome the reflections depending on the room. Of course once it hits dinner time that LED will not be looking pretty.
 

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imo, if you have too much light for a plasma, you have too much light to watch properly.


the solution is to fix the room, not use a subpar display technology


i would also say, i haven't found that LED's actually look better than plasma in ambient lit rooms. what i've found is that LED's REQUIRE ambient light to look good. in dark room settings LCD and especially edgelit LED's look terrible due to unever backlight uniformity
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by levets  /t/1522165/talk-me-out-of-a-plasma#post_24471535


Newbie here, and probably know enough to be dangerous.


I'm in the market for a flat screen TV. It will be the first one I've ever bought. I think I'd like a plasma, but I think I may have too much light.


it will go on a huge wall in my family room. Could be mounted at any height (or on a stand) and have plenty of space all around.


Viewing from 9-10 feet away sitting on the sofa, sofa is about 8 foot wide.


The family room has skylights. During the day, it's not what I'd call "bright", but there is definitely no need to turn on any lights in the room during the day. There are shades on all the windows so they can effectively be completely blocking the light so it's only the skylights letting light in (well, there's some ambient light from the front side of the house, and our floor plan is open).


I am a college professor and I don't work all day 9-5 or anything, and am home with my kids in the afternoons and during the summer. So there is a good chance that I'll want to catch the occasional mid-morning movie, and I do watch TV often around 6:30 PM, and in the summer it's still light outside until 8 or 8:30 at the height of the longest days. Putting it on that wall would also make it possible for me to watch from the kitchen (probably another 7-10 feet away) so I might do that while making dinner, anywhere from 5:30 or so on.


I'm looking to spend not more than $1,000.00 USD. $750.00-850.00 is a happy range for me.


I'm way behind the times and I don't have HD from satellite - just regular signal.


Here's what I have to plug into it:




Sony Blu Ray player (1 year old, has wi-fi)

DirectTV DVR (older but I apparently can get a free upgrade to the latest "basic" model)  - non HD!

Wii and/or Xbox

Mac, or Kindle???


I guess I don't need a "smart" TV because the Blu Ray and mobile devices could handle that.


We do use Netflix a LOT. In fact, I'm strongly considering ditching Satellite, and going Netflix, Amazon Prime, DVDs (though don't actually watch many), and maybe I'd be willing to pay for HULU because despite commercials on HULU Plus, it's not like there aren't commercials on subscription satellite stations I'm paying


through the nose for!


For those reasons, I would like to have a built in tuner of some sort to at least pick up local stations especially if the internet goes down (we do not have FIOS, and there are no plans to support our city in the foreseeable future, and Cable modem is possible but the only company here is rated so poorly - that's why everyone has DirectTV!)


I don't care for 3D. Would be rarely used, if at all. We will rarely pay to go see the 3D version of anything at the theater.


I would like pretty decent sound, because I'm probably not going to be able to buy any kind of fancy surround sound system any time soon. The TV will be investment enough (this is a HUGE investment for us, and it's going to need to be something that lasts).


I don't think it needs to be huge, but I'd like as big as reasonable for the size of the room and features - but I'd rather have a 50 with better picture than a 60 with not as good a picture - I think.


I've seen other people's TVs and sometimes the images look like "cutouts". It bothers me when I watch something that's supposed to be black but the black has all kinds of varying shades moving around in it. I've heard people say "soap opera" effect and I'm not sure what that is. But if you ever see a Videotaped Twilight Zone versus a Filmed one, I don't like the Videotaped image - I think that's what happened with Soap Operas back in the old days which is why they looked different than things shot on Film (or like old British shows that used 16mm for outdoor scenes and 35mm for indoor scenes, or something like that).


I do NOT watch any sports whatsoever. I watch a lot of old B/W TCM movies, as well as modern TV shows and all kinds of movies. I would expect Enter the Dragon, Star Wars, and The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly to look and sound  as close to a theater experience as I can afford in a "basic" TV at my price point :)


Any and all help much appreciated!


TIA

I hear you with the blacks choppy pixels. The best way to eliminate that problem is to get a DLP or LED. I'M PRO DLP because when a Lamp goes out it take 10 minutes to change and the way the new lamp looks is just like new, Vibrant and amazing. If I have to change a $35 lamp every five years I, OK with that. I have 2 DLP's and I have 3 Lamps in stock for each DLP I have. Got a deal 3 for $150 for both TV's
 

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If the room is not too bright during the day, and it sounds as though it isn't, I think you will be fine with a plasma. I would buy from a store that has a good return policy just in case it doesn't work out. I would rather take a chance on a plasma and have to return it than simply settle on an LCD/LED.

 

For what it's worth, my wife and I purchased a Samsung PN51F5300 (51") a month ago and really like it. Consumer Reports rates it a best buy, and you can find it for $100 less than the bottom of your "happy range." The 60" version, PN60F5300, is also a Consumer Reports best buy and is on sale at Best Buy for $899.99 this week. With your size room and your budget considerations, I'd be tempted to go with the 60" version of the F5300.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by eric3316  /t/1522165/talk-me-out-of-a-plasma#post_24471834


A Panasonic ST60 would have been a good choice but can no longer be found. Other plasmas in that range will not offer any decent daytime filters.

Has the OP looked here to see if any floor models are left in his area?
http://www.searsoutlet.com/50-Class-1080p-600Hz-3D-Plasma-Smart-HDTV-TC-P50ST60/d/product_details.jsp?stxt=tv&md=srh_md&pn=1&ps=25&pid=111556&cid=892&mode=buyUsedOnly&itemSelectionType=all


If the OP can live with a floor display model there still appear to be hundreds of 50", 55" and 60" ST60's out there. Just factor in the cost of a extended warranty for piece of mind.
 

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Discussion Starter #7

Quote:
Originally Posted by Broadus  /t/1522165/talk-me-out-of-a-plasma#post_24473214

 

If the room is not too bright during the day, and it sounds as though it isn't, I think you will be fine with a plasma. I would buy from a store that has a good return policy just in case it doesn't work out. I would rather take a chance on a plasma and have to return it than simply settle on an LCD/LED.

 

For what it's worth, my wife and I purchased a Samsung PN51F5300 (51") a month ago and really like it. Consumer Reports rates it a best buy, and you can find it for $100 less than the bottom of your "happy range." The 60" version, PN60F5300, is also a Consumer Reports best buy and is on sale at Best Buy for $899.99 this week. With your size room and your budget considerations, I'd be tempted to go with the 60" version of the F5300.
 

I currently have an older flat screen CRT tv in the room. I watch it all the time. Sometimes, during the day, there will be glare from light sources, but I don't think there's any TV on Earth that could overcome that glare. It sounds like most of you are saying though, that the Plasma isn't going to perform any worse than an LCD LED in the light and will still perform better in the dark?

 

I think the Samsung and LG are the only two Plasma makers left, so I'm not sure how strong a best buy rating would be (unless they're comparing it with non plasma tvs as well) but the Samsung's seem to be the obvious choice for an affordable plasma if I can't find an ST60 on the floor somewhere.

 

Steve
 

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Discussion Starter #8

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimreeves  /t/1522165/talk-me-out-of-a-plasma#post_24473248



Has the OP looked here to see if any floor models are left in his area?
http://www.searsoutlet.com/50-Class-1080p-600Hz-3D-Plasma-Smart-HDTV-TC-P50ST60/d/product_details.jsp?stxt=tv&md=srh_md&pn=1&ps=25&pid=111556&cid=892&mode=buyUsedOnly&itemSelectionType=all


If the OP can live with a floor display model there still appear to be hundreds of 50", 55" and 60" ST60's out there. Just factor in the cost of a extended warranty for piece of mind.
I'm leaning towards Sears anyway. I've had some problems with Best Buy and they're "on the list" which means I never shop there, ever again. So I'm kind of limited to Sears, Target, Wally World, and BJs (I suppose I could renew my Sam's membership). I had planned on an ST60 after much research a year or so ago, but the car repairs, broken water heater, and such put an end to a purchase until now.

 

Steve
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by levets  /t/1522165/talk-me-out-of-a-plasma#post_24491451



I'm leaning towards Sears anyway. I've had some problems with Best Buy and they're "on the list" which means I never shop there, ever again. So I'm kind of limited to Sears, Target, Wally World, and BJs (I suppose I could renew my Sam's membership). I had planned on an ST60 after much research a year or so ago, but the car repairs, broken water heater, and such put an end to a purchase until now.


Steve

st60 or even s60/s64 seem to still be the best bang for the buck tv you can buy(IF you can buy one)


the h5000 from Samsung seems be a good alternative if you can't, and you don't want to pony up for an f8500.


led's can be brighter than plasmas, which can look slightly better in brightly lit rooms. but as far as reflections go, that seems to be about the same, and is more about what screen filter is used than what type of backlight technology. plasma's WILL look better in a dark room though. only the really expensive FALD led's can come close. edgelit led's will always have some uniformity issues. I tried a couple about 3yrs ago and after 3 tries I gave up. the first one I assumed was defective, because I just couldn't understand how anything that looked that way could have been considered acceptable to produce, let along get good ratings from reviewers. I took a shot of the 2nd one, which sadly actually did have better performance, the first had clouding right in the middle of the screen so it was even more obvious. anyway, all of this has led me to the conclusion that LED TV's look good ONLY in brightly lit rooms. plasmas can look good in both, if they have a good filter.


this is what 'solid black' looked like on mine Samsung 40d6300(and the scary thing is it gets worse with larger screens)
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by levets  /t/1522165/talk-me-out-of-a-plasma#post_24491439


I currently have an older flat screen CRT tv in the room. I watch it all the time. Sometimes, during the day, there will be glare from light sources, but I don't think there's any TV on Earth that could overcome that glare. It sounds like most of you are saying though, that the Plasma isn't going to perform any worse than an LCD LED in the light and will still perform better in the dark?


I think the Samsung and LG are the only two Plasma makers left, so I'm not sure how strong a best buy rating would be (unless they're comparing it with non plasma tvs as well) but the Samsung's seem to be the obvious choice for an affordable plasma if I can't find an ST60 on the floor somewhere.


Steve
You really cannot make a general statement and say plasma's won't perform worse in the daytime then an LCD in the light. It really depends on the particular TV. Lower end plasma's will not have good light filters on them so they will not perform will under bright conditions. Blacks will look gray and contrast will also take a hit. It will also be reflective. As you go up to the better plasma's you will get better filters that can even outperform LEDs in the daytime. The thing about less expensive LEDs, while they might not have the best filters they at least have the brightness to combat some of the reflections where lower end plasma's will not be able to overcome that with their lower brightness levels. Also with LEDs, the more light in the room the better blacks appear to be on them,


So you really need to decide what type of viewing is going to be most important to you. Can you deal with glare and reflections during the day to have a much better night picture? And when I say night, I mean when the sun is not shining in your room. It is not like you will need to be in the dark to get a good picture out of your plasma, you just don't want that natural sunlight shining through. But just remember that LED will also be reflective during the day.


I would try a plasma first but only from a store that will accept no questions asked returns.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by eric3316  /t/1522165/talk-me-out-of-a-plasma#post_24492471


You really cannot make a general statement and say plasma's won't perform worse in the daytime then an LCD in the light. It really depends on the particular TV. Lower end plasma's will not have good light filters on them so they will not perform will under bright conditions. Blacks will look gray and contrast will also take a hit. It will also be reflective. As you go up to the better plasma's you will get better filters that can even outperform LEDs in the daytime. The thing about less expensive LEDs, while they might not have the best filters they at least have the brightness to combat some of the reflections where lower end plasma's will not be able to overcome that with their lower brightness levels. Also with LEDs, the more light in the room the better blacks appear to be on them,


So you really need to decide what type of viewing is going to be most important to you. Can you deal with glare and reflections during the day to have a much better night picture? And when I say night, I mean when the sun is not shining in your room. It is not like you will need to be in the dark to get a good picture out of your plasma, you just don't want that natural sunlight shining through. But just remember that LED will also be reflective during the day.


I would try a plasma first but only from a store that will accept no questions asked returns.

I agree with what is being said. the bolded thing is no longer just with LED's though. the filter on the f8500 makes the same thing happen. it looks 'off black' if there is bright enough light in the room. I'm not sure if any other plasma's do this though, maybe the zt?


the quality is very important. cheap plasma's aren't going to be stellar in a bright room, and they won't have good filters. but I still don't think a cheap LED performs any better under these conditions. I have a cheap, old plasma in my living room next to our bay window right now. it's fine. some of the things you mentioned like greyish blacks occur, but they are only being raised to the same level seen on cheap led's. I don't have any reflections though, and that's just do to not being careless when positioning the tv and furniture. now a high end LED probably would help during the day, it would have a better filter that makes blacks look darker in the bright room, and may even have a better contrast ratio because of that. but even then, the cheap plasma still has advantages in motion, viewing angle, and night time viewing.


I tend to be a person that has very little issue with any of the plasma 'flaws'. heat is almost a welcomed thing 8months of the year, IR is non-existent with my use, and glare(even if it was restricted to plasma only) is rarely unavoidable.


so with my own bias, I'd still take a cheap-ish plasma like a samsung 5300 or a high end LED LCD. and in fact, due to my apparent over-sensitivity to backlight uniformity issues, I would take an entry level CCFL LCD over a high end LED LCD too. in fact, I had to do that with my bedroom tv. returned two LED's and due to flashlighting and ended up 'downgrading' to a CCFL model that was a much better tv.
 

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I absolutely LOVE my LG 60PN5000 that I got from WM for just $650.  It has an incredible picture, great blacks, and was the best value in 60" TV's that I could find.  That said, if I were to watch this display predominantly in the daytime I'd be disappointed.  It is highly reflective (like mirror-like) and even in a dark room you can see some reflections if you look for them. I watch almost always at night so its perfect for me but if I were you I'd look for a bright LED screen.  Don't get me wrong, plasma is better in terms of black level and color accuracy but some of these guys are being a little over the top with how "bad" LED's are.  Even a cheaper LED like the Vizio E601i-A3 still is a very good looking TV for the average person.  I would've bought one myself if WM hadn't run out of stock at the time.  You can get them at WM right now for $798 and if you are just an average TV user you will be plenty satisfied with it IMO.  Plasma will be better, but at night only (or if you find one of the more expensive ones like the S60 which have good light filtering but then you're out of budget anyway)....
 

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^^ I would still say if a cheap plasma is too reflective for you, then the solution is a better plasma...



here's an example of what a filter can do:


cheap plasma: very reflective, and you can see the light makes the screen look grey instead of black



good plasma: almost no reflections, and the ambient light actually makes the screen look blacker




I still say that...


if you watch in the dark, plasma is the ONLY option


if you watch in ambient light, plasma OR LCD will work, but only if they have a nice screen filter
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by fierce_gt  /t/1522165/talk-me-out-of-a-plasma#post_24498357


^^ I would still say if a cheap plasma is too reflective for you, then the solution is a better plasma...
That is not really a fair statement. While we know that spending more will get you more people do not have unlimited funds so we need to guide them within their price range to what would be best for them.


When staying low budget I would try a plasma first. High end LEDs have many screen issues so going low budget on an LED you are really asking for trouble if you care about PQ. If you are going to throw the TV in Vivid mode and watch mostly in the daytime and not really care how accurate your picture looks you can get away with an LED.


My guess if you are here then you care a little more about PQ then the average consumer otherwise you would have already bought a cheap LED. Even a low end cheap plasma will offer great screen uniformity, great viewing angles, nice color saturation and good contrast and black levels. It will all come down to how it handles reflections during the day within your room but remember that less expensive LED might not handle those reflections much better then the plasma anyway...
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by eric3316  /t/1522165/talk-me-out-of-a-plasma#post_24498600


That is not really a fair statement. While we know that spending more will get you more people do not have unlimited funds so we need to guide them within their price range to what would be best for them.


When staying low budget I would try a plasma first. High end LEDs have many screen issues so going low budget on an LED you are really asking for trouble if you care about PQ. If you are going to throw the TV in Vivid mode and watch mostly in the daytime and not really care how accurate your picture looks you can get away with an LED.


My guess if you are here then you care a little more about PQ then the average consumer otherwise you would have already bought a cheap LED. Even a low end cheap plasma will offer great screen uniformity, great viewing angles, nice color saturation and good contrast and black levels. It will all come down to how it handles reflections during the day within your room but remember that less expensive LED might not handle those reflections much better then the plasma anyway...

is it just me or did you just confirm what I said after disagreeing with it??
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by fierce_gt  /t/1522165/talk-me-out-of-a-plasma#post_24498923


is it just me or did you just confirm what I said after disagreeing with it??
I didn't disagree with you. I was just saying that getting a better plasma is not always an option for everyone. Obvious the answer would be to get a better plasma. Then reflections wouldn't be an issue and you would have the best PQ. But who is going to give them the additional $2,000 for that? That was the only line I was saying is much easier said then done.


I do not disagree with anything else you said.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by fierce_gt  /t/1522165/talk-me-out-of-a-plasma#post_24498357


^^ I would still say if a cheap plasma is too reflective for you, then the solution is a better plasma...



here's an example of what a filter can do:


cheap plasma: very reflective, and you can see the light makes the screen look grey instead of black
http://www.avsforum.com/content/type/61/id/395462


good plasma: almost no reflections, and the ambient light actually makes the screen look blacker
http://www.avsforum.com/content/type/61/id/395463/



I still say that...


if you watch in the dark, plasma is the ONLY option


if you watch in ambient light, plasma OR LCD will work, but only if they have a nice screen filter

Hmm, I've noticed even with bright ambient lighting in photos with their sets off and even videos on Youtube the screen still shows up lighter than the black frame. That was even with the VT and ZT.
Quote:
Originally Posted by eric3316  /t/1522165/talk-me-out-of-a-plasma#post_24498600


That is not really a fair statement. While we know that spending more will get you more people do not have unlimited funds so we need to guide them within their price range to what would be best for them.


When staying low budget I would try a plasma first. High end LEDs have many screen issues so going low budget on an LED you are really asking for trouble if you care about PQ. If you are going to throw the TV in Vivid mode and watch mostly in the daytime and not really care how accurate your picture looks you can get away with an LED.


My guess if you are here then you care a little more about PQ then the average consumer otherwise you would have already bought a cheap LED. Even a low end cheap plasma will offer great screen uniformity, great viewing angles, nice color saturation and good contrast and black levels. It will all come down to how it handles reflections during the day within your room but remember that less expensive LED might not handle those reflections much better then the plasma anyway...

Whats the true definition of cheap? As reading some forums some people class cheap below 1800... Some class cheap below 900...
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by xvfx  /t/1522165/talk-me-out-of-a-plasma#post_24499540


Whats the true definition of cheap? As reading some forums some people class cheap below 1800... Some class cheap below 900...
Let's call it the less expensive TV's. It first depends on the size we are talking about but the OP's comfort zone is $750-$850. Let's say he is looking for a 60". That would be considered the lower end of the plasma spectrum. At that price you would be pretty much looking at an LG plasma who does not make an upper end plasma. Their plasma's would be considered a budget plasma and not equal that of a Panasonic or Samsung. You could get a Samsung 51F5500 which is a smart TV like the OP wants for under $1,000 but now you are talking a big size different. The 60F5300 is not smart so would need an additional device and right at the $1,000 range. These are your entry level plasma's and will not offer good filters but do offer a decent picture.



We can talk a bunch a LEDs as well but size plays a role. low-low mid range LED's from 55" - 60" will run you over $1,000. TV's like the LG LA6200 or Samsung 6300 but the plasma's I listed should give you better pq at lesser money.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by eric3316  /t/1522165/talk-me-out-of-a-plasma#post_24498961


I didn't disagree with you. I was just saying that getting a better plasma is not always an option for everyone. Obvious the answer would be to get a better plasma. Then reflections wouldn't be an issue and you would have the best PQ. But who is going to give them the additional $2,000 for that? That was the only line I was saying is much easier said then done.


I do not disagree with anything else you said.
ok, so instead of getting picky, i'll agree with this.


'cheap' TV's tend to have more problems with reflections and holding black levels in ambient light. a good screen filter is usually a premium feature only found on more expensive(not necessarily high end though) TV's.


I do not believe you need to spend 3k to get a plasma with a filter, and if you do, that's REALLY a shame, because I've always thought plasma's presented a much better value than LED's.

Quote:
Originally Posted by xvfx  /t/1522165/talk-me-out-of-a-plasma#post_24499540


Hmm, I've noticed even with bright ambient lighting in photos with their sets off and even videos on Youtube the screen still shows up lighter than the black frame. That was even with the VT and ZT.

Whats the true definition of cheap? As reading some forums some people class cheap below 1800... Some class cheap below 900...

cheap isn't a price, it's a quality. if the company you're buying from offers 8 models above what you're looking at, you're probably looking at a 'cheap' tv. just replace 'cheap' with 'entry level'. of course that doesn't exactly define it either, but I don't think you can because it's constantly changing. but you certainly can't use price as the defining factor. I mean a 51" f8500 for 1500 isn't a 'cheaper' tv than a 64" f5500 that costs 2k just because of the price.


as for the screen looking black, well, I didn't post a picture of a vt or zt, I posted a picture of an F8500. it really is impressive in bright light, but still looks like a plasma in the dark.
 

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I still say that at the $600-800 range the OP was talking about there are only a couple of options which really depend on his preferences.  For a 60" plasma he can get an LG which I can vouch for having very good PQ but horrible reflectivity or he can go for a much smaller screen and get a Samsung which will have a moderately better picture and less reflectivity but at the cost of size.  As for LED, he can go for the Vizio which I also feel can have a really nice picture (certainly fine for average viewers) at 60" and will work much better in high-light areas or he can drop down in size again and get a higher quality set.  Me, personally, I always go for screen size as number one in terms of priority with PQ next so I'd definitely choose the Vizio for daytime viewing or the LG plasma (which is what I actually bought) for night and movie watching...
 
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