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BasilFawlty
Mar 27, 2012, 12:45 PM
We currently have a 55" Hitachi Rear Projection screen, which we have owned for over 10 years. We bought it at the time becuase true flat screens were just way too expensive! It's a "ok" TV, but doesn't have a true HDMI connection. Anyway, we have been thinking about replacing it with a nice HD flat screen now that prices have become much more reasonable. I've looked at a lot of reviews and such, but would like to hear some recommendations from folks here who are really into home theater.

For the size of the room we will have this in, I'm thinking that a 60" set is about as big as we want to go. A couple of the sets I've seen are the newer Sony Bravia and the Sharp Quattron Aquos (which they say has an "extra" color (yellow) which purports to make skin tones more realistic).

If we upgrade to a nicer TV I also plan to buy a new ATV to pair with it. Would like to hear what TVs people here have and the pros and cons of some of the different options, especially as it relates to using the new ATV.



maturola
Mar 27, 2012, 12:49 PM
You can't go wrong with Sony, but they are usually on the high side of the price, if you want the best bang for you money, look at the LG smart TV, great quality, and they have good pricing if you shop around.

gpiney
Mar 27, 2012, 01:49 PM
I have a 58" Samsung plasma. Love it. Also have a Samsung 47" LCD in the bedroom.Great TV's. If you do not already have a stereo receiver with HDMI inputs, I would strongly recommend it. I have a 5.1 sound system hooked up to a Yamaha RX-V461. I have my ATV3, BluRay player and cable box hooked into the receiver via HDMI. The TV is hooked up to the receivers HDMI output. This gives me easy switching between sources and full Theater sound and 1080p output from the ATV and BluRay. The cable box is only 1080i.

khollister
Mar 27, 2012, 03:02 PM
This is very complex and emotional issue for many but here is a very brief overview:

Plasma (Samsung or Panasonic primarily) - great viewing angle, excellent black levels, not so great brightness. Heavier and uses more power (heat) than LCD. Tends to be less expensive than top shelf LCD. Still can have image retention issues

LCD - Brighter, more suitable for high ambient light levels. Less weight and power. Most sets use edge or static array backlighting which has some limitations on uniformity and black level (traditional plasma strengths). Most LCD sets have limited viewing angle (contrast and black level degrades off angle).

The high end of the LCD market is held down by full-array local dimming LED backlit designs which largely solve the uniformity and black level issues. Unfortunately, there are currently (2011/2012 model year) two readily available local dimming sets - the Sharp Elite and Sony HX929. The Elite is crazy expensive and the Sony only moderately so. I personally have the Sony and feel the picture is the best I have seen bar the Sharp Elite, including the discontinued Pioneer Kuro plasmas. LG has a local dimming set, but availability is really spotty.

a 55" Sony 929 is about $3000, a 60" Sharp Elite is about $5000-6000 depending on where you get it. A 60" high end plasma is about $2000 right now.

Rear projection units are about dead IMHO. As 70' and 80" (and even larger) LCD direct-view sets become more common and affordable, the market niche for RP is closed.

All of the manufacturers are struggling to make money on TV's and the high end is getting squeezed. The current trend is bigger and cheaper, not better.

The yellow pixel on the Sharp's (including the Elite) is largely a gimmick in my opinion, and many calibrators recommend turning it off.

darster
Mar 27, 2012, 03:19 PM
i have the Sharp 735 70 inch LED. I would have to disagree with the yellow pixel. I have had both my older Pioneer 5020 plasma and now there Sharp professional calibrated (not BB) and side by side the color is virtually identical. Turning the quad pixel off and on after calibration is noticeable, with on providing a better image. If you are watching tv in a bright room, then LED is the way to go. However, the limitations of off angle viewing may be a problem if you don't sit in front of tv, but off to the side. Plasma has no such problem. Also realize there may be more motion blur with LED compared to plasma.

khollister
Mar 27, 2012, 03:52 PM
i have the Sharp 735 70 inch LED. I would have to disagree with the yellow pixel. I have had both my older Pioneer 5020 plasma and now there Sharp professional calibrated (not BB) and side by side the color is virtually identical. Turning the quad pixel off and on after calibration is noticeable, with on providing a better image. If you are watching tv in a bright room, then LED is the way to go. However, the limitations of off angle viewing may be a problem if you don't sit in front of tv, but off to the side. Plasma has no such problem. Also realize there may be more motion blur with LED compared to plasma.

Well it is obviously going to look worse turning off the yellow pixels if it was calibrated with them on. I was referring to calibrating with them turned off vs calibrating with them on. I have no personal experience, just passing on what I have read from the hardcore users over on AVS. YMMV

stevenb
Mar 27, 2012, 04:23 PM
Well, I went plasma, Panasonic 65GT30 to be exact. If you have a very bright room or window glare facing the tv, it may not be a good choice for you. I have mine in the corner of a family room and it faces another wall and an open kitchen area. I have no direct sunlight coming through any windows in the family room due to a patio cover. I had it calibrated and have one setting for daytime and 3D (THX) and one for night viewing (Custom). This tv rocks BD content and 3D. My ATV3 is connected to a wireless network that is between 20-30 Mbps. What I really like about plasma is the viewing angle. It does not dim at wide angles. Fast motion is also perfect. The blacks are "black" and that is where plasma shines. I am not worried about image retention and burn-in as they are rare. Your mileage may vary though...

steve-p
Mar 27, 2012, 05:37 PM
Pretty much any modern TV is going to look spectacular compared to that dinosaur.

BasilFawlty
Mar 27, 2012, 05:50 PM
Pretty much any modern TV is going to look spectacular compared to that dinosaur.

Very helpful.

----------

This is very complex and emotional issue for many but here is a very brief overview:

Plasma (Samsung or Panasonic primarily) - great viewing angle, excellent black levels, not so great brightness. Heavier and uses more power (heat) than LCD. Tends to be less expensive than top shelf LCD. Still can have image retention issues

LCD - Brighter, more suitable for high ambient light levels. Less weight and power. Most sets use edge or static array backlighting which has some limitations on uniformity and black level (traditional plasma strengths). Most LCD sets have limited viewing angle (contrast and black level degrades off angle).

The high end of the LCD market is held down by full-array local dimming LED backlit designs which largely solve the uniformity and black level issues. Unfortunately, there are currently (2011/2012 model year) two readily available local dimming sets - the Sharp Elite and Sony HX929. The Elite is crazy expensive and the Sony only moderately so. I personally have the Sony and feel the picture is the best I have seen bar the Sharp Elite, including the discontinued Pioneer Kuro plasmas. LG has a local dimming set, but availability is really spotty.

a 55" Sony 929 is about $3000, a 60" Sharp Elite is about $5000-6000 depending on where you get it. A 60" high end plasma is about $2000 right now.

Rear projection units are about dead IMHO. As 70' and 80" (and even larger) LCD direct-view sets become more common and affordable, the market niche for RP is closed.

All of the manufacturers are struggling to make money on TV's and the high end is getting squeezed. The current trend is bigger and cheaper, not better.

The yellow pixel on the Sharp's (including the Elite) is largely a gimmick in my opinion, and many calibrators recommend turning it off.

A lot of good info there. I should add that I'd like to keep the cost to $2500 or less. May go a tad more if there is compelling reason to do so.

mcdeeee
Mar 27, 2012, 06:50 PM
Well, I went plasma, Panasonic 65GT30 to be exact. If you have a very bright room or window glare facing the tv, it may not be a good choice for you. I have mine in the corner of a family room and it faces another wall and an open kitchen area. I have no direct sunlight coming through any windows in the family room due to a patio cover. I had it calibrated and have one setting for daytime and 3D (THX) and one for night viewing (Custom). This tv rocks BD content and 3D. My ATV3 is connected to a wireless network that is between 20-30 Mbps. What I really like about plasma is the viewing angle. It does not dim at wide angles. Fast motion is also perfect. The blacks are "black" and that is where plasma shines. I am not worried about image retention and burn-in as they are rare. Your mileage may vary though...

Above is what I got in the 55" version (wish I would of gone at least 60")
But no question, plasma is the way to go. I actually bought the sharp in question had it a few weeks and returned it. It was just not that great looking. The soap opera effect ruins it too. Plasma's just look more realistic visually. And the speed says it all. 600mhz. Top of the line LED/LCD only hit 240mhz and you can see it.
Go to any quality sports bars and they all have plasmas, there's a good reason for it. And yes, they are oddly less expensive.

Irishman
Mar 27, 2012, 07:26 PM
We currently have a 55" Hitachi Rear Projection screen, which we have owned for over 10 years. We bought it at the time becuase true flat screens were just way too expensive! It's a "ok" TV, but doesn't have a true HDMI connection. Anyway, we have been thinking about replacing it with a nice HD flat screen now that prices have become much more reasonable. I've looked at a lot of reviews and such, but would like to hear some recommendations from folks here who are really into home theater.

For the size of the room we will have this in, I'm thinking that a 60" set is about as big as we want to go. A couple of the sets I've seen are the newer Sony Bravia and the Sharp Quattron Aquos (which they say has an "extra" color (yellow) which purports to make skin tones more realistic).

If we upgrade to a nicer TV I also plan to buy a new ATV to pair with it. Would like to hear what TVs people here have and the pros and cons of some of the different options, especially as it relates to using the new ATV.

If you're open to all TV technologies (plasma, LCD, LED), then you've got a lot of choices. The top reviewed set for picture quality for 2012 is the new Panasonic VT50 plasma. I know it comes in a 65" size for under 3K. There should be a 55" version as well for markedly less. If money is no concern, the Sharp Elite LED TV is available at 60" for about $4500. AMAZING picture quality!

For picture quality, look for either top tier plasma sets or local-dimming LED sets. Stay away from edge-lit LEDs, because, even though they are very thin and sexily designed, the picture suffers by the choice of the type of lighting used.

Some sort of IPTV (think apps for your smart phone) is built into most TVs these days, as is 3D (don't be put off by the presence of these features. The manufacturers tend to put their better 2D processing in their 3D sets (and you NEVER need to use 3D if you don't wish).

If PQ is one of your biggest priorities, you've GOT to have your set calibrated (either by an ISF-certified technician or THX-certified technician). Amazing, amazing, amazing!!!

davidoloan
Mar 27, 2012, 07:48 PM
I have Panasonic Plasmas which I like a lot.

One thing to watch for with Plasma's:

Plasma's make a slight buzzing sound which increases slightly as the screen brightens.

It is very quiet and most people don't even notice it.

But if it bugs you, it REALLY bugs you, especially in silences in music with Apple TV. I ended up swapping a "superior model" from the sitting room into the kitchen and vice versa, because the kitchen plasma buzzed more quietly and I don't notice it there with the fridge also buzzing.

Plasma is still my favourite current technology, but its something to listen for if you get the chance to audition whatever you are considering.

BasilFawlty
Mar 27, 2012, 10:26 PM
The top reviewed set for picture quality for 2012 is the new Panasonic VT50 plasma. I know it comes in a 65" size for under 3K.



There has been a lot of good info from a lot of folks here - thanks! Based on this comment, I went searching for the Panasonic and found this 65 inch version (http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-tcp65vt25-Tcp65vt25-3d-Tv/dp/B003N3BV90/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1332903981&sr=8-1). The first thing that struck me was the number of 5-star reviews (12 written reviews and all of the 5-star). This one is also 3-D, which is not a major factor for me, but might be kinda fun to have. I think I'll see if anyone in my local city has this set to look at in person. My only reservation is that this set is thicker and heavier than an LCD, and also it uses more power and some reviewers talked about it giving off a lot of heat. To be honest I hadn't considered Plasma for the simple reason that it's "older" technology, but if the picture quality is as good as they say, then I probably need to re-think that position. I also never considered the effect that 600Hz versus 240Hz on the LCDs for example would have in motion in films and sports. I've heard a lot of complaints on some sets about "motion blur" but this set seems to have that problem licked.

The one thing that is attractive about some of the newer LCD sets is their ultra-thinness, but again, if the picture is that much better on this Panasonic, then I could live with a thicker set; after all, I'll be watching movies and sports on it, not sitting around admiring the case. Now to find one locally to look at!

UPDATE: After some more searching I found that the VT25 was last years model. The new model is the VT30 and I found a couple of interesting videos about this set.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5j3U24XD0w

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YBU60LKBeI

steve-p
Mar 28, 2012, 02:44 AM
UPDATE: After some more searching I found that the VT25 was last years model. The new model is the VT30 and I found a couple of interesting videos about this set.
The VT30 is last year's model actually, the VT25 presumably the year before. This year's is the VT50 which has only just come out I believe. However the VT30 is a great TV, and I don't think you would be disappointed with it. Often the best time to buy TVs is when the model has been out a few months because by then it's heavily discounted everywhere. If you were to buy a model that had only just come out you would probably find it would be close to the full retail price which would be great deal more expensive, and the picture is unlikely to be significantly better.

Macman45
Mar 28, 2012, 02:48 AM
I'm not sure Toshiba make sets that large, but I have a Regza smart TV...all the connections you will ever need, but mines a 42" migh be too small for your needs....They may do a larger version though.

AppleWarMachine
Mar 28, 2012, 10:57 AM
I have a 50" Panasonic Plasma (6 months old), which I think is an excellent TV and I have not had any issues at all. I thought about getting a LCD, but my brother convinced me to get a Plasma TV, which I don't regret. My ATV3 plays and looks great on it.

BasilFawlty
Mar 28, 2012, 11:00 AM
The VT30 is last year's model actually, the VT25 presumably the year before. This year's is the VT50 which has only just come out I believe. However the VT30 is a great TV, and I don't think you would be disappointed with it. Often the best time to buy TVs is when the model has been out a few months because by then it's heavily discounted everywhere. If you were to buy a model that had only just come out you would probably find it would be close to the full retail price which would be great deal more expensive, and the picture is unlikely to be significantly better.

Thanks for teh info. Technology changes so fast any more it's hard to keep up! I'm going to go take a look at the VT30 today.

kyjaotkb
Mar 28, 2012, 12:41 PM
Actually the VT30/35 sets are essentially the same (talking about PQ) as the VT20/25. I've compared them for quite a while in a specialised store in Paris.

The design changed and the VT30 looks sleeker than the VT20 but frankly, PQ is stunning on both.

If you'd like to spare a few Benjamins for your next Apple purchase, you can safely go the 65VT20/25 route.

I for one have a 50G20 which is already stunning. 1 year old and no issues whatsoever.
Plasma really is top-notch for movie-watching in dark/dimly lit environments.

Ah, and I forgot : forget about the smart TV features. They are clunky and pointless if you already got an Apple TV and an Airplay compatible device. Although Viera Connect (available on both the 20 and 30 series) will bring Ultraviolet compatibility which makes for a nice addition to your cloud computing needs !

BasilFawlty
Mar 28, 2012, 01:56 PM
Actually the VT30/35 sets are essentially the same (talking about PQ) as the VT20/25. I've compared them for quite a while in a specialised store in Paris.

The design changed and the VT30 looks sleeker than the VT20 but frankly, PQ is stunning on both.

If you'd like to spare a few Benjamins for your next Apple purchase, you can safely go the 65VT20/25 route.

I for one have a 50G20 which is already stunning. 1 year old and no issues whatsoever.
Plasma really is top-notch for movie-watching in dark/dimly lit environments.

Ah, and I forgot : forget about the smart TV features. They are clunky and pointless if you already got an Apple TV and an Airplay compatible device. Although Viera Connect (available on both the 20 and 30 series) will bring Ultraviolet compatibility which makes for a nice addition to your cloud computing needs !

I went today at lunch and looked at the VT30 (a floor displpay model I could pick up for $2400 US.) While it was apparent that the picture wasn't quite as bright as teh LCDs in the store, I must say the picture quality and lack of blur on motion images was stunning. Definitely leaning towards this TV!

ftaok
Mar 28, 2012, 02:53 PM
You might want to go with something larger than 60". Here's the reasoning. Your current 55" RPTV probably sits 2 to 3 feet from the back wall. The flat screen will likely sit 2 to 3 inches from that same wall. So a 60" flat screen won't look any bigger than your current 55" RPTV.

You might need to go ~65" to feel like you're getting a bigger screen.

stevenb
Mar 28, 2012, 03:07 PM
With regards to the VT25, it has a bit of an issue with floating blacks and I stayed away. It was a 2010 model. If you can find an ST30 or GT30, you may want to pick one up. There are several sizes to choose from. Prices are low as they are clearing out the 2011 stock. I got my 65GT30 for $1,999.99 at Amazon and that is a very good price. Some of the VT30' are still available as well. They are great, but the extra cost turned me away. I thought I had mine dialed in until I had it calibrated. It really shines with a good calibration. The picture is stunning in a dark room! I have heard more concerns with the Samsung's and buzzing, as opposed to Panasonic. I just picked up a 42X3 Panny plamsa for the bedroom and it rocks to. Even at 720p, the 42 inch is a very good performer for the price of $399.99 on sale. It could benefit from calibration to bring out the blacks though. I have an ATV2 hooked up to it and I am happy. If you want to take advantage of the discount pricing, a 2011 Panasonic is a good deal. They do use IR for the 3D glasses. The 2012's use BluTooth and they will have better range, if that matters. The IR only works to about 14 feet. Good luck on your search.

kyjaotkb
Mar 28, 2012, 03:21 PM
I went today at lunch and looked at the VT30 (a floor displpay model I could pick up for $2400 US.) While it was apparent that the picture wasn't quite as bright as teh LCDs in the store, I must say the picture quality and lack of blur on motion images was stunning. Definitely leaning towards this TV!

Glad you liked it. But - general advice for any plasma TV - try to avoid the floor model, you never know for how long it has been turned on with static images...

pilot1226
Mar 28, 2012, 03:23 PM
I've looked at a lot of reviews and such, but would like to hear some recommendations from folks here who are really into home theater.

Great things to say about my Samsung 42" LED Display. You can go bigger obviously, but it's more about the power savings compared to LCD/Plasma Displays without burn-in risk. The TV will probably pay for itself in power savings over its lifetime.

To be honest, I'm going to hold off on my next big TV purchase for a few more years to see if Apple truly decides to come out with something magical, like an AppleTV integrated voice-control LED TV.

MSRP on Samsung's website is around $2000 for a 60" LED, $1200 for a 55" LED, all the way down to $400 for a 32" LED if you want one in your bathroom.

Price varies for those units with the "Smart TV" function for the internet, so browse carefully. Make sure you're comparing apples to apples.

And good hunting!

BasilFawlty
Mar 28, 2012, 04:07 PM
You might want to go with something larger than 60". Here's the reasoning. Your current 55" RPTV probably sits 2 to 3 feet from the back wall. The flat screen will likely sit 2 to 3 inches from that same wall. So a 60" flat screen won't look any bigger than your current 55" RPTV.

You might need to go ~65" to feel like you're getting a bigger screen.

The VT30 I'm looking at is 65" The distance from sitting area to TV isn't that great in our house so 65" should be more than adequate (I hope).

Cheffy Dave
Mar 28, 2012, 05:13 PM
I have a 3 year old Samsung 55" LCD, bought and shipped from Amazon, where I saved $800 over retail. The TV has been bullet proof, I'd buy a Samsung in a heartbeat,I hear the LED is even better, than the LED.I can't see how you can beat a perfect picture:cool:

Irishman
Mar 28, 2012, 07:14 PM
There has been a lot of good info from a lot of folks here - thanks! Based on this comment, I went searching for the Panasonic and found this 65 inch version (http://www.amazon.com/Panasonic-tcp65vt25-Tcp65vt25-3d-Tv/dp/B003N3BV90/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1332903981&sr=8-1). The first thing that struck me was the number of 5-star reviews (12 written reviews and all of the 5-star). This one is also 3-D, which is not a major factor for me, but might be kinda fun to have. I think I'll see if anyone in my local city has this set to look at in person. My only reservation is that this set is thicker and heavier than an LCD, and also it uses more power and some reviewers talked about it giving off a lot of heat. To be honest I hadn't considered Plasma for the simple reason that it's "older" technology, but if the picture quality is as good as they say, then I probably need to re-think that position. I also never considered the effect that 600Hz versus 240Hz on the LCDs for example would have in motion in films and sports. I've heard a lot of complaints on some sets about "motion blur" but this set seems to have that problem licked.

The one thing that is attractive about some of the newer LCD sets is their ultra-thinness, but again, if the picture is that much better on this Panasonic, then I could live with a thicker set; after all, I'll be watching movies and sports on it, not sitting around admiring the case. Now to find one locally to look at!

UPDATE: After some more searching I found that the VT25 was last years model. The new model is the VT30 and I found a couple of interesting videos about this set.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5j3U24XD0w

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4YBU60LKBeI

Yeah, the VT25 is from 2 years ago, while the VT30 is from last year.

The NEW hotness is the VT50 set, reviewed here:

http://www.avforums.com/reviews/Panasonic-VT50-TX-P50VT50B-P55VT50B-P65VT50B-50-Inch-Flagship-3D-Plasma-TV-Review_282/Review.html

Bye Bye Baby
Mar 29, 2012, 10:55 AM
Another vote for the new Samsungs

classicaliberal
Mar 29, 2012, 12:14 PM
I'd strongly recommend a Panasonic or Samsung Plasma.
Hard to beat them for price/performance. Beautiful screens.

BasilFawlty
Mar 29, 2012, 10:00 PM
Well, I went to look at the Panasonic VT30 again today, but while I was there I started looking at some other sets as well. One set that particularly caught my eye is the Sony XBR55HX929, Sony's flagship LED television. The picture quality of both sets was outstanding, so from that standpoint I don't think I'd be disappointed with either. The Sony is a little smaller (55 versus 65) but I think 55 would be fine given the relatively short distance from the couch to the TV in my house (in fact 65 may be too big). The sony has built-in wi-fi, whereas the Panasonic requires a dongle. Both have a decent set of features, so from that respect they are pretty equal.

The one thing I like on the Sony over the Panasonic is the glass. The sony has Gorilla glass and a much smaller bezel surround. When you turn off the Sony you can't see the bezel at all and it really looks nice. (I know that has nothing to do with performance)

The one thing that concerns me is how well whichever set I get will display standard definition in addition to HD. I have a ton of movies from standard DVD on my iTunes library and I want a set that will display these decently as well. So, I plan to take a had drive with some SD movies (made from Handbrake with ATV2 settings). Which ever set those look best on will probably be the one I buy. I think they are both close enough in HD that I wouldn't notice the difference.

sulliweb
Mar 30, 2012, 10:51 AM
What I tell anyone that asks me what TV to buy is that they need to go to the store and see what picture looks best to them. If they find a picture they can see and like the quality of... That's half the battle.

For my part, I've always gone with Sony or Samsung. You pay for the name, but there's a reason the name matters. The quality is hard to beat.

As for plasma vs. LCD, I'll also always go with LCD. It may have changed, but a few years ago, I was hearing horror stories about plasma tvs. They just didn't last like an LCD did. Now, they were less expensive, so it probably averages out to the same...

steve-p
Mar 30, 2012, 11:03 AM
What I tell anyone that asks me what TV to buy is that they need to go to the store and see what picture looks best to them. If they find a picture they can see and like the quality of... That's half the battle.

For my part, I've always gone with Sony or Samsung. You pay for the name, but there's a reason the name matters. The quality is hard to beat.

As for plasma vs. LCD, I'll also always go with LCD. It may have changed, but a few years ago, I was hearing horror stories about plasma tvs. They just didn't last like an LCD did. Now, they were less expensive, so it probably averages out to the same...
You're a bit out of date because a life of 100,000 hours is now typical for plasma, which is longer than many LCDs. After having had several LCD TVs and now two 1080p plasma sets, I wouldn't even consider LCD anymore except for kitchen or bedroom TV where picture quality isn't so important. Comparing TV pictures in a store can be hit and miss if they won't let you change the settings because they generally have TVs set to be bright and oversaturated to compete with the fluorescent lighting.

Irishman
Mar 30, 2012, 05:46 PM
you're a bit out of date because a life of 100,000 hours is now typical for plasma, which is longer than many lcds. After having had several lcd tvs and now two 1080p plasma sets, i wouldn't even consider lcd anymore except for kitchen or bedroom tv where picture quality isn't so important. Comparing tv pictures in a store can be hit and miss if they won't let you change the settings because they generally have tvs set to be bright and oversaturated to compete with the fluorescent lighting.

+1

BasilFawlty
Mar 30, 2012, 09:53 PM
After considerable time in the store looking at the two prime contenders, and considering my needs and my viewing situation (room size, ambient lighting, etc.) I made my decision and purchased a new Flat Screen TV today. The two prime contenders were the Panasonic 65" VT30 and the Top of the line Sony Bravia XBR-55/HX929. Both of these sets were outstanding in their own way, and very similar in HD. However, I have a huge library of Standard Def stuff that I don't want to toss, so the set I bought had to also look good playing the standard def stuff. To help me decide, I actually took in 3 DVDs from my collection that were all in standard def: Avatar, "Firewall" and "The Dirty Dozen." I played portions of each on both sets. After spending some time looking at both, and checking off-angle viewing, features, power consumption, etc. etc., I decided on the Sony XBR-55-HX929 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAC1wHLm_a8). The Panasonic had at least as good if not slightly better picture than the Sony in HD, but the brightness wasn't what I know I need given my home lighting situation. It did have a "vivid" setting that was supposed to help that, but in Vivid I thought it looked terrible. I know the Sony is smaller than the 65" Panasonic (for close to the same money in this case), but my rational was that the distance from my viewing area to the TV is close enough so that the 55" will be more than adequate.

I'm sure I would have been happy with either, but after weighing all factors agains my needs I decided the Sony was the best fit. Given it is their flagship TV I know I won't be disappointed.

khollister
Mar 30, 2012, 10:04 PM
After considerable time in the store looking at the two prime contenders, and considering my needs and my viewing situation (room size, ambient lighting, etc.) I made my decision and purchased a new Flat Screen TV today. The two prime contenders were the Panasonic 65" VT30 and the Top of the line Sony Bravia XBR-55/HX929. Both of these sets were outstanding in their own way, and very similar in HD. However, I have a huge library of Standard Def stuff that I don't want to toss, so the set I bought had to also look good playing the standard def stuff. To help me decide, I actually took in 3 DVDs from my collection that were all in standard def: Avatar, "Firewall" and "The Dirty Dozen." I played portions of each on both sets. After spending some time looking at both, and checking off-angle viewing, features, power consumption, etc. etc., I decided on the Sony XBR-55-HX929 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAC1wHLm_a8). The Panasonic had at least as good if not slightly better picture than the Sony in HD, but the brightness wasn't what I know I need given my home lighting situation. It did have a "vivid" setting that was supposed to help that, but in Vivid I thought it looked terrible. I know the Sony is smaller than the 65" Panasonic (for close to the same money in this case), but my rational was that the distance from my viewing area to the TV is close enough so that the 55" will be more than adequate.

I'm sure I would have been happy with either, but after weighing all factors agains my needs I decided the Sony was the best fit. Given it is their flagship TV I know I won't be disappointed.

Congrats - I love my 55HX929.

BasilFawlty
Mar 30, 2012, 11:17 PM
Congrats - I love my 55HX929.

Thanks. It wasn't an easy decision. I really really liked that 65" Panasonic, but in the end, I needed something that looked good in HD AND playing my standard def stuff. Also, the Panasonic was not as bright as the Sony, which was a concern given the ambient light in my house. I'm sure I would have been happy with either, but in the end, I think (hope) I made the right decision.

One thing that puzzled me was in the CNET review they made a big deal about how crappy (washed out) the pictures would get with the Sony when viewed off angle. When I looked at them both today, I made it a point to check how they both looked off-angle. To be honest, if there was a difference, it wasn't as bad as CNET described it. In fact, I found the picture more than acceptable even at 45-degreess off center. What has been your experience? (or anyone else with the 929)?

WiFiSpy
Mar 30, 2012, 11:30 PM
2012 Panasonic ST50 models.

BasilFawlty
Mar 31, 2012, 02:05 AM
Now I'm having second thoughts. I have bought the Sony but have not taken delivery yet as they have to ship a new one from another store in the next town over. I could still change my mind and switch to the 65" Panasonic VT30. Why am I having second thoughts? Because I've heard from a friend who repairs TVs that the Sony build quality is not very good. I have a Sony Bravia and it's fine, but I've heard that in recent years Sony's build quality has declined. I do know that the back panel on the Sony was very thin and flimsy.

The picture on the Sony is great, but does anyone have any experience with Sony build quality? Is it as bad as my friend says?

stix666
Mar 31, 2012, 03:02 AM
I bought a Pioneer Kuro 9g a few years ago. I think the Panasonic VT range is of similar quality.

One of the reasons I went with this rather than LCD/ LED was Standard Def playback - definitely looks better with good plasma sets compared to other technologies.

CSpackler
Mar 31, 2012, 03:05 AM
I'd strongly recommend a Panasonic or Samsung Plasma.
Hard to beat them for price/performance. Beautiful screens.

I second this. Although Pioneer still holds the crown for deepest black levels, Panasonic is a close second. (Interestingly Apple uses a Pioneer model for their advertisements when demonstrating Airplay.)

The new 2012 Panasonic plasmas are supposedly brighter than last year's with deeper blacks. I'd highly consider the VT or ST series.

One thing I love about plasma is you get so much more screen for your money. Buy the biggest screen you can afford; you won't regret it. When I bought my 50" Pioneer my wife just about had a heart attack. Now we're both used to it and ready to get a 60". So if you think you need a 60", get a 65" :D

khollister
Mar 31, 2012, 02:01 PM
Now I'm having second thoughts. I have bought the Sony but have not taken delivery yet as they have to ship a new one from another store in the next town over. I could still change my mind and switch to the 65" Panasonic VT30. Why am I having second thoughts? Because I've heard from a friend who repairs TVs that the Sony build quality is not very good. I have a Sony Bravia and it's fine, but I've heard that in recent years Sony's build quality has declined. I do know that the back panel on the Sony was very thin and flimsy.

The picture on the Sony is great, but does anyone have any experience with Sony build quality? Is it as bad as my friend says?

They are both outstanding TV's. There are several VT30 owners over on AVS that switched to the 929, and just as many that prefer the VT30. The days of plasmas being hands down better than the best LCD sets is over. I actually prefer the picture on my 929 yo my friend's Kuro, and I'm in a fairly dark room with the backlight set very low.

The VT30, the 929 and the Sharp Elite are all very good TV's. You bought a great TV, quit second guessing yourself and enjoy it. Don't get sucked into the plasma vs LCD religious war.

On the other hand, if you really want the VT30, get it. But be aware you will likely have brightness challenges in a room with high ambient light. But you will have better off axis viewing.

As far as reliability, I think it's a wash. Both companies have problems from time to time. Samsungs have recently gotten a bad rep for reliability, yet there are toms of people that have no problems with those either.

There is no perfect consumer TV. Any of these are head and shoulders above what you had, so relax and enjoy.

McGiord
Mar 31, 2012, 02:23 PM
Enough said.
http://store.sony.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10551&storeId=10151&langId=-1&partNumber=KDL60NX720

The Sony's have gorilla glass and that is a great reason to get it.

My old Bravia was broken by my 2 years old with not once but two flying Thomas the Engine, having the need to replace it, the Gorilla Glass feature has been the best upgrade for any TV ever.

Beside my funny story, that might not apply to you, technically speaking, it has everything you will expect a TV in 2012 to do: LED, 3D capable, 1080p, Wi-Fi, Netflix, Hulu, and many more, USB port, etc.

McGiord
Mar 31, 2012, 02:37 PM
My first answer was just made a quick reply to the original post.


The one thing that concerns me is how well whichever set I get will display standard definition in addition to HD.

You can't go wrong with Sony. It has several settings to make adjustments to the picture, therefore you can make it look however you want.

The DVDs look awesome. The upscaling is great.

Also we stream a lot of things, and many of them are not Hi-def, however they look great.

Sony is still the king in what a TV set is, the remote control is great, and the menus are something you will not hate, like it happens with Samsung, and other manufacturers (my personal experience).

Also, they are always updating the software, therefore it is always getting better. With the Panasonic it might not be the case; I am not sure, but if the model needs a dongle, more than likely it will be stuck with the firmware it came with.

Like I mentioned before, with the Sony you are getting a model that will get you to 2012, and will last for some years to come.

BasilFawlty
Mar 31, 2012, 10:11 PM
On the other hand, if you really want the VT30, get it. But be aware you will likely have brightness challenges in a room with high ambient light. But you will have better off axis viewing.



My living room does have a lot of ambient light in the day time, which is one reason I have decided on the 929 vice the VT30. As for off-angle viewing, I was concerned about that, but when I tested it at the store, with viewing well off axis, I found it to be fine! If there is some "off angle" issue, it's not sufficient to bother me. I took three movies to the store and played parts of each of them: Avatar, Firewall and The Dirty Dozen. Got a good range of scenes and different lighting. I watched a lot of this content off-axis, about where people will sitting off to the side in our living room. In each case, the display looked perfectly acceptable to me. So I don't think that;'s going to be an issue.

I've already bought the 929, just have to pick it up next week (they are shipping a new one from a different store). Once I get it, as long as I'm happy with the picture (and I'm sure I will be) I'm not going to fret over whether I made the right decision. I made the decision based on weighing lots of factors and I'm happy.

scifi451
Mar 31, 2012, 11:32 PM
Sounds like a good choice with the Sony hope you enjoy it.

I have had a Toshiba for about 4 years and have been pretty happy with it.

takeshi74
Apr 1, 2012, 12:12 AM
Also, they are always updating the software, therefore it is always getting better. With the Panasonic it might not be the case; I am not sure, but if the model needs a dongle, more than likely it will be stuck with the firmware it came with.
Why would you randomly speculate? The dongle means nothing. My GT30 is wired and has definitely received firmware updates.

steve-p
Apr 1, 2012, 04:26 AM
VT50 has wireless built in now, but doesn't everyone have ethernet to the AV cabinet nowadays anyway :) TV, ATV, xbox 360, AVR, all need a network connection. I just have an 8 port switch hidden behind the cabinet. WiFi is great in isolation but not so great for bandwidth with several devices competing close together.

PAPO
Apr 1, 2012, 04:36 AM
if you've got the money to spend I recommend a Sony HX925 (or whatever the equivalent is in your country but it will still be a HX9xx) I have the previous model (the HX900) and it's FANTASTIC the blacks are constantly blending into the bezel and it blows me away. It's fully back lit (not side lit) with local dimming so on screen contrast is great, some stuff looks a bit dodgy but if you have quality input source it will shine

radiogoober
Apr 1, 2012, 09:34 AM
I'm surprised there is not a real consensus on which TV is the "best." I got my Samsung 750 series (I think..) years ago, and back then it was widely considered to be among the "best." I too ordered from Amazon. Saved over 500-700 dollars compared to Best Buy, and it was free shipping and the guy brought it in, unboxed it, and helped me put it on my console. Also, Amazon didn't try to pressure or guilt me into buying a $200 surge protector or $100 hdmi cables :)

McGiord
Apr 1, 2012, 10:21 AM
The dongle means nothing.

That's what she said.






I had other products in the past that got updated like once every never.

khollister
Apr 1, 2012, 11:30 AM
I'm surprised there is not a real consensus on which TV is the "best." I got my Samsung 750 series (I think..) years ago, and back then it was widely considered to be among the "best." I too ordered from Amazon. Saved over 500-700 dollars compared to Best Buy, and it was free shipping and the guy brought it in, unboxed it, and helped me put it on my console. Also, Amazon didn't try to pressure or guilt me into buying a $200 surge protector or $100 hdmi cables :)

The consensus on the high end video forums is that, of the 2011 models, these were the top 3:

Panasonic VT30 plasma
Sony HX929 local dimming LCD/LED
Sharp Elite local dimming LCD/LED

The Sharp is by far the most expensive and would have likely been the consensus for the best if it were not for a cyan color decoding error that was virtually invisible, but became an internet furor considering the price of the sets.

The VT30 and 929 are a bit more of a toss-up based on the compromises you are willing to accept.

The 2012 Panasonic plasmas (VT50) promise better PQ than the 2011 models, so things might change. Sony is not updating the 929 apparently, and Sharp has yet to disclose what their plans are for the Elite models in 2012 (if any). LG has announced a local dimming set for the US this year which might also be in the top tier.

The Samsung LCD's are permanently crippled due to the lawsuit with Sharp over local dimming. Samsung is prohibited from selling a local dimming set as a term of that settlement, and that technology is the only way currently for LCD sets to be competative (or even superior) to plasma in black level and uniformity. All of the edge lit and even fixed full array backlit LCD's have varying degrees of flashlighting, clouding and/or less than ideal black levels.

The Samsung plasmas suffered from some issues recently, and the plasma "crowd" has settled on the Panasonic's as the heir apparent to the Pioneer Kuro's (no longer manufactured).

So there is no universal "best". If you ignore the cyan decoding issue and the price, the Sharp Elite's (60 & 70") are probably it except for the obvious viewing angle limitation (they are not an IPS panel). If you believe the talk, the Panasonic VT50's might be the new title holder - I personally did not care for the VT30 over the 929 or Elite. If the 2012 model can drive the black level down and the brightness and contrast up, it could be the set to beat this year.

The lesser models are available, but not the VT series yet, I believe.

It is almost impossible to determine much of anything based on previous model years within manufacturers - they change things so much sometimes, that any sort of brand history is dubious, aside form Panasonic probably having the best plasmas (they purchased the Kuro patents/IP from Pioneer when Pioneer exited the TV business). Sharp owns part of Pioneer now, so they got the Elite brand to stick on their cost-is-no-object LCD set.

The TV industry is losing money, and every set (regardless of cost or brand) has a recent history of potential QC issues and technology tradeoffs. Even the new Elites have had a history of some sets dying and refusing to power on.

Most manufacturers are trying to figure how to survive by lowering cost and increasing size, not improving the state of the art. HDTV's are becoming a commodity item manufactured in China. There was talk of this year's Sony HX929 being the last XBR TV due to the collapse of the high-end market.

The death of the Pioneer Kuro plasma line a few years ago was the beginning of the end, unfortunately, for high-end, "enthusiast" TV's. While TV's are in general getting better on average, it is far less of a sure thing that next year will bring a clear advancement in the state-of-the-art for consumer TV's.

Due to the shape of the market, I'm not holding my breath for OLED (lifespan of the blue layer aside) or 4K displays in anything but very limited, expensive models for some time. Hell, the industry can't even kill off DVD in spite of $75 blu-ray players and $7.99 blu-ray movies.

Weaselboy
Apr 1, 2012, 12:08 PM
The consensus on the high end video forums is that, of the 2011 models, these were the top 3:

Panasonic VT30 plasma
Sony HX929 local dimming LCD/LED
Sharp Elite local dimming LCD/LED

The Sharp is by far the most expensive and would have likely been the consensus for the best if it were not for a cyan color decoding error that was virtually invisible, but became an internet furor considering the price of the sets.

The VT30 and 929 are a bit more of a toss-up based on the compromises you are willing to accept.

Excellent and unbiased write up and a good summary of what is going on in the various AV forums.

radiogoober
Apr 1, 2012, 02:40 PM
The TV industry is losing money, and every set (regardless of cost or brand) has a recent history of potential QC issues and technology tradeoffs. Even the new Elites have had a history of some sets dying and refusing to power on.

Thank you for that very informative post.

Why is the TV industry losing money? Are people just not upgrading their sets very often? Or are the manufacturers just producing sets that are too expensive and not moving enough?

BasilFawlty
Apr 1, 2012, 04:36 PM
The VT30 and 929 are a bit more of a toss-up based on the compromises you are willing to accept.



And as it turns out, those are the exact two models I debated about for a week before finally weighing all the factors I had available against my needs, my viewing area, etc. For about the same money I had a choice of either the VT30 plasma in a 65" or the Sony 929 BL-LED in a smaller 55." I'm sure I'd be happy with either, but in the end it came down to a couple of factors.

First, the living room in my house has a lot of ambient light - not a factor that favors the Plasma. Also, while the Plasma was reported to have a better "off axis" viewing capability, the 929 was said to loose quality off-axis. However, I checked that in the show room and found that, for me at least, the off-axis picture looked great. Both sets have terrific color and very black blacks, so that was really a wash.

Second, once I convinced myself that either set would be great, but that the Sony might do a little better in my viewing environment (lots of light), the other factor that pushed me firmly into the Sony column was power consumption. I did some back-of-the-envelope calculations and determined that the Sony would cost about 1/3 that of the Panasonic Plasma to operate. The Panasonic "might" be a "little" better that the Sony in a head-to-hear picture quality, but for the money I'll save in energy costs alone, it was worth going with the Sony 929.

khollister
Apr 1, 2012, 05:11 PM
Thank you for that very informative post.

Why is the TV industry losing money? Are people just not upgrading their sets very often? Or are the manufacturers just producing sets that are too expensive and not moving enough?

I don't begin to understand all of the market dynamics but in my opinion there are a few contributors to the industry being awash in red ink:

The big surge of folks buying HDTV's due to the digital broadcast cutover (in the US) and the stablization of the HD disc market (blu-ray won) is over.Most people that want an HDTV set have one. The market is far more saturated than 5 years ago.
The industry has not been overly successful in convincing people they need the latest thing. I don't think 3D took off like the industry hoped, and not enough folks are running projectors or direct view sets over 70" to justify the investment in 4K (there isn't even a 4K medium standard yet).
The average consumer is happy with "good enough" and values size, convienience & cost over quality. The rapid expansion of streaming services and the death of the rental blu-ray market is evidence of this. This is one reason we are still waiting on so much quality back catalog to be available on BD or with decent transfers - it's been 5 years and we are still waiting on staples like Raiders of the Lost Ark and Lawrence of Arabia.
The Japanese (and I believe even the Korean) manufacturers are getting killed by lower quality (as in PQ, not assembly quality) sets and components coming out of China. People want a $1500 80" TV, not a reference quality $3000 55".
Most manufacturers have churned their model lines every year with gimmicky features rather than substantial improvements in PQ that folks might be willing to upgrade for. TV's have longer lifecycles than computers and you aren't going to get folks to upgrade a $1500-$3000 TV every couple of years for the most part becuase of some stupid internet app that they already have in 3 other devices. I really think 3D was a big mis-step from an investment standpoint. Companies thought folks were going to trade up their 2D TV's for 3D as the next "must have" hot thing.
It is hard to sell upscale TV's when all of the brick & mortar stores are either going out of business or going down-market to cater to the lowest common denominator. Try going somewhere to compare mid to high end TV's in a reasonable environment. In most US markets outside of large cities, Best Buy, HH Gregg, Costco, Sams or Walmart are the only places typically displaying TV's. And due to the way they display and market them, everything tends to look similar, so folks go for price. It's why Sony and Samsung are fixing the price of their high end models - without the dealer environment to upsell consumers to the specialty segment of the line, the high end market is dead.


I live in the Orlando, FL area (not a small city by any definition) but aside from a few custom installer with no showroom (and whose market is primarily projectors), BB, HHG, Walmart, Costco & Sams is about it. Every other store that was a retail audio/video showroom went out of business. I believe the manufacturers are also paying for that in returns since people have no choice but to buy blindly from Amazon or some other e-tailer. People can't make an informed decision based on comparison viewing and experienced sales help, so it turns into a crap shoot.

joeybuckets
Apr 2, 2012, 05:22 AM
i would definitely go with a LED Smart TV if you want to stay current. i have this one:

http://www.samsung.com/us/video/tvs/UN55D8000YFXZA


it's WONDERFUL!!!!!! IDK What your price range is, but LED is the way to go.


:D

steve-p
Apr 2, 2012, 05:40 AM
i would definitely go with a LED Smart TV if you want to stay current. i have this one:

http://www.samsung.com/us/video/tvs/UN55D8000YFXZA


it's WONDERFUL!!!!!! IDK What your price range is, but LED is the way to go.


:D
CNET weren't overly impressed with the picture quality though:

http://reviews.cnet.com/flat-panel-tvs/samsung-un55d8000/4505-6482_7-34503721.html

Irishman
Apr 2, 2012, 08:01 AM
I bought a Pioneer Kuro 9g a few years ago. I think the Panasonic VT range is of similar quality.

One of the reasons I went with this rather than LCD/ LED was Standard Def playback - definitely looks better with good plasma sets compared to other technologies.

Me too. Too bad Pioneer never got to release the planned 10G Infinite Black panel that the FUGA tech built into it. It was supposed to take SD picture quality even further.

----------

i would definitely go with a LED Smart TV if you want to stay current. i have this one:

http://www.samsung.com/us/video/tvs/UN55D8000YFXZA


it's WONDERFUL!!!!!! IDK What your price range is, but LED is the way to go.


:D

What application does "being current" have in choosing the best tv?

whooleytoo
Apr 2, 2012, 10:07 AM
And as it turns out, those are the exact two models I debated about for a week before finally weighing all the factors I had available against my needs, my viewing area, etc. For about the same money I had a choice of either the VT30 plasma in a 65" or the Sony 929 BL-LED in a smaller 55." I'm sure I'd be happy with either, but in the end it came down to a couple of factors.

First, the living room in my house has a lot of ambient light - not a factor that favors the Plasma. Also, while the Plasma was reported to have a better "off axis" viewing capability, the 929 was said to loose quality off-axis. However, I checked that in the show room and found that, for me at least, the off-axis picture looked great. Both sets have terrific color and very black blacks, so that was really a wash.

Second, once I convinced myself that either set would be great, but that the Sony might do a little better in my viewing environment (lots of light), the other factor that pushed me firmly into the Sony column was power consumption. I did some back-of-the-envelope calculations and determined that the Sony would cost about 1/3 that of the Panasonic Plasma to operate. The Panasonic "might" be a "little" better that the Sony in a head-to-hear picture quality, but for the money I'll save in energy costs alone, it was worth going with the Sony 929.

Sounds like you've done excellent research! I've never considering the 'running cost' of any TV I've bought.

I bought a similar Panasonic plasma to the one you were considering a few months ago (a P42UT30 I think!), and I loved the richness of the plasma and the smoothness of the motion. The only major 'but' is: the reflections are quite bad, when it's sunny. Any way I position it, it's either facing the sun or something reflecting the sun. It's a bit like the glossy v matte screen option, except it's easier to move a Macbook around than a big plasma. Good job I live in Ireland and the sun is only a very occasional visitor.. ;)

BasilFawlty
Apr 6, 2012, 11:45 AM
The consensus on the high end video forums is that, of the 2011 models, these were the top 3:

Panasonic VT30 plasma
Sony HX929 local dimming LCD/LED
Sharp Elite local dimming LCD/LED

The Sharp is by far the most expensive and would have likely been the consensus for the best if it were not for a cyan color decoding error that was virtually invisible, but became an internet furor considering the price of the sets.

The VT30 and 929 are a bit more of a toss-up based on the compromises you are willing to accept.

<snip>


Thanks very much for the in-depth information. I sort of flipped and flopped between the VT30 and the HX929 but in the end I went with the Sony HX929. I just got it set up and last night we watched our first 1080p content (a Blue Ray movie of Batman the Dark Knight). All I can say is WOW! The 55" that I got is the perfect size for the space I have and the picture quality is just amazing! I suppose one could argue that the VT30 might be better in some respects, but I am definitely happy with my choice! I also like the fact that the Back-lit LED Sony uses 1/3 the power of the VT30 Plasma set.

One thing that I was worried about was off-angle viewing. All the reviews I read said that was a weak point for the Sony, but to be honest, I don't see a problem at all! In fact, I have TRIED to see a difference when I go off angle and honestly, whatever the degredation is supposed to be, I just am not seeing it, so I guess fo me it's just not an issue.

Thanks to all who offered advice - I know I'm going to be happy with this set. No doubt about it.

Weaselboy
Apr 6, 2012, 11:48 AM
Congrats. That is a nice set.

nutmac
Apr 6, 2012, 12:12 PM
Not trying to sway your decision, but I too am stuck with aging rear projection HDTV. Since you waited so long, why not just stick with it for several more months for Apple branded TV?

BasilFawlty
Apr 6, 2012, 01:36 PM
Not to worry - not going to sway my decision. My decision was made and I bought the Sony and I'm very happy.

wagmun
May 7, 2012, 08:51 AM
Sorry that I'm replying to a forum. I just couldn't find a way to post a new forum.
I have a Macbook pro 17" 2011 and tried to connect it to a Panasonic Viera through a mini display port-HDMi adaptor and a HDMI cable.
No signal at all on TV.
Tried connect to a Samsung, and connection OK?
Does anyone know of any issue regarding connecting MBP to TV?
Thanks in advance, and sorry if this is the wrong thread.