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Old Aug 15, 2012, 04:46 PM   #1
sdilley14
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Just got an ATV3, now I want a new TV!

I am in the process of upgrading my "home theater" system. I just got an ATV3 a few weeks ago. I have a PS3 and an XBox360 already. I am looking at getting a new TV, then eventually I will look at getting a new surround sound system.

My current TV is 6 or 7 years old, 42" 720p Sanyo LCD. It wasn't too bad back in the day (cost me $1k :S ), and it is still holding up fairly for how long I've owned it and how much I've used it (A LOT)...but it is starting to show some age...I can see some faint blackening on the screen at times...like it is starting to get "burnt it" or something? And it is extremely limited as far as functionality and customization go. I think it is time to relegate this TV to the bedroom and get a new TV for the family room.

I am looking for suggestions on a new TV. My wants are pretty basic...

50" +
3+ HDMI outputs
Optical audio out


As far as LCD, plasma, or LED...I'm really not sure which is "best". I have heard arguments for both. FWIW, I plan on gaming on it a fair amount (XBox360) and watching a lot of HD cable content. I'll have the ATV, Xbox, HD cable receiver, and a pretty standard 5.1 surround sound system connected. I am going to have it at a "straight on" viewing angle, it is going to be in a fairly dim lit room for the most part, and the couch is going to be about 15" feet away (guessing). I am not really partial to any particular technology. I know LED is newer so maybe that is the route to go to be sure it is the most "future proof"?

Also I'm not too concerned about brand...I just don't want something really cheap/generic (I admit, I went with a cheaper brand when I got the Sanyo...fortunately it has held up well).

Looking to spend between $800-$1200. I am slightly flexible on the high side...I'm willing to pay a little more if the value is there.

What do you guys recommend?
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Old Aug 15, 2012, 05:01 PM   #2
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I'd go with an LED Samsung. In my opinion they're the best TVs currently available on the market.
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Old Aug 15, 2012, 05:11 PM   #3
Bobby.e
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I'm not sure you can get a 50' for $1200
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Old Aug 15, 2012, 05:24 PM   #4
sdilley14
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That's what I was thinking, Samsung. Between Samsung, Sharp, Sony, and LG. Hahah, really narrowing it down, I know.
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Old Aug 15, 2012, 06:34 PM   #5
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If you go LCD/LED go with Samsung. Plasma go with Panasonic. Plasma has a faster native refresh rate of 600Hz. LCD is 60Hz with 120 and 240Hz options. With these options the TV is "guessing" and adding in extra frames to the picture displayed. IMO it looks terrible and looks like the video was shot with a camcorder. Plasma has deeper blacks, but LCD's are catching up quickly. LCD will work better in bright lights so if you have lots of windows I would place LCD ahead of plasma. LCD's are also less than 1" thick but those models tend to command a higher price. If you plan on mounting to a wall this may play a factor. Regardless of what you choose I would strongly recommend getting your tv professionally calibrated. This will run you $250-$400 normally, but will make all the difference in the world.

On last thing I will mention, but if you live in the USA (your profile doesn't say), consider buying from Amazon.com. Their prices are often hundreds of dollars less, shipping is normally free, and if you choose "white glove delivery", it will be setup in your house and all the packaging disposed of. Use the money you saved on the price of the tv and get it professionally calibrated.
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Old Aug 15, 2012, 08:48 PM   #6
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If you go LCD/LED go with Samsung. Plasma go with Panasonic.
I agree completely. Just bought a new 65" and my choice was between Samsung LED and Panasonic Plasma. I ultimately went with the Panasonic as I think you will get marginally better viewing performance, but the Samsung LED has other advantages such as being thinner and using less power.
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Old Aug 16, 2012, 10:14 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by sdilley14 View Post
I am in the process of upgrading my "home theater" system. I just got an ATV3 a few weeks ago. I have a PS3 and an XBox360 already. I am looking at getting a new TV, then eventually I will look at getting a new surround sound system.

My current TV is 6 or 7 years old, 42" 720p Sanyo LCD. It wasn't too bad back in the day (cost me $1k :S ), and it is still holding up fairly for how long I've owned it and how much I've used it (A LOT)...but it is starting to show some age...I can see some faint blackening on the screen at times...like it is starting to get "burnt it" or something? And it is extremely limited as far as functionality and customization go. I think it is time to relegate this TV to the bedroom and get a new TV for the family room.

I am looking for suggestions on a new TV. My wants are pretty basic...

50" +
3+ HDMI outputs
Optical audio out


As far as LCD, plasma, or LED...I'm really not sure which is "best". I have heard arguments for both. FWIW, I plan on gaming on it a fair amount (XBox360) and watching a lot of HD cable content. I'll have the ATV, Xbox, HD cable receiver, and a pretty standard 5.1 surround sound system connected. I am going to have it at a "straight on" viewing angle, it is going to be in a fairly dim lit room for the most part, and the couch is going to be about 15" feet away (guessing). I am not really partial to any particular technology. I know LED is newer so maybe that is the route to go to be sure it is the most "future proof"?

Also I'm not too concerned about brand...I just don't want something really cheap/generic (I admit, I went with a cheaper brand when I got the Sanyo...fortunately it has held up well).

Looking to spend between $800-$1200. I am slightly flexible on the high side...I'm willing to pay a little more if the value is there.

What do you guys recommend?



If you plan on gaming, buy a plasma. LCD's, buy design, cannot work fast enough to give you a fluid picture. LCD's TVís cause ghosting and pixilation during fast action scenes. The shutters cannot open and close fast enough for fluid picture. This is why most LCDís have a rating called response time. The very best LCDís have a 2ms response time, this is how fast each shutter can open and close. Even with a 2ms response time, the picture will show ghosting and pixilation during fast action scenes. Makers of LCDís have reached the limit of LCD shutter technology and are struggling to create a TV with a fluid like picture. This is why OLED is starting to be talked about in the news. Picture yourself playing your favorite FPS. Now picture your character in the game running through the jungle while sneaking up on your enemy. Now picture your character sneaking up on an entrenched enemy combatant. Now picture your character getting ready to knife that enemy and your TV freezes for a few ms as that enemy knifes you in the face. This is what will happen. I got rid of my LED/LCD TV because that ghosting and pixilation drove me effing nuts. I found myself yelling at my TV more often than not.
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Old Aug 16, 2012, 10:56 AM   #8
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If you plan on gaming, buy a plasma. LCD's, buy design, cannot work fast enough to give you a fluid picture. LCD's TVís cause ghosting and pixilation during fast action scenes. The shutters cannot open and close fast enough for fluid picture. This is why most LCDís have a rating called response time. The very best LCDís have a 2ms response time, this is how fast each shutter can open and close. Even with a 2ms response time, the picture will show ghosting and pixilation during fast action scenes. Makers of LCDís have reached the limit of LCD shutter technology and are struggling to create a TV with a fluid like picture. This is why OLED is starting to be talked about in the news. Picture yourself playing your favorite FPS. Now picture your character in the game running through the jungle while sneaking up on your enemy. Now picture your character sneaking up on an entrenched enemy combatant. Now picture your character getting ready to knife that enemy and your TV freezes for a few ms as that enemy knifes you in the face. This is what will happen. I got rid of my LED/LCD TV because that ghosting and pixilation drove me effing nuts. I found myself yelling at my TV more often than not.
As far as longevity, are Plasma and LCD pretty much the same? Any additional maintenance required for either one to keep them in good working order? I heard all sorts of stories back in the day about plasma TV's being more prone to malfunction, can easily break, they're sensitive to the point that they can be "ruined" if you don't move them and handle them in a certain way. Any truth to that?
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Old Aug 16, 2012, 11:51 AM   #9
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As far as longevity, are Plasma and LCD pretty much the same? Any additional maintenance required for either one to keep them in good working order? I heard all sorts of stories back in the day about plasma TV's being more prone to malfunction, can easily break, they're sensitive to the point that they can be "ruined" if you don't move them and handle them in a certain way. Any truth to that?


Every TV can easily break if you do not handle it properly. There is no maintenance with Plasma. NEW PDP plasma's like mine only use 110watts from the wall and are very light compared to the older plasma's. New plasma technology is very good and last long time. LG, Samsung, and Panasonic make a plasma. Either one of those brands are a good option. Just make sure you buy the extended warranty. Trust me when I say this. I have had a few TV's go bad on me and I am glad I purchased the warranty. As a whole, TV's are not made very good in 2012. Every company is experimenting with new technology and us consumers are the test guinea pigs.
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Old Aug 16, 2012, 12:37 PM   #10
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Here are a few I am considering.

Let me re-state this...I will be doing a bit of gaming on this but not a ton. Maybe a few hours a week? Most of the time will be dedicated to watching sports, watching ESPN, watching movies here and there. I would say 30% sports, 60% "general" HD cable TV watching, and maybe 10% gaming/movies.

http://www.amazon.com/Samsung-PN51E5...ywords=samsung

Pros: 51", only $850, and has a lengthy list of features

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0075814YQ

Same as the TV above but 60". Doesn't have as many extra features (which I don't care a lot about...built in apps, web browsing, those sort of things don't interest me...I have my ATV3 for that!) $1100.

http://www.amazon.com/LG-47LM7600-47...ywords=samsung

47" LG 3d LED LCD, $1000, comes with a bunch of 3d glasses (though I'm not too concenred with 3d), tons of good reviews.
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Old Aug 16, 2012, 01:43 PM   #11
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ConsumerReports is your friend. At $1200, they most highly recommend Samsung PN51E6500, Panasonic Viera TC-P50ST50, or maybe Panasonic Viera TC-P55ST50- all plasmas. Highest rated LCD at your price max is LG 55LM6200 or Samsung UN55ES6500.

They have some others ranked higher than these at around 50"-55" but they exceed your price. However, you might be able to really shop around and find them for your price (as you may be able to really shop around for the above and find them for much less than your target price).

I would never buy on just a brand- or price for that matter- alone. For example, Samsung holds some of the top spots AND some of the bottom spots in the ratings. Both Samsung. Same with other brands. Hit the reviews hard. Go see a few favorites if you can (and take some of your own content so that you can see unoptimized video). Then, make your decision.

Relative to price sensitivity, a typical TV- as you can attest with your existing one- is a purchase you use for many years (often just about every day). Saving $200 or $400 for something you might use for 6, 8 or 10 years is like saving $20-$67 per year over it's lifetime. I'd pay up for something I thought was better rather than being attracted to something less because of a few hundred in savings... especially in a case like this where it does tend to be used so heavily over many years.

Last edited by HobeSoundDarryl; Aug 16, 2012 at 01:49 PM.
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Old Aug 16, 2012, 02:19 PM   #12
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ConsumerReports is your friend. At $1200, they most highly recommend Samsung PN51E6500, Panasonic Viera TC-P50ST50, or maybe Panasonic Viera TC-P55ST50- all plasmas. Highest rated LCD at your price max is LG 55LM6200 or Samsung UN55ES6500.

They have some others ranked higher than these at around 50"-55" but they exceed your price. However, you might be able to really shop around and find them for your price (as you may be able to really shop around for the above and find them for much less than your target price).

I would never buy on just a brand- or price for that matter- alone. For example, Samsung holds some of the top spots AND some of the bottom spots in the ratings. Both Samsung. Same with other brands. Hit the reviews hard. Go see a few favorites if you can (and take some of your own content so that you can see unoptimized video). Then, make your decision.

Relative to price sensitivity, a typical TV- as you can attest with your existing one- is a purchase you use for many years (often just about every day). Saving $200 or $400 for something you might use for 6, 8 or 10 years is like saving $20-$67 per year over it's lifetime. I'd pay up for something I thought was better rather than being attracted to something less because of a few hundred in savings... especially in a case like this where it does tend to be used so heavily over many years.
Those are all very good points! I'm certainly not using brand to define my purchase...I'll purchase any brand as long as it is high quality, has solid reviews, and is reasonably within my price range. I'm definitely the type of person to research and look up reviews and comparisons very thoroughly before making a decision. I was hoping to just get an idea of which technology might be best for my needs and my situation and possibly some recommend sets to look at as sort of a base of my search.

I'm definitely going to be looking at the models you posted along with others. You're right though, it does make sense to "splurge" and cough up the extra money for the higher quality products. I use my TV EVERY day and it is usually on for hours, and I plan on having it for 5+ years, so I shouldn't really be afraid to spend a few extra hundred bucks to get the higher quality set.
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Old Aug 16, 2012, 02:29 PM   #13
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That's right.

As to Plasma vs. LCD vs. LED, you'll never get a "right" answer. People can make very passionate cases for each but usually the one they like is the one they bought themselves (that also applies to perfect size, price, etc).

I'm pretty sharp about such things- worked in the CE industry, thoroughly follow the industry- etc. I'm not really pinched for money so I could pretty much spend whatever I wanted and buy whatever kind of HDTV I wanted. I went with Plasma. Why? Color reproduction seems to be slightly better- especially at wider angles which mattered to me.

Biggest cons: it's definitely not as energy efficient... or thin... etc, and there is always some risk of burn in. It will probably be obsolete by the time I might want to sell it and buy the next TV.

In the end, the one I chose was rated very highly across multiple sources and I went and checked it out with lots of my own content- including old home movies at SD and VCR-level quality levels (those home movies were also important to me and they looked very poor on LCD & LED).

But again, that's what I decided was best for me & mine. You should only let your own eyes drive your judgement for something like this. My choice was not best for everyone... nor is anyone else's choice. And you don't need to please everyone... just yourself and maybe your family.
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Old Aug 16, 2012, 02:38 PM   #14
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That's right.

As to Plasma vs. LCD vs. LED, you'll never get a "right" answer. People can make very passionate cases for each but usually the one they like is the one they bought themselves (that also applies to perfect size, price, etc).

I'm pretty sharp about such things- worked in the CE industry, thoroughly follow the industry- etc. I'm not really pinched for money so I could pretty much spend whatever I wanted and buy whatever kind of HDTV I wanted. I went with Plasma. Why? Color reproduction seems to be slightly better- especially at wider angles which mattered to me.

Biggest cons: it's definitely not as energy efficient... or thin... etc, and there is always some risk of burn in. It will probably be obsolete by the time I might want to sell it and buy the next TV.

In the end, the one I chose was rated very highly across multiple sources and I went and checked it out with lots of my own content- including old home movies at SD and VCR-level quality levels (those home movies were also important to me and they looked very poor on LCD & LED).

But again, that's what I decided was best for me & mine. You should only let your own eyes drive your judgement for something like this. My choice was not best for everyone... nor is anyone else's choice. And you don't need to please everyone... just yourself and maybe your family.

Well put...thank you for the sound advice!

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Quote:
Originally Posted by HobeSoundDarryl View Post
That's right.

As to Plasma vs. LCD vs. LED, you'll never get a "right" answer. People can make very passionate cases for each but usually the one they like is the one they bought themselves (that also applies to perfect size, price, etc).

I'm pretty sharp about such things- worked in the CE industry, thoroughly follow the industry- etc. I'm not really pinched for money so I could pretty much spend whatever I wanted and buy whatever kind of HDTV I wanted. I went with Plasma. Why? Color reproduction seems to be slightly better- especially at wider angles which mattered to me.

Biggest cons: it's definitely not as energy efficient... or thin... etc, and there is always some risk of burn in. It will probably be obsolete by the time I might want to sell it and buy the next TV.

In the end, the one I chose was rated very highly across multiple sources and I went and checked it out with lots of my own content- including old home movies at SD and VCR-level quality levels (those home movies were also important to me and they looked very poor on LCD & LED).

But again, that's what I decided was best for me & mine. You should only let your own eyes drive your judgement for something like this. My choice was not best for everyone... nor is anyone else's choice. And you don't need to please everyone... just yourself and maybe your family.
And just curious, what TV did you get?
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Old Aug 16, 2012, 02:42 PM   #15
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I know LED is newer so maybe that is the route to go to be sure it is the most "future proof"
I never understood this sentiment in regards to TVs. For the most part, TVs don't gain features over the course of time, at least not in regards to the display tech that's used.

If you want to future-proof your TV purchase, make sure you buy one that has the latest HDMI spec and as many ports as possible. It has nothing to do with LCD/LED/Plasma.

The advice that I use to give was that if glare is a problem, go with LCD. Otherwise go with Plasma. Nowadays, everything has a glossy screen, so that doesn't even apply anymore.

Go with what looks best for you.
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Old Aug 16, 2012, 02:46 PM   #16
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Samsung 8000 series 63" (very happy with this one).

But again, don't let my choice bias you. If I was buying anew today, I'd likely buy some other model (after a thorough period of searching reviews, looking at sample video, etc).

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Old Aug 16, 2012, 03:06 PM   #17
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Have you considered taking the projector route?

I had a 46" 1080p LCD that I gamed and used with my apple tv 3 (probably about 30% gaming, 70% movie/show watching).

I recently bought the Optoma GT750. It is a 720p gaming projector, with plenty of brightness for day viewing.

I wanted size and was on a budget. The projector was 800$ (with a custom screen that was 30$. I already had the sound system/receiver).

Now I have a 130" beast of a screen and watch all my shows and video games on there and I love it. Nothing like having the theater experience at home.

There ARE negatives to a projector vs. lcd/led/plasma tv though:
Space, the room layout may not work in your favor, however this is a short throw projector so it sits near the floor in front of my couch. This leaves enough room for Kinect/Wii games.
Quality, you won't get the same video quality as a regular tv in terms of brightness, contrast or resolution. However if you wanted sheer size and have a mind blowing experience like I wanted, you will love it.
Lamp life: I believe mine is rated for 5000 hours (in eco mode). A extra bulb is about 200$, for me that will be about 4-5 years. I don't think I will even have this projector for that long so that's not a problem for me.


avsforums.com is a great size with tons of projectors if you consider a projector. youtube also has plenty of demo videos. Check them out if that is something that you may be interested in!
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Old Aug 16, 2012, 05:26 PM   #18
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Have you considered taking the projector route?

I had a 46" 1080p LCD that I gamed and used with my apple tv 3 (probably about 30% gaming, 70% movie/show watching).

I recently bought the Optoma GT750. It is a 720p gaming projector, with plenty of brightness for day viewing.

I wanted size and was on a budget. The projector was 800$ (with a custom screen that was 30$. I already had the sound system/receiver).

Now I have a 130" beast of a screen and watch all my shows and video games on there and I love it. Nothing like having the theater experience at home.

There ARE negatives to a projector vs. lcd/led/plasma tv though:
Space, the room layout may not work in your favor, however this is a short throw projector so it sits near the floor in front of my couch. This leaves enough room for Kinect/Wii games.
Quality, you won't get the same video quality as a regular tv in terms of brightness, contrast or resolution. However if you wanted sheer size and have a mind blowing experience like I wanted, you will love it.
Lamp life: I believe mine is rated for 5000 hours (in eco mode). A extra bulb is about 200$, for me that will be about 4-5 years. I don't think I will even have this projector for that long so that's not a problem for me.


avsforums.com is a great size with tons of projectors if you consider a projector. youtube also has plenty of demo videos. Check them out if that is something that you may be interested in!
I just don't have the room for a projector and it doesn't really suit what I'm particularly looking for.

I'm wondering about 3d TV. Anyone have any experience with this? Is it decent and useable or is it more "gimmicky" at this point.

http://www.amazon.com/LG-55LS4600-55...pr_product_top

This TV looks great, and it's only $1100...but it doesn't have 3d. The other TVs I'm looking at are in the $1300-$1400 range and come with 3d. I'm not sure if it is a feature I would really even use or if it is even a useable/practical feature at this point.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0074WVYNO

I like the looks of this one too, has more features and it comes with the 3d. Comes with Google TV which may be an interesting add on. Then again I have an Apple TV already and no real desire to have a bunch of extra "smart tv" apps on my TV. This one is $1350.
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Old Aug 16, 2012, 05:31 PM   #19
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I just don't have the room for a projector and it doesn't really suit what I'm particularly looking for.

I'm wondering about 3d TV. Anyone have any experience with this? Is it decent and useable or is it more "gimmicky" at this point.

http://www.amazon.com/LG-55LS4600-55...pr_product_top

This TV looks great, and it's only $1100...but it doesn't have 3d. The other TVs I'm looking at are in the $1300-$1400 range and come with 3d. I'm not sure if it is a feature I would really even use or if it is even a useable/practical feature at this point.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0074WVYNO

I like the looks of this one too, has more features and it comes with the 3d. Comes with Google TV which may be an interesting add on. Then again I have an Apple TV already and no real desire to have a bunch of extra "smart tv" apps on my TV. This one is $1350.

I own an 8000 series Samsung 3D LED HDTV. I played with the 3D for about an hour when I first got it. Owned it over a year, haven't used it since. And I have half a dozen 3D movies. It's just not of any interest to me and I find it incredibly gimmicky. The nice thing about the Samsung Smart TVs is the apps. I have Hulu, Netflix and Plex straight on my TV. No AppleTV needed!

That being said, I'm moving to a 65" Plasma in the next year or so most likely.
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Old Aug 16, 2012, 06:18 PM   #20
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if you go lcd/led go with samsung. Plasma go with panasonic. Plasma has a faster native refresh rate of 600hz. Lcd is 60hz with 120 and 240hz options. With these options the tv is "guessing" and adding in extra frames to the picture displayed. Imo it looks terrible and looks like the video was shot with a camcorder. Plasma has deeper blacks, but lcd's are catching up quickly. Lcd will work better in bright lights so if you have lots of windows i would place lcd ahead of plasma. Lcd's are also less than 1" thick but those models tend to command a higher price. If you plan on mounting to a wall this may play a factor. Regardless of what you choose i would strongly recommend getting your tv professionally calibrated. This will run you $250-$400 normally, but will make all the difference in the world.

On last thing i will mention, but if you live in the usa (your profile doesn't say), consider buying from amazon.com. Their prices are often hundreds of dollars less, shipping is normally free, and if you choose "white glove delivery", it will be setup in your house and all the packaging disposed of. Use the money you saved on the price of the tv and get it professionally calibrated. :d
+100, specifically the TC-P55ST50

Last edited by Irishman; Aug 16, 2012 at 06:35 PM.
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Old Aug 17, 2012, 12:00 PM   #21
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Ok, so I have it narrowed down to the final four. A few things...

1. I have decided that LCD is the route to go for me. I have looked at several different TVs in person, done comparisons, and considering the fact that the room that the TV will be in is going to be more brightly lit and exposed to natural lighting than I had anticipated, I think LCD is going to be the best option for me.

2. "Smart TV", apps, streaming, 3d...none of those extras are important to me. I have an Apple TV, XB360, and PS3...those all provide more than enough options for me. And I really don't see myself utilizing the 3d much (but if the TV I settle on has it, great! Same with all of the other extras).

3. Brand doesn't really matter to me. I want to find the perfect (or as close to it as possible) cross section of size, function, quality, and capability, regardless of brand.

4. Price isn't "really" an issue as much at this point, but of course I still want to get the best deal possible and stay on the lower end of the price spectrum if possible/if it makes sense.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007B9PP1C/ref=ox_sc_act_title_1?ie=UTF8&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER

55" Samsung LED LCD, no 3d, Smart TV, $1397

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0076LY17E/ref=ox_sc_act_title_4?ie=UTF8&smid=ASF0S1GFIHF5V

52" Sharp Aquos LED LCD, no 3d, Smart TV, $1209

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0074WVYNO/ref=ox_sc_act_title_6?ie=UTF8&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER

55" LG LED LCD, 3d with 6 pairs of glasses, Google TV built in (kinda intrigues me), $1379

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006ZH0MVY/ref=ox_sc_act_title_7?ie=UTF8&smid=ATVPDKIKX0DER

55" LG LED LCD, no 3d, no Smart TV, $1098

While none of these TVs are perfect, they all have solid reviews (though the reviews for the Sharp are limited). The base LG seems like the best value, the LG with Google TV sounds interesting (it has a dual core processor as well, so maybe it'll be a stronger performer in the long run), and the Samsung looks awesome, and most say they are the best when it comes to LCD TV's, but I hope I wouldn't just be paying for a name there.

Any of these stand out to you?! Sorry to be so indecisivie...it's a big purchase that is pricey and I will have to live with for the next 5+ years.

Thank you for all the help and advice!!
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Old Aug 17, 2012, 08:33 PM   #22
marvin4653
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Join Date: Jun 2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by murdoc158 View Post
If you go LCD/LED go with Samsung. Plasma go with Panasonic. Plasma has a faster native refresh rate of 600Hz. LCD is 60Hz with 120 and 240Hz options. With these options the TV is "guessing" and adding in extra frames to the picture displayed. IMO it looks terrible and looks like the video was shot with a camcorder. . . . Regardless of what you choose I would strongly recommend getting your tv professionally calibrated. This will run you $250-$400 normally, but will make all the difference in the world.
The Panasonic "refresh rate" of 600Hz refers to a different measurement than the refresh rate quoted for LCD TVs and thus should not be directly compared. The 600Hz figure is the plasma's "sub-field drive rate", which is something unique to plasma TVs. It refers to the frequency at which the individual phosphors are addressed by the electrodes in the screen. To vary the brightness of an individual phosphor, the phosphor is addressed multiple times per frame at varying intensities; varying the combination of addressing pulses allows the phosphor to show a range of brightness from black to white. In a Panasonic plasma, each phosphor is addressed ten times per complete refresh of the screen, and each refresh of the screen is happening 60 times per second (60Hz): thus, 600Hz sub-field drive rate. They used to address each phosphor eight times per refresh of the screen, and so quoted a sub-field drive rate of 480Hz. Thus, a plasma panel is not actually refreshing the image 600 times per second, but rather each phosphor must be pulsed up to 10 times per refresh of the screen in order to reach the desired brightness level. The pulsing just allows each phosphor to display a range of brightness levels. From a quick glance at Panasonic's site, it looks like they don't even list this figure anymore, which is good because it was confusing (which was probably Panasonic's intent). A user over on avsforum posted a great graphic a while back that illustrates this process, and compares the duty cycle of CRTs, plasmas, and LCDs (gray bars are times that the phosphor or pixel is lit):
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1019371/is...#post_13646031

Now let's actually discuss refresh rate. Traditionally, both LCDs and plasmas could completely refresh a frame on screen every 1/60th of a second, for a refresh rate of 60Hz. Then, LCD manufacturers started upping the available refresh rates to 120Hz or 240Hz. Furthermore, plasma manufacturers developed panels that could run at refresh rates other than 60Hz, such as 48Hz or 96Hz. But these refresh rates, in the abstract, don't imply anything about the level of motion blur a panel will display.

Let's take the LCDs first. Most content that you send to a TV either contains 30 frames per second (e.g., 1080i TV broadcasts or standard-def TV) or 60 frames per second (e.g. 720p TV broadcasts). So let's assume you've got an LCD TV that runs at 60Hz. If it receives a 60 FPS source, every 1/60th of a second the TV's pixels change to display each frame of the 60 FPS content. If instead the TV receives a 30 FPS source, the TV's pixels will show each frame twice. For example, in the first 1/60th of a second the TV will show the first frame of the 30 FPS source content. Then, in the next 1/60th of a second, the TV will again show the first frame of the 30 FPS content. Then, in the next 1/60th of a second (or, 3/60ths of a second after the content started), the pixels will change to show the second frame of the 30 FPS content. That's because with 30 FPS content, the TV only has 30 frames to show over the course of a second, but has the capability to refresh the display 60 times per second. So, the pixels will only be changing every 1/30th of a second--the speed required to keep up with the content. Now let's say you've got an LCD TV that has a refresh rate of 120Hz. If you send that TV a 60 FPS video, the TV will show each frame twice (just like if you send a 60Hz TV a 30 FPS signal). So in the first 1/120th of a second, the TV will show frame one. Then in the next 1/120th of a second, the TV will again show frame one. At the third 1/120th of a second, the pixels will refresh to show the second frame of content. At this point you can probably guess what would happen with a 240Hz TV: with 60 FPS content, the TV will display each frame four times before the pixels go ahead and refresh for the next frame of content.

You might then ask, what's the point of having a TV with a refresh rate faster than 60Hz if it's just going to be showing the same frames of content multiple times? The answer lies in why LCD displays show motion blur. Old LCD displays used to blur because the pixel response time--how much time it took for a pixel to change from one color to the next--was too slow to keep up with fast-moving content on screen. Modern LCD displays don't have that problem; their pixels respond fast enough to keep up with video content. Rather, the problem comes from how an LCD panel displays an image.

The individual pixels in the LCD panel determine the color and brightness of each pixel of video content, but an LCD panel doesn't emit any light. The way an LCD panel emits light is by having, essentially, a fluorescent light bulb (or, in modern LCDs, multiple LED lights) located behind the LCD panel. The light shines through the LCD panel and creates the screen's "brightness." When you change the brightness of a laptop screen, for example, you're just adjusting the intensity of that backlight that is located behind the LCD panel.

This is a much different process than the way that old tube TVs and plasmas emit light. They emit light by exciting each individual phosphor with electrical energy. On a plasma, for example, when a phosphor, or pixel, is charged with energy the phosphor lights up, directly emitting light out of the panel. A plasma panel thus does not need a fluorescent light bulb or LED to create light; the light is directly emitted by the excited phosphors. After the phosphor is charged, it fades out to darkness. So a plasma is not constantly emitting a picture like an LCD, but rather is rapidly flashing light at the viewer as the phosphors are repeatedly charged with electricity and fade to black in between charges. This phenomenon is why picture tube TVs and plasmas can be seen to "flicker" at low refresh rates.

So, with that information in hand, let's get to why LCDs blur, why plasmas don't, and why having a faster refresh rate can help with the LCD blur.

Imagine a video of an (American) football game, where the video shows a football flying through the air from one side of the screen to the other. As each frame of video is displayed, the football will move across the frames from one side of the screen to the other. Let's say the video is running at 60 frames per second. On an LCD, the pixels will update every 1/60th of a second, and on each update the football will move across the screen. In between each update, however, the football will be frozen in place.

If you could watch the TV in slow motion, it would look like the football was "jumping" from frame to frame each time the TV refreshed its pixels. The first frame is displayed, held on screen for 1/60th of a second, and then the next frame is immediately displayed showing the football further along, and again held for 1/60th of a second, and so on. The football thus "jumps" from one frame to next. This stuttering is called "sample and hold blur."

On a plasma or tube TV, we don't get that jumping because the picture fades to black between each refresh of the screen. So on a plasma, the first frame will be displayed by electrifying the phosphors on the screen. Then the phosphors will fade out out before being electrified 1/60th of a second later to show the next frame. The result is kind of like this:

LCD:___ |Frame 1 --------------------||Frame 2 --------------------|

Plasma: |Frame 1 -- fade to black --||Frame 2 -- fade to black --|

That fade to black between each frame tricks our eyes, and we think that the football is moving smoothly from frame to frame, instead of immediately "jumping" from one frame to the next on the LCD. In effect, the fade to black between each frame creates a smoother transition to our eyes.

LCD manufacturers realized this problem, and came up with a few possible ways to fix it. One way would be to essentially "strobe" the screen between each frame to simulate how tube TVs and plasmas fade to black between frames. Such a technique, called "Black Frame Insertion" (BFI) would look like this:

| Frame 1 || Black screen || Frame 2 || Black screen||

Another way would be to try to make the transition from one frame to the next smoother, by interpolating a new frame between each frame of video content that "guesses" at where the moving object would be half-way between each frame. That's the technique murdoc158 is referring to, which Samsung, for example, calls "AMP" or Auto Motion Plus. The result is something like this:

| Frame 1 || Frame 1.5 || Frame 2 || Frame 2.5 ||

Those ".5" frames are made up by the TV, which attempts to guess where objects moving from one frame to the next would be half-way between each frame. In effect, the TV is artificially increasing the frame rate of the video content.

Let's compare all these techniques with plasma to get a feel for what's going on:

Plasma:_____ |Frame 1 -- fade to black --||Frame 2 -- fade to black --|

60Hz LCD:___ |----------Frame 1-----------||----------Frame 2-----------|

120Hz LCD:__ |--Frame 1---||--Frame 1---||--Frame 2---||--Frame 2--||

120Hz w/BFI:_ |--Frame 1---||Black Frame||--Frame 2---||Black Frame||

120Hz w/AMP: |--Frame 1---||-Frame 1.5--||--Frame 2---||-Frame 2.5-||


In order to do either BFI or motion interpolation (AMP), the LCD display must be able to refresh its screen at least twice as fast as the video content, so that has time to do two frames (either actual frame + a black frame, or actual frame + an interpolated frame) during the time that would normally be occupied by a single frame of video. Given that the fastest video content runs at 60 frames per second (generally), the LCD display must then be able to refresh at at least 120Hz. Voila! 120Hz LCDs. Thus, an LCD running at 120Hz doesn't, alone, look any different than an LCD running at 60Hz (see the diagram above--the 60Hz LCD and the first example of the 120Hz LCD (without BFI or AMP) are displaying the same picture). If, however, the 120Hz LCD implements either BFI or the frame interpolation technique, it may be able to reduce its motion blur.

Both of those techniques have tradeoffs. The black frame insertion method, which approximates the fade-to-black that happens on plasmas and tube TVs between each frame, lowers the overall brightness of the display (that should be intuitive, because if every other frame displayed is a black frame, the TV will be half as bright as it would be if it just displayed the frame of content the entire time). The frame interpolation method increases the frame rate of the content, which can give the picture the so-called "soap opera" or "camcorder" effect, making the content look overly smooth. I can get into more about why the effect is called those things if anyone is curious.

So why, then, create a 240Hz TV? More flexibility for implementation of BFI or frame interpolation techniques. You could, for example, do things like this:

240Hz w/BFI:_ |--Frame 1---||--Frame 1---||--Frame 1---||Black Frame||--Frame 2---|

240Hz w/AMP: |--Frame 1---||-Frame 1.25-||-Frame 1.5--||-Frame 1.75||--Frame 2---|

In the case of BFI, you now only have the TV going dark 25% of the time, rather than 50% of the time as with a 120Hz TV implementing that technique, which would allow for higher brightness but still attempt to simulate the plasma fade-out between frames. For motion interpolation, the TV is essentially doubling the frame rate of the content to make it look even smoother (which, if you don't like the too-smooth effect to begin with, might be worse).

You might also be wondering, why do plasmas, which don't suffer from this blurring problem, offer viewing modes of 48Hz or 96Hz? Why not just stick with their tried-and-true 60Hz refresh rate?

The answer lies with a particular type of video content: movies. Dating back to when movies were shot exclusively on film, they were (and many still are) filmed at 24 frames per second, which is much lower than the 30 or 60 frames per second at which TV broadcasts typically run. If you consider that most TVs run at either 60Hz or 120Hz, you can probably immediately see a problem: how do you show 24 frames per second on a device that can either refresh 60 or 120 times per second? It's like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, since 24 does not divide evenly into 60 or 120. The traditional way of doing so is to show some frames more often than others. So, on a 60Hz TV, you might show Frame 1 two times, then show Frame 2 three times, for a result like this:

| Frame 1 || Frame 1 || Frame 2 || Frame 2 || Frame 2 |

Then you'd go on to show Frame 3 two times, and Frame 4 three times, and so on. The result is that from 24 frames, you can get 60 frames of content. If the TV is a 120Hz TV, you'd just double those frames (show Frame 1 six times, Frame 2 four times, and so on). This technique is called "3:2 pulldown".

Obviously this is not good. If you're showing some frames on screen for more time than others, any kind of scene that's showing a moving object, like a slow pan across the horizon, isn't going to be smooth. It's going to kind of stutter, since the panning effect will seem to speed up and slow down at alternating intervals.

The best scenario would be to have a TV that can refresh its screen at a multiple of 24. Voila! Plasma running at 48Hz or 96Hz, which can show 24 FPS content without having to show some frames more than others. Obviously, the TV must switch back to 60Hz when displaying normal TV content running at either 30 or 60 frames per second, so the TV typically has to try to figure out when it's being sent a 24 FPS signal.

TL; DR
The 600Hz "refresh rate" on plasmas doesn't actually refer to the display's refresh rate, but something entirely different. Plasmas generally refresh at 60Hz, but that's fine because plasmas, by nature of the display technology, don't suffer from motion blur. Some LCDs, running at either 120Hz or 240Hz, include technologies that attempt to reduce the effect of motion blur, but the byproduct of those technologies may not be desirable. The fact that the LCD is running at 120Hz or 240Hz, by itself, doesn't mean anything about whether the LCD will show motion blur. Those higher refresh rates just enable the LCD to implement these other technologies (either frame interpolation or black frame insertion) that may help with the blur.

Great advice on getting the TV calibrated. Everyone should consider calibration if they're serious about viewing quality.

OP: I much prefer plasmas because I find their picture to be more similar to tubes, some of the reasons for which I discussed above. Given that many LCDs now have glass laid on top of the panel, their superiority in bright rooms is diminished. And unless the TV is only or predominantly going to be used in a bright room, I would buy a TV that will look best under critical viewing conditions (movie nights in low lighting, for example), rather than buying a TV that will look marginally better in poor lighting conditions, but worse under better conditions.

Last edited by marvin4653; Aug 18, 2012 at 05:43 PM.
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