flat panel TV (advice)

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by iBlue, Mar 20, 2006.

  1. iBlue macrumors Core

    iBlue

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    London, England
    #1
    i am looking to get a wall-mountable flat panel TV, somewhere between 36-48" in size. i don't want to spend more than $3000. i think it can be a "monitor" version because i don't need a TV tuner, i use the DVR cable box for tuning anyway. (i think that's all i need for tuning, right? :eek:)

    i know general information about LCDs and Plasmas but can't completely decide on which one would be "better" --- let alone decide on a model of TV.

    i come to you for advice.

    oh and the space this needs to fill is a bit strange. there is a hole above the fireplace in my living room intended for a TV. the home designers were total jackasses and made it nearly impossible to fit a CRT telly in there, it's too small. the hole is 41" wide and 25" tall and 20-something inches deep. so this flat panel TV i am looking for will need to be mounted over that hole. i am hoping this is not an issue. :eek:

    help. :p
     
  2. clayj macrumors 604

    clayj

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2005
    Location:
    visiting from downstream
    #2
    Well, you're straddling right across the boundary between where LCD would make more sense and where plasma would make more sense... the boundary falls right around the 42" level.

    Above 42", LCDs are usually more expensive than plasmas. Below 42", plasmas are almost always more expensive than LCDs. For these reasons, you won't often find a plasma TV smaller than 42". So a lot of it's going to boil down to what actual TV size you need.

    Plasmas are brighter than LCDs, and they have better (wider) viewing angles. On the other hand, plasmas won't last as long as LCDs in terms of brightness maintained after however-many-tens-of-thousands of viewing hours, and plasmas are slightly more prone to suffering burn-in.

    Ultimately, though, since you've specified a maximum price of $3000, I think LCD is the way you should go. Make sure you get one with a MINIMUM of 768 lines of vertical resolution (so you can watch 720p broadcasts natively); if you can get 1080 lines (which I doubt you can for less than $3000), do it. Also, VERY IMPORTANT: Make sure whatever you get has an HDCP-compliant HDMI or DVI port. This will be vital if you ever plan to hook up an HD DVD or Blu-Ray player to your TV.

    I have a Sony 32" BRAVIA LCD TV in my bedroom which was less than $3000, so you should be able to find something from Sony that's the right size and will fit your budget. Of course, other companies make good LCDs (Samsung, Philips, etc.), so shop around before you buy.
     
  3. Zman5225 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 15, 2005
    Location:
    Tacoma WA
    #3
    Take a look at the new panasonic 37px60u. Bestbuy's are starting to get their trickle in of these and they look outstanding and have a MSRP of $2000 so its a really good deal. The 42px60u is also a bargain, and they have them out as well.

    I was in the same boat as you in regards to the LCD vs Plasma issue but in the end I went with plasma as they have better SD picture and we watch a lot of SD around here. The burn in isn't near as much of a concern as it used to be so don't be to worried here, just follow the manual regarding burn in's and you'll be fine. Plasma's also offer a much broader viewable angle as Clayj mentioned so that was another clincher for me.

    So I don't go babbling on and on, here is a link to a plasma vs lcd comparison chart so that you can get an idea for yourself.

    http://www.plasmatvbuyingguide.com/plasmatvreviews/plasma-vs-lcd.html

    to me, the only good thing about LCD's are their power usage levels compared to Plasmas, but we're not talking hundreds of dollars a year here either...

    goodluck, let us know if we can help answer anything else.

    Jack
     
  4. Abulia macrumors 68000

    Abulia

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2004
    Location:
    Kushiel's Scion
    #4
    I'm pro-LCD, so I'll state that up front.

    Plasmas have greatly improved but are still prone to burn-in. Burn-in is the Root of All Evil (TM). :) Trust me, after spending $3K on a set, ANY amount of burn-in is unacceptable. I'm on my 3rd HDTV set, two with burn-in. You will notice it and it will bother you, no matter how hard you try to avoid it. (Especially if you play games, stay on channels with the logo "bugs" or bottom line tickers.)

    So that leaves LCDs and DLPs. DLPs have better color separation and handle blacks better, but aren't as low profile for what you're looking for. DLPs also (for some users) suffer from "the rainbow effect"; DLPs use a spinning mirror that some people can hear spinning (annoying) or worse yet, can see the light separation. This varies from DLP generation to generation.

    In all honestly, you're going to probably fall on the line of an LCD set. LCDs are great because of their low profile, long life (you will maybe have to replace a bulb once in its life) and sharpness. Downsides are black contrast ratios and what some people call the "screen door effect"; the ability to see individual pixels. This is a byproduct of viewing the set too close! Newer LCD technology reduces some of these weaknesses, but they're still there.

    Your viewing distance should be roughly 2.5 your screen size in inches. So if you watch TV 10' (120") away, look for a set about 48" large (diagonal).

    There are plenty of bracket mounting kits that you can anchor to the frame/studs so I wouldn't worry about mounting over the hole.

    Assuming this is a high-definition set (HDTV) get something with component and a HDMI interface to protect yourself. The set should do 480i/480p/1080i at a minimum and 720p would be a bonus. I don't think there's a 1080p in your price range. Stay away from EDTV.

    I wouldn't get an integrated tuner; you'll want to keep yourself future-proof as much as possible, so a "monitor" is the way to go. So you're right on track there.

    If you go LCD, use a local vendor or someone who states their "dead pixel policy" and hold them accountable. If your brand new set has even one dead pixel, send it back until they get it right. Some sets will include a free calibration while the unit is under warranty by a certified technician...use this! :)

    Uuum, that's about all I have. :)

    Edit: Er, used the wrong viewing distance calculations. Updated for 16:9 ratio.
     
  5. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2002
    Location:
    Jobs' Spare Liver Jar
    #5
    For ~$3k I'd settle for a smaller screen with 1080p.

    Blu-ray video is going to look stunning at 1080p. I don't care if it's overkill because I don't watch television shows.

    Dell (yeah, I know) sells a 24" LCD monitor (as a monitor; it's not in their TV section) with 4 possible inputs that does better than 1080 and costs $800. That is flexible as hell and an unfreakingbelievable value even though it's Dell.

    Here:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=br_ss_hs/002-8590725-2877632?search-alias=aps&keywords=1080p

    you can find good deals -- sub $3k for very large DLP 1080p sets. It won't fit in your fireplace hole, but I'd just say "**** it" and buy a nice big painting to hang up there instead.
     
  6. iBlue thread starter macrumors Core

    iBlue

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    London, England
    #6
    thanks for all the input. i saw a few TVs at Costco that i thought were good deals, and i took a friend who seems to know about these things with me, he agreed but we'll see what you guys think.
    first choice was a Phillips 42" plasma HDTV. i forgot to write down the product codes but i think it was this TV here it was only $1900.
    second was a Pioneer 50" plasma monitor for $2300. it was awesome but i of course preferred the lower price of the other one.

    i dunno, i suppose i like LCD more but the price once you go over 37" is insane. plus i have to worry about how delicate the screens are. my son is really rowdy with his toys and the 4 foot painting which currently sits above the fireplace has taken hits several times. that happens to an LCD i think we're going to have a problem. :eek:

    oh and i didn't see any flat panel DLPs. i assume they exist (?)

    again thank you all so much for the input! :)
     
  7. clayj macrumors 604

    clayj

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    Jan 14, 2005
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    visiting from downstream
    #7
    No, there's no such thing as a flat-panel DLP. They have flat SCREENS, but the units themselves are much deeper than an LCD or plasma TV would be (because the image is shot upwards and then reflected out toward the viewer).

    You're right about the price of LCDs really jumping the bigger they get... that's why at a certain point, you switch to plasma.

    And plasmas and LCDs are equally damage-resistant/damage-prone... time to teach your son to stay away from your new TV. :)
     
  8. Abulia macrumors 68000

    Abulia

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2004
    Location:
    Kushiel's Scion
    #8
    They're all delicate; I wouldn't let my son hit a $3K set, regardless if it's plasma/LCD/DLP! :eek:
    Not really. DLP requires some depth to project. They're small form-factor, but not that small.

    If you go plasma make sure to get an iron-clad warranty and some burn-in protection. I can't overstate how burn-in can ruin your television buying experience no matter how hard you try to avoid burn-in problems.
     
  9. Abulia macrumors 68000

    Abulia

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2004
    Location:
    Kushiel's Scion
    #9
    Just on brand alone I'd edge towards the Pioneer.

    Looking at the Phillips specs, it only does 1080i. That means all of your signals need to be upscaled to 1080i. SD programming (480i) is going to look pretty poor on this this (IMO). Scaling is totally dependent on the quality of the internal scaler in the set, which on a Phillips I'm guessing isn't the greatest.

    Oh, BTW, LCDs have a much higher resolution than plasmas.
     
  10. TheMonarch macrumors 65816

    TheMonarch

    Joined:
    May 6, 2005
    Location:
    Bay Area
    #10
    NO!

    1024x768 isn't going to cut it. Think "iBook screen stretched from 12" to 42" :eek:

    Min. resolution should be (As clayj stated) 768 vertical lines, but the minimum resolution for HD is 1280x768. If you see that, you've got an HD set :)
     
  11. iBlue thread starter macrumors Core

    iBlue

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    London, England
    #11
    i am extremely cruel too, i walked right up to the TVs at costco and stuck my grubby little fingers right on the screens, lightly pressed and lightly tapped with my nails. i noted the hard covering for plasma and the typical soft covering for LCD. i cringed imagining someone touching my mac screens like that. :eek: it was a worthwhile test, i am terrified of an LCD taking an impact. i mean, stuff happens. even if the fireplace is 4 feet up, things get thrown sometimes. i threw a ball for my dog and it bounced and hit that painting (which is where the TV will be) and that sort of thing freaks me right out. you can bet we will be very careful though.

    what do you think of that Phillips model i posted? worthwhile or is there something i am misssing with its specs? i am such a skeptic i always think "if the price is fair, something is wrong with it" :eek: edt: ok i see that is not up to par. perhaps the Pioneer i saw was more the way to go. it looked better (the Pioneer)

    i should add i really like Phillips TVs and so does my husband, it would be an easy sell with him. (ironically i am pushing for the HDTV flat panel, he thinks i am ridiculous but he is leaning my way on this... long uninteresting story) but WOOHOO for me, i want in on this HDTV flat panel revolution. :p
     
  12. clayj macrumors 604

    clayj

    Joined:
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    #12
    Not to mention, 1024 x 768 is 4:3, which is NOT a proper HD aspect ratio. You're really looking for something like 1280 x 768 (as blaskillet mentioned) or 1366 x 768, or something even higher. The aspect ratio (width by height) should be something more along the lines of 16:9, or 1.78 to 1.

    You need to have:

    720p AND 1080i support (1080p is optional)
    16:9 aspect ratio
    HDCP-compatible DVI or HDMI port

    Anything less is unacceptable.
     
  13. Abulia macrumors 68000

    Abulia

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2004
    Location:
    Kushiel's Scion
    #13
    HDTV resolutions:
    1080p 1920 x 1080
    1080i 1920 x 1080
    720p 1280 x 720

    Personally I'd shoot for 1920 x 1080 native resolution if possible, 1280 x 720 (as others have said) as a bare minimum. Anything else and you're at the mercy of the scaler which can make a poor source look horrible and a good source just "meh."
     
  14. iBlue thread starter macrumors Core

    iBlue

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    London, England
    #14
    this has been written down and placed in my wallet, with Don M's. ;) i think i'll take a few other notes from this thread for my next hunt.

    i really wish i had written down model numbers. damn. next time. (whic with my impatience will be tomorrow. i love looking for electronics, even if i don't know what exactly i am doing. thank god for you guys!)
     
  15. Abulia macrumors 68000

    Abulia

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2004
    Location:
    Kushiel's Scion
    #15
    At this point in the game, if you're buying a TV today I'd submit that anything less than HDMI isn't really acceptable. Even though DVI is backwards compatible with HDMI, it won't carry the audio signal.

    I know it's pedantic, but aside from some component inputs for legacy devices, HDMI is the new standard and buying something without HDMI today just strikes me as a risky proposition.
     

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