Planning ahead when buying a television

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Doctor Q, Nov 3, 2006.

  1. Doctor Q Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #1
    I'm thinking of getting a mid-size LCD HD television set. For now, it would be used only with cable TV and a DVD player. I haven't had much interest in using a TV as a monitor or to watch photo slideshows or movies from my Mac, since my Mac monitor is big enough for that.

    But... I might change my mind.

    I'd like to know what technical considerations I should consider now to let me play with computer-TV connections in the future, e.g., resolution, other specs, having enough inputs of the right types, and so on. I buy a new Mac every few years, so I'll have whatever hardware and software Apple sells, but not a specific model I can name now.

    I've read this thread about the Mac mini, but I'd like to understand it from the TV-purchasing side.

    What TV features should I look for?
     
  2. nitynate macrumors 6502a

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    #2
    If you want to connect your computer to your TV 1080p is an almost necessity.

    You need a DVI connection I think.

    I dont know much about TV's but I do know that a higher resolution will be much more bearable, than lets say 720p HDTV's.
     
  3. spicyapple macrumors 68000

    spicyapple

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    #3
    Check out Panasonic's 42" EDTV Plasma displays. They give the most consistent image across all resolutions. DVDs will look incredible, regular SD programming looks just as good as a SD set, and HDTV broadcasts also look great.

    The Panasonic TH-42PD60U goes for around $1,200. AbtElectronics sells it for $999.
     
  4. xfiftyfour macrumors 68030

    xfiftyfour

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    #4
    Personally, I wouldn't spend that much on a non-HD set.. HD is here, and will be even more prominent in the future, so why invest in older technology? It only has a resolution of 852 x 480, so you can cross out hooking up a computer to it in the future, because surely that will look like poop?

    If you do decide to go with that, though, just a heads up that Amazon has it for $1050, with free shipping.

    If money is a main concern, I'd take a look at Westinghouse LVM-42W2.. it's a 42" LCD, 1080p (so 1920x1080 resolution).. I've heard good things about it, and you can get it for $1500-$1600.. someone is selling one over on ArsTechnica, and he has some pictures of the screen here, to give you an idea of the picture quality..
     
  5. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #5
    I'd probably be looking for a 37" set (based on room size and cabinetry), and given the tradeoffs I'm set on LCD, not plasma or rear projection.

    From what I've read, most HD TV shows looks fine on a 720p set unless you get very close, so it wasn't clear to me that 1080p was needed for my routine viewing habits. And maybe that's not really the case.

    Is the tradeoff between 720p (or 768p) and 1080p different with the computer vs. with HD TV broadcasts and DVDs?

    Do I care about DVI vs. HDMI?
     
  6. Yoursh macrumors 6502

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    #6
    If your looking at 37" lcd's, gettting one that is 720p should be fine. From my research(also looking to get a mac friendly lcd), unless your sitting very close to a 37" your probably not going to notice the difference between a 720p and 1080p set. So unless you really want to 'future proof' your purchase, I say go with a 720p one just for the lesser price.

    The main thing I say you should focus on is what type and how many connections the lcd have. Since you stated that your planning to hookup several devices make sure the one you get has enough connections so you don't have to buy a seperate A/V switcher or receiver. If your planning on hooking up your mac, look for one that has at least 1 DVI connector. Most of the manufacturers are skipping on DVI and putting in HDMI on the newer sets. Thery're both digital connections, but HDMI is the most popular standard since it intergrates audio into the same connector. They do make HDMI to DVI cables but they are more exspensive and you would be using up a HDMI connection on the set. So look for one with at least 1 DVI so you can dedicate that to the mac, while leaving the rest for your other equipment.
     
  7. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #7
    I have also been looking for an LCD TV in the 37" inch (maximum) range to fit our fairly small TV cabinet -- and finding the 1080p pickings in that size to be very slim at the moment. It seems to me unwise to spend a grand or more for a set that doesn't meet future specs for HD, and so I've ruled out a lower-resolutition display, but perhaps I'm wrong about that. Why would I need or want 1080p -- just for HD DVDs or also for HD-TV?
     
  8. Yoursh macrumors 6502

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    #8
    Most all HD-TV is broadcast, and recorded, in 720p or 1080i. The 1080p format is just starting to roll out in TV's this fall in larger numbers so it may be awhile before broadcasters start to really support that format. You may see more next year as the 1080p sets get more penatration as more manufacturers sell them. Right now(in the US) the only real content for the 1080p format right now are Blu-ray/HD-DVD players, PS3, and the XBox 360.

    If your planning to get a HD TV soon you just have to weigh how much you want to spend versus how 'future proof' you want to be. What do you plan to use it primarily for? Video games....tv broadcast.....home media pc/mac? The answer will vary from person to person.

    My 2 cents: From my research if your planning on getting a sub-40" lcd tv, you most likely won't be able to see the difference of a 720p picture as appose to a 1080p picture unless your very close to the screen(like computer monitor use). Focus more on the color control, contrast ratio, and response time spec's.
     
  9. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #9
    Thanks... but surely, when the new HD-DVD and BluRay discs start coming out, you will be able to see the difference? Double the resolution is still double the resolution, right?

    Also, what about current analog broadcasts? They can look pretty lousy on any digital TV. Any improvement with 1080p?
     
  10. psycoswimmer macrumors 65816

    psycoswimmer

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    #10
    My family is currently planning to buy a TV, and just so I don't have to start another thread, I'll post my question here.

    The TV we would probably get would be a 50" SXRD Sony Rear Projection.. They go for about 2 grand. It's 1080p, and we'd be sitting about 15-20 ft. from the TV, at an angle (if that matters). I think it seems like a good choice, but is there anyone out there who thinks differently?
     
  11. Yoursh macrumors 6502

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    #11
    When comparing aplles to apples, higher resolution=better. 1080p means that the tv displays 1080 horizontal lines progressively on the screen per frame, no matter what the actual screen size is. 720p=720 lines, standard tv(480i)=480 interlaced lines, etc. So you have 1080 lines on both a 37" and say a 60". It comes down to what your eyes can actually see. From my research, it seems most people can't tell the difference between a 720p and 1080p picture on smaller screens. So it comes down to 'do spend the extra $ on 1080p tv even though you won't see the difference or go with a 720p tv that may have a better contrast ratio and/or color control?'

    Some people say they can see the difference on smaller screens, so I recomend going down to your local electronic stores and actually see for yourself. Check out the picture on the ones that are hooked-up to a HD-DVD/Blu-ray(a 1080p signal). Then compare that to one running on a inhouse HD signal(more than likely 720p/1080i). If you can tell the difference on the size screen/model you're looking at, then look at getting a 1080p model. If not, decide if it's worth the extra $.

    As for analog broadcast, it's going to be sub-par no matter what resolution tv you get. As I said above standard tv displays 480 interlaced lines per frame. When hooked up to a HD tv, the those 480 lines have to be stretched up to the native resolution(be it 720p or 1080p). That what gives standard channels that 'grainy' look. Tv manufacturers put in various technology in their sets to try and clean up the image but they can only do so much. It's one of the drawbacks of a major technology change. It won't be a issue down the road as standard broadcast tv goes away and is replaced with digital HD broadcast. I use to be a cable guy and did my fair share of HD installs. The biggest complaint I got was how poor the 'regular' channels looked compared to HD channels.

    From what I've seen and heard, the SXRD rear projections are good sets. I wouldn't get one myself since I'm looking for something in the 40"-46" range that I can mount on my wall due to having such a small living room. Definately get a 1080p set if your planning on getting something in the 50"+ range. My co-worker recently got the 60" SXRD and has been very happy with it. The only problem he has had with it is it sometimes has a display error with his HD cable box over HDMI. He can resolve it by turning the cable box/tv on and off or unplugging and plugging back in the HDMI cable. He doesn't have any other equipment running HDMI to test if it's the cable box or tv but he doesn't have the problem with component connected equipment. My guess is that it's an issue with the cable box but I thought I'd just throw that out. I'd say if you've looked at it, like the set, and it does everything you want it to do. Go ahead and get it.
     
  12. spicyapple macrumors 68000

    spicyapple

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    #12
    As someone who has owned 3 HDTVs in the past 4 years, I am extremely happy with my Panasonic EDTV. Quite frankly, all DVDs and SD TV look awful on current LCD, DLP HDTVs. You'd really need a true HD source to get the benefits of HDTVs. As prices get cheaper and cheaper all the time, these current HDTVs have little to offer in terms of investments... I know EDTVs are the perfect sets now. The industry's "hidden little gem" if you ask me. Not many people know about them, being so caught up with meaningless specs.
     
  13. bousozoku Moderator emeritus

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    #13
    I haven't seen a 37 inch t.v. that can do more than 1366x768, so you're stuck with 720p, though they'll accept 1080i material input. The LCD I have is much better with DVDs than my rear projection tube t.v., even though that supported decent resolution.

    If you plan to watch Blu-Ray and HD DVD discs or play a new generation console, you should think of a higher resolution t.v. which will definitely cost more than $2000. If it supports 1080p, consider that to be a lot more.

    Also, you need to make sure it has a digital tuner and if you have picture-in-picture, you should have two. Currently, the only reasonable way I have to get HD signals into my LCD t.v. is the DVI port. Obviously, if you're paying for digital signals, you don't want to pass them through the component video ports.

    You might also want to consider a competent home theater receiver at the same time to allow you to switch input sources easily. Many Yamaha (there are other brands, too) support video interpolation to (supposedly) intelligently make your composite and S-video inputs look better and allow a single component video or HDMI output to your t.v.
     
  14. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #14
    Good advice, thanks. I was under the impression that perhaps the higher-resolution sets might be better at handling the analog to digital conversion issues of conventional broadcast TV signals. Apparently not?

    EDTV=720p, correct?

    I'm also surprised to hear you say that all DVDs look bad on HDTVs (meaning 1080p?).

    As for meaningless specs, I think people aren't so much caught up in them, as confused by them. I've been through quite a few technological transitions in my life, but none have been quite so muddled up with confusing terminology.
     
  15. matticus008 macrumors 68040

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    #15
    I'd have to disagree with that claim. I don't find the image quality particularly impressive on our 36" EDTV set (all digital satellite source)--it looks roughly as good as our old 50" Toshiba projection set.

    DLP (and especially LCoS) sets look pretty amazing with digital cable/satellite sources and with DVDs if you get a quality TV. Incidentally, I've found that Star Wars: Episode III is an excellent DVD (visually, not necessarily plotwise ;)) to use when trying out different sets. It had just come out when I was last shopping for a TV and I was amazed at how well it separated the four aisles of big TVs into 'good' and 'good god no!'. Ask the store if they can load a copy for you on their CCTV system (or bring your own DVD) and take a look.

    I tend to agree that below 42" or so, 720p is an excellent compromise. Getting a 1080p set makes SDTV sources look awful!
     
  16. Yoursh macrumors 6502

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    #16
    EDTV=480p
    Perfect for progressive scan DVD's(which are formatted in 480p), but they down convert any of the higher resolutions down to 480p.

    Some manufacters are making upconverting DVD players that take the 480 resolution and upconverts it to 1080 before going to the tv. I've heard they work a little better then using the tv's internal upconverter but they run in the $200 range. The quality of the DVD picture is going to vary depending on what type of hardware you have and the source DVD(some are encoded better then others, depends on the film masters they used).

    Some manufacturers are starting to roll out 1080p 37".http://www.westinghousedigital.com/details.aspx?itemnum=56 and http://www.sharpusa.com/products/ModelLanding/0,1058,1718,00.html for example. Though still 80%-90% of the ones out there are still 720p max resolution and your talking easily an additional 50% price increase for a 1080p model.

    Here's some additional links that may be a helpful reads.
    http://www.dl.tv-it's a overall good tech related podcast and one of the hosts writes the HD tv reveiws for PC magazine. In episode 95 they do a HD lcd tv buying guide. They give good info and a few recomendations.

    http://gear.ign.com/articles/712/712352p1.html-a great article describing video game lagging on HD tv's. If you paln to use your tv for gaming this is a good read.

    http://gear.ign.com-also has regular HD tv Q&A articles were they answer e-mail questions.
     
  17. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #17
    I've seen some sets with Firewire, USB, or RS232 inputs.

    Are Firewire ports for direct connection of camcorders?

    Are USB ports for direct connection of photo storage, like keychain flash drives?

    What would you do with an RS232 port?
     
  18. Yoursh macrumors 6502

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    #18
    The use of the ports depends on who makes the set. Manufacturers will add those ports for things like camera and camcorder playback. Usually they do it to tie in with their other elctronic products(example-using a Sony Cybershot or Handycam to playback on one of their Bravia sets). You would have to look up each model individually and see what format/standard they support. There's no 'universal' standard they are all built to.

    Edit: Except for memory card slots, but those aren't 'ports' per say.
    Edit2: From what I've seen, when a manufacturer puts in a RS232 port, it's for service/repair. Like when a technician needs to install a new firmware upgrade.
     
  19. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #19
    Okay, so... we've got:

    480p (EDTV)
    720p (?)
    1080p (?) [one of the last two are consider HD, but which one?]

    Price aside, which of any is clearly best for displaying:

    (1) DVDs (current format)
    (2) DVDs (forthcoming HD or Blu-Ray)
    (3) HD broadcasts
    (4) Analog broadcasts

    Assuming a display measuring under 40" viewed from about 12 feet.

    Followup question: I know some of the set manufacturers are doing a better job of cleaning up analog broadcasts signals for digital display. Which ones?
     
  20. killmoms macrumors 68040

    killmoms

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    #20
    720p, 1080i, and 1080p are all considered HD. 480p is ED. 480i is SD. :)
     
  21. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #21
    OWAAAAAARRRG!!!

    Ok, sorry. I've collected myself now. ;)

    No wonder people are so hung up over meaningless specs -- there are so freaking many of them!
     
  22. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #22
    What's "3:2 pulldown"?

    I'm puzzled why Viewsonic has it in their lower-end models but not the higher-end ones.

    See chart.
     
  23. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #23
    I spent some time reading and learning. I found crutchfieldadvisor to be a useful "HTDV for Dummies" site.

    For 37" LCD sets, I've identified three reasonable candidates. From least to most expensive:
    ViewSonic N3760W
    Sharp LC37D40U
    LG 37LC2D​
    All three models are 1366x768, have HDMI and dual component inputs, and support the display of 1080i HD, 720p HD, 480p ED, and 480i SD.

    The ViewSonic's user manual (which isn't easy to get!) is relatively small, but the set seems to have most of the major features, including Picture-in-Picture. It gets good, not stellar reviews.

    The Sharp has the best response time of the three (6ms, not 8ms), but its brightness rating is slightly lower (450 cd/m2, not 500 cd/m2). Reviews are mostly great. One source claimed that Sharp is dropping its 37" line. One review complains that you can't choose the aspect ratio for HD input, only for non-HD input. I don't understand why you'd need that; is that so you can decide how to handle 1080i input on the 720p display?

    The LG has the best contrast ratio (1600:1, compared to 1200:1 for the Sharp and 800:1 for the ViewSonic). I don't know much about LG Electronics as a company, but another LG model came up #1 in Consumer Reports' last review of 37" HDTVs.
     
  24. killmoms macrumors 68040

    killmoms

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    #24
    3:2 pulldown is the process employed to reverse telecine—aka, how you reconstruct full progressive frames from 24fps material that's been telecined into 60i. This is most useful when watching standard def TV for when a movie or TV show shot on film comes on. With 3:2 pulldown, it can on-the-fly reconstruct the original progressive images from what's broadcast, whcih helps picture quality a fair amount.

    I'd assume it's not included by name in their higher-end TVs because it's part of their ClearPicture technology (which probably employs other, fancier methods to deinterlace straight-up interlaced 60i footage as well). A summary of ClearPicture would clear that up, but I'd imagine they're still quite capable of regular old 3:2 pulldown.
     
  25. Doctor Q thread starter Administrator

    Doctor Q

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    #25
    Thanks, killmoms. Your knowledge and intuition led me to confirm just what you said.
    ViewSonic's ClearPicture electronics provide customers with the highest quality images possible, regardless of the content being viewed. Contrast enhancement and motion adaptive de-interlacing technology correct color, enhance detail and improve overall images, while digital 3D comb filter and 3:2 pull down capabilities provide a larger, clearer picture with fewer artifacts.
     

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