TV Buying Advice

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by danny_w, Sep 1, 2009.

  1. macrumors 601

    I am looking for a tv (first in 10 years) for my apartment, but don't want to spend too very much. I have pretty much settled on a plasma, and of those I am considering the Samsung PN42B450 and PN50B450 (42" and 50" respectively, both 720p). These seem to be available at very good prices ($630 and $800), plus I can get an extra 10% off the 50" this weekend at Best Buy (and Sears too). I know that neither of these is 1080p, but I don't think I would ever notice the difference sitting about 10' from the screen anyway. I have also seen others, but the Samsungs seem to be a better value and have a generally better picture. Does anybody here have any recommendations? How well do these play with an iMac or an :apple:TV?

    P.S. I will be doing mostly movie watching, and most of those will be older 4:3 content film noir movies, so I thought the 50" would give me a bigger image for standard (non-widescren) movies, and the price differential is mimimal after the extra 10%.
  2. Moderator


    Don't buy plasma, buy LCD instead. Plasma is old tech and there are only few models available. If you can, try to find 1080p. It may be little more but it's worth it.
  3. macrumors 601

    But I've always heard (and seen) that plasma give much deeper and richer black levels than any lcd on the market (or at least any for less than double the price). And since film noir has so many dark scenes (hence the name, partly) this is an important feature. Is 1080p really noticeable from a distance of 10'? Most of the charts say that you have to be sitting much closer to notice a difference and a 50" screen. And I will be watching very little if any 1080p content anyway so it is mostly a moot point.
  4. macrumors newbie

    Samsung Plasmas could still be considered, but HellHammer is right, times are changing.

    If you do jump for a plasma Pioneer makes the best TV period. But Pioneer is getting out the market (if they haven't already) since it costs too much to make good plasmas. Samsung always made good plasmas. I would steer wide clear of Panasonic or anyone else. They actually usually use the same panels, but the electronic video cards driving the panels are the big difference between many of the brands. Look at a $900 Panasonic Plasma vs a $900 SONY LCD and the Sony will probably have much better edges of people's faces and on curved surfaces as well as diagonal lines etc.

    Some of the new LCD's or especially LED's are approaching the dynamic range of plasmas... certainly exceeding the cheap plasmas. I haven't seen anything that touches last years Pioneer Plasmas, but that may not be an option for much longer, that and Pioneer plasmas where not cheap.

    IF you go LCD I would HIGHLY recommend you skip 60hz and go straight to 120hz. Use Sony XBR9 32" LCD 120hz and similar as a baseline. If you are looking at Film Noir or indeed any 24p source material you will see subtle but real difference in a quality 120hz refresh rate. Basically there are a lot of pans and dolly manuvers that come out juddery on a 60hz panel. The 120hz comes out a lot smoother, as if you where at the theater. Plasmas don't do have that issue.

    So look at the Sumsung plasma critically. Panasonics really don't impress me with their consumer Sears models, but look at them and look at the edges. I think you can get a good plasma from Panasonic, but your probably not at sears, and you are probably better off for your money with the Samsung.

    Look at the LCD's and LED's. Look specifically at the Sony XBR9 and same family LCD's. Samsung's LED backlite are very nice as well.

    I got my Sony LCD (after always loving and prefering Pioneer Plasma) 720p (not the XBR9.. and regretted it ever since that I didn't pony up the extra $300) but the Sony if you set it correctly (not factory default) it can be quite good. A good plasma still better though..... but not by as much as it used too. And entry level plasma is probably not as good as a medium series Samsung LCD or a Sony LCD/LED. So no going out getting a Vizio and thinking your getting a kick butt TV because it's plasma... because it's probably not that great. Though some of them are good for the money.....

    If you can wait a year, the LED's will be cheaper, and everything will be 120hz except at bottom end ones at walmart. To be fair to walmart, I saw about 1/3 of the good sets at walmart where 120hz last month...... Another brand to look at is Toshiba Regza. I wasn't knocked over but other people really like them.

    regardless if you wrote off LCD's a year ago, even the cheap Sears ones are looking pretty good. So bring in some of your DVD's and go to a couple stores that will let you spend time and play your DVD's or Blue-Rays and really look for differences. Small independent stores will do the best. Sears, maybe if they independantly owned or on a slow tuesday.
  5. macrumors regular


    Plasma is old tech??
    You should tell him that LCD is old tech since LED tv's are out.... LOL

    LCD's have been around before PLasmas..
  6. macrumors newbie

    Samsung the way to go...

    I just purchased a 55" Samsung 8000 LED, now while that is much larger than your planning to go, I can tell you that my best friend has a 46" LCD and pictures are both exceptional, and this comes from a guy who has a Pioneer Elite. i am very impressed with the black levels, and quality. I would agree with the previous posters not to go with anything less Samsung than 120mhz, I went with 240, and it's phenomenal.

    As for Apple TV, I have one of those too, which I just got off Ebay, I would recommend getting the ones which have Boxee preloaded, as you can access most if not all the TV shows on Itunes for free. As long as you have a wireless G or N or preferably a direct ethernet connection to the unit you can stream TV shows from all the major networks, Hulu, Netflix etc for free without having to pay $3 fee's to Itunes. Hulu shows have commercials, but typically only 1 per episode and they are usually 20 seconds or less, some only 10 seconds. So much worth it.
  7. macrumors 6502a

    Since you say you want to watch a lot of 4:3 material, I would suggest doing some more research before buying a plasma set. I know that many plasma owners claim that burn-in is no longer an issue. However, when I was researching TVs last year, I decided to ask some questions on the AVS plasma forum regarding viewing 4:3 on a plasma TV. I came away convinced that you should not buy a plasma set if you watch a lot of 4:3 material. You can see the kind of responses I got here (I highly recommend reading through this for a bit, seeing how everyone replying was a plasma owner except for me):

    By the way, the "Master Burn-In/IR/Break In Thread" in the AVS plasma forum still gets daily posts which might tell you something about how much of an issue burin-in is on plasma sets.

    That being said, if I were going to buy a plasma, it probably would be a Samsung. The Pioneers are really expensive and I got the impression from my research that Samsung was the next best bet.
  8. Moderator


    Take a look at NewEgg.

    There are 3 plasma TV manufacturers, Samsung, LG and Panasonic. There are 25 models from all three manufacturers.

    There are 21 LCD TV manufacturers, biggest are Samsung, LG and Toshiba. Only Samsung has more LCDs there than all threaa have plasmas there.

    Okay, plasma may be better if you're searching for HUGE TV (+50") but for smaller (0"-37"/42") LCD is much better.
  9. macrumors regular



    Well.. They have never made a plasma smaller than a 42". To me I think it really matters the viewing situation you have to determine what tv you should get.

    The only LCD I think is worth buying is 120hz and higher.

    I have a LCD in my bedroom mind you, but In my living room I would probably put a plasma in there.
  10. macrumors 601

    For the money, you can't beat plasma for quality/value. Some people prefer the look of plasma ... I do. So why did I buy an LCD? For starters, I can't stand glare and my flat screen is in a room with lots of light. Secondly, I wanted 1080p for computer usage. If I had a room in the basement dedicated for movies, I'd go plasma over LCD any day of the week.

    Now, with that said, you mentioned iMac use. Keep in mind that the 50"er will be 1366x768, which fits nicely with a Mac. You may need to use SwitchResX or something. The 42" will most likely be 1024x768 with rectangular pixels. If you connect your iMac to it, the text will likely look very awful. Movies/videos will look fine, but text will not.

    Lastly, the burn-in issue. If you fear burn-in, then use one of the stretch modes. Personally, I can't stand stretch modes, but if you're watching a lot of 4:3 stuff, then you're kinda stuck.
  11. macrumors 68020


    I can't believe how much false information is in this thread. The 720p plasma you are looking at will have a better picture quality, smoother frame rate, and deeper blacks than even a $1500+ LCD with 120hz.

    The best plasma you can buy is a Pioneer Kuro, but they are no longer made so unless you can find one somewhere you have to buy used. The next 2 are panasonic and samsung. Either one is a great tv, and it's really a toss up to the user. Most people say that the panasonic has a slightly better pic than the samsung, but the panasonic is kind of dull looking, while the samsung is more vibrant so a lot prefer the picture of the samsung plasma.

    Another note, I would wait until after the 9th to buy an apple tv. At this point it is only a week away, and if they release an updated model or a price drop you are going to be pissed you didn't wait.
  12. macrumors newbie

    Well just to nit-pick :) a number of plasma manufacturers made plasmas in the 37" inch range. Some good, some bad.... but yes, today 42" and up, Also NEC makes good plasmas last I looked both the consumer and broadcast line.
  13. macrumors 68020


    correct, plasma was a fad that has since died.

    go fro a 1080p LCD that is 42" or larger. I like LG and Samsung - both make great sets. Shop around, prices will be most competitive at stores like Best Buy and you will also be able to finance (even at 0% for 12 months) if interested!
  14. macrumors 6502a

    This is exactly why I decided that a plasma was not for me. In most cases, people who like to watch classic academy ratio (1.37:1) movies do not want to stretch the material.

    Not true. Vizio made a 32” plasma:
  15. macrumors 6502a

    Plasma was not a fad and is certainly not dead. However, there are good reasons (as I've already stated) why the OP should consider something other than plasma.

    I'd like to ask a question, though? Even if plasma were a dead technology, who cares? Once you buy the TV, do you care is they quit making them? Does it affect your TV? Are you forced to buy that technology forever? It's not like buying something like HD-DVD where you get stuck with obsolete software.
  16. macrumors regular


    Thanks for the clarification.... Maybe I should have said.... They made a couple, but Don't produce anymore. :rolleyes:

    Anyways... to the OP

    Get what works best in your room. Its not dead tech, if it was no one would have bought the Kuro tech from Pioneer.
  17. macrumors 601

    I love the logic on this one. I've often thought about this as well. I remember saying something like this a few years ago because or something a Best Buy employee said. It went something like this ...

    A guy goes to Best Buy looking for a flat screen TV because they are thin. The salesman tells him that he should get a DLP because they are working on a new model that can hang on a wall.

  18. macrumors 68020


    Interesting article:

    Since plasma is a dead technology IMO, I would care if they quit making them for a variety of reasons:

    1. Support - replacing parts for something that isn't made, returning, fixing, etc...
    2. Quality will only increase with other technologies, like LCD etc.... Since they aren't making them anymore, they aren't bettering them.

    It doesn't affect your TV per say, its the fact that you aren't using the latest technology - but let me say this, if I had bought a plasma before my LCD, I wouldn't be trading "up" just because plasma is now dead.

    But who knows, in another couple years we could be having the same debate between LCD and LED! :eek:

    At the end of the day, this boils down to the fact that TECHNOLOGY is ever changing.

  19. macrumors 601

    I'll give you point #1, but #2 is irrelevant. If you bought an new LCD today, the fact that they come out with a better LCD tech tomorrow doesn't make your TV any better. Just like if you bought a plasma today and they stopped making plasmas tomorrow, your TV won't look any worse.

    And getting back to point #1 ... I think there's a law that manufacturers have to keep replacement parts in stock for a couple of years. So as long as you make it past the first couple of years, you'll be OK. Heck, my LCD is about 5 years old now. If a cheapo part failed on it, I'm not sure if they would have the replacement parts available. With the way anything is made these days, it's all disposable anyway.
  20. macrumors 6502a

    It might be accurate to say that plasma is a dying technology. It is, however, far from dead. When manufacturers actually quit making panels, it will be dead.

    I had to face a choice like this when I bought my TV last year. We were in the process of moving across the country and my wife informed me she wanted our next TV to hang on the wall, which meant LCD or plasma. As a movie lover, I was attracted to the smooth motion and natural colors of plasma. However, I finally decided in the favor of LCD because of the burn-in issues.

    So, what did I buy? DLP.

    Huh? When we finally found a house, there was no good place to hang the set on the wall and there was a set of built-in shelves that was perfect for the 50" Samsung DLP. However, it was pretty obvious that DLP was a dying technology. At the time, there were only two manufacturers. However, I decided that DLP was the best choice for my scenario and haven't regretted it one bit.

    So, is DLP dead yet? No. Samsung got out of the business, leaving Mitsubishi as the only manufacturer. But guess what? If you want a really big TV that has a great picture and doesn’t cost a fortune and you don’t need to hang it on the wall, DLP is really worth looking at. Yeah, it’s an almost dead technology, but it’s still a great TV under the right set of circumstances.
  21. macrumors regular


    All I'm going to say is they are still making CRT's. HAHA!
  22. macrumors 68020


    LCD and LED are the same thing, both are LCD displays, they just use a different source of light, but both are still the same things. It's more of an advancement of LCD displays, not a different type of display.

    The next thing for TV's will probably be OLED tv's. But it will likely be at least 3-5 years before they come down enough in price and get big enough in size to compete with LCD displays and Plasmas. By that time you will be wanting to upgrade to a new tv anyways so it won't be as big of a deal.
  23. macrumors 601

    Boy, I've been gone for the day and there were LOTs of responses! Thanks everybody! The item about burn-in affecting watching 4:3 material a lot makes sense and I probably never would have thought about that. Of course, not all widescreen movies are 16:9 (many aren't) so they don't fill up the screen either, but an occasional movie not filling the screen is not quite the same thing. Perhaps I should look at LCDs more closely.
  24. macrumors 68030


    This thread is full of more misinformation than any I've read in a while.

    OP do yourself a favor and visit some AV forums and do some reading. You wouldn't select a new computer via information you gathered on a TV forum.
  25. macrumors regular


    I've got a Pioneer Kuro 50" (not the Elite). The picture quality is insanely good.

    LCDs are definitely brighter, so probably will look better in a bright room. I have kids and feel like the glass front of the plasma would hold up better if a firetruck was thrown at it. Haven't had any issues with burn-in, and I've left the PS3 game menu on it overnight by accident (though it was after 200 hours of use). A plasma will be almost twice as heavy as an LCD the same size. This Pioneer is rated for 110k hours of continuos use I think (11 years?) Plasmas may be the better overall value over 50".

    The AVS forums are the best place to seek more info.

    At a minium get a good surge protector, then get the APC Line-R. Plug tv into Line-R, plug Line-R into surge prot.

    Also, I just wanted to add that I've never experienced so much hatred, jealousy, and general passive aggressiveness while buying something like I did with the 50" tv. It was Bestbuy (Overpriced, I know). So many sarcastic "Wow. Nice. You must be reeaaaally happy." 'Wow. That's pretty big. You must be soooo excited. " *rolling eyes*

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