Plasma vs. LED and HTPC help needed!

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Transporteur, Feb 5, 2010.

  1. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    Hi there, I need some advice on which TV to buy and how to serve my media to that TV.

    My preliminary decision is a flat Samsung TV, either the UN55B7100 LED TV or the PN58B860 Plasma.
    Both TVs have the same extremely thin enclosure and are sold for almost the same price.

    The Plasma is 3" bigger, that I think that's neglectable.
    What I want is the best viewing experience, daytime and nighttime.
    I don't have a gaming console, so the TV is solely used for watching TV shows and movies.

    Any recommendations?

    Another thing is the media serving.
    I always wanted to buy a Mac Mini for that purpose, but considering that I won't use iTunes or FrontRow to play media, that seems a little overpriced.
    Currently I use Plex to play media on my computer but it doesn't seem as stable as it should be. It crashes pretty often.
    I don't need a optical drive cause all DVDs or BluRays are ripped and stored on a local NAS that serves the media in my network.
    How do you guys play you media on your TV?
  2. Airforcekid macrumors 65816


    Sep 29, 2008
    United States of America
    Plasma will look better if your hooking up the mini use an HDMI port and make sure it supports an audio cable since the mini displayport dosent send sound. Also download boxee to organize your media and play it. FYI if you can wait it out get the boxee box cheaper and does everything a mini could do media wise.
  3. siddavis macrumors member

    Feb 23, 2009
    First of all, I'm jealous. I currently have a 52" Samsung LCD (120Hz blah blah blah) with an AppleTV and various other components connected. I went with the LCD for the extra 2" of screen over a plasma at the time, and I kick myself everyday for doing so. Don't get me wrong, the picture quality is phenominal, but LCDs still haven't eliminated motion problems and pinpointed color accuracy. That extra 3" might not sound like much, but in my case, the extra 2" equated to something like 18% greater screen area. Remember, the measurement is diagonal, so you'll get more area on the side and top that adds up. This was what made me get the LCD, most other "pluses" were in the plasma column. So, back to my recommendation - get the plasma with the extra screen real estate at a cheaper price, without the need for extra technology to compensate for things like motion blur, lower contrast etc. I've owned both types of TVs, and I wish I had stayed with a plasma. Albeit my LCDs are not LED backlit, but the panel tech is basically the same, and there are still drawbacks in my opinion. All of that said, I think you'll be happy with either, but I just wanted to share my experience and 2 cents.

    By the way, I use the AppleTV to stream all of the media in my iTunes library - movies, music, photos... It works very well, and integrates nicely with my iPod Touch as a remote.
  4. Donar macrumors 6502


    Jul 12, 2008
    Ok, you want a media streamer. You could have a look at the Popcornhour NMT-A200 or maybe a Atom/Ion based Nettop with XBMC live (linux).

    I have two Popcornhour's (NMTA110 & A100) they can not do BluRay Rips but the A200 can do "Basic Blu Ray Navigation" according to their Website.
  5. carlgo macrumors 68000

    Dec 29, 2006
    Monterey CA
    My room is bright during the day and the glare on the Panasonic plasma can be bad. Beautiful at night or on darker days though.

    I read a lot of reviews and they all said the same thing, that plasmas were still the best if you have a nice darkish viewing room and want that smooth film-like experience. They also say that LCDs were catching up, the motion thing isn't so much of a problem.

    Since most of us can't audition a bunch of different TVs at home, I would read every new review out there and come up with a consensus.

    And you might want to check the reviews to see if they adjusted the screen because some people spend a great deal of time and money to get that just right. They say it makes a big difference, but I just did a couple of basic adjustments and am happy enough.

    Maybe that makes a bigger difference than the type of screen, but I am sure there are others here who know more than I do about all that.
  6. rayward macrumors 68000

    Mar 13, 2007
    Houston, TX
    My main TV is in a very bright room, so I opted for not only an LCD, which do better in bright spaces than plasma, but also a matte screen. I think anything with a glossy screen - LCD or plasma - would be unwatchable during the day and still prone to reflections at night.

    The get the best out of a plasma, you need a dark room, preferably with the TV mounted below your eye level so that you are looking down at it.

    I am very happy with my LCD (a Sony XBR8 with LED backlighting) as it suits my purposes perfectly, but I am not going to sit here and try to argue that it's as good as a plasma (or even a glossy-screened LCD).
  7. -SD- macrumors 6502

    Mar 23, 2009
    Peterborough, UK
    I purchased a 50" Panasonic G10 plasma just after Christmas, and I'm very impressed with it. The picture quality is fantastic and the price was much more acceptable than a similarly sized LCD.

    I use my PlayStation3 as my media centre, streaming everything from a Mac Mini running PS3MediaServer. I find it nice to at least have the option of playing a physical Blu-ray/DVD disc, even though everything is stored on the iServe/iRAID.

  8. milkfan4 macrumors newbie

    Feb 4, 2010
    Plasmas really perform well in areas with minimal light. If you are in a brightly lit room an LCD model will be much better.

    Also I believe Plasmas consume a lot more power than LCDs.
  9. Tech-Minded macrumors regular

    Jan 30, 2010
    Yes, LEDs are much more energy efficient than plasmas. As I have seen, LEDs have REALLY sharp picture.
  10. MacModMachine macrumors 68020


    Apr 3, 2009
    LED tv's are not much more efficient, 108watts vs 142watt on plasma.

    both 42" tv's measured with my kill-a-watt.
  11. Tech-Minded macrumors regular

    Jan 30, 2010
    My mistake; though I guess you could save some money over a period of time....
  12. wywern209 macrumors 65832


    Sep 7, 2008
    do you rly want to know?
    the LED degrades much much less than the plasmas over time. If you must have plasma, then get one from either panasonic or one from pioneer if you cna find one. the Sony LED tvs are the best because the samsungs only have side lighting, which isn't nearly as even as doing it from the back.
  13. kolax macrumors G3

    Mar 20, 2007
    Go for the LED model.

    I can't compare the two you provided without seeing them with my own eyes, but I find LED backlit TV's are very vivid.

    Worth mentioning most LCD TV's are matte, as opposed to a glossy finish on plasma. You can argue which one if your TV is going to be situated near sunlight etc.
  14. SWarrior macrumors newbie

    Aug 12, 2009
    I would go LED

    I've an LG LCD and didn't go LED because it was way more expensive. Motion problem still exists in LCD, to a lesser degree. Plasma's are a disappearing breed. Future is LED.
  15. Donar macrumors 6502


    Jul 12, 2008
    That accounts for 24% less energy consumption by the LED LCD - that is (in my opinion) much. On the other hand one should not bother with this if he does not use his TV the whole day...
  16. MacMini2009 macrumors 68000


    May 22, 2009
  17. harmonica01 macrumors 6502

    Jul 30, 2007

    Actually they have...

    Here is what I bought at Bestbuy this past week:

    Full led backlighting so plasma quality contrast with LCD + LED clarity. Trumotion built in, and on high setting it is INCREDIBLE even from cable box or blueray or the xbox. THX certified of course, brilliant tv
  18. scott911 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 24, 2009
    some of the input here is based on outdated thinking...

    I would go to an av forum -, to get some guidance. The dissadvantaged inherent in both technologies have been worked on over years, and have largely come to a middle ground.

    I can offer Samsumg is a good brand. Also like Sony. I would NOT get all wowed by thickness. You're already going from tube tv's depth in FEET to meer inches. Going from three or four to one or two inches means you'll have to pay two ways: # price and engineering compomises in some cases. For example - the engineers are driven by the marketing people to make compomises on how the handle the backlight array.

    Note that the 1: 50,0000 contrast ration stuff is largely a marketing lie, samsung is really guilty of this I hate to say... There is a theoredical max contrast ration - and it is way lower than the current c-r 'claims'.

    screen surface treatment is important if you will be watching in a sunligtht lit room - i.e. typical living room. Screesn that will work for you will not look as nice in the showroom (they will be less glossey) but you need less glossy in order not to be driven crazy during real world use by reflections.

    plasma vs. LCD. I'm presonnalyy up i the air on this one. My guy tells me to go with lcd because it's, for better or worse, the future driven by marketing forces. I have LCD now. But I think I'm getting my dad a plasma just because there are SO many deals on the out of vouge plasmas.

    LED - not that led is just the lighting element of a LCD panel. Personally, I think it is presently too coursly implimented to be worth the price hike. It's certianly not a detrament if you have the case to spend - but I would opt for screen size over led tech with a given budget.

    good luck!
  19. Mr. McMac Suspended

    Mr. McMac

    Dec 21, 2009
    Far away from liberals
    Every Plasma I've seen so far has an annoying flicker, similar (but not quite as bad) to old CRT computer monitors refreshing at 60hz. Everybody I point this out to doesn't see it. Is it me?
  20. theshaggyone macrumors newbie

    Feb 13, 2009
    The Samsung LED models have a glossy screen so you'll be in the same boat as you would with a plasma plus they still suffer from most of the LCD downfalls.

    As far as quality the 850 Samsung plasmas are beautiful for the price and would give you a superior picture versus the LED (which is still a LCD). With the money you save you could turn right around and invest in a receiver that can decode audio through HDMI and have a complete HT experience. Either that or invest in having your plasma professionally calibrated to reduce the heat/power consumption.
  21. SDub90 macrumors 6502a

    Nov 9, 2009
    Long Island
    Plasma. Best image quality from my experience. The only drawback is glare. I have a panasonic and a samsung, both give an amazing picture. The panasonic is in my bedroom with 2 windows and the glare occassionally gets annoying with darker images, but everything else outweighs it.

    LEDs are very similar to LCDs in terms of picture quality - the main difference is the backlighting (LEDs lower power consumption too). Every side by side comparison of LEDs LCDs and plasmas I've done (yes, after adjusting settings in the stores) the plasmas have always looked the best. Even when comparing a 480hz plasma to 120hz.
  22. rayward macrumors 68000

    Mar 13, 2007
    Houston, TX
    Point of order, but LED and LCD are not mutually exclusive.

    LCD's require backlighting. They used to do this with fluorescent tubes, but now they are adding models with LED back lighting. LEDs are considered superior because: (a) they use less energy; and (b) they are in a contiguous wall behind the screen as opposed to on the side and reflected.

    Sony's LED system even has 3 colours plus white, which can be shut off in sections to improve colour and black performance. Samsungs tend to have only white LEDs, which improves black performance but not colours.
  23. Transporteur thread starter macrumors 68030

    Nov 30, 2008
    Seems as if this is really going to be a tough decision... :eek:

    First of all, I know that the TVs I pre-selected are not the best you can buy, BUT they are thin and that is more important to me than 5% better colours.
    The Samsungs can be wall mounted with a wire, hence they are extremely close to the wall, just like a picture frame.
    I've seen that in a local store and it looks stunning.
    Currently we've got a LG LCD with a standard wall mount in our living room and that looks like crap.

    So yes, I'd rather pay a few bucks more and lose a bit of image quality instead of buying a TV with a thickness of 5 inches.

    Both the LED and the Plasma have a glossy finish, so I assume the brightest screen would be better for watching TV during the daytime, wouldn't it?
    Unfortunately I can't find any information about the brightness level. My Cinema Display has 400 cd/m² which is ok for the daytime, but it could be brighter. So everything around 500 should be fine, even with a glossy finish.

    And what's the deal with the refresh rate? The Plasma has 100Hz, the LED 120Hz, I assume that doesn't make a difference, does it?

    And thank you very much for your replies guys!
  24. scott911 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 24, 2009
    if thickness is the most important aspect to you, I highly doubt that you'll care about refresh rates very much. i'm being serious. just get the syle that looks nicest to you.
  25. tbayrgs macrumors 603


    Jul 5, 2009
    First, this argument that you should go with LCD over plasma because plasma is a dying technology is meaningless. If we were trying to determine the best TV you could buy in 5 years, maybe, but it doesn't matter what's going to happen, only what's available to you right now--if a current model plasma offers the best picture vs. an LCD, it's likely going to still beat that same LCD is 2, 3, 5 yrs. Alright, venting done...

    Figure out what features are most important (style, size, thickness--sounds like this one matters to you, viewing angle, etc) and pick the set that hits the most items on your list.

    FWIW, I have 2 Samsung LCDs (though admittedly older) and a 50" Samsung plasma and I love the plasma. It's in our living room which gets a fair amount of light and I've had no issues with glare. I watch a lot of sports and fast moving action TV/movies so the plasma was the best fit--some LCDs may approach plasma's fast moving performance but won't beat it.

    Also, don't try to compare refresh rate numbers between LCDs and plasmas--apples and oranges, so to speak--the technology functions differently so they're different measurements. This table over at cnet summarizes things nicely.

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