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Time for a New TV with HDTV?

The new house - to which we're getting closer and closer every day - has a big, big, big living room. So big my trusty 36" Wega (bought before the Wega line turned to crap) might look rather small. So on to I go, only to find the "Philips 50" Plasma HD-Ready TV with HDMI Input." Whatever that means. On sale this week for only $4750 (regularly $4999 or so). Uh hmmm.

Is that a good price? Is a Phillips the way to go? Are all HDTVs over 40" pretty much guaranteed to be plasma or thin-screen? I guess so. I've got (and will carry over) my DirecTV. I've got a good Sony DVD player and a good Sony receiver ("only" 5.1, but that's fine). Good or adequate speakers.

Currently hooked in to the receiver:

  • GameCube
  • PlayStation 2
  • DirecTV
  • AirPort Express (no video, obviously)
  • DVD Player

The only things hooked into the TV are the receiver and the video output for the DVD player (composite output, or whatever the "good kind") is. And gee, look at that: the Sony Wega 50" Plasma is only $6650! 😛

Any suggestions? Advice? Opinion? Anyone know how I might get a plasma TV deeply discounted? 😀

17 Responses to "Time for a New TV with HDTV?"

  1. My DVD player doesn't have HDMI output, so I'd probably need to get a new DVD player, too.

  2. Discounted HDTV TV Solution: Wait 5 years. Plus, from what I read, the lifespan of a plasma screen right now is only about 5 years. I wouldn't be able to justify $1000 per year just for a TV. I have a Sharp 27" near-flat TV that I've had for over 10 years now. It should probably alst another 5-10 years, and I'm happy with that 😉 Although, a BIG FAT TV would be nice!

  3. Erik, if you have some time I would head over to if you're looking to purchase something soon. They have info on how good particular sets. Many of the people go over them with a fine-toothed comb.

    A few months ago I read how plasma tvs are supposed to last much longer than 5 years and have new anti-burn-in technology. The only problem with plasma screens that I saw was that they don't have as high of a resolution as lcd's or dlp/lcd rptv's (rear screen projection). If you don't want to plunk down a huge investment and just want some instant gratification in the HDTV arena an rptv may be the way to go. Although you can't hang them on their wall, a lot of newer sets have about a 16-18" depth.

  4. Thanks, Ed, I'll check it out. The Sony "LCD" (RPTV) is ~ $3600 - far more palatable and 60" instead of 50" - so that may be the way to go. Five years? Eeek!

  5. Having just gotten an HDTV a few months ago (just a 30" widescreen), HD is awesome. A few thoughts....DVD players with HDMI are very very expensive. I'm using Component cables right now for that and the PS2. The PS3 and Xbox2 due to be announced in a few weeks may offer HDMI, which would be very cool. Also make sure it has enough component inputs. I have my cable box/DVR using one, and the PS2 using the other. Basically, what I'm saying is you can't go wrong with HD.

  6. I just helped put a 56" Samsung DLP together at my folks place. Bought it at Cambridge Soundworks. It's listed at $3500 right now, but I'm pretty sure we paid less for it.

    Considering the screen size, it's fairly small - about 18" deep and only weighs 90lbs.

    I've heard conflicting things about whether LCD projection tvs can suffer from burnin. My understanding is that DLP don't - this could be an important consideration depending on the amount of 4:3 sources you plan on watching.

  7. My parents have the 60" Sony RPTV. For HD sources and DVD its amazing picture quality. For SD sources, particularly DirecTV, it's mediocre. Something to keep in mind. When you check it out at the store, get them to play something SD on it. I don't think this is particular to this model, just LCD RPTV's in general.

    Also, DirecTV HD service is pretty weak. But combined with OTA signals its better than nothing. DirecTV is launching more satellites with MPEG4 support to increase HD bandwidth in future.

    One more thing, if you buy a DirecTivo HD now, it won't be compatible with the future MPEG4 HD content when it comes into effect.

  8. I bought an RCA 52" HDTV (model D52M20) at Circuit City for $1300 last year and have been very satisfied with it.

  9. Because of the still-high prices and quickly changing technology in the plasma/lcd side of things we went the RPTV route. I figure that I'll probably want a new set in about 5 years so I didn't want to spend more than $2k on a tv.

    There are a few really good sites if you want to check out what problems people are having with their sets:

    These sites also list tweaks and improvements that you can make to your set to make it better.

    One thing about RPTVs is that they require a bit of upkeep to insure that they have their best picture. About once a month or so I recalibrate my set, whick takes me only about two minutes now. When I first got the set it took me about an hour the first time. Each time it gets easier as the set is burned in and remembers your settings.

    If you like to tinker with things (as most programmer types do) then an RPTV is a fun thing to have.

    Oh, my set is a Toshiba 46H84. 46' widescreen RPTV. The H84 is the series. Great set. Has HDMI input and many other inputs. Easy to get to "hidden" menus for color adjustments. Some sets have a minor problem with a faint light line down the middle of the screen that can really only be seen when watching hockey (or the Discovery Channel specials about Antarctica). As far as I know it is covered under warranty. Best Buy and Sears usually have this set for around $1300. The 51' is basically the same set, just bigger. You can probably get that for only a hundred or som more bucks...probably a better deal if you have the space for it.

  10. I'm currently leaning towards the Sony KDF60XS955 - a 60" LCD/RPTV. The plasmas are smaller and, since the TV will go in a corner, I don't need to hang it on a wall. 20" deep is fine.

  11. Chris' post jogged my memory about something. My dad was actually looking at the Toshiba before he got the Samsung, but there was one major difference between the two brands - the Toshiba speakers were on the sides of the screen, the Samsung speakers were on the bottom.

    With the side-mounted speakers, we couldn't fit the 46" Toshiba into the horizontal space we had available. With the bottom-mounted speakers, we were able to scale up the the 56" Samsung.

    Looking at the Sony, it appears that the speakers are side-mounted. No idea what your TV corner looks like, but the additional width might require the TV to be further from the wall.

    Just a thought.

  12. It took me a long time to figure out what I didn't like about "Flat Screen" (plasma/lcd) TVs.

    All modern display technologies have fixed display resolutions. I think this is a big deal and almost no one mentions it. With plasma screens the resolution is almost always 720p, though occasionally it's 1024X768 in a 16x9 image. This means that for almost *any* video you want to view the television has to scale it. The *only* time you are viewing video the way it was meant to be seen is when you are watching 720p HD content. This affects the quality of the image. How much? It all depends on the unit. Some TVs simply discard 1//2 of a 1080i image (every other line.) I think that sucks. Frudjia is supposed to make the best scalers.

    So, if you want to be able to view all of your content without having to scale or stretch anything you should buy a CRT projection TV. Make sure that it plays all major formats, has a cable-card slot, and an extended warranty. 🙂

    Cable-card is an expansion slot that allows you to plug in a cable tuner (in card form-duh) so that instead of having a separate box/remote you can simply use the remote that came with the TV (like cable ready TVs back in the day.)

    Now HDMI. HDMI is DVI plus audio & DRM. Bad stuff if you value your fair use rights. I suppose good to have onboard, but I'd rather have a TV with DVI instead. You won't need to replace your DVD player as long as your TV has component/composite video inputs, which every one sold should. HDMI is on the TV to make way for things like HD-DVD where they lock down the signal chain so that you have no hope of using the content that you've paid for in the manor that you see fit. I'm guessing, if the content industry has any say in the matter, that you won't be able to buy an HD-DVD player without an HDMI output. If we are really unlucky those of us with HDTVs that only have DVI inputs will have to buy new TVs just to use an HD-DVD player.

    Anyway, that's my 2 cents, good luck.


  13. Pat, most plasma TVs are 1288 x 768 or higher resolution. At least, all the ones we looked at. I don't know what plasma TVs you're looking at with only 1024 resolution.

  14. I bought the Samsung HLP5063W 50" DLP last year. Got a great deal through membership pricing with I've coupled that with the Samsung HD941 DVD player, Cox Cable HD subscription, and a modded XBox for the most flexible viewing options. The TV is probably my favorite purchase ever. No regrets, no problems.

  15. I'm waffling on the whole HDTV bit. Granted, I only posted yesterday, but I've done a fair amount of research now and I've all but decided on the Sony KDF60WF655 60" Rear-Projection LCD TV. Retails for about $3600, but I'm...

  16. Plasma sucks. Overpriced, and just not worth it.

    in order, I prefer front projection, then LCD, Rear Projection LCD, and then Rear projection DLP.

    People will argue LCD versus DLP, but that's more or less personal taste.

    Plasma is only good for the "wow, big and thin" factor, and has very little other merits.

  17. oh yeah: mike said " A few thoughts....DVD players with HDMI are very very expensive. "

    which isn't true.

    For the money, the Denon 1910 is the best around. (for it's price range, which is only $250, there are a ton that are waaaay better, but their prices reflect it.)

    the Sony rear LCDs are great, REALLY light and easy to move, and they look fantastic. Really deep dark rich blacks are all they fall short in, and really i haven't noticed. The DLP rainbow effect is a whole lot more apparent to me than the LCD's mediocre blacks.