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Overstreet
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I've had my 27" tube TV since 1995. Believe it or not, it's been my main unit for movies all this time.

(It's hooked up to a great Sony DreamStation surround-sound system that plays DVDs, MP3 discs, CDs, and SACDs.)

Recently, a strange blob of sickly yellow-green discoloration has begun at the right side of the screen.

It gets poor reception.

So, I've been unable to ignore the sales on HDTVs.

Time to think about what might be a reasonable replacement.

Have you picked up an HDTV?

What's a good price? (We really don't want to go above $750, and we're looking for something between 32" and 37".)

What's a good brand?

What kind of longevity should we expect, and should we invest in a long parts/services warranty?

Should we shop Costco, or eBay, or Best Buy, or something else?

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Panasonic's a really good brand. You can get their consumer line 42" plasma for under $750 pretty regularly. For heaven's sake, don't buy into the 1080p marketing (unless you're watching on something bigger than 50" or sitting REALLY close, and even then the difference is negligible.) Costco is a great place to buy - usually good prices and a great return policy compared to anywhere else. Online, VisualApex is good. Longevity on anything you're buying now will be fine. By the time you need a replacement you'll be way behind the times again anyway. Don't base your purchase on what you see in a store ever. If the display's calibrated properly on the set you're looking at, it's wrong on the one you're comparing it to, or vice verse. Base your purchase on what you read on a forum like avsforum.com. As always, extended warranties depend on how long you're getting for how much, but usually they're a pretty bad deal. Visual Apex had a special going when I got my 50" Panasonic plasma from them where they were offering a free 5-year warranty, but otherwise no way would I have bought one. If you're only spending $750, chances are good that an equivalent replacement for the tv you buy will be under $500 in a year or two, and the chances that your $200 warranty is going to end up helping you are pretty low. There's a reason stores push them so hard - that's where their highest profit margins are. And finally, and this is just my opinion (but it's the right one!) if you have a chance to, go with plasma, not LCD. LCDs in general look much more "digital", whereas a good plasma has a smoother, more film-like look. LCDs are all the rage right now, and manufacturers are pushing them because they're cheaper to manufacturer, but you just can't beat a good plasma. If LCD fanboys try to warn you about plasma burn-in, I've had 3 plasmas and never had a problem with it. I'm pretty sure it's a non-issue ever since the first few years. My model's two years old now, and I watch any and everything on it - stuff with black bars, stuff with static logos, video games, pause it on static images for hours, you name it, and there's zero burn in. I say "if you have a chance to" because I'm not even sure if they make plasmas under 42". But there are plenty of opportunities to find good (not off-brand Walmart stuff) 42" plasmas for your price range. I heavily recommend you read up on avsforum about the 42" Panasonic line. It's been a fan favorite over their for years due to its great value and high PQ. I've seen them for sale a few times recently for $699. I've got the 50" version and have literally never seen another tv - 1080p or otherwise - for under $3000 that has better PQ to my eye. But if you've got to go under 42" for space reasons or something, I'm not sure if you'll be able to stay away from LCD.

Hope something in there helps.

Edited by popechild

"You guys don't really know who you're dealing with."

"Oh yeah, and who exactly are we dealing with?"

"I'm the mother flippin' rhymenoceros."

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I'm also in the market for a new TV--have been watching a 20-inch tube since 1994 or so, and subtitles seem to be getting smaller all the time. So thanks for the advice!

There is this difference between the growth of some human beings and that of others: in the one case it is a continuous dying, in the other a continuous resurrection. (George MacDonald, The Princess and Curdie)

Isn't narrative structure enough of an ideology for art? (Greg Wright)

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For heaven's sake, don't buy into the 1080p marketing (unless you're watching on something bigger than 50" or sitting REALLY close, and even then the difference is negligible.)

Hope something in there helps.

Hmm. Spacewise, I need a 40-46 inch. I was thinking a Samsung LCD LN46A550 or something like that. But I was sold on 1080P--why don't you think that's a must have? What about Blue Ray?

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For heaven's sake, don't buy into the 1080p marketing (unless you're watching on something bigger than 50" or sitting REALLY close, and even then the difference is negligible.)

Hope something in there helps.

Hmm. Spacewise, I need a 40-46 inch. I was thinking a Samsung LCD LN46A550 or something like that. But I was sold on 1080P--why don't you think that's a must have?

The difference between 1080p and 720p is limited completely to the number of lines of resolution that the screen natively displays. So more is better, right? The problem is, there's a limit to the number of lines of resolution that our eyes can really sees, and it's dependent of course on how far from the tv you sit. Consider a situation where you're sitting 50 feet from a tv. Not likely I know, but as an example, you might not even be able to tell the difference between HD and SD at that distance, and the difference there is huge. The difference between 1080p and 720p is small enough that the vast majority of people will never be able to tell the difference, regardless of how close they're sitting. But most of the quasi-scientific evidence I've seen suggests that even for those who know enough to be able to see the difference up close, they have to be seated closer than 8 feet or so from the screen on a 42-26" screen. Any farther than that and your eye's simply not powerful enough to resolve the extra detail in the image. Like Alan, I've got a 720p projector. Since it's on a massive screen, I'm sure you could tell the difference in 1080p on it. But there are so many things about an image that are more important than those extra lines of resolution (proper color, contrast, black level, etc.) that it would've cost me a fortune to get a 1080p that was as good in those areas. Most of the time, for "budget" 1080p sets, you're going to sacrifice stuff like color and black levels to be able to afford the extra resolution. And it just doesn't make any sense if you're sitting far enough away (8+ feet on your size screen) that you won't be able to notice the difference anyway.

What about Blue Ray

I initially bought a high def player (mine was HD-DVD, but the quality and resolution are the same as Blu-Ray) before I had my projector. Hooking it up to my 50" plasma I could see marginally better picture quality. A little sharper, the colors popped a little better. But I'm talking marginally. I actually had to switch back and forth for an A-B comparison between the dvd and hd-dvd versions of the movies I had to even pinpoint the differences. I'm a stickler for PQ, and price wasn't a huge factor as the player was for sale, but even still I returned it. I just couldn't see enough benefit from it. Now, fast forward to my new house where I was able to install a projector, and it became almost mandatory for me. The PQ difference on my size screen is massive between the two, and now SD dvds look blurry to me. It's actually kind of frustrating, because I would probably be generally happy watching SD dvds still if it weren't for knowing I had a BD player sitting there next to it. So I pretty much never rent or buy anything SD anymore unless they just don't offer it in BD.

I've always been an early adopter, and I'm skipping Blu-Ray altogether (especially since it won't play on most computers and definitely not in the minivan).

I get my movies the way Providence intended: I download them.

Blu-ray's still going to be the standard for a good while. In fact, because everyone knows that the future will always be downloads, blu-ray may be the last real disc based format to gain any ground at all. The problem with downloads is that it's still really hard to find many good HD downloads, whereas more and more catalog films are being released on BD. And the time it takes to download them is extremely long compared to the SD versions. For me, it's way quicker to run to blockbuster if I don't have what I need already at the house than it would be to download/stream an HD film. And then of course there's the lack of any extras on download versions...
FWIW, if you have Comcast, there have been some concerns lately about them compressing HD video in order to compete with Verizon's fiber network.

Not just Comcast, but virtually all of the cable/sat companies compress their HD to a greater or lesser degree. Directv has been really bad about it for years now. If at all possible, it's always best to get all the channels you can OTA. People are shocked when they watch tv at our house to find that not only is over-the-air HD free, but it's also higher quality than you'll get from any cable or satellite company. It's amazing that so few people know that you can get HD programming for free with just a cheap basic antenna. But since nobody makes money off of it, nobody markets it. Of course, this is only for networks and local channels, not stuff like ESPN or CNN.

But since you mention it, the problem's just as bad (if not worse) on HD downloads. Everybody's focused on resolution, but they need to get download sizes as small as possible for fast download and lower cost, so they just cut the bitrate and compress everything to death. HD doesn't always mean HD unfortunately. (Or rather, there's unfortunately no hard definition for what HD means to begin with, so companies can pretty much get away with calling whatever they want HD.

Edited by popechild

"You guys don't really know who you're dealing with."

"Oh yeah, and who exactly are we dealing with?"

"I'm the mother flippin' rhymenoceros."

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  • 2 weeks later...
Circuit City begins liquidation next weekend. Might be a good time to look for a HDTV etc.

If you do go that route, I'd advise against their extended service plan.

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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I'd advise against buying there period. The stores around here all liquidated in December, and I never saw a price that was really a bargain, even when they were "discounted" 40% or more. 25-30% off list is pretty standard on tvs, so to beat true sale prices, you're going to have to wait until they're really scraping the bottom of the barrel on stock, and doing the final days discount. At that point, the only thing that will be left is open box and the like. I went in multiple times when our store was liquidating, trying to find a deal on a half dozen items or so. I never saw a price that was even as low as the standard pricing in other stores. The liquidation sales are shams.

Oh, and you won't be able to return anything if it's purchased from the liquidator.

"You guys don't really know who you're dealing with."

"Oh yeah, and who exactly are we dealing with?"

"I'm the mother flippin' rhymenoceros."

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HDTVs are 10% "everyday low price". But nothing off a sale price. So the Panny TH42PZ85U (899.99 +129.99 shipping from Amazon) is still $1099.99 at Circuit City. Gonna have to wait a bit more for real deals. 20% off most everything else, including exorbitantly priced dvds.

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I went by Circuit City this morning; everything not already on sale was 10%.

In preparation for this, I made a list of all of Consumer Reports best plasma and LCD TVs that got at least a 4.0/5 at C|Net--along with the prices from Froogle and BestBuy.com.

I was apalled.

There are no deals on TVs @ CircuitCity.

Don't say you weren't warned. :)

"You guys don't really know who you're dealing with."

"Oh yeah, and who exactly are we dealing with?"

"I'm the mother flippin' rhymenoceros."

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Must depend on the Best Buy location. My long-term warranties have always been honored there, and the repairs have worked like they were supposed to. My only complaint with their Geek Squad has been the long, long lines.

(Well, until recently when it took almost 3 weeks for them to fix a power source issue on my wife's laptop. And I've never been fond of all the crap they pre-load onto a computer you get from them. But otherwise....)

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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www.bhphotovideo.com sold me the Panasonic TH 42PZ85U for $929.00, free shipping. Best price I could find on the web or brick and mortar. 42 inch 1080p (ie. make wife happy) plasma. Some cheaper options available for the 720p and the older 1080p 80U. Now I get to wait for the UPS truck guy. :D

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Picked up a 32" Sharp HDTV for $450 at Costco.

Jeez, the setup is irritating. The instructions were a pain to follow, and printed in such small type I could hardly follow them.

Seems to be a decent set, though. The picture's great for DVDs. I thought 32" would seem small, but I'm pleased at how bright and bold the colors are. I think a 37" might have seemed a little overpowering for my living room.

But my rabbit-ear antennae aren't bringing in many channels at all, and those that they do find are inconsistent (sometimes the TV detects them, sometimes it doesn't). The same antennae on my regular tube TV brings in a far better picture and more channels. I suppose I now need to go out and buy a more powerful antennae. Sigh. These things can never be simple, can they?

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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