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HD / LCD TV Recommendations please.

By CharlieSpencer ·
I'm planning on getting a new set during the Christmas sales period.

I'm looking in a 32" or 37", unless someone is giving 40" sets away.

I'll be connecting the cable box / DVR, DVD player, and VCR; no computer, no game console, no Internet.

1080 / 120 would be great, but a 720 / 60 is plenty acceptable.

The room usually has at least one lamp on, occasionally two. There's probably a 90 degree field between the chairs.

Although exact models are welcome, I'm looking for some general guidelines in terms of manufacturers. I'd also appreciate links to independent web sites with reviews. I don't purchase many electronics and I don't know how the manufacturers rank or what sites to trust.

Thanks.

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Just about anything is good

by DelbertPGH In reply to HD / LCD TV Recommendatio ...

We went to a Best Buy last Thanksgiving, looking for something about 42 inches. Instead, there was a Sharp 46 inch that they were discontinuing. It was about $850, a really alarming sale value and cheaper than any of the 42 inchers we had considered. It's by no means the best brand (Samsung and Sony are best), but we never haul one of them into our living room for a side-by-side comparison, so guess what? We think it looks great. Lesson: some good deals are not advertised, so go with an open mind.

All LCD tvs are bright enough to watch with a light on. Don't sweat that. In general, the larger, the better; the very sharpness of HDTV makes you want to sit closer than you would with a tube TV, because you can see more. Lines of resolution (720p vs 1080p) are not as important as you might think; unless you have a 40 inch screen or more, it's nearly impossible to tell the difference. Everything we get from the cable comes in at 1080i, and it is hard to see if the 1080p from the Blu-Ray is better. (Blu-Ray is the ONLY way I know of to get a 1080p signal at home... they come built in on PS3, by the way.) Most cheap sets have a 60hz refresh rate, but better ones are using 120 or even 240hz, interpolating one or more images to go in between the real images; this makes action look smoother and helps even out some colors, but it's only visible in very large screens. Don't make it an issue. (Ours is 46" and we don't see any jerkiness, but sometimes you can see some banding in gradient colors. We don't complain.) Don't bother getting expensive cables (Monster, etc.); the cheapest one you can find works great for all typical layout. Do try to get as many HDMI inputs as possible; ours has only two, and we could use four (one for the cable, one for the PS3, one for the Wii, one for the upconverting VCR/DVD player.) We use composite cables, or switch a plug, for the other ones.

Off brands are on Black Friday sales, and some good ones. At Target:
40" Apex $450 http://www.blackfriday.info/item/28025
32" Westinghouse $246 http://www.blackfriday.info/item/28024
At Best Buy, there are tons. Here's their ad:
http://www.blackfriday.info/sales/best-buy-black-friday-ad.html
I'd note that they have a 1080P 40" Dynex for $500.
Wal-Mart has a lot. Note the 32" Emerson for only $250, and the 42" Samsung for only $600. That's a steal, but it may be more pricey than you want. It's also only available Saturday (what day is that???), so don't expect to buy it on a Friday.
http://www.blackfriday.info/sales/wal-mart-black-friday-ad.html

A final word: all sets come with a stand, so you can put it on a table. A tilting wall mount will cost $80 or $100, so if you want it on the wall you'd better count on that. And, power consumption is proportional to the square inches of screen, that is, roughly proportional to the square of the diagonal size. And I'm sure you are aware that you need a digital cable box to get good HD signals. You can get a few over the air, but you have to buy a special antenna, and that's another $30-$100.

Happy shopping.

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Thanks.

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Just about anything is go ...

42" is larger than I'm looking for or even want. I'm moving up from a 27" HD CRT set, and we find it to be almost big enough. We're only replacing it because our second set died. $850 is at least $300 more than I plan on spending.

The system will sit on top of a very sturdy sideboard. I don't want to knock holes in the wall; we rearrange the LR every 24 - 30 months.

I've already got an HD cable box with DVR.

Thanks.

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We sit 12 feet from our 46 inch panel, and it's comfy

by DelbertPGH In reply to Thanks.

It's surprising how you don't mind the size when it's a flat panel. At least, I find it so.

I have mine mounted on the wall. When I had the tube set running, the screen was two feet closer to the couch; the thing was just that deep. Of course, you can push a flat screen as far back on the table as you want.

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DirecTV and OTA Antennas

by willcomp In reply to Just about anything is go ...

You do not need a special antenna for HD OTA reception. I have a 20 year old antenna that works very well. It is a good one (mid range ChannelMaster) and is inside my attic about 35' above ground. I'm about 50 to 60 miles from the transmitters.

DirecTV HD is 1080p capable.

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WOAH there Delbert, there's a lot to it that you've missed!!!

by Oz_Media In reply to Just about anything is go ...

This is actually what I do for a living, as a BDM in the industry. Much as with speakers, if they sound okay they are good in most comsumer's eyes. That doesn't make them good speakers or even a good value for money though.

There is actually a MASSIVE difference in sets these days, they are all just marketed as the same to try and group the weak with the strong. So people are left buying without any real knowledge of what to look for, just as with PC's and other electronics.

SHARP for instance, is THE leading brand (manufactured by LOEWE in Germany) of their own and many other brands (such as Pioneer) sold under other names. However, the SHARP brand itself is generally a better value for money than products rebranded for others becaus ethey own a huge chunk of Loewe corporation too.

Lighting is actually a MAJOR factor when buying a screen these days, if not the most important factor (well, besides properly calibrating it when installed)

There are many considerations to be looked at before choosing a set. The lighting level for instance, if in a room with bright light, you will find a matte screen is best and reduces glare, however the screen is more susceptible to damage and scratches.

A high gloss screen, usually a glass panel, is much more durable but needs to be in a room with no light reflections or with very few windows.

Contrast ratios also vary a GREAT deal with LCD's, which is why you should never rely on the picture you see in store but buy based on specifications instead.

First of all, the store will calibrate screens it wants to sell (usually due to strong margins) but they will leave others in 'out of the box' mode instead, resulting in a poor picture when compared side by side.
However, the cheaper, uncalibrated set may actually be far better in many ways, they just don't make as much margin for selling them so they try not to sell them.

"(Samsung and Sony are best)":
I beg to differ, these aren't CRT TV's, in which case Sony and Hitatchi lead the pack, in the LCD world, SHARP is by far rated the best.

Top picks, from installers and homeowners:

1) SHARP (makers of many other brands too)
2) SONY (though pricey as always)
3) SAMSUNG
4) PANASONIC
5) HITACHI

Now onto other KEY factors:

>Contrast ratio: Here's a great guide that explains how the numbers are misleading and often fudged, often also by purposely miscalibrating them in the store, Best Buy is famous for such 'scams' with their flat panels. In short, plasma GENERALLY has better contrast ratio and colour depth and refresh rate, until you get into the high end system.
http://www.practical-home-theater-guide.com/contrast-ratio.html

>Back or edge lighting: With LED TV's ecomign more and more popular, as they actually do stand up against the plasmas quite well. Back lighting is a nice even light panel but costs a lot of money. Edgel ighting is cheaper and mroe popular nowdays but is not very consitent across the entire panel.

This is a great starter for display comparisons: http://www.practical-home-theater-guide.com/LCD-Tv.html

For a greater definition of LCD vs Plasma, look here: http://www.practical-home-theater-guide.com/plasma-vs-lcd-TV.html

EDUCATE YOURSELF BEFORE YOU BUY!!! That way even when not prepared to spend big bucks for a top end set, you still get the est value for money available. I have a friends that ignired all of my recommendations and decided he'd go out and buy whetever he wanted withotu researching specs. He ended up buy ing THRE sets now in 2 1/2 years, one died completely, one had a dead backlight and was too expensive to fix and the other ghosts an image (burn-in that they say doesn't exist anymore, pure BS) from other channels where it was left on overnight.

Don't buy based on what a salesman tells you in store, don't uy based on specs alone, but learn what differentiates one from another.

simply put though, if you buy SHARP, you can't go wrong with most of their own branded sets.

For example: Best Buy up here has a SAMSUNG 40" 180P LED HDTV on sale for $ 1999.99

However they also have a SHARP AQUOS 40" 1080P HDTV for only $1699.99.

Now logically, you would think that the Samsung is the better of the two.

In reality the Samsung simply has added, possibly useless features such as Headphone output, built-in subwoofer (?impossible to get sub frequncies from a 4" driver anyway?)while the SHARP has a FAR better video processor. Quick display change options for auto picture adjustment to DVD, PC, Movie mode etc. That way you can add that movie effect when needed without recalibrating your set, a 4ms refresh rate and a matte black frame.

So for watching movies, the SHARP set is better, for less money. not too many people rely on a TV for surround sound and built-in speaker quality, but that's what sells the Samsung.

Sorry for rambling, it's my life. Just make sure you do your homework and DON'T let anyone tell you they are all the same and buying on price is your best idea. Those are the words of someone who just didn't do any research.

Lastly, pay the extra $100.00 to have a tech come in and properly calirate it, or read up on LCD calibration yourself and take time to set it up properly, they do NOT come out of the box optimized.

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General guidelines

by jck In reply to HD / LCD TV Recommendatio ...

a) 120HZ min refresh.
b) 1080p does make a difference the bigger the TV is. 720p might be okay for 32", but I'd be wary of it for 40, 42, 50 or higher.
c) Get as many HDMI inputs as you can.

Last year, I got a Sony 52" LCD 1080i/p, 120Hz refresh, etc etc etc. I love the thing. Has not given me one bit of trouble. I have also heard that Samsung LCDs are quality as well as Toshiba.

The best thing I can say to do is this:

Go to BestBuy, and stand there and compare and contrast the quality.

Then, go watch Amazon.com for deals on the TV you want. I got my TV, blu-ray player, and 4 blu-ray DVDs for under $1400 w/free shipping (yes...over 100 lbs of freight on the TV alone...free).

Sony is a little more pricey, but if you shop around you can find a great deal about every 3 months and they should be coming around in about...mmm...7 days? lol

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Thanks.

by CharlieSpencer In reply to General guidelines

I'm not going over 40".

I've heard a couple of problems with going to the store. One is that the sets may be in a dark room, conditions that don't duplicate our LR. The other is some stores have been known to properly configure the high-end sets while conveniently 'forgetting' to tweak the less expensive models.

I may avoid mail order in favor of brick-and-mortar. As you noted, deals on the shipping are easy to find. (Wally is offering 99 cent shipping on some models.) However, if there's a problem I don't want to hassle with shipping it back.

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yeah

by jck In reply to Thanks.

I wasn't too worried about returning it. If it had an issue, shipping was paid under warranty with Sony. I just had to pack it and meet the freight truck. After 30 days with most stores, you'd have to do the same anyway unless you buy their "extended warranty".

I wouldn't worry about quality, unless you go with LG, Vizio, and others that are new, lower-priced names in the market. Just read the warranty and check on what they offer on their websites.

And like I said, don't be afraid of mail-order. Most times with stores like Best Buy or Wal-Mart, trade-in after 30 days means calling the manufacturer for an RMA number and a UPS label anyways.

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I just hate dealing with the return process

by CharlieSpencer In reply to yeah

I'd rather drag it back and hand it to somebody, even if the freight is pre-paid. I'm not worried about after 30 days; I'm more concerned with a DOA.

Consumer Reports assures me extended warranties are the biggest rip-off going.

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Agreed

by JamesRL In reply to I just hate dealing with ...

The odds of failure mode is that if they are going to fail it will be right out of the box, or soon after. The only exception would be if you move around alot. So I would agree with Consumer Reports, its usually throwing your money away.

James

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