Help me buy a TV
April 5, 2011 8:04 AM   Subscribe

Help me buy a TV and a Blu Ray player

I haven't owned a TV since 2004, and that was one I found in the trash. In 2005, I used my Dell 24 inch 2405FPW monitor as a TV, but its 16ms response time made it not a great TV. So I have no idea what the current state of the art is.

I want to buy a new TV -- or, preferably, a computer monitor I could use as a TV (but with a better response time). I also want to watch Blue Ray and DVD disks. And I want something reasonably portable, so 32 inches at most. What are my options?

Will a dedicated TV give me any picture quality that a monitor wouldn't? Do I want 720p or 1080p? Do I want to avoid 1080i?

Are Blu Ray players commodity hardware? Do I get the cheapest Blu Ray player? Is it perhaps preferable to get some gaming system that also plays Blu Ray? Do all Blu Ray players also play DVDs?

At this point, my plan is to get internet service but not cable, and Netflix, playing the Netflix from my computer (or do I want a gaming system for this)?

Alternately, I could pick up a used TV on craigslist, and buy a bluray player.
posted by orthogonality to Technology (14 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
Will a dedicated TV give me any picture quality that a monitor wouldn't?

Shouldn't, except that it might be cheaper at the 32" size.

Options: just look on newegg, sort by best rating.

Do I want 720p or 1080p? Do I want to avoid 1080i?

Just get 1920x1080, ie, 1080p. I doubt you'd find 1080i sets any more but would avoid. If you go lower than 1080p, I'd recommend going all the way down to true 720p (1280x720), or something a little higher that will do true pixel-perfect 720p in a windowbox. Weirdo off-resolutions (1280x800, 1024x1080, whatever) always seem to have mega-awful-jaggies to me. Likewise, I wouldn't bother with a monitor that's higher-resolution than 1920x1080 unless you need it for work; all it's going to get you as a tv is scaling artifacts.

Also, blurays look jaw-dropping awesome on 1080p. If you've seen HD over netflix or over someone else's cable system, blurays look about a squillion times better.

Bluray player: just get a ps3. Plays blurays/dvds/cds, does netflix, streams music and video around your network, also plays games.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:21 AM on April 5, 2011


on preview: Well, I guess I'll just agree with ROU here then. 1080p, newegg, PS3. And you're done! Oh, and since you seem worried about refresh rates, maybe go for the 120hz models.
posted by Grither at 8:23 AM on April 5, 2011


Response by poster: I'm not a gamer; I kinda want a Wii for the Wii sports-type games, something to get me off the couch. But Wiis don't play Bluray, right?

Will a PS3 have those kinds of games?
posted by orthogonality at 8:27 AM on April 5, 2011


I want to buy a new TV -- or, preferably, a computer monitor I could use as a TV (but with a better response time). I also want to watch Blue Ray and DVD disks. And I want something reasonably portable, so 32 inches at most. What are my options?

The cheaper lines, such as Vizio and Westinghouse, probably.

Will a dedicated TV give me any picture quality that a monitor wouldn't? Do I want 720p or 1080p? Do I want to avoid 1080i?

Picture quality changes not just from brand to brand, but model to model within a brand, and price isn't always an indicator. A good place to start research would be the AV Science Forum. Members can sometimes get bogged down in minutiae, but you will generally see a consensus around a couple of models for which quality is about the same. You should always get 720p or 1080p, depending on how far away you sit. For you to really notice 1080p on a 32" screen, you'd have to be sitting very close (i.e. < 5').

Are Blu Ray players commodity hardware?

More or less.

Do I get the cheapest Blu Ray player?

Not really (see below)

Is it perhaps preferable to get some gaming system that also plays Blu Ray?

It depends. For $100-$150 (less during sales) you can get Blu-ray players that can play discs as well as provide streaming via Netflix (most players) or VUDU (some players), as well as free services like Youtube, Pandora, NPR, and the like. If you want to game even a little bit, spend a little more on a PS3 and go to town.

Do all Blu Ray players also play DVDs?

Yes, and most will also "up-convert" DVDs by sharpening them and displaying them at a higher resolution. Quality ranges from not much better than regular DVD to pretty good but noticeably different from Blu-ray.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:32 AM on April 5, 2011


I'm not a gamer; I kinda want a Wii for the Wii sports-type games, something to get me off the couch. But Wiis don't play Bluray, right?

Will a PS3 have those kinds of games?


Wiis have no HD capabilities whatsoever. You can go with the Playstation Move for full-body movement games, plus there's always stuff like Rock Band 3.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:33 AM on April 5, 2011


They don't make 1080i TVs any more, as fixed pixel displays like LCDs and plasmas can't be interlaced.

720p would likely be fine for your TV/movie/game needs but it probably wouldn't cut it if you're planning on using it as a monitor very often. In general the 1080p models will also be superior in other ways beyond just resolution.
posted by The Lamplighter at 8:45 AM on April 5, 2011


I don't think this is spelled out clearly above so I'll just add this:

Blu-ray IS 1080P. If you are getting a blu ray player but not a 1080P tv you are wasting money.

Wii is limited to 480p, which looks like utter poop on my 46" lcd, but isn't too bad on my smaller 26" westinghouse.

Also the differences in brands that I've found most striking is the user interface and options. My 46" Sony - amazing, intuitive interface. My 26" Westinghouse - severely limited options and menu. But also crazy cheap.
posted by Big_B at 9:25 AM on April 5, 2011


I want to buy a new TV -- or, preferably, a computer monitor I could use as a TV (but with a better response time).

I got this 27" model from ASUS a month ago. I'm very pleased with it -- it works great as a monitor (it's almost too big!) and a TV (2ms response time and full 1080p, very bright with tons of color options, plus an LED backlight makes for a thin panel, amazing colors, and better power consumption and reliability compared to the usual CCFL-lit models). Tron: Legacy comes out today on blu-ray, and I cannot wait to see it on this monitor... it really excels with glowy, color-rich sources!
posted by vorfeed at 10:53 AM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just came in to warn you off the Samsung Blu-Ray player.

I LOVE my Samsung LCD TV and have recommended it here before. Have the earlier model Samsung Blu ray - POS! I'm afraid to update the software because rumour online says it can brick the player. Because of not updating, there are discs I can't watch. Plus, mine doesn't play all regular DVD's.

I have a toshiba DVD player that I LOVE.

Also, for $100, Apple TV rocks!!
posted by jbenben at 11:29 AM on April 5, 2011


I went all in for 1080p after having a 1080i plasma screen retired after five years.
I can't recommend LED TV enough. It is transcendent...but still comparatively expensive. My 60" Samsung LED TV cost $2K, and an LG Blu-ray player+ (mostly) wireless home theater sound system was $500. The prices will plummet, natrurally. Hold out as long as you can stand it.
I don't recommend LCD. Go for 1080p LED TVs @120 Hz. If you have to scrimp somewhere, choose the Blu-ray player. Most are network-aware, but so far I haven't found one (actually, haven't looked for one) that supports 120Hz.
With LED TV and a decent player, the upsampling of standard DVDs to Blu-Ray is remarkably good.
I'd got lucky with a bit of a windfall and so was able to afford them, otherwise I would have suck with what I have. Believe me, the step up to LED TV was huge.
posted by nj_subgenius at 12:58 PM on April 5, 2011


...Oh, and it's probably not necessary, but *avoid* 3D TVs of any kind.
posted by nj_subgenius at 1:00 PM on April 5, 2011


LCD/LED TV prices have come down a lot. Keep an eye on deal sites.
Buy a blu-ray player with netflix, then you don't have to have a PC hooked up to the TV.
posted by WizKid at 1:03 PM on April 5, 2011


Will a PS3 have those kinds of games?

Their "PlaystationMove" does similar stuff. I've no idea how good the games are.

Even if the ps3 didn't play games at all, as a combo bluray player, netflix player, and media streamer it would be worth it. Also, it's the standard-reference blu-ray player, so basically everything will work on it. That it also plays games is a bonus.

(you also might find you like games more than you think... Katamari Forever, or Flower...)

Really, this is easy to overthink and agonize about. And I think that once you start down the rabbit-hole of avsforum you'll never be able to make a decision without second-guessing it. From the way you've described your interests, just get a 1080p tv/monitor that has good reviews on newegg, get a ps3, and start enjoying the new stuff.

At this point, my plan is to get internet service but not cable, and Netflix

...and an account with a provider of a service that rhymes with schmooze-schmet, and a free account at nzbmatrix...
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:05 PM on April 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Another vote for the PS3 here.
I have one and a Samsung Blu-Ray player (which I bought for the surround-sound capability).

I have compared the two devices in terms of Blu-Ray playback and the PS3 has clearly superior image quality. Images are sharper and color range is wider.... so no, Blu-Ray players are not all the same.
Also, I think the PS3's user interface/ video navigation is the best I've ever used - which includes PC software and other home entertainment devices.

I get your portability issue, but I believe you can never go too big. 32" is ok but to really get the most out of 1080p, you need to go above 40" (IMO).

It's easy to lose your head in the great TV hunt ... just check which TVs have the best reviews and then check them out with your own eyes if possible. Pick the one you like looking at :)
posted by 00dimitri00 at 5:19 AM on April 6, 2011


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