Any 1080p HDTV reviews/recommendations ?
July 24, 2006 10:47 AM   Subscribe

Given the wife's blessing to buy a big screen for our new home, I'm laden with the burden of selecting a TV that will meet our family's needs until we move again (unlikely). That said, what's a good future-proof 1080p TV, and where can I compare models for myself?

A little background on where the TV is going might be useful. Our family room is not wide, maybe 15 feet, but it is connected through to the kitchen over about 50 feet, and it would be nice if the TV wasn't a glowing speck on the far wall when viewed from the kitchen. I originally thought that the 37" screens would be fine, but the 50" screens look about right, too. 42" might be the ideal size - I'm still waffling on this, unsure what will work best in the available space.

Also, I fully intend to upgrade other components for the best picture. I currently have an XBox 360, and will likely upgrade to HD-DVD when it's available (and I have a TV that supports it) for movies. I will play games on this set, so refresh rate and burn-in resistance are important. We'll probably use satellite for HD programming, so cable-card access isn't a necessity.

I also intend to invest in a new AV receiver that switches between composite and HDMI signals. The TV should accept HDMI input (and none of that HDCP stuff) and probably composite - at least, just in case.

One of the primary issues with the TV search is finding somewhere that does actually compare the TVs. Consumer Reports has a few HD sets reviewed, but they don't provide enough detail in their specs to know which are 1080p. Most sites that review TVs are so riddled with ads, it's hard to even operate them, much less find the type of high-end TV I'm looking for.

My hangup on 1080p is that this is a long-term investment. I have no interest in spending $2000 or (probably) more on a TV and then wish I had gotten more. Perhaps it's not even an issue of noticing the difference (oh, but you can), but knowing that it isn't the best picture and that I'm locked into that set until the wife agrees to another big TV purchase - in other words, for quite a long time.
posted by ringmaster to Technology (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Amazingly enough, the first Google reponse to "true 1080p" is an AskMeFi thread I posted a bit under a year ago. As far as I can tell, the basic story hasn't really changed -- true 1080p input is still not available at anything like a consumer price-point. However, it seems like it is going to be, relatively soon.

If your viewing set-back is the full 15 feet, than you're at the threshhold of a 56" vs. 50" as ideal screensize. With the desire for good viewing at even farther remove as a secondary objective, I'd go with the 56".

With burn-in and cost as criteria, that suggests to me that you ought to consider DLP, which doesn't give you the flat panel form-factor, but which also doesn't present you with the unbearably high cost of 50" and higher LCD or the burn-in concerns of plasma.
posted by MattD at 10:59 AM on July 24, 2006

I just bought a 42" plasma, and apparently burn-in has been almost completely eliminated - the technology's done a lot of evolving in the last two years or so. From everything I read and was told, plasma burn-in is only an issue if you play games constantly (like 6+ hrs/day), and even then it's a much lesser risk than it was two years ago.

We have a similar setup in our house, and 42" is a really nice size - it's viewable from the distance of the dining room, but it doesn't overwhelm in the relatively small living room.

Maybe I'm being a Luddite, relatively speaking, but to me 1080i provides such a stellar picture improvement over "normal" TV/DVD pictures that I really don't know if I'd notice the difference between 1080i and 1080p. It seems that once you make the quantum leap into HD, choosing between 1080i and 1080p is like choosing between tacos and beer; there's no bad choice either way.
posted by pdb at 11:10 AM on July 24, 2006

Oh, by the way, I got a Samsung plasma, and I love it. Pick your price, and get the best TV you can for that price - at any given price point, most plasma/LCD/DLP TV's are similarly equipped, so the choice comes down to picture quality and form factor.
posted by pdb at 11:11 AM on July 24, 2006

I just got a 42" plasma and I love it. but I'll never have the balls to play videogames on that. and even with regular TV, black bars still make me nervous.

I'm paranoid, but still. a LCD would have solved that problem, but I was just too much in love with the plasma look as opposed to the LCD (and believe me, I've spent hours in stores looking at plasma vs LCD)
posted by matteo at 11:15 AM on July 24, 2006

Everyone seems to be raving about the westinghouse 1080p LCDs that are ridiculously cheap ($1500-2000) for a 42" model.
posted by mathowie at 11:23 AM on July 24, 2006

I think DLP is the way to go; especially if you want to play video games. Plasma screens burn-in (I haven't read or heard anything about burn-in being a thing of the past, or only an issue if you are playing hours and hours a day, as pdb states; but I'm no expert), and when the screen is dead; it's dead. DLP screens don't burn-in; and when you replace the lamp, you basically have a new TV.

My set does not have 1080p capabilities (although that option exists on my cable/DVR box); but we're very happy with what we have (the Samsung HL-R4667W). I second what pdb says about how great 1080i looks as compared to SD; and can't imagine it looking much better.

To compare just DLP sets, look here. To compare all TVs, look here.
posted by weirdoactor at 11:36 AM on July 24, 2006

First step, get over the "future proof" thing. That ain't gonna happen. Yes, it's an expensive device, but quit telling yourself it's an investment. You're not going to get a monetary return out of it. And yes, something better and cheaper will come out within weeks of your purchase. So live with it.

Next, get yourself over to That bunch stays ridiculously on top of this stuff. But don't spend too much time there - they'll drive you crazy (yes, I'm one of them, but from the slightly less crazy Home Theater side).

And why not think about a projector as opposed to a TV? That really opens up the possibilities.
posted by cptnrandy at 11:45 AM on July 24, 2006

I purchased one of the 42" Westinghouse LCD monitors mathowie mentioned. I've had it about three months and have been very happy with it. It has tons of inputs: two DVI, one vga, two component, one composite, one SVIDEO, one HDMI plus separate audio inputs for most of those (I think SVIDEO and composite share one audio input).

Just keep in mind, this is a MONITOR no tuner is built into it.

Prices on these are great right now, half the price I paid when I purchased mine. You might wait and see what the Westinghouse 47" LCD does price-wise, it may be a better deal for you.

Also, on the Westinghouse 42" units, some with old firmware have a locking up issue where you have to physically pull the power plug on it before the picture starts displaying again.
posted by JigSawMan at 12:50 PM on July 24, 2006

And before anyone is snarky, "you have to physically pull the power plug and plug it back in, before the picture starts displaying again.
posted by JigSawMan at 12:52 PM on July 24, 2006

A second vote for AVSForum. Invaluable resource.

And perhaps you could provide us with a little more insight? Are you looking to buy a panel television (LCD, Plasma) or otherwise (DLP one would assume) or even projection?

I just bought a Panasonic 42" 60U Plasma and love it. The consensus over there and other places is that it has the best picture quality for a decent price. There are a few brands that surpass it in terms of PQ (Pioneer, Fujitsu come to mind) but cost nearly $1000 more for equal sets. I got mine for $1898 at a local shop which is an awesome price.

I also second the previous notions about 1080p. If you are really insistent on gettnig it, you might be wise to hold off for several months as 1080p consumer sets are really just starting to come around now. The Westinghouse line is true 1080p, as is the newest line of JVC's and I believe Sony's recently announced Bravia line will be true 1080p, but the options there are relatively limited compared with sets doing 1080i.
posted by jckll at 12:53 PM on July 24, 2006

I'm not sure if they've fixed this, but one potential problem with DLP sets is the "rainbow effect." Basically, some people, when looking at a DLP set will see rainbow-colored ghosting if they don't hold their head perfectly still.

Sony makes some really great LCD projection TVs, and the prices are dropping like crazy.

If you're looking at projection TVs, learn about crop circles, their origins, and how they're corrected. The extended warranties don't look quite so crazy when you face one of these repairs.
posted by idlemind at 1:43 PM on July 24, 2006

I would not buy an HD set right now. Imminently we'll have DLP and LCD sets with LED lamps, which will be a significant improvement, plus of course there's the new SED technology on the way too (basically a flat CRT). So I'd give it another year for the new tech to hit the market, and then another year or two after that for the prices to fall, and then it'll probably be worth getting an HD set. I'd start shopping fall 2009.
posted by kindall at 2:20 PM on July 24, 2006

The Perfect Vision raves about the Sony KDS-R60XBR1 (sxrd) giving it not only Best Buy but the Product of the Year award. It is pricey at 5 thou. but the 50" is cheaper and may be a better fit for you. My nephew has the same model from three years ago and it is impressive and burn in isn't a problem (he is a big gamer). One key new feature is the auto iris which adjusts in milliseconds between light and dark scenes enabling the set to achieve amazing deep blacks, which if you read the forums at all is one of the benchmarks for a truly great picture.

This is the tv I would (and probably around Christmas will) buy - there are real deals on the internet too, but many of the prices that look so great don't include the stand, so you have to figure in the extra 800 or so dollars. And shipping. So caveat emptor.
posted by vronsky at 4:25 PM on July 24, 2006

Also - the new Play Station 3 will play Blu-Ray dvds so one box will suffice for gaming and hi def movies.
posted by vronsky at 4:28 PM on July 24, 2006

I had a similar question a few weeks back. Check out the Syntax sets, they're great for the $$.
posted by GilloD at 5:18 PM on July 24, 2006

Have you thought about the possibility of a digital projector rather than a tv? You would obviously need a tuner, but I've been really impressed at what a £300 projector shows - and it would be even adjustable (by moving the projector closer or farther away).
posted by jb at 5:53 PM on July 24, 2006

Also, be aware that the Xbox360 doesn't support 1080p, only 1080i.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:58 AM on July 25, 2006

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