Help me pick an LCD tv!
November 30, 2006 7:08 AM   Subscribe

I need help choosing my tv. This is my second really expensive purchase, and I know a lot less about TVs than I do computers. Help me decide between 2 models of different brands, or suggest better! Also where to buy from recommendations!

So I've had a 27 inch analog tv since I graduated from high school. Fast-forward to nearing 3 years post-college-graduation, and I'm looking to buy a new TV. The one analog connection running through my VCR, just so I can have my Tivo and game systems hooked up isn't cutting it anymore.

Important factors:

-I will be moving out on my own in the coming year, so the tv will until then be used in my bedroom.
-Minimum of 46". Everything smaller looks too small and I don't want to regret not going big enough. This is meant to be a long-term enjoyment purchase.
-I'd prefer 1080p. I don't want to have to buy a new tv in 2008 when all broadcasts go hd. I've got an XBox 360, a Wii and eventually will get a PS3, so 360 and PS3 hi-def support is needed.
-No built-in DVRs. I have Tivo and it's going to be with me for a long time!
-I'd really prefer LCD over plasma, For energy, brightness, response time and length-of-life reasons.

Ok with that said, here are the two models I have been researching for months.

Sony Bravia 46" 1080p KDL-46XBR2 (grey) 2500

Samsung LN-S4695D 46 in 1080p LCD

Both are 1080p sets, and have been highly rated. I saw the Bravia on Black Friday (and should have snatched it then, it was down to $3033 at Circuit City from $3800 but that was still a little too pricey). It really floored me in terms of visuals. It was at that time too, really seeing it up close and from the viewing distance I'd probably be using, that 46" was just the right size. I could do 50, but it might be a little overkill. (feel free to debate or suggest otherwise)

Can anyone out there recommend an amazing set matching those criteria listed above?

I'm not sure if I should wait until after Christmas to look, or keep searching now. The cheapest I found the Sony set was around $2500 online through Froogle, shipping included I believe. I remember reading an article in the past month or two that Sony LCDs are set to drastically drop in price Jan-March of '07. I *could* wait until then, since I'd like to get the best deal possible. It's a good chunk of change! Anyone have experience with price drops? When were they more likely to occur? Did you miss out on a good price because you "had to have it?"

My last question is regarding warranties. I know that the extended warranties companies like Best Buy sell you are pretty worthless. Most often the products have their problems after that warranty expires anyway. Who has the best return/repair policy around? I've heard that CostCo is unmatched in theirs. One of those "if there's anything ever wrong with it they'll replace it or upgrade you to the nearest model" etc. Experiences with this?

I'm so lost in picking a new tv that will look great, sound amazing and really end up being my main tv for years to come. All help MOST appreciated!
posted by PetiePal to Technology (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Samsung makes the LCD panels for Sony, so you're essentially getting the same thing there.

If you are serious about LCD, which I have and recommend, you should also seriously look at Sharp, who have a full lineup of LCD panels and are considered to be as good as, if not better than, the Samsungs.
posted by gen at 7:11 AM on November 30, 2006

Response by poster: A little update... only sells this model: Model KDL46V251L1]

which I've read on the AVS forums to be similar to the one I'm looking at. The big difference is the engine is the BRAVIA as opposed to the XBR system. (XBR looked amazing though I would edge for that one)
posted by PetiePal at 7:11 AM on November 30, 2006

Response by poster: Sharp makes the AQUOS line right? I have considered them as well. The big factors here are image clarity, response time, (so gaming doesn't get any blur etc), and sufficient inputs, HDMI, 3-4 components, optical out etc.
posted by PetiePal at 7:16 AM on November 30, 2006

My money saving suggestion is keep a close eye on - If you have a model you like keep checking them out. Recently my friend had his eye on an LG tv that was running around 1,600 and had a similiar price. Out of nowhere one day the price was down to 1,000 with free shipping and an iPod nano. I had a very similiar experiance with my external hard drive I bought from them earlier this year. (Though a much smaller price difference, $200 down to $150)

Does anyone have any thoughts... is it better to buy electronics during the Holiday rush or wait for the post Holiday sales or are the prices just better during the rest of the year?
posted by meta x zen at 8:20 AM on November 30, 2006

This 47" rocks the house and can be found for around $2000.
posted by ryanissuper at 8:42 AM on November 30, 2006

I'd really prefer LCD over plasma, For energy, brightness, response time and length-of-life reasons.

Have you thought about DLP? Generally, DLP is going to beat LCD on all of the above (although response time is a bit of an issue on any 1080p model).

We just bought a Samsung HL-S5087w. It's 50", 1080p, has a ton of inputs, and looks magnificent. The only downsides over LCD seem to be the size (but it's still only a foot deep -- it's not obtrusive at all, and won't be as deep as your old 27") and the viewing angle (although it's great for a projection set). Some people complain about rainbows and DLP; I've never seen them, and nobody else who has seen our TV has complained.

To be honest, after doing a lot of investigation, you can get a DLP that matches the quality of the LCDs you're looking at above, and would be almost half the price ($1629 on Amazon *shipped*). You can also replace the lamp for a few hundred bucks down the road, as opposed to a major backlight repair on the LCD.

We looked at and loved the Samsung LCDs when our old TV went south, but we couldn't justify $1500 more for a few inches off the back when the DLPs gave us almost exactly the same thing.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 9:00 AM on November 30, 2006

Oh, and Costco. Our old TV went south after a year and a half. We bought it at Costco, and were able to return it for a full refund, no questions asked.
posted by I EAT TAPAS at 9:01 AM on November 30, 2006

I recommend this "Choose your own adventure" guide to HDTV buying.
posted by heh3d at 9:05 AM on November 30, 2006

I just bought a Samsung HLS6188 - it's 61", DLP, 1080p.

I am really happy with it. I had done a lot of research, and for the size/cost/performance ratio, DLP can't be beat.

I paid $2499 for it, just a couple of weeks ago. I bought it locally at a Sound Advice (Tweeter), after doing the requisite web searches and finding out that most every webfront which had them was selling them for $2999 including shipping... until you put it in the shopping cart, at which point, the "special web price" was $2499. Because of the lack of price differential between upstanding online dealers and my local dealers, I went local. You might find a couple hundred less on any model you choose if you go to some of the slimy-er sites on the internet, but they will likely try to hard sell you on overpriced accessories to make their margin on you anyway.

As far as rainbows, I see them *occasionally*. It doesn't appear to be all white highlights that cause it, only some. I think it may be a specific shade of white, coupled with a specific frame rate/interlace conversion that causes it. Luckily, it only seems to be in commercials, not in OTA content or in any of the content from DVD upscaling or my Mac Mini.
posted by tomierna at 9:19 AM on November 30, 2006

Response by poster: Good input so far. Unfortunately I'm not considering DLP yet. I HAVE been looking at Westinghouses, but I've a bit wary on their quality. That set mentioned above sure has a lot of HDMI inputs though! \

Right now the top of my list is:

Sony Bravia 46" 1080p KDL-46XBR2 (grey)
Sony Bravia 46" 1080p KDL-46XBR3 (black only more money because it's black bezel)
Samsung LN-S4695D 46 in 1080p LCD
Sharp AQUOS LC-46D62U 46 in 1080p LCD
Sharp AQOS LC-45GDU 45 in 1080p LCD Cable cards slots

I looked at that HDTV guide and it didn't help too much since they recommend 720. I'm really shooting for 1080p so when I do adopt HD-DVD or Blu-Ray I'm good to go.

I'm glad to hear CostCo has such a good policy. I hope they carry the model of the Bravia soon. I'd really like to get it, cheaper with that kind of support.
posted by PetiePal at 9:33 AM on November 30, 2006

On black friday, Costco had that 46" Bravada for 2800 even ($250 off that day). So I guess they're selling it for $3050 now.
posted by mathowie at 10:26 AM on November 30, 2006

Earlier this month I watched my dad knock off $400 from the already-on-sale price of a Samsung 62" DLP set at Circuit City. These things cost a rediculous sum of money. Do not be afraid to negotiate.
posted by roue at 11:08 AM on November 30, 2006

Response by poster: How can you negotiate at a Circuit City or Best Buy??? Aren't those prices set in stone? Maybe at a dealer like PlasmaDr or something like that but it's not like car-shopping I thought...

And btw that Bravia wasn't the one I was mentioning mathowie. It IS a bravia, but I believe a lower model, the KDL46V251L1. Big difference it's the BRAVIA engine not the XBR.
posted by PetiePal at 12:23 PM on November 30, 2006

What can I say, I saw it happen. Went from $2499 to $2100 with free delivery. Either way, it can't hurt to try.
posted by roue at 12:52 PM on November 30, 2006

Response by poster: I'd like to hear more about that interaction! Do tell us a story :)
posted by PetiePal at 1:20 PM on November 30, 2006

Isn't Circuit City employees on commission? I think in general you can always negotiate with commission based employees espacially on big ticket items.
posted by mmascolino at 3:46 PM on November 30, 2006

We went to the Best Buy first. Saw the set. They have a variety of deals. $100 off if you sign up for x, y, and z. My dad had them explain these things in great detail. Then offered to pay the post-deal price, but without signing up for anything. Best Buy offered the same $2200 without free delivery but with a $100 gift card that would show up in 8 weeks. So we went to the Circuit City. The same back and forth ensued, except this time dad made sure to mention Best Buy's price and got them to throw in the additional $100 and free delivery.

This is something of a sport for my dad. He really enjoys pushing the sales folk and isn't shy about it at all. He makes it clear that he's serious about buying it if they will meet his terms.
posted by roue at 3:58 PM on November 30, 2006

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