Is there anyplace that has a good television buyers guide?
April 17, 2007 8:52 AM   Subscribe

Is there anyplace that has a good television buyers guide? I'm familiar with AVS Forum which seems like a good resource once you've narrowed it down to some choices, but I'm still a ways away from that point. I've also read some CNET articles which seem to suffer from the same kind of tunnel vision as I saw on AVS Forum, but of course it's possible I just didn't find the right article.

I currently have a 50" rear projection Panasonic that I purchased about 9 years ago. It was a bit of a lemon when I bought it with a wonky power supply or something like that. After several repair attempts, they eventually replaced some parts and it's worked fine for the past 8 years. Now it's starting to go again though, so rather than dealing with it, I'd like to buy a new TV.

I'm typically viewing from a distance of about 8 to 9 feet. It's a shallow room, so it will never be any more than that. Sometimes I'm head on, but more often I'm at an angle of around 50 degrees give or take.

I don't have much control over lighting. There is a fair amount of indirect light during the day and no light at all in the room at night.

I mostly watch DirectTV using an old DirectTivo box, so standard def. If I had a high-def set, I might watch some high-def content, but I don't expect I'd be watching much.

I also watch some DVDs, but mostly I'm watching TV, and most of that is the standard old-school TV aspect ration.

I'm not very sensitive to video quality. A friend mentioned a red/orange box that is barely perceptible in the lower third of the screen (possibly related to the problems I'm having with the set), and until she mentioned it, I never noticed it. Even knowing it's there, I can rarely see it.

I have the money to spend on a nice future-proof set, but I don't have an interest in spending any more than I have to, so value is an important consideration.

Can you help me narrow my focus, or point me to a good buyers guide that could help me narrow my focus?
posted by willnot to Shopping (8 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
LCD Buying Guide, DLP TV Review and Plasma Buying Guide all have some good info and comparisons between the technologies.
posted by FreezBoy at 9:28 AM on April 17, 2007

my 2 cents: you should really buy an HDTV, as that's the way things are going to be moving.

Also, hold judgment on the "I'm not very sensitive to video quality" statement. I just got an HD set and am just blown away by the quality. I didn't think I cared either...

FWIW, I bought a Westinghouse HD *monitor* rather than a TV. If you are pretty sure you're going to be getting your TV signal from either satellite or cable, you can save some $$ by buying a monitor, which lacks the tuner hardware (which you won't need with sat/cable). Don't know what you're price range is, but you can get a 37" 1080p Westinghouse monitor for right around $1000. I splurged to the 42" at $1250. They also make a 47" that goes for $1800 or so.
posted by mcstayinskool at 9:47 AM on April 17, 2007

Well, from your description, I'd suggest a 42 to 50" LCD, unless you don't do a lot of viewing during the day or you don't mind reflections from a glass screen, in which case you probably want a plasma, since you have a dark room to enjoy the deeper blacks in. I have a similar setup, except that I keep the lights on at night, and after a few months, I'm finding that a 37" is a bit on the small side, although not tiny by any means.

I think the LG LCD TVs are at a good price/performance point, although most at AVS would point you to the Sony or the Sharp models unless you are looking for a budget screen. I like the LG because it does very well on SD content.

Although I didn't consider one because I'm sensitive to poor quality LCD panels, if you're not, a Westinghouse, Olevia, or Vizio might be right for you. No sense in spending a bunch of money on something better if you won't even notice the difference! The Olevia 747i has an excellent video processor mated with a so-so panel. Last I checked it was around $3000, though. It seems that for that kind of money you could do better.

I didn't really consider a plasma for two reasons. First, I'd be obsessively worried about burn in, and second, I watch a lot of 4:3 material and wouldn't want to worry about the phosphors wearing unevenly, giving the set a funny look on 16:9 material.

Whichever set you go with, either spend the money to have a professional calibrate it, or spend the time and the small amount of money to pick up a cheap meter and do it yourself.

Your situation is particularly hard because the uncontrolled daytime lighting screams LCD, but at night on most you'll see the backlight bleed since there's no other light in the room, which points to a plasma. You may be best off with an RPTV of some sort. Of course, I'm a general RPTV hater, and you seem to have one that you like, so DLP or LCOS may indeed be the best solution for you.
posted by wierdo at 9:47 AM on April 17, 2007

I'd recommend what I bought after doing the same research: a Panasonic commercial plasma monitor. I got the 42" but the 50" is just $1700 at Amazon and probably cheaper if you hunt around. Excellent contrast and color, and you're not paying for a tuner and speakers that you'll never use. And I like its stripped-down look, it just has a narrow black bezel around the screen. And it's nicely future-proofed because you buy the input modules separately - I got one HDMI for my S3 TiVo, one DVI for my Mac, and one component for a console - but if the XBox gets HDMI before Halo 3 ships I can swap that card out for a second HDMI in.

And you will get addicted to HD once you have it, it's awesome.
posted by nicwolff at 11:43 AM on April 17, 2007

Hey nicworlff, do you have a model number or link? I'm interested in this plasma monitor angle. Thanks.
posted by jikel_morten at 6:03 PM on April 17, 2007

oops, nicwolff. No r.
posted by jikel_morten at 6:05 PM on April 17, 2007

I got a TH-42PH9UK from VisualApex - wow, I paid $1500 for it less than a year ago, and now it's $900! The 50" model is the TH-50PH9UK and it's just $1689. Remember, though, it comes with only component in and then you can buy boards at about $150 each for HDMI, DVI, &c.

Note that these are their 720p monitors - they do have a 50" 1080p, the TH-50PF9UK, but it's $4200.
posted by nicwolff at 9:57 PM on April 17, 2007

posted by jikel_morten at 10:31 PM on April 23, 2007

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