Does wanting to make this purchase make you say "Doi!", "Duh!" or "Doh!" about me?
October 4, 2007 11:21 AM   Subscribe

Is this particular model of 40" LCD HDTV right for me? (Sony Bravia XBR4) Is there any upcoming new tech (I know about the OLED thing) that will make me look stupid (to myself, later) for dropping $2500 - $3500 on a relatively new HDTV model?

I went window shopping, not even seriously shopping, last weekend with my sweetie for 40" LCD HDTVs. This is after rather a lot of research, reading, thinking, etc. about HDTVs. I had budgeted, as a ball park, about $2000 for an eventual purchase, but my sweetie, who is the one with an eye for aesthetics (whereas I am merely a geek who'll be using it for gaming and movies), both from the standpoint of performance and something that'll be sitting in my living room all the time, pointed at this particular model and said "that one". Being someone who aims to please, I plan to get it for her/me/us and mostly I just want a sanity check here.

I think the size, 40", is about right. I'll be sitting about 6-8 feet from the screen. I think the LCD technology is right for my gaming needs. I think the 120 Hz refresh rate looks beautiful, and my sweetie agrees. I know I want 1080p. Mostly I want to know from the serious HDTV geeks whether any technology is about to come out, or rumored to be about to come out, that will make me feel like a complete loser for having bought this thing for about $1000 more than I budgeted (after taxes and cables and accessories).

Also, it comes with a 1 year limited warranty. Should I buy extended?

Just to clarify, I know about buyer's remorse in tech. Having had a lot of practice with that and laptops, I think I'll do okay there. I just don't want to commit to doing something that is blindingly foolish because of some tech or marketing program I don't know about and that someone here might be able to illuminate.

I plan to purchase within probably 6 months.

Thanks in advance!
posted by kalessin to Shopping (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If nothing else, wait till after Christmas for the prices to drop. I bought a 40" Samsung for $1700 8 months ago, so $2500-$3500 seems kind of high. Sony's are typically pricey and I don't think they are the industry leader that they used to be.
posted by doctor_negative at 11:26 AM on October 4, 2007

Looks like a damn nice TV.

The advice about waiting for price drops is good, but the price will always drop after you buy expensive tech, waiting will lessen the price drops, but if it won't kill you emotionally when the price drops a few hundred down the road, buy and enjoy it now.

As for the warranty - avoid the hassle and cost of the store warranties and buy with a credit card that provides good warranty coverage.
posted by terpia at 11:39 AM on October 4, 2007

the 120Hz refresh rate / 1080p seems good to me, but shop around and look at a fe other sets first. Philips has a similar set that's $2800 list for a 47", and LG and JVC have also shown 120Hz models. I don't think you're going to see anything radically better technology-wise for a little while, but Sony's prices have always seemed high to me (a friend calls it the '4-letter tax').
posted by pupdog at 11:49 AM on October 4, 2007

The forums at AVS are filled with hardcore video guys that take this stuff very, very seriously. Good resource.
posted by sharkfu at 11:53 AM on October 4, 2007

Well to answer the question asked...the only new tech on the horizon that I am aware of is LED illumination instead of fluorescent. Advantages: runs cooler, uses less power, light source lasts longer. potentially darker blacks. Disadvantages: some say the color temp of the light source.
posted by Gungho at 12:06 PM on October 4, 2007

Wow, good advice from all so far, so I'll mark you all as "best". If anyone has extra opinions, feedback, etc, please do say so!

Thanks to you all so far. :)

It's good to hear I'm not apparently totally insane for seriously considering this purchase.
posted by kalessin at 12:39 PM on October 4, 2007

Yeah, those guys at AVS really, really know what they are talking about. One thing -- 40" is sort of a quirky size, 37 and 42" are much more common. You may find some better deals in those size ranges. I hear the Bravias look terrific, but yes they are very, very expensive. Way overrpiced IMO.

If you have 6 whole months that you could wait, yes I'd say wait until around/after holidays.
posted by lohmannn at 1:42 PM on October 4, 2007

Have to mention that for the money you're talking about spending, I picked up a 46" Samsung DLP set that has absolutely the best picture I've ever seen.
posted by JaredSeth at 2:19 PM on October 4, 2007

There are some unexpected extras in making the jump to HDTV. Standard definition TV doesn't look very good, DVDs look pretty good, but the best picture is from HD sources, so you'll want to either get HD cable or satellite or a fancy antenna to pick up HD broadcasts. You might even be tempted by an HD-DVD player or Blu-Ray, because they are both very impressive on an HD set.

You mentioned games. One issue I ran into with my Samsung 720p set was that there was a very slight lag when playing video games. It isn't enough to make a difference in 99% of the 360 games I play, but one game I particularly love (Pac-Man CE) is much, much more difficult on the fastest levels.

You might also end up spending money upgrading cables for your video game systems, too, like component cables for the Wii and PS2.
posted by MegoSteve at 8:12 PM on October 4, 2007

A couple more data points:
  • I don't watch broadcast TV, so that's not an issue.
  • If I get a blu-ray, I'll probably do it by buying a PS3.
  • I plan to test the video games I have if at all possible with the model I'm looking at. I noted that on my friend's projection TV, he had to switch it to a special game mode to play guitar hero on it - other modes introduced enough lag to make seasoned players fall off the wagon and be unable to play. Even so, the refresh time (8ms) and refresh rate (120Hz) is supposed to minimize those lags in this particular model/line.
  • I will definitely be looking at other similar models, and 42"/46" models as well.

posted by kalessin at 7:53 AM on October 5, 2007

Oh, and yes, definitely HDMI or HD Component cables from existing AV devices whereever possible.
posted by kalessin at 7:53 AM on October 5, 2007

I probably should have posted earlier, but a few weeks before the holidays I went ahead (because of a couple of windfalls) and bought a 40" Sony Bravia XBR5 (not XBR4 - mainly because I wanted to order from our local Tweeter, having heard about and later getting to enjoy their very good delivery service and they don't sell XBR4s).

I have been very very happy with it.
posted by kalessin at 1:09 PM on February 8, 2008

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