You down with HDTV?
December 5, 2007 2:18 PM   Subscribe

Looking for advice on HDTV purchase, where to buy, which models are recommended and which to avoid. Plasma, DLP, LCD? OMG!

Hi all - I'm looking to purchase a new HDTV (perhaps as soon as this weekend) and considering the hefty pricetag involved, I just want to be sure I'm making the right choices. I'm looking for any useful tips you can throw my way, or at least guide me in the direction I think I'm going.

We currently have a 48-inch HD rear projection which needs to be replaced. I have an unhealthy obsession with CNN so now there is a permanent CNN logo burned into the bottom left hand corner of the screen. That's now going to be "my" TV so I'm in search of something nice to replace it.

After scouring all askMeFi posts tagged with HDTV, I came across a recent post which gave much praise to the Samsung brand. After checking various models via online reviews (CNet was a good resource, linked in that post), I've taken a shine to the HLTxx87S series, which is the new "LED Engine DLP", no bulb to burn out. Has anyone heard anything - good or bad - about either these models or this new type of video technology?

Finally, price: I was originally setting my max price at around $1500-1600 (US). One of the reasons I'm leaning towards the model above is because Amazon has the 56" model for $1600 - or a 61" for $1800. This seems to be a great bargain considering their regular list price and what other stores list them for.

Assuming I went with this model, is it worth an additional $200 to get 6 more inches (hmm that sounds weird). Is it possible to go "too big"? I've heard of "smearing" on some sets during fast-action scenes, and wonder if this would be more evident on a larger screen.

My last (and nearly biggest) concern is the fact that this would be purchased from Amazon. Has anyone made a big-ticket purchase like this from Amazon before? The pros are that their prices are much cheaper than any of the Big Box places in my area (Best Buy, primarily) - plus there would be an added bonus of no sales tax. I'm concerned with having something that large shipped to me, what happens if it's faulty and needs to be returned, etc. If I end up not going through Amazon, I'm probably going to have to look for a different set at a Big Box store that fits my budget.

I'm not totally sold on this model or brand yet, so if you know of other reliable sets in the approximate neighborhood of $1500, 50+ inches and are burn-in resistant/proof, I'd love to hear about it. (Some gaming may be done on this set as well, but will be primarily for watching HD cable/movies, if this matters.)
posted by MarkLark to Shopping (16 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
From CNet.

For what it's worth, one advantage that Big Box stores have that Amazon does not (beyond the ability to take it back to the store if something breaks) is that you can usually haggle with a Big Box salesperson on big ticket items like HDTVs. You can't haggle with Amazon. If you can bring them down enough, the sales tax savings might not seem like a big deal.
posted by Nelsormensch at 2:23 PM on December 5, 2007

I'd stay away from DLP. LCD and Plasma are superior in all aspects. Prices are very competitive also.

If you are going for mainly HD sources and movies, I'd definitely recommend Plasma over LCD.
posted by mphuie at 2:28 PM on December 5, 2007

A DLP projector tv will NOT burn an image into the screen, no matter how long you leave it on.

Bonus: the one I have has virtually every type of input available in the back and has its own stand.

I love, love, LOVE IT. OMG.

Believe me, watching anything from kung fu to sci fi kicks major ass on my own personal Jumbotron.

Yeah, it's 2 grand. But if you have access to torrents, this is basically the same as seeing it in the movie, except you can do it in your jammies and not spend $18.50 on a ticket, snacks and one drink.

You'll actually save money by renting more new releases and it's HD-compatible.

I've had mine for two years and, though I am poor, have resisted selling it to defray major bills for the simple reason that I spend less at the movies, and people are willing to bring over alcohol/food in order to watch things on my TV (so think of it as an investment that slowly pays for itself).

Two years, no loss of image, smearing, or burned-out bulb. It will be shipped to you in a box that's roughly the size of a studio apartment with lots and lots of padding. If I were you, I'd see if locally you can find one... however, if you can't, my vote is for this one that I've linked.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 2:33 PM on December 5, 2007

If you are going for mainly HD sources and movies, I'd definitely recommend Plasma over LCD.

posted by xmutex at 2:34 PM on December 5, 2007

Response by poster: >I'd stay away from DLP

... Even LED-Engine DLP? Seems to be a different kind of technology, with no spinning 'color wheel' and no bulb to replace. I've never spent any time around a DLP so I can't be sure, but it seems one downside to DLP is that they make noise, due to the wheel (and the fact that the bulbs burn out after a few years and are expensive to replace).

I'm going to spend some time at Best Buy and Sam's Club tomorrow to get a better feel for the different types..
posted by MarkLark at 2:38 PM on December 5, 2007

I bought my TV at amazon (a 42inch plasma - Hitachi, I think,) and thought it was a perfectly fine experience. Hard to say what would happen if I opened it and it was DOA, but I can't imagine it would be too different from getting it at a physical store.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 2:57 PM on December 5, 2007

If you are going for mainly HD sources and movies, I'd definitely recommend Plasma over LCD.


Plasma generally have better black levels, better color reproduction, a better viewing angle, as well as better at displaying fast motion scenes.

Of course, YMMV. I have last years Panny 50" 768p Pro Plasma and it beats the pants off my dad's new Samsung 1080p LCD at watching movies.
posted by mphuie at 3:32 PM on December 5, 2007

You can get a bigger screen for the price in a rear projection set. You get a bit more distance between you and the TV with a flat screen, which can be nice in smaller rooms.

AVSForum is an invaluable resource for this stuff. I spent a few weeks researching there before buying my set.

I have a JVC LCoS and love it. I game a lot and watch a few movies. I would have gone plasma but was concerned about burn in, though I understand that's less of an issue with the newer ones.
posted by kableh at 3:34 PM on December 5, 2007

Philips often has outstanding deals through its Web site, particularly on refurbished discontinued models. However, I heartily suggest that you stay away from them, as their customer service is atrocious. You get a whopping 90 day warranty on the refurbs, and if it's busted, they will not replace it with another unit but rather will insist that you have it repaired locally. Mine was broken out of the box and came back after six weeks with a tube from their newer model, but also, it turns out, several problems that it didn't have to begin with. Stay away.
posted by kindall at 3:36 PM on December 5, 2007

FWIW, this is the AVSforum thread that convinced me to buy my TV. (50" Panasonic Pro Plasma)

I linked page 7 , browse the earlier pages if u want to see 1080p Japanese TV.. (a lot of it is of japanese girls on TV or in concert).

The page I linked and on are of Bluray.
posted by mphuie at 3:41 PM on December 5, 2007

Has anyone made a big-ticket purchase like this from Amazon before?

We just bought a Sony Bravia HDTV from Amazon. It arrived Monday. I can't speak to the returns process or anything like that; we love the TV and hope nothing comes up where we'd have to return it. Our experience with the delivery service and the person who came on Monday was great. No complaints here.
posted by Robert Angelo at 3:44 PM on December 5, 2007

MarkLark: The biggest downside to DLP is the viewing angle is atrocious. You will need to be sitting (not standing) in front of it to get the correct picture.
posted by mphuie at 3:44 PM on December 5, 2007

Some of the newer LCD Tv's feature 120Hz refresh rates, I saw one in the store the other day, and it was amazing how much difference it made in shots with a lot of movement/action.
posted by blue_beetle at 3:47 PM on December 5, 2007

Seriously, Costco.
posted by muscat at 3:55 PM on December 5, 2007

Hey, if burn-in was a problem on your last tv I would avoid getting a plasma, because they are the most susceptible, although some of the higher end plasmas are supposed to have technology that reduces the severity.
Also, if you plan to play video games on you new tv, again, I'd recommend against plasma. Every plasma I've played on has a serious lag making many games difficult, and then theres also the chance of the burn from logos or status/health bars.
posted by baserunner73 at 4:15 PM on December 5, 2007

We bought our Samsung xx87 DLP (the lamp type, not the fancy new LED type) from Amazon, and I'd do it again in a second.

The Amazon part: the price was substantially lower than anywhere else, shipping was free and easy, and the shippers brought it up the stairs, put it on our pedestal for us, took the box and packing materials back to the truck and waited for me to test it.

The Samsung DLP part: it's magnificent. Some people really hate DLP, but I love the look of it -- LCD, Plasma and LCD projection TVs look like TV to me, but the DLPs look like a movie screen. Contrast and color are fantastic. The aforementioned flexibility of the Samsung units re: inputs is true. The main downside is geometry (ie, letterbox stripes aren't perfectly straight as they would be on an LCD or Plasma). I generally don't see "DLP rainbows" except for when there's pure-black-on-pure-white, and even then, they seem like a small price to pay for how well the TV does everything else. No burn-in, of course.

As long as you get a set that physically fits in your space, it's hard to go too big. You'll see artifacts on any 50"+ HDTV with most media (HD-DVD and Blu-Ray excepted), so you won't be saving yourself by going small. Studies have shown that people will watch a bigger, crappier TV over a smaller, sharper TV, so if you get a bigger, decent TV, you should be fine.
posted by eschatfische at 5:15 PM on December 5, 2007

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