I gave up TV. Now help me buy a TV. (...Or a humongous monitor for my computer/dvd player.)
February 18, 2008 3:43 PM   Subscribe

A couple months ago, I sold my old Sony Trinitron and gave up TV. It's been fantastic and I haven't really looked back. But I *have* been missing watching movies on a screen bigger than my 15” laptop. I've also always wanted a bigger monitor for my laptop, so I can juggle more projects at once. So I'm starting to look around for a large LCD monitor or sizable HDTV to serve these needs. I've had a couple co-workers at previous jobs tell me they use an LCD TV as a monitor and they swear by it for cost savings and multi-functionality.

I'm kinda clueless though and need your advice. I've read through some similar AskMeFi questions, but most of them were from 2005 and 2006, so (in theory) the technology should be getting better. I won't accept anything short of a 1920 x 1080 resolution, so that should help with the resolution issue... or maybe I just totally misunderstood the problem with using a TV.

My budget:
I'd be willing to pay around $500, up to $1500 for a perfect device, although I'd prefer to go cheaper. 40" is probably the perfect size for the room it'd be in. (I don't need a 60 inch monitor necessarily but I kinda feel more comfortable paying $1000+ for a 60” DLP HDtv with tons of hook ups and multiple HDMI inputs, than paying $1000+ for a 32” LCD computer monitor. Am I missing some huge advantage over the 32” monitor?)

My needs:
- Widescreen, HD resolution
- Over 30 inches, ideally (Uh, less than 60”, I think)
- Able to plug my laptop into it to use as a big monitor
- Able to plug my DVD player into it (so I don't have to keep using my laptop as a DVD player)
- Able to plug a possible future Blu-Ray or Xbox device into it and get full HD quality
- Cheaper is obviously better, but I don't mind splurging for something really cool or high quality that will last me forever (No plasmas! I don't want to derail things but I've had 3 friends with horrible experiences using Plasmas. So, no plasmas.)

Would be cool:
- Thin profile (LCD's are cool, but not mandatory)
- Having the whole TV tuner/remote/speakers option might be good for resale and useful in special cases (Superbowl or entertaining guests)
- The ability to rotate (from portrait to landscape) is cool too. (I realize this contradicts the previous request since I don't think any TV's can do this. But wouldn't it be cool?!)

Any specific recommendations on models, tutorials/guides that have been helpful to you or general real world anecdotal advice would be greatly appreciated.

posted by jkl345 to Technology (11 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
For your budget, size, even rotation, plugging in laptops, and resolution needs i would completely recommend a DLP projector.
posted by chasles at 4:08 PM on February 18, 2008

Stay away from DLP, viewing angle is atrocious, especially so since you are doing multi monitor.

Essentially, you want a 40" 1080P LCD or Plasma. I'd definitely get one with a DVI input, as IME, your comuter can't detect the resolution of your TV over HDMI.

Computer LCD's like the Dell and Apple 30" have HIGHER resolutions than 1080p.
posted by mphuie at 4:21 PM on February 18, 2008

ruling out plasmas and requiring >30", with the proviso that you can hook up your dvd player really only leaves you in the realm of a 1080p LCD TV.

Do some hunting on the bargain sites, and I'm pretty sure you'll find a 42" 1080p for at or under $1500...

good luck!
posted by namewithoutwords at 4:50 PM on February 18, 2008

Response by poster: So a 40" 1080P LCD HDTV will be ok? I kept reading (in the previous posts, albeit from years ago) about how it'd be horrible to read, ghosting would occur and it'd all around suck.

So HDTV resolution is good enough now?
posted by jkl345 at 4:57 PM on February 18, 2008

I'm reading/posting this on a Syntax LT37HVS - a middle of the pack (if not lower) display from almost 3 years ago. I have no problems doing DVI -> HDMI at 1360x768.

I only have this connected temporarily while I use Netflix's online viewing service, but if I had to use this permanently I could - though the resolution is lower than the 24" LCDs I use at home and work at 1920x1200. No problems with text, ghosting, or anything, and I watched the Tour of California stage this afternoon on it to boot.

Come to think of it, this is exactly how I used a computer when I moved two years ago and didn't have monitors for about a week at home.
posted by kcm at 5:18 PM on February 18, 2008

Honestly, get over to avsforum. Read read read. There are plenty of people who use a larger LCD for a primary display for their computer. An especially popular one is a Westinghouse 37" monitor (HDTV) that is cheap because it does not contain an ATSC tuner.

I currently use a Samsung LCD 42" for primary display and then switch it over to input for my Xbox360. It's an ideal setup.
posted by i_am_a_Jedi at 5:22 PM on February 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

Big monitors are the crack. You have thrown off the oppression of the television and broken free. Stay free. Don't let the drug of tv catch you again.

If you fail to break this addiction, trust me a 40" 1080P LCD HDTV will be more than OK. The really good ones cost money though, like a Pioneer Elite. It isn't all just contrast ratio etc. Something like the Elite will make the non-HD signals look great. When shopping look at both HD, DVD and regular broadcast signals, as well as scenes with lots of movement (sports) and scenes with lots of contrast (movies).
posted by caddis at 6:42 PM on February 18, 2008

A small part of my job is finding large LCDs for the lounge areas of our facilities. We have purchased 3 46" 1080P Spectre LCDs. Here is the link to the best current price (if you aren't subject to tax from TD). The TV has a really excellent picture and on a price/quality ratio, this cannot be TOUCHED by any other television.
If you'd like to get it locally Costco has it for a similar price, but you will have to pay tax, and in Seattle that is about 9%, so I tend to make big purchases online.

The blacks are black, the colors rich, the resolution high, and the contrast quite good. Also, the TV takes firmware updates which Sceptre puts out pretty regularly. Here is an AVS forum discussion. With some minor calibration, the picture can stand up quite well against the top rated brands.

$1200 (including shipping) for a 46" 1080P is hard to beat anywhere. I'm sure a lot of people will say that you shouldn't buy anything but a Sony, a Pioneer, or a Panasonic, but you want a good BIG tv for a reasonable price, and you just won't get that with those brands.
posted by lattiboy at 11:55 PM on February 18, 2008

Also, to the "kill your TV" crowd: I get it! I really do! TV rots your brain and stops you from enjoying life, however, as I sit down to watch Planet Earth for the billionth time on my big ass HDTV and I come up on the scene where the shark jumps out of the water and rips that poor fucking seal apart, I remember that it can also be a completely transcendent and marvelous tool with which to view the world. It ain't all Celebrity Rehab.
posted by lattiboy at 12:08 AM on February 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Speaking as someone who yesterday hooked up their PC to a 42" Sharp LCD TV yesterday, I can't recommend this more. Everything is so pretty now and even configuring your extensions on Firefox makes you feel like you're in Minority Report 'cos of the sheere size!

(And watching HD content - my, my that's pretty)
posted by eb98jdb at 1:42 AM on February 19, 2008

I have a beautiful 40"1080p Sony Bravia and it is great as a external monitor for my laptop. It has all the connections I'll need for a while (3 component, 2 HDMI, DVI, Cable, 2 Composite, S Video, audio in and out) and I now use my laptop pretty much exclusively with the TV when I am home (with a wireless keyboard and mouse). Browsing the internet on your couch is great and even up close 1080P is great resolution for text, photo and video.

A TV like this will run toward the high end of your budget ($1300 or so) but mine came with the cable I needed to connect my laptop. Also this is a TV, so anything you'd want a TV to do will be a piece of cake (connecting to a DVD player or a Wii for example) whereas a monitor may not have the right imputs or enough imputs.

I use the stand that came with it, and it is nearly as adjustable as my monitor at work if that is a concern for you. Another concern would be if your laptop can output 1920 x 1080 resolution as many laptops cannot due to there limited video cards (or more likely integrated processing). Like eb98jdb, I highly recommend connecting your laptop to a LCD tv.
posted by 2bucksplus at 7:22 AM on February 19, 2008

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