The big "How do I choose an HDTV?" thread.

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*edit and title change*
So, this thread has kind of evolved over time. Since it's no longer directed so much towards me I thought I'd change the title to reflect that. There's so much nifty conversation and info in here I'd hate to see it not get used by others.

I get my tax return soon and I'd like to think I'd plunk that easy $1100 into a savings account and forget it's there, but what kind of consumer whore would I be if I did that?

To avoid being declared a communist I'm going to buy a shiny new TV.

I'm restricting the choices to CRT sets. Despite their weight I still feel they offer the best in versatility and picture quality. I would prefer the size to be 32" or 34", and it has to remain under my $1100 price limit.

If you have some crazy deal on a nice smallish 42" projection TV you want to pimp, I'll definitely look into those too.

Primary uses for the new TV are going to be DVD's and the Xbox360. It won't ever see much use for actual TV, whether it be HD or otherwise, so I'm not worried at all about how it looks with standard signals.

Models I've looked into but am unsure of:

Samsung TXR3080WH
Toshiba 34HFX85

There are apparantly LG equivalents to the Samsung 30" and the larger sets out there, but I can't find them anywhere so they're not really relevant.

I'm unsure of both of the above TV's because I've read plenty of complaints about them potentially having geometry warping issues. There are of course, plenty of positive reviews of them as well.

I'm leaning towards the 34" Toshiba just because of the extra size, but if the price is right I'll look at anything.

If anybody has any firsthand impressions, helpful suggestions, etc, I'm listening.

I'm planning on pwning my bank account and buying said TV in the next few weeks.

I've seen some budget lesser name brand 42" HD Plasmas for $1400ish.. because 42" > 30"

I got an Akai 42" plasma at Circuit City for $1500 and it's the cat's ass.

baggachipz wrote:

I got an Akai 42" plasma at Circuit City for $1500 and it's the cat's ass.

See, I walk through stores and generally gloss over brand names like Akai. I'm not sure if it's some kind of brand-snobbery that's just grown over the years or what, but if I haven't heard of them I generally fear buying their products.

Also: You're killing my "CRT" decision here.

I would highly recommend you spend some time on the AVS Forums if you haven't already.

www.avsforum.com

I purchased a sony HDTV CRT about 6 months ago after doing a lot of research there. Not only will you find threads on just about every make and model of TV but you will often find tips on how to get the best deal possible. For anything AV related, that forum is the, um, cat's ass.

Copingsaw wrote:

I would highly recommend you spend some time on the AVS Forums if you haven't already.

www.avsforum.com

I purchased a sony HDTV CRT about 6 months ago after doing a lot of research there. Not only will you find threads on just about every make and model of TV but you will often find tips on how to get the best deal possible. For anything AV related, that forum is the, um, cat's ass.

I second this recommendation.

Also, I would suggest looking into Sony's line of CRT HDTVs. When I was shopping around, their quality simply couldn't be beat by anything in the same price (or size) range. Looking at their website, it looks like they may have discontinued their 30" models, but you might be able to find a 34" on sale in your price range. The KD-34XBR970 has an MSRP of $1200, for example.

It's not that I haven't been looking at Sony TV's, it's just that they're all out of my intended spending range. Even on sale they break my budgeted cost.

Thin_J wrote:

It's not that I haven't been looking at Sony TV's, it's just that they're all out of my intended spending range. Even on sale they break my budgeted cost.

Hmm, well perhaps you'll find a sale on the KD-34XBR970. Even still, it is only $100 out of your range (well, maybe $200 once you factor in tax) and this is a piece of equipment that you are going to be using a lot for a very long time. If you find something that seems significantly better but only a little bit costlier than you had budgeted for, you might consider flexing your budget a little bit, as you will almost certainly be glad you did in the long run (whether it is the Sony CRT or something entirely different).

Now, cat's ass: is it a good thing, or really bad thing? I am confused.

Oh, it's a good thing. Really good. It's crap-your-pants good.

I guess my hopes of finding some great "bang for your buck" type deal are going to go unfulfilled.

I spent some time on AVSforum last night, and pretty much all I got from that was that they hate Toshiba and Samsung and tell everyone to buy Sony.

The only reason I was still looking at the other sets is that there's other sites that list plenty of positive reviews for them.

Deep down though, I'm godawful picky and if I bought a Samsung and discovered that the picture at the bottom of the screen bowed updward I'd end up returning it and playing that whole game with Best Buy or whomever I end up buying the TV from.

Looks like Sony it is

Thin_J wrote:

I guess my hopes of finding some great "bang for your buck" type deal are going to go unfulfilled.

I spent some time on AVSforum last night, and pretty much all I got from that was that they hate Toshiba and Samsung and tell everyone to buy Sony.

The only reason I was still looking at the other sets is that there's other sites that list plenty of positive reviews for them.

Deep down though, I'm godawful picky and if I bought a Samsung and discovered that the picture at the bottom of the screen bowed updward I'd end up returning it and playing that whole game with Best Buy or whomever I end up buying the TV from.

Looks like Sony it is :|

With any CRT even Sony you can run into geometry issues, but sometimes you can go into the service menu and try to adjust them, much the way you would with a computer monitor. Again AVS will have info and walkthroughs on how to do that.

I have had a Sanyo bought at Hell-Mart for about a year and a half, and it does have some minor geometry issues which I was able to mostly fix via the service menu. Still if you look for it on a football grid iron you can notice some slight curving of the yard lines near the right edge, and on standard def you can notice a slight bend in tickers/scrolls, but @ less than 600 I was willing to live with it. Really, after you stop trying to see the defects, I never really notice them anymore, and Hi def looks great on the set.

If you're going for CRT, I'd go with the Toshiba model. That exact model was my choice until I went into the store and saw how huge of an ass it has.

Primary uses for the new TV are going to be DVD's and the Xbox360

I'm sorry friend, PLASMA is out of the question. It's either CRT or LCD all the way. Maybe DLP ? I havent' researched those because they all have ass-quality image.

The reason PLASMA is out of the question is because console games have a tendency to have static screen elements, like HUDs and health bars and whatnot. They will burn into your screen. Not only that, even just pure "blackness" can burn into the screen if areas of the screen are black for prolonged periods of time.

When you get a plasma TV, it comes with a manual which asks you to not use it for the same type of visuals more than 15% of the time, and "vary your viewing habits during the week".
Its okay for DVDs but a console would cause it to burn in real fast.

The reason PLASMA is out of the question is because console games have a tendency to have static screen elements, like HUDs and health bars and whatnot. They will burn into your screen. Not only that, even just pure "blackness" can burn into the screen if areas of the screen are black for prolonged periods of time.

When you get a plasma TV, it comes with a manual which asks you to not use it for the same type of visuals more than 15% of the time, and "vary your viewing habits during the week".
Its okay for DVDs but a console would cause it to burn in real fast.

please everyone..stop continuing this myth.. its simply 100% not true.

I feel a long rant coming on.. perhaps a seperate thread.

Yes please do... and while you're at it, I can scan you the page of the TV's manual that I am referring to.

EDIT: Meh, I couldn't find the manual for Visio 42", so here's a page from the Planar 42" Plasma which specifically mentions burn-in.

IMAGE(http://www.speakeasy.org/~shihonage/burn.gif)

I've read enough about Plasmas at this point to know that they're good tv's, but also enough to know that I don't want one.

Let's not bring the burn-in discussion up, as I've heard more than enough of both sides of it during my perusal of AVSforum.

The only other new contender I've discovered is an the LG 30FS4D, but it is (obviously I suppose, from the model number) a 30-incher and I'm leaning towards the larger sets.

Right now it's looking like my best option is the Sony that zero made note of, at least as far as picture quality.

@ Badferret: Yeah, I've read enough at this point to know geometry issues could show up in any set I buy. I mentioned it because it is apparantly rampant throughout the Samsung/Toshiba tv's as of late. The AVSForum bunch seem to have a particularly bad hatred for some company named Orion that apparantly actually makes all the smaller Toshiba tv's.

Yes please do... and while you're at it, I can scan you the page of the TV's manual that I am referring to.

If you actively go out of your way to burn in an image of ANYTHING (let alone a videogame) then yes you can eventually burn in even on the newer plasma's a static image. Say if you leave a DVD paused for 2 days on the same image.

My point is that I play VideoGames on my Plasma for almost 1 year now with zero nada burn in.. If you even exhibit a modicum of thought to your Plasma (like turning it off) then your fine. Simply playing ANY game for 4-5 or even 10 hours straight is not enought to burn in health bars or whatever you may infer will burn in. It doesnt work that way.

If you take the advice and "prep" your plasma for 40-50 hours in the beginning and dial down your contrast and brightness from the factory default then you will never see burn in... and even then to protect the stupid.. most Plasma's sold today have a burn in protector to keep you safe if you do happen to say pass out drunk with your game paused or something.

Quoting a manual is dumb..simply because these manuals are designed for the most moronic people.. its like plastic bags and the warning labels to keep them away from kids. It's amazing that everyone I know that owns a Plasma and plays videogames on them or watches TV, DVD's has never ever had burn in..

Yet you read posts like yours and its like you have NO CHANCE to avoid burn in and in fact it will happen almost instantly.

*sigh*

Why not give in.

While we're on the subject of Plasma sets, what about the issues some people have with a noticeable delay from the time they hit a button on a game to the time the action displays on the screen?

A friend of mine's brother recently got a plasma set and said the delay is definitely there on his set when he plays games on his 360.

Are there some sets that are victim to this and others that aren't?

I ask because I'm now seriously considering spending a couple hundred more dollars and buying either an LCD or a Plasma. The more I researched the CRT's the more issues I discovered with pretty much all of them, and they just don't sound worth it.

I've found reviews for plenty of the larger LCD's saying that response times are no issue for gaming, but I see lots of varying reports on some of the plasma sets. It makes it hard to determine which ones I should look at.

In reality, a couple of the LCD sets sound like great deals, given their prices. It's just that I worry about black levels. I like movies, and a lot of those have dark sections to them. My understanding is that plasma is far superior to LCD's as far as black levels go. Also: The only Plasma I can find around $1500 is an EDTV and not HD. I'm sticking to sets that are 720p native. Do you know something I don't Guru? You usually do, so I'm assuming that's the case.

Any helpful suggestions?

Also: this is my final wavering moment on the total price. I will not spend more than $1500 before tax and shipping. Period. So it's either $1499 or less, or it's not an option. Anymore than that and I really am breaking my budget for months to come.

TheGameguru wrote:

If you actively go out of your way to burn in an image of ANYTHING (let alone a videogame)

Actively, as in...

then yes you can eventually burn in even on the newer plasma's a static image. Say if you leave a DVD paused for 2 days on the same image.

... passively.

My point is that I play VideoGames on my Plasma for almost 1 year now with zero nada burn in.. If you even exhibit a modicum of thought to your Plasma (like turning it off) then your fine. Simply playing ANY game for 4-5 or even 10 hours straight is not enought to burn in health bars or whatever you may infer will burn in. It doesnt work that way.

After having Lost occupy most of our watching time, my parents and I noticed lighter shapes imprinted into the screen at the location where the subtitles appeared in Lost. Eventually it seemed to go away, thank god, but that took days if not weeks. A temporary effect, but enough to take notice.

If you take the advice and "prep" your plasma for 40-50 hours in the beginning

What advice ? I've never seen this in the manual, and I've never seen it even in this thread before now.

and dial down your contrast and brightness from the factory default then you will never see burn in...

Nothing quite like crappy image quality to keep your plasma alive ! With the default settings (67% brightness) our plasma is just fine, if I dial it lower it will be too dark.

and even then to protect the stupid.. most Plasma's sold today have a burn in protector to keep you safe if you do happen to say pass out drunk with your game paused or something.

Our plasma was bought around September 2005. It doesn't have such an option, or at least doesn't have it enabled by default - and this option won't save parts of the screen from burning in, i.e. the game GUI, so its a rather useless point.

Quoting a manual is dumb..simply because these manuals are designed for the most moronic people.. its like plastic bags and the warning labels to keep them away from kids.

Manuals are designed for people who want to learn how to use and maintain their appliances. Just because you're very tech-savvy doesn't mean that your comparison of a sophisticated electronic appliance to a plastic bag is valid for anyone except you and Derek Smart

It's amazing that everyone I know that owns a Plasma and plays videogames on them or watches TV, DVD's has never ever had burn in..

Hey, I just follow the common sense about the technology and read the manuals by the people who MADE THE TECHNOLOGY. Most people haven't had plasma TVs long enough to find out if the burn-in happens. Most people also aren't 50-hour-calibrating, contrast-down-dialing technogeeks.

Yet you read posts like yours and its like you have NO CHANCE to avoid burn in

Oh, there's a near-100% chance to avoid burn-in if you vary your viewing habits so that the same type of visuals is not present more than 15% of your playing time

and in fact it will happen almost instantly.

I'd give it a few months...

Thin_J wrote:

Are there some sets that are victim to this and others that aren't?

Yes. You have to Google for specifics models and check the audio/video forums for specific models to find out if they have this issue.

In reality, a couple of the LCD sets sound like great deals, given their prices. It's just that I worry about black levels. I like movies, and a lot of those have dark sections to them.

Modern LCD TVs (a friend of mine bought one around 1.5 months ago, a 32-incher by Samsung) have "acceptable" image quality but still, watching a crappily-encoded show with lots of darkness (like "Angel"), can make you wish for a CRT sometimes. Nothing criminal, but LCDs never truly catch up in the blackness department... a lot of finer near-blacks look alike and some detail is lost.

If you on the other hand watch colorful, brightly-lit shows like Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, you will not notice the LCD problems.

My understanding is that plasma is far superior to LCD's as far as black levels go.

Yes it is a lot like CRT, but with a bit more noise.

Also: The only Plasma I can find around $1500 is an EDTV and not HD. I'm sticking to sets that are 720p native. Do you know something I don't Guru? You usually do, so I'm assuming that's the case.

Any helpful suggestions?

Also: this is my final wavering moment on the total price. I will not spend more than $1500 before tax and shipping. Period. So it's either $1499 or less, or it's not an option. Anymore than that and I really am breaking my budget for months to come.

There are two threads out there where I and a couple of others have extolled the virtues of EDTV. EDTV covers full progressive-scan DVD resolution, and they can usually take standard HDTV signals and downsample them to 832x480 as well, so its future-proof.
From a certain distance, most people can't tell the difference between HDTV and "HDTV source scaled down to EDTV resolution". Unless you got a 60" screen maybe.

shihonage wrote:

There are two threads out there where I and a couple of others have extolled the virtues of EDTV. EDTV covers full progressive-scan DVD resolution, and they can usually take standard HDTV signals and downsample them to 832x480 as well, so its future-proof.
From a certain distance, most people can't tell the difference between HDTV and "HDTV source scaled down to EDTV resolution". Unless you got a 60" screen maybe.

Say what you will.

No EDTV. I'm pretty sensitive to visual stuff and would easily bet that if you showed me two TV's seperately I could tell the difference between one running in 720p and one running the same thing downscaled to the EDTV's 520 or 540 or whatever it is.

My question was more of whether or not he knows of some $1500ish HD Plasma sets, but regardless of my searches those don't seem to exist.

At this point I'll either end up with the Sony CRT that was recommended higher up in the thread or I'll end up with an LCD TV, be it from Dell or Toshiba or whomever. There's one Toshiba set that even the AVSforum people seem to really like, and there's a Sony Bravia LCD that's supposed to be great for the money as well.

shihonage wrote:

I'm sorry friend, PLASMA is out of the question. It's either CRT or LCD all the way. Maybe DLP ? I havent' researched those because they all have ass-quality image.

DLP sets do not have crap image quality. The only real downside that a DLP has is the same downside that an LCD has, black levels. Black levels on LCDs and DLPs can't reach that of plasma or CRT. However, it is not something that will be distracting as it is hardly noticible. An upside to both DLP and LCD is that you don't have to worry about burn-in. Though, as Guru said, you really don't have to worry about burn in on plasma most of the time.

Hmm I am curious, why haven't any of you mention LCoS TV yet? They are supposedly being resurrected, and has great image quality.

lethial wrote:

Hmm I am curious, why haven't any of you mention LCoS TV yet? They are supposedly being resurrected, and has great image quality.

Because they're heavy and expensive?

But they are supposed to be like the best thing since slice of bread or something?:) Really though, I saw news that they are supposed to be coming down on price, so for people that really care about image quality it might become a real good option soon.

lethial wrote:

But they are supposed to be like the best thing since slice of bread or something?:) Really though, I saw news that they are supposed to be coming down on price, so for people that really care about image quality it might become a real good option soon.

Yes, but this thread is all about me, and there's no way in hell I can afford an LCoS set in the next few weeks, and since that's when I'm getting a new TV, the LCoS stuff is irrelevant.

I'd give it a few months...

simply wrong.. sorry.. most people I know have Plasma's for years..no burn in.. watching DVD's, TV (SD and HD), playing videogames. Again.. 67% brightness is even lower than I would recommend dialing it down.. from the 100% factory setting.. 78-80% is usually perfect for all watching. Now I stretch everything even 4:3 content.. as recommended by most AV installers.. I've been stretching 4:3 for years so its now natural to me.

But again I'm arguing with someone who still believes Intel performs better and runs cooler than AMD desktop procs.. time and time again.

My question was more of whether or not he knows of some $1500ish HD Plasma sets, but regardless of my searches those don't seem to exist.

You have to dig around.. and you'll have to find a deal or special.. try the various pricing websites for the Akai or Maxtent.. or the Costco brand (begins with a V cant remember the rest)

At this point I'll either end up with the Sony CRT that was recommended higher up in the thread or I'll end up with an LCD TV, be it from Dell or Toshiba or whomever. There's one Toshiba set that even the AVSforum people seem to really like, and there's a Sony Bravia LCD that's supposed to be great for the money as well.

I run one of my Xbox 360's on a Dell 32" LCD TV and its pretty good.. the black levels arent perfect but for VideoGames thats usually not a big deal (obviously games like Riddick wouldnt be ideal) since they are bright and colorful most of the time. Its nowhere near the PQ as my Plasma though.

While we're on the subject of Plasma sets, what about the issues some people have with a noticeable delay from the time they hit a button on a game to the time the action displays on the screen?

I've never seen that personally..or know someone that has experienced that.. but this is nothing unique to Plasma displays.. if you scour the forums you'll see people bitching about key, mouse, button lag on Plasmas, LCD's, DLP's etc.. my particular Samsung DLP is supposedly 100% guaranteed to have lag.. at least if you read forums you walk away with that impression.

Trust me.. its nothing to me to trash $4K equipment that I just bought.. I have no loyalty or desire to justify my purchase.. if its crap I'll say its crap and buy something else.

There are several great stickys on the avsforums on Plasmas and burn in and how to prep them..

Once you see gaming on a Plasma you'll immediatly be satisfied. ZERO ghosting.. zero lag.. almost CRT PQ.. bright and clean images.

TheGameguru wrote:

But again I'm arguing with someone who still believes Intel performs better and runs cooler than AMD desktop procs.. time and time again.

Summoning an unrelated topic as a means to imply that the person you're arguing with is crazy strikes me as being a rather pedestrian approach.

Now I stretch everything even 4:3 content.. as recommended by most AV installers.. I've been stretching 4:3 for years so its now natural to me.

If plasma burn-in is pure hype, I don't see why you're bothering to stretch everything. With the manuals being full of worthless lies and all

You have to dig around.. and you'll have to find a deal or special.. try the various pricing websites for the Akai or Maxtent.. or the Costco brand (begins with a V cant remember the rest)

Visio is a Plasma TV brand sold at CostCo.

I'll chip in here with some real-world experience. I have a 42" Akai plasma. It is, by all definitions, a "cheap" plasma. That being said, I have noticed no ghosting, delay, or burn-in at all. The images are crisp, bright, everything I could ask for. I've left my 360 downloading demos for over 2 hours with zero burn-in, not even temporary. Do not hesitate to use a current-generation plasma display for gaming. All the warnings about burn-in, etc in the manual are simply so they can cover their asses. You'll find the same type of warnings in any tv's manual.

Summoning an unrelated topic as a means to imply that the person you're arguing with is crazy strikes me as being a rather pedestrian approach.

Ahh.. but yet it shows exactly that your crazy.. so it does work I mean look at the [H] forums.. back in the heydey of the Socket 478 P4 2.4ghz the Intel forum was abuzz.. these days its a GHOST town.

If plasma burn-in is pure hype, I don't see why you're bothering to stretch everything. With the manuals being full of worthless lies and all

Burn in exists.. hell you can burn in Cheap LCD's and CRT's almost as easily as a Plasma if your a moron.. My point is that people here arent morons.. so these are the type of people that would benefit from good advice.. good advice being that Plasma's rock.. and have the best PQ outside of CRT's on the market...and have zero ghosting (perfect for videogames)

Bad advice is telling someone that your Plasma will have burn in after a few months no matter what you do. Hell all I did was dial down the contrast and brightness from 100% thats it... outside that I just use my Plasma.. I've even forgotten to turn it off and yet the equipment is so moron proof these days that my LG DVD player after 20 minutes or so went into a screen saver mode where it simply flashed the LG logo on random parts of the screen. Again..I never did that.. it was the default.

My Xbox 360 will auto power off after a few hours.. even my Dell LCD TV will go to sleep.. my Dell Plasma will auto dim after a few hours of non use.

oh and I stretch everything because I find it annoying to have to watch a small box inside my 16X9 screens.. I was stretching before I even had a Plasma with my Front Projector.

TheGameguru wrote:

Bagga, on your Akai Plasma set, is it actually HD or is it an EDTV?

Plasma is sounding more and more like the way to go, but the only $1500 one I found was an EDTV and in-store the picture was noticeably (for me) less clear than the 720p set sitting next to it.

*edit*

It's a long drive, but Costco has a 42" Vizio model on sale. It's around 25 miles up the interstate from me, but I'm thinking I'll call and see if they have it in and make the trip there tomorrow morning when they open if they do.

It's gotten almost nothing but positive comments at AVSforum.

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