Buying an HDTV: Plasma vs LCD vs DLP vs LCOS (Holiday 2007 Update)

Buying a TV was once a simple endeavor. You decided how much you wanted to pay and then how big of set you wanted. You basically paid for what you got. A brand name with a nicer tube would cost a bit more or if wanted a bigger TV, it would cost more.

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Those days are gone.

Then came HD … well, technically, first came ED which tried to pass itself off as HD.

So, that’s your first acronym of many to keep an eye out on.

Many years ago, ED was a fine choice but as most channels are converting to HD – don’t bother with ED which is really just a nicer analog TV signal but not much more than that.

If you want technical details on everything, you can explore further. This is really just intended as a general buying guide to cut through the clutter. They are a lot of specs that will be thrown at you and some if not most of it is subjective plus a little manufacturing voodoo as one number from one manufacturer will mean something and another from someone else might mean something else – you frankly have to go and look at actual picture quality … and really, really look. Look at the text and look at the transition from scene to scene even if they are running a demo disc – you can see differences. Keep in mind that they want to showcase the best possible picture quality but if you look closely, you can see anomalies on one set that is not on another set – extra softness (more blurred) in some instances. Again, there are no hard or fast firm rules.

How you intend to mount or place the TV will play a part into your equation also. Obviously width is a consideration but budget for wall brackets and perhaps professional installation if you want to wall mount it – and of course, it’ll look much better if the wires are in the wall and not outside the wall (add $).

Also, make sure you get the set into your house or where you want it.

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The first question is

PLASMA versus LCD versus DLP

… also versus a new projection (that is a combo of LCD & DLP) called LCOS.

Already, I can hear silent weeping in the background.

Here are some generalities and there are no hard and firm answers – if there were, it would easy and there wouldn’t be all the choices on the market. The good thing is you can’t really go wrong and in a place/store with no sales, you do tend to get what you pay for … however, with sales & rebates and the fact you are committing $1+k makes you want to make a great & perfect decision. Um, yea, good luck with that.

And that’s the hard part. It is like buying a car now, narrow down your choices, research and then go price or service hunting.

First, unless you want high end projection (100″ wall space available anyone?), let’s put LCOS aside for now.

So, it’s really PLASMA versus LCD versus DLP.

Again, these are generalities …

Larger than about 42″, plasma will tend to be less costly (actually there aren’t many plasma under 42″ now).

DLP sets are a swoosh brighter than LCD though plasma generally is much brighter.

Plasmas offer slightly wider viewing angles if you have a large brood.

Most seem to agree that when it comes to black contrast (deeper color blacks), plasma tends to be the the darkest black, followed by DLP and then LCD.

Though in overall warmth, many people believe LCD’s are better than DLP’s though plasma tends to offer a picture scenario most like “old analog” TV. However, if you measure in terms of sharpness and clarity, LCD tends to be the best.

DLP have replaceable bulbs which seem to burn out faster than plasma or LCD so after 5-6 years, DLP may end up costing you more (some manufacturers recommend replacing the bulb after 2,000 hours while plasma & LCD’s can go up to 50,000 hours before it gets less and less bright). Newer DLP’s don’t offer bulb replacement which is presumably a good thing depending on how many hours they project bulb life to be and do the math.

Some cheaper and older LCD’s have a slower screen response rate so during some fast action, there can be the appearance of a blur & delay … and even with the newer LCD, it’s something to watch out for so make sure you seen it literally in action … though anything under 40″ LCD shouldn’t be problem … this is a problem not normally associated with plasma. The newest LCD sets have a refresh rate of 120 MHz so look for that spec somewhere.

DLP sets tend to be bulkier and very few wall mounting versions (if any? DLP is really like an mini projection TV to get right down to it). Both plasma and LCD offer wall mounted versions).

LCD’s are alledged to use the least amount of power. Some manufacturer website will offer you power specs so again you can do that math … and you can also look for the ENERGY STAR label. (link to Energy Star’s .Gov Website) though apparently ratings are for the TV on standby mode … when does having a TV in screensaver mode considered watching TV? According to the WSJ, a 40″ plasma will consume more electricity than a refridgerator so if that’s a consideration, read the WSJ article which appears to be free and available with no log-in.

Plasmas do have a greater tendency for image retention – if want to leave your set to CNBC or ESPN News with their 24 hour crawl underneath, you might want to get an LCD instead. If you don’t plan on leaving a channel like that on for hours on end day after day, plasma is fine.

Again, no hard or fast firm rules and of course, no obvious choice.

THE NUMBERS

When it comes to specs, besides the size of the screen, there are some notable ones normally shown as: 1,024×768, 1,280×720, 1,366×768, or 1,920×1,080. The higher the number, the more pixels there are on the screen – the more detailing so in theory, the higher the better …

Plasma tends to top out at 1,366×768 with many lower end models in the 1,024×768 range though at the largest size and the costliest end, you can find 1,920×1,080 plasma.

These can also be shown as 720p, 768p or 1080p (P standing for “progressive” which will get to a little later.

High end LCD’s tend to 1,920×1,080 so in theory, an LCD offers more pixels and more details.

The reality is between 1,366×768 (768p) and 1,920×1,080 (1080p) while one appears to be a much greater number – is there that wide of a gulf of difference? In math yes, to the naked human eye? Maybe. Maybe not. Or more importantly, what is the cost difference? Is $2k worth the difference, $1k? $500?

Part of it is your source material. Fox HD, ABC HD & ESPN HD broadcasts in 720p. NBC, CBS, Discovery and PBS broadcasts in 1080i (I for “interlaced” – again – covered below). AND just as crucially – how you receive your signals. Right now, Dish & DirecTV compress the signal at a higher rate than Comcast cable (I have Comcast so I cannot speak for the other cable companies) though DirecTV is about to launch new satellites and a promise of 150 HD channels in September so things could get better … or worse. If you going to get your HD channels (well, the local ones) over the air, it is plausible you will be getting the full strength signal of 1080i but if you have cable or satellite, you might be getting a compressed signal anyway (DirecTV is not willing to admit they compress anything but they do) … do you have a HD or Blu Ray DVD player? Or an Xbox 360 or Sony Playstation 3? (Xbox & PS3 are 1080p in theory – theory being that there are no games in 1080p yet). AS of December 2007, only three networks claim to broadcast 100% of their programming in 1080i – HDNet, Universal HD & Mojo.

The “i” or “p” stands for how the lines are drawn/presented on the screen – either interlaced or progressive. Instead of a tedious description, if you want to read more, go to Wikipedia but 1080p is considered the ultimate of the ultimate HD (for now). Is 1080p better than 1080i – in theory. In actuality – no one can say for absolute certainty. There is the belief that 1080i is better for sports as frames can be drawn with less blurring but in reality – maybe if you had an 100″ set, you could tell but just as with 720p v 1080p – what is it worth to you? It’s like the difference between 500 horsepower and 520 horsepower. If you think it’s worth it – great. Because you could easily argue that whatever speed you can attain with 520 horses, you can get pretty damn close with 500 horses – enough to really tell the difference without a speedometer?

1080p will cost you more – if you have the means, no reason not to get 1080p but after cable or satellite compression, after putting it front of the family room with the Sun setting behind it … it’s just a number.

If you want to do more reading on compression and video codecs, MultiChannel News (a trade publication to the television broadcast industry) has a read that summarizes why there’s no feasible way to send uncompressed signals.

Though the larger the set, the more reason you do want to go with 1080 – if you stand in front of 70″ TV set, the average person can tell that 1080 is “better looking” than 720 …

For what it’s worth, LCD now holds 70% of the market – partially because while plasma was first to the 40-50″ arena, it was more difficult for plasma to attain 1080p which LCD was able to get there faster for the 40-50.” Plasma loses its pricing advantage when it comes to 1080p. One reason why plasma is going up to the 70″ marketplace but of course, at that price, the margins are higher and there’s less competition but overall, of course, there are much fewer people looking for a 70″ set – especially in 5-figure range.

RESPONSE RATE

A more critical factor in older or off-brand LCD’s – particularly 40″ or more. There was a delay limitation causing a slightly blurring in sports or action sequences. Most high end LCD sets now have a response rate of 6ms-8ms (this is also important for gamers) which is good enough. There are some smaller computer LCD’s with rates as low as 3ms but none yet for larger LCD’s as TV’s. If you decided on a plasma, you can ignore this as it “draws” and sends the images differently but if you’re going with LCD, check the response rate – the newest LCD’s (and ones that cost a bit) have the 120 MHz refresh rate spec.

DYNAMIC CONTRAST RATIO

In theory important as the higher the ratio the better like some claim 10,000:1 but it might mean they measured it with the TV off – so the numbers don’t really mean anything. Some claim that anything above like 1,400:1 is a lie so perhaps if you reduce whatever number they list by a factor of 10 … or in reality, since we have no real idea how their measurement is seen in real life (it’s suppose to measure how deep and rich the blacks are represented), but in real world conditions, the numbers are essentially meaningless but from a major manufacturer, you can at least presume the higher the ratio the better and compare made up apples to made up apples.

CONNECTORS

The more HDMI inputs and HD component video inputs the better.

Some LCD sets also have DVI inputs if you want to plug in a computer.

TUNER

If you live in a valley like me, whether it comes with a tuner or not is not all that important since without a dish or cable, I get pretty much nothing but if you can receive over the air HD local channels, you definitely want a tuner. HD tuners are listed as ATSC.

QAM tuners allow you to watch unscrambled cable channels (without a cable box)

Some TV’s have Cablecard slots which can be a nice way to go. Instead of paying an extra $10 to $15 a month for an HD converter, all you need is a cablecard from your cable company. By law, they HAVE TO supply you with one – most cost around $2 a month. The only downside is you do NOT get PPV or VOD but it’s a nice way to get the features of an HD converter box without paying as much.

OTHER NUMBERS

Yes, there are other numbers they will throw at you but the really are sort of ‘you get what you pay for’ numbers – if you’re paying $4k for a set, again, in every reputable place, that means the comb filter and other components that affect a picture quality will be better (in addition to the specs I cited earlier) so some you can look and weigh such as power consumption but others like pixel pitch or brightness numbers might be the truth, a little fudge or in some lab setting that has no real life equal. That’s not to say, you can spend much more time exploring and understanding all that but in 99.9% of the case, the less obvious stuff is definitely, ‘you get what you pay for.’

If you can find power consumption numbers, you can weigh the cost in electricity.

AUDIO

Of course, Dolby 5.1 (or better) are important but since you can bypass and supplement with your other AV equipment, it’s listed here as a consideration but for most people, not necessarily a deal breaker.

SUMMARY

There is still one constant – unless you are shopping at Al’s TV Barn off the swamp and behind the bog, you generally do get what you pay for.

Personally, I think DLP leaves too much up in the air with its possible bulb changing requirements – maybe even in the first years of usage (anywhere from 2,000 to 8,000 hours) versus 50,000 or more for most LCD or plasma screens. You can do the math on how much TV you watch and whether you mind the additional $200 to $400 for a bulb … though you could argue for $200, you have a set that’s nearly as bright as when you bought it after you put in a new bulb … so it’s your call. Also note – some are designed to be swapped out by anyone – others require a technician – check to be sure! And of course, will you be able to get at it once your TV is positioned?

If you decide on a non major brand – check your warranty coverage and perhaps choose a credit card that extends that. Do a search on that brand and see what pops up. I know a friend who had a chip go out after 3 years and if you do a search on that brand, up pops up other people complaining about the chip going out also. It’s was $300 for the repair so also weigh that against an extended warranty. If it doesn’t break in 30 days, it’s probably going to last another 2-3 years (at least hopefully) which the extended warranty might expire anyway so decide if it’s better just to spend $300 in 3 years when you need it versus spending $300 on a warranty during the best years of the TV anyway …

If you want anything under 40″, LCD is pretty much your only choice since plasma is not cost competitive there and they have pretty much given up … between 41″ and 50″ is the most competitive marketplace now so you will see the widest swings in price and sales (where you see “2nd tier” or even 3rd tier names) – above 51″ however, are where the big name manufacturers really make money and there’s not as much expertise from the non-big names so prices are more stable and of course, more expensive since there’s less competition.

Then decide if the cost difference between 720p and 1080p is worth it to you.

Make sure there are enough connectors and of course, can you get it into your house?

Everything I’ve noted can be argued both ways and then another 7 ways so no one is right nor wrong. Just decide what size you want and then your budget.

Here is the latest JD power rankings: LCD, 37-49″ and 50-65″.

The flat out best deal on an HDMI cable (from Apple) $19.95 (I’ve seen these selling for $100!).

There’s plenty more reading you can do – especially on the web – just be sure and look at the date – anything from 2006 or older is pretty much out of date. If you are interested in the high end, be sure and check out PERFECT VISION mag. I think they are the best – a nice blend of being spec geeks (testing kelvin temperature) but also realizing that people actually watch TV (many other high end geek mags just seem test the specs and make judgments on that). The offer the new issue as free PDF download plus they also have a AV database – though it’s best to look up specific models versus just random searching.

PROGRAMMING

I think most everyone knows by now but note – when you buy a HD TV, you get exactly ZERO HD channels even if the channel says ESPN HD. If you have a regular cable or satellite box and are not paying extra for the HD package, you are getting plain old old-school SD.

You must upgrade to an HD box to get actual HD.

For people who can get over-the-air reception, you can get an HD antenna to pull in your local stations who are broadcasting in full HD for “free.” The CEA has a map that seems to pretty accurate as to what channels you should be able to pull off the air.

As for choices from cable or satellite? Of course it varies depending on where you live and who your cable provider is. Comcast seems to be the leader when it comes to cable HD with a solid selection of national cable channels (in addition to your local channels) for just the price of an HD converter box over your regular service. Comcast is also very strong in the VIDEO ON DEMAND (VOD) service with lots “free” HD programming ready to view anytime. At the other end, old Adelphia customers are just emerging from bankruptcy and have poor choices. Dish seems to offer the most channels on HD (though not much on demand) though along with channels you’d recognize, you’re also getting channels like KungFu HD. DirecTV has finally added a slew of HD channels. Right now, I’m still sorting through the offers (could they be more confusing) but now DirecTV may be in the lead or a solid alternative to cable.

NEXT

We live in an era where there is no end. While you might stride the Earth with your fancy 1,920 by 1,080p set … they are working on 7,680 Γ— 4,320 … yea, ultra HD so don’t be thinking you have bragging rights for long even if have a 72″ Samsung LCD or Panasonic’s 103″ Plasma that is bigger than 4-40″ plasma’s … (only $70k).

So keep that in mind while shopping. There is always better and cheaper tomorrow so don’t get carried away.

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If you prefer to know where your choice stands – market share wise, here are June 2007 numbers:

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Once you get your set, be sure and check out the what CONNECTORS TO USE GUIDE.

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38 Comments

Filed under Computing, Film, Gadgets, Media, TV, Video Games

38 responses to “Buying an HDTV: Plasma vs LCD vs DLP vs LCOS (Holiday 2007 Update)

  1. Pingback: University Update - DirecTV - Buying an HDTV: Plasma vs LCD vs DLP vs LCOS

  2. fragtheparrots

    Well now I am completely confused. I just got a 42″ LCD from Vizio. It may not be the best, it may not last forever, but it is pretty cool for playing Guitar Hero. And if it only last a year or two it will only cost me about $300 to replace by then.

    (METROXING: I was just trying to talk about the extended warranty. Most sets are around $300 for an extended warranty but I was pointing out that it will probably cost you about $300 to repair a set so if you buy it with the right credit card, you might be able to extend warranty coverage to two years AND then instead of spending the $300 on an extended warranty at the store, you don’t buy an extended warranty as that will proabbly expire before you need to repair it anyway and then you’re right – in 2010 or 2011 IF YOU NEED A REPAIR, maybe it’s better just to buy a new set … yea, good times we live in where a 42″ is disposable πŸ™‚ )

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  4. Faisal

    One advantage that I’ve found with the DLP televisions is that once you change out the bulb, the brightness goes right back to what it was when the set was first purchased. LCD and plasma on the other hand will continually lose their brightness over time, with no way to restore it (to my knowledge anyway).

    (METROXING: I believe you can change a bulb on a LCD but most are rated at 50,000 hours so presumably, you’d probably just buy a new set as you cannot install it yourself like some DLP sets – was the process easy on your DLP? And after how long did you have the set? Even with the bulb cost, was it a much better deal than plasma/LCD?)

  5. I own a 45″ rear projection Mitsubishi that I bought in 1997. I had to replace the red chip in the beast back in 2003 which is just giving up the ghost again. The beast needs replaced so rather than cough up $200-$300 to fix it (again) I am opting for a new plasma (thanks Metroxing!). Ironically, I can truck the set on down to the factory as the location for it is within 30 minutes of my house. The only good news about rear projection is the lack of weight. Two people can move it very easily. The wild thing was watching the tech replace the chip and hand-solder the new one onto the board. The chip was the size of a poptart.

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  7. I’ve been holding back on my Flat screen TV partly as my 25″ is still in good condition and was also confused with the varieties available out there

    But with this information, It be easier to make a buying decision. : )

  8. The time has nearly come for me to replace my old 27″ JVC (1994 baby)! I’ve been looking at the Sharp Aquos lineup of LCDs and they look brilliant. I’m looking to go into the 42″-50″ range and keep it around $1500.00.

    I can wait until Christmas though, when the deals will be the sweetest.

    Thanks for a great read! Lots of useful information for the uninformed!

    (METROXING: The Aquos lineup choices are all excellent – can’t go wrong there! And since you have a little time, they should have converted most of the line to 1080p and maybe even up the refresh to 120 and the screens to LED – though it might be pushing your budget a little …)

  9. Awsome article keep up the good work!!!!!!!

  10. TreeHouse

    Any idea which one (technology type) would be the best fit for gaming overall? That decision has been my big “what if” since I started my hunt and I have yet to find a solid answer.

    (METROXING: Again, this is a general starting point. I think if gamers until 2007 prefered PLASMA over other choices because a) it was available in greater range of sizes; b) compared to LCD, was cheaper in larger sizes; c) generally didn’t have to worry about screen refresh or response rate being a factor … while plasma gamers might have to deal with burn in issues (some games tend to have static info up on the screen – not a huge problem but there are people who play for 5-10 hours at a time) but a, b & c pretty much clinched the deal … but for 2007 so far, LCD has pretty much answered the refresh & response issues and with better numbers coming in late 2007 – it’s now a closer comparison. So, my general advice would be – if you want a screen size larger than 46″, plasma is a fine choice that’s probably cheaper than a comparable LCD as of today. But when the refresh rates are reset at 120Hz, LED is added and response rate is 6 ms or faster and you can wait until this holiday buying season, then you have to give serious consideration to LCD/LED as a gamer television especially since many LCD sets are already at 1080p while only the most expensive plasma are at 1080p … if you are willing to wait – wait until November to get a true battle of the best of plasma at 1080p versus the best LCD at 1080p – though also keep in mind, while XBox 360 & PS3 are capable of 1080p, there are no 1080p games out yet. That might change so it might not hurt to wait another 3/4 months. But if you’re planning on buying something at least 50″, plasma will probably still bev a cheaper choice today and in 4 months – it’s just whether you are willing to pay for 1080p)

  11. Hari

    This article is pretty good but ignores the fact that 1080P TV is great for viewing photos. Also, 1 year ago I bought a Samsung 56″ 1080P DLP Tv for $1800 with shipping. At that time the bulb cost was $250 to replace. Average house hold watches 3hrs per day. Lamplife is rated at 4000hrs. That is 2 years. Now on E-bay the lamp price is $150 including shipping. In 1 year it may be $75. All Tvs get quite obsolete in 10 years. My cost for 10yrs is likely to be $1800 + 5 * 50 (as the lamp price falls). $2050. 720p LCD or Plasma of this size was 2X more expensive.

  12. Katherine

    Great article! I do have a few questions that maybe you can help me with… I am looking to get a 50″ TV for roughly $1600. I am between DLP and Plasma. My current situation is this: I have a loft area that has a lot of natural light (by day, of course). I don’t NEED a wall-mounted TV, but would prefer it. And my main use for the TV would be 1st- sports and a distant 2nd- movies. No gaming at all. For my viewing needs and room situation, which has the best picture quality? Also, which brands are best either way? I am looking into Samsung DLP 1080p and either Vizio, Samsung, or Philips 720 plasma. Any information you have would be greatly appreciated! πŸ™‚

    (METROXING: There are no hard & fast rules but a general comparison is that the DLP will be thicker and heavier (most places that sell online will list dimensions and the weight) so you can determine if you can get up into the loft (or want to) and if you don’t mind DLP is thicker & heavier – generally you will save some money over plasma – and generally, 1080p plasma will cost you a bit more over LCD/DLP. DLP generally have high refresh rates so they are perfect for sports … however, in general DLP does not have as wide of a viewing angle and usually, it’s best if it’s about eye level so if you plan on having a lot of people over to watch sports and they might be standing, eating, walking around and you want to give everyone a nice viewing angle, plasma is much better. Also with DLP, you should check to see the rated bulb life and factor that in – if it’s 5 years and you tink you’ll replace the set away, then it’s no big deal – and if it’s possible – check to see if the bulb replacement can be done easily or if requires someone to come in … so try and find a place where they are display (even if it’s not your exact set), walk around and see what you think from all angles. Good luck!).

  13. “This article is pretty good but ignores the fact that 1080P TV is great for viewing photos.”

    Hari,

    What a camera resolution must be to see a benefit from the 1080p screen? As low as 2 Megapixel?

  14. tvbuyer

    What’s your take on Samsung LED DLP TVs?

    (METROXING: I think Samsung makes great TV’s so you can’t really go wrong. I would just make sure the viewing angles are okay and what the projected blub life is (and factor how much TV you watch) and whether the bulb replacement is a DIY thing or requires a tech. Also note, it’s probably heavier and bulkier so make sure it fits or can be hauled where you live … some delivery places will just go as far as your front door …)

  15. Jay

    METROXING;

    I couldn’t help but notice you mention the weight of DLPs. “Also note, it’s probably heavier and bulkier so make sure it fits or can be hauled where you live … some delivery places will just go as far as your front door …”

    I bought a Samsung 56″ DLP tv and carried it (In box) by myself. DLP sets generally weight much less then plasma or LCD of the same size. Moving a DLP set is quite easy to replace the bulb, or to clean behind etc.

    TreeHouse;

    For gaming, I would recommend DLP over Plasma and LCD.

    Price: DLP sets are extremely cheap, and if you’re like most gamers… bigger the better! You can get 60″+ for the same price as the under 40″ plasmas and LCD.

    They also have a great response time, no lag or visible ghosting. It’s also great for HD, and low def signals.

    If you need to decide between Plasma or LCD, there is no right or wrong choice. If you play games for long hours continuously I would recommend the LCD with no higher then 8ms. The Samsung 65f look great with Xbox 360! The differences between LCD and Plasma are narrowing, so the slight picture loss over plasma isn’t a great deal.

    However, if you don’t play (Or tend to play) for long periods and watch a lot of movies I would have to recommend a mid-level Plasma.

    hope this helps (I own all three display types which I used to base this post on.),

    Jay

    (METROXING: Jay, maybe you are abnormally strong πŸ™‚ Thanks for your additional input. I’m just trying to note things for people to double check. If you’re taking most of the major brand names, there really isn’t a “bad” one no matter what your format but just like your add’l notes, I think it’s all helpful as salespeople can be more confusing than enlightening … sometimes …).

  16. Berry

    One thing that I don’t see mentioned on a lot of sites is altitude. If you live in Denver or anywhere at higher altitudes, plasma TV’s start to have a lot of problems (even the ones that are supposedly rated for the altitude). They begin to experience a buzzing from the pixels running hot. If they have fans, they can get very loud from the fans working harder. Eventually the buzzing and or pixels burning out will make the TV unusable.
    Bottom line, if you are moving to or live in a high altitude area either get an LCD TV or be sure to do your homework on the plasma TV you want to buy. Just as an aside, I have heard that the Panasonics have the best plasma sets for high altitudes and LG iss about the worst.

    Berry

    (METROXING: Good to know. I had vaguely heard that but good to hear from from an actual user. Thanks!)

  17. tvbuyer

    METROXING:
    But LED DLP has no bulb. And regarding weight, 50 inch LED DLP weighs 61.3 lbs. only.

  18. Mac

    Do you have any experience with the LCD/Plasma/DLP units for overseas? I am transferring overseas in a few weeks and need to get a TV within the next few days so that it will go into my household goods shipment. The various big-screen TVs are available at my next assignment, but they cost about double the U.S. prices.

    I’ve been working overseas for years and understand the PAL/MECAM/NTSC/etc systems. I’ve only been looking for a few days, but can’t seem to find any systems info on the new LCD/Plasma TVs. Do they use the PAL/NTSC/etc systems or is there some new system? Any ideas on places where multi-system TVs might be available?

    So far, everyone I’ve spoken to in various stores thinks a multi-system TV means it has both 120 and 240 volt capability. Sigh…. πŸ™‚

    Any info appreciated.

    (METROXING: I personally haven’t any real world test experience but I think you’re partially on the right track. If it does not come with a tuner, logically, it should accept PAL or NTSC or the oddvall French SECAM as it’s just a monitor – however, it seems 98% of sets now come with a tuner and yes, there are sets with PAL & NTSC tuners … you might try doing an internet search on “multi system NTSC PAL (LCD or Plasma or DLP)” and see what you come up with. For instance world-import.com (a place I have ordered my DVD & VCR’s from but not TV’s) offer such sets. You can double check the model number to see if it matches the US regular NTSC model numbers or if they are special sets. I’m presuming the later – hope that helps. Good luck and let us know – yea, the one good for our consumerism lifestyle is it’s pretty hard to beat the US for nearly everything price-wise. Here in the US, we think it’s crazy for Europeans to fly to Florida to go to Disneyland and outlet malls but one look at European prices for most things …).

  19. Awsome article. You covered intersting areas often not mentioned. I learnt a thing or two. Specifically HD arials. I’m still undecided on LCD or Plasma 42″.

  20. Steven Seagal

    Nice article, but you might have wanted to mention more about HDMI, which can be a confusing issue for some people (esp. with the new version 1.3 coming out). The cable you list as the absolute cheapest is a great price for what it is (HDMI 1.3 compliant) but there are much cheaper ones around (<$5), such as at Monoprice.com but which are 1.2a compliant (which is still great for the majority of people). The main difference being the max. bandwidth the cable can handle without much attenuation….

    Also you seem to give DLP an unfair rap for such a recent article. The new Samsung DLP’s with the 3-LED engine and no color wheel are doing very well and have a much longer life than the bulb-based DLP’s (try 20,000+ hours). Also DLP’s being heavier than LCD’s??? That just isn’t true. Google any DLP and LCD in the same size range and compare their weights!

    If you want to see a nice one check out the Samsung HL-T5689S. I plan on picking one up this fall when the price drops for Christmas shopping. Other than these couple complaints great article!!

    (METROXING: That’s good to know on DLP. I do note that any bias against DLP is my own personal choice and I just want people to know that the bulb thing can be an issue. At 20,000 hours, that’s great but early on, I did some listed at 2,000 hours which seems a bit short to me so I just wanted to note in case some people wonder why a DLP might be $500 cheaper upfront … but in any case, thanks for the comments – all useful).

  21. Dave

    All of your information has been helpful, however, being brand new to HDTV, LCD, DLP and Plasma technology, still has me confused.

    My current situation is that I have 6 regular TV’s in the house. We are building a new home and plan on having HDTV’s in all four bedrooms, our family room, and then in basement after we finish it.

    Can you tell me what specifications are the key ones to compare, and what numbers are considered good?

    How can you really tell what brand LCD TV is better as far as picture and sound quality is concerned? When I have viewed sets in stores such as Circuit City and Best Buy, there pictures do not look that impressive. It looks like they are using cheap cable to connect all sets, or are running all sets from one splitter.

    I would like to put 32″ lcd’s in the bedrooms, 42 inch in the upstairs family room, and a 46 to 52 inch in the basement.

    I am also interested what sets might also have decent sound in addition to the best picture since I will not be adding any surround sound audio system to any of the sets except in the basement.

    Two last questions…I see these Vizio LCD sets on Shop NBC and the Vizio rep sure sounded very believable when she described their product, their 1980 resolution, pixel guarantee and warranty. Seemed like they have made inroads and have at least a decent product for the money.

    Any opinion on whether there is an advantage to getting HDTV programming and equipment from our current Time Warner Cable, or maybe switching to Direct TV or Dish Netwrok?

    Thank-you for your help.

    (METROXING: Yea, that’s really the problem is there is no clear cut choice for everyone. That’s why it is confusing and the intention of my post is to help sift through what’s important. The bottom line is if you are comparing brand names, they price themselves accordingly to each other so while yes, you can buy a 40-42″ LCD set for under $700 if you look hard enough, you are making some compromises. The most obvious compromise is the 1920 and lower is generally in lockstep with price – if you want 1920 x 1080p, you will tend to pay the most in any size. If you have the budget and the means not to compromise, then that choice is easy. Then it’s really the “extras” included – better brand names have better filters and Philips has that “glow” light around the screen – it does look nice – can I say scientifically it’s better, I cannot but it does seem nice. That would be your judgment call. I think Sony’s tends to cost a bit more – whether you feel the premium pricing is worth it is your call. As for LCD versus plasma, anything under 42″ is pretty much LCD nowadays and you have a wide variety of choices. You can save a few bucks for the guest bedroom πŸ™‚ Above 42-46, you can choose between plasma, LCD or DLP … my general impression is LCD tends to slightly cheaper at 1920x1080p specs though make sure they’re upgraded to the LED and faster refresh rate.

    For programming, I can only contrast Comcast so you can decide how it compares to Warner. I get about 12 HD channels including the 4 main networks, 4 movie channels in HD and usually 30-40+ choices in HD on Demand a month (you’ll get less if you don’t have the movie channels). So, how does that compare to the Warner package? Comcast compresses the signal less than Dish or Direct (West Coast) but I cannot say if it’s true elsewhere so you do get a warmer and “better” picture than Dish or Direct. Dish does offer more channels in HD than anyone else though some of the offerings may not be of much value to you. Direct is great for the NFL package HD, the rest is pretty weak. They have talked about going to 150 HD channels (including on demand video and they’re counting the NFL channels as like 15 of them) BUT it’s all just talk so far and by the time it launches, it might require new equipment so as of today, cable (depending on your area) or Dish has many more HD cahnnels than Direct unless you just want to watch nearly every football game).

  22. naren

    Hello Sir,

    I am really confused on what yo buy…DLP,LCD or plasma. Firstly I am confused between 60 inch or 65 inches (my wall to wall distance is 21 feet). I like big screen.Secondly, for a resolution of 1920 * 1080, what are the differences in picture quality between DLP, LCD and plasma. Also, I only watch movies (not a games person). Picture quality is of more importance to me and do not mind if it is not a wall mount. Can you give me suggestions?

    (METROXING: The specs are only the beginning. If you decide you want 1920 by 1080, now comes the hard part because no one can say a Panasonic LCD is better than a Samsung plasma – plasma will be a little less expensive than LCD but that’s about it. Each manufacturer will offer additional “extras” from better comb filters to add-ons such as the ambient light feature … whether it’s worth it to you or if it’s better is entirely up to you. Yes, it would easy if someone would just say – this is the best like the Trinitron was 25 years ago if you’re talking tube TV’s but now, there is no best for everyone. Good luck!)

  23. naren

    Hi..thanks for the response. From your statement “because no one can say a Panasonic LCD is better than a Samsung plasma “.. Can I extend the comment to include 1080p DLP tv as well?

    When looking for a picture quality alone, is it fair to compare 768p plasma to 1080p DLP?

  24. naren

    In other words…when picture quality is of high priority, which is the main determining factor- resolution(736p,1080p etc,.) or technology(DLP, plasma,LCD etc,)…

    (METROXING: Just think of a TV like car specs. While a car with a 400 horsepower engine should be faster than a 350 horsepower car but weight also plays into it so if you just go by the “main” spec, the decision might seem easy but it’s not necessarily so. While the muscle cars of the US in the late 60’s had massive engines, car technology and handling had not caught up so while in a dragstrip, the muscle car might be faster than a BMW 600 series car, but in real life cornering through the Italian alps? And also the cost factor … if the TV seems about 5% better, are you willing to pay $1,000 more, $500? That’s your call so in theory 1080 is better than 720 but how much better NO ONE can say because it will vary from set to set. I feel pretty safe in saying any 1080 Samsung DLP/LCD/plasma is better than a no-name brand 720 set … but what is that worth to you? $500, $1,000, $2,000? You have to decide. There is no one best choice otherwise, my blog post would be easy. I’m just trying to help you sort out what the specs mean and what else is of value in making your decision. If you have $4,000 to spend on a set and you buy a name brand, you cannot go wrong).

  25. Pingback: Blu-Ray vs HD DVD vs DVD « TWO A DAY

  26. Want to start your private office arms race right now?

    I just got my own USB rocket launcher πŸ™‚ Awsome thing.

    Plug into your computer and you got a remote controlled office missile launcher with 360 degrees horizontal and 45 degree vertival rotation with a range of more than 6 meters – which gives you a coverage of 113 square meters round your workplace.

    Cheers

    Marko Fando

  27. Kurt Brown

    Are you aware of the new Samsung DLP with no color wheel and no color bulb to be replaced (HL-T5980S)? Does that change your opinion on DLP?

    (METROXING: That’s good to know … and yes, I think that’s how it should be – they should work on improving the bulb so it doesn’t burn out (and.or need replacing).

  28. David

    Just to update on the programming portion, DirecTV now has its first new satellite in place. They have added a whole lot of channels to get in the 85-95 HD channels range and more than half of these channels are 1080i.

    Even though their first new satellite is not yet at full capacity, their second new satellite goes up sometime in the first third of next year (satellite is ready, getting it into space is proving to take some time because of launch vehicle issues).

    I’m not an employee of DirecTV, just a happy user.

    (METROXING: Yes, I’ll get around to updating the post after CES next year but you’re right – DirecTV is looking better and better … I just wanted to warn people because DirecTV actually starting promising HD in Spring of 2007 and then they said Fall 2007 so I just wanted to sure people got the right equipment? How’s the color and saturation look?).

  29. I havent opened up my tv yet but i just wanted to know if i got a good deal… I just purchased a 50 inch 720p samsung plasma from fry’s electronics this past black friday for 899.99
    the box is huge! and im mostly going to play video games with it… So did i get a good deal??

    (METROXING: Plasma is generally better than LCD for video games though make sure the screen graphics don’t stay up for 8 hours at a time … of course, how long can you play the HELLO KITTY SIM WORLD πŸ˜‰ … Samsung makes great TV’s so you can’t go wrong there …).

  30. soulchild2k2

    That is a very informitive read. You can tell that you really did your homework. Is it true that vizio will stop selling the 60 inch when the current product is gone?

    (METROXING: I don’t recall hearing anything about that but that does seem odd – the 60″ market is still a high margin area with less competition … but maybe they have some grand plan to corner the 62″ market?)

  31. Larry

    Just curious why you didn’t discuss LC0S? I was looking at a Sony set recently (Sony KDS-55A3000) that is SXRD (which I understand is a better version of LC0S) and it seems to get pretty good reviews. I just don’t understand that technology….

    (METROXING: At the time I wrote it, there were very few LCOS sets out (most were projectors) and while I have seen the LCOS sets now in the stores – they do look nice – it’s all still very new – if the blacks look okay to you and the bulb life seems acceptable – and its size fits your needs (thinner LCOS sets are coming) then, it’s a fine choice – LCOS (Panasonic calls it differently) is sort of a hybrid of LCD and DLP. Honestly, I don’t know enough to add much more but I can say the Sony’s I’ve looked at looked great so on picture quality, it’s hard to beat …).

  32. Paul

    So do you think the 120mHz LCDs are worth the price? I’ve seen the pictures in the stores and it looks amazing.

    (METROXING: Yea, if you can afford it, 120 MHz is much better … πŸ™‚ )

  33. My main concern is how my PC will look on it… I am looking at a Samsung 1080p DLP and I can’t find anywhere how my DVI/HDMI cable translation is going to look. I wish someone would review TV’s by their quality as HTPC’s.

    (METROXING: As long as you have auto-sensing refresh – it should be fine but of course, nothing is certain until you can actually test it out).

  34. tenro1

    Excellent post. I am planning on passing this site and post along to my readers later today! Keep up the good work!

    Michael

  35. lin

    A brand name with a nicer tube would cost a bit more

  36. Pingback: lcd hdtv vs dlp

  37. Ms Smart

    Nice article
    Good points
    Well written

    thanks

    digging your rock em sock em robots too

  38. Tony

    As an owner of a 52″ Toshiba DLP I fail to see the downside of having to replace a bulb once in a while, especially given the price of the bulb. If burn in happens to a plasma or if LCD pixels are burnt out, the whole tv is useless imo. When and if I need to replace the bulb (4 years now and no issue) in my set I simply replace the bulb and have a new tv again. Try doing that with LCD or Plasma.

    I currently run blu-ray and do have several HD Sat channels and my 1080i DLP looks awesome. I see few televisions in the stores playing HD feeds that can compare to my DLP.

    I recently saw a 72″ Samsung DLP LED and it was stunning. Price wise the other two tv types cannot compete. No complaints from me…;) yet.

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