LCD or Plasma?

So the wife said it was time to get a new TV…that means an upgrade from my 12 year old 31 inch Phillips tube monster.

So I am in the oh say 1000 range and preferably MUCH less and looking at between 35 and say 42 inches. It will only have my Wii hooked up so mostly for TV and DVD watching. What I need is some basic info on what to look for.

LCD or Plasma? Does it really matter?- btw glare will not be an issue.

I can get the HD converter/dig. recorder box thru DirectTV so do I need HD built in or can I just get HD ready?

Are the sub-1000 sets any good?

I guess that is a good start. Thanks.

I have the same questions, though my old TV is still working just fine so I am not quite ready to upgrade yet.

The other day my wife turned on the TV and it made a funny popping noise and the screen looked funny for a few seconds. I pumped my fist and said “yes!!”, thinking the opportunity to upgrade had finally arrived. The wife just looked at me, rolled her eyes and said, “You’ve got to be kidding.” At this point the TV screen popped to life and my bubble of HD dreams was busted.

Oh well.

I’d go with hd built in because its just handy to have it in case you end up not having a hd converter handy for your tv source. I’d also get one with a QAM tuner. I don’t think 1080p is worth it yet but if you’re in it for the long haul might be better to get one now. Check out http://www.avsforum.com/ for some opinions from the hardcore videophiles. You might find a plasma at 42’’ for around 1k but probably lcd will be your main option. I’m pretty happy with my sceptre 32’’ that I got last month for $600 from costco. Its not the best around but for the price its a nice tv.

Well, my 37" Westinghouse 1080p LCD should be here any day now (damn delivery company!). I paid $1024 shipped, but I’ll get a $100 rebate on that, too. I can give you the headsup when I get it all hooked up and whatnot. The biggest ‘drawback’ to this is that it doesn’t have a tuner built-in, which doesn’t matter a bit to me as I don’t ever watch TV. I’m just having my 360 hooked up to play games and watch movies (upscaling DVD over VGA for the win!).

I made this decision myself about a year ago now and went with Plasma. Since then the prices have dropped on LCD’s. If glare is not an issue, LCD for the simple reason that you can (more safely) use a PC or console with it and not worry about burn in. And it won’t suffer from the half-life dimming over time of plasma.

I have a 50" plasma in a room with large windows, and although I play an XBOX 360 on it, I’m extremely careful about turning off the TV to prevent burn-in when I leave the room for an extended period. It was the right choice for me at the time, and the screen is absolutely stunning in HD. Bright and stunning colors, especially deep reds and crisp greens.

That being said, the price point of LCD’s is a winner right now. I’d go with that. Also I would only go with an HD monitor (aka HD ready.) Unless you plan on buying an HD antenna for any reason, most any HD broadcast you watch will be via a cable unit or a satellite unit as the HD receiver. If you want to trim cost even more and you have an AV system for sound, a unit without speakers or sound can reduce the price quite a bit.

The main complaint with LCD’s is that they’re poor with producing “true” blacks due to the backlight. However, a lot of LCD’s like the Westinghouses come with a backlight setting. All WH LCD’s ship with the backlight set to 100 (max), but it’s strongly recommended that you reduce it to at least 50 (avsforum even recommends putting it at 0!). The only problem I see with that is that if your lighting isn’t very good, the picture won’t look as vibrant. I set mine to 50, turned the contrast up to 54 and saturation to 58 and I find that to be the best for most situations, although I might try the backlight 40. The blacks just looks so much better this way.

In terms of image quality, LCD is unparalleled. Plasmas just don’t have small enough pixels to reproduce as crisp a picture as LCD’s. The only other thing you might want to consider is that plasmas have glass screens and thus are prone to glare, whereas LCD does not. Not much of an issue for most people, but I always found it annoying with my CRT TV’s.

walTer whats the maximum viewing angle in your TV room? Do you have any seats on the far edges of your current tube?

If you can take a trip to a Best Buy, Circuit City or similar where you can line up several models and vendors with the same source. Try to guage the picture of something dark, then something with a lot of movement, then something with a lot of color or if possible something to judge all three primary colors separately. Look at the screens straight on, slightly low, and from a side angle.

I wouldn’t purchase there unless you have to, but a quick viewing in either place will probably give you an idea of one that looks good, then you can price shop.

Good thoughts here…

As for viewing angle, it will be basically straight on,the room small (as is my entire house) so there won’t be any wild angles…maybe abit of to one side but not much.

I like the idea of Westinghouse coming with backlighting–I def feel eyestrain watching TV in the dark.

Couple of more issues–can you get a good LCD or Plasma for say 800-900? I suppose if the right brand goes on sale and barring you get what you pay for…do you really get what you pay for or are the brands in a certain price range basically the same?

Also, Skipper- you mentioned NOTgetting from BB or CC? My general way is to find what I want first then track down the best price…are those 2 generally bad for a flat screen?

DQ, def post up your thoughts on your LCD…that is kinda the size I think I want AND the price range.

Ok, last stupid question…do they come with any kind of stand? Or are all set up items separate? I will be getting some type of thing to put the stereo, Wii etc and the TV on top but will I need to purchase a stand keep the TV upright or is that extra?

Thanks.

Try to take a look at the sets before buying. I bought a 32" Sharp Aquos LCD for our bedroom. It was a couple hundred bucks more expensive than the cheaper models, but the color and blacks were dramatically better than the other sets on display. (And not just a case of crappy store settings.)

LCD’s a better option if you ever think you’ll connect a HD-capable console (360 or PS3) to it, as you’ll get enough pixels to display a true 720p picture. Plasmas in that price range are usually “EDTV”. (Less than HD resolution.)

Check out CostCo. Great prices, great warranty (essentially lifetime; they’ll probably change that soon, but I imagine they’ll “grandfather” people who bought before the change).

I’ve yet to see a flatscreen without stand (but you Americans have a few crazy brands, we don’t get here). Brands like Hitachi (very good) even produce motorized stands on some of their cheaper models.

Plasmas used to be best value for money and the only reasonable option in sizes above 30" also LCDs used to have trouble with true black and slow response time. Some (mainly those few companies that don’t produce LCD’s) still claim that the good plasmas produce better pictures than LCD.

Good LCDs don’t have problems with true black or blurring anymore. They can compete with Plasmas on price, but they’re still more expensive in the larger sizes - because they’re better, imho.

And yes, there is a difference between the high end brands (often by companies that make their own panels) and those using more generic components - but whether that difference is large enough to warrant the price difference is another more subjective matter.
But the high end Philips Cineos displays or the Sony Bravias, Samsungs or B&O sets are very very good (but in the case of B&O you’d pay 3-4 times the price of a Samsung even though it’s a Samsung panel inside…)

And compared to a non HD CRT you’ll still experience a world of difference even if you stick with a cheaper HD LCD - just note that oldfashioned analog television looks like ass on a HDTV LCD (But you guys have lots of digital options and HD channels so that shouldn’t be a problem, but it’s one reason I’m holding off)

Not on my Sharp Aquos. Bad image quality is more noticeable but most SDTV still looks pretty good. Sharp has a specialized “TruD” filter program for SD sources that makes them look decent; don’t all HDTVs offer a similar feature?

DLP…

From what I’ve researched they do… but this is often comes with a higher priced HDTV too. When you get a cheaper unit, you’ll often find the internal processor that handles the SD sources to be on inferior quality to that of the more expensive units.

That’s just a personal opinion of mine. Belive it or not I bought my plasma off the net and had it delivered for about $200 less than Best Buy (with delivery). It’s a large item purchase though, and a lot of folks aren’t comfortable with that. If I did have to buy from a store, then yes, Best Buy would probably have close to if not the best price locally.

Nearly everything you are saying about your room points to LCD or DLP. Those two would fit what you have pretty well. If the room isn’t large or you don’t sit far from the tv, something like a 42" would probably be fine. If your room is larger and you have say, a sectional plus more seating for more guests, then a larger size might be more appropriate. This is where the viewing preference will help you.

For the specs, most LCD’s should out-display a DLP, at least by a small margin. For the price, most DLP’s will beat the socks off an LCD at the same size.

There is a really great site you should check out Walter:
http://www.lcdtvbuyingguide.com/
http://www.plasmatvbuyingguide.com/

Don’t let the names fool you, they actually talk about and review all larger TV’s on both sites but they do tend to emphasize one or the other. You should look at the articles on LCD vs DLP and some of the links on buying tips and guides on where to buy.

What about lag/latency when connected to a console? Is this mostly a DLP issue?

Yeah, when you said there isn’t a wide viewing angle, that shouted “DLP” to me. That’s the situation we have in our gaming room, and our Samsung DLP set has been great there.

Not trying to knock LCD, which I think is the superior technology overall. But you pay a big premium for it, so you want to be sure it’s worth it to you.

I think the most recent sets have pretty much beat this, although I’m not the right one to ask – I don’t play a lot of rhythm games. It was a problem on some of the older sets.

They have. Just like most of the LCD’s have beaten ghosting and black levels (at least on the non extreme sizes.) Of note, plasma also gets a bad rap for life expectancy and burn in which have also been greatly addressed (but not eliminated) in recent units.

I just don’t get why people aren’t ordering the Westinghouse 1080p sets. I got my 42" for $1397 shipped about 2-3 weeks ago. The 37" is now sub-$1000. The picture quality is amazing, the SD looks great, and the per-input zoom functions rock. It has 2 DVI inputs, 2 Component, 1 HDMI, 1 VGA, 1 Composite, and 1 S-Video… how can you beat that?! There’s also tons of settings for calibration and it’s really easy to enter the service menu for individual RGB color settings.

I don’t understand why people keep on bringing up number of inputs as a major feature. Do that many people really use the built-in speakers? (If you have external speakers, then you’ll need to route everything through a receiver anyway, which will be doing all the input switching–not the TV.)