After spending an afternoon playing some games on my friend’s HDTV, I just can’t go back to my 27" SDTV. I’ve been doing a bunch of reading on HDTV’s, and it seems like the 42" Westinghouse is a pretty good deal for the money. The biggest problem I have is that I can’t find a store near me that has it, so I can’t see it in person to do some sort of due dilegence.
What has me concerned are two things:
Several reviews mention some problems with the color. Specifically, that it has a strong tendency towards green. Now I’m not a videophile or own any tools to check the various color levels. But for those people that have one, how does it look to you?
Lack of a tuner. I don’t actually get any channels OTA, but my cable box only has a coax cable running from it. Is this something I’d just call my cable company about?
Given that it’s been out for a little bit, I’m just curious - do you still like your panel? Any regrets?
Yeah, or at least that’s how it works with Comcast. You tell them you want the HD tuner and they give you a shiny new box with some kind of HD-capable outputs on it. It costs a few extra bucks a month.
Yeah, you’ll want to contact your cable company and ask for an HD box. I got an HD DVR from Time Warner here in San Diego (they use the Sci-Atl 8300 HD) and it works great with the Westinghouse 42". You can buy a converter at Radio Shack or monoprice or wherever that will take a coax input and convert it to either RCA yellow/red/white composite (ugh) or S-Video (slightly less ugh) to keep using your existing cable box, but if you’re going to make the jump to an HDTV I really recommend getting an HDTV capable cable box. Its worth it just for Discovery Channel HD. I can watch that shit for hours.
My Westinghouse 42" doesn’t display any greeness or have any special issues with the black levels. The only thing about it that I’m not 100% crazy about is the fact that it has some issues handshaking over HDMI. I have my cable box hooked up via HDMI so every once in a while the first handshake will fail and then I’ll have to turn the cable box off and back on to reshake to get a picture from it. Once the picture is up it doesn’t go away or anything, so it isn’t like this happens in the middle of watching something, it is only an issue when first turning on the cable box. From what I’ve heard, people using the PS3 over HDMI have this same issue occassionally. This problem is supposedly fixed in newer firmware versions (1.03) than the one I have, and even if you get an older firmware version, Westinghouse will fix it for free. But it doesn’t bother me enough to have scheduled an in-house firmware upgrade. It only happens maybe once a week and it takes like a second to fix it. YMMV if you are easily annoyed.
I’ve had mine for a month and a half now with no regrets. I have the older Comcast DVR box (no fee to HDTV, just to get the DVR box), and just plugged it via DVI into the Westinghouse, and off I went. XBox 360 went into one of the component inputs.
Oh, and about the green thing. You can enter the service menu really easily on WH sets, so if you buy a calibration DVD kit you can set it up correctly. But again, you said you’re not a videophile, so you probably won’t even notice. Hell, I’ve never even bothered calibrating individual colors on my set because it looks fine to me, and I’m really picky about video stuff. I’ll spend an hour or two in Powerstrip, for example, trying to align the picture so it fills the screen perfectly.
Two things that I would recommend, though, is turning your backlight setting down from 100 to 50, and changing sharpness from 0 to 1. You’ll get better-looking blacks, and no noticeable difference in contrast or brightness. The sharpness setting I found using a calibration DVD… it had a bunch of black lines on a white background, and you’re supposed to be able to see each individual line with none of them blending together. On the smallest one, the lines were doubling up, and setting the sharpness to 1 fixed it.
Thanks folks for all the information. It’s good to hear that it’s still a great panel this far into it’s lifespan. It looks like BB isn’t really carrying this model anymore, leaving me to order from sites such as Amazon. And although they have it pretty cheap (~1300 at Amazon), the lack of a return policy is a little scary.
One of our guys bought a Sharp 46 inch LCD TV from Amazon.com. It turned out to have a defect (uneven backlighting), so he returned it. He had to pay return shipping, but didn’t have to pay for the original shipping of the panel, nor the subsequent shipping cost of the replacement.
According to the page at Amazon, the Westinghouse is being sold by a company called “Electronics Express”. Their info page has a section about returns like so:
Every television we sell carries full manufacturer’s warranty. If you are experiencing technical problems (Any Defective Issues) with your television, please contact an authorized repair center. To locate the most convenient authorized service center in your area, please check your owner’s manual or contact the manufacturer.
I assumed that meant I would have to take any issues up with the manufacturer, even if defective. And it turns out I missed the part below:
Any product that proves to be defective within 15 days from the date of receipt may be exchanged for the same model only.
My bad. I guess I’m concerned about not liking the panel, and not being able to take it back. That’s the price for getting a great deal on a panel, I suppose.
I was at CostCo yesterday, and didn’t see it in store, but I also didn’t ask a clerk specifically if they have it. I’ll probably just cave and buy it though, since it seems like such an incredible steal at that price.
I spent an hour at CostCo and BB last night looking at LCD TVs, and although some looked really nice (Sony XBR, I’m looking at you), by and large, they all looked pretty similar. At least to the point where I wouldn’t notice if they weren’t side by side.
The only thing I question now is whether it makes more sense to spend an equivalent amount of money on a 720p panel, as I’ve seen several articles arguing that 1080p is nice, but not as important to IQ as other things (like contrast).