Sunday, December 10, 2006

In the market for an HDTV

I've decided the time is nearing to upgrade my 27-inch old school CRT television to something more 21st century. Granted, I briefly owned a 50 inch rear projection DLP HDTV about 4 years ago, but severe buyer's remorse guilted me into returning it. DLP HDTV's were relatively new at the time, giving the unit a price tag north of $4,000. The moment I got home with it, I realized that spending that much money was not a prudent decision at the time, nor was it smart to buy an HDTV without fully understanding all of the available options and technologies.

This time, however, I'm prepared. I'm up to snuff on the technology (or so I think). I'm reading reviews and comparing prices online. I've stopped by stores to see display models in action. I also have a pretty firm budget. Here are my criteria and nice-to-haves:

-50 inches or larger.
-Must be 1080p and have at least 2 HDMI inputs that accept 1080p/60fps (I'm aware that 1080i vs 1080p makes little difference for movies and tv at 24fps, but I foresee using the tv for gaming from my PC)
-Built-in QAM/ATSC highly preferable, but not required.
-CableCARD nice, but not required.
-$3,000 or less.

I had originally decided on buying either the Sony KDS-60A2000 ($2200+) or the KDS-R60XBR2 ($3000+). Both are 60 inch rear projection LCOS models. The former has 2 1080p HDMI inputs, while the latter has 3. The latter also has an updated LCOS engine, a slightly brighter picture, and comes with a replacement bulb.

Every review I read said the picture on both models was essentially the same as the other, save a glitch or two in earlier production models of the KDS-60A2000. While the KDS-R60XBR2 had a brighter picture, it was not significantly brighter. There was also the somewhat shady issue where Sony took the unusual step of not providing a life expectancy on the projection bulb for the newer model. Is that why they provided the extra bulb? Is it going to fade out in a year, sticking me with an annual $300 bulb replacement bill? Nuts to that! So I decided on the KDS-60A2000. It's been around a while, and is proven technology.

Then I read in several forums about color uniformity and other issues that have popped up with the KDS-60A2000 after a few months of use. Some people had it, others didn't. But it was enough to give me pause. Then I thought if that was the case, perhaps the newer model was a better choice. But will people be complaining of the same thing for that one a few months down the road? Then I began thinking about the issue of bulb replacement. The thought of having to dole out a hefty $250-$300 on a bulb every 2 or 3 years dimmed the appeal of a rear projection model, despite getting massive size for the buck.

It also occurred to me that in the next 2 or 3 years, I'll probably want to buy at least one more HDTV to replace the one I watch while running on my treadmill. Perhaps going smaller and getting a plasma or LCD model is the way to go. 40 to 50 inches now, and 3 years from now, I'll probably be able to get a 70 inch or larger LCD or even OLED for the same price, if not cheaper. Ok, back to square one.

After several evenings of additional reading and research, I now think I've settled on the Samsung LNS5296D. It's 52 inches, has a 6000:1 contrast ratio, an 8ms response time, 1080p over the VGA input and HDMI inputs, and all of the other goodies I need. Some over at have complained of its overscan, but I can't say I'm personally all that concerned about it, though I will definitely try to see one in action in a store before purchasing one.

The downside? Currently the cheapest price I could find from a reputable online retailer was over $3500. But I'm not in a hurry. I'm optimistic that prices will come down in January. After Christmas and before the Superbowl is a prime time for tv purchases, and retailers will be trying to lure men into getting something to watch the big game on. For me, I'm not terribly concerned about the timing. If the prices and features aren't in line with my requirements, then I'm willing to wait a little longer.


Anonymous said...

A year ago, I bought the Toshiba 62HM196 62" DLP TV and I regard it as one of the best purchases I have ever made. Check the specs, it'll do everything you want, and it won't kill your wallet. Granted when I bought it, it was about $1000 more than you can get it for now, but I was in the market then, not now. It'll cost you about $2400 currently, and it has a BEAUTIFUL picture. It does everything from HDTV to DVD's fantastic, but where I THINK it shines is in high def gaming. I have an Xbox 360 and it's OH SO much fun, but my main source of games is in my HTPC. I have it set to play all my games in widescreen high def. BF2 never looked so good :-) Get yourself a bluetooth wireless mouse and keyboard and a logitech wireless joystick, and you will feel like you really are in that chopper.

I have a buddy that bought the same SONY you are looking at a week ago. It's a great TV, 50". But honestly, after hooking all his stuff up, watching Saving Private Ryan and then gong home to my set....I like my Toshiba better. More features, better picture, and a nicer looking TV in general.

I'll be excited to see what you decide!

If you wanna discuss further, shoot me an email. you know my address. Theres quite a few nit picky things I could compare between the two, but I dont want to bore anyone if you are the one that is really looking for the info.

Chat soon

Jeremy QA Gibbens said...

Great info! My issue with the standard DLP is the "rainbow effect" caused by the color wheel. Some people are sensitive to it, others aren't. I don't recall noticing it when I had the Samsung 50 incher from a few years back, but I didn't have it long.

Now this week I read about Samsung and another company making LED-based DLP rear projection sets. A little more expensive, since it's new, but reviews give them a thumbs up on color reproduction, response time (critical for gaming), and the Sammy got so-so ratings for black levels and color uniformity. And the kicker--the LED units last 20,000 hours. I can live with dropping $500 (I've heard that's the price) on a new LED unit every 6 years.

Jeremy QA Gibbens said...

Anyway, to finish my thought, I might see how the second gen from Samsung plays out. But I'm hearing rave reviews about the other unit, Nuvision. Never heard of that company though. They have a 52 or 56 inch model (Samsung's only LED is 56) and supposedly are coming out with larger models soon. Might be worth the wait. I've waited 4 years, and I can wait another few months.

Anonymous said...

Or, just wait on the new generation of Laser TV's coming soon. They are suppose to be FANTASTIC and very cost effective! Check out the info out there, it's pretty exciting!

Jeremy QA Gibbens said...

You are all over that info! I hadn't heard of laser rear projos. I was also reading last night about HDMI 1.2 vs the upcoming 1.3. The new version has double the bandwidth of the old connections. Supposedly these screens will recreate more colors. I was already somewhat convinced to wait things out a little longer to see what gives with HDMI, but the laser-based sets sound like they are worth waiting for, too. I might just have to hang in there a while longer and see what news January brings. Though if I see a crazy deal on one of the higher rated current gen sets, I may just go for it.

Anonymous said...

I say go for it...Throw caution to the wind and buy the biggest DLP you can find! PC games NEVER looked better!

Anonymous said...

Did ya get one?

Jeremy QA Gibbens said...

Nope. Not yet. It will probably be mid-January at the earliest unless some crazy deal comes along on one of the models I've been considering.