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Topic # 87568 1-Aug-2011 15:49 Send private message

I'm thinking of buying a new TV to replace my 25 year old National (Panasonic) CRT :)

I've pretty much ignored TV advances and I've been utterly overwhelmed when walking into a shop that sells TV's.

The first thing I need to do is decide on whether I want plasma or LCD, but a lot of the advice I've been reading seems to be a year or more old and I understand that things can change a lot in a year.  I'm looking at getting something between 40 and 50 inches.

My lounge is quite sunny and I do sometimes watch TV during the day. I prefer not to have to pull all the curtains and plunge the room into darkness. My existing TV gets some glare on it from a ranch slider window that is behind me if I sit directly in front of it. From what I've read an LCD would be a better option than a plasma for this set-up. Is that correct?  Do most plasma's have highly glossy screens that cause reflections while LCD's can have matte screens that reflect a lot less?

I've also read that LCD's use a lot less power than plasma. Is this still true with current models on the market?

As far as my input sources go I've got a Magic TV box for Freeview, a Wii and a DVD player.  In the future I might upgrade to a Blueray player.  I definitely want full HD, which I understand is 1920 x 1080, and I understand that progressive is better than interlaced, correct?

While I would like internet on the TV I'm thinking that I'm probably better off ignoring all of the existing offerings as many of them limit you to just a few websites that they've made TV-friendly (i.e. YouTube). Instead I should probably wait for Google TV (or something similar) to arrive that offers full internet access, apps, etc; and that is just a little box that I plug into the TV.  Does this reasoning sound solid?

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  Reply # 500450 1-Aug-2011 16:51 Send private message

Matt LCD then.

Plasmas have the same or worse reflections than a CRT because they basically are the same, a phosphor inside glass - LCDs will actually not reflect light so will still appear to be black even with light in the room

Look at how black the screen is when off, and light in the room. Thats as good as your blacks will be. Sure the plasma will be a little nicer in a pitch black room, but IME even the light from the screen scattering back onto the plasmas is quite noticiable and not a hell of a lot better than a decent LCD.

Matt finish ones are worse performing specwise but really are better in that you are not constantly focusing on your own reflection in the screen or what is going on behind you. Gloss on LCDs is just poo.




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  Reply # 500451 1-Aug-2011 16:53 Send private message

Yes, LCD.
Bigger is better, or you may as well not bother with 'full' HD.
No - not all plasmas have glossy screens - my Panasonic 50V20 has an anti-reflective coating.
Power - not much in it, and I doubt if what difference there is would either save the planet or save you a hunk off your power bill. I replaced a 29" CRT with my 50" plasma, and if I'm reading the figures right, it uses less power!
Inputs - just get one with lots of HDMI - eventually it may not matter as you may put a 'receiver' in the system that will consolidate inputs and just have one HDMI connection to the TV.
Internet - no TVs handle this well - it's still a jungle out there. The solution is probably to use a 'media centre' or PC to access what you want, and then get it to the TV either via HDMI, or streamed via ethernet (so you should get a TV with a LAN connection).

You're on the right track.

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  Reply # 500453 1-Aug-2011 16:58 Send private message

If you have many legacy devices which it sounds like you do, check that you can get them all connected. The trend with slim is to drop the massive matrix of RCA jacks that was common in the past and just have a couple of 3.5mm jacks and ship adapter leads to RCA's - one for composite and audio, and one for the component signals. If you have more than one analog device you are stuffed without getting an external switcher or a reciever, as you list a wii and dvd player - that might be 2 analog sources - but you could always splash out a couple of hundy on a bluray at the same time and bin the dvd player to solve it.

The physical properties of the phosphor in a plasma are that they are grey, and reflect light. Tinted coatings will reduce that but also reduce the light output so just make the tv use more power and get hotter. IMO plasma is a done technology unless you have the exact situation to make it work well.




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  Reply # 500471 1-Aug-2011 17:33 Send private message

richms:The physical properties of the phosphor in a plasma are that they are grey, and reflect light. Tinted coatings will reduce that but also reduce the light output so just make the tv use more power and get hotter. IMO plasma is a done technology unless you have the exact situation to make it work well.


Can you explain that a bit more please?  I can't see what relevance the unexcited colour of the phosphors or their reflectivity have here.  What is the "that" that a tinted coating would reduce?

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  Reply # 500480 1-Aug-2011 17:43 Send private message

If they are grey before any light is added by the screen, how can you get a decent black out of them?

The tint will reduce the light coming back out from the room because that has to travel thru it twice, but the emmited light from the panel only goes thru it once, so the difference between them is doubled. Most plasmas have a pretty heavy tint on the front glass to make the blacks better by reducing the room light hitting the screen.




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  Reply # 500486 1-Aug-2011 17:57 Send private message

I thought plasma screens in general had better black levels and contrast than LCD.
Isn't that the basis for your comment:
"Sure the plasma will be a little nicer in a pitch black room, but IME even the light from the screen scattering back onto the plasmas is quite noticiable and not a hell of a lot better than a decent LCD. "

If that's so, phosphor colour and reflectivity can't be much of an issue compared with leakage of the backlight through a "black" LCD pixel, or am I still missing something here?

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  Reply # 500490 1-Aug-2011 18:04 Send private message

I have two Samsung LCD TVs, I really like them. There are dozens of TV selection threads, have a read of them for arguments for and against.

In the end you need to trust your own eyes.




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  Reply # 500515 1-Aug-2011 18:51 Send private message

xarqi: I thought plasma screens in general had better black levels and contrast than LCD.
Isn't that the basis for your comment:
"Sure the plasma will be a little nicer in a pitch black room, but IME even the light from the screen scattering back onto the plasmas is quite noticiable and not a hell of a lot better than a decent LCD. "

If that's so, phosphor colour and reflectivity can't be much of an issue compared with leakage of the backlight through a "black" LCD pixel, or am I still missing something here?


Yes, they do if you are miles away from it, but stick a plasma close to something reflective like a light sofa etc and you will have a much worse black level than a decent LCD when there is a bright white thing on the screen. Its not as simple as just looking at the numbers of the panel for what it emmits as to which will give you the better blacks.

Admitidly the room light can be less annoying then sitting looking at a dark purple rectangle in the dark scenes, the dynamic contrast on the LED backlights is getting good enough that you can turn it on so that the dark scenes actually work well with it.




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  Reply # 500542 1-Aug-2011 19:54 Send private message

Great. Thanks for the info.

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  Reply # 500617 1-Aug-2011 23:38 Send private message

Okay - where to begin...
I'm gonna assume you're looking to go for a TV that's 40" or above.
The next thing to know - NO TV can work well with direct light on the screen... it doesn't matter what sort of screen you've got up front, the sun is a harsh mistress.

LCD's
Some, not all LCD's offer matte finished screens. It seems like a good idea on paper, but to be honest, there's a reason why you seldom see matte finishes on a company's top range of tellies.
They rob you of colour, sometimes equate to poor off-axis viewing (look crap when you're sitting to the side) and in the case of Sony, seem to only be on the TV's to save money. I mean... who would choose to use a panel that's over 2.5 years old and now just 8-bit (they used to use higher spec panels, but dropped them when they really started to run out of money).
Not all matte finished panels are dud though, the IPS screens on Panasonic and selected LG TV's are quite good, with good axis viewing. The older ones were said to be a little 'slow' compared to others, but I'm yet to believe that could be noticed.

LED lit LCD's
Interestingly enough, when you go to LED lit LCD's, you often find glossy panels on their higher end offerings (no one really does a highly spec'd LCD anymore BTW) as it allows them to achieve higher native contrast.* Sony, for instance use glossy panels on NX720's and above, so do Samsung. The thing with LED's, is you will almost certainly need a home theatre system, as the sound is typically quite poor. How poor? Try going into a store and turning up the sound to 100 on the likes of a 6 series Samsung... it's really poor as the speakers are tiny. The other downside to LED's, the bigger you go, the more they struggle to achieve even lighting across the panels. Samsung haven't managed to fix this for 2011, which is a pity as their bezels are very slim / sexy.

Plasma
Easily the best for motion performance. And when I talk about motion performance, I don't just mean sport, I also mean trying to read the credits at the end of a film. Some LCD / LED panels are just horrible, to the point that many people seem to think their TV's are actually broken when the credits start to roll!
The entry level plasma TV's are virtually mirrors as they are a straight glass panel.
However, once you go up the range somewhat, you start finding things like filters...
The likes of the Panasonic ST and above effectively work like a louver. The light comes out of the panel, but when an external light source hits the screen (sun coming through the window etc), it is essentially deflected down, away from the viewer. The sound is typically better on the Panasonic's too, as they have forward firing speakers, whereas the other manufacturers have prized a tiny bezel over sound performance. I like the black level performance of the top Samsung's for 2011, but the motion processing is really quite poor, especially when compared to the Panasonic's.
I have a Panasonic plasma from 2010 and have used it in multiple rooms, and it deals with sunlight very well.

Remember - when it comes to TV's, generalisations are just that. General.
It needs to be a case by case consideration. Trust your eyes.



*Also, ignore any advice based around dynamic contrast ratios, they're just spewing marketing rubbish, native contrast, on the other hand, is a viable spec to compare. However, it doesn't seem to be listed much anymore as the numbers don't look as impressive as the questionable dynamic contrast figures.

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  Reply # 500619 1-Aug-2011 23:43 Send private message

MurrayM: I'm thinking of buying a new TV to replace my 25 year old National (Panasonic) CRT :)
That deserves some kind of conservation award ;) You can continue using it as a second TV after the digital switchoff with the benefit of a RF modulator, assuming it has no AV inputs.

Don't feel you need to get the biggest television possible unless someone has bad eyesight. It is true that fine sources may look better with a larger television but the large majority of content is either SD or poor quality HD and a larger television will just make that material look worse. I think 50" is above where I'd want to be.

The main advantages of a plasma is more natural motion and more natural colour. The main disadvantage is they are more susceptible to glare than CRTs and especially LCDs.

In terms of perceived 3D depth a HD CRT usually more or less trumps a plasma, and a plasma is usually much better again than most LCDs. It is a similar story with black levels but most plasmas are comparitively worse than CRTs and closer to good LCDs. Plasmas usually have better viewing angles than LCDs.

At 50Hz, which is what broadcasts are here, large LCD televisions look very jerky. Plasmas and CRTs fade their light output off and on whereas LCDs are more off / on to view. So better LCDs can create frames in software and display at 100Hz or higher. Some people find one or both of these LCD modes highly offensive.

One area of clear advantage for LCDs is they don't flicker. Plasmas, like CRTs, do, but it is a different kind of flicker. In my opinion plasma flicker is far more noticeable at 50" than 42". LCDs are also vastly less vulnerable to image retention than plasmas which is an issue if you want to use the TV as a computer monitor and that effect bothers you.

You cannot buy the perfect TV and will have to pick your compromise. Personally, I have sat and watched a high end LCD for a fair number of hours and that is an experience I never want to repeat whereas others thought the same TV was great. So it is a matter of personal preference between LCD and plasma. If I was getting a TV tomorrow my preference would be for a Panasonic neo-plasma. There are differences in failure rates between different brands too.

I understand that progressive is better than interlaced, correct?
Yes but nobody sells interlaced TVs anymore as that was a CRT thing. Some old flat panels couldn't support 1080p inputs because the signal wasn't standardised early enough.

Get an HDMI cable for your Magic TV. I don't know how possible a RGB to VGA hookup is possible with a NZ model Wii. You'll have to find that one out yourself. The quality would be only slightly better than from ypbpr so I am splitting hairs but it would free the ypbpr ports. Wii via composite is going to be nasty.

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  Reply # 500622 2-Aug-2011 00:27 Send private message

You can easily pick up a component cable for your Wii, RRP is around $35-$40 I think.

Oh, and interestingly enough, Sony don't ever say that their TV's are all 1080p... I think that's because we see some of the range still using 1080i. Can anyone confirm? I remember reading this just under 2 years ago.

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  Reply # 500624 2-Aug-2011 00:45 Send private message

Costs 1/5th that or so off ebay or deal extreme for a wii cable. The problem is the lack of inputs on the slim TVs now when you do have many legacy analog sources. Its not something they tend to advertise, but even on the fat chunky sets, where there was normally 2 or 3 components, it is down to 1 now, same for AV's, the front/side inputs are gone etc.




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  Reply # 500625 2-Aug-2011 00:51 Send private message

Some TVs still don't display 1080p because they're low quality 768p panels which must rescale every input. But I'd be surprised if there are still any TVs on the NZ market that don't accept a 1080p50 or p60 signal via HDMI. There may still be some that don't accept 1080p24 used natively by most Blu-ray discs. Component is different and many panels won't accept 1080p from that as it wasn't formally standardised due to the "piracy" threat. Apparently if Blu-rays could do 1080p24 over component then we'd all use it to pirate them mixtape-style.

Your Wii may need a menu change to output progressive instead of interlaced over ypbpr. But I'm just guessing.

I forgot to mention another reason for my preference for Panasonic is I like their sound better. There is more to sound quality than speaker size. There is something depressing about a cheapy old Panasonic CRT from the 1990s with little speakers defeating expensive HD televisions in sound quality for no reason other than superior internal processing. You know things are bad when you have to turn the subtitles on to tell what's being said. If you have an external sound system then this doesn't matter as much. Some of the big brands are very keen to sell you one. Especially with how they force their obsolescence by changing the connector standards. If anyone knows how to convert HDMI surround sound to RCA I'd like to hear it :)

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  Reply # 500793 2-Aug-2011 14:22 Send private message

I can highly recommend the Sony 46EX500, which is a 1080p, 46" matte lcd tv.

We got ours in the end of year sales last year, does the job like a boss.

The 55" 55EX500 looks like good value now too, if you shop around and haggle you should be able to get a sharp price.

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