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424 posts

Ultimate Geek
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Topic # 58759 18-Mar-2010 16:29
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I've decided to start looking around for a HDTV, and not knowing much about the process, I thought I'd ask here.  There are about 15 to choose from in the size I'm interested in, that's a lot of choice (perhaps too much...) especially since it's from only two manufacturers.

Of course there are the easy to understand things like whether it has a Freeview tuner, how many HDMI ports it has, LED back lighting (if you're into that), size of course and price.  Then things start to get a bit murky for me.  

What things should I look for?  What things should I avoid?  If you bought one recently, what didn't you like about it? In case you're wondering what I'll be using it for, a mixture of television, watching DVDs and gaming.  Thanks.

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Uber Geek
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  Reply # 308837 18-Mar-2010 16:42
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Whatever you do, do not make up your final decision after seeing any of them in a high street store,
They will have all had their brightness/colour/ contrast levels all wound up the wazoo to overcome the strong lighting environment.

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  Reply # 308869 18-Mar-2010 18:45
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1: The first thing to do is establish your budget.
What will you need?
A wall mounting brakcet?
A TV cabinet?
A surge guard?
HDMI cables?
A home theatre (factor in cables if you go for a speaker / receiver combo)?
A new aerial / satelliite dish?
A Freeview box?
A universal remote?
Do you believe in Extended Warranties?

Then...

2: Where the TV will be positioned?
Will it be in a brightly lit room? Or is light not an issue?
A lot of plasma TV's have reflective screens which makes viewing less than ideal. Some LCD's have screens with matt finishes that work very well in brightly lit environs. Sony's range comes to mind.

3: What will you be watching? You've already noted this - but my question is...
Will you be watching DVD's or Blu Ray's?
And what gaming console are you using? A Wii? A PS3?

4: What are you listening to the TV through? The standard speakers on many new TV's aren't great (rear or downward firing) - so you may want to include a home theatre system in your budget.

5: What is your TV source?
Sky?
Bunny ears?
A relatively new UHF roof mounted antenna?
It pays to remember, that most new TV's won't get a particularly good reception with bunny ears...
And if you want to take advantage of the on-board Freeview tuner, it will only work with a UHF aerial, NOT a satellite dish.

6: HD Ready or Full HD?
If you're not watching Blu Ray or gaming on a High Def console... and only want the TV for a year or two before moving up to something else... get a HD Ready TV and you should be quite pleased.
Otherwise Full HD is real purdy! The downside... not that much content is available in full HD, but it is becoming available all the time.

7: Plasma, LCD or LED lit LCD?

Plasma = the best picture in many peoples opinion. They handle fast motion and panning shots brilliantly IMHO, they're the best price on the block and the colours are very natural.
Downsides = glossy screens, high power consumption (not all that high... really) and typically VERY heavy. A consideration for mounting. Some users have noted issues with 'burn in' from network logos / static video game graphics. Personally I haven't talked to anyone who has suffered from this in the last two - three years.

LCD = What you're used to with a lot of desktop computer monitors.
If you're into sport, you may notice some motion blur. Some people find it very distracting, others don't see it. Either way, you can pay more for a 100Hz or 200Hz model that gives you a quicker refresh rate and consequently smooths out the motion blur. The downside to this... it can make movies look 'overly smooth'. Purists would turn it down to 50Hz for movie viewing.
LCD's are typically a lot better power wise compared to Plasmas, and a lot of models will also finish matt screens - great for brightly lit environments.

LED lit LCD's = The same as LCD TV's... except, they utilise LED's as the back light. They are typically thinner, weigh less and use less power than LCD's. Some people think the colours are better, others think they look overly bright...
Really, they look sexy, but if you're not wall mounting, or will never see the TV from its side then... meh.
STILL, more and more and more LED lit LCD's will be coming out for 2010, and the prices will get lower and lower. After all, it's cheaper to produce and ship LED lit LCD's.
As a downside, there's often less outputs / inputs on the set to connect your gear to.

8: When choosing you TV, make sure you listen to how it sounds, make sure you get to play with the remote control (even though you may buy a home theatre setup / a universal remote). Some people go as far as taking their own DVD player and movie into the store so they can compare TV's a little easier. Of course, you'll want to clear that with the staff first, don't just go plugging your DVD player in without asking...

My personal preferences are:
Plasmas = Panasonic.
Sony = LCD's (very natural colours).


I'm sure others will have more to add, bust that's my $0.02.

 
 
 
 


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Geek


  Reply # 308910 18-Mar-2010 20:38
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dont forget soon to arrive 3D tv's

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Master Geek


  Reply # 308974 19-Mar-2010 00:11
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Dunnersfella makes some good points and has covered most of what you should be considering.
Some of the things that will make the biggest impact on your viewing experience will be the screen size and the room the tv will be in. The bigger the screen the better, to a point of course. The rule is generally your viewing distance should be around 1.5 times the screen size.
After that, set a budget and we can probably tell you which models you should be looking at. Unfortunately theres not a huge amount you can learn by looking at the actual tvs in the store due to a store not being very much like a living room and that most of the prominent and supposedly important specs that an ad or most salespeople will tell you about are usually irrelevant to a good picture.




Desktop: i7 920, GTX 275, asus P6T, antec 1200, 6gb ram, 1tb spinpoint f1, 1tb spinpoint f3, Logitech Z2300, Zero DAC, Shure SRH440
Laptop: Toshiba satellite, T5300, Go 7300
Home Theatre: 32" loewe CRT, Harmon kardon amp, dvd player, image 418 speakers, rega planar 25 turntable :)

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  Reply # 309015 19-Mar-2010 09:14
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Just to add a few extra points, but the above should more than get you started anyway....

On the whole, a brand name TV is going to give you a nicer user interface and remote if that is important to you. They are also far more likely to give you a better picture as well, on the whole.

There are some run out type specials and non name brand deals at the moment on TV's with no inbuilt freeview tuner. If you live outside a freeview HD coverage area, then these represent pretty good value, especially if you're going to feed the TV via a freeview satellite box anyway.

Unfortunately there is a pretty big push towards 3D TV's coming. Now this is likely to take 3 years or so to start offering TV sets at reasonable prices, and for the various companies to start producing standardised sets etc. But that fact does remain that it's a technology on the horizon. So, if you think you may be into that at some stage you may want to consider a cheaper TV now.

Or just buy a good one and enjoy it for many years anyway, which is what I've decided to do.

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Master Geek
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  Reply # 309156 19-Mar-2010 15:01
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I've got a two-year old Pioneer plasma and I'm very happy with it. I've recently seen some Samsung and Sony LCD TVs where the picture (from an HD source) has looked over-sharpened - any edges seem to "jump out" of the screen and people seem to have a halo-like effect surrounding them. I'd hasten to add that this is purely a personal point of view, and probably because I'm used to watching my own screen.


A couple of tips, which are pretty general buying tips really:

- narrow down what you *need* versus what looks nice on paper. 200Hz refresh rate sounds great, but the reality is that you're unlikely to be able to see any difference between that an a 100Hz display. Similarly having 25 HDMI inputs sounds great, but if you have only two HDMI sources then it's money spent unnecessarily.

- once you've narrowed things down to a few makes and models, find a place you want to buy from. Big name stores are often a bit cheaper, but that's not *always* true. These days smaller stores will often price match if they have to. Find a place where you get on with the staff, and they're willing to let you play with the screens. Which brings me on to the next point...

- take a DVD you're familiar with, and watch it on a couple of TVs in the store. Adjust the TV settings, and see if you're happy with the picture. This is a great reason to shop at smaller stores - larger stores often won't let you "play" and you'll have to buy stuff based on what the shop has on the screen and how the TVs are set up. See earlier comments in the thread on this.

- Play with the remote. Does it do what you want? Does it take 15 buttons to change channel?

 - Negotiate and see what you can get. Never, ever, pay more than about $25 for an HDMI cable. Will they throw the wall mount for a special price if you buy the TV now? etc.


What specific makes and models are you looking at? People may be able to give comments on them if they know exactly what you're looking at.

Cheers
Buzzy 

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  Reply # 309279 19-Mar-2010 21:10
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buzzy: Big name stores are often a bit cheaper, but that's not *always* true. These days smaller stores will often price match if they have to. Find a place where you get on with the staff, and they're willing to let you play with the screens. Which brings me on to the next point...


As a side note...
I found out the other day that JB Hifi and Powerstore share the same buying group.
In the same way that Noel Leeming / Bond and Bond will have the same...

Or in other words, you'll be able to find deals everywhere you look - so as has been said, find someone who is worth your time dealing with and buy from them. The relationship you forge with the right staff member will be more valuable that saving $10 with a plonker who doesn't know his elbow from a plasma.

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Geek


  Reply # 309286 19-Mar-2010 21:39
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dont forget most new tv remotes operate other components from the same brand. makes life much easier. beats having multiple remotes or a universal remote that may or may not operate all of your eqipement

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  Reply # 309305 19-Mar-2010 22:55
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Yep - look for...

'Bravia Synch' on Sony gear,
http://www.sony.co.nz/article/359183/section/product/product/&link

'Viera Link' on Panasonic
http://www.panasonic.co.nz/viera/guides/viera-link.html

'Anynet' on Samsung
http://www.samsung.com/au/anynet/

'Simplink' on LG gear.

It really does make for a neat setup, but if you don't buy gear from just one manufacturer, look for a universal remote from the likes of Logitech.

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Master Geek


  Reply # 309423 20-Mar-2010 19:15
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I'd pick a harmony over trying to keep everything just to one brand because it'll be very hard to do, does sony make a freeview box for example?
If you're looking into surround sound or similar most good tv brands don't do any sort of decent hifi gear.




Desktop: i7 920, GTX 275, asus P6T, antec 1200, 6gb ram, 1tb spinpoint f1, 1tb spinpoint f3, Logitech Z2300, Zero DAC, Shure SRH440
Laptop: Toshiba satellite, T5300, Go 7300
Home Theatre: 32" loewe CRT, Harmon kardon amp, dvd player, image 418 speakers, rega planar 25 turntable :)

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  Reply # 309440 20-Mar-2010 21:46
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samwooff: I'd pick a harmony over trying to keep everything just to one brand because it'll be very hard to do, does sony make a freeview box for example?
If you're looking into surround sound or similar most good tv brands don't do any sort of decent hifi gear.


no need for sony or most major brands to make a seperate freeview box. they have inbuilt freeview.

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  Reply # 309447 20-Mar-2010 22:28
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But if your TV doesn't have video or audio out... and you want to record using your existing DVD recorder or VHS - then a Freeview / STB will be in the mix somewhere.

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  Reply # 309472 21-Mar-2010 00:08
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Great advice going on in here, not much to add really.

I would highlight this one in particular:

"narrow down what you *need* versus what looks nice on paper. 200Hz refresh rate sounds great, but the reality is that you're unlikely to be able to see any difference between that an a 100Hz display. Similarly having 25 HDMI inputs sounds great, but if you have only two HDMI sources then it's money spent unnecessarily"

In order to do this you'll need to think about lots of other things people have mentioned (like the environment you'll have it set up in etc), but I would also add that considerations of future-proofing need to be weighed against "what you need right now" too (which is why some have mentioned the prospect of 3D TV). Theres a spectrum between the two, and where you fall in the spectrum is entirely a personal matter, and cost is a key consideration in that (because if there was no question of cost obviously you would get the most high-specced device of the kind you're after).

At the point in time when I got my 42inch LCD, with all other things being equal, the number of HDMI inputs seemed to have the largest impact on cost. Now I definitely wanted full HD, since I'd be using it with a PS3, but I elected for 2 HDMI inputs only since I was struggling to see how I would need more than that (and two years down the line I'm still nowhere close to needing 3). That saved me a bunch, as did not going for the television with the highest refresh rates, since that also added very little cumulative value to me for a disproportionate additional cost. Would I rather have everything? Sure. That said, I'm still very happy today with my set up, having struck for me the right balance between needs now, future proofing, and cost.

Perhaps worth noting that I budgetted for a home theatre system to go with this, and would highly recommend you doing the same.

My current set up is 42inch LCD, PS3 w/500GB harddrive, PlayTV, home theatre system, and a large wireless media network.




Twitter: @nztechfreak
Blogs: HeadphoNZ.org


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Master Geek


  Reply # 310599 24-Mar-2010 09:55
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Wow! A lot of info! Here's my 2 cents, I will keep it simple.

If you do more gaming than watching normal TV sports movies etc or will use it as computer monitor: LCD (LED's are a big rip off, unless you must have a slim tv for whatever reason)

LCD= Series 6 Samsungs are tried and true best motion perfomance, whatever size.

If you do the opposite to above and are a sports and movie fan: Plasma

Plasma= 42" Th-p42s10z only 42" 1080p Plasma on market so no choice! lol.(at the moment anyway) 50" Th-p50v10z Awesome tv for price best motion 1080p etc etc.


Easy pezy! Things don't need to be over complicated, but there is is a lot of crap out there today and some brands of TV's are going backwards in performance would you believe!

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  Reply # 311632 26-Mar-2010 14:34
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I've recently seen some Samsung and Sony LCD TVs where the picture (from an HD source) has looked over-sharpened - any edges seem to "jump out" of the screen and people seem to have a halo-like effect surrounding them. I'd hasten to add that this is purely a personal point of view, and probably because I'm used to watching my own screen.


I think that's pretty standard at "default" settings, again probably tweaked so that showroon perception of "sharpness" is high.  Casual shoppers are after HDTV for sharpness, and if one TV looks sharper than another, then...
With my Sony LCD, default sharpness setting is 10 (out of 20).  I use this connected to a PC.
As long as the TV panel is doing 1:1 pixel mapping (ie there is no overscan, and computer graphics is set to native 1920x1080) then the LCD test images at http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/ may help.  That tells me that sharpness setting of 0 (minimum) is about right, and that suits me.  But of course personal preference is what finally matters.
If you do want to connect to a PC via HDMI, then ease of eliminating overscan may be an issue.  Some LCD TV automatically eliminate overscan when connected to a PC, some need menu-digging to find the settings, some I couldn't eliminate overscan at all, including several recent Samsungs where for some bizarre reason the "Just Scan" option was greyed out when connected to PC via HDMI.
Scaling via the PC graphics card driver settings is okay perhaps for viewing media, but pretty unsatisfactory for other computer use.

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