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Author Topic: What should I know about buying a HDTV?  (Read 1324 times)
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Lordnine
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« on: May 24, 2008, 04:45:34 AM »

Well about two weeks ago I got my first real job out of college.  After living on about $5/day for the last four years I find myself in a much more comfortable position.  My boss loves the work I’m doing and one week pays my rent so things seem to be looking up.

Anyways, my current TV is an ageing 19 incher with fuzzy picture and fading audio and I would like to upgrade.  The thing is I don’t know anything about HD but at this point almost anything is better then what I have.  I don’t know much about cable/satellite either, my family could never afford it and I never really felt a need for it after I left home.  I didn’t even have a phone until two weeks ago when my employer said I was crazy and bought me a cell phone.

I don’t want to spend too much, paying off loans is much more important to me, but I don’t have a lot of other desires or expenses.  Within the next month/month and half I would like to find something.

Sooo…fill me in, what’s the best TV for around a grand and what do I need to know?
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« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2008, 05:00:40 AM »

First, you need to know what you are going to be using it for.  In general, I'm not sure how useful it is if you don't have something that will use the HD image.  That means a video game system, or cable HD signals, or HD movies, or whatever. 

Second, google around to get an idea of what HD is and the various resoultions that the term includes.  I could say "get a 1080p tv and make sure it has at least two HDMI inputs" but all that means is that when you go to the store you are at the mercy of the salesman (and I mean that in the most negative way.)  The better informed you are, the more likely you are to get what you really want and will appreciate.

That said, I'm sure someone will post a link to a TV that meets all the requirements that those in the know feel are necessary.  And, you can go that route and just trust the forum wisdom and probably be ok.  Personally I think you should at least look at any TV in a store before you buy one, but not everyone feels this is important.  I'll just say that in my personal experience whether a HDTV looks good can be a personal decision and not a technical one.

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« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2008, 05:34:10 AM »

dont buy into the whole "flat panel LCD/plasma TVs" are the best.  you can get a good projection/DLP TV for less than half the cost of a flat panel while getting a larger screen.
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Kevin Grey
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« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2008, 05:42:38 AM »

Quote from: Sarkus on May 24, 2008, 05:00:40 AM

That said, I'm sure someone will post a link to a TV that meets all the requirements that those in the know feel are necessary.  And, you can go that route and just trust the forum wisdom and probably be ok.  Personally I think you should at least look at any TV in a store before you buy one, but not everyone feels this is important.  I'll just say that in my personal experience whether a HDTV looks good can be a personal decision and not a technical one.

I'd only agree with that if it's a high end audio/video store where you can be sure the TVs are properly setup and are using a good HD source.  Alas, the Best Buys and Circuit City's of the world are not setup like that and I would never, ever trust a store setup over strong internet research that indicates something is a quality TV. 
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WalkingFumble
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« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2008, 06:01:00 AM »

Quote from: Kevin Grey on May 24, 2008, 05:42:38 AM

Quote from: Sarkus on May 24, 2008, 05:00:40 AM

That said, I'm sure someone will post a link to a TV that meets all the requirements that those in the know feel are necessary.  And, you can go that route and just trust the forum wisdom and probably be ok.  Personally I think you should at least look at any TV in a store before you buy one, but not everyone feels this is important.  I'll just say that in my personal experience whether a HDTV looks good can be a personal decision and not a technical one.

I'd only agree with that if it's a high end audio/video store where you can be sure the TVs are properly setup and are using a good HD source.  Alas, the Best Buys and Circuit City's of the world are not setup like that and I would never, ever trust a store setup over strong internet research that indicates something is a quality TV. 

case and point.  those TVs at best buy are set up to look good at the store under tons of light.  if you really want to test something out, go to a smaller/higher end electronics store that would let you test out the TV with a game console or DVDs of your choice.   dont let a salesperson push you into buying something because its the latest model or newest technology.

like Sarkus said, use the forums.  odds are, someone here will the same model or close to what you are looking at to give a better viewpoint than what you would get from a best buy employee.
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EngineNo9
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« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2008, 06:41:17 AM »

I'd just add that after you narrow it down to a couple models, head over to somewhere like avsforum.com and do a search for that model # in the appropriate category.  You should get lots of real-world impressions from knowledgeable people.
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« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2008, 01:45:38 PM »

Depending on your situation and what you need the tv for one alternative is an HD home theatre projector.  There are a number of excellent models at the $1000 price point and they are awesome.  For that price they are mostly 720 P units  ( the 1080 P units are considerably more ) but can scale the higher resolutions without a hitch.  And they are very impressive visually.  Use a high def signal and it is quite literally like having a theatre in your home.
I own an older Infocus model that I plan on upgrading soon, and every friend I have who owns a high end Plasma or LCD set has been blown away by my set up ( and experienced a measure of buyers remorse )  They obvious restrictions to having a projector are generally room size and light control.  If you're at all interested in home theatre projection check out the  avs forums (linked in EnigineNo9's post above) They have fantastic info on almost any model you could want.
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« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2008, 01:53:01 PM »

Quote from: WalkingFumble on May 24, 2008, 05:34:10 AM

dont buy into the whole "flat panel LCD/plasma TVs" are the best.  you can get a good projection/DLP TV for less than half the cost of a flat panel while getting a larger screen.

+1 to all this.
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Ironrod
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« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2008, 02:27:31 PM »

1. Decide what size is right for you. If you have a small room and will sit close to the TV, you want a smaller screen than if it's farther away. Our TV is only about 8' away from our seating, so we found 42" to be plenty big. You don't want to have to move your head back and forth to see the whole image. I actually got some cardboard and made cutouts of a couple of candidate sets' dimensions, just so we could see how they would really fit our little living room.

2. Pick a technology. They all have pluses and minuses. Projection sets are the cheapest, but they have expensive bulbs that burn out, often have limited viewing angles, and might be a dying technology. Plasma sets are tremendous energy hogs that put out a lot of waste heat. LCDs can have washed-out black levels and less vivid colors. Read up on the pros and cons of each technology and choose the one that matters to you. We went with LCD for various reasons, including lower power consumption and a non-reflective, matte screen.

3. Do your brand research. There are tons of reviews online. I found that there is very little value to looking at them in showrooms, because the conditions there don't match your home, and because the retailers adjust their pictures so that the sets with the biggest markup look the best. Seeing is not believing. Since it is nearly impossible to compare picture quality yourself, pay a lot of attention to other features like sound, inputs, remote, etc. 

4. Pick a retailer. We saved a few hundred bucks by buying online. Many people are more comfortable with retail stores. They're all pretty competitive, and the deals are constantly changing.

Most of the sets on the market are pretty good. There is no clear best technology or size or manufacturer. You're probably going to be happy with whatever you buy, once you figure out which TV is right for you.
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Kevin Grey
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« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2008, 04:17:27 PM »

Quote from: pr0ner on May 24, 2008, 01:53:01 PM

Quote from: WalkingFumble on May 24, 2008, 05:34:10 AM

dont buy into the whole "flat panel LCD/plasma TVs" are the best.  you can get a good projection/DLP TV for less than half the cost of a flat panel while getting a larger screen.

+1 to all this.

I agree too.  We have two DLPs because it's hard to beat the size/price ratio and you get great quality.  Also, DLPs often play nicer with non-HD content as well.  480i/480p content tends to look nicer on our sets than it does on some pretty high end LCDs and Plasmas I've seen. 
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Chaz
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« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2008, 05:15:23 PM »

One of the best pieces of advice I got was that buying a high-ticket TV is like buying a car in that you can totally haggle the price.  Once you've got your set picked out, go around to a few stores (especially if they're nearby), and play them off each other.  Go in with the best price (including shipping) that you can find online, and see if you can get them to match or beat that (though I probably wouldn't tell them you're comparing their offers to an online store), or just go from one to the other getting them to undercut one another.

I did this when I got mine several years ago.  I had already paid for, but not taken delivery, on a 51" model at Sears.  My GF convinced me to upgrade to the 57" model.  I went to Sears, and got their best offer, and asked what their pricematch policy was, and they said they'd beat any other price I could find, plus 10% of the difference.  Went to Circuit City across the street, and found their price was a hundred less than Sears, but they wouldn't move on it.  Went back to Sears, told them CC had it for $150 less (yeah, I fudged a bit), and without batting an eye, they knocked the difference off.

Basically, a lot of these salesmen work on commission.  The markups are generally high, and they want the commission, so they'll move on the price.  If the low-level salesman you're talking to won't move on the price, see if there's a higher-up to talk to.  If there's not, then walk.  There's plenty of other places to buy the same set.  Also, if you're getting a big set, don't forget to factor in possibly getting some kind of stand for it.  Those are more expensive than I was expecting them to be.
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« Reply #11 on: May 24, 2008, 05:23:26 PM »

Quote from: Kevin Grey on May 24, 2008, 04:17:27 PM

Also, DLPs often play nicer with non-HD content as well.  480i/480p content tends to look nicer on our sets than it does on some pretty high end LCDs and Plasmas I've seen. 

This is another important point.  I have no issues watching standard definition TV on my HD projection set, and my Wii outputting in 480p looks fantastic.
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« Reply #12 on: May 24, 2008, 05:34:39 PM »

Quote from: Kevin Grey on May 24, 2008, 04:17:27 PM

Quote from: pr0ner on May 24, 2008, 01:53:01 PM

Quote from: WalkingFumble on May 24, 2008, 05:34:10 AM

dont buy into the whole "flat panel LCD/plasma TVs" are the best.  you can get a good projection/DLP TV for less than half the cost of a flat panel while getting a larger screen.

+1 to all this.

I agree too.  We have two DLPs because it's hard to beat the size/price ratio and you get great quality.  Also, DLPs often play nicer with non-HD content as well.  480i/480p content tends to look nicer on our sets than it does on some pretty high end LCDs and Plasmas I've seen. 

Agreed.  I had a DLP and replaced it with a RP LCD.  I'll eventually get a flat panel device for the bedroom, but I didn't see much point in paying twice as much for a TV who's sole significant factor (for me) was hanging it on a wall - something I was not going to do in my current living room.

gellar
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disarm
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« Reply #13 on: May 24, 2008, 07:14:11 PM »

Quote from: gellar on May 24, 2008, 05:34:39 PM

Quote from: Kevin Grey on May 24, 2008, 04:17:27 PM

Quote from: pr0ner on May 24, 2008, 01:53:01 PM

Quote from: WalkingFumble on May 24, 2008, 05:34:10 AM

dont buy into the whole "flat panel LCD/plasma TVs" are the best.  you can get a good projection/DLP TV for less than half the cost of a flat panel while getting a larger screen.

+1 to all this.

I agree too.  We have two DLPs because it's hard to beat the size/price ratio and you get great quality.  Also, DLPs often play nicer with non-HD content as well.  480i/480p content tends to look nicer on our sets than it does on some pretty high end LCDs and Plasmas I've seen. 

Agreed.  I had a DLP and replaced it with a RP LCD.  I'll eventually get a flat panel device for the bedroom, but I didn't see much point in paying twice as much for a TV who's sole significant factor (for me) was hanging it on a wall - something I was not going to do in my current living room.

gellar

i have a 50" Sony SXRD/LCoS set (KDS50-A2000) and the picture is fantastic.  it may not be as trendy as LCD or plasma, but i haven't had a person yet that's seen my tv and not said it's one of the best looking pictures they've ever seen.  as others have mentioned, the quality of standard-def picture is often noticeably better, although it's hard to say if that's due to the screen technology or video processing.  i can actually watch SD content on my 50" 1080p and am very happy with the picture quality...does a good job of eliminating a lot of the pixelation while still being crisp. 

the problem is that all of the stores are pushing flat panel sets because they're compact and look so vibrant with the brightness turned up too high, but the picture quality from DLP or LCoS can be incredible for a fraction of the price.  unfortunately, the market has been steered so sharply to LCD/plasma that variations of rear-projection sets are becoming more rare.  Sony made some of the best for a few years, but they're abandoned the design because they just weren't selling as well.  definitely keep rear-projection in mind if you don't have to have something you can hang on the wall though.
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« Reply #14 on: May 24, 2008, 07:36:59 PM »

Quote from: Lordnine on May 24, 2008, 04:45:34 AM

I donít want to spend too much, paying off loans is much more important to me

Congrats to you for thinking about what's more important. Get rid of those loans!!

I'm no TV expert, but one thing to remember is that LCD's suck a lot less energy than plasma screens. Don't just think about what is the best deal up front - think about your electricity bill in the future cuz electricity ain't gonna get any cheaper.
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« Reply #15 on: May 24, 2008, 08:28:39 PM »

here are my general suggestions

first, get 1080 p (if you can find one in your price range - and especially if youre pushing 40+ inches)  if you cant get 1080p, its not THAT big a deal really and 720p will do you just find.  id stay away from 1080i though, its not bad but more things (hd things that is) have native resolutions of 720p so why not go with that?

2nd - after your 19 inch tv, youll be surprised how big anything around 30+ is going to look, really you might be thinking 40 and up is TOO big!

3rd - if youre like me, youll want lots of inputs!  inputs are KEY!  depending on the fancy gear you might add, youll want 2+hdmi - if you dont think youll be getting a lot of fancy gear (or none at all) then 1 should be good just as a "failsafe"  component, you want a lot of them!  youre on a gaming site, you probably have a console or two - if you dont have them in hdmi, youll want them in component.  composite, well i dont really know to tell you the truth - ive long lost the need for them, but maybe if you have an older dvd or vcr (or a camcorder or digital camera i guess? that doesnt do hdmi or component) then youll want one, but composite really only matters if you have an older piece of equipment you CANT hook up any other way.  i look at s-vid the same way

vga is nice but not available on all types of tvs - its fun if you think youll ever want to hook up a computer (i NEVER thought id use this, but i actually did end up doing it a few times - its neat, but only you will know if you want this as an option)

finally - tv - as in cable / digital whatever.  depending on your provider youre going to have to get a certain package to see hd content.  i know with certain cable companies, digital cable usually comes with free hd, but digital cable is NOT standard cable - so "free" doesnt mean if you have cable, you have hd.  personally, i like cable but you MAY not be hd out of box.  one of the things NO ONE ever talks about is that hd sets look WORSE than nice flat panel glass sets when it comes to standard def stuff.  as in nine times out of ten, a good 5 or 10 year old flat panel standard def tv is going to look nicer than your hd monster if you dont have hd.  no one talks about this because frankly, if youre buying an hd set you most often have hd service lined up.  but keep it in mind.  if your parents arent tech savvy, you might go to their house and see one of their flat glass tvs, see a standard def picture and wonder why your $1000 state of the art set doesnt look as good - this is why!  so, food for thought...
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« Reply #16 on: May 24, 2008, 09:47:24 PM »

Quote from: Ironrod
2. Pick a technology. They all have pluses and minuses. Projection sets are the cheapest, but they have expensive bulbs that burn out, often have limited viewing angles, and might be a dying technology. Plasma sets are tremendous energy hogs that put out a lot of waste heat. LCDs can have washed-out black levels and less vivid colors. Read up on the pros and cons of each technology and choose the one that matters to you. We went with LCD for various reasons, including lower power consumption and a non-reflective, matte screen.

The bolded part is not necessarily true. A lot of the newer DLP sets are using LED backlighting which, if you do any research, should point you to those sets having a longer lifetime than even an LCD or Plasma set barring some kind of other internal malfunction. LED DLP's can be found at 50 inches for as little as $1200 on sale. Maybe less now as I haven't looked for a while.
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« Reply #17 on: May 24, 2008, 10:58:47 PM »

I appreciate the responses. 

Right now I don’t actually have anything that makes use of HD, but in the near future I can see that changing, especially since my 5 year old DVD player is making terrible clunking sounds on a regular basis. 

Right now I have an Xbox (old) and a friend’s Wii, it would be nice to be able to use them from more than three feet away and not have to squint.  Obviously I want both to look as good as possible on my new TV.

This is the one I have been eyeing http://www.circuitcity.com/ssm/LG-42-LCD-HDTV-42LB5D/sem/rpsm/oid/174195/rpem/ccd/productDetail.do
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« Reply #18 on: May 25, 2008, 12:00:31 AM »

Quote from: disarm on May 24, 2008, 07:14:11 PM

Quote from: gellar on May 24, 2008, 05:34:39 PM

Quote from: Kevin Grey on May 24, 2008, 04:17:27 PM

Quote from: pr0ner on May 24, 2008, 01:53:01 PM

Quote from: WalkingFumble on May 24, 2008, 05:34:10 AM

dont buy into the whole "flat panel LCD/plasma TVs" are the best.  you can get a good projection/DLP TV for less than half the cost of a flat panel while getting a larger screen.

+1 to all this.

I agree too.  We have two DLPs because it's hard to beat the size/price ratio and you get great quality.  Also, DLPs often play nicer with non-HD content as well.  480i/480p content tends to look nicer on our sets than it does on some pretty high end LCDs and Plasmas I've seen. 

Agreed.  I had a DLP and replaced it with a RP LCD.  I'll eventually get a flat panel device for the bedroom, but I didn't see much point in paying twice as much for a TV who's sole significant factor (for me) was hanging it on a wall - something I was not going to do in my current living room.

gellar

i have a 50" Sony SXRD/LCoS set (KDS50-A2000) and the picture is fantastic.  it may not be as trendy as LCD or plasma, but i haven't had a person yet that's seen my tv and not said it's one of the best looking pictures they've ever seen.  as others have mentioned, the quality of standard-def picture is often noticeably better, although it's hard to say if that's due to the screen technology or video processing.  i can actually watch SD content on my 50" 1080p and am very happy with the picture quality...does a good job of eliminating a lot of the pixelation while still being crisp. 

the problem is that all of the stores are pushing flat panel sets because they're compact and look so vibrant with the brightness turned up too high, but the picture quality from DLP or LCoS can be incredible for a fraction of the price.  unfortunately, the market has been steered so sharply to LCD/plasma that variations of rear-projection sets are becoming more rare.  Sony made some of the best for a few years, but they're abandoned the design because they just weren't selling as well.  definitely keep rear-projection in mind if you don't have to have something you can hang on the wall though.

I have that exact same TV and I agree with everything said here. IMO, you get a heck of a lot more for less money by going with a DLP or RP/LCD TV. Unless you absolutely have to have a flat-panel TV I don't see much reason to go with LCD or Plasma right now.
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« Reply #19 on: May 25, 2008, 12:24:11 AM »

Quote from: Thin_J on May 24, 2008, 09:47:24 PM

Quote from: Ironrod
2. Pick a technology. They all have pluses and minuses. Projection sets are the cheapest, but they have expensive bulbs that burn out, often have limited viewing angles, and might be a dying technology. Plasma sets are tremendous energy hogs that put out a lot of waste heat. LCDs can have washed-out black levels and less vivid colors. Read up on the pros and cons of each technology and choose the one that matters to you. We went with LCD for various reasons, including lower power consumption and a non-reflective, matte screen.

The bolded part is not necessarily true. A lot of the newer DLP sets are using LED backlighting which, if you do any research, should point you to those sets having a longer lifetime than even an LCD or Plasma set barring some kind of other internal malfunction.

I did not know that. That would certainly give projection technology a new shot in the arm.
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« Reply #20 on: May 25, 2008, 08:57:03 PM »

The technology for rear projection has come a very long way.  Viewing angle is not a serious issue any longer either.  Most newer sets are quite clear from any but the most extreme angles.   The main difference between DLP and Plasma/LCD is the depth of the unit.  Bottom line is if you dont plan on hanging it on a wall DLP is a very good alternative and will get you the largest screen for the buck.   Also to the person who said that the size upgrade will shock you if your used to a 19" TV.  That is true until you experience the amazing shrinking screen effect.  You will find after awhile that a 40" doesnt seem all that big.  Then comes the larger screen envy and buyers remorse.  With the prices the way they are you can find as large a screen as you want for a reasonable price.  Its aslo important to avoid going too small, screensize envy is an ugly thing!
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« Reply #21 on: May 25, 2008, 09:11:50 PM »

Quote from: godhugh on May 25, 2008, 12:00:31 AM

Quote from: disarm on May 24, 2008, 07:14:11 PM

Quote from: gellar on May 24, 2008, 05:34:39 PM

Quote from: Kevin Grey on May 24, 2008, 04:17:27 PM

Quote from: pr0ner on May 24, 2008, 01:53:01 PM

Quote from: WalkingFumble on May 24, 2008, 05:34:10 AM

dont buy into the whole "flat panel LCD/plasma TVs" are the best.  you can get a good projection/DLP TV for less than half the cost of a flat panel while getting a larger screen.

+1 to all this.

I agree too.  We have two DLPs because it's hard to beat the size/price ratio and you get great quality.  Also, DLPs often play nicer with non-HD content as well.  480i/480p content tends to look nicer on our sets than it does on some pretty high end LCDs and Plasmas I've seen. 

Agreed.  I had a DLP and replaced it with a RP LCD.  I'll eventually get a flat panel device for the bedroom, but I didn't see much point in paying twice as much for a TV who's sole significant factor (for me) was hanging it on a wall - something I was not going to do in my current living room.

gellar

i have a 50" Sony SXRD/LCoS set (KDS50-A2000) and the picture is fantastic.  it may not be as trendy as LCD or plasma, but i haven't had a person yet that's seen my tv and not said it's one of the best looking pictures they've ever seen.  as others have mentioned, the quality of standard-def picture is often noticeably better, although it's hard to say if that's due to the screen technology or video processing.  i can actually watch SD content on my 50" 1080p and am very happy with the picture quality...does a good job of eliminating a lot of the pixelation while still being crisp. 

the problem is that all of the stores are pushing flat panel sets because they're compact and look so vibrant with the brightness turned up too high, but the picture quality from DLP or LCoS can be incredible for a fraction of the price.  unfortunately, the market has been steered so sharply to LCD/plasma that variations of rear-projection sets are becoming more rare.  Sony made some of the best for a few years, but they're abandoned the design because they just weren't selling as well.  definitely keep rear-projection in mind if you don't have to have something you can hang on the wall though.

I have that exact same TV and I agree with everything said here. IMO, you get a heck of a lot more for less money by going with a DLP or RP/LCD TV. Unless you absolutely have to have a flat-panel TV I don't see much reason to go with LCD or Plasma right now.

I'd like to add that I have the 55" version of the TV disarm and godhugh have.

I am extremely happy.
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« Reply #22 on: May 25, 2008, 09:28:01 PM »

Quote from: Lordnine on May 24, 2008, 10:58:47 PM

Right now I have an Xbox (old) and a friendís Wii, it would be nice to be able to use them from more than three feet away and not have to squint.  Obviously I want both to look as good as possible on my new TV.

Look around for the original xBox's Component HD cables.  You should be able to find them under $20.  Some of the games (halo2 in particular) supported HD over the component cables.  Shop around for the component Wii cables too.
Logged

Pardon me, but that is a .... damn fine cup of coffee.
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