Electronics Shopping

Oct 5, 2008

I'm currently in the market for a new television and a DVD player, and I still have absolutely no idea which way to go. There's plenty of educational material on the web, and I've read a fair amount of it. The classic LCD vs. plasma debate is the topic of conversation everywhere, and everyone seems to say the same thing: it all depends on what you want. Plasma has some great pros: deeper black levels, a better viewing angle, and (according to some sources) cheaper per inch than an LCD. One of the major drawbacks for me is that plasma screens are highly reflective. I've got four windows that allow in the bright afternoon sun, and they're directly opposite where the TV will ultimately be placed. I've got blinds, but they only do so much for the light. However, I primarily watch television at night, so it's not a major issue (though it might become one in the summer, when it's lighter later).

My current TV of choice is the Panasonic Viera TH-42PX80U (which seems to be offered by a different 3rd party outfit every day). I've read that at under 50 inches, going to 1080p isn't really worth it, unless you plan on using the screen as a computer monitor. I'm not planning on doing that, so the cost savings is worth it to me.

As far as DVD players go, I'm not sure what to do. Lots of players do upconversion these days, but I've read some strange reports of problems with this feature. Some players upconvert to 16:9 only, forcing you to stretch older DVDs (e.g. older television shows) to fit the screen. Other players have reports of defaulting to 1080p, causing display issues on 720p sets.

What kinds of TVs and DVD players do you folks use? Any tips on what I should buy or avoid?

3 Comments
kip
8:52 AM on Oct 6, 2008
I was an early adopter of HDTV--I bought a plasma TV back in 2003 when I was working at IBM and my income greatly exceeded my expenses. I've been pleased with it. If you go into Best Buy and just look at plasmas and LCDs next to each other, the plasma TVs usually have better pictures--LCDs usually seem a little pixelly to me. But maybe I'm a bit biased. It never occurred to me that another type of TV would be less reflective, and now that you mention it I sometimes switch what seat I'm sitting in to avoid glare, but I can remember doing that with CRT screens too. As for DVD player, I got a PS3 last summer. I decided on that over an XBox 360 for a few reasons--mainly, it has Blu-Ray player, the hardware is reliable, it had Metal Gear Solid 4, and most of the 360 exclusives were FPSs which I don't care for that much. It upconverts DVDs just fine, although I can't say that a DVD upconverted by my PS3 is that much different from one upconverted by the TV itself. Maybe if I saw a side-by-side comparison?
Jonah
9:26 AM on Oct 6, 2008
Does your PS3 have the option to disable the upconversion? I've read that some older DVDs look bad when upconverted, so it would be nice to have the choice of whether or not to turn it on. The LCD TVs have a remarkably reflection-free surface, thanks to the 'plastic' construction. Seeing as CRTs and plasmas use glass, they are bound to be highly reflective.
kip
4:36 PM on Oct 6, 2008
Yeah there's an option to disable upconversion and there are two different methods of upconversion IIRC. But it doesn't say anything about why I would choose one method over the other and I've never bothered to look because the default has worked great on every DVD I've watched. Back when I used a PS2 as a DVD player I noticed that anything encoded in 480i (which is rare even in old DVDs) would suffer from image-tearing when the PS2 converted to 480p.
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