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Large Format TV Options?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the dlp-vs-lcd dept.

118

pipingguy asks: "I'm planning to purchase a large screen TV and I'm leaning toward DLP at this time. After doing research on-line, I'm more confused than before. One thing I don't like about DLP is the relatively limited vertical angle for best picture viewing. LCDs don't seem to be as bad in this regard, but my understanding is that LCD is more expensive per inch. What is the current state-of-the-art for DLP? I'd rather buy a smaller TV with a better picture than one with a larger picture that is less appealing to the eye. And what about the thousands of tiny mirrors in DLP units? If these are mechanically moving parts, isn't that a likely source of failure (so says a Sony rep who wanted to sell me a LCD projection TV). Thanks for any advice/experience you can provide."

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118 comments

its possible that it may fail (0)

allaunjsilverfox2 (882195) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374242)

But thats what a warranty is for. I'd suggest going to different retail stores and asking their opinion. There is no one more honest then someone that thinks they are getting a commission. ;-)

Went through this myself (2, Insightful)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374251)

When I was shopping around, I began leaning toward DLP, particularly because there are monitors out there that do full 1920x1080 resolution. More pixels have to be better, right?

Well, when I started comparing DLP and Plasma side-by-side (I was looking at 50" models, BTW), I looked at the detail of both, and even though Plasma theoretically had fewer pixels, the amount of detail was much superior. What I noticed was that DLP pixels are very "fuzzy" (presumably from the projection aspect of DLP), whereas the Plasma was razor sharp from the direct-light aspect.

When you also factor in that Plasma is far brighter with a much better viewing angle, I decided to spend the extra money for the Plasma screen. Of course, only you can decide if the additional quality is worth the extra money, but it worked out that way for me.

I didn't really look that closely at LCD. The Plasma seemed superior enough that if I was going to go for a "sub resolution", then I'd go Plasma.

Re:Went through this myself (1)

pete-classic (75983) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374274)

Plasma is far brighter


The day you bring it home. But it's all down hill from there.

Maybe my info is out of date. What's the half-life on the brightness of a plasma screen these days?

-Peter

Re:Went through this myself (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374331)

I was pretty sure that was a non-issue these days, but here's a reference: it's apparently 60,000 hours [plasmatvbuyingguide.com] now.

Re:Went through this myself (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15376488)

Oh how I hate 'half-life' numbers.

They'd be fine if you could demonstrate true exponential decay, but in reality there is typically a steep initial drop before the curve begins appear exponential. Does it matter if it took 60,000 hours for your set to be at half brightness if it took 1500 hours to be at 60% brightness? Clearly all sets aren't that bad, but the 'half-life' statistic can be seriously misleading.

Re:Went through this myself (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 8 years ago | (#15376568)

Actually, if you RTFA, it addresses that issue...

Now, there are varying degrees of phosphor ignition along the way (the same way a CRT fades). Dissipation begins the moment you turn the set on. After 1000 hours of usage a plasma monitor should measure around 96% of its original brightness, which is barely noticeable to the naked eye. At 15,000 to 20,000 hours the monitor should measure around 80% brightness, or to state is technically, 80% of the original phosphors (gases) are being ignited.

Frankly, I think the issues with plasma screens are way overblown.

Re:Went through this myself (1)

ivan256 (17499) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377223)

Frankly, I think the issues with plasma screens are way overblown.

Though it may surprise you after all my bitching, I agree. I just hate that they call it 'half-life', when it's not, and every manufacturer's sets have a different curve. They should have a graph in the literature.

CRTs have the same problem, and nobody worries about it.

Re:Went through this myself (2, Interesting)

Jac_no_k (5957) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374311)

I considered plasma but having kids and a wife who doesn't care about potential burn in, went with a 42" LCD unit from Toshiba. It's surprisingly good at all angles. The only downside is the smearing of fast moving objects, but it's not really noticable unless you are looking for it.

For me, the limitted viewing angle on the DLP was the deal killer. With a large screen the, edges are out of the sweet spot. Plasma had worrisome burn in. The current generation LCDs was a pleasant surprise. Personally I would have gone with CRT but it seems in Japan, you can no longer get tubes bigger then 28".

Re:Went through this myself (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374373)

DLP uses a weird technigue called wobulation to get 1920x1080. Plus you may have been looking at a non-1920x1080 signal source.

Personally I don't like DLP - the color wheel effects give me headaches. I would never recommend DLP because of the color wheel.

My personal favorite is SXRD...

Re:Went through this myself (1)

VernonNemitz (581327) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374921)

According to this link [hometheateradvice.com] , if you are willing to shell out the $$ you can get a DLP projector that uses three DLP chips and does not use a color wheel.
From the link: "For an idea of price ranges: Canada's Electrohome will ship a three-chip 2048x1152 pixel model for about $40,000."

Re:Went through this myself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15375327)

If you look at the pictures that comes with the link, you'll notive that the information there is at least 4 years old, if the pictures are any indicator, i'd say it's more in the 6-7 year range. 3 chip DLPs continue to be rather expensive, but that's mostly because the volume of the market is in the single chip models, and 3 chip is limited to cinemas, staging and high end home theater applications.

Re:Went through this myself (2, Informative)

Mattcelt (454751) | more than 8 years ago | (#15375577)

I always got to AVS Forum [avsforum.com] and Projector Central [projectorcentral.com] for information on technology and reviews, etc.

I don't plan on buying a TV in the traditional sense next - I'm going to get a projector instead. They're portable, the viewing angle is never a consideration (since all the light is reflected to the viewer) and you can get as big a picture as you could possibly desire. There's nothing quite like watching a Monday night football game on the side of your neighbor's house!

Re:Went through this myself (1)

PygmySurfer (442860) | more than 8 years ago | (#15376954)

I have a Panasonic 50" DLP (PT-50DL54), which has an 8 segment colour wheel - its not as noticeable as the 6 segment colour wheel (I've never noticed it at all).

Re:Went through this myself (1)

macdaddy357 (582412) | more than 8 years ago | (#15375627)

Did you watch anything with fast motion in it? Every picture on a plasma screen I have seen breaks up into a bunch of block if there is motion. You will hate that if you watch sports or action movies.

Video compression (2, Informative)

tepples (727027) | more than 8 years ago | (#15376981)

If you're getting blocking artifacts during periods of high motion, then it probably has 0 to do with your TV. It's more is likely to be a video compression problem. It takes more bits to represent a rapidly changing scene, and if there aren't enough bits, you get blocks. Are you watching digital cable, satellite, or cheap DVD? Some channels, especially less popular ones, tend to be sent overcompressed.

I'm guessing that a lot of people who get a plasma TV tend to upgrade to digital cable or satellite at the same time and find that HDTV compression isn't a mature technology yet.

No 1080p inputs yet (2, Informative)

Mustang Matt (133426) | more than 8 years ago | (#15376704)

True 1080p resolution TVs don't have 1080p inputs yet. A couple of HP displays do but they aren't displaying the full resolution properly.

Save your pennies until this fall if this feature is of value to you.

Re:No 1080p inputs yet (1)

wangmaster (760932) | more than 8 years ago | (#15378741)

both the westinghouse 42" 1080p LCD panel and the Scepter 42" 1080p LCD pane actually take 1080p inputs via hdmi/dvi. Of course there are no A/V sources for 1080p really out there yet other than a computer :)

Don't worry about the mirrors (2, Insightful)

sirket (60694) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374255)

The the mirrors in a DMD (Digital Micromirror Device- used by DLP's) are under little stress and rarely fail. Most have undergone extensive testing and failure has never been a significant problem. Go to several stores, look at the available models- read the reviews for each unit and manufacturer and buy whichever one looks best to you.

-sirket

Re:Don't worry about the mirrors (1)

jesup (8690) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374398)

The biggest issues with DLP are:
  • Rainbows - some people see them, most don't (under normal conditions). If you don't see them in the store, you're not likely to see them at home. There are ways to "try" to see them you can use in a store. Newer versions use more segments in the wheels, higher rpm, etc to reduce rainbows.
  • Power up time - DLPs can take up to 30 seconds to turn on. A few models just introduced use LEDs instead of lamps, and power on in circa 5-7 seconds.
  • Bulb replacement costs - Not cheap, more frequent than many people expect. See previous item about LEDs.
  • Projection - harder to see in bright light than Plasma or LCD. Not as crisp up close as plasma/LCD, though at correct viewing distance that's not a big issue. May be less sharp on the sides due to optics (not sure).
  • Cheap ones are still 720p
  • Older/cheaper models may have a slight delay, which can be annoying in games. Newer ones have "Game Mode" which minimizes delay.
Good things:
  • No convergence problems like tube projection.
  • Much smaller/lighter than tube projection. Lighter than plasma. Can be as little as 7" thick. In some cases can be wall mounted.
  • Less power use than plasma (much I think).
  • Probably better low-lighting performance than LCD (better contrast when the room isn't bright).
  • Full 1080p (better than 1080i) is now available.
  • No burn-in.

Re:Don't worry about the mirrors (4, Interesting)

Malor (3658) | more than 8 years ago | (#15375204)

Judging purely from anecdotal evidence (ie, just my eyes).... if you are sensitive to screen refresh rates on a CRT, avoid DLPs like the plague.

I've always been sensitive to monitor refresh rates.... I see flicker all the time. A regular 60hz refresh bothers me a lot. Gives me a headache. 75hz is the absolute minimum acceptable refresh on a CRT, and 85hz is fine, even under fluorescents. At home, I liked to shoot for 120Hz, because that matched well with nearly everything... it gave me the smoothest possible motion. I imagine that might not work under fluorescents, but I never had a work CRT that could go that fast. (I'm all LCD these days.) (Strangely, I have never been sensitive to the 30hz video refresh rate, and I have no idea why.)

DLP makes me want to claw out my eyes and run shrieking from the room. I can point out exactly which sets are DLP from a hundred feet away. If you are at all sensitive to CRT refresh, you MUST go see DLPs in person, and you absolutely must make sure you have an ironclad return policy. The saturation and color on DLPs is a little better than LCDs, and they tend to be cheaper, but a display that gives you motion sickness is no good, no matter how cheap it is. :-)

If, for some reason, you can't demo a set, then LCD is the safe choice... it will always work, and all your guests will be able to use it comfortably. Plasma is also a good choice, as long as you realize that it does wear out eventually. And, of course, there's always CRT-based units. They don't get as large as the other technologies, but they have amazing image quality and are very cheap, because they're the redheaded stepchild.... people think CRT is automatically inferior, just because it's old tech.

The major downside, at least to the Sony CRTs, is that they are incredibly heavy. You'll need help installing even a small screen. But the colors are rich and vibrant, the blacks are dead black, and the resolution is far better than the CRTs of old.

Re:Don't worry about the mirrors (2, Interesting)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 8 years ago | (#15375685)

DLP makes me want to claw out my eyes and run shrieking from the room. I can point out exactly which sets are DLP from a hundred feet away. If you are at all sensitive to CRT refresh, you MUST go see DLPs in person, and you absolutely must make sure you have an ironclad return policy. The saturation and color on DLPs is a little better than LCDs, and they tend to be cheaper, but a display that gives you motion sickness is no good, no matter how cheap it is.

Here's the big problem with DLP sets up till now: because they use a single-source light bulb shining on a spinnig color wheel to get the color, you have an issue where very fast motion can "outrun" the spin rate of the color wheel and you get the annoying rainbow effect blurring in very fast motion video. They're reduced that problem dramatically by going to 14,400 rpm speed spinning color wheels, but you can still see it occasionally.

A number of companies--including Samsung--finally eliminated the problem this year by ditching the single-source light bulb and color wheel altogether and going with three-color LED light sources, which allow for extremely fast on-off switching of light source far faster than what could be done even with a 14,400 rpm color wheel. If you're seen the new Samsung HL-S5679W, the picture quality is outstanding even in fast motion, with virtually no rainbow effect blurring. (big thumbs up)

Re:Don't worry about the mirrors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15375724)

You could just buy a fixed-frequency monitor, where the phosphors are matched to the refresh rate, so you can avoid flicker without running at ridiculous speeds. It's worked for TV for 60 years.

Buying a monitor with a higher maximum refresh rate will actually make flicker *worse* unless you drive it at that rate, because the phosphors have a shorter duration. I know modern multi-sync monitors make an attempt to compensate for phosphor duration with varying beam intensity, but it's just not enough, particularly on cheaper monitors. A fixed-frequency monitor simply does not have that problem.

Re:Don't worry about the mirrors (1)

Malor (3658) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377348)

That may very well be true, since I don't see flicker on TVs, but I certainly do on monitors. So you're probably right.

Fixed-frequency monitors, however, are really dangerous to use with X... I damaged a monitor that way, and eventually had to replace it a few months later. I was poor at the time and it was very painful.

I don't know how common my flicker sensitivity is, but since 85hz works very well (and 120hz is fantastic), and most monitors will go that fast, that's probably a better solution than fixed frequency. You're much less likely to melt the monitor from a weird X modeline.

Re:Don't worry about the mirrors (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377725)

you don't see TV flicker because of interlacing, since the screen is being lit half at a time there isn't the sharp jump as each region goes from no illumination to full illumination.

Re:Don't worry about the mirrors (1)

dasdrewid (653176) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377262)

I have a comment about the Sony CRTs.

They *are* incredibly heavy. But they are soooooo worth it. After I left for college, my father went out and bought a 32" Sony HDTV CRT. And it is the most beautiful screen I've ever seen. I've got a 23" Apple Cinema Display which I watch all my movies and HD video on, and it doesn't even compare to the Sony in terms of picture quality. Not to mention, the Sony tv interface is so well thought out. The little extras, like the scrolling mini-screen on the side (think PIP, but 3 rungs better).

If you want a medium sized HDTV, get a Sony CRT. If you have the space to keep it, you won't regret it at all.

Consider a Projector (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15374267)

Depending on your setup, a projector might be best for you. My bro has one, giving his home theatre a nice 8-foot screen. It works with his TV, computer, and videogame consoles, and cost much less than a big screen of comparable size.

Re:Consider a Projector (1)

Tinn-Can (938690) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374595)

this is off topic, but what does he use as a TV tuner? We get free basic cable so I dont want to get satellite, or digital cable, but I'm tring to convince my roomate to buy a projector for like games and movies and stuff. I can't find a stand alone TV tuner...

Re:Consider a Projector (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15374629)

again, off topic, but on the cheap, you can get a vcr with svideo out, not the prettiest, but then cable isn't, either.

Re:Consider a Projector (1)

jrmcferren (935335) | more than 8 years ago | (#15375326)

Don't pay the extra money for the S-Video out. Cable TV is composite. Don't worry about the diffrence in comb filters you are only going to get about 320X288 anyway.

Re:Consider a Projector (1)

kix (24024) | more than 8 years ago | (#15378891)

a stand-alone tv tuner is called a cheap-ass VCR ;)

Dont consider a projector... (1)

spagetti_code (773137) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374756)

... unless you can accept the compromises, like not being able to use it in a lit room.

I have an LCD panel and a projector. The projector is a good one, but is just not bright enough to use in the daytime without pulling the blinds.

The panel is **waaaaaayyyyyy** brighter, and while much smaller, is used during the day or early evening.

Re:Consider a Projector (1)

sasami (158671) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374776)

Moreover, the money most people fork over for a plasma ($2000-$5000) can buy a projector that ranges from excellent [projectorcentral.com] to fabulously excellent [projectorcentral.com] .

By the same token, a highly decent projector [projectorcentral.com] can be had for $1000. Even $500, the cost of a mediocre 4:3 TV, will get you a nice little 4:3 projector [google.com] that is at least as good as the TV if you don't mind the 2x DLP rainbows.

(Note: the MSRPs listed on ProjectorCentral should be cut in half to get street prices; ask Froogle. On top of that, the AE900 even has an additional $400 rebate, for a little while... that makes it cheaper than my 5-year-old AE100).

--
Dum de dum.

DLP (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374329)

One thing I don't like about DLP is the relatively limited vertical angle for best picture viewing.

DLP is a projection technology, how could it possibly be limited in viewing angle (?!)

Re:DLP (2, Informative)

dimfeld (247690) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374748)

It probably has something to do with the nature of rear projection, but it's definitely there. My DLP TV is great as horizontal viewing angle goes, but the vertical viewing angle could be a bit better. I only notice it when I stand up though, and since I don't watch TV standing up, I don't mind so much.

Standing up to play games? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377065)

since I don't watch TV standing up

Do you play video games? Do you play Dance Dance Revolution or other games using a floormat? Do you plan to buy a Wii console?

Re:Standing up to play games? (1)

dimfeld (247690) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377977)

Good point. Yes, yes, and yes. Actually, so long as I don't play DDR too close to the TV, it looks nearly as bright as normal. I don't really notice the brightness difference unless I'm moving up and down. Of course, the graphics in a dance game are simpler than in most other games, so it's hard to say how it'll be in a more graphically complex game. The TV stand I have leans forward just a bit though, so when I fix that, it should be better.

Overall, I think plasma might have a better picture, although that judgement is based solely on walking around in Best Buy looking at the various displays. Others can better comment on that. But I got a really good deal on the DLP so I paid about half what I would've paid for a plasma of comparable size. Overall, I'm quite happy with it though, whether playing DDR or just sitting on the couch watching a movie.

Re:DLP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15375427)

DLP is a projection technology, how could it possibly be limited in viewing angle (?!)

Most (all?) rear-projection technology has limited viewing angles, including regular RP televisions. It's because the lamp directs the picture from a single source.

LCoS (3, Informative)

jonabbey (2498) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374367)

I bought a Samsung DLP unit, but had to return it due to strobing rainbow effect. It was a really great image, though that was in part because Samsung was doing a very high level of algorithmic sharpening, which can cause halos around some images. But I really couldn't move my eyes across it without seeing the trailing rainbows.

I didn't see this effect in the store at all, but at home the awareness of it really did build up. If you are interested in DLP, you might look at the new units that use high speed LED arrays instead of a high intensity white light bulb to handle the color.. these new ones still flash the colors in sequence, but the sequencing is much faster, and it really and truly is supposed to be below the perceptual threshold for everybody.

I wound up getting a Sony SXRD LCoS set swapped out for the Samsung DLP.. the SXRD was more expensive, but the resolution was higher (true 1920x1280p), with more digital connectors, and better firmware. The SXRD sets are similar to DLP in that they are digital microdisplay projectors, but they use three LCoS color panels instead of a color wheel spinning in front of a micromirror array.

If you want a good place to read heated and informed opinions about the various choices on offer, check out http://www.avsforum.com/ [avsforum.com] .

Good luck!

Re:LCoS (4, Insightful)

Osty (16825) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374517)

I bought a Samsung DLP unit, but had to return it due to strobing rainbow effect. It was a really great image, though that was in part because Samsung was doing a very high level of algorithmic sharpening, which can cause halos around some images. But I really couldn't move my eyes across it without seeing the trailing rainbows.

Different people are more or less susceptible to the rainbow effect. Personally, the only time I ever notice it is if I try to play Doom 3 on my Samsung DLP. The combination of a very dark image and fast horizontal movement makes everything crawl with rainbows. Interestingly enough, I haven't noticed it on any other first-person shooter games (Halo 2, Perfect Dark Zero, BF2:MC, Metroid Prime) or any other games (racing, sports, RPGs, etc). I can force myself to see the rainbow effect if I put in a movie, go to a dark scene, and rapidly move my head back and forth. Since that's not my normal viewing style (spastic head movement is not normal), I'm happy with my DLP.

I didn't see this effect in the store at all, but at home the awareness of it really did build up.

Store displays are set up in such a way as to minimize the rainbow effect (has to do with store lighting, demo material, etc). If you can see it on a set in the store, you're going to constantly see it at home and should stay away from that model. If you're concerned about rainbow effect, find a friend or colleaque with a DLP and see if they'll let you demo it in your home. That's the best way to know if you'll see it or not. Of course, if you're going to demo stuff in-store, you should bring in your own viewing material. When I go TV shopping, which admittedly doesn't happen all that often, I like to carry a couple DVDs (something with action, like Saving Private Ryan, and Avia [ovationmultimedia.com] at the very least). If a store won't let you demo a set with your own material, go somewhere else. Also, if a store won't negotiate on price, go somewhere else. By bringing in internet-based pricing on the 50" Samsung DLP I was looking at (in-store price $2100, online price $1800), I was able to negotiate a free stand ($300 value) while buying the TV at the in-store price (thus essentially paying $1800 for the TV, without having to pay for shipping).

If you are interested in DLP, you might look at the new units that use high speed LED arrays instead of a high intensity white light bulb to handle the color.. these new ones still flash the colors in sequence, but the sequencing is much faster, and it really and truly is supposed to be below the perceptual threshold for everybody.

Newer equipment is always better than older equipment, even if you still go with a traditional color wheel and bulb. for example, from the HL-P series to the HL-R, Samsung added more color sections to the wheel and made it spin faster, thus significantly reducing the possibility of rainbow effect for most people. The morale of the story is to know what model you want to buy (usually the newest, not last year's model), and make sure that's the one you're actually buying (big box stores like Best Buy are notorious for selling sets from two model years ago at current model prices).

I wound up getting a Sony SXRD LCoS set swapped out for the Samsung DLP.. the SXRD was more expensive, but the resolution was higher (true 1920x1280p)

I assume you mean 1920x1080p, not 1280p. But anyway, I'm not sure now is the right time to go 1080p. The price of 1080p sets is still significantly higher than a 720p set, and you're going to have a hard time finding 1080p sources (assuming you buy a set that can actually accept 1080p signals ...). If you're buying the TV to be a dedicated PC monitor, that'll work all right. Otherwise, any signal you're going to use will have to be upconverted by the TV, with the possibility of signal lag. At best, you'll still have to de-interlace 1080i signals. HD-DVD players, upconverting DVD players, OTA HD signals, cable boxes, the Xbox 360, and the orignal Xbox only do 720p and 1080i (the original Xbox requires a game to support that specific resolution, while the 360 will do digital-domain conversion to avoid any lag in your set's conversion routines). You'll have to wait for Blu-Ray players or the PS3 to get a real 1080p signal from anything other than a PC.

Also, keep in mind that buying a Sony will cost you more money for the same quality you could get a couple hundred dollars cheaper from any other manufacturer. I'm not a big fan of Sony hardware (TVs, receivers, speakers, game consoles), so I'd rather buy a Samsung, JVC, Pioneer, or Mitsubishi than a Sony. To each his own, I guess.

Finally, the best thing you can do for any TV, regardless of technology, is to have it professionally calibrated [imagingscience.com] . Make sure you use an ISF-certified calibrator when you do this. DLP and LCD sets can be calibrated right out of the box, since they don't rely on technology that needs to be "broken in". You should wait to calibrate plasma or CRT sets until you have a couple hundred hours on them, as the settings will drift as the phosphors are broken in (yes, plasma TVs use phosphors [howstuffworks.com] just like CRTs. The only difference is how those phosphors are excited).

Re:LCoS (1)

jonabbey (2498) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374570)

Newer equipment is always better than older equipment, even if you still go with a traditional color wheel and bulb. for example, from the HL-P series to the HL-R, Samsung added more color sections to the wheel and made it spin faster, thus significantly reducing the possibility of rainbow effect for most people. The morale of the story is to know what model you want to buy (usually the newest, not last year's model), and make sure that's the one you're actually buying (big box stores like Best Buy are notorious for selling sets from two model years ago at current model prices).

Yeah, the Samsung I brought home was the HL-R, so I was hoping that the increased colors on the color wheel would prevent any problems. I just seem to be particularly sensitive to it.. I developed pretty bad headaches from watching the set, so it just wasn't an option for me.

I assume you mean 1920x1080p, not 1280p. But anyway, I'm not sure now is the right time to go 1080p. The price of 1080p sets is still significantly higher than a 720p set, and you're going to have a hard time finding 1080p sources (assuming you buy a set that can actually accept 1080p signals ...). If you're buying the TV to be a dedicated PC monitor, that'll work all right. Otherwise, any signal you're going to use will have to be upconverted by the TV, with the possibility of signal lag. At best, you'll still have to de-interlace 1080i signals. HD-DVD players, upconverting DVD players, OTA HD signals, cable boxes, the Xbox 360, and the orignal Xbox only do 720p and 1080i (the original Xbox requires a game to support that specific resolution, while the 360 will do digital-domain conversion to avoid any lag in your set's conversion routines). You'll have to wait for Blu-Ray players or the PS3 to get a real 1080p signal from anything other than a PC.

1080p, of course.

Sony's initial set of Grand Wega SXRD's don't support 1080p input sadly, though it deinterlaces/uprezes everything to 1080p internally. The 1080 resolution is great on OTA HDTV, and I expect that when I come around to getting a PS3, the quality should be just incredible, even if it does have to go through a de-interlacing step.

As with all things in this area, if you are willing to wait 6 months or a year, you'll have better options at lower prices.

Re:LCoS (1)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 8 years ago | (#15375661)

The rainbow effect you see in fast moving motion is caused by the spinning color wheel on older DLP rear-projection TV's that can't keep up with the fast motion.

Fortunately, that problem will soon be a thing of the past. Thanks to switching from a light bulb to very fast-switching LED light sources (a good example is Samsung's new HL-S5679W), we don't need the spinning color wheel anymore, which results in even very fast motion being displayed smoothly.

Re:LCoS (1)

HavokDevNull (99801) | more than 8 years ago | (#15376098)

IMHO parent is 100% correct. I spent 3 days and 5 different shops looking at TV's and the one TV that we kept on coming back to was the Sony SXRD 60" it also supports 1080P (not true 1080p though). The black levels were the best, and the colors were so vivid compared to the rest. The 3 chip LCos is the way to go, if you want the picture quality.

But don't take my word for go out and see it first, then find a deal online, in fact we got ours for $2999 delivered and basic setup (which involved plugging in 3 wires)

it all depends (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15374380)

it all depends on what you want

if you are only going to be using this TV as a TV, picture quality is best by far on a plasma. if you might use it with a home theatre PC I would go with an LCD tv. if you want a tv that is going to last a long time i would still go with CRT, or perhaps DLP. if you want a huge screen and dont mind spending hundreds a year on a replacement bulb, go with a projector. if you are going to be watching in the dark and close to the screen all the time an LCD is best on the eyes. if you are going to be watching a TV station with the logo in the corner of the screen all the time or with a bar at the bottom like a newsfeed, then you dont want a plasma screen because of image burn in. if you want something you can carry and move around all by yourself then you want either a projector or an LCD.

my $.02 (3, Informative)

tfm55x (109613) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374394)

I've owned a DLP projector for 4 years now, and I've recommended Samsung and Mitsubishi DLP rear-projection televisions when asked. Some of my motivations: Plasma is subject to burn-in -- LG incorporates a 'dot-crawl' feature in their plasma displays that moves the image over one pixel, then up, then left, etc, to help mitigate this. If your panel suffers burn-in, you're out the cost of replacing the major component in your television/monitor. With DLP/LCD, you're only ongoing cost is replacement lamps, and they last quite a while. /. also reported that Samsung is close to releasing a DLP display driven by an LED light source. When choosing between LCD and DLP, one thing I might recommend reading about is how well the LCD panel retains its color purity over time. Granted, I saw this on the TI DLP site, but they demonstrated degradation in color purity over time of the LCD panel vs. DLP. There's more information at http://dlp.com/dlp_technology/dlp_technology_white _papers.asp [dlp.com] (FWIW, I am an interested consumer. I do not work for TI, nor for any manufacturer of consumer/professional electronic equipment)

another $.02 (1)

D.A. Zollinger (549301) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374466)

I would have to agree with the parent, I've owned a Samsung DLP for over two years, never had to replace the bulb, and my family has been happy with it. With the exception of extreme viewing angles - and you wouldn't want to watch TV from those angles to begin with - the picture quality has been incredible, and we have been very happy with our HDTV.

With that said, I must warn you about burn in, and remind you that it is more of a problem than many would like to tell you. I am sure you already know that as a DLP creates its picture with lights and mirrors, there is no possibility of burn-in. This is important because there are still many broadcasts that do not display HDTV all the time. Network television is atrocious. The show may be in HD, but the commercials are not - and only certain prime-time and sporting events are broadcast in HD. The remaining time, letterbox bars crop the sides to show the programming in its proper format, and over time those side letterbox bars will burn in - from Plasma to LCD, and even the venerable Tube. DLP is the perfect cross-over technology from SD to HD as changing formats will not damage the set. Most of your common programming is not in HD, and HD will not "arrive" until your local and broadcast news shows start broadcasting in HD, and right now it is a political game. I've shown my support for HD with both a DLP and a LCD screen, and I contact my cable carrier to show support for new channels when they arrive, as well as my local television stations when they show local programming in HD. For now, HD is still just a flashy spectacle, but it is not a common technology, and it sure hasn't "arrived" yet.

After a ton of research I bought a Sony KF-E50A10 (2, Informative)

Hamster Lover (558288) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374424)

I looked around for weeks comparing sets, watching every make and model and reading everything I could get my hands on. In the end, I decided on the Sony Wega KF-E50A10, which is a 50" LCD rear projection TV. No matter what technology you choose - LCD (some manufacturers call it LCOS), plasma, DLP or CRT -- there are tradeoffs and advantages for each. In the case of the Sony, LCD technology has the potential to produce a pixelated, screen door effect and lower overall brightness and contrast. With a three LCD arrangement the Sony Wega is able to virtually eliminate the screen door effect and is able to overcome the contrast issue with a high brightness lamp, the only flaw to the set in my opinion as it will require replacement every so often. What sold me on the Sony was the quality of not only the HDTV picture, which I think is superb, but the quality of standard definition on cable or satellite. Hands down the Sony produced a far better picture than just about any set I looked at, except a very expensive Panasonic model I don't recall at the moment. Most salesmen are glad to blab about the quality of the HDTV picture, but rarely bring up SD picture quality and given the amount of HD content out there I estimated that I'd spend about half my time watching SD material. The dirty secret of most HDTVs is that SD looks like absolute shit on most of them, but the Sony uses an averaging algorithm that does an extremely good job of making SD broadcasts watchable.

I skipped plasma due to the cost and the fact that I felt the picture had the most pronounced screen door effect of any HDTV technology. I liked DLP, but since most HDTVs use a single chip DLP solution there can be a noticable shimmering rainbow effect on the edges of objects during movement as a color wheel must be used to display the full range of colors. I noticed it on several models and decided to skip DLP for the time being and noted that DLP sets will also require costly replacement of their high brightness lamps, just like LCD. Three chip DLP sets, one DLP chip for each of the primary colors, red, gree and blue, would eliminate the rainbow edge effect, but don't expect anything like that for less than $30,000. At some point three chip DLP will be standard, but it will be a while. I really liked the CRT rear projection sets I looked at and they were several hundred dollars less than LCD, plasma or DLP, but everyone I talked to that had one found that picture convergence was a problem (more so than SD rear projection TVs) and that static picture burn-in could be an issue (although I am told that doesn't happen anymore). Also, CRT rear projection TVs are heavier and bulkier than LCD or DLP.

I don't know about the overall reliability of DLP, but I do have a DLP projector that is a few years old and haven't noticed any loss of picture quality or missing pixels. If the quality of the SD picture wasn't as good as it was on the Sony, I would have bought a DLP TV, but nothing I saw with the DLP technology matched the quality of the SD picture from Sony. I don't think that's a limitation of the DLP technology itself so much as Sony finding the best method to display an SD quality picture on a HDTV.

Re:After a ton of research I bought a Sony KF-E50A (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15374709)

I can second the Wega experience. Standard cable looks like shit on most HDTVs and Sony and Panasonic are some of the only companies that do post-processing efforts to make the image look "correct" on the higher resolution screens. I myself could not afford the 50" model I settled for a 42" model [amazon.com] . Works great and unlike my last rear projection, it has survived 3 moves without a problem.

Re:After a ton of research I bought a Sony KF-E50A (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15375117)

I too did tons of research before making my purchase, and the SONY KFE50A10 was probably the best. I may be biased towards Sony (I've always like them), but Consumer Reports agreed with me. The March '06 issue compared big screen tvs and out of 40-50 different ones, the KFE50A10 was in the top 3-4.

I've had it for about a month now, and love the picture I get on it (HDTV or standard cable), there's a wide angle, and light from outside doesn't affect the picture. The other thing that sold me on it was it had the highest rating out of all the tvs for sound... I don't have a receiver, speakers and subwoofer yet, so this was also kind of a big deal.

They're also coming down lots in price. When they were first released in November '05, they were around 4,500 ($Cdn), I got mine at 2,500 and recently saw them as low as 2,300.

The only downside is the 200$ bulb has to be replaced every once in a while... not sure how long, but while searching some A/V forums, it wasn't until tens of thousands of hours of use. The Sony models make it easy though, you don't need to pay a technician to do it for you.

Try to track down that issue of Consumer Reports at your local library or visit www.consumerreports.org (requires subscription to see ratings).

Cheers,
Brad

Re:After a ton of research I bought a Sony KF-E50A (1)

DeRobeHer (76234) | more than 8 years ago | (#15375330)

I too bought this set recently. Great TV.

Re:After a ton of research I bought a Sony KF-E50A (2, Informative)

sckor (310755) | more than 8 years ago | (#15375489)

Just one small correction - LCOS is not LCD, it is a different technology. Liquid Crystal on Silicon. JVC and Sony are probably the two biggest providers of LCOS sets and projectors (Sony calls thiers SXRD).

Re:After a ton of research I bought a Sony KF-E50A (2, Informative)

SylvesterTheCat (321686) | more than 8 years ago | (#15375698)

I did the same this past January and arrived at the same conclusion and bought the same TV. I paid $2200.

If you can afford it, the Sony LCos is even better, but at $3300 in 50", I could not justify it.

Re:After a ton of research I bought a Sony KF-E50A (1)

vapspwi (634069) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377686)

After doing a ton of research on this topic, my friend ended up getting the 60" Sony SXRD (LCoS), currently $3300 at Fry's, $3400 when he bought it a few months back. Good picture and viewing angle, no wobulation (unlike the DLP sets), the only real ding against it was that it didn't accept a 1080p signal on any input. (Everything gets upconverted to 1080p.)

The set looks great for HD stuff, but he's got Dish Network, and non-HD stuff is nearly unwatchable between the upconversion and the giant compression artifacts.

The original poster really should be asking the AVS Forum and not Slashdot about this...

JRjr

Re:After a ton of research I bought a Sony KF-E50A (1)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 8 years ago | (#15378869)

yes, but we're boycotting Sony this year, aren't we?

I went DLP... (2, Informative)

kernelistic (160323) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374439)

I decided to get a Samsung HLN617W (61.7") DLP back in 2003. While most of my friends had recommended against DLP, I was so impressed by the quality of the image and the workmanship of the unit that I went for it. I am currently using it to type this text.

My friends that went with plasmas are now on their second TVs and a couple have had heat issues with their newer units ($5k Pioneer & Toshiba units, vintage 2005, no less). Anyone that recommends plasma needs to get one and use it as a computer monitor for a few months. What you end up with is an image that is no longer as bright, and lovely screen burn in which isn't covered by the manufacturer's warranty (Remember that you're bombarding phosphorus on a plexi/glass plane).

As for LCD, I have heard a number of complaints about the viewing angle in mixed lighting. Colors morph as you rotate about the unit in a sunlit room. DLP too has issues with this sort of motion, but they are limited to the luminosity and not the hue of the picture (This is much less annoying and needs some getting used to).

LCD also has issues with bad pixels - It is bound to happen on any size screen based on the number of transistors that are backing the viewing pane (Usually 3 per pixel). The latency of LCD technology also causes a "ghosting" effect to manifest itself with fast-paced action shots. Manufacturers have put out displays that are much faster in the past couple of years but they are still a ways from making the overall problem disappear.

If I were chosing a TV today, I would go with DLP again.

I am looking forward to OLEDs being used in big screens: They're thin, much brighter, lighter, more flexible and less intrusive...

Re:I went DLP... (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374774)

you're bombarding phosphorus on a plexi/glass plane).

Didn't CRT manufacturers solve this problem 15 years ago?

Re:I went DLP... (1)

canuck57 (662392) | more than 8 years ago | (#15376520)

As for LCD, I have heard a number of complaints about the viewing angle in mixed lighting. .... LCD also has issues with bad pixels - ... causes a "ghosting" effect ...

I have a Viewsonic N2750W LCD and no complaints. Not one dead pixel and the viewing angle is at least as good as projection compared to the DLP systems we looked at. No alignment issues. The image quality under higher light conditions also impressed me, as we saw it under full flourecent lighting and not in a "dark" part of the store to make them look good.

Although a small 27" it is perfect for my bookshelf in the family room and I could as a mere mortal easily lift it into place. Runs cooler too. My only complaint is my wife will not let me use it as a computer monitor.

It made me defer the purchase of a DLP or Plasma, waiting for flat panels in the 46" range that are not too pricy to replace the older living room heavyweight.

What I found out... (1, Informative)

Yez70 (924200) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374506)

DLP typically have a 170 degree viewing angle (almost perfect) and run $1000 less than the same size LCD. Repair involves replacing the bulb (around $150) every 3-6 years. Lightweight (60 lbs) and thinner than the old projections (12-14 inches).

LCD pixels burn out - a few aren't a big deal, more get annoying.... LCDs are thinner. (4-5 inches) Typically a 180 degree viewing angle.

Plasma is best for larger screens - 60 inches plus, but Plasma gas leaks over time causing dulling - replace your TV time. :( Pricing is about the same as LCD. Typically a 180 degree viewing angle.

I have a 42 inch SONY WEGA - retails around $1500-$1800 right now - I love it and am happy to have saved over $800 over an LCD or Plasma.

Good Luck.

Re:What I found out... (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | more than 8 years ago | (#15375078)

60lbs is hardly 'lightweight' unless you're talking about boxers.

Re:What I found out... (1)

baptiste (256004) | more than 8 years ago | (#15375676)

You obviously never had to move some of the early generation HDTV triple CRT projection units. A friend of mine bought a 65" unit that had to weigh 170 lbs. The thing was a monster. We had to build ramps to get the thing off the semi trailer and onto a pickup truck which we backed up to his deck and used ramps to roll it to the house. Getting it over the door sill was an engineering feat.

So yes, a large HDTV monitor weighing 60lbs is VERY light. Most sets weighed 100lbs or more.

Re:What I found out... (3, Informative)

Osty (16825) | more than 8 years ago | (#15375302)

Plasma gas leaks over time causing dulling - replace your TV time.

What? No [howstuffworks.com] . Plasma displays use phosphors to generate color, just like a CRT. Also, just like a CRT, those phosphors decay over time. They're prone to burn-in, just like a CRT. Think of a plasma display like a mix between CRT and LCD. You have a grid of individual subpixels just like an LCD, but those sub pixels are are made up of light-emitting phosphors just like a CRT. How those phosphors are energized is different (that's where the plasma comes in to play), but the ultimate effect is the same -- the set is generating color through the use of a consumable substance, and over time that substance will be consumed. ("consumable" isn't the right word, but it gets the idea across.)

If plasma displays use the same technology as CRTs, why do they have a much shorter half-life? I don't know, but I would suspect the main culprit is user error. You'll get very long life with no risk of burn-in if you properly calibrate a CRT (get it out of the factory-default torch-mode contrast, if nothing else), and I suspect you'd get the same from a plasma. However, proper calibration tends to mute brightness and colors (actually bringing them down to correct, realistic levels), and that's the last thing a new plasma owner wants if he was sold on the "vibrant" and "rich" color of the display (never mind that it's all way overblown and needs to be adjusted down to look good, never mind for the health of the display).

AVS Forum (3, Informative)

MeanMF (631837) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374513)

The AVS Forum [avsforum.com] is a great place to ask questions like this.

I went with LCD (4, Insightful)

metamatic (202216) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374526)

Then again, my TV probably doesn't count as "large". If you want a 50" behemoth, LCD is still prohibitively expensive.

I initially liked the idea of DLP, but it has some problems:

- On many sets, latency is an issue. This was a killer for me, as I had to be able to play video games on the set.

- The bulbs need replacing, and they're a few hundred bucks each, so the ongoing cost is higher than LCD.

- The sets make noise. I'm really picky about noise, I don't want anything with a fan in the living room.

- The micromirrors don't generally fail, but the high speed rotating bits do.

- The rainbow striping can be a bit distracting.

- Visibility in daylight is problematic.

The downsides of LCDs:

- Contrast ratio not as good as DLP, but getting close.

- Price is high if you want to go over 40".

I don't see response time as an issue on the latest generation of LCDs. Certainly I've had no problem playing ultra-fast racing games. Picture is vibrant, strong saturated colors, and the brightness means there's no problem with daytime viewing. I haven't noticed viewing angle being an issue either, certainly no more so than it is with DLP.

The downsides of plasma:

- Short lifetime.

- Gridlike mask over the picture.

- Can't use it for video games.

- Not a good idea to use it for extensive viewing of letterboxed material.

- Heat, energy consumption.

Downsides of CRT:

- Weighs a ton.

- Energy consumption, heat.

- Takes up lots of space.

- Full of nasty chemicals, you'll pay someone to take it away at the end of its lifetime.

If you need a big screen and can't afford LCD at that size, projection LCD might be an option.

Interestingly, each technology seems to have one company that has a clear lead. Sharp are the technology leaders for LCD. Samsung are the leaders for DLP. Panasonic are the best for plasma. Sony are the best for CRT. I haven't seen enough LCoS sets to conclude who's the leader there...

dlp latency for games (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15375019)

I've measured the latency of a Samsung DLP for playing video games, and it was about 150 ms with an analog input signal (the usual thing people hook up from a PS2/Xbox/Gamecube). That's 9 frames of lag at 60 fps, which can have a significant effect on gameplay.

Providing a digital input signal cut that by half, but it can be still hard to play fast-reaction time games, and requires component video cables and progressive-scan output support from your game and console.

It seems that DLP technology necessarily lags video processing, the additional lag for analog is for deinterlacing which affects all HDTVs, although some HDTVs provide "game modes" which cut out deinterlacing lag. Not this Samsung DLP however.

Be aware that the audio is "artificially" delayed to match the video in these TVs, which you can tell by hooking your game console audio directly to a stereo. Doing this can help play music games, even though what you hear will be out of sync with what you see, it will be in sync with the game console which is judging you.

Re:I went with LCD (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 8 years ago | (#15375364)

Downsides of CRT:

- Energy consumption, heat.


I'm not so sure.

I did some tests and found my 32" Philips CRT draws 120W.
Most LCD computers monitors are around 100W so the power consumption (and thus heat output) are similar.

Re:I went with LCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15375961)

Absolutely correct. When TFT displays first hit the market they typically used around ONE QUARTER the power of a comparable CRT. Nowadays, they use as much if not more! I've just replaced my 28" Panasonic CRT with a 26" Sharp TFT (LC26P70E), and it uses 11W more AT FACTORY SETTINGS. However, when the brightness is turned down to a realistic level, it uses a mere 62W and is thus less than half the power draw of the defunct CRT.

Scarily, both of the (terrible quality) plasma units I've measured used OVER A KILOWATT continuously. Unbelievable.

Re:I went with LCD (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377128)

did some tests and found my 32" Philips CRT draws 120W. Most LCD computers monitors are around 100W so the power consumption (and thus heat output) are similar.

They must have drastically improved CRTs recently, then. My last CRT was noticably warm if you held your hand above it, whereas none of my LCDs are.

Re:I went with LCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15378048)

I have an Athlon XP 4400, 19" and 17" LCDs plugged into my UPS which is pulgged into a wattmeter.

Total measured power usage: 180-200 watts.

Somehow I doubt a normal LCD computer screen pulls 100 watts average.

Re:I went with LCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15378060)

Correction: It's an Athlon X2 4400

(My previous computer was Athlon XP)

Re:I went with LCD (1)

Sandbags (964742) | more than 8 years ago | (#15375689)

A couple of misconceptions in your notes. Likely you're the victim of a sales associate who wanted to convince you to buy a higher priced set...

DLP has the lowest latency of the competing technologies. The color rotation in modern sets is better than all but a few very high end desktop LCDs for computers. The larger the LCD, typically the lower the latency. However, the rule "you get what you pay for" applies here as well as anywhere else. Try to stick to LG or Samsung's higher end models. In DLP, stay away from Sony.

My father has a DLP rear projection. The fan has never come on. Give it enough breathing room and it won't. It only comes on when it gets too warm. If it's on all the time, you have a hardware problem. Also, the color wheel should make almost no noise. LCD rear projectors also have fans.

If you're comparing this to an overhead projector, you've got a LOT more noise to deal with there. The overheads also have really bad color representation, and unless you spend small fortunes, problems in bright lit rooms that far exceed rear projection.

Viewing angle depends on the manufacturer of the screen glass, not the technology. DLP overall IS better than all the others. Manufacturers use lower quality glass to make the difference in their higher profit TVs look larger. (it's simple business, don't put all the options in the bottom of the profit line products) Better sets have better angles.

Also, LCDs blow bulbs just like DLP. They both use a bright white light source. Modern DLPs sometimes use a 3 color LED set instead of a wheel. These are better, quiter, and the LEDs don't blow out. This is not an option in LCD. You also have pixel loss to deal with , which is not covered until you blow a minimum of 7 individual pixels or 3 pixels within a radius of 5 from a center dead pixel. (color stuck pixels don't count)

Also keep in mind: all rear projection systems need manaul adjustment when installed. It's all about allignment. A properly installed set, installed by a true professional, will eliminate many of the side effect most people complain about. In stores, many of the low end sets are adjusted off focus or shown at lower resolution specifically. Before deciding on picture quality, MAKE SURE they're running the same resolution feed from digital sources and have the same settings. Also make sure to check the adjustments for color, sharpness, etc. A lot of people play with the settings and screw them up. Ask one of the techs to adjust the picture for you. BestBuy is a good place for this since the TV sales people may try to steer you away from cheaper technology, but the in store Geeks will allways set you straight.

If you're planning on hooking a game station or PC to a new TV, make sure you involve a computer technician in the sale, not just some Home Theatre sales guy. If he knew about comuters, he'd be getting paid more to sell computers instead of Home Theatre stuff!

Re:I went with LCD (1)

metamatic (202216) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377144)

Also, LCDs blow bulbs just like DLP.

Yeah, but a DLP bulb lasts 2000-3000 hours, whereas the expected lifespan of an LCD backlight is 20,000-30,000 hours.

Hitachi LCD for me... (1)

bziman (223162) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374590)

About six months ago, I bought a 50" Hitachi LCD. Previously I had a 43" Hitachi projection HDTV that worked flawlessly for me for five years, and I decided to stick with Hitachi for the new one. My father is now enjoying the old one, which still works flawlessly.

The only sorta "gotcha" with the LCD, is that the fan noise is sort of obnoxious... but I only notice it when there's no other sound in the room -- if I mute the receiver, or when it's cooling off. When my 7.1 surround sound is on (not even cranked up, just on) the noise isn't noticeable.

Also, folks will complain that the bulbs in LCD TVs will burn out. That is true (though it'll be a while)... but it's user-serviceable. That's right, you can pop off the cover and replace the bulb yourself. Bulbs aren't cheap, but if you tend to upgrade all your hardware every three to five years, you only have to do it once (if at all).

Now I'm not saying that LCD is better than DLP, I'm just saying that I've been really happy with my Hitachis, and I give it my "stamp of approval".

--brian

Re:Hitachi LCD for me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15375268)

I'd just like to throw in my opinion:

I too recently bought a Hitachi LCD rear-projection (model 50VG825) and it is a really great TV. The only strange thing is that is weighs nearly twice as much as the comparable Sony 50" LCD rear projection... Other than that I would recommend the same TV to anyone I know. It also gets my "stamp of approval", so to speak.

Conventional tube TVs (3, Interesting)

danpbrowning (149453) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374605)

I'd rather buy a smaller TV with a better picture than one with a larger picture that is less appealing to the eye.

You should consider conventional tube TVs. Consumer Reports found that the Sony KV-34HS420 ($1200) had HDTV picture quality that could only be matched by $3000+ Plasmas, and $5000+ LCDs/DLPs. This is a very recent development; last year the only wide screen HDTV conventionals were mediocre.

The downside is that they're smaller (34-inches), very heavy (200+ pounds), and voluminous.

One thing I don't like about DLP is the relatively limited vertical angle for best picture viewing

None of the alternatives can beat conventionals in that metric.

Re:Conventional tube TVs (2, Interesting)

toybuilder (161045) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374710)

This will hopefully change in another year when (if???) Canon/Toshiba rolls out their large-screen SED television -- a display that has the viewing advantages of CRT, but in a flat-panel weight/form-factor. Let's hope that it'll be reasonably priced!

Re:Conventional tube TVs (2, Informative)

sam1am (753369) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374783)

According to people in the know from both Canon and Toshiba during NAB2006, these [canon.com] are not coming any time soon. 2008 at the earliest is what they said. (That said, the demo of this tech earlier this year was simply amazing.

Re:Conventional tube TVs (1)

sam1am (753369) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374792)

I have a philips 32" conventional CRT HDTV that I love. Not quite "Large-Format" - but direct view CRT is the best image by far out of all the technologies I've seen.

Re:Conventional tube TVs (1)

RedWizzard (192002) | more than 8 years ago | (#15375184)

One thing I don't like about DLP is the relatively limited vertical angle for best picture viewing
None of the alternatives can beat conventionals in that metric.
I can't speak for vertical viewing angle, but for horizontal viewing angle I find my current 42" plasma is better than any CRT I've seen. I'm amazed how well you can see it from side on.

get a pro CRT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15374757)

when i was faced with this decision several years ago, i eventually bought a Sony PVM2950 -- its picture quality alone makes the various "downsides" of CRT worth putting up with. shopping around is really important with pro gear; i finally found mine for half the first price i was quoted.

Have you considered a projector? (1)

dubl-u (51156) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374768)

Have you considered getting a projector instead?

We recently spent about $1000 on a InFocus DLP projector and love it. The picture is large enough (100" diagonal where we placed it) that we can have a dozen friends over to watch a movie. When we turn it off, it goes away, rather than continuing to dominate the room.

Re:Have you considered a projector? (1)

AaronLawrence (600990) | more than 8 years ago | (#15375228)

I agree wholeheartedly. This is about home *theater* right - so why not do it properly and use the same tech as theaters do? I bought a projector 2 years ago and would NEVER go back to a silly little TV. It is almost exactly as good as going to the cinema, without the irritations.
Seriously: with your own projector, movies take on a whole new level of quality and immersion and you can enjoy ANY movie, not just the tiny selection currently at the cinema.

Good LCD projectors like the Panasonic PT-AE900 are a reasonable price (often cheaper than many large TVs), relatively risk free (no rainbow effects like DLP)), very large size (100-133"), good resolution, good contrast, good colour, compact (easy to move around - you can take it to a friends place casually).

The downsides to projection are basically
- not bright enough to view in full daylight (you may be able to zoom it down to a much smaller picture to get
For this reason, I still have a basic 29" 4:3 tv sitting in the corner for watching basic TV (which I hardly ever do).

- you need to arrange space for the screen. Most people won't find it too hard to have a wall, or you can pulldown a screen over paintings etc.

Everyone who tries it loves it. My flatmate is extremely pleased. For some reason though, projectors are a big blind spot for many people. I guess the one factor they DON'T have is the "big exciting status symbol" feature. A projector doesn't LOOK exciting, it just does the business.

(BTW: In recent years home projectors have improved immensely. Many people remember 3-5 years ago when they had poor contrast, poor color, and were noisy. That's no longer true, both DLP and LCD are now very good).

Re:Have you considered a projector? (2, Interesting)

nmullerny (976243) | more than 8 years ago | (#15375928)

I'd also suggest looking at a DLP projector.
      I purchased an Optoma 739 for $1000 a year ago April and I consider it the best electronics purchase I have ever made. It has been on 24 hours a day since as I work from home and I use it as my computer monitor and television (using a HDTV cable box as the tuner).
      This model is bright enough to use in a room with two lit floorlamps, is extremely quiet, bulb life is very long (it hasn't burnt out yet!), and the bulbs are relatively cheap.
      People come over to watch movies or play games and drool and I paid far less than any comparable plasma or flat screen TV.

      There are three major concerns regarding a projector. One is the "rainbow effect" from single chip DLP models, next is the cost of high resolution models, and third is bulb cost.
      Regarding the rainbow effect, this is caused by a cost saving method the manufacturers employ. A DLP projector works by shining light onto many little mirrors that represent pixels. These mirrors are on a semiconductor chip and don't have moving motors or mechanisms. To get full colour you need red, green, and blue lights combined at various strengths. To acheieve this you can either employ three sets of mirrors each with their own coloured light (like the old projection TVs with the three big bulbs) or a cheaper way is to use one chip and rapidly alternate the light colour with a colourwheel. The old single chip DLP models had a three or 4 segment colour wheel that spun rather slowly and if you have sensitive eyes you can actually see the flicker (or it can subconsciously effect you). Personally, I notice when monitors are set to below 75Hz and it drives me crazy, but since this projector has an 8 segment colour wheel I cannot notice the rainbow. Even if trying by moving my head back and forth rapidly I can barely see the colour separation. LCD projectors do not have this problem, but from what I've seen and read, by increasing the speed and number of wheel segments DLP projectors have essentially eliminated this.
      The second drawback is resolution. Native XGA (1024x768) resolution projectors are relatively inexpensive now and are usually compatible with HDTV singnals. For a TV this is more than adequate. For a computer this can be a problem. Getting a projector with higher resolution becomes much more expensive. The projectors have the ability to fake higher resolution by "smushing" some pixels together, which I have found tolerable at 1280x1024 but the image is definately not as sharp. Maybe prices on higher res models have come down in a year, but I take the tradeoff of "low" resolution for the image size and small footprint.
    Finally if you do decide to buy a projector consider bulb life and cost. I'm not joking that my proejctor has been on for a year straight and am still on the same bulb. This bulb is rated at 5000 hours in "eco" mode. Also, if it DOES need to be replaced this bulb costs around $200. I previously owned an EIKI projector which went through bulbs every 3 months, were extremely hard to find, and ran $500 each. I had a hard time convincing myself to buy another projector, but I'm glad I made the decision.

      I don't mention brightness being a major consideration because most projectors now are somewhere near or over 2000 lumens which is fine for a lamp lit room (not sunlit though). Only the very small projectors for road warriors get expensive for high lumens. But do make sure the brightness is adequate for your environment and do not trust any ratings but your own eyes.

      One last comment about projectors. Consider the footprint. I live in a relatively small 1 bedroom apartment in NYC. I have my projetor upside down on the top of a bookshelf and a pulldown screen on the opposite wall. With my environment, space is precious, and this takes essentially none, where a tube TV would consume a whole corner of the room and a large rear projection TV would not fit and to buy a flat panel of the same size would leave me poor.

How about a plasma/DLP/LCD as a computer monitor (1)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 8 years ago | (#15374891)

What type of screens work as a computer monitor for a video presentation/Powerpoint/some web browsing.

Projection LCD warning (1, Informative)

Ankle (633399) | more than 8 years ago | (#15375034)

Just a warning with LCD Projection sets. Roughly every four to six months you will need to replace the lamp which costs ~$400 CAD (at least for the one used in the panasonic unit I have). They are considered consumables and not covered under warranty.

Re:Projection LCD warning (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15375296)

Four to Six months?! How old is your TV, and how often do you watch it, bud?

All modern rear projection tv's (be it DLP, LCD or LCoS) have a lamp, and require that the lamp be replaced periodically. These lamps typically last 8000-10000 hours on new TV's. That's about a year of *constant* viewing, or 3-4 years at 7-8 hours a day.

My LCD rear projection (a Hitachi) is just under 2 years old and I haven't replaced the lamp yet. If you seriously need to replace your lamp every 4 to 6 months, I would highly suggest you check and make sure that your TV has enough ventilation. A properly cooled lamp assembley should not be failing so often.

Bullshit warning (1)

freeweed (309734) | more than 8 years ago | (#15376121)

Lamps in LCD projection sets are rated at 5-10,000 hours, minimum. To be replacing twice a year you'd have to leave your TV on 24/7, and have really bad luck with bulb life. Average expected life, with normal viewing habits (I dunno, 4-6 hours per day) should give you 4-6 YEARS of bulb life.

Yeah, replacing bulbs sucks, and they can be in the hundreds of dollars, and yup, they're not warrantied. But 4-6 months? I'd return that TV pronto. Something's either wrong with the TV, or you're running it inside of your oven. My Sony WEGA is over a year old, with 6-8 hours viewing daily, and it's as bright as ever. I've seen 3 year old models still with their original bulbs.

Re:Projection LCD warning (1)

Fnkmaster (89084) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377542)

This is nonsense for the vast majority of LCD RP sets. I've had my Sony Grand Wega 50" LCD RP set for almost 2 years now and have yet to replace a bulb. Others I know have had similar experiences.

Some people who had earlier versions of Sony LCD RP sets suffered from a bulb burnout defect like the one you describe. But this is a defect in a specific set or line and the correct solution is to get a replacement unit from the manufacturer.

As the other respondant said, if the bulbs are rated for 10,000 hours, that's something like 60 weeks of continuous-on usage. If you watch 30 hours a week of TV (i.e. you have no life), that's still more than 6 years. I'd much rather replace one of these bulbs every couple years than do the plasma thing and replace the whole set when burn-in sets in.

avsforum.com (1)

Cryptnotic (154382) | more than 8 years ago | (#15375055)

Go there. It's like Slashdot for home theater nerds.

Actually go to a store. (1)

gastr0pod (975810) | more than 8 years ago | (#15375106)

The data available on the web can allow you to compare some attributes those products but it will not tell you what you really like and will spend money on. Look at different display technologies. Have the sales people plug in different things into the display to see how they look. Note the differences between how normal TV, 720p and 1080i are rendered. Play with the options to see how they change the picture. Note the lighting where the display is demoed. Is is too dark? Then it might be that the display will not work in the room where you expect to use it.

LCD of some type (1)

gEvil (beta) (945888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15375414)

Since there are plenty of comments so far, I'll keep mine short. I'll second the Sony Wega rear-projection LCD someone else mentioned. My parents recently picked up the 55" version and it's very nice. It has a fairly easily replacable bulb (not sure what the life is like) and the light distribution is uniform. Looks great with standard and HD content. I personally have a 32" Syntax LCD that I got for 700 bucks a while ago. Again, HD and SD content look great. There is a small amount of light leakage in the corners, but it's only noticable if you happen to stare at the corners of the screen. DVI in works great with my computer. You mention getting something "smaller," so if you're talking 42" or under, I'd recommend a straight LCD. I've heard very nice things about the Westinghouse 32" and 37" LCD sets. Very good price/quality ratio. Also, the newer 37"s do full 1920x1080. Someone else somewhere mentioned that LCD pixels burn out over time. I'm not sure what they're talking about, because my understanding is that either the pixels work or they don't. If they do, the only thing you need to worry about is the backlight going out.

How big do you want to go? Also, 1080p. (1)

otis wildflower (4889) | more than 8 years ago | (#15375454)

There's a 42" LCD [costco.com] for $1999 that does 1080p. That's significantly larger than the 32" analog 4x3 set I have now and given how much wall space I have to put a set against I doubt I could fit anything larger than 50" anyway.

Also, I would hold out for a set that can receive 1080p via digital inputs, and display it at 1080p. The first generation of 1080p is quite tricky (some receive only up to 1080i and internally convert to 1080p, check AVSForums) but I don't think there will be a better home theater video standard than 1080p for quite some time.. At least until home fiber is ubiquitous..

(and for all the 1080p hatas, 1080p24 utilizing proper 3:2 pulldown should be sUPER hAWT for movie watching... And if I wanted p60, I'd boot up my HTPC...)

Plasma, and a note on careful evaluation (2, Interesting)

Phaid (938) | more than 8 years ago | (#15375896)

I decided to get a large screen TV this past Christmas. Here is how I went about it.

First, I learned about the technologies. That part was easy, and obviously you don't need me to repeat all the material that's out there. I boiled it down to either LCD rear projection, DLP, or plasma. I wasn't interested in CRT rear projection due to the price, weight, and need for professional alignment / calibration, LCD because of the size limitations, or CRT because of the size limitations and weight / size.

Second, I went to stores and evaluated different TVs which use different technologies. You can read AVSforum and all of the various professional magazines about this stuff, and they will measure black levels and white levels and everything else, but really those evaluations are nearly uselless. Those sorts of technical reviews myopically focus on individual aspects of the picture and their ratings rarely consider the overall image quality. The quality of a TV picture is really subjective, so it should be evaluated that way in terms of your buying decision. It's not always easy to do this in stores, but I decided that if I was going to buy a $1500 - $3000 tv set, the retailer was either going to help me do that, or not get my business. So I brought DVDs with me of a couple of movies that I am well familiar with and which had characteristics that would help me decide. These included:

Spider Man -- Action movie with very vivid colors and tons of sweeping action, to verify color and motion reproduction.
Sin City -- Probably the most black ever in any movie, good for, obviously, measuring black levels.
The Fellowship of the Rings -- an excellent, very sharp DVD transfer, just for image quality and again because I've seen it so many times.

(Yes, I realize that DVDs will display at 480p on these sets, and HD is 720p or 1080i, but the majority of programming I'll watch on this TV will be DVDs, and DVDs are the only media I can really control. Besides, the store always has Discovery-HD or that awful Charlotte Church video fed across all their HD sets, so it's easy to compare among the HD feeds.)

Then I went to the stores. I looked at rear-projection LCD and DLP first, since they had some compelling advangages -- similarly priced and lightweight. As it turns out, neither of these was that great. Both of those suffer from poor black levels (black looks gray) and restricted viewing angles (if you're not pretty close to perpendicular to the screen it will look dim). In addition, DLP sets have a sort of shimmering optical effect that I noticed and just didn't like. The best of the rear-projection sets was the Sony KDFE42A10 LCD RP -- it definitely had the blackest blacks and the best color reproduction -- but even so, I wasn't completetely satisfied watching movies like Sin City on it, and I still hated the picture degradation when sitting more than 45 degrees off center from it. Still, it was just about good enough. But I needed to look at plasmas.

So I went and looked at plasmas, and it was just absolutely night and day. I had spent a good deal of time looking at the rear projection sets, and each usually was better than the others in one aspect. But the plasma sets were almost all universally better than the RP sets. Colors were more vivid, blacks were blacker, the picture was smoother despite the physically lower resolution [1], and there were absolutely no shimmering effects. They weren't all free of artifacts, to be sure: some of them seemed to have slower response times, and got jaggies or pixelation in fast-moving scenes in Spider Man or when the Discovery-HD feed showed waterfalls for example. The best of the pack overall turned out to be the Panasonic TH-42PX50U. It was about $8000 higher than the Sony RP-LCD, but its picture quality just couldn't be denied, and that's what I wound up purchasing.

And about plasma... I read all about burn-in and screen lifetime, and decided neither was a big issue. I was careful to keep the brightness and contrast down to reasonable levels (using "theater" mode instead of "vivid" etc) for the first 100 hours it was on, didn't play video games on it, and limited the amount of letterbox / pillarbox material on it. After the first 100 hours passed I used a THX calibration sequence from a DVD to calibrate its brightness / contrast / color levels, and just watched what I wanted. Six months later, I have had no sign of burnin whatsoever, despite obnoxious stuff like the bright white logos on some HD channels.

[1] LCD rear-projection and DLP sets around 42" diagonal size, typically have 720p native resolution, which is 1280x720 pixels. Plasma TVs in that size range typically are 1280x768 or 1024x768, using asymmetrical pixels so that they maintain a 16:9 aspect ratio.

The bottom line is, take the time to evaluate these sets for yourself with material you are familiar with. It's easy to get dazzled by the HD feeds the stores will display on these things, but this is a major purchase and you're not going to be watching the store's closed-circuit HD feed when you get it home.

Re:Plasma, and a note on careful evaluation (1)

Phaid (938) | more than 8 years ago | (#15376272)

It was about $8000 higher than the Sony RP-LCD

Obviously I meant $800. Oops.

Jaggies and pixelation (1)

pestie (141370) | more than 8 years ago | (#15376519)

...jaggies or pixelation in fast-moving scenes in Spider Man or when the Discovery-HD feed showed waterfalls...

Actually, that's an artifact of MPEG encoding. I watch a lot of nature shows and can't tell you how many times I've seen that in shots of running/rippling water, even on my vintage-2000 56" SDTV. On smaller or blurrier screens you don't tend to notice it as much, but on any sort of large or higher-quality display, it's painfully obvious. So if you feed an SD signal to a very high quality plasma display, it's going to stick out like you wouldn't believe. But that's just a testimony to the quality of the display more than anything. It'll faithfully reproduce all the flaws in your source material in excruciating detail. Heh...

Re:Plasma, and a note on careful evaluation (1)

Toasty16 (586358) | more than 8 years ago | (#15376589)

The best of the pack overall turned out to be the Panasonic TH-42PX50U. It was about $8000 higher than the Sony RP-LCD, but its picture quality just couldn't be denied, and that's what I wound up purchasing.
I really, really hope you meant $800, because otherwise you overspent. A LOT.

Re:Plasma, and a note on careful evaluation (1)

TD-2779 (840642) | more than 8 years ago | (#15376661)

Just a couple of observations.

#1: If you saw LCD's with better black levels than DLP, then either the DLP model sucked or more likely the STORE set the brightness levels WAY up to attract attention to the TV's.

#2: Plasmas. The biggest problem I have with these is the concern of burn-in. Over at AVSforums there's lots of threads dealing with this, but the jist of it is that you have to be careful for the first 1000 hours or so at LEAST. The biggest issue is watching ANYTHING that puts black bars on the screen or shows that put logos/newsrunners on the screen. i.e. Fox/CNN

For my money, if you CAN'T see the rainbows go for DLP. Personally I'm leaning towards LCOS based on tweaking the settings of in-store models.

How to frame your decision (3, Insightful)

Hootenanny (966459) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377088)

I have researched this question out of my own interest in the past couple of years, and let me divide your question into two parts:

1. Should I buy a DLP, LCD, or DILA? These competing display technologies all have their strengths and weaknesses. In an effort to be objective, the *general* consensus for DLP units are that they offer higher contrast and a sharper image, but at the cost of the "rainbow effect". LCD units offer more vivid, saturated color, but at the expense of higher black levels. DILA units, called SXRD when under the Sony brand, tend to share the strengths and weaknesses of LCD's. Now for my subjective opinion, I prefer an LCD because I am quite happy with the rich image, and the rainbows of DLP color wheels render them unwatchable for me. Even on DLP's with a high-speed color wheel, although the alternating red, green, and blue components of the image are not consciously visible, I found that I get a headache after watching it for 90 minutes or so. So I strongly prefer LCD's to DLP's, although this is a question on the order of Ford vs. Chevy, domestic vs. imported, Windows vs. Mac, Ginger vs. Mary Ann...

2. Should I get a flat-screen, rear projection, or front projection unit? This is another important question that you didn't explicitly consider in your post, but it's essential when you want a large-format screen. A flat-screen, which may include LCD's and plasmas, may offer the most vibrant and saturated image, but at a higher cost per inch of screen real estate than other options. Rear projection TV's pass light through an LCD, DLP, or DILA filter to form an image on the back side of a (usually) black screen. Front projection TV's can create an image of arbitrary size, depending on the projection distance, with a tradeoff between image size and quality. The Achilles heel of front projectors is ambient light - the image gets washed out when it must compete with other light sources. Projection units tend to give you more image for your money than flat screens.

After extensive research, I selected a Sanyo PLV-Z4 for my TV. It is an LCD front projector with good contrast with future-compatible features (particularly HDMI with HDCP) and an attractive price. I painted a neutral grey screen using Screen Goo. I found that the image is sparkling when the room is completely light controlled, with deep blacks and rich color. I use a screen diagonal of 84", even though the unit could be enlarged to 100" or so, because I prefer image quality over size. My living room is flooded with ambient light, so I convinced myself that I should be doing other things during daylight hours, like working or being active outside. Ambient light problem solved. 8)

What works for me may not necessarily be the best thing for you, but I've been quite happy with it. Good luck.

New LED/DLP from Samsung (1)

Kaenneth (82978) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377296)

I've been reading with interest about the new LED DLP system that Samsung will have out soon (within a month I hear), instead of a mechanical color wheel filtering a white light, it apperently has Red/Green/Blue LED's which can switch on/off very fast, will last 20,000+ hours, and will be cooler and more efficent; (less heat, no need for a fan, etc.)

So the set will be quieter, use less power, produce less heat, be brighter, much less 'rainbow' effect, last 10x longer (no bulb to burn out, no phosphors to burn in)... and only be a bit more expensive.

Judging from my 15 year old VCR that still works perfectly, has never needed cleaning, and has never eaten a tape; Samsung makes good stuff. (only thing was the memory price fixing thing, but I can forgive them that, as that's not something blatantly obviously morally wrong)

How about rear projection? (1)

Arkaein (264614) | more than 8 years ago | (#15377352)

I'm curious, have you ruled out a rear projection set? These aren't quite as sleek and stylish as the newer flat-panel formats, but they're based on reliable technology.

I've had a Toshiba 40H80 for about 6 years now. You've probably seen them, they were used in a lot of Best Buys as early HD demo models. At the time I got it mainly because it was the most affordable true HDTV I could find, and despite reading a few mixed reviews online mine has been great. I've been watching actual HD broadcasts since about 2002 or 2003 and they look great, whether the signal is native 720p or downconverted 1080i.

The gotchas with rear projection sets are that the individual guns can become misaligned after moving the set around, but I've never had too much trouble realigning them. Game consoles have long warned about playing video games on projection sets, but with modern games it's very rare for any part of the screen to be continuously be showing the exact same image. I've seen no burn in over 6 years of light-to-moderate N64 and Gamecube play.

Re:How about rear projection? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15378254)

Presumably you are referring to a CRT rear projection TV. These days "Rear projection" also describes the family of mircodisplay RPTV's, which are LCD rear projection, DLP and LCoS.

I agree though that CRT rear projection sets are excellent choices if you have the room (they are still huge) and don't mind recalibrating every once in a while. Dark curtains are also a good idea, as CRT RPTV's look the best with low ambient light.

However, I would be careful about playing video games on a CRT RPTV, as they will burn in (not even close to as bad as plasma, but still a problem). My roommate has gone through 2 lens assemblies in the last 2 years thanks his XBox. Specifically, the radar screen and health bar in Halo 2 is oddly easy to burn in for some reason (and it sticks out like a sore thumb, especially when watching Hockey). And keep in mind that the radar and health are not continually on the screen, as they are not on the lobby screen, which is displayed for at least 2 minutes every 10 minutes.

Of course my idiot roommate also keeps the constrast and brightness high so that he can see better while playing Halo... I guess he just likes ruining his TV...

I went for the InFocus X2 (1)

jazman (9111) | more than 8 years ago | (#15378851)

and I've been very happy with it. It's fairly basic as projectors go, but it does the job well enough for me, and although I can see the rainbow effect it doesn't bother me.

Best way to demo the rainbow effect is to get a small patch of light colour surrounded by a lot of dark. Then you can look rapidly left to right and as your eyes move you'll get the different R,G and B parts of that light spot. The effects are similar to mouse trails.

I think whether or not the rainbow effect bothers you could depend on the way you watch films (and you won't know that until you think about it next time you're watching one). If your eyes are constantly darting around the screen picking up detail from all over, then it could be a problem. OTOH, if you just stare at the middle of the screen and pick up other stuff with peripheral vision then it probably won't be. It isn't a problem for me at all and I'm in the latter category.

FWIW, the X2 is plugged into a Media Centre PC with the sound wired into a standard hifi. Surround sound is something I plan to get eventually (a friend brought a surround system round for the Ringathon I hosted) but it's low priority in my life at the moment.

On the projector front though, the only thing I'd do differently is to get a 16/9 projector instead of a 4/3. It's mainly for watching films, and the horizontal stripes are more annoying than the vertical stripes I'd get with a 4/3 show on a 16/9.
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