Aaaargh. Please help Viridian select a new TV.

I barely understand audio, never mind video, but my old TV finally bit the dust and I need a new one. I can't make heads or tails out of the specs, liquid crystal, plasma, DLP, sounds like my doctor's office. 1080, 720, Blue Ray, whaaa? So here is the basic info. I sit 12' from the set, on axis, in a large room that does not have any glare or excess light issues. I watch movies on DVD frequently and tend to keep my gear for decades. I generally don't chase the SOTA, just like something reliable and enjoyable. Suggestions as to screen size, technology and brand name are greatly appreciated.
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Samsung 1080P dlp hd tv! I have a 61" and love it! Of course a hd dvd player looks stunning on it best of all!
I bought a Sony 52 inch KDLXBR2 LCD flat panel and I just love it. The price has dropped a great deal to make room for the new XBR 4 and 5 models. Truly stunning picture quality in 1080P, along with my Playstation 3 with built in Blu Ray player. I thought since you would keep this for decades, it should be something really nice.
As a regular here at Audiogon, I don't think there's too much we can tell you that you don't already know. And you certainly know that whatever anybody says, somebody else is going to totally disagree with it, so we'll end up being no help anyways.

For what it's worth, here's my opinion,... thanks for asking.

Technology: LCD

LCD has some advantages over plasma and plasma has some advantages over LCD. It seems to me that as time passes however, LCD is eroding plasma's advantages faster than plasma is eroding LCD's advantages. Until something else comes to market that kills them both (eg. SED or Sony's proprietary version of SED), I would take LCD (and I have). Plasma has brighter colours, faster response and better contrast. However, current generation LCD's are not so poor on these points that they are an issue any longer, at least in my view, pun intended. On the other hand, LCD's have smaller pixels than plasmas. So you will get a sharper picture and better resolution on the new high definition formats, no matter which one it is, HD-DVD, Blu-Ray, or HD TV broadcasts. That's why you don't see small plasmas, by the way, like computer screens for example. The larger pixels on the smaller screen would be quite noticeable. It's just my opinion, but I find the "screen door effect" on plasmas caused by the larger pixels in thier grid pattern to be incredibly annoying. Once you see them, you always notice them. I even find it hard to look at CRTs now without seeing the pixel grid after having had an LCD for a couple of years.

Forget DLP. It's an interesting technology and Samsung do it well. However, it'll be gone soon. It's not as "flat" as plasmas and LCDs, so the consumer market doesn't want it. Ever seen a DLP in Wal-Mart? It's the eight track cassette of the TV world. We can make it, but nobody wants it. I will be flamed by the DLP owners for saying this. However, this is a normal psychological response as they attempt to reduce their cognitive dissonance from having bought one. However, they don't know where I live and can't find me anyway so I'm safe from them.

Resolution: 1080p

I don't know if anything is even broadcast in 1080p yet so it's of limited value at the moment on that point. However, it will be useful in taking advantage of newly emerging high resolution DVD formats. Since you plan on having your TV a long time, you may as well future proof the thing to the extent you are able to. Besides, any decent TV sold today will have 1080p anyways.

Features: multiple HDMI inputs and an audio out.

I have just one HDMI input on my TV. I wish I had at least two. It's good to have a couple for the same reason that you want an amp with more than one input. You are likely to have a couple of things you might want to plug into it: DVD player, DVD recorder, satellite box, cable box, game console. If the external devices you own don't have HDMI, they will soon. So when you upgrade them, you want to have the TV being able to take them in their full glory. More future proofing. Of course you could use some sort of switching box with multiple HDMI inputs. Yeah right. Just like you could do this for an amp with not enough inputs. Just get sufficient inputs to begin with and be done with it. Use the component outputs on the external devices if they don't presently have HDMI, and make sure the TV has enough component inputs. And you want audio out so you can possibly hook a pair of quality speakers and an amp to the TV if you wish. And being an audiophile, why wouldn't you want an an oppotuntity to spend more money?

High resolution format wars? Don't worry about it. Get a 1080p TV and it will take whatever. That's an issue for the external device choice, HD-DVD or Blu-Ray; it's not an issue for the TV.

Screen size: 55 to 60 inches.

Everybody who buys a TV wishes they bought a bigger one. But it has to be appropriate for the room and your viewing position. There are a variety of formulae and rules of thumb for screen size. One simple rule is that you should be sitting between two and five times the diagonal screen size away from the TV. So if you're twelve feet away, 55 to 60 inches would be good. You could go a little bigger, but the price jumps exponentially after 60 inches. I don't know if it's worth it.

Brand: Sony, Panasonic, Toshiba, Samsung.

Take your pick. Whatever looks good to you. I think the Sony and Panasonic are a touch better than the other two, but that's just my opinion. I wouldn't feel hard done by having any of them. I would avoid the budget brands. You get what you pay for. If you go with plasma, and you buy cheap, a year from now you'll be looking at a TV with lots of interesting pink and green lines on the screen.

I have a Sony, but I had a hard time justifying the price difference compared to the Panasonic. Sony still maintain the fantasy that their equipment is so much better that they can charge a premium for it. I'm increasingly sceptical.

Sony don't make plasma anymore. They believe the immediate future is LCD. Panasonic make plasma and LCD, although they believe that plasma is better. As noted, I'm in the LCD camp.

In a previous post, I believe you mentioned that you were thinking about putting the TV on the wall above a fireplace or some other inanimate object. That's fine so long as it is not too high relative to your viewing position. Otherwise it's like sitting in the front row of a movie theatre. Your neck can get a bit sore. And don't forget my previious advice that your chair should have beer glass holders.
Markphd gives good advice. I will provide a slightly different perspective in 2 areas-
Technology- If you watch sports much (you mentioned movies but did not say if you watch TV also) then the faster response time of the plasma makes a big difference. Add the blacker blacks and you've got a winner, IMO. But I admit to not having seen the latest generation of LCD TVs. After re-reading your post, tho, I see you sit on axis in a room with apparently total light control. If anyone is still making rear projection CRTs, that might be worth looking into.
Resolution- At 720p or 1080i, resolution is quite magnificent. Not sure I would pay the premium for 1080p without any current software. No broadcast 1080p and total chaos at the DVD level. Of course, if money is not an issue, then 1080p WOULD be the way to go. But if I was on any kind of budget I would skip 1080p and use the $ to get it calibrated by an ISF technician. They charge by the input and it can get expensive, but its worth it. I also think that a scaler/switcher might be a better investment than a 1080p set with multiple HDMI inputs but it does require another box and us 'philes know the ins and outs of that debate!

As far as brands go, Panasonic seems right now to be the consensus price:performance leader but a big factor might be what's available at your local BJ's/Sam's Club/Costco/Big box whatever. No one can compete with them- they have driven Tweeter into Chapter 11 and the prices are amazingly low- 60" sets are selling for 1/2 the price of 42"s from 2-3 years ago!!

Finally, for technical advice, you may also want to consider posting on

The following set is relatively future proof and is what I'd buy if I were buying.

-60" LCD with LED light source (no need to replace bulb every 2-3 years (I hear prices for bulbs are falling, however.)

-At least 10,000-to-1 contrast ratio (15,000 is better).

-HDMI 1.3 inputs (two on back of set, one on front).

Make sure the "glare screen" isn't actually ADDING distortion to the picture. Get inches away and look for grain like you're listening for distortion in a speaker.
I'm amazed how many big screens have this "feature".
The best (smoothest) picture I've seen is a Panasonic 61" RPT retailing around $2500 -really fine picture.

Finally, make sure the CPU processor is fast enough to avoid
picture "break up" on complex scenes.
Motocross, marathon events, anything with lots of images moving together quickly can overload the CPU and the picture just falls apart (more like explodes) into a pathetic mess (high definition my ass...).

I must chime in here...

I sit 12" from my 70" Sony KDS-R70XBR2 and the picture is awesome, and yes I have both HD DVD and Blu-ruay to feed it. LCD's are improving, but I think they still need a generation or two to beat plasma. At 12" I would go as big as possible, I use 70" at that distance and it could be larger.

As for resolution, you would be foolish to buy anything that doesn't accept a 1080p feed, and preferrable 1080p/24FPS for best HD disc picture. As you said you keep your gear for a while, and a TV can last over 10 years. If you honestly think you won't buy some form or high def disc player in the next ten years, great! Save the $200 and buy a 720p set... Just don't come crying in a year or two when you have to replace it....


You're quoted formula for viewing distance and screen size is based on 4:3 TV's and not applicable, you need a larger 16:9 screen for the same viewing distance.

I must strongly disagree with you on DLP, Yes this technology has trickled down some. You do realize it is the only Tech certified by THX and will be? Runco uses it in there $$$$ projectors, and yes, Samsung does it well and cheaply! I used to have the 61" Sammy 720p set, it was a great TV, a good friend still uses it, but as above, I needed 1080p so it is gone.

As for inputs, for me one is fine, all my HDMI sources run through a switcher so I only run one feed to both my main TV and the plasma in the bedroom, so for me I only need one.

If you need wallmountability, you are stuck with only plasma and LCD, FWIW If I had to preplace my bedroom set, it would be with an LCD as I could get 1080p resolution for a song (I have found the Sony 52" XBR3 for less than $3K on line) but the new round of 1080p plasmas are already dropping in price.....

I guess by now you can see, there is no clear winner in this, go look, see what you like, and get 1080p (Ideally with acceptance of a 24 frame per second feed) to keep you future proof, then sit back and enjoy! Buy the biggest screen you can afford/want to spend on as it will always seem small the week after it's installed....
I also sit 12ft from my TV and have no light issues. I just bought a 71" Samsung 1080P DLP and am extremely happy with it, the picture is awesome. At 12ft, anything less than 70" will be dissappointing for getting the theater experience for movies (IMHO). Surprisingly, my wife thinks the same thing for the size of the picture (she rarely chimes in as long as it works). Also, you should definitely get a TV that can except (and is capable of) 1080P if you go higher than a 50" TV.

Another important thing I should mention is that the Samsung customer service has been great when I called in twice (not for problems but just general questions).

Surprisingly when I told the wife I was buying a bigger TV she told me I was mad, but when it arrived she immediately said it wasn't so big...

Wow, you guys are great. Thanks for all of the guidance and advice. I must admit that I was considering a smaller set than the ones mentioned; I will have to increase the amount of real estate, and more importantly, funds alotted to this project. Better to do it right the first time and I appreciate avoiding the pitfall of buying too small a set.

Mark, being an audiogeek I never read the video posts here, so I really am in the dark. And you have a good memory, based on my previous post, I shelved the idea of mounting the TV over the fireplace as it would place it about 60" off of the floor and the consensus here was that was just too high up. I was in holding mode, until my 35" Mitsubishi tube set started going on the fritz. Now it's time to pull the trigger, before football season starts.

You can find useful calculators for SMPTE and THX recommended viewing distances at:

You should view the newer Sony LCD XBR units. I believe the old response time problem for watching sports that Swampwalker alludes to is gone, and that LCDs are lighter and use less energy than plasmas. We moved our fine 36 XBR CRT downstairs, where the box looks too big, but a check on its value at Videogon suggests there is no market for big box TVs, so we'll keep it. We tend to keep TVs for over 20 years, and only a last year replaced a pair of 25 XBRs bought in 1979.

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I found it interesting, the new Perfect Vision(August 2007 pg31) just had a list of these, THX recomended screen size for 12' viewing distance is 108", the minimum is 72". SMPTE specs out at 86" for this distance.
Thanks for the links guys. Kenny.....OUCH! Probably cheaper and more domestically acceptable to move my couch up a tad, like within 2' of the screen. 8^0
I just wanted to add a few extra comments I thought of while daydreaming at work today.

The first concerns screen size. I mentioned 55-60 inches. Upon further reflection, I would also suggest the 50-55 inch range.

The sweet spot in the mass market, which is what the world caters to, is about 42 inches. However, I really think that 42 would be too small if you're twelve feet away. Remember that a 42 inch widescreen is no taller in the vertical dimension than a 4:3 aspect ratio TV in the 32-36 inch range. It's wider but not taller so it really won't seem too much bigger. Fifty-five to sixty is a pretty hefty size in a normal room. Sixty inches at twelve feet might be too "in your face". Have a look at them in the store to see what you think. Fifty to fifty-five will feel like an upgrade in size from what you have, but not be too overwhelming if you sit close.

However, there is another important reason why I also suggest 50-55 inches, at least for LCD. For plasma, it's not an issue. As time passes, LCD's are getting bigger. This year's latest and greatest are breaking the fifty inch barrier. They are in the 50-55 inch range. If you went to 55-60 and were purchasing this year, you would have to look at an LCD projector, rather than a direct view LCD. Direct view LCDs and rear projector LCDs are sufficiently different in picture quality, at least in my mind, that they are not even in the same ballpark. Compared to plasmas, LCDs are not as vibrant in colour quality/contrast. But the direct view LCD of the current generation are good enough that I don't think this is an issue anymmore compared to plasma. However, I think that it is definitely an issue for the LCD projectors. The projectors are more sensitive to ambient light. If your lighting isn't right, the picture quality, particularly brightness and contrast, will drop off quite a bit. It makes plasma look that much better. As it stands today, if I wanted 55-60 inches, I would probably take a plasma. If it's 50-55 inches, I would take a direct view LCD. I would avoid the rear view projectors, whether it's LCD or DLP.

I didn't mean to insult the DLPs in my comments yesterday. The same comment applies to LCD rear projectors. They're not as good, in my view, as direct view, and the market just doesn't want them. Even though they're only twelve inches thick, you can't hang them on a wall, which is what the mass market wants. And the mass market drives the market. The big advantage of the rear projectors was size/price. However, with big plasmas coming down in price, and direct view LCDs getting bigger, the market for rear projectors is disappearing. You can see that happening in store ads. (Front projectors are a different story. They remain a niche product for those who want very large screens). Even Samsung, the DLP champion, is putting their money where their mouth is and investing hundreds of millions in production facilities for manufacturing LCD glass.

However, it does mean that there are some good deals on the projectors.

One other point about LCD projectors. Consumer Reports reports that there are abnormally high failure rates for LCD projectors. They recommend that you buy an extended warranty. Consumer Reports generally regard extended warranties as wasted money from a consumer's point of view, simply a cash cow for the retailer. For them to recommend that you buy an extended warranty on anything is notable (They also recommend extended warranties for treadmills, but I digress).

So on screen size, my suggestion is a direct view LCD in the 50-55 inch range. I would go with plasma for 55-60, but not a rear projector LCD at that size. And if plasma and direct view LCD were the same size, I would take LCD for the increased resolution and less annoying pixel grid.

One more point on brands. I forgot to mention Pioneer. If I were getting a plasma, I would short list Pioneer and Panasonic. If I were getting LCD, I would short list Sony, then Samsung and Toshiba. I don't think Panasonic's LCDs, although very good, are larger than the 30+ inch range. They're probably smaller than what you may be looking for. Panosonic are into plasma at the larger screen sizes. A lot of people like Sharp LCDs. Personally, I don't find them as good as the others, but I haven't seen this year's models.

There are a lot of good sights for AV information that some other posters may mention. It's worthwhile to educate yourself given the money involved.

And keep in mind that box store TV set-ups are terrible. It would be good to shop for a high-end TV as you would for a stereo. Go to a good store that has their TVs set-up and adjusted properly.

You don't need to thank me for all my sage advice. You can send money instead, or perhaps the phone number of an NBA referee who has somem insights into games during the upcoming season.
If new gen LCD response times are better, then that's great and at that screen size, pixel size may be an issue so that helps the LCD argument. Best to try before you buy, but try to find a place that will let you adjust the PQ, and where you can look at sports, DVD and cable TV (if you plan to use it) Some conventional cable signals look like $ t at 60 or 70" size. Not all sets deal with poor quality inputs as well as others. On some sets, a non-optimal signal is virtually unwatchable, although may be more of a function of source than display. As you probably know, most big box sets are goosed way up on brightness and some other parameters.
"Surprisingly when I told the wife I was buying a bigger TV she told me I was mad, but when it arrived she immediately said it wasn't so big..."

KT, how true, how true.