An audiophile who know NOTHING about TV

Well, I've been thinking of buying a new TV and holy crap, is this one confusing subject! First, what technology should I get: Plasma, DLP, LCD, etc. 16:9, 1080. I don't know what any of this stuff means. The funny thing is that i'm scanning consumer reports and others like it to see what is the "best" LOL. I don't think I found my SME 30 or Aesthetix IO there! I would be aghast at anyone who told me they were buying a high end piece of audio equipment like that, but here I was doing the same thing. Looking to see which had the best specs. I stopped by a best buy today and actually found someone who seemed to know what he was talking about. He asked the right questions (from what I read): What do you watch, how far do you sit, etc. I answered his questions. Not interested in surround sound at all. Mostly watch broadcast TV and lots of sports (I use dish network as my source), sit about 10 feet from the screen (need to measure, i'm just guessing), watch an occasional DVD.

So, we're moving along and he seemd to be steering me towards DLP (Samsung) but there was a Pioneer Plasma that looked great. Then he mentions that "regular" TV broadcasts look terrible!!?? You won't be able to use the whole screen? What the hell, I can't have that. Isn't most TV non High-Def? Why would you buy Plasma/DLP if this is the case? I know we are headed to high-def, but unless i'm missing something I would think I should wait before I buy. I guess I can go RP CRT but isn't that "old" technology? That's funny, coming from a guy who listens to records and has an all tube-based system LOL.

I just want the best picture and biggest picture that makes sense in my room.

Oh, the room has a lot of natural light during the day, but most watching is done at night.
I am not a videophile but did spend many hours on and shopping in various home theater and circuit city type stores in the last year. I was going to get a dlp but the price to performance ratio versus RP CRT wasn't enough for my hard earned dollars. I picked up a RP CRT Hitachi 57F510 57" that I am really satisfied with. If the size of its footprint and weight are okay with you and your room than it is really a winner. The picture on HD is absolutely stunning. I don't regret buying it for one second. I am going to have to move in about 2 months and then I may question my choice of a near 200lb tv. The picture quality is unreal. My friends have already invited themselves over for the Superbowl. Good luck and check out
dont feel too bad,i have a 62 inch tv ive never turned on after they brought it in & set it up.
He is right about DLP and Plasma not having the best pic for SDTV, but they both look pretty good with HDTV.

if yer wanting a big screen i would suggest either LCD projection (apparently the blue fades after 20k hours) or LCD flat panel (expencive as hell) for standard definition TV.

LCoS is another one to take a look at, i have no experience with that myself.

Do yourself a favor, make damn sure whatever set you buy has an HDMI input.

Other than that, the entire HDTV scene is a total clusterf**k, there is no perfect display, either they break quick, or they dont do black well, or they are too expencive, or too bulky, or suck with SDTV, or dont have HDMI or DVI inputs, or are costly to maintain.
The only HDTV's out there that get EVERYTHING right are the old CRT direct view HDTV's, but they are bulky as hell and have limited screen sizes.

Ive been looking into getting an HDTV as well, and it seems it is all a bunch of compromises. Nothing out there does everything with all screen sizes and shapes.

THe best bet might to be to just try to get the salesperson to show you some TV's with HDMI, then ask to see standard definitiion, progressive scan, and High Def images on them and pick the one that looks best to you.

Good luck buddy, i feel your pain. Dont give up, im sure you can find an HDTV that fits your purposes.
You are right, it is a daunting task. I am lucky to have a couple of co-workers who are really experienced with this stuff and they have helped a good deal. You should check out the, there you will find lots of similar threads that should be quite informative. I have on order a 50" plasma so my advice is based on what led me to that decision and not any direct experience yet. To me, and of course, this is subjective, the plasmas offered the best picture in both HD and SD for that size. The LCDs are also very nice but right now a 45" (which for me would have been a minimum size and I am about 10" back as well) is VERY expensive. I spent quite a bit of time, pacing off viewing distances and looking at 42 vs 50". I looked at where I would mount the thing and measured off what it would look like. I looked at them with HD, SD, and DVD as sources.

I need to have some good off axis capability and the rear projections fell off pretty fast when getting to the side but plasma holds up very well. I want HD for sports and there should be pretty decent coverage for that between local channels and sat, and HD will surely increase dramatically over the next couple of years. Finally, I don't have the luxury of a dedicated theater room so my family room has to serve the dual purpose, a plasma also made a lot of sense for the use of the space.

I spent a lot of time reading, visiting showrooms, talking to different people before I could make up my mind.

Finally, there was an editorial in the latest sound and vision about how different buying a TV is today versus when he went with his dad years ago.
Actually RP CRT is still the best picture, deepest blacks least shadowing and the least expensive way to experence HDTV. Many new HDTV"s regardless of format(dlp,plasma,lcd, lcos) have built in digital tuners for over the air digital Standard and High Def programing. Many sports are now broadcast in HD (NFL playoff look great in widescreen HD) even standard digital,which will not fill up a widescreen display(16x9)looks better than full screen analoge on a large screen so choose the display which best fits your room and budget(bigger is better) and enjoy...

Reasons to upgrade now:

More and more sports are coming available in High-def, and it is unbelievable the difference in the viewing experience. If you watch DVD movies, You aren't really taking advantage of the "new" format unless you have a widescreen tv that at least displays in 480p (the DVD standard). You can use the whole screen on wide screen tv's for standard broadcasts in one of various "stretch modes" built into the tv's. Certain tv's do this better than others, and should factor into your decision making process. I have a 57" Sony High Def RP CRT and am very pleased. "old" CRT technology has come a long way, and what it concedes to all-digital displays like plasma in resolution, it makes up for in other important areas (to me) like accurate colors and better black levels. Plus it costs a fraction of what a plasma costs at this point. Down the road, plasma and DLP prices will drop and their weak points will improve. Until then, my decision was to get a bargain CRT display that allows me to enjoy the "little" bit of HD available, as well as Outstanding DVD experience.

Good Luck
This all really depends on your budget and if you want to do light control in your room.
By far the best quality and bang for your proverbial "buck"
would be a CRT based projector, however most dealers shy away from them as they are a touch harder to set up than other types of projectors, i really dont like RPTV's as they are way too room intrusive, but if thats not your case then they have a great picture. I prefer these methods simply because they use lines of resolution rather than pixelation which personally i do not like, altho it is more behaved in hi def formats.
If youre watching mostly regular TV broadcasts you may want 4:3 aspect ratio but as you probably see in stores and forums most everything now is 16:9 which i personally prefer.
Feel free to ask me any more questions you may have and good luck!
You described me a month or so ago. After a trip or two my head was spinning, even after the purchase; I learned as much after as before.

Regular (SD) TV is broadcast in 4:3 aspect ratio, newer HD TV's have 16:9 aspect ratio screens, but will play in 4:3 if you don't have HD or (rather) that is the signal it is sent. If you have no plans of using HD any time soon take this into account because your big screen TV, say 52", will not be 52" in non-HD, more like 40"ish, there is a calculation but I do not remember.

The future is HD but you have to decide that. You could pick up a tube based TV "relatively" cheap and have a great picture, for SD.

I purchased a DLP TV (Mitsubishi WD-52725), one my salesman highly recommended. Some of the new TV types, like plasma, have "burn-in" issues when watching in 4:3 mode for extended periods, DLP does not.

Once I had a big TV it didn't take me long to want to experience it all, so this led to further expense of a HD (DishNetwork) receiver and a antenna for local HD channels. Watching TV in HD is quite an experience! Like you I am not much into video, but I do enjoy HD and look forward to more channels.

Remember this, a bigger screen will show the imperfections that you don't notice on the smaller screens you are used to. Tube TV's are still king as far as picture quality but you are limited on size (and quality), these TV's are going by the wayside being replaced with the newer technologies. Furthermore, quality tube TV's are getting rare.

Either buy with HD in mind or purchase a good tube TV for the time being.
Buy a copy of "HDTV For Dummies" for about $9.00 on ebay. Well worth it. I got mine from A1 Books. Good reading and it will answer all of your questions.
...I would like to further add, after reading some of the other replies, that it seems some replies would scare you away from the newer TV technologies. My DLP TV does blacks great, I have heard some older ones do not; colors are also great, better than any TV in my house; my new HD receiver allows me to wire it to my TV via componant and picture quality is very very good on regular TV, it is far from "it sucks", I dare say it is better than the average home (cheap TV). But as I said above, tube is still the best, but HD is a whole new experience.

Sony makes a great tube HD TV that I would of purchased because of it's high rating in picture quality but it had two drawbacks, 1) it only came in 34" (or 32", I forget) and in 4:3 mode the picture would only be 27" and 2) it had burn-in issues if left in 4:3 mode for long periods. In hinsight I am glad I didn't purchase it now. Now that I have my TV and the new receiver I am very pleased with my purchase. I much prefer the large picture of regular TV (4:3) mode to a smaller picture. No regrets here, I am very pleased; I would make the same purchase again.

A side note, I was very unhappy the first two weeks, until I removed the coax and replaced it with RCA's. Like I say, I didn't know much above TV (video). Wiring via coax is the worst, it was jaw dropping swtitching to RCA's. (My first DishNetwork receiver only had coax and RCA, no componant or HDMI.)
I was in a similar position a while back and after studying all of the options, I chose a 42" Panasonic EDTV plasma.

Interestingly, there is an ongoing debate on AVSforum concerning the EDTV (enhanced definition) Plasma TV vs. HDTV (hi-def) Plasma. Many folks have come to the conclusion that the advantage of the HDTVs higher resolution disappeared once you had a viewing distance of more than 8 feet.

In my smallish audio/video/office/workout cave, I had a preferred furniture arrangement that only allowed 8 ft viewing distance (max) and that's with the plasma hanging on the wall. For me, getting the extra 18-22" distance was the most compelling reason for the plasma panel. Additionally, the Pannys have an SD tuner, HDTV tuner, QAM tuner (digital cable) and cablecard tuner built into the set. I also like the fact that it will work in a wide range of ambient lighting conditions, unlike some of the other choice. Add in the coolness factor and the fact that I got it for $2400 and I'm a happy camper.

There is the SD picture quality issue. I have Time Warner Cable with an HD digital cable box. The HD broadcast look spectacular and fill the 16X9 screen. The SD program material is good, but not as good as a great CRT TV. I generally watch the SD programming in a strecthed mode to fill the screen. It was a bit odd at first, but I got used to it in a couple of days.

BTW, I saved about $1800-2000 by buying the EDTV version vs. the HDTV version. I'm perfectly happy with the TV and I will likely move it into a bedroom or office once a high quality HDTV 42" plasma reaches my pricepoint.


(Tom In Cincinnati)
I would keep the following in mind:

1. Over the next 2 years, DirecTV will rollout another 120 or more channels of Hi-Def.

2. Newest generation plasmas- especially the Panasonics- have VERY good black levels, incredible color and brightness, and a projected lifespan of 15 years or so with daily usage up to about 8 hours.

3. Standard definition broadcasts are a problem with ANY HD set, because of scaling/line doubling issues. The Panasonic EDTV Plasma, to my eyes, does the very best job with Standard def signals of any digital set out there. It also does a great job with HDTV as long as you dont sit close enough to notice the pixel size (for a 42" panel, about 8 feet or more away is ideal).

4. As Slappy said,make the salesman work. Tell him that you want to see not just a HDTV feed on the set you're considering, but a standard feed as well. Play with the screen-filling setting available with the set to see if you could stand watching 4:3 programming in "Stretchovision" on a 16:9 display. All these sets- and the HDTV receivers- handle that task a little differently...they don't all yeild an equally good result.

5. Do not listen to the Plasma urban legends- short life, major burn-in issues, lose plasma "gas", yata yata yata. Latest generation Plasma panels are extremely reliable and by all indication will yield long lives.

Have fun shopping!
I never really cared about tv but my rear projection was destroyed during recent home remodel. I ended up with a dlp front projector after much research. See for much infomation about different technologies, screen sizes, aspect ratios, hdtv, including strengths & weeknesses. This site is informative for more than just front projectors. Projectors are getting very reasonbly priced. I never thouht picture quality would ever be a big concern for me but having a large image in HDTV quality has made a huge difference in my enjoyment of TV and home movies. Totally unexpected and totally pleased.
I can certainly relate. Decided on a Samsung DLP. After all my research, I believe the wow factor related to cost is the best. Just remember that the cost of your DLP or plasma etc. is, probably, less than half the total cost of your home theatre system, especially if you're not (like in my case) going to hook it up to your main audio rig. Here's a few extras to consider: stand, cables, DVD player of the caliber to go with your new set, extended warrantee, amp, speakers, power conditioner/surge protector, calibration, cables, and whatever else I forgot. You getting a little sick? I'm glad I purchased the Sammy. Having it calibrated this weekend, in fact. HD is unreal with a good DVD not far behind. Between the 'goners, the asylum and avsforum, I was able to get there. peace and good luck, warren
If you have the room and don't mind a bulky set, the cheapest route to go is tubes. Tube TV's still have a better picture than anything else out there. Take a look at Loewe or Sony WEGA. I like the Sony top of the line 34" HDTV Wega, which by the way was the favorite tube TV reviewed by consumer reports some time ago. Again the drawback is size -- the Sony is 200lbs.
I'd like to know if a TV can be placed near Hi Fi components.
get thee over to the avsforums!. Plan on reading for about 2 months straight! Then ye shall have the knowledge ye convets!

For us the choice was simple. DLP front projection at 92 inches! Joy.

And word of caution. There are no "perfect displays," even though the posters on AVS swear there may be such items. Try to research posts authored by people who seem to have the same priorities and budget that you do. You'll find a good match that way. One tip. If something is continuously recommended by people on the AVS forums, then it's probably not a stinker. It's likely a "safe buy." Just pay attention to people referring to picutre quality with SDTV satellite broadcasts or regular DVDs. You want something that is a good all-round performer. Pay attention to the TVs scaler and deinterlacer. Also take note of how people comment on the Tv's "gestalt." Are the colors good, etc. Any annoying artifacts, etc? As you'll be watching the TV and not just admiring the spec sheet once you finally purchase something.
Go to Best Buy. They have oodles of plasma, lcd, dlp, crt, the whole nine. No front projection, however. Like Aroc said, there is not panacea, but there is "joy"
One note of caution regarding my Panasonic Plasma recommedation: My Panny (current gen) has significant glare. If you are unable to control light in your environment, the glare might be an issue for you. For me it is not an issue because I can easily control the background lighting. However, if you have a big window behind your seating position, you will likely see that on the plasma display when watching(reflection).

If curious, go to BB or CC and look at their plasmas (and other TVs). Some are better than others at preventing glare/reflections.


(Tom In Cincinnati)
Wow! Thanks for everyone's response. I'm glad to see i'm not the only one confused by this! I did check out AVSforum a few days ago and my head is still spinning! I will definitely take the advice of asking the store to display in SD.

Of the major networks, what % of programming is in HD?
Well 'we' are becoming a little like avsforum;aren't we.--I bought a JVC hd-ila set. In the store it looked great--on their demo loop. It looked fine at home till you watch a 'dark scene' movie.--Drove me crazy. I sold it and lost big-time--I then bought a Mits.65813.-(9in guns)--big,--huge--bulky-- but does black well.--- Don't expect a night -day dif. between component/ dvd-d and hdmi--(My Sim2 has hdmi)--If you're starting out--dvi and hdmi cables give the same pq---but at a lower cost.
Well, just went to a couple of stores. One was a local home theater store. Like most "boutique" retail stores, you get better service, might pay more, but less selection. I looked at a 50" Pioneer Elite Plasma(1120 I think). Price quoted was $7,100 free installation. They also had a 43" Sharp LCD that was playing a DVD ("Finding Nemo"). The LCD playing DVD looked amazing. I did as some suggested here and had him switch between HD and SD. The SD did not look terrible. The one question I had that he couldn't/wouldn't answer was how come some of the SD channels were taking up the whole screen, while others were "shrunk"? Is it the way they are broadcast?

From there I went to a best buy. Obvioulsy lots of choices. Does Best Buy not carry "Elite"? They had a Pioneer, but It was not the same. They also had a Sharp 43-45" LCD that looked great. Maybe a little better than the 50" Pioneer that was right next to it. I was a little disappointed in the SAmsung DLP. It seemed you really needed to be in the sweet spot for this to look good. It looked very dark as you moved from standing to bending over a little bit.

Still not any closer to making a decision LOL
One can not assume what you see is the best---I swear to God. You go in one store and a particular set may be the best looking.---Then you go to another store and the set you thought was hot;is not.--(Fact bassed)--- With regards to sd and it filling the screen, to full 16x9--I would assume the sales guy hit the button for it to stretch. Most displays will do it. Stretching HD material that is 4.3---some sets do that as well.--If you want Twiggy to look like Mama Cass.
Boy, do I feel your pain. I have owned a Pioneer Elite 50" CRT rear projection analog set for the last 5 years and have been looking at HD sets the last few months primarily because I want to watch football in HD and also because I want to be able to take advantage of the progressive scan output on my DVD player. I have not yet seen anything that makes me want to pull the trigger on a new set. DLP rear projection sets have the rainbow issue, rear projection LCD sets have poor blacks, and plasma sets are too expensive for my budget and also have poor blacks and the burn in issue with 4:3 material. I think that this is a really bad time to buy a television. The rear projection CRTs, to my eyes, still provide the best picture but many manufacturers have stopped making them and none of the high end A/V stores in my area carry them anymore. They say nobody wants them because they are too big and heavy. It seems to me that CRT technology, which still provides the best overall picture, has been prematurely tossed aside in favor of newer technologies that offer a smaller and lighter box. For 480i material my Pioneer Elite projection set is still better than what I have seen in the stores right now. I still am unsure of what to do but I think I may wait it out a couple more years and hope that Pioneer Elite plasmas come down in price and improve in picture quality and then get one of those.
When I was shopping for a direct view TV set, I went to best buy on a slow day (wednesday). We looked at a few TVs on display (playing the mega-split coax demo feed) and narrowed it down to a handful of TVs. I grabbed a display VCR, rabbit ears, and a DVD player.

Here's where I became an 'ass.' I started hooking them up to each display TV in turn, disconnecting the split coax feed. I would then try to fiddle with the brightness and contrast controls (turning them down until I got good blacks and close to more appropriate contrast/brightness levels). Most of these TVs are run in what I refer to as 'torch mode.' Of the TVs that had the best picture quality on DVDs, I then compared OTA broadcase TV (thru rabbit ears on the VCR) and also a VHS tape I brought from home. I also watched part of a DVD.

Surprisingly I wasn't bothered by store employees when I was sliding TVs out and unhooking them and autitioning them. I thought for sure I was going to get scolded! Though I figured it out after the second set of couples came by me asking about TVs. (I was like 'WTF?!' Why are customers asking me questions?) I was wearing a bright blue dress shirt, yellow tie, and some tan dress pants. between than and moving display merchandise I probably looked like a manager or someone who belonged there. FYI, this was at Best Buy and the store employees where these blue polo shirts and khaki pants.

In short I would have never made the IMO excellent decision that I did without being able to (somewhat) properly audition the TV sets. Granted the store lighting is nt really appropriate, but at least I was able to get somewhat of an idea. In the end she decided on a Toshiba 27AF41. I went back a week later and I got the Toshiba 36AF61. I was successfully able to negotiate about $100 (c. 10%) by talking with a manager. So yes, if you approach the right person on the right day, you can haggle at Best Buy! I thought these had the best standard def performance out of the flat glass direct view CRTs that also had great DVD performance. Had I not done that I would have ended up with the more expensive Sony WEGA which to be didn't have the nice picture the 'Tos had. YMMV.

My $0.02 worth,

Most stores do not provide the same viewing environment as your home. Just because a set does not look fabulous in a store, especially one with glaring overhead fluorescent lights, does not mean it won't look good in your home. A good quality TV with proper ISF calibration would probably be extremely underwhelming on a Best Buy showroom floor.

A DVI/HDMI connection may not show much imporvement over Component connection for a CRT based set. A DVI/HDMI connection can show an improvement with a fixed pixel display, and it does provide improved PQ if a digital signal is fed to the TV at the TV's native resolution, and if the TV does not add additional D/A, A/D, scaling steps. One example where this does work, at least for me, is feeding a Samsung DLP TV a 720p DVI/HDMI signal from an upconverting DVD player.

The statements about each technology having plusses and minuses is right on the mark. There is no ideal answer. Each person will have their own preferences and priorities. For example, some like the blacks and continuous tone PQ of a CRT based set while I prefer what I consider the more detailed images on my Samsung DLPs.

Microdisplay technology continues to evolve while CRT technology is relatively mature. As described at, a new crop of 1080p native resolution microdisplay sets were announced at CES, in addition to the Sony 1080p set previously announced, and initial reports indicated very impressive PQ.

My recommendation is to video-audition TVs in as many stores as possible, since impressions of PQ vary from one store to another, and make sure you can exchange any set you buy if you're not happy with it after you get it home.

CTE500, visit Best Buy stores that have Magnolia HiFi if you are looking for Pioneer Elite plasma.

Aroc is right. Every thing is negotiable. Besides, Best Buy offers the 10% coupon to its Reward Zone members all the time. If you are not a member, maybe talk to the store manager on Wednesday night. :> )
I had much to say on this subject on another thread. The mods decided to delete lots of the info for whatever reasoning but to get back here I purchased a Samsung 46" dlp from Sears and took it back after a few days. SD was a big disappointment and Progressive scan DVD's were not quite up to snuff in my opinion. Color is great but the images loose detail and clarity. I was replacing a 4x3 Sony
32" wega with the Samsung DLP so imaging and clarity were going to be critical and the Samsung just could not measure up. I wound up with a Sony XBR 34" 16x9 HDTV and I'm really happy with it. It's big, it's bad and it's a sony baby
I know I'm getting into this late, and assume that you've made a decision by this point but reading your original post made me think of where I was last August. Similar situation but I had a little more background with TVs. I've got Dish as a source with an OTA antenna for local HDs. We had a 50" 4:3 Tosh CRT based RPTV, HD ready. I went through everything out there and immediately threw out LCD/Plasma for price and picture quality reasons. Plasma is getting better but I don't need the space savings so I won't sacrifice PQ. So it's up RPTV, stick with CRT? DLP? LCD? LCoS? LCD I didn't like at all, worst picture by far, worse than Plasma. CRT TVs are way too big for the screen size I want (61" means 300+ lbs), although as others have mentioned, very very good PQ, probably still the best. So that leaves DLP and LCoS. I do home theater installs on the side and through distributors can get Samsung and JVC (along with a bunch of Plasma and LCD TVs). So, although I compared all DLPs to the JVC LCoS I really focused on the Sammy DLPs. We bought a JVC 61Z585 and couldn't be happier. SD looks, well, like SD. But, it's very watchable on all channels. I'm sure the Dish and it's all digital broadcast helps in this matter. DVD is stunning. MUCH better than with the Toshiba CRT HD ready set we had and better than the Captain Kirk Sammy's I've seen. Better colors, detail, the picture just jumps off the screen. And HD, well, some channels are doing HD better than others, but when you get a look at ABC or FOX doing football in HD - damn, you know why you bought the set! CBS really does a crappy job with HD, but hopefully they'll come around eventually and it's still better than SD. The JVC gives you a big, bright, colorful picture with no screen door issues, no rainbow issues, and comparatively a great price too.

Good luck!