Buy one made in the last two years with the LEDs instead of the expensive bulb replacement. I bought the 67" almost a year ago and am just as thrilled with it today as the day it arrived.
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Bought a new 60" Samsung slim DLP w/LED light source (2yrs?) ago from BB (interest free for 3 yrs). Really, really, really like it. Coming from a Sony SBR Videoscope 56" that was still going after 10 yrs. The Samsung is a great value in my opinion. I wanted as big as I could get. My wife wanted slim. The DLP slim (14 - 16" depth at most) was a good compromise. Further, in our great room with sometimes strong daylit conditions while trying to watch early morning F1, the DLP works. We watch a LOT of TV...it's been flawless to date. If you are right about the $150 for the LED (doh! I didn't ask the price for replacing the LED!!), sounds like a good deal.
I bought a "display" model Samsung from BB for my HT. What a great deal and it's still going strong after 3yrs, although it doesn't get daily use, more like once a week. However, that started the "Samsung" buying spree. We bought another for our family room and love it. My father-in-law loved them so much, he asked me to go buy him two for his house. I bought him the Samsung LED version for his HT.
No complaints, everybody is happy. I will say that my family room Samsung has one dead pixel. Other than that, Samsung is making some excellent DLP's & LCD's.
Off axis viewing was a much bigger issue with early generation RPTVs. For me available screen size, great picture, visibility in high daylight conditions not to mention affordability were the important attributes leading to purchase of an LED-based DLP rear projector. Off axis viewing hasn't been an issue at all in our great room.
08-01-09: MartyklI just ordered a new lamp assembly from Discount-Merchant. The bulb on my Hitachi LCD RP HDTV blew out this week. My local in-town supplier wanted $291 for the replacement, and he was out of them anyway. Most online lamp vendors charge about $219 for my unit. But DM's price was $139.99 plus $28 for 2-day shipping, little more than most places charge for the bulb alone (which you then have to install inside your old housing).
Their return policies are reasonable, and if the bulb is sourced from Philips or Osram (mine was), they provide 3-month or 6-month return periods, depending on the application.
Hey Mjcmt - Let me get back to you on that. I will do some "walking around" my unit. Also, I think when I was researching these I came across info relevant to this. If I can find it again, I'll let you know. As much a fan as I am, do go and look at some for yourself. When I was shopping there just weren't a lot of >50" (53"?) options available in LCD or Plasma. (Well - there might have been a Sony 60" LCD for like $30 grand.) Maybe things are different now but I'm no longer shopping.
The unit we got was an HL61A750. I agree with Aggielaw...DLPs might not be as bright as LCDs (especially in the show room - if you ask me). Ask the sales person where the brighness, contrast and related settings are for anything you are watching. I thought many of the LCDs in the show room were max'd out on picture, brightness and contrast etc. FWIW - I'm not an LCD hater - we have a Sony LCD in another room. At home the DLP does fine in "standard" mode (not even on "dynamic" mode) with picture, contrast, brightness etc settings at 50% or less.
OK - I'm checking my owners manual...recommended horizontal viewing angle is +/- 70 degrees Left or Right of Horizontal. Recommended vertical viewing angle is +/- 30 dgrees.
I will do a "walk around" tonight and see if the quoted Samsung values seems reasonable. Again, horizontal viewing angle hasn't even come up for us.
Hope you find something that is good for you.
I think I will see if I find a LED light source DLP w/ 1080p for a good used price. This might be a tall order. If not I will have to wait for more $$s.
There are an aweful lot of 1080p LCD flat panels for cheap-ish, but I'm not sure how old the technology on these cheaper LCDs are, and how they may compared to a LED light source DLP.
I did check out the view from different angles along the horizontal...I'd say if anything, the 140 degree optimum is maybe a little conservative. I didn't have a protractor or anything - but you have to be way off axis before you notice any darkening of the picture. If you decide DLP is the to go for you, you should also check out Mitsubishi. They had just introduced a laser-powered DLP when we got the Samsung with LED. I haven't kept up with things so don't know how successful that was. Search the net and read reviews. I did find some helpful info on CNET. Most importantly, visit Best Buy and other retailers and see what looks good to you. By the way, we generally don't go for extended warranties or service plans but the Samsung LED was relatively new and I did hedge my bet and got one when I purchased at Best Buy. Spreading payment with no interest over 3 years, it was a minimal increase in cost. If you go LCD, you might be interested to know Samsung mftrs. the screens for Sony (at least that's what we were told at the time).