Fall Flat Panel Lineup

I'd like to buy a flat panel from the upcoming new flat panels. But, I'm so confused. I can't separate the wheat from the chaff.

Here is what is important to me: 1) Artifacting during movements and paning is absolutely minimal, 2)I can see detail in the blacks (I'd rather see detail than the quest for the deepest black if that means blocked up details), and 3) whites are white and not gray, and 4) Size is say 42" to 52" or so. Price is less than $5,000. I don't know anything about plasma versus lcd.

I've seen Sony LCD's that I like, but they seem to artifact. I've seen the Pioneer, which seemed to artifact less, but seemed darker in the shadows. I hate the blocked up shadows and the artifacting. My observations were on models in the store about six months ago.

Having said all that, can you point me toward the best option or two? Thanks for considering my question. Jeff
Don't get hung up on LCD vs. plasma as the actual source you hook up, and how it's hooked will make a greater difference than the differences between the two types of TV's. Plasma's are known for better black levels and some think a more natural looking picture, although some of the newer LCD's have huge contrast ratios (50,000:1) and 120 hz. frame rates to keep up with fast pace action such as sporting events. $5000 is way to much to spend as you can get a great 50" plasma or LCD for $2500 or under and use the remainder to hook up HD satellite, cable or better yet, off-air antenna for a great picture. Also, use high quality HDMI cables for your connections from your HD sources and Blu-ray DVD player and you'll be amazed at the picture quality. There's some great deals out there right now, so take your time and choose the best TV for your room and budget.
I agree with Dave that it's your source, not so much the television that makes a lot of the difference. If you have a Blu-Ray DVD player or Verizon Fios or another quality source, then you're well on your way to getting excellent picture quality.

I recently purchased a 52" Samsung 52A650 LCD TV for around $2300 at Amazon.com and love it. With my upconverting Oppo DVD player, playing regular DVD's is a real treat. With my Comcast box, it's hit or miss, depending on the channel. ESPN in HD looks fantastic, while some of the non-HD channels (and even some of the HD ones) can look a little soft and pixelated.

To me it came down to the Samsung and a $2000 Panasonic 50" plasma. They both look great. I think that the differences between LCD's and plasmas have been steadily eroding and they're starting to converge. Buy the one that looks best to you.

And don't spend too much money on HDMI cables. Recent discussions here on Audiogon have confirmed my suspicions about these glorified network cables: The inexpensive ones work just as well as the expensive ones. I got mine from Monoprice (even the 25 foot ones that I wired through the basement and walls) and they work fine.


There are two sets that I think stand out over the rest, the Sony XBR 52" which has been selling for as little as $2799 ( or the Sony XBR 46" for about $2399) both LCD's and the one I personally think is the best of the flat panels, the Pioneer Elite Pro FD111 50" Plasma that has been selling for around $4500. It replaced the FD 110 which was much reviewed and thought to be at that time the best flat screen by a wide margin. The FD 111 is better than it however.
I viewed both brands side by side recently and the difference was bigger than I thought in favor of the plasma.
The best way to judge is to be able to veiw the different sets side by side. Tweeter is a good place for this. Circuit City and Best Buy (only Magnolia @ BB) do not carry the Pioneer Elites.
They're real differences in all the sets with good source material. The plasma's have better black levels and do look more natural. They also are better to view on the angles. The LCD's are better in brighter rooms. These things are getting better and the trickle down effect from top models is obvious.
Sony is slated to introduce their new LCD with LED backlighting in October. I'm sure it will be expensive at first but is suppose to cure the last of the LCD's weaknesses compared to plasma.
Like everything, it's kind of a personal choice and if the higher price sets improvement is worth the difference to you.
IMO the Pioneer Elite has that film look with great black levels. The newer LCD like Samsung TOC (Touch of Color) really challenges the performance/ratio. But I don't think it looks better than my 720p Pioneer. I can get another 15% performance with great power cord and additional 10% detail with power conditioner.

LIke the previous post said...source material is key.
You've received some terrific advice! As mentioned the source and calibration of these panels is the key. Use the best sources you can..just like audio. And calibrate the TV once you receive it. That's the tough part about judging any of these TVs in a store. Most likely none of them are calibrated.
So you'll get mixed reviews on what's the best.

The wrong calibrations and sources will make any panel look terrible. I would not spend 5 grand on a panel. The prices come down so quickly ...you'd be upset 6 months later with the price of the same panel. I would go for a close out model..which ever unit you purchase.

You can get a great new TV for nearly half of what it originally sold for.
You may want to check out www.avsforum for mucho discussion on all formats, sources, displays etc.
Thanks for all the good information.

Black levels: When folks say plasma has better blacks, does that mean good shadow details or that blacks are just more black, which can block out shadow details?

Source: I live in an apartment with Comcast feed. Is there a better alternative for a source for me?

DVD: Right now I've got a Sony 9000es and imagine I'll move up to Blue Ray and/or the Oppo, of which I've read many good things.

Magnolia: I stopped by yesterday and saw the 2008 Sony against the 2009 Pioneer Elite. Both looked really good. I thought the Sony showed a little grain in continuous tone images, but had a little better shadow detail than the Elite. Both were fed a 720 image according to the salesperson. At the size range (about 50") and with their source I would not say that artifacting was an issue with either of these models. The salesperson said the new Sony XBR comes out in Septmeber or October. I may wait until then, so I can compare it to the other two. Has anybody viewed the new Sony XBR, such as at CES?

Thanks again for all the good input. Jeff
I agree with most of the prior posts. Both LCD and Plasma provide wonderful viewing experiences with a good source. I think the biggest consideration should be your viewing environment. If the TV will be in a well lit room with lots of lights/windows, etc., then a matte screen LCD is the best choice IMHO. If you have a dark room where you can control the light and/or block off windows, etc. then plasma comes into play. Plasma still offers deeper blacks, but LCD typically offers better whites as they intend to be brighter (another reason they're good in a bright room). Both can offer good low level detail with proper calibration.
I was hoping somebody would offer what Cruz noted........remember even if Plasma is in darker room that lamps will show up in reflection and canbe annoying, I still feel Plasma is the way to go quality wise but the lines are getting increasingly blurred, if you get an LCD with a very high contrast ratio and a 120hz platform should be great for most viewers, calibrate with a professional and your all set.
IIRC, an equivalent size plasma uses more energy than an LCD. I think that ought to be a consideration; it was for me.