Help me find a new HDTV...... for $3500

OK, I need to find me an HDTV set for <$3500 if possible. Obviously, that means no plasma, and I could care less, I don't like 'em. I'm good with RPTV, and don't think I have a preference for LCD, DLP, or good ol' 3-gun RPTV. I can probably get service codes for Mitsubishi RPTVs or Sonys from a contact, and using said codes (and in the old days a screwdriver) I have successfully dialed in many a RPTV- but that was years ago and I am now out of the loop so to speak. When I left the business, HDTV was a dream, and we demoed HD sets in our showroom with a hard drive full of boring nature films of close-ups of bugs. DTV had one HDTV demo channel at the time and the city I was in had no off-air HDTV, so I'm a little behind on the HD thing.

Looking for your advice on a 50-something inch, shallow as possible TV, prefer a "tabletop" style since I have a suitable stand, but I could sell that stand for a floorstanding model. I don't think I care if the tuner is built in or external.

I will be feeding it with an off-air HD antenna and will upgrade my DTV system to HD. My DVD has component out, but not progressive scan or DVI so I'll eventually upgrade that. Not concerned about control ease since it will be added to my existing control system which works fine.
get a Toshiba or Mitsubishi be sure it has DVI inputs what ever you purchase you absolutely must have a ISF certified calibration done .
Added digital cable to the home system last week and am looking (too) for an HDTV. Went to Circuit City today to demo Hitachi, Panasonic and Sony's new 3-chip LCD rear projectors (all on sale today for $3,099). Very impressive pictures with much improved blacks. I need to go back tomorrow for some more comparison viewing (all side by side in the store) Also checked out the Sony XBR direct views; even more impressive picture but limited to 40-inch 4:3, or 34-inch 16:9. Too small for my 15 x 21 room. I'll update tomorrow.
The Panasonic PT50LC13 projection TV. It new in the Panasonic line. It has a great picture.
I like the Pioneer Elite the best, you can pick up the hd730
64" for under 3,000 when you get the 1000 rebate!!!!
Having recently purchased a Sony GWIII LCD set, I can say that it is sensational. If you are sensitive to rainbows from DLP, you might want to avoid the Samsung, etc... One beautiful thing about the latest LCD/DLP/LCOS sets is that they have very small physical dimensions. The Sony is less than 18" deep (and not a big square box either) and weighs less than 100 pounds... hard to beat when space is a consideration and you don't want to go the plasma route (which I don't blame you).
I just got the Samsung 50" DLP and think is is wonderful. No glare screen with no real off-angle dimming to speak of. VERY shallow (about 16-17") and with the speakers on the bottom it is not superwide (about 48"). I use mine as a table top set. Picture is bright and crisp. Makes LCD look dull and washed out IMHO. Bought mine at Tweeters for $3100 as an open box with a coupon. HDTV (what few channels TW Cable offers here) are incredible. Has DVI input and PC input too.

BTW: The new PACE HDTV cable box that I just got from TW cable has DVI, optical out etc etc and is far superior to the HDTV Scientific Atlanta box.

NOTE: I originally had a new 46" for $3100 but it didn't work right so beware. HOWEVER: This one has had no problems.

Hey Y'all,

I too, like Eddaytona, have just taken delivery of my Samsung 50" DLP and it is, without question, the best picture I've had in my living room. I had the Mitsubishi 46809 and I upgraded to the Sony 50XBR-800 LCD. The latter I had for about three weeks and sent it back and purchased the Sammy and I could not be happier. The Sony LCD could not do black level very well which effected the color saturation. I have had no problems at all with the Samsung. In fact, it is the easiest TV I've ever used. I give this TV the highest recommendation.......John
Mejames: Agreed on the ISF issue, but I can handle that myself through the service menu and with some basic tools. The old color filter approach to adjusting color temp gets you within a gnat's eyelash of ISF IME.

Those of you mentioning the Samsung 50" DLP-- is it the one with the second generation chip (black housing) or the other one (silver housing)? A "contact" of mine was raving about the black Sammy 50" DLP but I thought he said it was $5k.
Read, you will find much more info there.

Samsung DLP has its drawback especially when watching non-HD program. The rainbow effect bothers some, but not others. You might be surprised how good a 42" EDTV plasma look on both non-HD and HD signals. Panasonic, Fujitsu, NEC are worth checking out.
Mine is the HL"N" model which should have the new chip. I seem to remember the previous version was HL"M" and did not have DVI input. Maybe it was $5k at one time but is much cheaper now. I think if I bought mine new and without a coupon it would have been around $3.6k
Thanks Ed and everyone else who have replied. I will indeed check out the Samsung, although if I buy one I'll have to tape over the name or something. If the moire is as bad as some have hinted, I might be looking at a good ol' three gun RPTV, though.
Pinkalby- The three sets I mentioned above have made the Samsung, and any other one-chip LCD rear projector obsolete. AND, they're all several hundred dollars cheaper than the Samsung. I went back to Circuit City for more viewing of the three three-chip sets, which are not only lined up next to each other, but the Samsung is right next to them. Disreagarding the fact that the sets are all on the floor out of the box (not well adjusted), the three sets blew the Samsung away for black level (should be called green level on the Samsung) .... for what it's worth.
I recommend you go to a different store than CC or BB, one where there is a better chance they have all the TVs reasonably well adjusted to provide a better comparison. You'll also get better advice IMO. I ended up buying from a relatively small local audio/video chain, and I got a better price than the big name stores!

Different people prefer different sets, and different people have different priorities.

For me, my first priority is DVD and I opted for the Samsung DLP (HLN617W on order) because it seems to thrive with a DVI equipped DVD player, much more so than other sets. DVI DVD on a Samsung is supposed to be outstanding, and this was very important to me.

My second priority is HDTV, and I did a lot of comparison viewing with HDTV sources. I thought all the new technology sets (DLP and LCD, never saw an LCOS) were better than CRT based sets. Of the newer technology sets, on average I preferred the Samsung. Sometimes the Sony GWIII looked a bit better than the Samsung while other times the Sony looked washed out and pale in comparison. The Samsung was more consistently appealing to me. The few times I saw the Hitachi and Panasonic LCD sets, they did not stand out to me compared to the Sony or Samsung.

SDTV is a distant 3rd priority for me, so I did not do any SDTV comparisons.

Good luck in your choice,
Thanks again to all. I agree CC and BB are AWFUL places to shop. I just grab the remotes and fix the TV set up, then the teenage salesmen walk by and say "dood, that TV is like, weird or something. The people, they're like flesh tones and stuff. We should like, crank the color temp back up so they look like colorized films of George Hamilton."

FWIW, I went with a CRT based RPTV. I have good light control in my room, and while the slimness of the LCD and DLP RPTVs would have been nice, I can deal with a TV cabinet that's 28" deep, the puny 32" that is being replaced is 24" deep on its stand anyhow.

Why didn't I buy DLP? Well, basically it was price. I don't think that the DLP gives you more of what I wanted, and it's way more money. DLP is bright, no doubt about it, but I'd just be turning it down most of the time, reference comments re: light control. The room will be dimly lit, the TV calibrated to a film-like color temp, so why do I need the ability to go super bright? I also didn't care for the blacks on the Ssmsung DLP, as someone else noted, and found the moire not terrible, but there. I also don't like the idea of buying a $320 bulb, and the insidious, yet inevitable, decrease in light output as the bulb ages.

Why didn't I go LCD? Pixels. I don't like looking at them, and I don't like it when they fail. With my luck, I'd get a failed pixel dead center of the screen. What's the manufacturers' standard for when a pixel failure becomes a warranty issue? Sales dood told me 6 pixels TOUCHING each other. That means if 6 go, and they aren't in a clump, you get no warranty. Man, would I be peeved.

I went with the 57" Hitachi Ultravision, which for my money stacks up quite well. It was purchased at a Video Only in Portland for just a few bucks over $2000. So, for my initial desired TV budget, I also got a progressive DVD player, and will be getting an HD satellite box with built in off air HD tuner, and an antenna to go with. THat will still leave me a few $$.
I had to cut that post off a little-- computer issues. But, it's interesting to see that everyone's preferences on TVs are as diverse as on say, speakers. While DLP and LCD have merit to be sure, I guess I'm still a CRT guy.

Whomever reminded me to go to AVSforums, thank you. THere is a ton of info there.
You might want to consider a CRT projector. Following all the research I did, I went for one - an Electrohome 8500. Check out AVSforum for more info. For your budget you can get a 100inch screen and better quality than an RPTV, Plasma or DLP etc. For me - more quality for same/less money makes sense. Only downside is the size, weight and challenge in setup/calibration. Again, a downside I overcame by getting a custom case that makes the projector look very cool, and I just did my homework and calibrated the thing myself - a big learning curve, but I got there. My image now pretty much exceeds any cinema/theatre quality. The tubes last about 10k hours as well - enough for three movies a week for 25 years or so. I drive the projector with a PC (HDTV via PC Card, and two DVD drives), and Replay TV for regular TV. Overall, I think I have the best image, maximum flexibility, value - everything. It's the way to go, hands down. Just my two cents, following exhaustive research.

I wish I had the room for a projection setup. For a while I installed them for a living, and I think it's tough to beat a properly set up CRT projector in the right room. Someday, I will have one, but for now the Hitachi is working great, and it was so cheap if we move in a few years and i can get a projector, great, I haven't made a huge investment in it.
I remember reading an add for a printer and the 'hook' was; theirs was capable of resolving 164 shades of grey. So while absolute black is important resolving the shades of grey/black and shadow level/detail are the hardest things to reproduce at this time. I haven't seen any of the newer sets mentioned. (I just read about them) Everything still points to CRT sets (rear or front)as being the leader in blacks/grey scale. I have a calibrated Pioneer Elite and an LCD projector (Sanyo PLV70)--- Yup,the Sanyo wins the size battle but the grey's and dark sceens drive me crazy.