Help with a new TV please

Hi everyone,
This is pretty new territory for me, my current version of "home theatre" is a 27" Panasonic tv. That's about to change however, the girlfriend and I are about to close on a new condo, our first as homeowners, and we are downsizing, not unexpectedly. To maximize space we thought a thin, wall mountable tv would be just the ticket, plasma or lcd. Then a thought crossed my mind, what about a projector? So I ask the experts out there, what is our best bet? This is for everyday tv and occasional movie watching. We want hdtv and we want longterm reliability is such a thing exists. Our total budget is $2500 hopefully that buys us a nice tv. Since my current set cost a cool $300 I figure something nice is out there. Our budget should include either wall or ceiling mounting as well as calibration. I eagerly await your advice.
Hi Jon- Unfortuately, its going to be pretty tough to do on that budget. Calibration alone will eat up more than 10% of that, I would guess. Wall mount bracket for a typical plasma goes $2-400. For best bang for buck right now, I would say DLP. You will NOT get an HDTV plasma for that; even EDTV (480p) which executed right, is a very good picture, will be right up to your limit if not over. DLP is not quite wall-mountable, but about 12-16" thick, depending on model. If you can find the space, an HD-RPTV will give you very good PQ at a relatively modest cost (under $2K, giving you $ for calibration. Sorry. Also check out; those guys really know their stuff.

I don't think you are going to be able to do this considering your budget. However, if you can spend a bit more, you can do pretty well.

Personally, I had a similar space vs. picture quality dilemma and I chose the EDTV 42" Panasonic Plasma. I paid $2400 from a local B&M store and I consider it a bargain considering its excellent picture quality, SD tuner, HD tuner, digital cable tuner, cablecard tuner and built-in speakers.

If you can live with a 37" unit, you can save a couple of hundred over the 42" price.

BTW, if you shop hard, you can get a Sanus wall mount for a bit over $100 (I did). I have not sprung for calibration as the PQ is good enough for me out of the box and I don't want to invest another 16% (approx. $400) for calibration when I'm happy enough without it.


TIC- Sounds like you got a pretty good deal, and if space is a premium (it is in my den), then the wall mount plasma is an unbeatable solution. And I used an ED (=480p) CRT TV for a few years before getting the plasma. The key is to have a good input signal. Garbage in = garbage out, especially with a high resolution transducer, like a TV display or speaker
Ok guys I'm beginning to get the picture, pardon the pun. How about this plan, spend the $2500 on the set and wall mounting and save the calibration for later down the road. The thing is space is really at a premium but I figure we might as well max out with a great set now rather than get an interim solution, even if we have to wait to get it calibrated. Also I'm guessing from the responses that a projector is a non-starter?
a front pj will require light control in that room. You can get by with less light control for TV watching that movie viewing, but you still need a little bit of light control. Make sure you girlfriend is willing to accept that. I find this is a showstopper for more non-videonuts, at least as far as regular TV watching is concerned.

I own a DLP front projector. About $1200 for the PJ. $200 for the pulldown Da-lite 92inch screen. $30 for a CATV mount (panavise brand) for ceiling mount. It's not high-def, not most observers think the PQ is as good or better than most plasmas they've seen. Most are quite shocked at the quality I am getting. For my needs this is a better setup than any TV or thin/flat TV. The new fiancee loves the project as she gets to sew some new drapes. She's currently knitting a really big quilt for movie viewing. It's a blast.

Panasonic PT-L500u Hi-def projector - $1500
Da-lITE perma-wall high contrast cinema 120" (68x92") screen - $650 shipped.
Chief mount for the projector - $150
Pipe and flange from Home depot, which connects to the chief mount, and allows you to mount the projector to the ceiling - $20.
200 foot RG59 cable (the same typ of cable you run from the wall to your cable box) from Home Depot $0.11/ft - $22.00

At radio shack, you can get RCA ends ($18 for 6 for the good ones) that crimp on to the RG59 cable. Make three runs from the cable box to the projector and you have an inexpensive component cable.

If you have a craw space or attic and are handy you can install an electrical outlet in the ceiling near the projector mount. If not, then figure about $100 to have an electrician do it.
Panamax single outlet surge supressor for the projector - $30

Total is $2495.40. There will be some sales ($5.40) for the items purchased at the Depot. You will probally have to mail order the rest of the stuff. The important part of doing a projector is light control. If you have a lot of windows you will have to cover them with blackout shades. Also, you will have to address any other openings in the room such as doorways, etc. It really needs to be pitch black in the room to get the best picture. If you can't control the light, or don't want to spend a lot of money on window treatments, then I suggest you go with a 42" plasma. If you shop around, you should be aable to find a plasma with 1024x768 resolution for under $2500. I think Pioneer has a 43" with this resolution for just under $2500. A 42" plasma with 1280x768 resolution with run around $3500; over your budget. Right now, IMO Plasma does better blacks than LCD. But, LCD is closing in. The one thing that you have to be carefull of with plasma is burn in.

Hope this helps,

You are correct, a good input signal is critical. I recently traded my old Scientific Atlanta Digital CATV set top box for a new unit from PACE. The PACE box provides a much better picture for me. SD looks good. I stretch it via "just mode" and I've gotten used to the wide butts now! HDTV broadcast are outstanding and prog. DVD playback is also very good.

Overall, I'm very happy. I would reiterate what Aaron said too. You need light control for a front projector and it also helps for other technologies. For instance, my Panny has a significant issue with glare/reflections. If you can't control the room lighting, you may be annoyed by the room reflections you see on the screen during viewing. BTW, some plasmas are better than others at avoiding glare. It's not an issue for me because I can dim the room lighting to prevent the reflection of the the light source, but it might affect someone that is going to use the unit in a livingroom.