Need help making TV decision

I'm looking to replace my ancient Proton 27" CRT with something new. I've poked around AVS forum and CNET but still feel confused and underinformed. Would welcome advice here and pointers to other sources of information.

Here's our situation:

-- Can accomodate up to 40"-42" wide display
-- Use Comcast digital cable box through TiVo box as main source; also DVD
-- TV (not DVD) probably 80% of viewing
-- Viewing distance is about 8 feet
-- Can accomodate the depth of a CRT or rear projection, but a flat panel would be just fine (will sit atop 40" AV cart)
-- Don't need built-in audio as I route audio signals through an AV receiver
-- Price not too much of an issue

So....LCD, Plasma, DLP or CRT? HD or ED? One of my main fears is that I will get a set that kills on DVD or HD but leaves me unhappy when I watch an old movie or a Seinfeld rerun or any non-HD TV program. There's also the issue of our addiction to TiVo and the absence of an HD TiVo box for digital cable (as far as I know).

Thanks for any guidance you can provide.
After watching HDTV any source that is upscaled seems to pale to True HDTV Source material.

The new Sony SXRD is by far the best black level from any set I have ever seen. I dont like dlp as I can see the Rainbow effect. 1080P is the top right now.

But you dont mention how much that you want to invest. The sony qualia line is unbelieveable but VERY expensive.
CRT still provides the best picture. Samsung has a "slim fit" CRT set(TX-R3079WH) that is about a third shallower than traditional CRT sets. The downside is its 30" size. Other manufacturers, like LG for instance, are also working on slim CRT sets.

Improved versions of Plasma sets are around the corner.

I own a 10 year old Sony XRB flat screen CRT, and while the new 16:9 flat screens are sexy, their weaknesses, and the evolving technology is keeping me on the sidelines for the moment.

Popular Science is a good resource for TV technology that's on the horizon. I've read two or three articles in the past year.

Have fun!
Thanks. We want bigger than 30" (40"=42" would be ideal I think). Isn't 36" about as big as you can get in a CRT?

As far as price goes, I'd like to keep it under $3.5K, but there might be some wiggle room.

> After watching HDTV any source that is upscaled seems to pale to True HDTV Source material.

What's the implication of this? Does one give up watching non-HD programming?
40"- 42" = LCD or Plasma today. I suppose the subtext of my post was that there are new sets/technologies on the horizon that will address the flaws in current flat panel displays. Of course, if your time horizon is limited, then you pick from what's available.

Personally, if I was buying a TV today, I'd buy a good CRT at the present low prices and wait for the dust to settle on flat panel technology.
May I suggest the Sony 36" CRT KD-36XS955, a steal for $1500. Yeah, it's not hang - on - the - wall sexy and it weighs well over 200 pounds, but the picture (especially after an ISF calibration) is fantastic. The Sony does blacks that LCD and plasma sets can only dream about. In widescreen mode for DVD or HD the image is 33" diagonal, and for SD it's a huge 36". The set has a tuner (and an HDTV tuner) and a whopping 7 video inputs including HDMI, component, composite, and S - video. It handles 480i, 480p, 720p, and 1080i signals. Yes, HD images are clearly superior to SD, but a calibrated SD picture looks pretty good on the Sony. We still watch a lot of SD programming so that was a requirement when I went shopping for a new TV. I looked at plasma sets but SD programming on a 42" Pioneer or Panasonic plasma just looked awful.
Interesting! I have also heard some people say goood things about SD on plasma sets. It may depend on the source (sat or cable) and the set (this was Fujitsu).
If your primary source is digital signal, stay with micro display technology (LCD, DLP, LCOS, SXRD) or plasma/LCD. Using HDMI/DVI to transfer reduces the number of conversions and produce better pictures, though not significant with 42" display.

I own both plasma & LCD rear projection (Sony GWIV). For the same reason as Dlstephenson, I did not go for DLP. What bothers me more about LCD is SSE, not SDE. I recently saw Sony SXRD in store and it still exhibits some SSE, but absolutely no SDE. All of the rear projections fall short in color saturation when compares to plasma. Given your screen size requirement, I think it's a no brainer, plasma rules when it comes to color.
November 2005 issue of Sound & Vision is the "HDTV Special", FWIW.
Drubin,I have spent countless hours looking for the same type of display.After many months of demoing 42" plasmas I found the Fujitsu to be the best bang for the buck.Color,contrast,black level,etc it was all there.Do not bother looking at the ED version, the HD version is the way to go! The only downside to this display is the price $5000 retail.
I have a question for you Videophiles. What plasma's don't pixelate, for a lack of better term, with a HD feed when there are fast moving scenes? Pretty much all of the plasmas that I have looked at in the past do this. When the picture slow or still it is incredible. Thanks in advance for your answers.
Semi and Dynnut, would you pick plasma over a 36" HD CRT assuming you had space for a CRT?
Sony makes a 40" CRT but it weighs a ton.

Although a good concept, the 30" Samsung Slim-Fit TV has horrible geometry issues that I don't think can be corrected. I really wanted to buy that set, but after viewing 10-15 sets in different stores, it became apparent that the set is "not ready for prime time".


For me the choice was simple: My Plasma got me nearly 2 extra feet further back from my set which optimized the viewing distance at about 7 1/2" feet for a 42" Plasma. The 36" CTR that it replaced was only about 5 1/2 or 6 feet viewing distance, which was too close for my taste. The 42" Plasma is mounted on the wall and I gained viewing distance and space in the room by removing the 25" deep CRT.

Also, I don't think any 36" CRTs are 16X9. I think you have to go with a 34" CRT for the 16X9 aspect ratio. So, when you watch in widescreen, your picture is pretty small when compared to a 42" Plasma.

Lastly, I have Time Warner Cable and I have their HD STB with built in DVR. The DVR is high-def and I love it!


Reubent, I have subsequently read some reviews that corroborate your opinion. Too bad.
In response to plasma displays, there is one very real problem and that is plasma displays wear out! The average life of the display is rated at 7 years. There is no bulb to change, it becomes a throw away product. True, blacks are black, and the colors are breath taking but on a rear projection or LCD tv there are "bulbs" that you can replace when they become dim. Not so on the plasmas. If you have alot of cash to spend every so may years and want to hang it on the wall PLASMA is the way to go.
If you were willing to move over to DirectTV satellite, the DirectTV HR 10-250 is an outstanding HDTV/TiVo receiver. SD at 480p looks fine on my Sony 36 XBR as does HD at 1080i. Although I don't think it's a great program, we are hooked on CSI: Miami just because the pan shots are so magnificant; the 5.1 sound is pretty effective as well.

I'm going through the same decision process myself. I want a larger screen that's more in keeping with the soundstage my audio system projects, and I want to eliminate mass between the speakers to enhance soundstage depth for stereo. Front projection is a partial answer, but not practical for general viewing, so I think a screen that pulls down in front of a wall-hanging plasma or LCD TV is the way I'll go. Pretty sure I want a 96" 16 X 9 Stewart Firehawk screen, but unsure about projector and plasma or LDC.


I will take plasma over CRT any day. CRT makes beautiful pictures, but I can't stand the size and weight.

It's true plasma will wear out. But life expectancy is defined at 50% brightness level, not 0%. Given many plasma are rating their panels at 80000 hours, you can do the math based on your viewing preference. You can further prolong its life by lowering its default brightness and improve pictures at the same time.

It's NOT true rear projection unit don't wear out. Sony tech is coming in tomorrow to replace my light engine since it has "grown" from 2 to 10 dead pixel in one year. I work in semiconductor and DLP are known to have "fatigue" and will eventually have dead pixels as well in addition to the bearing failure on the color wheel that Samsung is known to have.

No technology is perfect including the trust worthy CRT. But at $300 a year average for a plasma using 10 year life span I still think it's a good investment. For rear projection, if you factor in the cost of bulb at $200 every 2 years and 20 years of life span, I don't think you will come out that far ahead.
The new 40" Sony Bravia XBR LCD is quite impressive. Can be had for $3k.
The best plasma I have ever seen is a B&O beovision, it looked phenomenal on DVD and HDTV. This will test your version of price not really mattering. I think it is like $10K for the 42" model.

As for pixelization, I think this is a function of the broadcast. My TV will not do it on most channels with fast action NFL football, etc, but others will be bad, especially NBC.
Get a 40"+ Plasma. The prices are right now and the pictures are great. You'll be happy. Nothing against the DLP (I have a 60" Sony SXRD) or LCD (3 around the house from 15"-35") but the right plasma will give you the best blacks outside of a CRT with the best veiwing angles and I've never had a plasma pixelate on moving images unlike a LCD. I have 2 plasma, a 50" Pioneer Elite Pro 1110HD 2 years old and a Marantz PD4280U which is 5-6 years old. TV's aren't like our Dad's none of them will last 15 years and the technology will change in 3 years anyway. You can wait on the sidelines and keep looking down the pipeline but I'm not sure what that gains you and at what cost/price difference.
In the 40" plus plasma space, there is a commercial version (no tuner, no audio) of the Panasonic 42" for around $2400. Somewhat limited input options. Also a Pioneer for about $1K more. Any opinions on these? Fujitsus are supposed to be great but are much pricier. Hope to spend less than $3500.
I recommend the Panasonic TH-42PD50U 42" Diagonal Viera Plasma EDTV - it will give you best viewing on regular non-HDTV and DVDs/Tivo....and it still does a fair job of down scaling HD source. It has an HDMI input aswell, which may become standard in the future....

Colour and contrast is impressive and signifcantly better than other TV's, LCD or Plasma or rear projection, in that price value I have wonder it is one of the most popular TV's last year and this year.

Currently available full HDTV Plasma/LCDs with all the pixels necessary to display full 1080 HD signal are very expensive and any scaling of source pixels to screen pixels (up or down) is best avoided and, worse, some HD sources are 720p as well as 1080 to complicate it all further for screens with fixed pixels. If you want best quality for all sources then the 5 year old CRT Sony 36XBR400, which was top of the line at the time, still does a great job without scaling problems but it is a heavy beast and will not like speaker magnets getting to close - but you might be able to find one second hand at a good price...
EDTV will give me better viewing on non-HD sources and TiVo than HDTV? (Perhaps I should ask, will HDTV give me worse viewing than EDTV on these sources?)

The Panasonic TH-42PHD7UY is the "commercial" 42" and is HD I believe. But it does not have HDMI. Am I correct that I really want a digital input of some kind for DVD at least, even if my cable box doesn't support it? All these years in high-end audio have me concerned with proper interfaces and minimizing conversions.
EDTV will give me better viewing on non-HD sources and TiVo than HDTV? (Perhaps I should ask, will HDTV give me worse viewing than EDTV on these sources?)

Yes the Pansonic EDTV pixel format fits the DVD/TV format optimally and it does a farily good job of down scaling HDTV sources. I saw both EDTV and HDTV Panasonic models side by side working off an HDTV source and I would say that the scaled down HDTV signal on the Pansonic EDTV was good as a DVD and comparable to the full HDTV on the more expensive Panasonic model, but of course not as high definition as HDTV, noticable pixels and graininess up very close.

Apparently scaling up is tough as data has to be "created" and lines become blurred (some HDTV's with fixed pixels have better algoithms than others for up scaling - so it is worth comparing if you definitely want HDTV but watch a lot of regular TV or DVD's)

...scaling down is quite a bit easier for the TV's algorithm and a nice clear image can usually be retained when it is scaled down (making less data from more data).

As for HDMI - I am told that in future some pay per view cable/satellite services may only come in HDMI format so as to limit piracy...if true, then it would be annoying not to have an HDMI input if you end up using those services.
Thank you!
Just watch: LCD prices will come down further as Samsung has begun production at its 6G fab.
After reading your thread carefully- I would offer that a commercial Panasonic Plasma 42 inch EDTV display may best fit your needs. It will be tops for standard DVDs, do HD TV well, and give you s decnt reult for Seinfeld etc you mention ( Standard Def programming). It MAY have a cble card slot as well ( you have to check this- I can t remember). One place to look is MAny other vendors. Commercial displays do not come with speakers ( but you could connect them direct if need be) and do not include a stand unless you want one-( stand or wall mount is an option). The price of a 42 inch plasma commercial- is way less than an LCD with a preferable contrast ratio-
Thanks Rysa4. If I purchase something like the Panasonic through an online retailer, should I pay for installation, or is there not much to it?

It has one open slot, so I could put a cable card in it (except then what happens to TiVo?) or add a second component video or a DVI or HDMI. TiVo outputs component as does my current DVD player. Would I want an HD STB with an EDTV? (questions, questions....)

Absolutely get an HD STB with the EDTV Panny. I have the consumer version of the EDTV Panny Plasma and I love it. It looks incredible when fed an HD signal from my Time Warner HD Digital cable box/DVR.

I'm not sure there is a Cable Card available for one of the slots in the commercial version, but you won't want to use CableCard anyway if you already have an HD STB. It would be redundant.


My thought about the cable card was to use it in lieu of the STB, not in addition to.

Does the consumer version have more than one set of component video inputs? I would need two at least (TiVo and DVD), and it appears that the commercial version has just one, so I would need to purchase the additional card. If the STB has DVI or HDMI (not sure if they do), then it would be good to also have that input and be able to take a direct feed from the STB for best quality when I can watch live (sans TiVo).
Does the commercial version of the Panny 42 plasma include audio? I use a separate HDTV/TiVo tuner, so I don't need an internal tuner, but I rarely feel the need to fire up my audio system for watching TV programs, so internal audio from the HDMI feed of the HDTV/TiVo tuner would be a big plus.


I have the previous version of the Consumer Panny EDTV (TH-42PD25). It has 2 sets of Component video connections, plus HDMI, plus the cablecard slot.

I like using a STB because I have the combo HD STB w/DVR and I really like it. It records HD programming in HD resolution which my TiVo could not. If I didn't need PVR, I would probably use CableCard and save some shelf space and money!


The commecial Panny does not include speakers, but I think it does support external speakes via a built-in audio amplifier and speaker outputs. My guess is that an HDMI connection would send audio to this output and you would just need a couple of speakers.

The consumer version has speakers and a built-in HDMI connection, so it might be a better choice, especially since it is selling for around $1799 at many retailers. Since you would not need to buy speaker (and figure out where/how to install them), a tabletop stand or an HDMI blade, it might be more cost effective and offer a better solution.


Are the displays themselves (and the PQ) identical? Someone around here said or implied that the commercial versions are superior.
From what I've read on AVS forum, I think they are the same. I'm no expert, so if you need a true video geeks opinion, ask over at AVS forum under the display forum.


Picked up a 60" Sony XBR / SRXD. We're extremely happy with it. After comparing to lots of plasmas, LCDs and DLPs, we thought this had the best picture short of some much more expensive plasmas.

Have been watching it for about a week now and haven't identified any shortcomings. Picture is sharp, colors are vivid, no artifacts or pixelation during rapid movement, and there's a nice 3-dimnesionality to the image (not something I've ever experienced before in a tv.

So far, highly recommended.
I agree with the above post. If you have the space, the new 50" or 60" Sony SXRD models are better than any of the LCD,DLP or ED plasma sets that I've seen. Newer HD plasma sets are coming out which should have improved specs. The pioneer elite pro and Hitachi director series should be looked at in the 42"-43" plasma sizes. JVC also makes nice sets (D-ILA & plasmas)which seem to be mentioned less often in the forums.
We ended up getting an Hitachi 42HDS52 plasma. This cost about $300 more than the consumer Panasonic 42" but is an exceptionally attractive unit, has two HDMI inputs and is getting great buzz over at AVS forum and other sites. I can't say whether or not it suffers from any of the problems identified for some of the Panasonic models, but it sure looks like a great buy. It hasn't been delivered yet, so we'll see how things work out, but I feel good about the decision.

Just ordered an Oppo Digital DVD player to replace my aging Onkyo. The idea was to get the benefits of progressive scan, upscaling, and digital video out to the TV (DVI-HDMI). It is absolutely amazing to me what your money buys in digital gear these days. This player cost $200 (!!), uses the Faroudja DCDi, and seems to do just about everything you could want processing-wise. I should be able to stay purely in the digital domain for audio and video from both DVD and STB/DVR for as long as possible (my AV receiver, which handles the audio, is a digital device also). I think this is a key to getting great results from all sources. I'm pretty excited, as you may be able to tell.

Thanks to everyone for their advice and recommendations.