Wednesday, May 14, 2008

My TV Obsession


I am obsessed with my imminent HDTV purchase. I find myself constantly looking for information on the TV I think I will buy, the new Panasonic 50PZ800U. It's been a long road. I've been thinking about getting an HDTV for over five years, and it has never happened.

But now I'm pretty certain. The big problem is that there were just too many choices. Normally, choice is a good thing. But most people only want the illusion of choice. They really want three or four choices, anything more than that and people face decision paralysis.

So how did I come to the decision on the TV I want to buy? Here was my thought process

DLP, LCD, or Plasma? - I originally was going to buy the 60" Sony SXRD but Sony decided to stop making them, so I started looking around for another solution. So the choice came down to an LCD or Plasma. I could go on, and I think I will in another post, about why I chose Plasma. But in the end I thought it was the best choice for me given the type of watching I do which is mainly sports.

Which brand to Buy? - There are so many to choose from. Vizio, Samsung, Panasonic, and Pioneer to name a few. Pioneer supposedly has amazing TVs in their Kuro line, but they are just too expensive for too small of a difference. Vizio is too low on the other side of the scale. So it comes down to Samsung or Panasonic. Panasonic is a little bit better reputation wise, but the Samsung Plasmas, PN50A550 and PN50A650, look to be strong competition. I may eventually swing over to the Samsung side before I buy.

How Much to Spend? - I'll be honest, this wasn't that important. I just wanted the best TV for the best value. I wanted something I would be happy with for ten years. Whatever price point that was was going to be how much I spent.

Which Model to Buy ? - A couple of problems here. Panasonic was coming out with new 2008 models as I was making my decision. Did I wait or buy the older models which were going on sale. In the end, I decided to wait. Might as well get the latest and greatest technology considering my criteria for keeping it for ten years. Next, I had to choose between the 85 model and the 800. I'm still out on this one. The 800 supposedly is a better picture, better sound, but I'm not so sure it is worth the extra $500. I've been waiting to see, but haven't been able to find one yet.

So I find myself constantly looking for information about this set and trying to find places which have a good deal. In the end, I'm sure it won't make that much of a difference, but just given my personality, I just want to make sure I'm very happy with my choice.

How about you? Do you have an HDTV? If so what type and you happy with it? Any advice for a first time buyer?


  1. I hear that plasmas of today have solved a lot of problems of plasmas of old, so, going with a plasma tv is probably fine, though I think that the response time of LCD tvs is low enough that you could consider an LCD tv for watching sports, though YMMV.

    As far as waiting, if you want to wait a little bit more*, you could try to get an oled tv, which should be way better than both a plasma and lcd tv. Currently, there's only one on the market: an 11" Sony for about 2500 (what a steal!). I think they'll have the production size problem fixed by the end of this year, so larger TVs should be on the way soon. If you haven't read up on these tvs, you should take a look.

    As far as which of those TVs to get, I really don't know. I know a lot of people get panasonic, and seem to be statisfied. Samsung is a really strong LCD brand, and I think that carries over into their plasmas as well. It might help to take a look at if you haven't already.

    I wouldn't necessarily care too much about sound quality from the TV, as any receiver and speaker system will blow away tv speakers (and you can find whole packages for not too much either). Also, you should note that tv comes in at 720p or 1080i, so if you're only watching TV, you should make sure that those particular resolutions look good (but they almost certainly will, and I'd recommend getting a 1080p tv anyway). Other than that, the only advice I have is to not overpay anything.

  2. sweet, I messed up my hyperlink.

    avs forum is what I was trying to link.

  3. Some other random stuff to think about. (I just bought a 46 Samsung LCD)

    - No matter what TV you get, make sure you spend time calibrating the colors and display. Avia makes a pretty simple DVD to go through and balance things out. The "Vivid" setting on most tv's are simply designed to look good in the TV show rooms and be really bright so they stand out. It's actually a really horrible representation of the colors. I find this makes a much bigger difference than the quality differences between sets. ($30 for the DVD and 20 minutes can = several hundred bucks on a more expensive TV... not a bad investment)

    - Many TVs have some complex post processing and motion smoothing functions. Sometimes these things can make your picture look amazing, other times, it can really ruin things and add lots of grain and artifacts. Worth spending some time learning about your particular tv's functions and how they perform (and more importantly when they fail)

    - If you like watching movies, you should also invest in a surround sound system. They're relatively cheap these days compared to systems of old.

    - If you ever want to set up a Media Center PC, then you might want to consider LCD tvs. While I personally have never owned a Plasma, as part of my research I heard many people say their plasma TV's didn't do a good job of accepting the computer input. (I would be shocked if newer video cards and newer TVs haven't fixed this)

    - Weight - Plasma TVs are significantly heavier. If you plan to move often, hang the tv on the wall yourself, etc. this might be a concern.

  4. Thanks for the comments guys.

    So yeah, I considered LCD. But in almost all the LCDs I've seen, I haven't liked the picture nearly as much as I like the plasmas. They are certainly brighter than the plasmas, which look good on the floor, but I've not liked motion on almost any of the LCDs. Some of the LCDs are getting better, that's certainly true, but I still think Plasma wins here. Since I will be watching Sports for the most part, I've decided to go Plasma.

    I know I could wait for OLED, but I'm not a cutting edge type person. It's taken me this long to buy my first HDTV :) I really don't feel like waiting another year before I can get the TV i want. If OLED is as good as people say it is, I'll buy another TV much faster than it has taken me to replace my current one (12 years)

    I know sound shouldn't be the most important thing, but for the time being it is what I'm going to have. I was planning on getting a sound system, but have decided to put off that purchase for now. I've been spending a lot of money lately, with a lot more purchases to come soon. Had to draw the line somewhere.

  5. I read that site a lot. It's definitely part of my obsession :)

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