Help me understand TV's (HD, DLP, LCD, LED, Plasma, etc.)

I am looking to get a flatscreen in the range of 35-50 inches as a general statement (currently I have a old 19 inch CRT TV). Teach me in ins and outs of these different technologies. Things like viewing angle, blackness, power use, longevity (and replaceable parts), and price. Also I have (well should be getting) standard cable, without HD, but that is a option that I may latter get.

Thank you

Consumer Reports has a helpful buying guide. There’s also a ton of information over at AVS Forum.

I bought a 50" Panasonic plasma last Friday. In general, the pros to plasma are better color, better viewing angles and little to no motion blur if you’re watching sports. The cons are much greater power consumption and more glare from the screen in a brightly lit room.

I have a friend that bought a 60" DLP and he’s had quite a bit of trouble with it. A friend of his has had a similar experience. When I was at Best Buy, I didn’t see any.

I’m gonna save you some time. Just buy this. You’ll be happy and most important, you won’t have wasted a crapload of time on threads like this and staring at tvs till you go crosseyed (like I did). It’s a TV, fer chrissake. Don’t buy an extended warranty. Stop asking questions. There are way too many answers out there. None of these tvs will give you a blowjob. I already asked.

I bought my parents a 42" Panasonic LCD three years ago and the bulb has had to be replaced twice already-- to the tune of $300. They forked over the money for the first one, but instead of replacing it a second time, they bought a new plasma.

Not sure if the newer sets have this issue, but I would certainly ask before buying.

I’m wondering if pixels are all that important. Can you really tell the difference between 720 and 1080?

Recent thread:

**720p or 1080p?

I find myself consulting this chart a lot too.

If you’ve decided 720p or 1080p and where you’re going to put the couch (i.e. how far away you’re going to sit), you find where the green or red line meets the viewing distance on the left, and the number on the bottom is your ideal screen size.

If you’ve decided your viewing distance and your screen size but not 720 or 1080, you see if that point is closer to the green (720p) or red (1080p) line.

If you’ve decided your screen size AND whether it’s 720p or 1080p, you use the bottom axis and the corresponding red/green line to figure out how far away to put the couch.

You realize this makes you sound like a real dick of a J&R and/or Sony salesman, right?

Do you have any big rooms with large, blank walls? You might consider getting a projector.

I’ve read some posts at AVSforum, and most people with projectors sit 13’ - 14’ away from a 103" to 108" image.

Two of the 1080p projectors are now $1000.

A friend of mine who is building a house is doing this. She was told that the screen selection can make a big difference and to not skimp there.

HD: High-Defenition. Pretty much every TV sold is now HD. You’d have a tough time finding one that’s not.

DLP & LCD Projection: These sets are the ones that sit on a table or floor. Usually about a foot deep. They don’t hang on a wall. The image is actually projected onto the screen from inside the TV. Oldest of the current technologies out there. Pros- Can get a really big screen for a cheap price. Cons- Inferior black levels, viewing angles, moving parts.

LCD vs. Plasma: Both are the common type you see hanging on walls. Thin.
Plasmas use more power and are heavier but have supposedly better black levels.
LCDs have less glare/reflections off the screen.

LED: Actually these are still LCD tvs. They just use LED backlighting. That’s supposed to give better black levels comparable to plasma. It’s the newest technology out there and you’ll pay for it.

Black Level: The better the black level a TV has the better contrast there is. TVs with a poor black level look washed out. Blacks look gray.

Maybe so, but some of what he said isn’t bad advice.

There is so much information available that making a decision becomes a tortured exercise as the buyer ruminates over every little detail.

For most people the best answer is:

  • LCD or Plasma
  • 1080p
  • lots of different kinds of inputs
  • name brand

After this, pick the size you want and go buy one.

Of course, if the buyer is interested in the minutae, awesome. There are tons of resources available and lots of different kinds of options available to the buyer.

As a recommendation to someone who doesn’t know much about TVs I’d second this recommendation. It’s a very good quality set with a decent price. No bells & whistles that you’d be wasting your money on and not a cheap budget brand.
I’d have no hesitation buying that TV without looking further.

Can you tell me something? I have a set I think is pretty close to this only a little bigger, A SONY LCD KFD60WF655. Are these substantially different? The reason I ask is because for the most part I love it, awesome picture, but I’ve had to have a power relay of some kind replaced twice and it’s now on it’s 3rd or 4th bulb and it’s 4 years old. Thank goodness I had an extended warranty. Talking to the warranty people earlier this week (since I just had it fixed again) they said they’d already done $1500 worth of repairs. Add $385 for Tuesday’s new bulb and you have nearly $2000 on a $3500 set, $500 a year just to maintain it.

So if these are the same I can’t recommend it, at least not without an accompanying Extended Warranty.

I did ask the repair supervisor what they recommend, what they don’t get a lot of calls to come fix. She said Samsung LED. It’s what I’ll probably get next.

I’m going to third ethelbert’s advice. If anything, it provides an actual reference point. These discussions have so many variables, no one knows where to begin. Now the OP can weigh some options:

“Oh - I have much more in my budget than that costs.”
So we can either recommend a larger set, or the same size set, but upgrade it to an LED or some other feature.

“I have way more room in my living room than for that”.
Okay - we go for a bigger picture, and increase the budget by $400. Or we switch to a DLP. Or whatever.

Your set is an LCD Projection TV (Vega engine). The set he shows is an LCD flat panel (Bravia engine).
The Sony LCD projection TVs had lots of problems. I still own one (KF50WE610) and it’s a real piece of junk. Problems with the optical block and light engine. It was never designed properly.
The Sony LCD flat panels are a different story. Myself and many family members have them and they’ve been trouble free.

Many thanks for the clarification. Hampshire. I’ll keep those in mind too then.

The TV repair guy (as opposed to the warranty service) did mention that the SONY LEDs were good too, along with the Samsung. He didn’t make a distinction on the LCDs though and I appreciate you doing that.