Too many HDTV Choices !

Bruce L

Active Member
I've finally finished an extensive basement remodel. I have a large area for the TV, 15 x 15. I've been waiting to get a large screen HDTV until this area was done. The problem is there are so many HDTV choices it is confusing. I'm not looking for video-phile top end equipment but I would like decent quality that will be have continued support for many years.

Until the last year or two I was considering one of the rear projection units. The basement is easily darkened so a dimmer picture is not a problem. But now with DLP, LCD, Plasma, Projector etc the choices are difficult. My budget is in the $2000 range but could go upto $3000 for the right set.

I checked out the AVS forum and there is just so much info to wade through.
I know this maybe like asking "Whats your favorite beer" but does anyone have any good suggestions ?
Look for a TV which supports at least 720p, and 1080i, it eliminates many of the consumer models (When I was about to pick mine, I asked the Sears clerk to change their video signal to 720p, and only 2 out of the 20 or so big screens were still displaying a signal). If possible, try to find one which has a DVI input (or HDMI, same thing as DVI but with DRM) in case you ever want to hook up a PC, and the more component inputs, the better. For $2000-$3000 you can get a very nice TV, heck, if you have a dedicated theater room, I would recommend one of the top of the line HDTV projectors, you get a much bigger picture. Keep in mind that these are all my opinions based on experience and research, it doesn't mean I am right ;)
I'd like to second E's recommendation of using a projector. If I had the space (and money) I'd do it in a heart beat. Get a picture as big as a wall? Heck yeah!

Otherwise you might be interested in looking at the new LCoS style TVs. There's only a few manufacturers using it but they're worth checking out. In my opinion it looks better than DLP and the cabinent isn't as deep as an RPTV.

What you may want to do is go to a local high end video shop near you and see what they've got and what looks good to you. One thing I hate about Best Buy, Circuit City and the like is that they use 1 signal split between 30+ TVs. Not the best way to rate the picture.
There are more HDTV gear choices than there are HDTV channels! hehe

Re: projectors - be concerned about bulb life and replacement costs. If the projector has to be mounted in a place where it will receive lots of vibration (such as under a floor joist in the basement ceiling), bulb life will be shortened considerably. You may not want a projector. Also, get a system that has an auto-cool-down cycle, if possible. I'd even go so far as to look into power protection for it.

IMO, though, I'd prefer a projector for larger screen real estate. The screen will make a difference, too. There are new gray or dark screens that apparently are very good at increasing contrast on projector images without significant reduction in reflected light. Be sure to see the image quality and brightness of the actual model and components you will be buying, if you can.
If you get lucky like TreeTop, you can buy a bulb replacement warranty from CircuitCity, they will cover the bulb for a long time.

One thing I forgot to mention, you might want to consider looking at TV sets which support CableCard if you are interested in getting rid of your set top box someday (keep in mind that interactive channels such as Video On Demand etc. aren't supported).
If this room is for Movies and Superbowl, and not daily TV, think front projector. Otherwise rear projection probaby has best price point with a LCD and Plasma having a better quality picture, but smaller screen per dollar. If this is for a TV room, I would probably go with a higher end LCD or a good sale on a Plasma for a 15x15 room. The rear projector will take some of your room and you still need to get away from the screen for best viewing experience.
I too prefer front firing projectors for use in Home Theater rooms.
Especially when it is in a low light environment (as I assume is the case in your basement). No tuner though, but I suppose you'll be using a set top box.

I do agree with huggy59's comments and would recommend shelf mounting, rather than ceiling mounting, if you do choose this route. Only my personal preference though.

Otherwise, RPTVs good value for screen size, but I personally don't like the picture quality much, even in the high end DLPs (again only my opinion, I'm sure many would disagree and I am very picky when it comes to picture quality). I haven't ever seen an LCoS one though, so can't form a judgement on those, but I'm sure that as Micah mentioned they would look much better than other RPTVs.

LCD vs Plasma:
Advantages of plasma, better viewing angle and slightly cheaper on large sizes.
Advantages of LCDs, better quality IMO (no lines) and NO BURN-IN (big bonus).

CRTs remain the best when it comes to color reproduction (and they are the cheapest), but obviously take up a lot of space when it comes to large screen sizes and even with PFs tend to distort the picture slightly (sometimes more than slightly).

If you go front projector, make sure you get a good contrast ratio and brightness. I have recommended on several occasions the SANYO PLV-Z2 as I have been extremely satisfied with it for the price (got it for my parents). Electron posted an article about the PLV-Z3 which recently came out which I am seriously considering getting for myself once I'm settled.

LCDs: about a year ago, SHARP were the best, haven't been keeping up of late though.