A Quality HDTV for Less Than $1,000
It's possible to get a nice 30"+ HDTV, components, cables and even a couple of cosmetic additions for less than a grand. You just need to know what to look for and where to find it.
It's possible to get a nice 30"+ HDTV, components, cables and even a couple of cosmetic additions for less than a grand. You just need to know what to look for and where to find it.
Good Article, But even at 20$ for 6' your HDMI cable is still expensive compared to what these guys are offering:http://www.mycablemart.com/. I've bought 2 cables from them so far and even including shipping to canada, they come in at about 20$ shipped for a 10' cable, so for anyone living south of me, it's even better.
Also the way I see things, as of right now one of the best option on any HDTV set i can think of is PC connectivity, since this can let you use your TV as a monitor, extending it's life cycle further, even after you upgraded to a new set 5-6 years in the run.
Good article, but I'd like to know a bit more.
Such as, at 32", what is the difference between 720 and 1080? Most people say that for television purposes it's hard to tell the difference.
BUT, a lot of people are now using these (specifically the 32" models) as monitors (which is why a lot of them also have DVI inputs). Sharp even has a 1080P 32" model specifically for gaming (LC-32GP1U model). How is 720 on a 32" monitor? Is the text fuzzy in word processors?
Also, you only listed 3 models - one of which is from HP who isn't exactly known for their HDTVs (they only make 6 models of LCD tvs, 2 models of Plasma, so their WHOLE HDTV line consists of 8 models...) and the other two from Westinghouse (which isn't exactly top tier) and Toshiba.
I'd like to see a comparison between these budget 32" tvs and the more popular 32" tvs like Samsung's LN-T3253H (which seems to be consistently reviewed as the BEST 720P 32" LCD model and as of today (8/1/07) can be bought for $918.07 (with Free Shipping) from Amazon - which technically makes it a sub-$1000 tv now) as well as models like Sharp's LC-32D43U and LC-32GP1U, and maybe a more mainstream budget model like the Vizio VX32L.
Specifically, how do they perform in gaming and as PC monitors, as well as the typical stuff (i.e. SD performance, movie performance, etc.)
I have a question...Quote:Projection sets are only available for really big TV sets.
What do you make of this:
For those of us who have entertainment centers made for 32" CRTs, shouldn't this be a viable option? I've not seen a rear-projection LCD as of yet, but from what I've read the picture quality is nothing to sneeze at. The only downside seems to be start-up time... granted you'll have to change the bulbs every so often, but that's a minor annoyance.
Sorry, but much of this article is flat out wrong. Please do your research before writing an article. Projection TV sets are amoung the best TVs on the market. DLP sets can be very inexpensive and offer excelent picture quality. The artifacts you speak of and didn't name because you probably don't know what it is is called is the rainbow effect. Very very few people can see it. When you buy your set, ask to see a dark image with white text and move your eyes around the screen. If you don't see it then you are amoung the 99% who can't see it. Lcos TV sets from Sony are just about the best TVs you can buy and they are rear projection. New digital projection sets can weigh less than comparable plasma displays. There are some rear projection sets to aviod but they really don't sell them anymore. Rear projection analog CRT TVs are not good anymore. These TVs always have a maximum resolution of 1080i and are very heavy (600 lbs for my parents 65") and are difficult to maintain. We replaced it with a 70" Sony XBR2 rear projection Lcos display and are amazed at the quality.
So, this brings me to your other major failure in the article. You did not describe resolution properly. Yes 1080i is an interlaced picture. No, your digital TV does not display one even frame and then one odd frame. That is what the old analog TVs I just described do. You got that mixed up. Your new digital TV (LCD, Plasma, DLP, Lcos) can only display a progressive frame (720p, or 1080p) so the electronics in the TV converts the 1080i picture to a 720p or 1080p picture using a process called deinterlacing. The quality of your electronics determines how good the 1080i signal is display on your progressive screen. This is why manufactures can charge more for higher end displays that end up using the same screen. The electronics in the higher end TVs is better and results in a better picture for interlaced material. Progressive scan material is easy to display and the electronics are not as involved so you will see a more consistent image across different displays. about half of US HDTV is 1080i while the other half is 720p.
Anyways, very disappointed again to see your online magazine get basic priciples wrong and mislead the public even more.
Edit: One more thing though. I want to commend you on your choice between plasma and LCD, and you also recomend some pretty decent TVs. Plasma can look great but the cost and size are not right for this article. Also, he didn't say this, but don't get sucked into a 1080p display. Unless you buy a very big TV and sit close(50" at 8ft) or you buy a small TV and sit very very close (32" at 4 feet), you can't tell the difference. If you are really interested there is a diagram that shows the recomended viewing distances and resolutions for TVs. I can't find it now for some reason.
The biggest applause goes to your cable recomendation. I build prototype Satelites for Lockheed Martin, and I can say that digital is digital. A cheap digital cable meets exactly the same specs as the expensive cables and gives you a picuture that is 100% as good as a $150 cable. Thats right no difference at all. There can be differences in build quality that might make your cable not work with your TV (very rare, never seen it), but you will not see subtle differences between cables, you will see a black screen or a blocky mess. That is the only indication a cable is not working right. Digital signals transmit 100% of the quality no matter the cable quality. One cable will not look different than another cable unless one is totally busted. Analog cables? Well that is another matter and is where all this cable mess got started. Analog cables CAN change the signal slightly, especially if they don't meet the specs (75 ohms for component cables) but a decent cable from radio shack will work very very very close to a expensive cable and 99.99% of people cannot tell the difference and those that can are making it up.
I totally agree with autoboy. This article really down graded the standard of Tom's hardware and their related publishings.
I come visiting and viewing because of the high quality and accurate technical information. Now, I am really disappointed, by this article and another article that the title does not match the content really well (about future interconnects?).
Thanks, autoboy, for pointing out the errors in this article. Unfortunately, Tom's quality in the TV/Home Entertainment arena has mostly been lacking - IMHO. As I see it, it is unfortunate that they publish articles in this arena. The person who is going to lose big time is the person knows little to nothing about home theater, but trusts Tom's because of the quality of the articles elsewhere on the site. IMHO, Tom's should significantly ramp up the quality of their home theater articles or get out if this arena since the majority of their home theater geeks really don't know home theater.
I also disagree with this article's conclusion that you should ignore 1080p at this time and buy something else. I hate to state the obvious, however, what this means is that if you want 1080p and buy a 1080i or 720p set at this time, you will spend more money in the future when you buy your 1080p set because you bought 1080i now. If you push slightly higher in cost, ($1,500 US) Sony has a 1080p 46" rear-projection set that has what looks like a fine picture, although, I did not get a chance to view the set in a critical manner. So, for spending $1,000 or less now for a 1080i set, you might just spend $1,000 or more later for that 1080p set when it is possible to spend $1,500 now for a decent 1080p set.
The general statement that there is little 1080p content out there is very misleading, IMHO. IF Blu-ray is your format of choice, all content is 1080p by default.
Agree with Autoboy et. al. I spent a ridiculous amount of time in 4+ AV stores (from Best Buy to a high end custom place) looking at sets before the cost/benefit analysis prompted me to get a Samsung 1080P DLP. I have yet to meet someone who sees rainbows and the liklihood got even less on the newer high speed color wheels. Response time problems? I have an xbox 360 and PS3 hooked up and my place became the preferred locale for gaming amongst my friends, I've never had lag or artifacting issues.
The only issue I've had is one roommate who complained about jagged pixels occasionally - until we realized it was because she was complaining on how bad some Standard Def (SD) signals were. Yes, a good HD set will accentuate bad quality signals and make them look even worse, but that will be aproblem with most HD sets. She got used to it and it isn't an issue anymore - we stick to HD channels when we can anyway.
I had a few people coming to the stores with me for opinions and frankly most of them preferred the DLPs over anything other than the really upscale sets like Pioneer Elite Plasmas or some of the LCDs that were 2x as expensive as the set I got. We even dragged a customer service rep tv to tv with a HD-DVD player and set the sets to non-showroom settings to make sure we were doing apples to apples (same source to same source) comparisons.
1080P was a no brainer for us - if you have a next gen game console (other than a Wii) it would be foolish not to.
I have the first model 37" westinghouse.
now i'm not big into Audio and video products. i don't need to have my amplifier made with vaccuum tubes from the 1940s(or from russia).
I play games on it in 1920x1080 with my 8800gts and it looks increadable. well good enough for me.
I have a 1080p 24 inch monitor hooked to my vcr with digital tuner allowing me to view hd content the price well under 1000 dollars the picture is razor sharp ,clear and vibrant colors.
LG- L246wp i also put my ps3 on it when playing blu-ray movies in 1080p the picture quality is amazing the monitor has 2 setting one for computer other for video.
I also have Eureka Lx-350hd multimedia player outputs at 1080p i drop all my dvd's to this box and keep the real media for backup which is legal here in canada, that way i don't have to look through my dvd collection at the end of the day.
Buying a 1080p plasma or lcd tv would be waaay beyond the price range the monitor cost me 500 bucks the vcr 250 bucks i could never get a 1080p at that price.
This monitor has hdmi and component inputs PiP very rare for a computer monitor but the quality for the price is amazing.
I have to support the consensus here that 1080p is the idiot-proof solution. Computer connectivity is a very important point that the article missed - PC gaming and HTPC applications run at their best at 1920x1080 resolution. Most video cards come with component hdtv cables for direct connection, or let you select 1080p output through DVI.
As for price, Westinghouse recently had a great 37" model with DVI and 1080p for under $1000. I wish I had it. Sadly this model is now discontinued, but you can still get the 42" version for $1300 and the 47" for $100 more. It won't have a hdtv tuner built in, but with a HTPC or cable box connected you don't need that either.
Likewise, if you've already started your blu-ray "rip-fest" , 1080p is THE way to go.
I bougth the Westinghouse 32" model some months ago. It's size goes well in my smaller living room. I prefer to keep it on a tv stand since in the smaller room, the seating can cause sharp angles to the viewing and the stand allows me twist the set as many degrees as I like when just one area of the room has watchers...
I bought the set and haven't looked back. I paid $699 (+ tax) and have been impressed and elated at the picture quality. Initially watching only local broadcast HDTV then adding DirecTV's HD package, the HD movies and channels are spectacular. The HD Television, XBox 360 look great. When attaching my laptop for monitor use and movie viewing, I cannot complain. It's spectacular. I would certainly recommend this set to anyone looking for an entry to HD.
My 50" RCA DLP weighs all of 85 pounds... less than half of my old 36" glass tube TV. It's easy to move around. I've never had any problem with the image, and I don't have to worry about burn-in.
The old CRT projection HDTVs were boxy and heavy, but the latest DLPs aren't like that. They're lighter and thinner.
This was a stupid, stupid article. This reminds me of the book report I wrote on "Clifford and the Big Red House" when I was 6. DO SOME RESEARCH... PLEASE
1080p definitely looks better than 720p... why don't you LOOK AT ONE FIRST. I have a 46" 720p and a 37" 1080p and at any distance, the 1080 is better and crisper watching a Blu/HDDVD
The article is extremely poorly researched (as autoboy et al have pointed out) and poorly written (this thought is my contribution. But seriously, it reads like a high-school essay).
We can spend all day debating DLP and rainbows - I do see them, for one, and I also think that DLP does inadequate job with fast-moving scenes, but I am picky (I am also partial to the SXRD or LCoS; but then Sony's tech appears superior. And I know it's the same, it's just branding). Also, to me the whole point that you want to avoid expensive sets is extremely untrue. Heck, it is well documented that, for example, Sony's XBR sets use much better electronics than the regular sets. There is a reason they are more expensive. And also, ALL sets that are shown in the store (or come from the factory in general if you choose to buy online) are not set up properly. And more expensive sets are definitely WAY better once calibrated. I do understand that this article is above affordable TVs, but don't mislead the reader saying that most expensive sets are way overpriced. Not so.
Another point the article misses - often it is worth the premium to buy in the store to get the favorable return policy. Not all sets are made equal, and good luck returning your brand new big screen to an e-tailer should you find a fault and absorbing the cost. Here go your cost savings.
Cables - good point. People that buy the overpriced crap that is Monster make me laugh (and most people who care, for that matter).
I don't agree that 1080p is a better choice than 720p. I have a 40" Sony 1080p display in my bedroom. I sit 12 feet away, and I cannot tell the difference between 720p from my HTPC, and 1080p on HD content. I wish I had saved some $. My 56" Samsung DLP is 56" and I sit 10 feet from it. Yes I could benefit from 1080p. Still my picture looks great. You have to keep in mind that I was writing my comments for HD newbies who want a cheap display. If you are a videophile, or even know what that term means, then you should probably be looking for 1080p displays, unless they are below 32 inches. I appologize for confusing people.
If you are gaming on the display then yes, 1080p displays are probably better because you probably sit closer to the screen. However, a 720p display is easier for the HTPC to handle and you can get away with less powerful video cards which mean less cost and heat. I game just fine on my 56" 720p sammy.
I just stopped by Circuit city today at lunch to check out the BluRay players and the guy there had no idea what the difference b/w 1080i, 1080p, and 720p was. He knew that 1080p was the best, and had all his 720p displays set to a 1080i input from his DVD players, Xboxes, and PS3s. It was kinda pathetic to see someone who sells this stuff does not know basic priciples of resolution and scaling.
For all you reading this, 1080i not a great format for HD. and I can't think of many reasons why people would set their outputs to 1080i. Let me explain. You have to match your resolution of the output device to the resolution of the screen, and you want to minmize the scaling and interlacing any system does. So, if you have a Xbox360, it's native gaming resolution is 720p. You want to set the output of the system to 720p no matter what TV you have (with the exception of analog TVs that are native 1080i) so you don't introduce any interlacing into the picuture. If your TV is 720p native, perfect, you don't have any scaling going on and hence no quality lost. If your TV is 1080p then you should set it at 720p and let the TV scale it to 1080p. You don't introduce any interlacing problems into fast motion scenes. If you output at 1080i the xbox scales the 720p image to 1080i, then the TV deinterlaces it to 1080p and you lost lots of quality when you deinterlaced the image. The problem is that 1080i is a great format if there is little motion in the scene. Every other frame contains half the image and they are put together for a full, perfect, 1080p picture. However, as soon as there is motion the two frames separate because there is a time difference between the two images. If left to display this time difference you would get horizontal lines on moving images that look like your image is growing feathers. This is called feathering. To fix this, the TV simply drops one of the images, and fills in the rest of the image with aproximations of what should be there. You just lost half your resolution and the image in motion appears fuzzy and soft. Only expensive TVs with expensive electronics (or dedicated scalers) can deinterlace 1080i material with little quality loss. There is a benefit to 1080i, and that is that you maintain full detail of a 1080p image on still scenes, but you lose resolution on motion. 1080i is really bad for sports and video games.
So, set your gaming machines to output progressive resolutions. 720p if you have a 720p display, and 1080p if you have a 1080p display. If your xbox cannot do 1080p, set it to 720p even if you have a 1080p to avoid the resolution loss and extra scaling. For your HTPC, always set your output resolution to the exact resolution of your display. Avoid interlacing like the plague.
I can think of only one reason to use 1080i as the output of a device. You have a 1080p display and your HD-DVD player or upscaling DVD player can only do 1080i output. Because it is film content at 24fps, if you have a good TV that can do inverse telecine, you can get a perfect 1080p image even during motion.
Your HD digital cable box or satelite box simply outputs whatever the resolution the source material is. If the image is 1080i then it outputs 1080i and your TV does all the scaling. If the source is 720p your TV will scale it to your screen and you are all good. This is the way it should work and does not introduce double scaling like a fixed resolution device does. 1080i can look awesome in some situations and is why lots of content is encoded to 1080i. It allows high rez content with low bitrate. But it's not an ideal format, and neither is 720p. 1080p is the best of both worlds and is why HD-DVD and BluRay are so great.
Anyways, that was a little technical and i hope I explained it right. Just remember to set your output to match your display and you will get a better picuture.
Overall, an OK article; good for those looking for the quick pirmer without doing any further research. I work for a high-end electronics company in Colorado and admit that our clients prefer displays in a much higher price range than these.
The one major problem I have with the article is the recommendation that all HDMI cables are created equal; this is not true. We install with HDMI constantly and find that there is a noticable difference from $20 cables to more expensive cables. The HDMI spec has extremely stringent requirements with regard to cable length to ensure proper handshaking and accurate data transmission and many cable and component manufacturers do not adhere 100% to the spec, so we find that going for the more expensive cable (Gefen usually) is worth the extra cost. This is espcially true for any lengths over 15 ft.
A reminder.... getting longer length HDMI cables does not mean you're getting a better one. Get the correct length for your installation as opposed something longer than you need.
Based on over 20 years of experience and limitations of living at high altidude (9000+ ft.); we carry only Sony (for LCDs and LCoS), and Runco (for plasmas and projectors) for our customers.
Overall though, I love my 40" 300lb. Sony HD tube.... LCDs and plasmas wish they could produce a picture this nice.
As a side note, the Avia Guide to Home Theater is an excellent recommendation; we use this disc as our primary calibration tool.
I totally agree with autoboy, once again the quality of toms home theatre articles have left a lot to be desired!
Now where do i begin? dlp being panned by videophiles? That is just plain wrong, if you'd happened to do some research you'd find that dlp has for a long time been regarded as the closest to reproducing the quality of film projectors. Also rear pros are heavy? give me a break, they weigh less than an lcd or plasma of the same size.
I used to work for an electronics retailer while at college and got the chance to look at all these different sets side by side, day after day. My impressions/opinions are as follows:
1. If you sit at normal lounge room viewing distances you need at least 50" for 1080p to make a difference over 720p, anything under this as autoboy said, is a bit of a waste except for PC use.
2. The good rear projection sets are have better colour saturation than an LCD or Plasma when viewed from in front, they lose a little when going moving to the sides and lose a lot when moving above or below.
3. Pretty much any LCD looks like crap when viewing standard def content, there is a very noticeable "sparkle" around the edges of objects. LCDs also look crap in a pitch black room, the blacks look very grey.
4. Plasmas are better than LCDs for watching movies in the dark. Also as long you're not a forgetful idiot, burn in is not a problem.
5. LCDs are good for brightly lit rooms, no reflections, bright picture.
6. Size rules, if you can get your room dark and can swallow the cost of a new bulb every few years get a front projector. 100" of HD glory rules them all! if only 1080p front projectors weren't so expensive, that said the 720p models look amazing!
YOU FORGOT TO MENTION HDCP. ANY HDTV YOU PURCHASE NOW WILL BE USELESS FOR HD-DVD/BLU-RAY PLAYBACK IF IT IS NOT HDCP ENABLED. BECAUSE OF THIS, YOUR ARTICLE IS NOT FULLY INFORMATIVE. IF SOMEONE WERE TO BUY A 720p DISPLAY WITH OUT HDCP ENABLED, ON BOTH THEIR HD-PLAYER AND HD-DISPLAY WOULD BE EXTREMELY UNDERMINED DUE TO THE DOWN SAMPLING OF THEIR CONTENT FROM 1280x720 (720p) TO 960x540. THIS IS EVEN MORE IMPERATIVE FOR THOSE THAT WISH TO PURCHASE 1080p DISPLAYS AND FULLY EXPERIENCE 1920x1080 (1080p). YOU SHOULD EDIT THE ARTICLE TO MENTION and STRESS THIS AS I AM DOING HERE.
CAPS LOCKS IT UP MAN.
Dude, ITS NOT REALLY THAT BIG OF A PROBLEM, all new tvs are HDCP compliant (if you got HDMI you got HDCP)and the content providers haven't even enabled it on Blue ray or HD-dvd yet to give owners of old sets a grace period. Plus HDCP will never stop the main form of piracy ie ripping directly from the disk on a PC.
Good basic article, but nobody mentions the fact that most brick and morter show rooms have dismal viewing conditions and the source video is often quite poor... certainly not good enough to make a picture quality judgement. This applies to the Circuit City and Best Buy facilities I've visited in the rural Maryland and Virginia area. At one new Best Buy in Leesburg, VA, the displays are mounted so high on the wall, that looking up at them about all you see is a reflection of the ceiling lights, which are those awful mercury vapor types. A few Costcos appeared to have a decent video source, mostly HDMI, but their ambient lighting is about 500 ft candles and hardly conducive to making picture quality judgements. One Sears store was using an RF feed to all sets, tuned to channel 3. Too many stores simply don't have a clue.
russki said:RubberJohnson (how original): come come. There is a difference between viewing DLP front projectors and rear projectors...
russki (how unoriginal, after all there is 142mil of you ): I agree there is a difference between viewing FP dlp and RP dlp but mostly it comes down to sacrificing viewing angle to reduce the effect of ambient light, the projector behind it still uses the same tech - Bulb/Colour wheel/DLP Chip.russki said:That's why people see rainbows on the RP sets...
Umm, people see rainbows on DLP front projectors too, including me, however i dont find them a distraction since i only see them on scenes that have a dark background with a few bright lights e.g. a flashlight at night. Front Pros still have a colour wheel unless they are 3 chip DLP.russki said:...and yet the high end front projectors are all DLP
Wrong, it depends on what your definition of "high end" is but you can buy CRT, LCOS and LCD projectors that cost tens of thousands of dollars - or billions of rouble .
This article really needs to be revised. People out there are already so confused about HDTV.
I recently got a great price on a surplus Samsung 67" DLP model from last year. I also considered getting an 8th generation Pioneer 50" plasma. But it was just too small for my TV room and it's 60 inch sibling will be too expensive.
And it was a choice between a big gorgeous picture vs. a smaller, though even more gorgeous, picture, anyway. I went with the TV that made sense for my situation.
As to portability, it's 120 pounds. Pretty reasonable for a 67 inch to say the least. And it was easily moved by two people up a flight of stairs.
(My first HDTV set up, starting in 2001, used a GDM-FW900 Trinitron monitor as its display, which on an inch-per-inch basis, has been almost an impossible act to follow. But the CRT alternatives have gotten better over the years and DLP sets were actually quite a breakthrough on a price/performance/size basis...)
Certainly, also check out LCOS, such as Sony SXRD, along with LCD and plasma...
This has to be one of the worst articles full of simplistic and uniformed insight that I have read on Tom's HW. DLP sets are not worthwhile? What about LCD rear projectors? Cables are cables? Plasmas are the way to go? Jeez, guess this guy is not old enough to see plasma screen fade. Folks, 1080i at the very least and 1080p is the way to go unless you want to buy yesterdays technology. Does the author bother to mention what we all know which is that technology continues to moves ahead and we are at the forefront of 1080p. I haven't paid much attention to writer names so far on this site but I'll remember this Mark guy.
2 years ago I bought a last generation 46" sony CRT rear projector that does 1080i for $900. Don't need to move a TV around much so size is no issue and the picture still easily rivals lcd & plasmas & lcd/dlp rear projectors. Its only downside is the picture dimming when standing up. This TV is still available. I'll take this any day over a 32" whateverX768 piece-o-crap. The article is about hdtv ((1080i/p) and this guy ends by telling you to by an EDTV. Go figure. If you've got less than $1000 get yourself one of the last generation crt rear projectors and enjoy real hdtv on a good sized screen. CRT rear projectors are historically known for brightness fade especially along the edges/corners, but after 2yrs no fade on my sony. I think the last few production years of CRT rear projectors had the technology reach its pinnacle.
Why has nobody mentioned front projection systems? You can pick up an Optoma HD-70 for $999, sometimes even with a screen if you look hard enough. We have one here projecting onto a 92" screen and it looks amazing for a $999 device. The color and clarity are amazing, the only beef I have with it is when you watch something over composite video it looks god awful, but I suppose that is to be expected, and how good it looks over component/hdmi more than makes up for it. I know this isn't a reasonable solution for everyone considering all the installation and such involved, but I'm surprised nobody threw this one out there.
RubberJohnson: [and btw, well yes, I like to blend in, what can I say].
Hmm. Well, I stand corrected on the front projection and rainbows. It is more difficult for me to see them vs RP. Then again, rainbows have always been a personal experience thing. And I think three chip is the way to go anyway...Except I don't have enough room for a front projector anyway...
Imho, LCoS and LCD projectors all give you inferior blacks. No way around it, even if you mess with the iris. It will never be as good as no light. But we can debate this point all day long (by the way, I own a RP LCD. I really do hate the rainbows on the RP DLP).
Quote:1366 x 768 pixel resolution (720p), which is the standard for low-cost HDTVs. That's a little less than the 1080 lines required for full HD
1080p = 1920x1080 = 2.0736MP
720p = 1366x768 = 1.094088MP
A little less then is (1080p-720p)/1080p = 47.23%.
Tom's Hardware is cutting your pay by 47.23%, it's just a little less than what you make now.
I'm a fan of 1080p for any LCD larger than 32" - to me there is a very noticeable difference when viewing HD content at almost any distance under 12ft.
Another thing I didnt like about this article was the justification that 720p is fine because all broadcast content looks fine on it ("Absolutely no cable or satellite programming is available in 1080p and you'll be hard pressed to find three good video games that support the top video resolution.").
What he doesnt mention is that several providers like Surewest do offer 1080i HD programming which looks better on 1080p TVs than on 720p ones - and that many of those same broadcasters are planning 1080p content for as early as next year.
I'm not going to beat up Mark Raby for his article. Tom's Hardware (and thus Gear Digest) gets a lot of exposure to articles that many would otherwise not see (for instance, not everyone subscribes to The Perfect Vision or monitors avsforums all day). But I do think that there should be more articles expanding on this (well, starting over), like I see with the nice NAS articles that we keep seeing on smallnetbuilder. Maybe bring in some guest authors to get things rolling (Joe Kane immediately comes to mind, since he has a new calibration DVD out if I recall).
There is no single answer to TV purchases any more than there is for car purchases. What is a "great value" for one may be a "no way would I pay that much". I had my Sony 50" XBR1 calibrated and I was very happy, especially since I saw the before and after. But my wife and son couldn't care nor would notice the difference. They, like many people, would be happy with whatever they watch just because that is their nature.
A 32" TV as a family TV seems crazy now, but many are space-limited and that is the best they can do. Or want to put in in a small apartment or dorm. Or, like me, use it as my computer monitor.
Like ben72227, I am very interested in using a 32" TV (Sharp Aquos LC-32GP1U 1920x1080) or Sony KDL32XBR4 (1366x768) as my pc monitor at home. 75% of it's use would be for MS Office applications and surfing, 25% for viewing DVDs, avis, et cetera. Virtually all articles say what a waste 1080p is on a 32" or smaller, overlooking a population that would want to hook up a 32" TV to a computer and use it to write email, surf, use Excel, and other things that a finer resolution would help. To be sure, they all mention X-box hookups, but as a PC monitor the unanswered question becomes important - will it work well to use for non-gaming, non-video applications? To me, that is more important. My son's X-box is hooked up to the 50", which means I never watch that TV. I want my own little PC nirvana!
On my 19" LCD at work or my 19" CRT at home, I use tend to use 1024x768 or 1280x768. When I looked at a 1366x768 32" Westinghouse at Best Buy, hooked up to a laptop, the letters were too big when I was reading forum posts.
I wanted them small enough to display two side-by-side windows. The letters were undefined and slightly off-color as well. Was it because it was a crummy video card on a laptop, or because it was a Westy? Would the Sony XBR4 also be less than satisfying at this same resolution? This was the only PC hooked up to a TV in the whole store. They didn't see the need. Sure, they had a LC-32GP1U hooked up to an X-box, but that is not the same as a TV that I am going to sit in couple of feet in front of to use every night as a pc display.
If I scrap a built-in computer desk, I suppose I could find a way to make a 37" 1080p TV work as a pc monitor like many did with the aforementioned Westy TV many bought. From what I can see, most use a 37" TV as a monitor well if they have a desk with a corner they can put it on to increase the distance they are sitting; otherwise, 32" is about the max they could handle. In some forums, I heard at least a couple of complaints that a 37" hooked up to a PC gave them a neck ache as they couldn't sit back far enough to do computer work and had to move their heads too much to take in all the info displayed. That sounds to me as if they are talking720p. I figure that 1080p would be better than that - if I have two applications open side-by-side, I am only reading one at a time much like I do when I rad an open book. The best use of this is to not having to alt-tab between applications and makes comparisons of two screens easier to do as well.
What you see a lot of people doing is playing TV-roulette going the buy, take-home, bring-back route in the search for a TV that works. This is probably what I am going to do, ending up buying from whichever of the local stores has the best no questions-asked return policy (whether for the amount of bad pixels or just saying it doesn't work in my home configuration).
So, I appreciate the article for the interest it will generate, and let's hope that Gear Digest will suck it up and admit that there is a strong need for more articles on HDTV to get to the heart of the matter - informing people enough so that they can to stop taking cr@p from the great majority of sales people that know very little about TVs. After a series of informative articles bringing people up to speed, one could then write an article on a quality HDTV setup for a particular dollar amount.