Sunday, January 13, 2013

Buying a TV

I basically haven't lived with a TV since 1998. These days, mostly we watch netflix/iTunes movies on the laptop or iPad. But it's time to buy a wall-mounted TV. Which one to buy?

The problem is that I hate all the TVs I see these days. Movies look really fake, like a low-budget set. We walked around a Future Shop for a while, but I didn't like any of them. What to do?

LED LCD vs. plasma vs. LCD makes me think we'd prefer a plasma tv because we mostly watch movies in a dark room. Since we sit 8ft from the screen, How big a TV should I buy? makes me think a 55" is okay, even they look too big to me in the store. Why do plasma TVs look washed out in the store? and Buying an HDTV: Online or in-store? makes me think we should just find a good online price for a reasonably reviewed 46"-55" plasma and go for it. Let me the reiterate the don't buy in-store advice, it's just not a valid comparison to acutal viewing conditions. I also read Myths, Marketing, and Misdirection: HDTV edition but wasn't surprised by any of it.

None of that address the "it looks fake" problem. Lots of people discuss this on HD Scenes look fake, but there is no clear conclusion.

I have this weird sensation that many of the objects in the foreground are not part of the background. It's like when you watch a bad movie that uses a green screen for the background, and you can clearly tell that the people are not part of it.

Turning off 120hz, look for 'Motion Plus' turn that off, that will help make it look better, not like a soap opera show.

It makes movies seem like they were filmed on a camcorder or something. I'm watching Rocky, it looks hilarious.

You shouldn't notice such 'realism' issues on a plasma IME.

I have two 120Hz LCDs that do not exhibit any of that weird "soap opera" effect. I didn't see it until I setup my father-in-laws Samsung 240Hz TV this past weekend, and that weird effect was so evident, I couldn't watch the TV.

What may be happening is the the resolution is getting so high that one picks up on the lighting of the sound stage. We call it garbage in, garbage out. Tweaking the picture can help. I personally have stayed with the 720 resolution for its film like quality.

He said if I really care about movies looking like "movies" and not actors on a film set, then I need to go with a plasma.

Also, the posts on 240hz = Worst Invention EVER! seem to have good advice on how to turn off bad features: "You can adjust the judder and blur independently to eliminate the cartoonish look and/or artifacts."

Best plasma TVs suggests that Panasonic and Samsung are the market leaders. I checked out Panasonic's website but it doesn't let you compare products. I tried cnet which lets you filter TVs (i.e. $0-$1500, plasma, 46-49, 50-59, smart tv) and sort results (i.e. by editor's rating) and compare selected, but they all seemed identical. Then I found Panasonic's global site which shows their latest TVs listed by feature set. Scrolling down until 3D is no longer listed, you'll find S60 which still claims to be a smart tv. I guess these are too new to be reviewed on cnet, but I did find some other reviews: plasmatvbuyingguide.com.

It is a budget model that focuses on delivering the best picture quality for the price.

If you aren't on the 3D or LED bandwagon, this is the TV for you.

The S60 is especially strong when compared against low end LCD and LED displays.

It offers access to the top online content providers like Netflix, Hulu, and others like it.

It includes networking features like DLNA for access to the home network.

It includes two HDMI connections and two USB ports.

It does lack the web browser from models above it in the lineup.

The S60 isn't listed on bestbuy.ca, futureshop.ca or amazon.ca, but bleeker.com links to panasonic.ca which lists the 50" ST as MSP $1,299.99.

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