Rear projection CRT sets, where you could buy large diagonal 57" HDTV 1080 screens for a reasonable price compared to more expensive LCD sets were GONE in 2009 along with Direct View sets (CRTs) and the earlier EDTVs that had been used to playback DVDs at their best resolution at the time.
However, rear projection sets from Mitsubishi Electric, DLP mirror technology, have a small footprint and are sold with a component storage unit the HDTV set is secured on. While DLP sets are not designed to be hung on the wall, if you're looking for a large screen size with outstanding brightness and sharpness for a great price, we believe it is the best buy.
I have read reports that the viewing angle for the DLP sets is limited. But from viewing my own DLP at home I think this is a bunch of bull being repeated from some lazy reporters who are using old terminology from projection sets of the past that used three CRTs. And while LED and Plasma may have slightly brighter viewing at extreme angles, no one with a sane mind is going to sit at those extreme angles watching a sporting event or two hour movie. Please, let's get real!
Below is a photo of my 65 " DLP screen with an actual Hi-Def picture in a home entertainment environment. The price of $2,300 included the 70" HDTV DLP set, a wide two-shelf component stand as shown, a five-year warranty, and tax and delivery. And because the unit uses no phosphorus, older video games static images cannot burn an image into the screen.
With power usage of plasma sets coming into question by some government agencies, the DLP may be a great alternative at a better price.
1. Energy usage of Plasma sets:
Plasma sets will continue to be challenged until they can reduce their energy usage, as environmental whackos in the name of religion in California and England are already trying to ban its sale in 2010, forcing the marketplace to use the LED and DLP technologies.
2. Built in sound and tuners:
format television build-in sound quality should always be challenged if it will be the main audio source for the programs being watched. HDTV sets with
tuners will say HD-Built in, meaning an HD tuner is built into the set. It therefore will not require a converter box for receiving broadcasts from local television stations transmitting HDTV digital signals. And don't confuse a monitor with a flat screen set, a monitor not having a tuner or audio amp.
Please check with a salesperson if you are looking at any of the
flat-screen models mentioned on a sales floor. These sets do not include a television stand or wall mounting bracket unless noted with a special in-store promotion.
3. Signals are now digital and no longer analog:
All television sets sold today have digital tuners, so you don't need to worry about buying a converter box to receive all-digitial broadcast signals that took over analog in June 2009. The old workhorse NTSC that allowed us to have televisions signals beamed into the air has gone by the wayside, replaced by higher resolution signals that allow 1080 lines of resolution. The system that is used today was developed by Zenith in the late 1990's.
Be aware that since the main transmitted signal is digital and no longer analog, details such as scores and time remaining in a game may now be off the screen or only partially shown on an analog set.
4. Wattage is not the only issue when adding a sound system:
Basic 5.1 Dolby
very low-wattage, separate, home stereo systems can start around $150
if you need to add audio to your wall-hanging HDTV set. But the less expensive ones are not built to handle those huge base signals coming from the new Blu-Ray Disks. Plus I prefer the Dolby 7.1 systems for a better surround-sound experience and higher wattage. I find the Onyko Home Theatre System an excellent value for the price* when stepping up to a dynamic woofer and heavier surround speakers, feeling twice the weight and size of the 5.1 system. * Check out box houses such as B&H Photo for best price.
HDTV stands can run $200 or more. Normally these don't have enough
space to hold all the components except with DLP sets, probably requiring you to purchase
an additional vertical component stand to be placed near your
flat-screen HDTV set.
If you need to mount the speakers on the
wall, you may have to also purchase a mounting bracket for each
speaker. Please check our chapter on accessories and wiring for more information. (Note: I had to drill holes in the rear of the Onkyo speakers so they would hang horizontally from the ceiling.)
5. Other issues when moving into the HDTV marketplace:
Newer HDTV sets can come with three HDMI inputs or more, important when realizing the basic HDTV configuration has a minimum of three sources; Blu Ray / DVD player, Satellite / Cable / TIVO, and video streaming for downloading movies or Internet viewing.
Also remember LCD technology had to be stepped down to 720 because it could not display the higher number of pixels needed for 1080 resolution. Some manufacturers have caught up with the newer LCD's for a true 1080 picture, but you will still pay more for these sets if all LCD manufacturers do not offer full 1080.
Some step-up features on HDTV sets include PC-capable displays and memory card slot for displaying digital-still pictures from your camera or camcorder. I would also recommend you stay away from 3D sets until the technology settles. In late 2010 Toshiba launched the first non-glasses 3D sets, the screen itself displaying the 3D program.
The newer Dolby 5.1 and 7.1 audio systems have come down in price. But watch out, as mentioned, for sound quality that cannot fill a large entertainment room without pushing them to distortion.
While home theater sound systems can start in the $200 - $300 range, high-end amplifiers with speakers sold separately can be expensive but will give you all the full range audio and bass your Blu Ray BD-DVDs are capable of, these playback units continuing to be updated as new firmware releases become available.
For best price, look into the system where the amplifier includes in the box five or seven matching speakers and a dynamic sub-woofer sold as an entire set, the best value for your buck.
However, be aware these are mass-merchant items (box-houses) and the receivers probably are not sold separately.
THEREFORE, if something goes wrong with the receiver in the first 15 or 30 days of the retailer's return warranty, you cannot just return the receiver for repair. Instead, you will be required to rebox the entire system including all literature, collateral materials, wiring, and speakers that are hung in the ceiling. The other alternative would be to ship the amplifier to the manufacturer's service center and wait for its repair.
And unless you're going to pay around $500 or more for a Dolby receiver, don't expect excellent internal component or HDMI switching. Some of these high-end receivers will allow you to switch HDMI and component video signals along with the audio, eliminating one remote if you already own a separate HDMI remote-driven switcher. I have discovered, however, that the HDMI built-in switcher in a receiver could be designed to be extremely sensitive to HDMI coding rules. Is that important? You bet.
In my case the receiver's internal HDMI switcher would view a HDMI signal from a DirecTV HD box, while it refused to pass the signals from a Blu Ray and a discontinued HD-DVD player. Switching these three around, no matter which HDMI input port was used, only the satellite HD box would be allowed to pass the signal to the HDTV television.
I was advised that the HDMI codes are strict to help prevent the recording of HD movies. Because of that these units could reject the incoming signal from lesser models, my being told the engineers were surprised a Blu Ray's HDMI signal had been block by their unit.
But instead I simply used the built-in switcher of my new DLP HDTV set, replacing an older DVI-only input set.
Be also aware the world is changing for these audio receivers in other areas and you may have a high probability in the future of no longer being able to find FM / AM tuner with these models or a gasp . . . magnetic or ceramic vinyl turntable input!
6. What is happening to the older vinyl turntables:
Therefore, if you have an audio turntable for your vinyl record collection, you might have to invest in a magnetic cartridge amplifier for around 40 more bucks. If you have a turntable, buy one of these separate magnetic amplifier. That's because one day in the not to distant future you could find yourself no longer being able to find these little gems.
However, turntables can now be purchased with an USB output along with standard left and right stereo cables. This new breed of turntable is being sold along with software for direct connection to your computer for audio corrections that will assist in eliminating hiss and pops before they're burned to a CD in your computer.
One new one is even built for 78 speeds, too, while others allow playing 78 records on 45rpm and then up-converting them to 78 speed using the software provided by the manufacturer. There is now even a laser turntable that will play broken records. Those owners can tell their wives, "Go ahead, throw it. I can still play it."
(Note: When you speak to someone about turntables today, the word now has a double meaning. Turntable is also used to describe computer laptops whose screens turn horizontally to allow others to see the screen without having to shift the position of the unit.)
7. HDTV Buying Guide:
Check out this BUYING guide for HDTV sets from CNET.
8. New HDTV technology to look for:
Backlighting in either an edgelit format or a full backlit design. Local dimming will provide better blacks
Faster refresh rates are coming as manufacturers try to drastically reduce motion blur.
Internet capabilities to stream video will become built-in to the set.
Thinner screens with greater energy efficiency
New technology of making ultra-thin displays using organic light-emitting diodes (OLED) will soon be offered by Sony, Samsung, and others but in very small screen sizes for now.
Note: The final step in the HDTV revolution down the road will be viewing surfaces you can paste to your wall at home like old-style wallpaper, even going around corners, the new OLED screens a precursor to this coming technology. There are amazing technologies just around the corner.
9. New HDTV Pricing Comparison Guide by screen format / price / manufacturer:
Visit CNET's extensive PRICING guide for HDTVs updated by model introductions. This link now replaces the local list of prices I had supplied from Sears, hhgregg, Walmart, and Best Buy, But check out the old pricing below to see how inexpensive flat screens have become.
This list is much more comprehensive and you can do model shopping on Google for best price and availability in your area by national merchant. Or for local dealers outside of the box houses and mass merchants, let your fingers do the walking based on the info you find at CNET's HDTV Web page.