55" IPS family TV - help needed please.

sylvandale

Novice Member
55" IPS family TV - sorry for yet another one of these type of requests but I really do need some help with finding a ‘simple’ family” living room telly, please.

The tv will be replacing a 10+ years old Panasonic 42” plasma, TH-42PX70, whose HDMI inputs seem to have given up the ghost. I don’t keep up with AV tech but I do like to do my homework before a new purchase. I thought: I’ll trot over to AVforums, do some reading, and it’ll be easy. But after a whole day mostly going round in circles I’m discovering it isn’t quite so straightforward. So I’m hoping for someone to tell me where I'm going wrong please. I have read Mr Dodge’s excellent buying guides and many other threads.

I would like what I assumed would be a fairly straightforward family telly, with no particular demanding input requirements nor wish to have the latest greatest tech. Viewing is mostly recorded broadcast Freesat TV (Humax Freesat recorder), so its all SD or HD. We also have Freeview reception. The only other viewing is the basic BBC/ITV/CH4 catch up services & maybe a bit of YouTube, all currently via a Firestick, but I would like to get these via the new tv for simplicity. I also connect a laptop occasionally for online zoom or facebook gig watching etc. That’s about it. We don’t have any Netflix/Prime etc subscriptions although I guess we might. There is an ordinary DVD player but we haven’t used it in years.

I also play SD/HD files stored on a NAS drive. I currently do this via the Firestick so it doesn’t necessarily need to change although being able to do it via the TV would be a bonus. So I was drawn towards Android TV OS which I assumed would be the easiest to load other apps like VLC onto.

The living room is normally reasonably well lit. This is just your everyday tv viewing, not the big movie experience. It's a big room. Viewing distance is 3.5 to 4m from the screen. Viewing angle is typically 1.5m either side of centre (=25 degrees) but could be up to 2m (=30 degrees). I understand that this sort of viewing angle is on the borderline of VA acceptability, so initially I was assuming I would go for an IPS panel, although I wondered if I was in danger of overly fussing a bit about this aspect since there appear to be some many more VA models about. However the other advantages of IPS also appealed to me i.e. better motion & better anti-glare performance on cheaper TVs. So I set off looking at IPS screens, which I read means 55” or 65”.

Size of screen is not critical but a 50”-65” screen seems like the sweet spot at the moment. I had assumed bigger would be better, but I realise now that with the mostly SD/HD content we play I don’t want to go too big.

Simplicity of use is important. I don’t mind setting up and tweaking initially but I’d rather ‘fit and forget’ after that. A simple and stable user interface would be a big plus. Freeview Play or YouView sounds quite handy, although I’ve never used either one.

In terms of sound, I’m happy to accept that it will not be great. If it's too poor, I’ll get a soundbar. I haven’t read too much about those yet but for simplicity of use again, I’d prefer it if all audio from all sources automatically played through the soundbar, so there’s not another layer of faff for everyone to master. I gather this means an HDMI(arc) socket on the TV and a similarly equipped sound bar, but I’d be glad for any pointers on this too and recommendations for a basic model.

I’d normally buy electronic gear from Amazon but something like this I’d quite like to buy from Richer Sounds or John Lewis. I don’t have a specific budget but I had assumed £600 or so would be ample.

I think that’s it. From the above, my priorities would seem to be:
  1. Viewing angles
  2. SDR Picture quality with SD and HD sources.
  3. Smart TV ease of use
  4. Smart TV app selection, with the various catchup services a must, Freeview Play or YouView or similar a bonus, playing files from NAS box an extra bonus.
  5. I do like good value too!
  6. Everything else e.g super blacks, high contrast etc less important.
So here’s where I got to with the specific recommended models from Dodge’s guide, which for IPS panels are:
  1. Various LGs e.g. LG 55UN7300 /55UN7400/ UN7100/ UN8000/ UN8100. These sounded like the obvious main option. However I understand LG do not currently offer most of the catchup apps, which is probably a deal breaker. Can anyone clarify this please?
  2. Then there’s some Philips IPS models e.g. 55PUS7805 / 55PUS7855. Richer have only the 55PUS7805 and 65PUS8555 with “erratic stock levels”, plus the 65PUS7805. These looked promising as they do have Freeview Play but then I saw one or two pretty bad reviews of the Saphi OS which have put me off a bit. The higher spec Android TV models seem rather pricey (Richer have 55PUS9435 at £1200).
  3. Some Sony models. I am starting to look at these now but by this stage am going a bit goggle-eyed with it all so wanted to get this post off for some help. I left these until last as I am not a big Sony fan, having had Vaio laptops at work. But if one of their TVs fits the bill then I’m happy to be converted again.
If I decided that the viewing angle was not so critical and could take a chance on a VA panel then the options open up a lot. I could try the Samsung panel lottery, but would have to give up on Freeview Play with them I think. There are many Hisense ones which tick a lot of boxes. But I read reviews of some Hisense models that say they really do have to be viewed head on, so that makes me nervous and I’d rather find an acceptable IPS panel if I can.

That’s where I’m at now. All help gratefully received.
 

Dodgexander

Moderator
From an ease of use point of view LGs models are best, their smart TV is easy to use and intuitive. They are also said to be receiving Freeview play again which means they'll have all the UK catchup apps available.

Sony and Philips TVs that use IPS panels will have better viewing angles than LGs, but they are also more expensive and come with a worse smart system. Be that their own linux based ones, or Android. 25-30 degrees is more than fine on an LG TV using an IPS panel though.

Regarding panel choice. Unless you are viewing the TV with the lights off, or with dim lighting then there's not really a downside to IPS technology. The main flaw with it lays with dark room performance and reduced contrast, both of which are negated when you watch TV with lights on, or during the day.
 

sylvandale

Novice Member
Thanks for the reply. I’ve spent most of the day reading yet more stuff and I had just about come round to the conclusion I should look harder at the LGs again. I noticed on Richer they are now listing what I assume are the 2021 LG models, with Freeview Play prominently mentioned in the blurb. But I guess it could be several months before they’re actually in stock, so with the 2020 LGs, is there any way to get the various catch up apps installed after purchase? If not, although I don’t like to rely on promised software upgrades, is it likely that they will be updated?

I had got quite interested in the Sonys for a while. But then I read that Android OS does not include the catchup apps either, and this is why they have YouView. Nothing is straightforward!
 

Dodgexander

Moderator
Normally I agree regarding waiting on a software update, but I'm pretty confident LG will put this into practice. Its just a matter of them including Freeview play which integrates all catchup in to one place. Similar to Youview on Sony TVs.

New TVs are on the horizon, you should be able to order them very soon but usually they carry a hefty premium over their counterparts from the year before so it makes little sense to buy them on release.

If you were to delay your purchase to a time when they have been released and reduced in price, usually around Black Friday time, then you'll get a better idea of the catchup app situation, and won't overpay for the TV.

If you don't want to wait, I'd recommend buying a 2020 model now as it will be priced low being at the end of its shelf life compared to being priced high at the beginning with the new models.
 

sylvandale

Novice Member
Thanks. I'm seeing if I can reroute the equipment on my old Panasonic so I can eek that out for a few more months now and wait until the LG situation clears. I've got the Humax connected via Scart, so that's the main thing sorted. I just need to figure out if there's a way to bodge the Firestick to what's then left available, which is another Scart or composite video. Some more Googling required...
 

Dodgexander

Moderator
Well I have your TV and its a pre-HD plasma I think. It accepts 720p/1080i over HDMI so perhaps the problem isn't the HDMI ports, your HDMI devices trying to send the wrong signal.

Try a factory reset of the TV (Inside the TVs menu) and also a factory reset of each source device. On the firestick hold back and right for 10 seconds on the remote to perform a hard reset and see if the auto-setup detects the TVs input resolutions correctly.
 

sylvandale

Novice Member
I appreciate the help, thanks. I've already tried the TV factory reset, plus swapping in and out various HDMI sources on the two TV HDMI inputs but not managed to get anywhere. I didn't think to reset the source devices though, so will give that a go.

For what its worth, it has all been working fine for several years, so it's a bit weird. First HDMI2 with the Firestick went blank but HDMI1 with the Humax was still working. Then I started fault find fiddling and HDMI1 (mostly) packed in. It will work occasionally but only for a short period. None of the other HDMI devices (laptop, Firestick, old WDTV box) will work on either of the inputs. But, very bizarely, if the laptop is connected to HDMI2 and powered up then, even though that does not itself work, it makes HDMI1 work again. I figured it might be some sort of power supply thing on the HDMI input circuit board.

I think we can limp on for a few months more but the time has come for a change.
 

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