A new 46" LCD, and a new approach to buying one...

Persiflage

Active Member
So, I'm still caught up in the continuing saga of which chuffin' LCD to buy to replace my now-defunct Toshiba Regza 46XF355DB picture-frame TV. That gives me £1225 to play with (it failed in the first year so I'm effectively getting the full purchase price back) and I am willing to spend more if need be.

I've been looking - as we all have, and do - at what seems like dozens of models, and juggling competing factors and reviews until my head is fit to explode.

Buying a TV's worse than buying a car. At least if you go to a car showroom and have a test-drive, you can take that car as being reasonably representative of its make and model. You like the look of it or you don't. It's big enough, fast enough, economical enough, comfortable enough or it isn't. Chances are, there isn't a model due out in a month that will go half as far again on a gallon of fuel, or that will have some previously-unheard-of technology that radically changes your driving experience. You won't leave the showroom only to have someone tell you that you can't compare the different cars from that dealer because they've all been calibrated differently, or that the local road conditions aren't similar enough to those you'll be driving on for the experience to be representative.

Yeah, I know that there can be some parallels, but bear with me here; I'm ranting, and you know what I mean :D

And, of course, another major factor is that generally when you're buying car you *need a freakin' car* and as such can't usually spend six months agonising over the choice ;)

So I'm going to try to think about this differently, and I'd very much appreciate it if you clever people would help me out a bit. You see, I'm not usually this bad at making purchasing decisions, even major ones; I can generally narrow it down to one or two contenders in the space of an hour or two and make the final decision on price. Buying a car, for instance, for me is pretty easy. I'm 6'6" so that's two-thirds of the market (or more) for any given type of vehicle that gets eliminated straight off because I can't drive them comfortably. What's left is determined by budget, fuel type, features, economy, reliabilty and aesthetics. Why can't that work for choosing a TV? I know it's a more subjective decision in some ways, but I ought at least to be able to narrow the field.

So, I'm going to think about what I liked about my previous TV and what I didn't, and decide which features are most important to me based on that.

The only thing I ever really felt a bit unhappy with on the Tosh XF was the black level, so that's high on the list. Although my colour vision is pretty poor, I very much liked being able to tweak individual colour levels and white balance for a naturalistic picture (using DVE) so I value that too. I did notice motion blur from time to time, particularly on scrolling text, so I want 100Hz+

I don't know whether I'm simply an ignorant viewer or simply insensitive to such things, but I never noticed the "telecine judder" phenomenon that seems to so exercise many here. I'm not decrying the problem, I just haven't ever noticed it! The XF didn't even display 24p content properly (although it would accept it) so I don't know how important that particular feature is.

Another thing is SD content... actually, I'm not that fussed. Although there are other people in the house who watch "ordinary TV", I don't think any of them are all that bothered either provided there's Average Joe's idea of a "good picture". Besides, the overwhelming majority of my use of the TV is for Blu-Ray (from PS3), upscaled DVD's (Sony RDRHX980) and gaming (PS3 and Wii-via-component)... and I'm the one who's paying ;)

I know that with black levels high on the list it would be usual to consider plasmas, but I really don't think so. The power consumption is a factor, but also the fact that they attract a lot more dust... and of course the presence of absent-minded children who might well pause a DVD and forget about it for the rest of the afternoon! There's a lot of ambient light in the room too, so LCD is my preference.

After all that, what have we got as our requirements? In no particular order:

1) Excellent black levels, so LED backlight would be ideal
2) 100Hz Motionflow equivalent or better - preferably with adjustable levels
3) Individual colour balance and white balance tweakability (unless the set is really good out of the box)
4) Excellent Blu-Ray performance
5) Decent gaming performance... although frankly, I'm probably neither serious enough about nor adept enough at games for a bit of display lag to cause me much grief. Still, if we can get the response and lag times to a minimum, that can only be a good thing
6) Not a big fan of very shiny screens; too many things in the lounge wink or twinkle for it to be practical to switch them all off to avoid reflections on the TV screen!
7) 10-bit+ colour processing
8) S-PVA panel
9) Decent sound, as I'm currently not using a cinema setup (too many kittens, not enough cable-routing space!)
10) Swivel stand. Yes, I could buy a replacement but I'd rather not. And no, it's not practical for me to wall mount, however much better that is :)
11) A wide viewing angle. Yes, yes, they all *quote* 178-degree coverage, but it's a sad fact of an awkardly-shaped lounge and a house with four people in it that someone is going to be watching from an angle of 45 degrees or greater practically all the time. And, as we know, picture quality can suffer a *lot* within the "viewable" angles.
12) Per-input settings; I didn't exactly miss having them on the XF, but there were a few occasions when I thought they might have been nice.

As I mentioned, I'm starting with £1225 to begin with; although I'm quite prepared to add some more (maybe a LOT more if required) into the pot. Oh, and that it's a 46" panel that I'm after, which means that comparisons between different 40" panels in the same product ranges might not be valid.

Having attempted to be helpful in setting out my stall with respect to what's important and what's not, I believe that I find myself with the following contenders out of the current crop of offerings:

Sony 46KDLX4500 - ticks most, if not all, of the boxes and would be an obvious choice, except that I'd have to spend the same amount over again to get one... I will if it's worth it: but is it worth it? For all the advice about comparing different TV's side-by-side in a store, it's actually nigh-impossible to find multiple 46" panels, properly calibrated, with comparable quality sources. I haven't been able to find a retailer that has more than two of the contenders in stock, and those weren't set up properly!

I don't know what the sound is like - it doesn't seem to get much of a mention, as it is generally assumed by reviewers at this end of the market that someone with a £2,700 TV will be using a cinema amp. Would anyone with knowledge of the sound care to comment?

Also... is this the same TV as the XBR8? If so, it looks as though I don't get a swivel stand for my extra £1,500!

Addendum: I've spent the weekend trawling around different retailers trying to look at TV's, with a pretty minimal level of success. Having witnessed the X4500 in action, next to a W4500 and Z4500, using Blu-Ray discs I took with me for comparison as well as the Sky HD content playing in store... I have to say that although it's clearly a very good screen, the difference playing real-world content in no way justifies the ludicrously higher price tag. I know the RGB LED backlighting genuinely pushes the manufacturing costs into the stratosphere, but it doesn't seem to deliver additional benefits in proportion to the increase in cost. Maybe my eyes (and those of my girlfriend, and the salespeople) just aren't good enough!

Sony 46KDLW4500 - A very worthy contender. To my eyes, there really wasn't much in it between this screen and the X4500, which comes in at upwards of twice the price, depending on where you get it from! And, much as I hate to follow the herd, I'm afraid that I have to agree with the consensus that there's bog-all difference between 100Hz and 200Hz; even when watching a football match... which means that I don't even see the need to spend the extra on the 46KDLZ4500. It's possible, of course, that an SD broadcast might show 200Hz off to be much better, but isn't everyone who's seriously into sports (which, I confess, does not include me) getting Sky HD by now? ;)

Toshiba 46ZV555DB - seems like a decent all-rounder. It has a Game mode, 100Hz Active Motion processy goodness, 10-bit colour processing, is very tweakable without accessing service menus and the contrast ratio of 30,000:1 is much better than my old XF (10,000:1), so maybe it would be good enough. It doesn't seem to have made any reviewers drool excessively over the picture in and of itself; it's always "an amazing picture for the price", which in my view sounds a touch like being damned with faint praise, although of course I understand the need for the caveat.

I believe it's an S-PVA panel (can anyone confirm?) and has been remarked on in more than one review for its excellent sound (for an LCD panel, natch). Oh, and it's probably worth mentioning that far from needing to spend more to get one, I'd actually come out of this exercise with a couple of hundred quid change. No per-input settings though.

Addendum: Nobody - I mean, *nobody* - within 100 miles of me seems to have one of these on display so I haven't been able to see it in the flesh. Still, the people on this forum who have one seem to be unequivocably happy with it and there have been some excellent reviews.

Samsung LN46A950 - makes with the glorious LED backlighting goodness, but I get the impression from reviews that maybe it's not perfect for me... The exceptionally glossy screen getting several mentions makes me a tad wary. It also seems to be criticised for worse-than-usual off-angle fading. Other than that, it sounds like a stunner; hugely tweakable, per-input settings, 100Hz, good 24p compatibility, great picture and is available for about half the price of the Sony!

Addendum: The highest-end Samsung I have been able to find on display anywhere near me is the 6-series. I don't know how it compares feature-wise with the 9-series (or even whether it's the same panel technology) so I couldn't really assess it. What I *can* say is that the glossy screen of the 6-series was a significant turn-off, and if - as the reviews suggest - the higher-end Samsungs are even shinier, this is not the screen for me!

Sharp LC46XL2E - mentioned here because I've researched it, but discarded it on the grounds that nobody seems to rate it over TV's that actually cost less, like the Tosh ZV, particularly for HD content display, which is easily the most important factor for me.

LG 47LG7000 - seems like a great TV from the reviews, but once again I can't find one in a store anywhere! However, whilst on my travels I've seen enough deeply unimpressive LG kit that I wouldn't buy one sight-unseen. I know the new range won't be anything like the old ones, but... it's a psychological thing, y'know?

Conclusion: So far, best bang-for-buck seems to be the Toshiba, with my one reservation being that I haven't seen it! I was making the mistake of comparing feature-for-feature between different TV's out there without considering what was actually important to *me* and how it would look compared to my previous TV, which is of course the clincher.

Have I missed any obvious contenders for the "best 46" LCD for my money and requirements" prize? Of course, if anyone's had any news that the ZF575 is actually going to arrive any time soon I'll probably hold out for that :D
 

boxrick

Member
Im going to recommend a screen which is a little bit bigger and is a Plasma now so i apologise for ignoring a few things you said, but it really is worth considering!

Another thing is SD content... actually, I'm not that fussed. Although there are other people in the house who watch "ordinary TV", I don't think any of them are all that bothered either provided there's Average Joe's idea of a "good picture". Besides, the overwhelming majority of my use of the TV is for Blu-Ray (from PS3), upscaled DVD's (Sony RDRHX980) and gaming (PS3 and Wii-via-component)... and I'm the one who's paying ;)

SD content includes your Wii and RDRHX980. Both are only running the same resolution as "normal tv".

I know that with black levels high on the list it would be usual to consider plasmas, but I really don't think so. The power consumption is a factor, but also the fact that they attract a lot more dust... and of course the presence of absent-minded children who might well pause a DVD and forget about it for the rest of the afternoon! There's a lot of ambient light in the room too, so LCD is my preference.

Whilst some plasmas fall in the catagory of screen retention and shiny there is one which just is not like that. The Pioneer KURO plasmas are the least reflective screens ive ever seen INCLUDING lcds. For example i can take a photograph with a DLSR camera with a bright flash pointing right at the screen and the picture turns out perfect i cannot even see the flash reflected in the screen!

As far as image retention, im very sensitive to this. I leave my pc desktop on often, pause disks, play computer games and i have never ever seen even a hint of retention on my screen. This is from really using and abusing it.... Pioneers are very very very resilient to this. Don't think there has ever been a report on the whole of these forums about a 9G getting any signs of retention!

After all that, what have we got as our requirements? In no particular order:

1) Excellent black levels, so LED backlight would be ideal
2) 100Hz Motionflow equivalent or better - preferably with adjustable levels
3) Individual colour balance and white balance tweakability (unless the set is really good out of the box)
4) Excellent Blu-Ray performance
5) Decent gaming performance... although frankly, I'm probably neither serious enough about nor adept enough at games for a bit of display lag to cause me much grief. Still, if we can get the response and lag times to a minimum, that can only be a good thing
6) Not a big fan of very shiny screens; too many things in the lounge wink or twinkle for it to be practical to switch them all off to avoid reflections on the TV screen!
7) 10-bit+ colour processing
8) S-PVA panel
9) Decent sound, as I'm currently not using a cinema setup (too many kittens, not enough cable-routing space!)
10) Swivel stand. Yes, I could buy a replacement but I'd rather not. And no, it's not practical for me to wall mount, however much better that is :)
11) A wide viewing angle. Yes, yes, they all *quote* 178-degree coverage, but it's a sad fact of an awkardly-shaped lounge and a house with four people in it that someone is going to be watching from an angle of 45 degrees or greater practically all the time. And, as we know, picture quality can suffer a *lot* within the "viewable" angles.
12) Per-input settings; I didn't exactly miss having them on the XF, but there were a few occasions when I thought they might have been nice.

Pioneer PDPLX5090 ticks nearly all the above boxes. Being plasma no viewing angles, the best blacks of any screen available, more tweaking options than you can imagine. I play my PC and xbox 360 through mine, i was nearly drooling whilst playing the Darkness through again last night. Can't believe how good it looked.... This screen has per "setting" so there are around 7 *modes* each which can be tweaked and then set to different inputs.

s I mentioned, I'm starting with £1225 to begin with; although I'm quite prepared to add some more (maybe a LOT more if required) into the pot. Oh, and that it's a 46" panel that I'm after, which means that comparisons between different 40" panels in the same product ranges might not be valid.

The Pioneer i mention however is closer to £1700 but is *MUCH* better than every other screen in its class at both HD and SD performance.

However it is a 50" also .... However if you want a good screen to last you a long time really do not disregard it. Its amongst the highly praised televisions on these forums... Prices have just dropped from £2200..
 

-Ad-

Well-known Member
I can't really add anything else to what boxrick has said, he has summed it up very well.

The Kuro is easily better than all of the tvs on your list. This isn't me OMG FANBOI, it really is just that much better. I have played with a X4500, not in an ideal environment, but it was still very very unimpressive for its frankly laughably high price tag.

If you want a tv to just watcha dn enjoy for many years, rather than having to cope with annoying niggles or the need to upgrade, then get the Kuro. THey really are that good, and are the only sets I am prepared to spend my money on. A CRT is stil marginally better for SD, but the Kuro is a lot bigger and is pretty damn close. Nothing else comes close to a CRT.

And HD is just something else. Pickup a copy of The Fall and Cars on blu ray and enjoy, even after 7 months of ownership it still makes my draw hit the floor every time I watch a good feed on it, and it has the lowest number of niggles I have encountered on a set.

:thumbsup:
 

Persiflage

Active Member
Thanks guys: I really appreciate the advice and it's something I've honestly considered, but there are a few show-stoppers:

1) It doesn't have speakers, I don't have an appropriate cinema amp at present, and getting a decent one[1] would mean a big extra layout

2) There's nowhere suitable in the room to wall mount it, which means I'd have to buy a swivel stand to put it where I need it, which would mean yet more money

3) If I did buy a swivel stand and put it on there... it wouldn't physically fit in the space available. It's not the room size so much as the shape of the space it has to go in. A 46" panel *just* fits. As you might imagine, I can't see a way around this one. Even I'm not prepared to move house merely in order to acquire a suitable space for my TV! [2]

Thanks again though fellas :smashin:

[1] I'm constitutionally incapable of buying an "OK" one; it's a character flaw, and I know it, but still... ;)

[2] This is not, as such, true. It's really just because I'd have a hard time explaining it to my girlfriend.
 

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