HDTV with Freeview HD, for Xbox 360 gaming and DVD viewing (preferably 37")

UnlikelyThings

Novice Member
Believe it or not I'm currently using an SD CRT. It's about time I got a HDTV!

Requirements:

- Size: Preferably 37", but I'm aware that choices are a bit limited in that size. If not 37", then based on my previous experience with a 40" (see below), I'd prefer to go down to 32" rather than up to 40".
- Viewing distance: about 7ft.
- Budget: about £300-£400
- Freeview HD is a must, because I have a Humax PVR, but it's only SD. (If you can rearrange the channel order, that'd be nice!)
- I want something that's good for standard definition sources (e.g. DVDs of TV sitcoms shot on video).
- I don't want a Smart TV, as I can access iPlayer, LoveFilm and 4OD from my Xbox.
- I don't want 3D.
- Audio: I'll be using the TV's own speakers, so I want something bearable. Headphone socket needed too!
- Connections: At least one RGB SCART socket. (Maybe this should go without saying, but I don't know if some TVs are starting to omit them these days?)
- A bright screen. This is because behind the TV is a wide southwest-facing window, with a rail that can only support really thin curtains. (There's a roller blind as well, but that doesn't cover the whole width.)
- Resolution: 1080p would be nice, but I'm not certain it's a necessity. If I end up getting a 32", maybe it's worth just getting a 720p TV?
- Based on my poor experience with the Samsung described below, I want something with minimal motion blur


Possible plasmas

I've heard that plasma is generally best for viewing Standard Definition video, and has a lot of other advantages that makes people really strong advocates of it. But unfortunately plasmas don't get made in sizes less than 40", and I don't know how much the dimmer plasma screen brightness would be an issue with that big window. Also I tend to fall asleep with the TV on my PVR's menus, which is not good for a plasma! Even so, two 720p plasmas that are within my budget are:

- The 42" 720p Panasonic Viera TXP42X60B - £299 from Richer Sounds. (But the fact it's collection only is a barrier for me, as I don't drive. Amazon has it for £343.) Unfortunately, this review says it's not good in bright rooms. :(
- The 42" 720p LG 42PN450B

Any comments on those two models?


Really, I just want a TV that won't suffer from the issues I experienced with the Samsung UE40EH5000 I tried last year, described in the spoiler tag below:


Lengthy background detail about the problems I had with that TV

This won't really be my first HDTV. A year ago I bought a Samsung UE40EH5000 for just under £400, and it was a massive disappointment - the drawbacks were such that I didn't feel it was worth the price, and preferred to return it and go back to the CRT I was using before. Fortunately, I didn't have issues with input lag, which was my main concern in going from CRT to LCD. But I did have other problems, and I'm not sure how many of those are down to the the screen size/viewing distance, that specific model, the manufacturer of the screen I happened to get, things that could have been solved through a full calibration... and how many of them were just things I would have got used to in time!

I read warnings about what I'd find in transitioning from CRT to LCD, but I assumed that I'd be too wowed by the sheer screen size, and by Xbox 360 HD and Freeview HD, to be bothered by things like motion blur and the blowing up of the inherent flaws of SD video. "Those are things that are only worried about by videophiles who have seen what high-end equipment can do and have the money to spend on it," I assumed, incorrectly.

I spent a while setting it up as best I could with the AVSHD calibration disc via my Xbox 360. And of course I initially disabled all the extra options like Dynamic Contrast, LED Motion Plus, Digital Noise Filter, and Film Mode. I also experimented with other combinations of those options on or off, doing all I could without venturing into the service menu, but nothing seemed to improve the problems I could see.

Here are the main problems I had with that TV:

Blue ghosting

When dark objects moved across light backgrounds, I could often see faint blue-tinted afterimages. The fact they were always blue-tinted makes me suspect that they were an issue with the screen, rather than just complementary colour afterimages. Browsing the AV Forums and AVS Forum threads for this model TV, it seems other people have complained about this too. I had seen those comments before I bought the TV, but I assumed it'd be worth the risk. It wasn't; it was a huge distraction! (This was the thing I cited as a defect when I returned it.)

Blur in games

In games, I simply couldn't get used to the way that standing still led to a stunning crystal-clear picture, but as soon as the camera moved at all, backgrounds would abruptly blur together. This was the dreaded LCD motion blur I'd heard so much about, and it didn't feel like something I'd ever be able to get used to, considering the price of the TV. It was made worse, I think, because of the increase in screen size compared to what I was used to.

Freeview HD quality, and blur on TV

I expected my first taste of HDTV to be a huge step up. And some things did look great. But overall, Freeview HD via the built-in tuner was nowhere near as good as I'd expected it to be. Honestly, I sometimes had to check whether I was watching 1080i BBC1HD or 576i BBC1!

Blur was noticeable on TV as well as in games. I tended to find that static things looked great (say, the background studio in a news broadcast), and so did text, but the moment there was any motion at all (even just a presenter's face moving), that part of the image got distractingly blurry. Facial expressions and hair seemed the worst culprits for this - shadows in hair seemed to float around "on a separate layer" above the form! That surprised me, because I'd previously only heard people complain about motion blur in fast-moving images like sports and action films - not the simple action of someone moving their head slightly to one side!

An image that shifts between HD clarity and blurriness seemed more distracting than one that was always lower quality, so I preferred to go back to my CRT.

Standard definition quality

DVDs looked good, as long as they were well made in the first place. But if there were any artefacts, this screen really blew them up and made them obvious. I kept wanting to go back to a smaller screen that would disguise those defects!

I really couldn't get standard definition Freeview, and Lovefilm/iPlayer streaming, looking pleasant at all. (And not just things like the ITV channels that have always have a bad reputation for their low bitrate pictures.) I could only improve it using the "smart view" mode which shrinks SD images to occupy only 50% or 75% of the screen area, to disguise the problems. But doing that led me to ask: if I wasn't able to make full use of the full screen size, then why had I paid for such a big screen in the first place?

I watch so much SD stuff that I decided I'd rather have a small CRT screen that disguises its problems, than a big LCD TV that makes them more obvious.

Broadcast TV colour

I used the AVS HD disc to calibrate the settings for the Xbox 360 HDMI source: first I set the colour mode to "Movie" (because that's supposedly the most accurate mode, and I noticed that on some of the test images on that disc, the other modes introduced glowing edge borders), and then brightness and contrast. Those settings seemed good for games and DVDs through the 360. But when I applied those same settings to the TV tuner source, it didn't look great: I'd switch between different channels showing different types of programmes (dramas, animation, news, brightly-lit quiz/panel/chat shows), and one would look eye-searingly vivid (made worse because of the huge screen size compared to what I'm used to), and another would look all washed out. In comparison, on my CRT a single setting works reasonably well for pretty much every type of programme.



tl;dr

So that's my most extensive experience with a HDTV so far - so disappointing, that I preferred to go back to my familiar old CRT. For those who skipped it, essentially I just want a TV that minimises problems such as:

- The blue ghosting I experienced with that Samsung
- The blowing up of artefacts in SD DVDs/SD streaming video - I want to be able to have these things fill the screen's vertical height, not have to use a special TV mode to shrink them down in order to disguise their problems! (This is the main reason I'm willing to go down to a 32" screen.)
- In games, the abrupt, distracting transition from a crystal-clear static scene to a blurry moving one.
- On TV, the motion blur with faces and hair.
- On TV, the annoying range in colour from "eye-searingly vivid" to "all washed out".


Buying that Samsung made me wary of getting another HDTV without being able to try it with different types of video first... but I'd feel guilty about trying one in store and then buying it online from somewhere else entirely. :( That's why I've put it off until now!


So, does anyone have any recommendations for a TV that wouldn't suffer from too many of the problems described above?
 
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vickster

Distinguished Member
Panasonic 39e6b?
 

UnlikelyThings

Novice Member
Is this the biggest post-length to reply-length ratio ever? :D

It's a useful reply though - thanks! I had no idea where to begin with LCDs, so your recommendation is a good start. I'm currently reading up on that E6B. Looks good so far - but I think I'd be more likely to go down to the 32" version rather than the 39".

I noticed that the 39" ...B6B is significantly cheaper than the 39" ...E6B; I can see that it loses some smart functions, but is the picture quality significantly different?


Does anyone else have any other recommendations?
 
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vickster

Distinguished Member
If you are satisfied with 32", options open up a lot. Not read great things on b6 b
 

UnlikelyThings

Novice Member
Well, after much procrastinating, I eventually decided to get the 32" TXL32E6B. But it looks like I left it too late; Richer Sounds still had some left when I asked a couple of weeks ago, but today they were down to just ex-display models without remote controls (that would have to be collected in-store, which I can't do as I don't drive), and the solitary one that was left in my local Argos today will probably be gone by the next time I'm able to go there.

So it looks like I've missed out on the E6B, and will have to go for something that's more readily available. Looks like the more recent Panasonic equivalent is the 32AS600. Browsing this site, there seem to be a fair number of posts about the bigger AS600 models, but not the 32", and I saw this post that says reviews of the bigger screen sizes can't necessarily be applied to the 32":

The E6B 32" had problems with a creaking noise with the power supply expanding with the heat of the unit. I believe that this has been corrected with the 32AS600. I think it also had a problem with backlight bleed. I did see the 32AS600 in john lewis and it looked ok although can't tell about blacklight bleed in a bright shop environment. It was £399 in JL but don't think it's in stock online at this moment. For the sake of £60 I'd rather have the newer model brand new and not a returned item.

There's a review of the much bigger model at: Panasonic AS600 review - FlatpanelsHD

but that has a VA panel whereas the 32AS600 has an IPS panel so the results aren't comparable.

There's also this thread...
PANASONIC AS600 SERIES | AVForums
... which suggests that the AS600 feels cheap and has bad sound. (Which would be an issue for me as I wasn't intending to buy an amp/speakers any time soon.)

So, does anyone have any experience with the 32" AS600, or any other recommendations for 32" LCDs for less than £400? What models should look into from Sony (W7 range?), LG and other manufacturers?
 

vickster

Distinguished Member

UnlikelyThings

Novice Member
I dunno about that Samsung. I realise it's irrational to be put off a whole brand based on a sample size of one, but the problems I had with a Samsung UE40EH5000 (described in the spoiler tag in my opening post) really put me off them. That blue ghosting (in films) and motion blur (in games) was really irritating.

I really don't know why the motion blur bothered me so much on that TV, given that with my PC, when I went from a CRT monitor to an LCD one for the first time (and a no-name LCD monitor at that), I didn't experience any of it!
 

vickster

Distinguished Member
Did you only try one Samsung or a whole host? Also, did you adjust the clearmotion and all the other settings too? Out of the box, TVs are generally rubbish

IPS panels used on Panasonics and LGs can suffer blur too. Try a Sony, I think there's a review of the W7 on here or HD TV test
 

UnlikelyThings

Novice Member
Did you only try one Samsung or a whole host? Also, did you adjust the clearmotion and all the other settings too? Out of the box, TVs are generally rubbish

Yes; I experimented with various combinations of all the settings possible without venturing into the service menu, and calibrated it as best I could by sight using the AVSHD disc on my Xbox. (But although those settings worked OK for the Xbox source, they didn't seem to look pleasant when I applied them to the Freeview tuner source.) Nothing I did convinced me it was worth the money I'd paid for it.
 

MW55

Active Member
I saw the 32" Sony in JL previously and i thought that the picture quality looked very good with the caveat that TVs will all be set to 'look as bright as possible' shop mode.

As far as I could tell in a noisy shop environment the sound quality seemed better than the Panasonic with a bit more 'depth', if that makes sense

Suggest you see if a shop nearby has both where you can try them out.
 

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