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How to compare LCD specs and what LCDs to audition

Discussion in 'LCD & LED LCD TVs' started by pbready, Sep 7, 2005.

  1. pbready

    pbready
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    I'm hoping to buy an LCD TV in the next 3-6 months. I've currently got a 32" Toshiba CRT widescreen fed by NTL's digitalplus service, but am looking to de-clutter my smallish lounge and want a HD-ready wall-mounted flatscreen. I have a fair selection of low/mid range hifi including the Yamaha YSP-1 DSP, so I'm not really concerned about the flatscreen's speakers or sound facilities per se. DVD-wise, I've a Pioneer DV-656A and a Toshiba RD-SX32 HDD/DVD recorder.

    From wandering around C*met etc, I think a lot of 32" screens look smallish (probably just compared to the large box my Tosh CRT is!), with 42" and above too large, so I'm thinking 37" would be a good compromise. I can afford around the £1500 mark. In the run-up to Xmas and the January sales, should I hold off since prices might come down?

    When I buy hifi, I've always tended to compile a table of potential buys and compare their technical specs and facilities. For LCD screens/TVs, what specs should I compare and why?

    What facilities should I look for that are genuinely useful and not just some gizmo you play with for the first few days then forget? I'd probably like a digital tuner built in as well, but it's not mandatory.

    From what I've seen so far, there seem to be a range of HD-ready resolutions, for example, or am I misreading them?

    In terms of suppliers, I was maybe thinking about Toshiba (the 37WL56), Philips (37PF5520D), Hitachi, Pioneer, Panasonic i.e. any of the bigger, better known names. What models should I consider and then audition?

    I've just started trawling through the forums and their FAQs, so forgive me if I'm asking for info I'll find there - it'd be useful if I could be directed towards the most useful to save me trawling about for days!

    Finally, I don't know why I'm leaning towards LCD rather than plasma - is LCD the way to go?

    Thanks!
     
  2. andrewfee

    andrewfee
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    Firstly, if you're buying an LCD for HD content, make sure it's got a 1366x768 native resolution.

    Response time is recorded in milliseconds, and measures how much "blur" there is on the screen with fast-moving objects. However this can be very misleading. There are different types of response that can be written; it all depends on how "honest" the manufacturer is. Discount any screen that is higher than 16ms, these "blur" too much. A "true" 16ms screen is great, but one that is only "peak" 16ms will blur as well. Some of the 16ms screens can actually blur less than a 12ms one, as the 12ms might be peak, and averaging higher than 16.

    A 32" LCD screen will be bigger than your current CRT. I'm not sure on the exact size difference, but a 26" LCD is exactly the same size as a 28" CRT; making me think the 32" will be 34" - 36" when measured in CRT terms. (part of the CRT screen is hidden behind the casing; you see all the LCD panel) It's just that even the bigger screens look small in these shops when they've got massive 50"+ screens on display.
    If you're wall-mounting, you'll also have to take into account that you will be sitting 2-3ft further from the screen than you were before. LCDs are critical with viewing distances though; if you get too close, things don't look so good. You're best to be sitting at least 3x the diagonal away from an LCD for Standard Definition content, although HD content lets you go about 2x the diagonal away.

    Make sure the display has either DVI with HDCP, or HDMI. HDMI is a newer interface, but it is compatible with DVI. You can buy HDMI > DVI cables, and vice-versa. You will also want component inputs on the set.

    Picture-in-picture is something that I loved for the first week or so, but I never use it now. I wouldn't take this into account when buying a screen.

    A brightness sensor is a great feature to have, as LCDs are slightly different from CRTs. As they are backlit, when the room gets darker, it makes blacks appear lighter. A brightness sensor adjusts the backlight to the optimal setting for the ambient light in the room.

    Something that my LCD doesn't have, but I wish it did, is a motorized stand. This is something I would make a lot of use of, but that's probably because I've got a bedroom setup. (this doesn't apply if you wall-mount) I find myself wishing I could just rotate the display 20º or so when I'm lying in bed, for example, or rotate it the other way when I'm at my desk using my laptop.

    Pay no attention to "dynamic contrast" ratios. These are done using trickery, which often results in highlight and shadow detail being lost to gain a very slight boost in black levels. You'll want at least 800:1 contrast on the set.

    Unfortunately a lot of manufacturers don't list this, but you want at least "10-bit colour" or "10-bit processing" etc. The newest Samsung models use 10-bit processing, and the new Sony V series uses 14-bit processing. This is the number of "shades" of grey/colours that the screen can display. It basically means smoother gradients, giving a more natural image, and that the darker areas of the picture don't loose detail. 10-bit is plenty though, you won't notice anything "missing" with this. Anything less, however, can suffer from "posterization" or "banding".

    LCD is definitely the right way to go. Plasmas have a lot of problems. Firstly there's "burn-in" and "image retention" which don't happen with LCD. This basically means that if there is a static image on the screen for any length of time (a channel logo, for example) a faint outline of it will stay on the screen. This could last for a few hours (image retention) or could permanently be stuck there. (burn-in) They are getting better, but it is still a big issue. There are other problems, such as "noise" or "grain" in dark areas, as well as flashes of colour trailing fast moving objects. (particularly noticeable in high-contrast scenes)

    The leaflet advertising Sony's newest LCD range claims that LCD is better in every way compared to plasma. It is also rumoured that they will be dropping plasma displays entirely, shifting completely to LCD for their flat-panel displays, and this seems likely to me.
     
  3. pbready

    pbready
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    Many thanks for this. What LCD do you have, and can you suggest some make/models to audition, or more importantly, which to avoid like the plague?

    Cheers
     
  4. David Mackenzie

    David Mackenzie
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    Agree 100% with everything Andrew's saying.

    I recommend you check out the Sony S and V-Series models. KDL-S26A12U and KDL-V26A12U. Swap "26" for 32 if you want something bigger.
     

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