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What to look for in a Plasma for a HTPC?

Discussion in 'Plasma TVs' started by marky mark, May 10, 2005.

  1. marky mark

    marky mark
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    I am looking to buy a 42 inch plasma screen with speakers to connect to my HTPC setup, and am after advice on the key things to look for when selecting a screen. Any specific recommendations and set-up tips would be great as well.

    My HTPC is used for DVD playback and TV via a Nebula PCI freeview card. As it is on a wireless LAN I would also like to be able to use it for viewing digital photos and internet. It has an ATI graphics card with S-Video, VGA and DVI connectors. I also need to be able to connect an NTL digi-box via SCART.

    What is the preferred connector - S-Video, DVI or VGA, and what resolution should I look for in order to be able to use it as a PC monitor? I am currently using a 32 inch widescreen CRT, which is OK for TV and DVDs but barely useable as a PC in 800x600 mode.

    Thanks for your time,
    Mark.
     
  2. Orangelo

    Orangelo
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    I was in the same boat. The best connection should be DVI (Digital RGB), VGA (Analogue RGB) would come second and S-Video should be, IMHO, avoided. Ideally, you want the video card to output the exact resolution of the plasma (i.e., 852x480, 1024x768, 1024x1024). Most plasmas will take their native resolution through their VGA ports, but you may get some judder with PAL DVDs. S-Video will give you fluid motion but very poor PQ. DVI / HDMI is a mistery to me.

    Some manufacturers carry pro-lines which are more HTPC friendly, but generally have no tuner. Video connnections may be available standard or as an accessory in professional plasmas. Do a search, the topic is discussed.
     
  3. Dan L

    Dan L
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    I disagree on the resolutions, you want to run through DVI then alter the resolutions to true HD resolutions for watching TV, DVD's etc, either 1280x720p/50Hz or 1920x1080i/50Hz obviously depending on what the PDP supports.

    I run mine in 720p and it's awesome.

    If you run in normal 4:3 resolutions then you will probably get the wrong aspect displayed.
     
  4. Orangelo

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    I beg to differ. A plasma is capable of displaying so many pixels only. You can choose a higher or lower resolution in your computer, but it will all come down to the panel's resolution. That is what your eyes will eventually see, not more, not less. As a rule of thumb I would try to go native first. Emulating an HD video signal is a turnaround to be used when you cannot go native, as it is the case with ALIS panels AFAIK, or when you can go native but there are other issues at stake, such as judder.
     
  5. mucca_D

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    If you put native in the pannel does not have to translate the picture to it format ie if you input in 1024x768 the the pannel will have to change it to its native image size (unless it does 1024x768)

    I used a HTPC on an SD pannel and it works very well for all except normall PC functiion.

    The way to explain what I want to tell you is, when you are sitting in from of your PC with a 17" screen you are normally about 2'-3' away from it but running a plasma at a high res' (small text) from 10' away can lead to a head pound....

    Using it for media web browsing it good, using it to show all your digi photos is fantastic.

    Using a HTPC front end for ease on the eye strain is a must.

    If you want to run HD then you need DVI out on PC and of course an HD pannel.

    If you are thinking of 32" then you may be better with an LCD, that way you can of set the cost to size to feature ratio :rolleyes:
     
  6. Liam @ Prog AV

    Liam @ Prog AV
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    You will need a XGA res screen ideally, Panasonic PHD7, NEC XR3, Pioneer MXE1.

    Pioneer is probably best suited. Will run native resolution via DVI at both 50Hz (PAL) and 60Hz (NTSC) but has no HDCP compliancy for if you intend to add Sky HD at a later date.

    NEC is similar to the Pioneer, allows 60Hz (NTSC) and 75Hz (PAL) and does have HDCP.

    Panasonic is higher contrast image than both, but only allows 50Hz PAL via analogue and the DVI card while HDCP compliant won't work with Sky HD due to it's 50Hz limitations.

    LCD is also an option, but TBH I would stick with 42" XGA plasma!
     
  7. Orangelo

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    Tell us more about that NEC, please. Why is the Pioneer best suited? Seems that the NEC ticks every box and adds HDCP as a bonus.

    Also, I can see the 75hz PAL compatibility if we are using a computer. I assume that it will still take 720/50p and 1080/50i digitally, even if it's not 1:1 (i.e., from a DVD player or a scaler), or not?
     
  8. Liam @ Prog AV

    Liam @ Prog AV
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    I think the Pioneer and NEC will give about the same result from a HCPC. Not really sure why I say the Pioneer is best suited, I just always tend to use it with scalers because I didn't used to have NECs recommened timings for pixel matching a XR3 (do know thanks to a friendly forum member!). What I've not ever really looked into is which would be better out of the NEC running 75Hz from PAL or the Pioneer running 50Hz doubled to 100Hz. I wouldn't've thought there would be much noticeable difference but have never looked at the two side-by-side.

    Spoke to Gordon (ConvergentAV) about these screens a couple weeks ago and he said the graphs from an ISF calibrated NEC were very similar to that of a Pioneer hence the comment either will do the job, but yes the NEC does tick the extra box with HDCP compliancy.

    The NEC does accept 720p at 50hz, but not officially it seems (i.e. it works but it's not on the spec as working). The Pioneer doesn't accept video resolutions at all digitally IIRC (even if they are without HDCP).
     
  9. Orangelo

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    :eek:

    Good to know, I was thinking that Samsung 9xx players would do the job with the Pio, as they seem not to comply with HDCP standards at all, but this is a totally different story!
     
  10. MAW

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    Yes that's right, no 720p on digital on Pioneer MXE1. Liam, we'll agree to differ on NEC, personally I wouldn't have one as my tombstone. Dan, 720 is one res suitable for the hitachi with a PC, especially bearing in mind yours has no addressable native res, and again one might consider this on a SD plasma, but if you have an XGA one, you run XGA, and use appropriate software to correct aspect ratio probs, Theatertek, and Nebula can both cope with the situation. Photo display is a bit harder though, which puts LCD in with an advantage. How about the Sharp 37" monitor?
     
  11. marky mark

    marky mark
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    Thanks for the replies - it has taken a few reads to get my head round it. Anyway, I think that I should definately be looking for DVI input and 1024 x 768 resolution (is this the same as XGA?). I will look to compare a few screens - the Panasonic PHD7, NEC XR3, Pioneer MXE1 will give me a good starting point. Perhaps it will be worth taking my HTPC with me to get a real comparison.

    Obviously I don't want to spend any more than I need to, do you think that waiting a couple of months will see greatly reduced prices?
     

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