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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm shopping for my first HDTV, and I'm looking for some broad recommendations. My budget is $500-$700 dollars. My apartment is set up such that I'll be viewing the TV from about 10-11 feet away. I know that is kind of far for most of the TVs that fall in my price range, but I want to do the best I can with what I've got. Thus far I've been looking primarily at LG and Panasonic because they have a lot of options in my price range. My parents own a Panny Viera that I've always liked, so I've been leaning in that direction. That said, I've seen a bunch of Sonys and Samsungs that look really nice, but most are a bit more expensive.

I'll be using this TV for a wide range of stuff--cable TV (probably standard def for now), streaming movies, DVDs, Blurays, both hi-def and standard video games. Can anyone make recommendations based on this info? What brands do you prefer? Anything I should look out for?

Thanks.
 

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At that distance you probably want 50 or 54" at least (ideally even larger but it gets pricey)

If you're willing to raise your budget I would strongly recommend swinging for the fences and getting this.

Within your budget, I think either this should be a fine choice. With budget TVs, I find the need to do a grayscale calibration absolutely vital. My cousin bought a plasma a few weeks ago and to my eyes, there was some clearly visible green in the greys. I recommend that if you do go for a budget TV, that you pick up a decent spectrometer and calibrate the greyscale.

Beyond grayscale, the thing to really focus on when purchasing a TV, is how well it handles dark shadow detail. It's easy for a TV to look bright and attractive in the showroom but what really sets them apart is the ability to show you things, that other TVs might just "lose in the darkness".
 

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You should take a look at the Mitsubishi rear projection DLP sets. You cannot get more bang for your buck than that. You can get the 65" WD-65C10 from Dell for less than $900 delivered. If you go down to a 60" it will be about $100 less.

If you want a flat panel, then go with the S30 GranteedEV linked to. Outside of that you'll have to go smaller.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the replies, good stuff.

I am leaning toward a flat panel, and the s30 is one that has caught my eye before. I think I'm going to wait a little longer and try to save up some more cash. Maybe I'll wait to see what kind of sales are happening around black Friday.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks tazz. I've looked at the st30s a bit, are there substantial advantages of those over the s30s aside for 3D? I don't especially care about 3D--I've heard that 3D TVs also display 2D better, but I haven't gotten any more detail on how/in what way.

Note: I will definitely buy my tv from amazon because I've been saving up points from my rewards card, so I won't have the luxury of shopping around for prices.
 

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I don't especially care about 3D--I've heard that 3D TVs also display 2D better, but I haven't gotten any more detail on how/in what way.
I'd imagine the primary reason is simply that most manufacturers' best current TVs are 3D, whereas their inexpensive TVs are 2D.

I do still recommend the GT30 over the ST30, as I find THX-mode to generally be well worth it as far as resolution of dark details and initial grayscale calibration etc.
 

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I also like the GT30's slim bezel and very low profile depth.

-Robert
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
How do the ST30s and GT30s do in bright rooms? I know that was an issue for early plasmas, but I don't know if it's still a problem for newer models. Our living room gets a fair amount of light, but we usually have the blinds at least partly closed.

[BANANA]Thanks![/BANANA]
 

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My (older) plasma does fine in a brighter room as long as the reflection off the window itself on the screen is not in the path from the seating position. That reflection/contrast can be visible on dark scenes if you focus on it (more often TV shows don't have dark enough scenes, but movies might) however at daytime i also recommend using a brighter gamma setting like 'standard' over 'cinema' or thx' which are optimized for a dimmer room.

I believe the latest models have significantly improved anti-reflective coating. If possible some black out curtains might still be a good idea though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I went to Best Buy last night to take a look at some TVs. They had the 50" S30 and ST30 directly next to each other, which was convenient. The S30 looked a lot brighter that the ST30, but I'm wondering if that might just be an issue of settings, etc. Honestly the ST30 looked a little flat (low contrast settings, maybe?) and generally not too good, so I'm hoping I can find another one to look at somewhere. I thought the S30 looked great, so that's a plus. A Samsung D550 also caught my eye--I really liked the look of that one, though it wasn't adjacent to or playing the same content as the other TVs I looked at so it's a little harder to tell. How would that one compare to the ST30? Are there any important features one has over the other?

I'm going to do some more looking in-store, can anyone suggest specific things to look for? I'm pretty experienced with audio stuff and I know that to the average listener, audio that is louder often sounds "better." Being relatively new to the HDTV thing, I imagine I'm having the same experience with TVs and brightness--i.e. brighter generally looks better to me.

Lastly, I'm not a big fan of motion interpolation, at least in the sets I've looked at where it was very obvious. I've read that most models let you turn it off, or in some cases change the intensity of it. Is that the case for these three models?

Thanks again for all the help, this has bee most useful.



P.S. I'd love to consider the GT30s, but I'm stretching my budget as it is to look at the ST30 and D550, so I really can't seriously consider that on at this point.
 

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Personally, I find auditioning a TV to be impossible, unless they are professionally calibrated in a room that approximates your living space. Otherwise you're 100% just seeing "showroom settings" which are reliably going to be so wrong it's not even funny.


Whereas with audio, I can accept that the measurements tend to be widely lacking to make anything near a conclusion, I'd say that I would purchase televisions wholy based on their measured test results in pro reviews etc rather than subjectivity. The only thing that I would consider subjectively determinable is upscaling ability and reflectivity (of course rarely does the audition space represent your space). The important things like grayscale, color accuracy, contrast, black level, have such a profound impact on "best buy auditions" that I consider them worthless. Imagine auditioning speakers with each of them EQ'd with their own randomized version of "Smiley Face" settings and you can imagine how I feel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
So I decided to pull the trigger on the 50" ST30. I decided it was worth the step up in price for the benefits it has over the S30, and eventually decided it was a better option than the D550, primarily for these reasons:

-glare is reportedly a bigger issue for the d550, and while I was not able to compare the two side-by-side in store, I did look at both and agree with that assessment. Our living room is bright enough that this will likely make a difference.
-ST30 has some connectivity features the d550 does not--not my biggest concern but a nice plus.
-overall impression I got from various forum threads regarding d550s and ST30s is that the latter is preferable.
-last but not least, the ST30 was on sale on Amazon, $80 cheaper than the D550. (Another reason not to go with the S30--the ST30 was only $20 more because of the sale!)

All in all, I feel very good about the decision. I would love to be able to afford one of Panny's higher end models, but that's just not in the cards right now. This TV will be a huge step up from my nearly 10-year-old 19" RCA CRT, anyway. :T

So, with my order placed, I'm waiting eagerly for the TV's arrival on Wednesday. I will certainly be back with more questions about how best to set up and use it--looking to get the most out of my purchase. Thanks again for all the help!
 

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the S30 not as good as the st30 because of the panel and some other things. all 3d tvs have better panels that are good for 2d and 3d viewing
 

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The ST30 is an excellent set. You chose well.

The ST series is a big step up over the S series (ignoring 3D, all the best tech still goes into the high sets, which are all invariably 3D as a mere side effect, IMO)

There are only a few minor differences in stepping up to the GT30, many of which are negated once you have the set calibrated anyway, so I wouldn't lose any sleep over that.
 

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I have the samsung TA950, doubling as a Mac monitor. I barely decided between this and the new Thunderbolt but now I'm glad I bought this. Saved some $, looks brilliant and got 3D too!
 

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I also got a new PANNY 55 for black friday and Im afraid it has the brightness fluxuation issue...I hope yours is ok

My older G10 THX PANNY is still an amazing plasma however so I will still have it to watch til my new one gets fixed....
 
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