LCD v DLP v plasma

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Tom

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I've procrastinated on replacing our TV at home for a few years, confused by the relative merits of the different screen technologies and having sticker shock at some of the prices. It appears that the prices are starting to converge, but trying to compare them in a store is almost impossible. Adjacent sets aren't set up the same and some are way out of adjustment. Sometimes they feed them from a DVD player and sometimes from a HDTV box. Sometimes they put them at eye level, sometimes too high and sometimes too low. I always end up walking away somewhat frustrated.

I understand the differences in the technologies, but can anyone help with comparing the relative merits of the picture quality or other attributes of each? Any reason for not buying a particular technology? What about desired inputs (component video v S-video v composite video v whatever)?

TIA
 

BruceinFL

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Tom said:
I've procrastinated on replacing our TV at home for a few years, confused by the relative merits of the different screen technologies and having sticker shock at some of the prices. It appears that the prices are starting to converge, but trying to compare them in a store is almost impossible. Adjacent sets aren't set up the same and some are way out of adjustment. Sometimes they feed them from a DVD player and sometimes from a HDTV box. Sometimes they put them at eye level, sometimes too high and sometimes too low. I always end up walking away somewhat frustrated.

I understand the differences in the technologies, but can anyone help with comparing the relative merits of the picture quality or other attributes of each? Any reason for not buying a particular technology? What about desired inputs (component video v S-video v composite video v whatever)?

TIA

Several years ago, there was a study done where passers-by were asked to compare the picture quality of plasma and DLP screens (same size and no way to tell which was which). DLP won. So for a large screen.....LCD screens aren't in that category yet; a 32 " LCD is more expensive than a 50 " DLP....., my choice would be a DLP. Plasma is still expensive, has a finite life (I've heard 7 years from several sources) and is not economically feasible to repair when the warranty runs out. On the other hand, DLP is very light, only several inches in depth, reasonably priced and the bulb, when it burns out, is owner/user replaceable.

In short, for large screen (above 32") go with DLP first, LCOS second and plasma last. For smaller screens go with LCD. (I have had a Samsung 50" DLP for two years and love it. HD is awesome! Did about 8 months of research before I got it.)

Almost all new sets have HDMI, component, S video, computer and analog inputs. Right now, there are very few local broadcast HD channels so most of the HD programming comes from cable or satellite, therefore there's no need to have a built-in HD tuner.

Hope this helps.
 

Tom

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That sure helps a lot Bruce. I was leaning towards DLP, but recently received a raised eyebrow from a friend who is in the video editing business. He was favoring LCD for large screens and that definitely threw me a curve.

Interesting comment re plasma. Back in the 80's I interviewed with a company that was developing color plasma displays and I walked away telling myself the technology wasn't reliable. Here we are 20+ years later and it doesn't sound like they've made that much progress.

Thanks again.
 

BruceinFL

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Tom,
The price of DLP is coming down faster than plasma as more manufacturers get hold of the DLP chip. Plasma came out before Texas Instruments came up with the DLP chip. Manufacturers had spent a fortune tooling up for plasma and were reluctant to drop it entirely because of the investment. 2-3 years ago there were only 2 DLP set manufacturers and now there are several. I've noticed in the stores that DLP and LCD sets are proliferating while plasma sets are remaining the same or declining in number. Now there's a new technology called OLED that may eventually replace plasma, DLP and LCD. Maybe if you wait a few more years..... ;)
 

Tom

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BruceinFL said:
Now there's a new technology called OLED that may eventually replace plasma, DLP and LCD.

Oh no, I'm confused enough as it is Bruce  ???
 

Carl L

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We have just purchased a 34" Sony LCD and are very pleased with the unit.  It is HD and we have a number of LA channels on HD now.  The difference it makes is astounding.  For anything under 36" I would say LCD is the way to go.

For other technologies go to Consumer Reports.  They have an excellent rundown on the competing technologies including the limitations and miseries, screen sizes, and brand/model quality. 
 

Karl

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Tom,

Not that difficult. OLED uses ORGANIC (the "O" in OLED) (read: carbon based) led's instead of gallium, arsenic, phosphorous, etc. materials for producing the photons. They've found that micro-organisms, some synthetically produced, can be controlled to emit light given the proper electrical stimulation. Still in the experimental stage, they (theoretically) can produce ultra-high definition, kind of on the molecular level. I wouldn't wait for it to be mass produced, and the initial cost will probably be extremely high. MTBF is still pretty much up in the air.
 

Tom

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Thanks Carl. Hadn't thought of Consumer Reports. I'm looking at something in the 50"-56, depending on physical size. We have quite a large room, but space for the TV is limited, which is one reason I'd considered LCD. Taking measurements at stores today, I think the DLP sets will fit OK. Still having sticker shock though.
 

Tom

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Thanks for the lesson Karl. I don't think I'll hold my breath for OLED technology.

As for MTBF, there's no way of knowing until they have lots of operating hours under their belts &/or have developed models for accelerated testing. I think that manufacturers do the public a huge disservice by publishing such numbers since, without stating the exact operating conditions and some statistical stuff such as confidence level, it's meaningless. It's like me saying my car will last 20 years without stating how hard it's driven, what speeds, how many miles, which gears, hill parameters, fuel grade, weights of people in the car, maintenance and a host of other variables. I'd then need to state, for example, the CL for the prediction or the sample size and observed failure rate in addition to some fudge factor that allows me to extrapolate from test results to expected results.

Bottom line, reliability is nothing more than a probablity (between 0 and 100% or between 0 and 1, whichever turns you on) that a product will survive under stated conditions for a stated period of time. MTBF and its inverse, failure rate, are nothing more than calculated/predicted numbers unless they have huge amounts of field failure data. So, if you read that something has an MTBF of x hours without any of the other parameters, it's just marketing BS.

BTW, in case it didn't show, I spent a large part of my career running accelerated relaibility tests, developing models, analyzing test results and making predictions for components and, to some degree, systems in everything from automobiles to TV sets to hearing aids to telephone/transmission systems to computers to airplanes to missiles to Space Shuttle and on and on  ;D
 

Bob Zambenini

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Karl said:
Tom,

They've found that micro-organisms, some synthetically produced, can be controlled to emit light given the proper electrical stimulation. Still in the experimental stage, they (theoretically) can produce ultra-high definition, kind of on the molecular level. I wouldn't wait for it to be mass produced, and the initial cost will probably be extremely high.

Karl, maybe this is use for all those lightening bugs out there in middle America!

When I leave the left coast and get back there I tell the folks, I  know when I am in middle America, because that is when I see lightening bugs and dogs that chase cars!

Bob
 

Karl

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Bob,

Not as strange as it may seem. That's where they got the idea from originally; that and from the ocean tides that sometimes glow - the crimson tide (and green too; I'm told) and some fish too.

While driving back to Milwaukee from Des Moines a few years ago, I was puzzled to see a whole bunch of people pulling off the main highway, I-80, and setting up picnic tables beside the corn fields. As it got darker, it became apparent that they were there for the nightly firefly show. Literally millions of them could be seen flashing their taillights in the night. A spectacular sight it was, indeed! Hey, who needs t.v when you've got Mother Nature ;D
 

blueblood

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Tom said:
I understand the differences in the technologies, but can anyone help with comparing the relative merits of the picture quality or other attributes of each? Any reason for not buying a particular technology? What about desired inputs (component video v S-video v composite video v whatever)?

TIA

My grandson and I debated the question. He went DLP; I went plasma. We've had them for 8 months. He's had 2 bulb failures thankfully covered under warranty but worried about later. I have (knock on wood) had zero problems, great picture, Replacing in 7 years mentioned in another response doesn't concern me. First, I'll have to live that long, second the programming will have to have not deteriorated any further to have something to view and third, technology is moves so fast that I'll probably want a new XXX by then if not before asssuming conditions one and two are met. ;D
 

Tom

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Thanks for that perspective Leo. It's good to have a "side by side" comparison like that. BTW what size screens are they?

You're right about technology moving fast. I watched it first hand for many years in the semiconductor industry and it never failed to blow my mind.
 

blueblood

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Tom said:
Thanks for that perspective Leo. It's good to have a "side by side" comparison like that. BTW what size screens are they?

You're right about technology moving fast. I watched it first hand for many years in the semiconductor industry and it never failed to blow my mind.

50 inches
 

Tom

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Thanks Leo. That's in the ballpark of where I'm looking.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Tom,
There are two flavors of LCD - one direct (as on a laptop) and one that uses a projection technology.  They make large LCD projectors tha provide outstanding pictures - we have a 43 inch Panasonic LCD projector that gives glorious HD video.  [DLP is also projection rather than direct display). Forget everything you ever knew or heard about projection TVs - the LCD & DLP projectors are nothing like the CRT projection of old. No gun alignment problems or anything like that - neither DLP nor LCD have "color guns".

LCD projection was about 10% less expensive than DLP projection when we bought 12 months ago, but DLP has come down in price. I would probably pick DLP now that the prices are pretty much, but my eye really could not detect any difference between the two in terms of picture.

Vis-a-vis plasma, projection units have a bulb and the bulp has a finite life measured in low 1000's of hours, not 100k+ like a display. It's a replacement item and  expensive - think in terms of $200+.  I bought an extended warranty for our set that included bulb replacement, but most contracts did not offer that option.

 

Tom

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Thanks Gary.

RV Roamer said:
Forget everything you ever knew or heard about projection TVs

That might be part of my problem. We currently have a 42" projection TV that's like a boat, or maybe it should be a boat anchor. In addition to being physically big and very heavy, we've never been happy with the picture. The DLP sets I see today make this one look like it should be showing silent movies.

I'd previously put this set in mothballs and bought a regular 36" tube for the family room. But several months ago our daughter decided the 36" set was just right for her family room, so I brought the behemoth out of mothballs again.

Technology sure has changed.
 

BruceinFL

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blueblood said:
My grandson and I debated the question. He went DLP; I went plasma. We've had them for 8 months. He's had 2 bulb failures thankfully covered under warranty but worried about later. I have (knock on wood) had zero problems, great picture,

The DLP bulb is very bright, therefore hot. That's why there is a cooling fan that runs to cool it down after the TV is turned off. In case of a power interruption, the cooling fan doesn't run and if the power comes back on too soon or the TV is turned off and then back on right away, the bulb may fail. Fortunately, I had a salesman who was up on this and suggested an uninerruptible power source (UPS) because we have short term power interruptions /failures all the time here in FL especially during the rainy season with lightning strikes. As a result, I have had no bulb failures in the 2 years I have had the DLP. I also wait at least 30 seconds-1 minute after turning the set off before we turn it back on again. So, if you get a DLP, or for that matter any new TV, use a back-up UPS to protect it just as you do with a computer or any other piece of valuable electronics equipment.
 

Tom

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Bruce

A UPS is something I hadn't considered with DLP. We do get interruptions here (I gave up resetting the time on our home phone because of them). Glad you mentioned this, thanks.
 
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