View Full Version : Samsung HDTV question for the group...
11-09-2002, 04:07 AM
I recently closed a very small Best Buy credit account because I paid it off. Nervous at the thought that I didn't own enough consumer electronics, they sent me a coupon for 15% off any TV/home theatre system more than $500.
My apartment (and budget) is too small for one of those monster projection TVs, but I desperately yearn for a widescreen HDTV. The only one within relative Earth orbit of my budget is this one (http://www.samsungusa.com/cgi-bin/nabc/product/b2c_product_detail.jsp?prod_id=TXM3096WHFXXAA).
16:9 DynaFlat?HDTV Anti-Distortion/Anti-Glare CRT
Digital TV High Definition Monitor
ProPicture™ 3-Stage Video Enhancement
Total DSP (Digital Signal Processing), Converts Standard Analog TV Signals to Digital, Compensates for Varying Signal Strengths
ProChip™ Plus Progressive Scan Display
Defining Filter 3 Line Combing Technology
Invar Shadow Mask
Velocity Scan Modulation
2 Sets of Dual Digital HD Component
Side Speaker Design
1 S-Video Input
1 Side & 3 Rear A/V Inputs
1 Rear A/V Monitor Output
20 Watts Audio Output
2-Way Sound System
So my question is, does this TV seem worth it for $850? Is it missing some crucial XY6-9GA triple filter mipcombing feature or something?
And, yes, I know I really can't afford this Vederman.
11-09-2002, 09:21 AM
I'd read up on digital TV copy protection before buying an HDTV. I haven't done thorough research on it since I have a nice analog WEGA that I can't spousally justify replacing until at least 2005... But as I understand it, the Hollywood types are implementing a new copy protection layer on HDTV programs to prevent PPV movies (and anything else they desire) from being digitally recorded. And said scheme, incredibly, will not work with existing HDTVs.
So... I'd just have to read up and make sure that my equipment wasn't going to be obsoleted in a couple of years before dropping big $$$.
(Ah, here's Dvorak on the issue from http://www.pcmag.com/print_article/0,3048,a=24658,00.asp )
While on the Subject of HDTV Dept.: For some odd reason, I feel disgusted and at the same time vindicated by the most recent fiasco regarding HDTV. I have been skeptical of this rollout and urging caution since it was first proposed as an analog system requiring expensive gallium arsenide circuits to work. It appears that the new copy-protection schemes being dreamed up by Hollywood will make every single HDTV set sold to date obsolete. And buyers of new sets are not being told about this situation in a dubious attempt to dump very expensive inventory. I'm sure those of you who spent $5,000 to $10,000 for what may become an albatross are going to love reading this.
What happened was that the Hollywood folks, who are just freaked over the possibility that we'll be copying HDTV movies, have promoted copy protection that requires the decode circuit to be built into the display, not into the set-top box. This requires the set-top box to send a signal to a connector that new HDTV sets will have. If you're thinking of buying an HDTV, don't, unless it has this connector and circuit—whenever they are finalized. I suspect that this copy protection mechanism will be used for certain broadcasts, too, since there has been a lot of talk about copy-protecting DSS and other transmissions.
The concept is that when copy protection is put within the circuitry of the display, you can't decode something with a set-top box and then grab the signal as it comes out of the box and before it gets to the screen.
Meanwhile, the HDTV-promoting Consumer Electronics Association is going to eat crow if all the current HDTV sets turn out to be white elephants. I see no evidence that this mess will be resolved without a lot of burned consumers. All the Hollywood studios are belatedly demanding the new system. I suppose an expensive retrofit could be developed, but it probably won't be. Nothing is designed nowadays for fixing or retrofitting.
And I'm guessing that those expensive set-top boxes will also have to be replaced. According to most sources, all the latest schemes allow copy-protected broadcasts and movies to be viewed on the old HDTV sets, but they will fall back to lower resolution. Welcome to the bleeding edge. Anyone even thinking of getting HDTV before this issue is completely resolved is just throwing money away. Funny how your local newspaper or TV station hasn't been covering this consumer issue, isn't it?
11-09-2002, 11:13 AM
Keep in mind that you'll still need to drop $500 or so for an HDTV DirectTV converter, plus the DirectTV fees themselves if you want more than a couple over-the-air broadcast stations in HD. That also requires you have a suitable location for DirectTV (unobstructed view of the southern hemisphere I believe) and pretty much rules out renters.
Then you get to enjoy about five or six HDTV programs.
But widescreen for DVD movies kicks ass. It's probably worth it for that alone, but don't get your hopes up about HD television.
11-09-2002, 12:46 PM
Considering I couldn't really justify it to myself before, this pretty much closes the issue. I'll wait.
Thanks for the advice, guys.
11-10-2002, 02:21 AM
Mitsubishi claims that if you buy one of their TVs now, they will provide an upgrade to support whatever is needed for HDTV in the future. Mind you this won't be a free upgrade, but they guarantee it will be at "reasonable cost" (estimated at $1K ...).
Anyway, I just bought a Mitsubishi 55" widescreen and I'm very happy with it.
Jim, one thing you might want to think about is, whether you like watching DVDs or regular TV (or if you're willing to get DirectTV with HDTV support). Regular TV does not look very good on a widescreen. In fact, depending on what you're watching it looks pretty crappy. I think with most widescreens, you can display the TV image in the center, with gray or black bars on the side, but this risks burn in. The other choices are cutting off part of the picture, or viewing everything expanded out to fit the widescreen which ends up looking rather distorted. I don't think burn in is as much of an issue for non-rear projection TVs, so you might be able to just watch TVs with sidebars on all the time, but you might want to check on it (burn in is definitely a major issue for rear projection TVs).
For me 85% or more of my viewing is widescreen DVDs, so I'm more than willing to put up with the quirks of having a widescreen television. Movies really do look incredible on it. However, if most of my viewing was regular TV, I think I'd probably be pretty annoyed.
11-10-2002, 11:50 PM
I just wanted to point out that you don't necessarily need DirecTV for HDTV. Time Warner cable here in Houston offers rental of an HD decoder box for $5/month. Currently they carry the big three plus Fox and PBS in HDTV as well as HD versions of HBO and Showtime. Most of the networks' flagship dramas (CSI, Law and Order, etc) are broadcast in HD. Here is a weekly schedule of HD broadcasts (http://www.hdtvgalaxy.com/broad.html)
On a subjective note, I jsut have to say that watching HDTV is just spectacular. I justified my 48" JVC mostly on the basis of DVDs, but the HD broadcasts are definitely worth the extra $5. The one drawback I've found is when you change channels, it takes 7-8 seconds for the HD decoder to lock into the new channel. I don't know if that's just a limitation of this particular box or what. It only happens when switching between HD channels, regular channel surfing is unaffected.
On a side note, and in the grand QT3 tradition of driving a thread off-topic, am I alone in thinking that the user interface on these digital cable boxes is abysmal? I had Adelphia in LA, and now Time Warner in Houston and they both use the same box with the same crappy interface. For example, when I pull up the guide, it seems to be completely random whether it centers the listings on the channel I'm watching or resets it to the top of the channel list. My other pet peeve is that when I'm scrolling through the list and press 'select' on a show, I would expect the box to tune into that channel. instead, it only tunes to that channel if the show is currently in progress, otherwise it asks me if I want to set a reminder. So if it's 7:58, it displays all of the shows at 8, but doesn't let me jump to them unless I scroll back to whatever show is finishing up. Am I just missing something?
11-11-2002, 08:01 AM
the copy protection issue is a serious one but still quite open ended. My guess is it will end up in court, much like the fair use lawsuit that allowed the vcr to rise to prominence. Worse case scenario is that pay per view movies might have their signal downgraded to a little better then what tv is now. Well, actually worse case is the copy protection being built into all hardware, which is a whole other issue.
The statement that you will still need a hdtv tuner is a good one, something to remember. Also with dvd's you might need a progressive scan player to have it look good. I had a apex that looked terrible on a hdtv. However your current player might look just fine, there has been some compatibility issues though between certain players and sets.
The whole point is don't let the copy protection scare you off. There is something like 2 million sets out there right now, with a projected 2 million for the next six months. Thats a big enough market that there somebody will make an adaptor even if the copy protection goes through.
11-12-2002, 07:52 PM
I just did some HDTV research and bought a set a couple weeks ago (a 32" Sony). Here's what I'd found.
That copy protection issue IS very open-ended right now, and there are enough customers now plus several million by the time the "requirements" go through, if they even do, for a MONSTER class-action lawsuit. Having said that, the people saying that it's going to make all HDTV sets obsolete are perhaps crying wolf. It appears that it will make the TUNERS obsolete, but any current HDTV will accept component input from any source, and an external tuner that complies with whatever boneheaded new format they come up with will supposedly output component video to your TV.
If you buy an HDTV with a built-in tuner, the tuner would be worthless under the new scheme. Just another reason to get an HDTV without one (and in your price range, Jim, none of them have tuners).
It's like DVD - copy protected (HA!), but the players (tuners) output a high-def signal via component outputs. The same would be true of tuners that recieve the new protected broadcasts.
Anyway, buying an HDTV for actual high-def shows on TV right now is a waste, since there just aren't enough of them. I bought one for three other reasons:
1. video games in progressive scan (and sometimes high-res!) mode.
2. DVDs in progressive scan mode
3. I wanted a TV that'll be good for like 8-10 years, and not one I'd want to replace in 3 or 4. That meant hi-def (with a future tuner purchase when they get HDTV service on my cable company).
Jim, if you decide to go high-def, I caution you against the particular model you were considering. It's a great TV, Samsung makes good units (Toshiba and Sony are the best in the sub-$4000 range though). But it's widescreen and "only" 30 inches. Which means when you watch normal TV stuff that's in a 4:3 aspect ratio, you're effectively watching like a 24" TV or something like that with black bars on the sides. I bought a 4:3 TV just for this reason: a 16:9 screen just doesn't make sense until you go to around 36" (too big for my apartment).
11-12-2002, 09:19 PM
I'm waiting for the semi-large plasma panels to come down enough in price before my next set purchase (they're currently, I think, around $5,000). I figure all the HDTV dust wil have settled by then. I love my WEGA, but it's a 200lb behemoth. You guys ever tried moving these fuckers? Worst of all-- the weight is totally lopsided; it's incredibly front-heavy.
11-12-2002, 09:41 PM
FWIW, CNET has a comparison of smaller HDTVs (http://electronics.cnet.com/electronics/0,10708,0-6342372-1323-0,00.html?id=6144711&id=9729678&id=8879879&id=20461179&id=9479264&?tag=ld)
11-12-2002, 09:57 PM
32" sony WEGA CRT: Weight 206 lbs
42" plasma display: Weight 66 lbs
Heh heh heh.
Here's the spec sheet for the sony WEGA (from the review above)
Here's that 42" plasma panel review where I pulled the weight from-- it's a Gateway, oddly enough, and "only" $2,999.
I'm no plasma expert, but it sounds like these displays suffer from the typical LCD problems: black levels too high (it's backlit), color banding (<24bpp color precision), etcetera. I hope they get all that worked out in the next 2-3 years before I'm in the market. Current LCD displays are damn good compared to ones from 2 years ago, so, here's hoping!
11-13-2002, 07:23 AM
Jim, if you decide to go high-def, I caution you against the particular model you were considering. It's a great TV, Samsung makes good units (Toshiba and Sony are the best in the sub-$4000 range though). But it's widescreen and "only" 30 inches.
Thanks for the advice, Jason. I can't really afford anything too large right now, and my apartment really isn't big enough for what I really want. Given all the uncertainty, I think I'll wait another couple of years.
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