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TV suggestion

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by Joful, Dec 11, 2013.

  1. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Confession time: we've been living with a pathetic little 19" TV in our living for the two years we've been living in our home. It's on almost continuously, but we're not really the type with time to sit down and really watch movies, up to this point in our lives. With our kids getting a little older, that may change (family movie night?).

    In any case, we're ready to ditch our old entertainment center, designed to hold a CRT, and buy a TV cabinet that will hold a real TV. Since it will be a custom build, the maker suggested we pick the TV (or at least size it) first, and then he will size the cabinet, accordingly. His "standard" size for the cabinet we chose is 66", and has a 53" unobstructed view (13" width lost to face frame), but he said he could just as easily build 73" wide to hold a 60" TV.

    The room is 15'-8" deep, and measuring from viewing position on couch to where the TV would sit, gives us a viewing distance of 13'-0". The wall against which the cabinet will be placed is 11' wide x 8' high. The room width is 27', although our circle of seating is only 13' wide, so max view angle is not super extreme.

    The cabinet we're modeling this after is shown below (we'll be building in Walnut). Base cabinet height is typically 32", and the cubbies in the lower part of the upper cabinet add 5" to that, but he said he could lower to 28" for a big TV and eliminate the cubbies in the lower part of the upper cabinet, to get a large TV down to reasonable viewing height. I have read that you want the center of the screen close to eye level, when seated, which means the bottom of the TV should be around 28" off the floor for a 55" screen.

    TV_cabinet_closed.jpg TV_cabinet_open.jpg

    So... home entertainment extraordinaires... educate this noob. What should I be looking for? We are not home theater enthusiasts, and I don't think I've sat to watch a movie in our living room even once in the 28 months we've been in this house, although that is probably partly due to our absurdly small TV. What's important to me is something that's reliable with very high hours (my wife leaves the TV on perhaps 12 hours per day!), decent picture, fairly wide viewing angle both horizontally and vertically (this is one thing that really bothers me with a lot of flat panel TV's).

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  2. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    All I will tell ya is when you get that new big screen LED or LCD TV, buy the extended warranty. I have never bought those things until now in my life. But my wife is an invalid and the thing stays on 24 hours a day. After two crapping out in just under two years of around the clock running I bought the next one at Walmart and popped for the four year warranty.

    When I dumped the last 37" inch at the dump I ask the guy if he saw a lot of them. He said "Yep.".
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2013
  3. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    I sketched it and the cabinetmaker who built our kitchen put this together for us.

    entcent.jpg
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  4. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    This guy's "standard" cabinet provides a 53" wide unobstructed view, so it looks like he was building for a 55" screen with some extra room, or perhaps a 60" screen with the bezel hidden behind the face frame (bad idea for angle viewing). I see the width of most 1080p LED/LCD TV's are as follows:

    55" screen = 50" overall width
    60" screen = 54" overall width

    They'll build to any width we want, but I assume it will cost a few dollars more for extra material, plus forcing them to adjust all of their cut lists. I also see decent mid-level TV's in the 60" size run about $100 - $500 more than similar quality 55" screens.

    All of the recommendations I see (Best Buy, Crutchfield, RCA, Toshiba, Wikipedia) say you want a screen bigger than 60" for my 13 foot viewing depth, but I think all of these recommendations are aimed at home theater enthusiasts, which I am not. I think a 55" screen seems pretty damn big (we're using 19" now, which is admittedly way too small... but works!), but I've never really owned any TV over 27", so I don't really have any good point of reference.
  5. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Really, the size of the set is determined from the viewing distance. There are a bunch of tables online that will walk you through the basics....but you don't want to the set so big you can (just) see pixels, or so small you lose detail.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optimum_HDTV_viewing_distance

    at 13', looks like you are gonna want a big set.

    I thought the same way you did, and got a set on the small side of the recs. Ended up rearranging the furniture and pulling the sofa forward a few feet.
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  6. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Since Ive had this exact discussion before, rather than retype everything I'll cut and past an answer I put on another board. I was writing to somebody not technically inclined at all so some of the below is an oversimplification....


    ---


    When I was shopping for new TVs 6 years or so ago I used CNET. They have great reviews and a very comprehensive buyers guide that explains a lot of the jargon.

    http://reviews.cnet.com/tv-buying-guide/

    A large flat screen purchase is a big investment. I would research carefully and buy the best you can afford. Be wary of what the sets look like in the store as they are all deliberately calibrated to look artificially bright.

    There are a few things to consider:

    1 - Screen technology.
    First choice to make. Do you want LCD or plasma?
    Plasma -
    • Pro's:Generally better color reproduction and still the best contrast/deep black levels of any TV. better off angle viewing, great choice for movie rooms. Can be cheaper than LCD when you get into very large sizes.
    • Cons: High electric consumption, generates a lot of waste heat, can be subject to image burn in, does poorly in bright rooms
    LCD:
    • Pro's: More energy efficient, handles bright lighting better, lot more options of sizes, features
    • Con's: used to be that off angle viewing, motion blur and black contrast where poor but with new screen technologies, 120Hz+ refresh, and LED backlighting they are closing the gap
    Bottom line, unless you are a theater fanatic building a dark movie room - and you are not - usually LCD is the better choice. Unless its out of budget opt for an LCD with direct lit LED backlighting (this technology uses a grid of LEDs behind the entire screen, and it selectively turns off the LEDs in dark parts of the image to give near Plasma like deep black contrast).


    2 - Screen size.
    Do go bigger than you think you will want. The number one complaint folks have is that they wished they went bigger. LCD are all 16:9 aspect widescreen, so for the same diagonal size will be shorter vertically than an old tube. A widescreen set of around 24" will feel the same size as that 19" tube.

    I have a 46" in a 12'x12' den and it doesn't feel overwhelming at all, sitting at 8-9' viewing distance. A theater freak would have gone much bigger, but we didn't want to overpower the room.

    3 - Resolution.
    [edit - you can ignore this. Anything you are looking at in the 50-60 sizes will be 1080p capable]

    4 - Frequency.
    Broadcast television is transmitted at 60Hz. The early LCD sets also where 60Hz, which should be fine, but for technical reasons that are hard to explain you will see some blur in fast paced movies and sports on many 60Hz sets. So they introduced 120Hz sets. and then later 240 (overkill). Unless you have a good reason not to get at least a 120Hz set.

    Another benefit of 120Hz. Film based movies are recorded at 24FPS. If you get a blue ray player the movies are actually encoded in 1080p resolution at the real film speed of 24 fps. 24 does not divide into 60 evenly, so the player has to do a conversion called 3:2 pulldown and add extra skip frames on a 60Hz set, which can add a noticeable flicker to the image if not done very well. 120 does evenly divide by 24.


    Once you have decided those basics, read reviews of individual models to find the ones with the best image quality and features you want.

    When you install the set, you will want to learn about picture calibration. LCDs have many more controls for image than tube TVs and come factory calibrated overly bluish and bright (looks better in a showroom). Usually getting the best image quality is achieved by setting the color temperature control to a setting called "warm" or "movie" and doing a lot of custom tweaking to color, tint, brightness, contrast, sharpness, backlight strength, etc. There are actually calibration DVDs to help you set this up wight if you want a perfect image. It makes a big difference watching movies. How to do that is the subject for an entire thread if you are interested.
    Joful likes this.
  7. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Thanks, guys! Okay... it looks like 50" is out of the question, as is probably 55". I think we'll size the cabinet for a 60" screen. It will definitely be 120Hz... and thanks for the heads up on 240Hz being overkill.

    It would be nice to get out and go look at sets in a showroom, but with a half dozen OPE machines due for yearly maintenance, 8 cords of wood waiting to be split in the back yard, 2 rooms currently under renovation, Christmas preparations, two careers and two kids... I don't see that happening. My TV shopping will almost certainly begin and end in one evening on the computer, from approximately 10pm until 11pm, while logged into the VPN at work and waiting on some EM computer simulation to run. ;lol
  8. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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  9. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Cool, thanks! I was already familiar with pulldown, in theory, but didn't know the specifics of this algorithm. Always best to just avoid it, and since most current 60" sets are already at least 120 Hz, it shouldn't be as much an issue as it was when I was buying some of my older / smaller LCD's.
  10. mithesaint

    mithesaint Feeling the Heat

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    Go as big as you can. I have a 65" in my 13x17 living room, and love it. It's great for sports and the occasional movie, but it's also nice to be able to watch from the kitchen if it's my turn at the stove. We upgraded from a 32" CRT to the 65", and my wife thought I was insane at first. She loves it now.
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  11. nola mike

    nola mike Feeling the Heat

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    The plasmas are much better than they used to be. As far as energy efficiency, my old ('07) 42" LCD uses 240 watts or so. My newish 55" plasma is right around 100w. If you like sports or don't have much glare in the room, the plasma is the better choice. Cheaper, better viewing angle, no motion blur. I (and consumer reports) disagree about the extended warranty. LCDs/plasmas are in general far more reliable than CRTs. Buy it with a credit card that doubles your warranty. In 2 years your fancy tv isn't going to be worth what you paid for the warranty. Lastly, for your case I'd buy the cheapest set I could find. Going upscale gets you things like 3d (I haven't even tried mine out in 1.5 years) and internet connectivity (which is super limited, and can be replaced by any number of $50 or so devices). Oh yeah, and go as big as you can. Kind of like a stove, no one ever wishes they got a smaller one...
  12. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Plasma is cheaper? I hadn't even been shopping them, based on perceived lifespan (in terms of total run hours), and the assumption they were the more expensive option. Maybe I'll need to check them out. I do remember that the TV that cnet has named their top pick for several years was a plasma, but was being discontinued this year.
  13. Dave A.

    Dave A. Minister of Fire

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    When I bought my larger lcd a couple years ago, the plasmas were the cheaper ones. Higher elec usage cost. Greater risk of burn in from steady images and 4x3 displays with the black bars on the sides. The last was a particular negative for me since I have a lot of old movies and tv series. I guess even wider screen scope movies like 2.35:1 with black bars top and bottom could be a problem leaving burn in if you watched a lot of them in the correct aspect ratio. That's what I've heard anyway, no first hand experience with the plasmas.
  14. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    Personally I miss the old CRTs. They lasted eons before breaking! I currently have a CRT in the living room upstairs. My youngest (1) smashes it, drools on it, scribbles with drool from hands on it and drives his toys on the screen of it. The damn thing won't die. I am waiting for it to break before getting it's replacement. I already have a 46 inch 120 Hz LCD in the basement.

    The days of $200 living room TVs are done. But it seems every electronics store always has big TV specials. When will TV sales cool off??? Do people buy TVs every 3 years now? It seems everyone I know has new TVs but every electronics flyer has 200 different TVs on sale!

    Andrew
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  15. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Bought a Panasonic plasma a few years back . . . no issues . . . and they had addressed burn in problems way back when (guessing this was five or six years ago) with shifting pixels. It does generate some heat, but no other issues. Heard that Panny is sadly stopping the plasma line of TVs . . . too bad since the have great pics.

    I personally don't miss the CRTs . . . I actually have a HD CRT TV . . . thing ways a ton. 32 inch or so screen . . . bought a new LCD TV for our third bedroom upstairs. Same picture size and practically feather-weight. Much easier to move around for connections and I can pretty much put it anywhere without fear of breaking the furniture . . . yeah, it's that heavy.
  16. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    LOL. HD CRTs are heavy indeed. CRTs are not practical: moving a 27 inch one is a cow.

    BUT my experience tells me they are tough. Remember when we were young? A TV would last 10-20 years. These days if you have young tots running around, you had better not have an LCD on a stand or it can get scratched (speaking from experience with my basement TV) or knocked over (hasn't happened .....yet). And call me old school but watching a TV that hangs on the wall is not something I care to do, I find I would be looking up too much!
  17. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Good transition, Andrew. We went with 60", right at the minimum of recommended size for our room size. Now we're trying to size the cabinet. Base to screen center is 19.5" +/-, and seated eye height is 43". Subtracting one from the other, that doesn't leave much height for the base cabinet, looking at photos of the cabinet posted above.

    My thinking is, since we're not exactly home theater buffs, I'd rather have the TV a little on the high side, than end up with a cabinet that looks all out of proportion, when the doors are closed.

    Standard base height is 32", and the cubbies in the lower part of the upper cabinet push that up to 37". We'll relocate those cubbies to above the TV, so then the TV will be basically at base height. The maker said he could build the base at any height, and suggested pushing it down to 28" for this big set, but I'm worried that'll make the cupboard look like one of those fat-bottomed BK Kings.
  18. becasunshine

    becasunshine Feeling the Heat

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    One word: Costco.

    Every time we've had to shop for a t.v. we've ended up getting the best resolution in the screen size we wanted we found the best combination of features, size and price at Costco.
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  19. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    Interesting! We actually got a freezer and one of my tool chests at Costco, thanks to a family member who has a membership. My current employer provides a membership, which we don't use for grocery shopping since it's not very convenient for us, but maybe I should check them out on the TV's. Thanks for the suggestion.
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  20. ironpony

    ironpony Minister of Fire

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    if you have time to watch tv, you have to much free time and should be CSS more wood. looking at your sig you need it.
  21. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I'm not sure why I should be taking advice on productivity from you, but I actually can't remember the last time I sat down and watched TV. It's more for the wife and kids, although I'd like to get this house someday soon to the point where I can sit down and watch something with the kids.
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  22. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    I would have to say that anyone posting on this forum has a little too much free time on their hands...;em
  23. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I'm not sure I'd say that. Maybe 90% of my forum time is while waiting for numbers to crunch or results to load on my computer. Not enough time to go do anything useful, but too much time to sit and stare at a spinning hourglass.
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  24. Swedishchef

    Swedishchef Minister of Fire

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    I sit on here and pass my time. It's a way to decompress and learn. Where else can I learn so much about wood burning????
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  25. ironpony

    ironpony Minister of Fire

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    I did not think I would ruffle so many feathers with that comment. I was joking.....
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