Friday, March 17, 2006

Flat panel goodness

Last week I posted about my HDTV going on the fritz. It was one of the big, square CRT TV's, which is to say, it was just a souped-up version of the TV's that have been around for 50 years. The manufacturer said I had to return it rather than getting it fixed (which I would have been fine with). So, I ended up with $750 to put toward a new TV and a decision to make.

These days, you can get a pretty nice widescreen 32-inch LCD HDTV for just a little more than that $750. I would have been OK with that, but my wife (bless her heart) didn't want a smaller TV than the 32-inch CRT we took back -- if that's confusing, remember that a 32-inch widescreen becomes roughly a 25-inch TV once you box off the sides for regular 4:3 TV.

If we were going to get roughly the same size TV and get a widescreen and not totally blow the budget, we were left with two choices: A 42-inch plasma EDTV (ED means "not as good as HD"), or a 37-inch LCD flat screen. We could also have gotten a big CRT rear projection set, but I vetoed that because rear CRT projections are huge, ugly, unreliable and have poor picture quality.

I found an LCD that I liked and was in our price range, a Syntax Olevio. Not a name brand, but it's earned good reviews over on AVS Forum. But every store in the Front Range was out of stock, including all the ones who claimed they had it in stock.

Then I stumbled across the Emprex 3701P, which is even less of a brand name than Syntax. Plus the model was brand new, so there's no reliability history. However, it had better features than the Syntax and it was in our price range, so I took the plunge and ordered one (they seem to have raised the price by $600 since I did - score!).

Which brings us to last night, when I drove through some horrendous traffic to the DHL terminal in Englewood and picked up one extremely large box. I had about half an hour of panic after I got it set up because I could not for the life of me get the TV to power on. The set has a manual control panel on the top, in addition to the remote control, but neither one did squat. Only after reading the manual for the 10th time did I notice a reference to a "master power switch" down on one corner of the panel. I felt stupid, but at least I got it working in time to catch some of the NCAA Tournament in high-def.

So far, I'm very happy with it. The non-HD satellite channels look a little better than they did on the old TV (although still not as good as they do on a regular, low-def TV), and the high def comes through bright and clear.

Not to mention, it's 4 inches thick and looks like it came off the bridge of the Death Star.


At 10:59 PM, March 19, 2006, Blogger TallGuy said...

"rear CRT projections are huge, ugly, unreliable and have poor picture quality"

Generally, most people agree with "huge and ugly" but not with "unreliable and poor picture quality" - RPTV CRTs are the most mature technology, are pretty reliable, often have the best picture once calibrated, and have great black levels... And I believe they're probably still the best value in terms of getting the most HD screen size per dollar... Yeah, they're big and old and not fancy, but in some rooms that's OK.

At 9:55 AM, March 20, 2006, Blogger AndyW said...

That was a little tweak at my boss, who just spent $500 to fix his CRT RP instead of buying something newer. That said, I've never been impressed by any CRT RP's PQ, even the really good ones just pale in comparison to any of the newer technologies.

At 9:04 AM, December 04, 2007, Anonymous Thunder18 said...

I've had my 3701P since May of '06 and I'm still pretty impressed with it. One weird thing that I did notice though, and this is really weird, is that it seems to save independend picture setting based not only on input, but also resolution! If you send it 1080i via HDMI you need to set the video for that resolution. If you send it 720P via HDMI, again you need to set the video for that resolution. Same thing with the component input. This really drove me crazy for awhile as I could not figure out why the picture settings were so awful when playing certain PS3 games, but great playing others. Turns out that I had set-up the video settings in the 1080ip setting that my cable box send out. When playing Ultimate Alliance for the PS3 at 720P, the video looked terrible, colors were bad all because I had never set-up the video setting with a 720p source. Once I realized this, I used an upconverting dvd player to output all the available resolutions and mirrored the video setting to each resolution. Now it's a lot better!


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