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General discussion about what's out for the couch.
274

Home Theater discussion thread
Topic by: underdog
Posted: May 24, 2006 - 11:38 AM PDT
Last Reply: June 22, 2006 - 3:28 PM PDT

page  1  2  3      prev | next
author topic: Home Theater discussion thread
underdog
post #1  on May 24, 2006 - 11:38 AM PDT  
What systems are people using these days? What speakers and TV screens and DVD players?

What do you recommend? How does one set up a new system without breaking the bank?

Inquiring minds want to know!

Post advice here, ask questions and for advice here, and discuss the latest trends and technology that will help put us all into debt but feel as cool as possible.

underdog
post #2  on May 24, 2006 - 11:40 AM PDT  
How many people have HD-TVs and HD-DVD players? Just curious...

A friend of mine got an HD TV and is inviting people to come over to watch any World Cup game (he's working at home, the lucky skunk). HD is particularly amazing for soccer, which is shot in widescreen anyway - you get such incredible detail and it really feels like you're there. Not to get all drooly and gushy on you but...

Ursus
post #3  on May 24, 2006 - 11:42 AM PDT  
Yup.

Gonna wait for the new stuff to come down in price though (BLU-Ray) before my next sole-selling upgrade.
underdog
post #4  on May 24, 2006 - 11:49 AM PDT  
> On May 24, 2006 - 11:42 AM PDT Ursus wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Yup.
>
> Gonna wait for the new stuff to come down in price though (BLU-Ray) before my next sole-selling upgrade.
> ---------------------------------


So the standard DVD player for now? Me too. What kind of TV do you watch on?

I've still got to upgrade my TV (it's a nice 27 inch JVC but nothing special) but have to wait 'til I have more money. HD would be awesome.
Ursus
post #5  on May 24, 2006 - 11:58 AM PDT  
Sony 26" LCD Bravia XBR (Gift from Uncle... he bought a new Plasma. He's a jack-ass, but I can't complain)

Sony DVD-upscales to 720P.

I Would love to the see the difference between 720P and 1080P to see how appreciable the difference is, if at all.

B&W 6 series speakers (surround) w/monster cable running through Harmon Kardon Preamp/Processor (Pre-amp also hand-me-down from Uncle).
hamano
post #6  on May 24, 2006 - 1:21 PM PDT  
OOH I wanna rich uncle. Is he going to give you his old car?

I haven't been able to upgrade anything since the previous thread on a similar topic, except for my Mac which is now a G5 iMac. I've got a cable running from it to the TV but it's annoying because when I connect the video out cable the monitor setting for the computer's screen changes to match the standard TV-size aspect ratio with weird stretchy results. The iMac seems to be telling me to get a 16:9 TV. I decided to give the intel Macs a pass for now, until they get all the kinks out.
woozy
post #7  on May 24, 2006 - 1:25 PM PDT  
I'm still pretty cheap. I've got a nice Toshiba widescreen HD-ready 32" TV that miraculously fits *exactly* into the spot available for it. I replaced my old philips DVD player with an HDMI ready Toshiba.

I can't figure out why my friend's DVD picture is nicer than mine. She has a SONY 40" standard screen high definition TV and a fairly old 7-disc DVD carasol. On watching "Pride and prejudice" I noticed the skin texture and the marble texture of the walls were incrediable crisp and sharp. Tried to get that on my TV and the crispness just wasn't there. I figured it was probably because her DVD was progressive scan and my Phillips only claimed progressive scan audio. (We both used Colorstream video). But my new DVD player is no better. My tv doesn't have a HD reciever built in (i.e. it's HD ready) but everything I've read indicates that's utterly irrelevant. There must be some setting I haven't figured out. Or maybe Toshiba products are objectively and measurably suckier than Sony.
kohnfused1
post #8  on May 24, 2006 - 1:44 PM PDT  
26 inch Samsung HD-ready TV (heavy like a mother)

Samsung SIRT HDTV tuner (ebay) (forget the model no.)

Cheap HDTV antennae (radioshack)

HDTV rocks, when and if, the station broadcasts as such.

Panasonic 5 disc dvd progressive scan carousel w/satellite speakers. (700 watts, all together)
underdog
post #9  on May 24, 2006 - 2:54 PM PDT  
Well one question I have is how do people decide what to buy - even besides price (and what one can afford)? Especially with televisions... You really have to go to the stores to see them side by side, in person. Do people trust their eyes in that case? And what about consumer reports type sites and magazines?

I trust certain brands over others (Sony, Toshiba, Panasonic - depending on the type of equipment) and which have served me well in the past. But then there's reviews, word of mouth/recommendations, eyeballing them yourself, etc.
hamano
post #10  on May 24, 2006 - 3:12 PM PDT  
There's this thing called the "internet" where you can use "search engines" to find out about stuff. Buyer/user reviews on amazon.com, for example, are fairly informative if you're shopping around for a few particular brands/models. But it doesn't hurt to go down to Best Buy or Circuit City just to take a look at what's available.

But isn't price really the determining factor, at least for people who are HERE renting DVDs not buying them? We rent DVDs because it's more economical than buying them, right?

The question is, for the same money, where's the best looking picture? LCD? Plasma? DLP? Here it's starting to be a matter of personal preferences, I think...

Right now, I might be happy with an EDTV plasma screen instead of HDTV. EDTV matches the current DVD standard and downconverted HDTV broadcasts apparently still look pretty good. But I'd still need a couple of thousand spare dollars in my wallet, or maybe call on Ursus Uncle.

In reality, my next project is to run a really long audio cable from my computer to my receiver....
underdog
post #11  on May 24, 2006 - 3:44 PM PDT  
The internet eh? (In Mr. Burns voice:) I should look into that! No, but seriously, there's a lot of resources on the net - some are just the price comparison engines, others are consumer review sites (both editorialized and user feedback).

And yes, it goes without saying that price/cost is one of the most important factors - but even within a price group, i.e., you know you can only afford up to $XX - the products at that price level are sometimes hard for Average Joe to distinguish, without some feedback. I usually look at price, read reviews, ask around people I respect, and do a little testing in person. A TV's not something I'd buy online without seeing in person first, but I know people who have done just that (and were happy).
hamano
post #12  on May 24, 2006 - 3:52 PM PDT  
How to use the internet to decide which TV to buy:

Go Here, Poke Away!

If you get blown up, get Plasma. If you get hammered, get LCD. If you get shot, get DLP.
underdog
post #13  on May 24, 2006 - 3:59 PM PDT  
That poor penguin! What did he do to deserve such treatment.

Anyway, if you get shot, won't you need plasma, too? Stat!
kohnfused1
post #14  on May 25, 2006 - 11:34 AM PDT  
> On May 24, 2006 - 1:44 PM PDT kohnfused1 wrote:
> ---------------------------------
>
> Panasonic 5 disc dvd progressive scan carousel w/satellite speakers. (700 watts, all together)
> ---------------------------------

Correction, it's only 600 watts.
jeffs
post #15  on May 25, 2006 - 12:52 PM PDT  
Sony 55" LCD-projection TV (Chez Geek taught me that Anime + Big Screen TV = extra slack)
Denon receiver
Oppo upscaling DVD player
Mirage speakers

I can't say enough about the Oppo DVD player. I had tried other upconverting players and just didn't see much of a difference and in the end went back to my 480p JVC. After the JVC started to die I tried the Oppo. While it doesn't have the detail of an HD movie, the picture improvement is great enough that I'm no longer itching to get an HD player. I suspect some people might even mistake the Oppo for an HD player. I'm even going back and renting some of my favorites to re-live them on the Oppo.

As for where to get good infomation on home theater equipment, I initially used CNET. They don't seem to write as many home theater reviews as they used to, but its a good starting point. Another good source is the AVS forum...it has lots and lots of information but can actually be too much if you don't know what your looking for.
jeffs
post #16  on May 25, 2006 - 1:03 PM PDT  
> On May 24, 2006 - 2:54 PM PDT underdog wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Well one question I have is how do people decide what to buy - even besides price (and what one can afford)? Especially with televisions... You really have to go to the stores to see them side by side, in person. Do people trust their eyes in that case? And what about consumer reports type sites and magazines?
>
> I trust certain brands over others (Sony, Toshiba, Panasonic - depending on the type of equipment) and which have served me well in the past. But then there's reviews, word of mouth/recommendations, eyeballing them yourself, etc.
> ---------------------------------

It seems odd, but looking at them in person can sometimes do more harm than good. Many of the TV's in stores are set not to have the most accurate picture but are setup to catch your eye. Typically the brightness is set to maximum and the colors are way off. Sony for instance initially sets all of their TVs to have awful red push, and the only way to correct it is to break into the service menu. What makes this worse is that many stores have poor quality video sources which don't really show off the TVs well.

When I bought my TV I used a lot of reviews to make the decision. I wanted an LCOS set, but the ones out at the time had a lot of problems. I whittled it down to a few choices based upon the reviews and ended up with Sony becuase I was happy with my previous one and I knew how to get to the service menu to calibrate it (an unknown with the other choices). I then went to a high end electronics store to make sure I liked the picture...and then a cheaper place to buy it :)
hamano
post #17  on May 25, 2006 - 1:14 PM PDT  
> On May 25, 2006 - 12:52 PM PDT jeffs wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Oppo upscaling DVD player

That sounds great for people with HD screens. Did you do the multi-region hack on it to play foreign discs? Still it's $200 and you need a TV with a DVI input.

I guess the thing that bugs me about some of the big screen TVs is the reflectivity of the screen. Some of those screens are like mirrors, and reflect the whole room, especially lamps and stuff, very clearly. I tend to prefer the ones with the screens that blur/diffuse the reflections. But I wonder if those decrease the sharpness of the picture any. The big screen SONYs seem to have nice, non-reflective screens that blur even reflections of pinpoint light sources.
hamano
post #18  on May 25, 2006 - 1:19 PM PDT  
> On May 25, 2006 - 1:03 PM PDT jeffs wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Many of the TV's in stores are set not to have the most accurate picture but are setup to catch your eye. Typically the brightness is set to maximum and the colors are way off.

It's still useful for comparing one brand against another, I think. Assuming that they're all set uniformly in the first place (for best store display) they're all usually showing the same programming (some canned HD music concert or something) so if you visit enough different stores you can get an idea of which brands have pictures that match your preference. You can at least rule out the brands that look crappy to you.
Eoliano
post #19  on May 25, 2006 - 1:34 PM PDT  
> I can't say enough about the Oppo DVD player. I had tried other upconverting players and just didn't see much of a difference and in the end went back to my 480p JVC. After the JVC started to die I tried the Oppo. While it doesn't have the detail of an HD movie, the picture improvement is great enough that I'm no longer itching to get an HD player. I suspect some people might even mistake the Oppo for an HD player. I'm even going back and renting some of my favorites to re-live them on the Oppo.

The OPPO is indeed a terrific DVD player, as well as being an all-region player, OPPO's excellent customer service and firmware updates are a major plus, not to mention its reasonable price tag. When my progressive-scan region-free modified JVC began to show signs of old age, I jumped at the chance to buy the OPPO since it included DVI which (alas) is the only digital input on my 42" Samsung HD Plasma. However, thanks to the OPPO, the Samsung is finally doing what it was meant to do display-wise, and my DVDs look better than ever.
Eoliano
post #20  on May 25, 2006 - 1:56 PM PDT  
> Did you do the multi-region hack on it to play foreign discs?

Not necessary as it is PAL/NTSC compatable.

> Still it's $200 and you need a TV with a DVI input.

Not so: Component Video, Composite Video, S-Video, DVI to DVI or DVI to HDMI.
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