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Sony KD36XS955 vs 42" Plasma

berriman
12-30-2005, 10:51 AM
Hi. Newbie here. new to HD, new to Plasma, etc...

I've owned a 32" standard Toshiba TV for almost 10 years. It has performed beautifully. No problems whatsoever, and the picture is still fine. However, I want to enter the age of HDTV, sooner rather than later. Thus, I have been doing quite a bit of research for the last few weeks / months in preparation for the plunge.

While cost is certainly a big issue, at least as big a factor in this process is the desire for the best, pure picture quality (PQ). From everything I've read, and seen with my own two eyes in stores, it's pretty hard to beat the best CRTs in terms of vivid image and color quality. The very good plasmas ARE "on a par" with the best CRTs, imo, but not "far superior" by any means. If anything, they fall a tad short for pure PQ...even the highest rated Panasonics, for example.

The CRTs that I keep coming back to are the Sony KD34XBR960 and the Sony KD36XS955. Both great looking TVs. However, the 955 just keeps jumping out at me because the 16:9 image is only slightly smaller than the 960, but the 4:3 images are WAY bigger. And the 955 is much cheaper. My local "ABC Warehouse" offered me an almost unpassable deal for the 955. $1500 out the door including a FULL 5 year warranty on parts and labor and a quality over the air antenna for HD reception, delivered AND set up!!

This sounds great.

But I keep thinking about just how great the Panasonic TH-42PX50U 42" would look. Obviously, the sticker price is a bit of a shocker in comparison..... $2500+, much shorter warranty....possible burn-in concerns / issues, and the fact that all 4:3 programming will have bars could speed burn-in and be a viewing distraction.

hmmmm?????

so conflicted.

$2500+ for big, wide Plasma and constant worry, or $1500 for clarity and peace of mind, albeit much smaller, yet much bigger than what I'm used to.

Any thoughts?

thanks.

DB

borromini
12-30-2005, 02:24 PM
....so conflicted.

$2500+ for big, wide Plasma and constant worry, or $1500 for clarity and peace of mind, albeit much smaller, yet much bigger than what I'm used to... You say you're conflicted but this last phrase suggests that you're not as conflicted as you think and would prefer the CRT. :) Would you really go with constant worry over peace of mind? ;)

RSawdey
12-30-2005, 02:56 PM
Reconsider your opinion that making the format with 1/6 the detail fill the screen, while stuffing the two million pixels of HD into the middle 3/4 of the screen... it's only logical that the more detailed image needs shown larger. It's called widescreen, not shortscreen...

All HDTV is widescreen, to consider any other display shape at this late date in the transition is foolish.

BrianO
12-30-2005, 03:42 PM
Reconsider your opinion that making the format with 1/6 the detail fill the screen, while stuffing the two million pixels of HD into the middle 3/4 of the screen... it's only logical that the more detailed image needs shown larger. It's called widescreen, not shortscreen...

All HDTV is widescreen, to consider any other display shape at this late date in the transition is foolish.

I agree. Also, watching a lot of HD on the KD36XS955 will in all likelihood cause burn-in that will become very noticeable when you watch anything full-screen. You cannot fill the 4x3 screen with a 16x9 picture. However, you can stretch a 4x3 picture to fill a 16x9 screen. The 34" Sony's have 3 stretch modes, each designed to handle different circumstances.

As far as which model, the KD34XS955 is cheaper than the KD34XBR960 and has all the features that the KD36XS955 that you are considering has, including the same user manual.

As far as 4x3 screen size is concerned, the KD34XS955 and KD34XBR960 both have the same height at a 27.8" 4x3 set would have. Shorter perhaps (by 2.5") than the 32" set you have but still a very good size.

ja2935
12-30-2005, 03:49 PM
What is your expected TV life? Buying a 4:3 HD set now makes no sense and will come to haunt you as more and more HD programming is becoming available and you will feel the need to change it again to a widescreen.

For average everyday family room viewing a 34" widescreen CRT (1080i) gives the best picture and value - my idea of an upgrade would be to a 1080p LCD not a plasma which is only 720 lines even though they are at twice the framerate.

If you like Toshiba consider the 34HF85 - now under $900 at many places - smaller and cheaper than the massive 34" Sonys.

PRS4
12-30-2005, 10:47 PM
All manufactures now moves toward flat panel HDTV and you may not be able to get high-end CRT HDTV like KD34XS955 and KD34XBR960 in the near future. So, in my opinion, before those high-end CRT TVs are gone, get the best CRT HDTV now and think those developing high-tech flat panel TVs later. Like everyone says, donít even think about 4:3 HDTV.

berriman
12-31-2005, 11:36 AM
Thanks for the replies so far. Great input.

PRS4 said, "Like everyone says, donít even think about 4:3 HDTV."

while I do agree that HDTV is meant for 16:9, and should only be viewed that way, there is something to be said for trying to obtain the best balance between the quality and size for 4:3 broadcasts as well as 16:9 HDTV. imo, the 4:3 format is not going anywhere soon...many channels will only offer 4:3 for quite some time, and reruns etc...will always be 4:3.

Thus, a 36" 4:3 model is just barely smaller for 16:9 broadcasts than a 34" wide, but is WAY bigger for 4:3. When looking at the Sony 36" in the store, the HDTV looked great both with "letterbox" on, and off (full screen HDTV).....although obviously the program is meant, and as stated, should be viewed wide screen. I've just about ruled out a 34" wide, because 4:3 is so small, virtually equivalent to a 27" 4:3 TV.

thanks again all.

This is an interesting process.



But

ja2935
12-31-2005, 02:36 PM
Thanks for the replies so far. Great input.

PRS4 said, "Like everyone says, donít even think about 4:3 HDTV."

while I do agree that HDTV is meant for 16:9, and should only be viewed that way, there is something to be said for trying to obtain the best balance between the quality and size for 4:3 broadcasts as well as 16:9 HDTV. imo, the 4:3 format is not going anywhere soon...many channels will only offer 4:3 for quite some time, and reruns etc...will always be 4:3.

Thus, a 36" 4:3 model is just barely smaller for 16:9 broadcasts than a 34" wide, but is WAY bigger for 4:3. When looking at the Sony 36" in the store, the HDTV looked great both with "letterbox" on, and off (full screen HDTV).....although obviously the program is meant, and as stated, should be viewed wide screen. I've just about ruled out a 34" wide, because 4:3 is so small, virtually equivalent to a 27" 4:3 TV.

thanks again all.

This is an interesting process.



But
Well, the choice is yours but make sure you are happy with the SD performance before committing - digital sets are not as good as regular analog for non-HD signals (this includes regular digital cable that are not the HD digital stations).

Another thing that might annoy you after a while is the relative image sizes. If, for example you switch from an HD news reader (ie head and shoulders in widescreen) to one in SD full screen you will go from a small detailed head to a large blurred one. This transition is not so noticeable on a widescreen where the head size remains about the same because the screen height is the same.

Good luck deciding!

berriman
12-31-2005, 08:41 PM
ja said, "digital sets are not as good as regular analog for non-HD signals (this includes regular digital cable that are not the HD digital stations)."

Yikes!

I hate to hear that. It's not the first time I've heard that said. And that scares me.

imo, it is imperative (at this time and for the forseeable future) to have excellent picture quality for both HDTV and SD. If an HDTV exhibits a "poorer quality" for SD than my 9 year old Toshiba, then there's just no way I can justify the expense for an HDTV at this time. If ALL, or even the vast majority of programming, I was going to watch was HD, then it would make sense.

Anyone else agree with that statement? That is, that an HDTV will (generally speaking) have a worse picture for SD programming than a good analog set?

borromini
12-31-2005, 10:07 PM
This applies only to fixed-pixel displays like LCDs, DLPs and Plasmas. CRT HDTVs don't have this issue. Not all SD stations look as bad as what you think, some will come across better than others, but they're not HD and that's what you notice when you switch from an HD channel to an SD channel on fixed-pixel displays.

Most of us that own these larger displays don't worry about this issue because it's the HD programs that we mostly watch anyway. Local prime-time programming are all pretty much in HD and so are major sporting events. You're either in it for the HD or not! :)

What will it be?

ja2935
01-01-2006, 02:48 PM
borromini may well be right - as I only have a 34" widescreen CRT I cannot dispute that. However, I do know how my set looks with SD and although the better stations are quite watchable (and I frequently record SD material) I also still have my 27" Sony analog so can compare the two - the 4:3 picture size is about the same on both.

It is hard to determine what is different between the two but they do look quite different. The Sony is a typical good SD image with very little ghosting and good colors and contrast. I run the Toshiba on Theaterwide 1 mode for SD which stretches the picture slightly top to bottom (you loose about an inch each) and stretches the width slightly in the center two thirds of the frame and then stretches the edges out to the full width (frequently it is hard to tell that it is stretched). However, if I set the brightness correctly for HD then it is too dark for much of the SD material - so I end up with a compromise setting - this can make the SD stations look a bit dull and the HD ones a bit bright. Also, there is less edge definition (as explained on other sticky threads) and also a blurry perception when swiching from HD to SD.

The bottom line for me is that I am prepared to put up with the poorer SD to get the HD and maximum DVD size. I believe from what I have read on this forum that SD on my tv and cable box are better than others have experienced but maybe I am more tolerant - some people seem to expect the SD to be almost as good as HD which is clearly not going to be the case. Also switching from one to the other highlights the difference.

I will stick by my previous suggestion that you will regret getting a 4:3 as it will highlight the differences even more than a widescreen, ie big blurry pictures against small highly detailed ones.

By the way, DVDs look really spectacular upconverted by the tv from 480p to 1080i with none of the blurriness (is that correct?) of SD cable even though that is also upconverted.