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Forward-thinking HD media setup?

Old 08-31-06, 05:58 PM
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Forward-thinking HD media setup?

I'm taking my first step toward an HD living room with the purchase of a 42" Panasonic plasma HDTV (TH-42PX60U). As I continue to make purchases through the Fall, I wanted to check with you guys about must-haves for my setup.

1) First of all, is this TV going to have me covered for the next 5-10 years, as far as the right number of inputs, the right HD specs, etc.? (It doesn't do 1080p, but I'm hearing that's not a big deal.) Is it a good choice for HD DVD and Blu-ray? I'll have an Xbox 360 for occasional gaming.

2) What about DVR? Naturally, my Comcast cable dude told me to get the Comcast DVR because of its compatibility with the Comcast HD cable service. I was leaning toward TiVo, but maybe the guy has a point.

3) On a related note, what about media networking? My house is wired with Cat5 cable, even in the entertainment area. Do any of you have a networked setup for media sharing (beyond gaming)? Do you have a Media Center PC, and is this something I should plan for in my entertainment unit, which I plan to build this Fall?

4) The audio portion of all this is in progress, so I might be back later for advice on that aspect...
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Old 08-31-06, 10:01 PM
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Ok since you live in Fort Collins which is my favorite all time city, I throw some things out there, tho there are much more knowledgeable folks around then me.

I'm not sure you can plan on having a TV for 10 years anymore. Yea, 5...but not sure about 10. But I wouldn't let that change your decision.

Are you tied to Comcast? I would look at Dish Network. A) I hate Comcast and I use to be a big cable dude B) Today, Dish probably has the most HD channels available. What will happen tomorrow? Who knows, but today Dish pretty much has the most.

For DVR's don't think any of them ar bad, but there are many a Tivo advocate. If you consider the switch to Dish, you will likely be able to get a good deal on one of their DVR's so would go in that direction. Otherwise, keep your options open. I use a Dish DVR (non-HD) in our living room and like it a lot. I use a Tivo in our dedicated media room and it works well too. Now in the media room I'm not using the "full" tivo service, just their free thing. So I don't get all the bells and whistles. But I do like their interface and never had a problem with it. And I do like I can use my wireless network to keep it up to date, something I cannot do with the Dish DVR (it needs to be in a phone line - but the newer stuff may be different).

I don't know anything about about that TV, but I would check out how it does with SD TV. I love HD stuff, but lets face it, not everything is in HD so I'd at least see how it handles the SD stuff.
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Old 09-01-06, 01:29 AM
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Yeah, the plasma, LCD, and DLP displays are getting better all the time. It's not so much that the set you buy now isn't going to last 10 years, but rather that you may want to buy a better one within 5 years.

One issue with the plasmas is that many of the ones under 50" only have 1024 pixels of horizontal resolution. You may not have to have the full 1920x1080 now, but if I were getting a set that does 720 or 768p, I would want the horizontal resolution to be 1280 (for 720p) or 1366 (for 768p) pixels. Look at it this way: at 1024 pixels horizontally, you're only getting a little more than half of the horizontal resolution that the HD disc formats can display.

Now, resolution is just one of many things to consider, but I just wanted to throw that out there in case you're not aware of it.

As for the audio, the HD disc players (both formats, not the PS3 though) have analog outs for the new audio codecs. They should work with your receiver if it has multichannel analog inputs. At some point, you may want to get a receiver with HDMI 1.3 to handle those formats with a digital connection from the player. I don't think these receivers are available yet, and they will be pricey at first, so it would be best to wait on that. If you would be getting the PS3 as a BD player you would need one of these receivers to take advantage of the advanced audio, but regular Dolby Digital and DTS would still work.
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Old 09-01-06, 01:33 AM
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You'll probably get better answers if you ask a mod to move this to the HD Talk forum.
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Old 09-01-06, 02:18 AM
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Nah, in the HD forum it'd just turn into yet another fight about the 2 disc formats.

Couple thoughts additional to the other comments:
Comcast is supposed to be coming out with a Tivo DVR this year. Course, it's vaporware til it hits the streets. But this would be a vast improvement over the current DVR, which can barely record. Tivo changes how you watch TV.

I won't say a cable guy is right, but.....You definitely want the DVR from your TV provider, whichever one you end up with. It is the only way to get HD recording (ok, virtually the only way) and SD recording will also be higher quality than a standalone Tivo.

An HTPC....What would YOU want to do with it? People store audio on them for instant access. Or photos. And, of course, movies. Can also be used to do some surfing quick while watching TV, great for finding a stat quick while watching sports. And then there's gaming. You could use it as an HD tuner from an antenna, and use it as a DVR and archiver of HD shows. Some cable boxes will link up with an HTPC via Firewire for archiving of HDTV. SD can also be archived, but that is low-res and easy to do. HD takes more work.

I use mine (Mac Mini) for audio mainly, but it will also be a photo server once I catalog those and share them on the network. I already had a wireless network since we have a laptop, so all I had to do was turn on sharing and....done. I have access to the music at all computers in the house. I need to get some other things set up so I can use the computer for audio/video calibration of my room. And I need to transfer my software that programs my remote control to this computer. And right now it is actually my main computer, although that is not its intended purpose.
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Old 09-01-06, 07:58 AM
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Well 1080p may become a big deal with your time horizon.

Personally I would look for a set that could do 1080p if I wanted to be as future proofed as possible and in the world of electronics that is nearly impossible.
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Old 09-01-06, 10:18 AM
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Great suggestions, guys, thanks. I think from what I'm reading above, I'll be upgrading to the 50" Panasonic in that line, which offers 1366x768. Not sure I can afford 1080p at this point. I'll upgrade to that in 5 years.

I'm pretty committed to Comcast. We have another house on our property and are sharing the service with someone else. We're also using Comcast's cable Internet as part of the package. If it wouldn't be a big deal to switch over, I might consider it down the line...hmmm.

And yes, Fort Collins rocks. But nobody else can move here. I'm serious. Stop it.
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Old 09-01-06, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Brian Shannon
Well 1080p may become a big deal with your time horizon.

Personally I would look for a set that could do 1080p if I wanted to be as future proofed as possible and in the world of electronics that is nearly impossible.
Hey Brian or Spiky, explain this to me that I keep reading about on the newer displays.......

"As long as the diplay correctly deinterlaces 1080i, there should be no difference then if you were able to input 1080p directly" (they were talking about the Sony KDS-R60XBR1.

Many of the reviews I have been reading on the new displays note that they cannot accept a 1080p input, but then add the above sentence.

Personally I have not a clue what it means.
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Old 09-01-06, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Jason Bovberg
Great suggestions, guys, thanks. I think from what I'm reading above, I'll be upgrading to the 50" Panasonic in that line, which offers 1366x768. Not sure I can afford 1080p at this point. I'll upgrade to that in 5 years.

I'm pretty committed to Comcast. We have another house on our property and are sharing the service with someone else. We're also using Comcast's cable Internet as part of the package. If it wouldn't be a big deal to switch over, I might consider it down the line...hmmm.

And yes, Fort Collins rocks. But nobody else can move here. I'm serious. Stop it.
I did forget to ask, but where are you putting this system? Are you able to control the light in the room. I got to tell you every time I read about someone getting something as small as a 42" or 50" display it makes me want to shout "GET A FRONT PROJECTOR". You have mentioned budget a couple of times and you can get a heck of a nice 720p PJ and screen (or build the screen yourself and save even more) for likely much less then either plasma you have mentioned. And now we are talking 100" screen (I use a DIY 94" WS in my room). Once you go BIG you will never go back and start to consider something like a 42" tv as a "bedroom set".

Oh, and yea I won't be moving to Fort Collins. Really wanted to, but for the kids the best move was back to Dallas. Seriously thought about it. Don't suppose I can have you send me some Christmas Beer from Coopersmiths can I?
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Old 09-01-06, 11:08 AM
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This is for the living room. You know, one of those cubby holes next to the fireplace. I have a 58" by 41" space to work with. The 50" Panasonic would fit nicely in there.

I do plan to go with front projector in a basement theater sometime on the horizon.

Ah, Coopersmith's. One of my favorite restaurants. Bangers and Mash with a little Horsetooth Stout. Mmmmm.
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Old 09-01-06, 12:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Sdallnct
Hey Brian or Spiky, explain this to me that I keep reading about on the newer displays.......

"As long as the diplay correctly deinterlaces 1080i, there should be no difference then if you were able to input 1080p directly" (they were talking about the Sony KDS-R60XBR1.

Many of the reviews I have been reading on the new displays note that they cannot accept a 1080p input, but then add the above sentence.

Personally I have not a clue what it means.
In theory there should be no difference.

http://blog.hometheatermag.com/geoff...061080iv1080p/

Here is another article

http://hometheatermag.com/hookmeup/0506halfrez/
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Old 09-01-06, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Jason Bovberg
Great suggestions, guys, thanks. I think from what I'm reading above, I'll be upgrading to the 50" Panasonic in that line, which offers 1366x768. Not sure I can afford 1080p at this point. I'll upgrade to that in 5 years. ...
As long as the 50" set fits your space and price point, I'd get it. They are sweet! If there's a problem with either of these aspects, I wouldn't be any more worried about getting the 42" model than the 50" or most any other set available today though.

TV's are getting more like computers in that no matter what you buy today, it'll be outdated tomorrow. IMO, 1080p doesn't matter today, but will eventually. By the time it does there's a very good chance that you'll be able to pick up a set that's better than anything on the market today and do so at a fraction of today's cost. Heck, the makers are already predicting something like a 30% price fall in the next year!
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Old 09-01-06, 02:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Brian Shannon
In theory there should be no difference.
Yep. In practice, it will change from one model to another, no doubt. Most will probably be good, others may suck.

There was quite a bit of discussion on this in the HD forum since the current HDDVD players only output 1080i. And the BD player does an extra conversion from 1080p (which is on the discs) to 1080i and back to 1080p again. Getting the discs in 1080p, and the TVs, was the real benefit to us. The output/inputs should be less of an issue.
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Old 09-01-06, 03:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Drexl
One issue with the plasmas is that many of the ones under 50" only have 1024 pixels of horizontal resolution. You may not have to have the full 1920x1080 now, but if I were getting a set that does 720 or 768p, I would want the horizontal resolution to be 1280 (for 720p) or 1366 (for 768p) pixels. Look at it this way: at 1024 pixels horizontally, you're only getting a little more than half of the horizontal resolution that the HD disc formats can display.

Now, resolution is just one of many things to consider, but I just wanted to throw that out there in case you're not aware of it.

As for the audio, the HD disc players (both formats, not the PS3 though) have analog outs for the new audio codecs. They should work with your receiver if it has multichannel analog inputs. At some point, you may want to get a receiver with HDMI 1.3 to handle those formats with a digital connection from the player. I don't think these receivers are available yet, and they will be pricey at first, so it would be best to wait on that. If you would be getting the PS3 as a BD player you would need one of these receivers to take advantage of the advanced audio, but regular Dolby Digital and DTS would still work.
I don't think it's fair to say "only has 1024 pixles". You're not comparing apples to apples. Some sets utilize rectangle shapped pixles vs square, therefore they appear like you are getting less resolution, when in relaity you are getting the same amount of pixle coverage.

2) What about DVR? Naturally, my Comcast cable dude told me to get the Comcast DVR because of its compatibility with the Comcast HD cable service. I was leaning toward TiVo, but maybe the guy has a point.
Have no idea what the guy is talking about. Is he saying other dvrs aren't compatiable with cable services? That's just wrong. You can use Tivo, but unless you opt for the new Series 3 (coming out shortly) you won't be able to get Tivo HD. However, a couple of things on that. 1) I believe Comcast has a deal to put out series 3 tivos, but I'm not 100% on that. This would be the most economical choice. 2) Series 3 is supposed to be $800 (at least what I'm hearing. May or may not include one year of service. Too high if you ask me). 3) It will have the ability to accept cable cards, but won't support on demand service.
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Old 09-01-06, 03:20 PM
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Okay, dudes, I'm on the verge of buying the set. It'll cost around $2500. I know there are lots of threads here about service plans, but what about the plan's inherent "upgrade clause"? Is there any way a service plan would help me out later when I want to upgrade? Would you get the plan? I'm hesitant.
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Old 09-01-06, 03:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Superman07
Is he saying other dvrs aren't compatiable with cable services?
It's been a while since I had this conversation, but he gave the impression that the Comcast DVR would be much easier to use and "more compatible" with the Comcast cable service.
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Old 09-01-06, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Jason Bovberg
Okay, dudes, I'm on the verge of buying the set. It'll cost around $2500. I know there are lots of threads here about service plans, but what about the plan's inherent "upgrade clause"? Is there any way a service plan would help me out later when I want to upgrade? Would you get the plan? I'm hesitant.
I've never heard of one that offered any transfer or anything else that might be useful at upgrade time, but that doesn't mean there aren't any plans that do.

I probably wouldn't buy the service plan (didn't on my plasma), but might have considered it if the cost were low enough. I general, I figured that my HD TV wouldn't be worth fixing in a couple of years due to the fast changing technology.
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Old 09-01-06, 05:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Jason Bovberg
It's been a while since I had this conversation, but he gave the impression that the Comcast DVR would be much easier to use and "more compatible" with the Comcast cable service.
Of course he did

As far as service plans go I usually base my decision on the cost of the plan as a percentage of the item. Also does it cover things like in home service?
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Old 09-01-06, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Brian Shannon
Of course he did
Oh yeah, I'm with ya. That's what I meant to convey with "Naturally." But at the same time, I thought it made some sense. No, huh?
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Old 09-01-06, 06:10 PM
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Based on our discussion that you likely would not keep a set for 10 years, I would also pass on the service plan. Get a set with a nice one or two year warranty, purchase with a credit card that doubles you warranty and take you chances.

One of the very few things I have every purchased a service plan on is our refrigerator. Low and behold, the ice maker is not making as much ice as it use to. But guess what? I can't find any of the service stuff I bought! So will likely have to pay for the service call anyway....I'm so stupid sometimes....
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Old 09-02-06, 11:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Superman07
I don't think it's fair to say "only has 1024 pixles". You're not comparing apples to apples. Some sets utilize rectangle shapped pixles vs square, therefore they appear like you are getting less resolution, when in relaity you are getting the same amount of pixle coverage.
Yes, rectangular. But still only 1024 of them. You can't put 2 pictures in a pixel. You have lost resolution and curiously made the pixels wider. 42" plasmas are strange.

Have no idea what the guy is talking about. Is he saying other dvrs aren't compatiable with cable services? That's just wrong. You can use Tivo, but unless you opt for the new Series 3 (coming out shortly) you won't be able to get Tivo HD.
Not getting HD from an HD channel is an incompatibility in my estimation. I'm not fond of Comcast, but it is generally better to get the DVR that comes with the TV service. It's cheaper and more compatible. Once Tivo finally gets the S3 out, maybe this will change. But they've been promising it for 3 years.
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