HD1080i De-mystify HDTV 1080i ::: know why before you buy

Sunday, May 13, 2007

MYTH BUSTING #2 1080p displays

-- so much old info is still out there, that we feel compelled to do some ...

MYTH BUSTING 1080 - #2

Myth: 1080p Displays are too expensive.

Back in the day, just a couple years ago, there were not a lot of 1080p capable displays available, and those that were in the stores were priced around $5,000 on up. Typical was the Plasma display for 8-10k, and out of reach for most HD buyers who could not equate a TV / home theater to the price of a decent used car.

Those days are gone and prices are more reasonable. 37-50" widescreen flatpanel displays are about right for most living areas, and 1080 display accuracy is now available for well under $2000.

There are basically 3 techonologies that do well in the 1080 display category, LCD , Rear Projection (SXRD,DLP) and Plasma. ... this topic will address the up to 50" 1080p world of Full HD 1080.

LCD 1080p.
By a wide margin of acceptance, LCD leads the 1080p marketspace. This is partly due to companies like Westinghouse Digital that have prices well under $2500 for thier 1080p screens. Line brands like Sony XBR have joined the marketspace with 40" sizes at around $2000. These have component, HDMI and DVI input support, and I have seen many of these connected computers ( using the nVidia 7600 GT or better PCI Express graphics card ) and the results are stunning. The Xbox/HD-DVD or PS3 with Blu-ray and an LCD 1080p is package afforable at under $2k that is all it takes and basically you are in FULL 1080p HD. Best Bang for the buck goes to LVM 47"w1 1080p from Westinghouse Digital at street price of $1600 This makes my point and LCD displays lead the way for 1080p growth.

Rear projection: SXRD & DLP 1080psxrd projection engine
The Rear Projection systems do the bigger sizes at a better price-point, a 50" SXRD by Sony is very affordable, and has done great things for enabling 1080p in more homes.

The achievement here is that the video image is absolutely continuous with no space between pixels. In LCD and Plasma you get closely spaced RGB subpixels.

With SXRD screens you can put your nose right up and it looks great, get close and it gets better. Exactly the opposite of plasma screens. But certain product lines can suffer a maintenance issue that requires bulb replacements or projection system upgrade. DLP systems use a spinning color wheel as opposed to separated RGB chips of the SXRD. These displays are excellent in our opinion and are a very good dollar value which makes the pricing with maintenance-plan comparable with LCD offerings. You will be replacing a bulb, but that is not always a user-serviceable item. Therefore in these displays we suggest you buy the 3-5 year full maintenance option, which can run from $300-500 added cost. You will still pay under 3k for a big bright stunning widescreen system and they are only a few inches deep in the newer designs.

PLASMA 1080p.
These kill me...they are so fantastic in black levels and brightness, but i cannot get behind the pricing. The pricing is higher than LCD and SXRD, they can still be found around the $3k and under price point, but they are few. In my opinion the 1080p display should be under $3k. Be very careful since the lower priced plasmas may say 1080 but in reality that is not 1920x1080 native resolution in every case, so you need to check the spec.


We have found that the best deals are not the ones up front in any store. usually the best 1080p options are LCD around 37-47" and they may be in the back, or your have to ask for it. This is because the best price-value LCD offerings have a lower margin and will make any adjacent plasma look like less of a good deal. For the Bigger sizes we love the Rear Projection look and several SXRD and DLP makers are good to 50-60" at that $2500 price level.


Some HD editing shops use the 37" and 42" 1080p LCD 'Westys', simply because they are so affordable and broadcast accurate, its almost 2 for 1 in cost performance. However, be careful about the current color gamut of these systems for computer imaging. Basic 1000:1 black level contrast and under 10ms response time is fine and typical across the board.

Many 1080p LCD displays have the old NTSC 75% color range, rather than the billion color range of todays HDMI 1.3 spec and some newer HD source material mastered in VC-1. At this moment that doesnt much matter to the larger market that gets its HD from broadcast sources, however...We are told by several vendors that the full color gamut 4:4:4 and 12bit color management display systems are better at blacklevel and far less blocking in gradients due to the expanded color range. This matters. a lot. and in my opinion is the final unrealized step in HD 1080 perfection. Get all the pixels, all the clean look and all the color range. Such source content will likely only happen with High Def DVD since broadcast 1080i color gamuts are standardized with fewer colors than is possible with a well crafted VC-1 DVD in 1080p. Look for specialized processor equipped displays that color enhance to reduce gradient blocking.

Some 1080p HD systems have a dedicated 24p mode, and kick in with HDMI connections on HD-DVD players like the Toshiba X stuff. It matters since the display latency push is a very processor-centric thing to keep a smooth image with progressive frame shooting. If you are picky about your Telecine converted HD DVD then do check your specs on that.

Its important to note here, that many of these offerings do not include an ATSC tuner, and frankly you dont need one right now, since the larger realm of HD is available by Cable provider ot Satellite ( Direct TV )., and in most areas, over the air HD broadcasts can be counted on one hand. This is changing and by 2009 the ota ATSC digital boradcast standard will be available, but this does not mean that HD1080i content will be heavy in the mix of over-the-air digital offerings. Broadcasters can convert 4:3 SD content to digital with some effort, but HD1080i is a whole new animal for them, and conversion is a new level of infrastructure investment. By that time CableCARD and ATSC tuner option add ons will be better and less expensive.


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