Price Paid: $1550
Purchase at: Chicago A/V store
DVDs look great
Cable TV looks very good
All my friends are jealous
Not enough inputs
What I was looking for:
I previously owned a Panasonic 19” TV and I really wanted something bigger. However, I couldn’t really see paying $700 or so for a bigger TV that wouldn’t do HDTV, since in a couple of years I would need to buy another TV for HDTV. Plus, I am planning on buying either a GameCube or XBox in November, and both of those video game systems output in at least 480p. And I have a DVD player, so I was looking to take advantage of anamorphic DVDs.
What I got:
I finally settled on the 32HS20 because the size was right (36 inch is too big for my living room), I figured I did not need 3:2 pulldown since I would rather get it through a progressive scan DVD player which I am looking to purchase in a year or two, I figured most of the TV I watch will be 4:3 so I don’t need to spend more for a 16:9 TV, and the price was right (which is really what it all boils down to since I would have gotten all of those things if I had more money).
What I paid:
I paid $2000 for the TV, the Elite EL503 stand, Monster component cables and delivery. Tax was included in the $2000. The store figured it as paying $80 for the Monster cables (MSRP), $30 for delivery (their standard charge), $180 for the stand (about $50 off their price) and $1550 for the TV ($250 off their price).
My home setup:
I watch cable TV, which is connected directly to the TV (with a splitter going to the tape player since I get a lot of interference on my cable and when I run the cable first to the tape player and then to the TV the signal on some channels really degrades). I have a Panasonic tape player, which I hardly ever use and which is connected to the TV via a RCA cable going to the receiver and then an RCA cable going to the TV. I have a Sony DVD player which is connected to the TV via the Monster component cables. I have a Sony receiver and Boston 8000 surround speakers. I sit about seven feet away from the TV.
What I think:
I like this TV even more than I thought I would. After researching on the Internet for months (waiting to get the money to be able to buy a TV) I was concerned that the picture quality would not be all that great and I would be able to notice a lot of flaws because of all of the posts on different forums complaining about different parts of the picture. I thought I would have to play around with the picture a lot and get some tech guy to calibrate the TV. My fears were also fed by watching a college football game at the dealer and finding the quality on some pictures (wide shot of the field, shots of the crowd) to be noticeably bad. I had also read about how this TV makes bad signals look even worse, and some of my cable channels look pretty bad because of interference in the cable wiring (and I rent so I can’t get the landlord to rip out the old cable and replace it with better stuff).
So I was pleasantly surprised when I got this set up, turned on the TV and saw a gorgeous picture. The first thing I watched out of the box was the end of the Northwestern-Michigan State game. The picture was great (so was the game). No scan lines (something that bugged me about other bigger TVs) because of the line doubling. The wide shots of the field (which I didn’t like at the dealer) looked very good, the close ups even better. I still noticed the crowd looking blocky and blotchy on the kick-offs (when the camera is scanning over the crowd), but that shot is few and far between. When the Michigan game came on, the field looked too bright and green, but changing the picture mode from Vivid to Standard solved that problem. The best part was that I was watching the game on ABC, which on my Panasonic had ghosting problems. The ghosts were completely gone. I checked my other bad channels and I think they look better than before, even though they still aren’t perfect. I don’t know what to attribute this to, but the bad pictures, while not perfect, look better and not worse than before. The DRC stuff, to my eye, does not exacerbate the problems.
I then flipped around channels to see if I could notice any flaws in the picture. I can detect a faint vertical line about ¾ or 1 inch from either side of the TV. I would not have noticed this except I was looking for it after reading all the Internet posts about picture flaws. Also, when I turned to the news channels and watch the headlines scrolling across the bottom, there appears to be a bump about 8 inches from the left side of the TV which you notice as the words scroll by. Again, something I would not have noticed except I was looking. And generally sometimes the background of a picture is jittery, for example watching Matt Lauer interview someone his head is in the foreground and looks fine but the out of focus background is not stable.
The next thing I did was set my DVD player to output in 16:9 or Wide Mode and watched some DVDs. The DVDs are breathtaking. Sitting on my couch (seven feet away), everything is smooth and rich with no scan lines. I watched the opening battle scene of Gladiator (lots of little people on a big battlefield) and the detail was incredible. I flipped over to one of the gladiator fights out in the sun and the colors were bright and vivid and beautiful. Next I watched an episode of the Sopranos on DVD. I think they try to show off the fact that it is shown in HDTV by dressing their characters in some tight plaids. These looked noticeably bad on the DVD, lots of swirling and stuff which I think are artifacts that videophiles complain about (someone correct me if I’m wrong). I think it looks worse than on a normal TV. Also, some outdoor scenes with trees in the background also looked bad. The leaves looked really bad and were distracting. It probably looks better in HDTV and when it gets pushed down to 480i the artifacts are just too much for the TV (again, please correct me if I’m wrong about “artifacts”). Maybe in 480p it would look better. I might try that. The next DVD I watched was Along Came a Spider, and again I was impressed, especially with the dark scenes where the colors were rich and discernable, even in low light. The next day I watched Dinosaur, which I rented specifically to check out the digital animation on a digital TV. This DVD looked by far the best. The detail was noticeable to everyone watching the movie. Even people who could not care less about my new TV had to admit they noticed a difference and the picture looked better than anything they had seen before. I really felt like I was in a theater watching film and not TV. Finally, on DVDs I flipped through the production notes on my Akira DVD where there are still shots of storyboards and you can really tell the difference between the progressive and interlaced mode. On interlaced, these still shots with the fine lines look blurry, but on progressive the lines are bold and smooth and don’t move around.
What could be improved:
Features that would be nice to have are 720p native (instead of upconverting to 1080i), more component inputs (there are two, but once I plug in the DVD and the GameCube, where do I plug in a HDTV receiver?) and IEEE 1394 inputs (since this appears to be the future and Sony has them on their high-end RPTVs). The remote can’t be programmed for receivers, so I can’t adjust the volume with the TV remote, since the TV speakers are off and the sound comes through the receiver. Does anyone know if hooking up S-Link cables between my TV and receiver would solve that problem?
I’m very happy with the TV. TV looks very good, DVDs look great and I am looking forward to seeing how good it makes the GameCube look and to getting an HDTV receiver.