Summer DLP HDTV recommendations

May 9, 2005

WD-52725If the industry newsletter my firm subscribes to is correct, several million more HDTV’s are expected to be sold this year over last. This is great news on many fronts, but spending the 3k to 4k, (on average) for that hi-def display can be a little daunting. Consumers are pummeled with so many buzz words, catch phrases, and conflicting stories that it’s often easier to just hold off buying than trying to mire through all the jargon and make a decision.

Keeping the technical mumbo jumbo to a minimum (or at least explaining what it means), let’s explore some of the more popular HD DLP televisions, the differences among them, and what to keep an eye out for on the sales floor.

For our purposes I’m going to focus mainly on high definition, DLP, rear projection micro-displays, as they’ve been extremely popular of late and offer an affordable entry point into high definition. Wait a minute, let me back up and clarify exactly what I mean by “high definition, DLP, rear projection micro-displays”. A high definition TV, as described by the ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee), should be capable of displaying at least 720 lines of resolution with progressive scan.

I won’t go into a lot of unnecessary detail about how progressive scan works, but suffice to say it simply ‘draws’ the pixels onto the screen at a faster rate than the ‘interlaced’ sets many of us grew up with, thereby facilitating a smoother on-screen image.

The “DLP” part of our descriptor stands for “Digital Light Processing”; this technology was pioneered by Texas Instruments and is found in a vast number of high definition displays. Outside of Plasma’s, DLP’s make up the lions-share of today’s Hi-Def TV’s. Lastly, rear projection micro-display is simply another way of describing the self contained, extremely thin televisions you see on display from companies like Samsung and Toshiba (discernable from plasma’s by the 5” to 10” increase in depth, in most cases).

These ‘micro-displays’ (also referred to as Tabletop’s, although technically a different category of display) are, at the risk of over-simplification, nothing more than the successors to the 4 foot deep “big screen TV’s” of years past, with the addition of a HD capable DLP engine, housed in a very shallow, light weight cabinet.

Phew that was a lot of words to describe what we’re going to be talking about, but worthwhile nonetheless. Ok enough rambling, let’s go. Narrowing it down even farther I’m going to stick with the three sizes that have been the most popular for our clients this year so far. They are 50”, 56”, and the El-Grande 61” rear projection DLP.


Samsung:
HLP5663W
Without a doubt Samsung has been a major player in the tabletop/micro-display market for the last few years. I have to admit, that until this years crop of Samsung DLP’s made their way onto the scene, I wouldn’t have called my self a Samsung fan. After seeing the HLP5663W however, and its insanely thin cabinet, I got what all the fuss was about. Models from the previous years had (in my opinion) a softish picture, and the cabinet was still too bulky for my tastes. All of this changed however with the introduction of the HL series in 2005.

The current HL series from Samsung consists of:

The HLR4266W (42″ HD rear-pro DLP $2,199.99 list)

The popular HLR5067W (50″ HD rear-pro DLP $2,799.99 list)

As well as the HLP5663W (56″ HD rear-pro DLP $3,299.99 list)

And last but not least, Samsung’s largest (to date) DLP rear-projection set, the
HLR6167W (61″ HD rear-projection monster which retails for $3,499.99)

I highly recommend all 4 HL series, DLP televisions from Samsung. However with street prices often coming in anywhere from 8% to 10% (or better) less than suggested retail, the 42” HLR4266W doesn’t make a lot of sense in this field. You would likely be able to find a plasma with more curb appeal for nearly the same amount.

The rest of the line however is a must see in my opinion. Even at full list the HLR5067W wouldn’t disappoint, but if I had to make a recommendation based on maximum bang for the buck the 56” HLP5663W, which could certainly be found at or near 3k would be a best buy.

Lastly the 61″ HLR6167W which retails at $3,499.99 is still a sound purchase, but we’re now approaching the 4k mark, and at this point other manufacturers creep in on Samsung’s territory in regards to value. Still, I doubt buyers remorse would ever be a factor with the HLR6167W.

To sum up with Samsung, if you’re in the market for either a 50” or 56” DLP television, don’t make a thousand dollar mistake by not seeing the HL series from Samsung. There aren’t many ‘sure things’ when it comes to AV, but if I was in the market for such a set myself, HL’s would be at the top of my list.

Toshiba:
talenWhile technically not a DLP (Toshiba refers to their technology as Toshiba Advanced Light Engine), the TALEN engine shares much in common with Texas Instruments DLP technology.
The Toshiba “HM” series has garnered much attention from videophiles of late, and honestly I wish I was more familiar with them, but what I do know about the latest crop of rear-pro televisions from Toshiba warrants a mention here.

On average the HM and HMX series televisions are slightly more expensive than Samsung’s offerings, but the Toshiba’s may satisfy the more demanding home theater enthusiast, while still offering an overall good value. To date the only Toshiba HM series I’ve had first hand experience with is the 52HM84 52” display, so I’ll keep my comments aimed to that set, but the performance differences between the various sizes shouldn’t be that substantial.

I found the 52″ Toshiba 52HM84 ($3,299.99 list) to be an excellent display, with a slightly sharper and brighter image than the 50” Samsung HLR5067W. I wouldn’t characterize the differences between the 52HM84 and HLR5067W as drastic, but noticeable nonetheless (at least to my eyes).

In essence, I would make my recommendations to the Toshiba rear projection sets something like this; if you have a significant amount of ambient light in your viewing room, and are looking for a something slightly above average in a slim rear projection television, by all means look into the Toshiba HM and HMX series. The latter has one additional HDMI input, black bezel around the screen and a slightly better remote.

But if you’re comparing several manufacturers, try to compare the Samsungs and Toshibas within a short period of time. It’s very possible the passing of a few days in-between auditions could negate what (arguably) little difference exists.

Mitsubishi:
wd-62825
Last but by no means least Mitsubishi, it feel’s good to say that again. There was a time when Mitsubishi dominated the custom integrator, display market (at least in our little corner of the world). Those were the days of 40” CRT’s (ouch) and massive 260lb rear projection TV’s, that took two men two budge much less move. Sadly for whatever reason, Mitsubishi stagnated somewhat.

When other manufacturers saw the DLP light (bad pun), Mit’s just seemed to carry on as if nothing had changed. Sure they made a few DLP’s but they just never seemed to match up with the offerings from Samsung or alike, and they never really seemed to market their products as they had back in the boom years of home theater.

Well as I said, I’m happy to say the dark years at Mit’s may well be in the past. By all accounts (first hand and through trusted sources) the WD-62825 62” rear projection DLP television may be one of, if not the best, DLP in its class. With features like a built in HD-DVR, Gemstar TVGuide, program guide, FireWire capabilities, and more input options than you can shake a stick at, the WD-62825 would be on my shortlist of recommended sets to audition, for those looking for a no compromise home theater display. But there’s one more Mitsubishi I want to tell you about.

The WD-52725 with its host of Proprietary Mit’s functions and technologies stands head and shoulders above the rest in the value to performance ratio. It may be a little deeper than some of the other displays mentioned previously (17.4” to be exact) but what it lacks in stealth, the 52725 more than makes up for in performance.

Again, input options with the current line of Mits rear-pros aren’t in short supply with 2 Analog/Digital antenna inputs, Cable Card Slot, S-Video, Component Video Inputs, PC Input (VGA), FireWire, and most importantly HDMI just to name a few. And while I’m reticent to tout certain manufacturer specific add-on’s, I can say that Mitsubishis “Diamond Shield” anti-glare covering, over their screens not only works, but works well.

Summary:
All of the sets I’ve mentioned here would provide a wonderful home theater experience. I’ve tried to keep on the sane side of the price realm with my recommendations, but that’s not to say other sets, both higher and lower in price, aren’t worth consideration. As with all things electronic and especially display devices, if it all possible go out and see your potential new purchase first hand, ask about in-home repair policies, extended warranties, and after sale care.

With the right amount of homework (I hope I’ve at least given you some ideas) this doesn’t have to be a teeth gnashing decision. Stick with the known names and lastly keep this in mind, spending a few hundred extra dollars on a DVD player is great, but spending a few hundred more dollars on something that requires a buddy to help move, may make even more sense; if it means the difference between the television resting comfortable on your living room floor and not back to where you bought it, when you decide you really did want that 56” instead of the 50”.

Cheers and happy viewing, En español



Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under High Definition Televisions


Comments

  • jim

    informative article. perhaps you can help me with a problem. the cabinet is 38″ on the inside. looking for a 40″ wide that would fit. i guess a 37″ would be the next choice?thankss if you can help,not very good on computer and have dial up . thank’s jim

  • jim

    informative article. perhaps you can help me with a problem. the cabinet is 38″ on the inside. looking for a 40″ wide that would fit. i guess a 37″ would be the next choice?thankss if you can help,not very good on computer and have dial up . thank’s jim

  • B.Greenway

    Estoy asustado que no estoy suficientemente bien informado bastante con 3LCD contestar

  • B.Greenway

    Estoy asustado que no estoy suficientemente bien informado bastante con 3LCD contestar

  • eddiegod

    Estoy un poco mareado con el tema del DLP y el LCD, me gustan los proyectores frontales, ya que permiten un tamano mayor de imagen que los rear proyection o los televisores de plasma. Recientemente compre un Epson 3LCD de 1200 lumens, y realmente fue una sorpresa pues venia de un sharpvision de 700 lumens bastante viejo. Realmente el dia y la noche. Ahora tambien cambie mi receiver technics dolby digital 5.1 por un sony 7.1 y realmente es muy superior elsonido, lastimaque aun no existan peliculas en 7.1. La gran pregunta que me hago es, hay mucha diferencia de imagen entre un proyector dlp y un 3lcd? cual es mejor?

  • eddiegod

    Estoy un poco mareado con el tema del DLP y el LCD, me gustan los proyectores frontales, ya que permiten un tamano mayor de imagen que los rear proyection o los televisores de plasma. Recientemente compre un Epson 3LCD de 1200 lumens, y realmente fue una sorpresa pues venia de un sharpvision de 700 lumens bastante viejo. Realmente el dia y la noche. Ahora tambien cambie mi receiver technics dolby digital 5.1 por un sony 7.1 y realmente es muy superior elsonido, lastimaque aun no existan peliculas en 7.1. La gran pregunta que me hago es, hay mucha diferencia de imagen entre un proyector dlp y un 3lcd? cual es mejor?