HT, 3D BD, RPTV
We're in the Money
My wife and I have gone into business for ourselves, and we plan to be making 6 or 7 figures in a few years. So, I'll finally get my own home theater. Where do I start? I like Martin Logan electrostatic speakers, which I saw and heard at Fry's. I also saw an 82-inch Mitsubishi DLP rear-projection TV, but the LED TVs looked so much better. As far as projection is concerned, is it too soon for 4K?
Best of luck with your new business! I'll be very impressed if you're making 6 or 7 figures in a few years. With that kind of money, you can build a great home theater, but there's far more to consider than I have space to describe in detail here. For starters, I recommend you read our own Mark Fleischmann's book, Practical Home Theater.
As for your specific questions, Martin Logan electrostatic speakers are excellent, though not all audiophiles prefer electrostats to conventional dynamic speakers. I suggest that you listen to many different brands and types of speakers to get a feel for what you prefer.
The Mitsubishi 82-inch rear-pro is among the largest one-piece displays you can getthe only larger ones I know of are the Panasonic 102-inch and 152-inch plasmas, but they are tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars, respectively. You won't find an LED-illuminated flat panel anywhere near as big. With the budget you anticipate, I'd install a front projector in a dedicated room, perhaps with a 65-inch flat panel behind a retractable screen.
Regarding 4K, it is too soon for that. There are a few 4K displays out thereprojectors from JVC, Meridian, and Sony as well as the 152-inch Panasonic plasmabut they are super-expensive. Also, there is virtually no native 4K content commercially available. But hey, if you've got millions to throw around, anything is possible!
Bits is Bits
I have a Panasonic TC-P65VT25, which I love after giving up on a 4-year-old Mitsubishi DLP. I understand that the Panasonic is capable of decoding 3D cable transmissions, from which I surmise that a 3D program is basically a linear stream of data. If that's the case, why do we need a special 3D Blu-ray player if we have a TV with this capability? Why can't a regular Blu-ray player stream the data and let the TV do the decoding?
Stereoscopic 3D images can be encoded in several different ways, and a 3D TV must be able to decode them as you surmise. Broadcast 3D streams from cable and satellite providers are typically encoded in a format called "side-by-side," in which the left and right images are placedyou guessed itside by side within a standard 1920x1080 frame. This is one of several so-called frame-compatible formats that use the same bandwidth as 2D content. However, the horizontal resolution seen by each eye is cut in half960x1080 instead of 1920x1080.
By contrast, Blu-ray 3D presents full HD resolution to each eye. The image for one eye is stored on the disc in its entirety accompanied by information about the difference between that image and the one for the other eye; this is called multiview video coding (MVC), and it requires about 1.5 times the amount of storage required by the same content in 2D. The information is decoded by the player and sent via HDMI to the TV as alternating left- and right-eye frames in what is called a frame-sequential stream. The player must be able to decode MVC data, which regular 2D players can't do.
Black Friday Temptation
I bought a 50-inch 720p plasma on your recommendation in 2007, and I've enjoyed it thoroughly over the past three years. Alas, the plasma is now beginning to noticeably degrade in quality, so it's time to upgrade. I'd like something 1080p in the 55- to 60-inch range, and I have a very keen eye for things like crispness, black levels, and viewing angles. I have black-out shades in my living room and it's almost always dark, so reflectivity is not an issue. I still prefer plasmas because of the great black levels, in addition to the lower prices. But lately, I've actually been considering a DLP, and on Black Friday, hhgregg will have the 60-inch Mitsubishi WD-60638 on sale for just $699! How could I not be tempted by that price?!
I went to look at one there, and I was unimpressed. The image was terribly pixelated, probably from a source split a million different ways between all their TVs, and the picture was surprisingly dim. Also, the text seemed jaggy, so the resolution didn't even seem up to par, even though it's a 1080p display. It was quite confusing, really.
I know the viewing angles can be bad on DLPs, but I'm typically the only one watching, and I always sit directly in front of the TV. I watch a lot of Blu-rays and play a lot of games on my Xbox and PS3. Also, the relatively cheap add-on to enable 3D is tempting, and I hear that rear-projection TVs don't suffer from L/R flicker that many people (including me) experience when watching 3D TVs.
I don't think it's fair to judge DLP by what I saw on the showroom floor at hhgregg. Given my criteria, what do you think? The thought of a 60-inch screen makes me drool, but not if the lighting is uneven. I currently sit about 15 feet from my TV. Hoping to hear back before Black Friday.
I agree that what you saw at hhgregg was not DLP rear projection at its best. That being said, RPTVs do have some of the drawbacks to which you say you're particularly sensitive, such as uneven lighting and viewing-angle issues, though the black levels in the last couple of Mitsubishi RPTVs we've reviewed were surprisingly good. There's also the issue of the lamp, which changes as it ages and must be replaced every couple of years at least.
You are correct that Mits offers an inexpensive 3D adaptor for its sets, which use Samsung active-shutter glasses. I don't know whether or not rear-pros are less prone to L/R flicker than flat panels; they display the left and right images alternately, so this should be no different than other 3D displays. And Mits TVs display 3D by assigning the left and right images to alternating pixels in a checkerboard pattern, which cuts the resolution for each eye in half. By contrast, 3D flat panels use all 1920x1080 pixels for each eye.
At a viewing distance of 15 feet, even 60 inches is too small for a fully immersive experience. On the other hand, you're not going to find a 60-inch flat panel for anywhere near $700, even on Black Friday. If that's the maximum budget available, the WD-60638 should serve you relatively well, given the caveats mentioned here. If you want better performance from a large screen, you'll have to spend considerably more. (BTW, plasmas don't always have better black levels than LCDs, especially LED-backlit LCDs, but you're right that they are less expensive than LED sets in general.)
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