Welcome to our third biannual RPTV Face Off. For those of you just joining us, we've brought together today six 1080p RPTVs at the roughly $4,000 price point. The excitement is palpable, the TVs warmed up, and the judges ready to stare.
Not that I want to cover more Sony stuff so soon, but that’s the way things work out. Here’s a list of things I learned on the Sony Line Show in Las Vegas yesterday (in case the title didn’t give it away first).
Perfect color and an amazing black level—in other words, everything you'd expect from a CRT.
It's hard to talk about CRTs these days. Sure, they still make up the majority of the display market, but they're just not sexy. It's like a Toyota Camry—it does everything it's supposed to do, and it does it well, but no one really lusts after it. That analogy is probably too harsh for the Toshiba 34HF84, which has more-accurate colors and a darker black level than any display I've reviewed in recent memory.
Bigger than a direct-view, smaller than a big-screen, Tabletop TVs offer an almost perfect balance between two sides of the TV world. On one side of that world, you have the direct-view TV's small footprint and commensurate aesthetic niceties. However, with a maximum 40-inch-diagonal screen size (38-inch for 16:9 models), these sets aren't very big. On the other side, you've got big-screen rear-projection TVs, which offer a much bigger image at the expense of a much bigger footprint on your carpet. Until recently, almost all RPTVs were quite an eyesore. Even now, no matter how nice an RPTV may look, it's still a huge box taking up real estate in your living room. On the other hand, tabletop TVs like the CRT-based Toshiba 46HX83 offer a far more-pleasing aesthetic and larger screen sizes than are available in the direct-view category.
Toshiba had two big announcements at the show. On the TV side, two new 1080p LCDs in their Regza line are sporting what they claim to be the thinnest bezel on the market, at 0.9 inches. As you can see in the pic, it is indeed very thin. Look for them this month for $1,900 for the 40RF350U and $2,500 for the 46RF350U.
The new models of HD DVD and Blu-ray players are coming faster and faster. Even better, they're getting cheaper and offering more features. The big draw for the HD-A20 is its 1080p output. That, and a price tag of $499.
Toshiba had a press conference, which was an hour of graphs, charts, heat, and blown-out sound effects. I’ll give them credit for the Star Trek theme (of course I would), but after the dozenth time of “HD DVD has won!” or “LCD is the best!” I tuned out.
Toshiba also debuted their Cinema Series Pro line of LCDs, in 42 and 47-inch varieties. They’re both 1080p, have 12-bit processing, and an 8ms response time. It sports a RJ-45 connector to connect the TV to a PC to view pictures and apparently get your email. The 42LZ196 will be $3,399 and the 47LZ196 will be $4,599. Both are available this month.