Monday, 9 June 2008

Looking at LCD Monitors (Home Theatre PC)

I've had a couple of comments that trying to use our ancient CRT TV with the HTPC is not a great plan. So I've been doing some additional research into buying a new TV. The criteria I've been using include:

  • Less than $1,000
  • Full high definition
  • At least as large as the current CRT (~52cm/20")
  • HDMI input
  • Not overly power hungry
  • Decent colour and contrast
  • Audio support
  • Good WAF

The first big choice seems to come down to plasma or LCD. I'm leaning towards LCD at the moment, as I don't want a ridiculously large display (which the plasmas seem better suited to) and and would prefer something that doesn't suck heaps of power (and consequently $$$).

The next thing is that many manufacturers sell both LCD TVs and LCD Monitors. Now unless I'm missing something obvious, it doesn't look like there's that much difference between the two categories. Some of the "TV" models have in-built tuners, but as the HTPC will have that I'd rather buy one without and save a few dollars.

Contrast ratio is also important, and here bigger is generally better.

Response time is also apparently relevant, as that determines how well it can display fast moving images. Smaller (faster) is better.

So here's some of the models I've come across so far:

Model Size (inches) Contrast ratio (dynamic) Response Time (ms) Price (AUD)
ViewSonic VX2835wm 28 800 3 635
BenQ V2400W 24 1000 (4000) 5 629
Samsung 245B 24 1000 (3000) 5 712
LG L246WH-BN 24 2000 5 460
Samsung 2493HM 24 1000 (10,000) 5 599
Samsung 2693HM 26 1000 (3000) 5 699

I still haven't made a decision and it would be good to actually have a look at some of the candidates in person. I'm open to any other suggestions too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Remember that widescreens have a smaller surface area to 4:3s of the same diagonal. You have to multiply by 1.173. So to need at least a diagonal of 24" to match your old crt, if said crt was 4:3.

Also, regarding monitors, some of them are 1920x1200 rather than the HD video standard of 1920x1080. If you are playing everything on the computer with a software player thats no problem as the graphics will be output at 1200 and letterboxed a little bit. But everything will be sharp and native. I am not sure however, how it will go with a external blu-ray, upscaling dvd, game console, camcorder etc, that only output 1080. The monitor will accept it, but you need to see how good it looks scaling this non-native resolution. (For video it might look fine, but check anyway.)

Contrast (or picture as it should be called) is not as important as you think as most of them are way too high anyway, especially how they are set to look good under shop lights. Ideally you need to see them in action in the shops "living room" with household lighting or no lighting, and play around with it with a calibration disk to set the Picture and Black Level to sensible levels. A lot of LCD monitors simply cannot be calibrated to accurately display video content.

I suggest getting a TV rather than a monitor, and would slightly suggest plasma over lcd but thats more of an opinion thing. Also, don't be afraid to get something large. Our 50" seems pretty normal now, and we wish we got the 58" (panasonic viera are pretty good tvs). You kind of need at least a 50 to appreciate the 1080p anyway.

Whatever you do, get it calibrated once its at home.