View Full Version : Help me build my home theater...

2005-10-28, 10:05
Ok, so all the work I've been doing that has kept me from regular posting at .org will be coming to an end in the very near future. I'm looking to completely overhaul my home theater/tv setup when I get done.

Right now, the only piece that I have is my PC Media Center that acts as my Tivo/jukebox/dvd player/ect. It's got DVI and can easily power an HDTV. Beyond that, I'm going to go nuts and buy everything new.

So, these are the components that I need and my budget:

I'm looking to spend no more than $5000 on all the equipment.

HDTV: 37" +

I'm not really sure what to do here. All the competing technologies have their strengths and weaknesses. Plasmas look great and have great contrast ratios, but are extremely expensive in the 40"+ sizes. LCD's are cheap and are amazingly bright, but have poor contrast and darks and blacks can be washed out. Rear projection seems to be the best $/inch, but can look washed out and the boxes themselves are gigantic. Projectors are cheap and have huge viewing areas, but require a screen and a dark room.

I'd really like some input on what people have or what they recommend.

Receiver: 2 DVI Inputs

I want whatever receiver I get to have at least 2 DVI inputs so I can hook up my PC and my HDTV cable box to it without having to use component. Beyond that, I'm really not too much of an audiophile and don't really know what to look for.

5.1/7.1 Sound:

Don't really know what to look for here so any advice is appreciated.

So .org, help me spend a shit ton of money on new gear!

2005-10-28, 13:17
Dude, get a Dell. ;)

Seriously. My parents have a Dell 42" Plasma with a built in HDTV tuner, HDMI, DVI, VGA, multiple component/s-video/composite inputs. It cost around $2500 when he bought it 6 months ago, right now you can get a 50" for around $3500, and that's unheard of. I really like the 42" they have and you can get that for just over $2000 now, which is an awesome deal.

I'll look around for receivers and let you know what I find.

2005-10-28, 13:40
I have a 46" DLP by Samsung that I just bought. Its great, if you have time I'd consider DLP, and if you have any other questions gimme a PM or w/e.

2005-10-28, 13:53
Ok, I think I've narrowed down the TV to a couple different ones:

HP's 58" 1080p DLP (http://www.shopping.hp.com/webapp/shopping/product_detail.do?storeName=storefronts&category=flat_panel_tvs&subcat1=mdtv&catLevel=2&product_code=L1798A%23ABA)

The reviews I've seen from AVS and others say that this is pretty much one of the best DLP TV's period.

It is $4000, but from what I can read, it's worth every penny. I don't think it's worth the extra $1000 for an additional 7".

Or... I can get the Westinghouse 37" 1080p LCD (http://www.westinghousedigital.com/products/monitors/prod-37w1.shtml)

It's smaller, but it's an LCD and I could get 2 for the price of the HP. Biggest downside is that it has no built in tuner and the built in image scaling sucks. Hmmmm, one for the living room, one for the bedroom.


Or... I could get the Samsung (http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1697,1681158,00.asp) 50" DLP TV. This one is only a 720p screen, but has pretty good downsampling for 1080i/p content. I can pick one of these up for $1500.

So, I could get a Samsung and Westinghouse for the price of the HP.

Damnit, I don't know what to do...

2005-10-28, 14:04
I was considering the Westinghouse you mentioned, and I simply decided against it. The price wasn't right for what I got.

The Samsung model you are looking at is last year's model, I believe that is why it has the lower res.

This (http://www.samsung.com/Products/TV/DLPTV/HLR4667WXXAA.asp?page=Specifications) is the 2005 unit.

2005-10-28, 15:08
For anything larger than 20", a plasma will generally be much cheaper than an LCD. And in my experience, Panasonic makes the best plasmas ( http://www.plasmatvbuyingguide.com for reviews).

They, and others, make some nice EDTV sets - they're not quite HDTV, but at a significant savings. What you get is a TV that typically will out-perform HDTV with current DVDs, and will only be about 10-15% behind an HDTV when viewing true HD content. The current Panasonic 42" EDTV sells for about $2000, but can be bought without speakers (if using a home theater setup) for about $1700.

2005-10-29, 00:14
Allow me to bust on your glowing reviews of EDTVs. They don't suck, but they're no HDTV. If you're interested at all in really enjoying true HD programming, spend few extra hundred bucks and get the HD. HD is the way of the future, ED will be left behind.

2005-10-29, 01:53
Check out AVSForum.com for reviews. Those guys are *obsessed*!

I have an Axiom Audio (http://www.axiomaudio.com/) 5.1 system that's really nice. It isn't the best, but the price was good. The subwoofer is an HSU VTF-3. My receiver is a Harmon/Kardon AVR335.

My speakers are two M80ti fronts (floorstanding), two M22ti surrounds, and a VP150 center. For just the speakers it came to $1965. The subwoofer was about $700, and the receiver was $450. I think you'd need a different receiver, this one doesn't do DVI, AFAIK. I don't remember. But it's a nice set of speakers, and the price was good.

2005-11-04, 05:55
You can build a fantastic system for $5,000. Keep in mind that the TV will probably take half of the money.

I know EXACTLY what you are going through. I agonized over my home theater for two years before I finally settled on a system that will make me happy for many years.

I learned everything I could about HDTV, the upcoming Blu-Ray and HD-DVD discs and the over-the-air conversion from analog to digital signals before buying a speaker. I looked at a lot of TVs and discovered what the broadcasters were doing regarding DTV transition. The research drove me crazy, but it saved me a lot of money and frustration.


The smaller number listed in the resolution will tell you if it is HD capable or not. If the smaller number is equal to or greater than 720, it is HD capable. 1280x720 is the minimum for HD reproduction. If you can hold off on the TV purchase, get a set that has 1920x1080 resolution.

Make sure the TV you choose has an HDMI connection and a built-in ATSC tuner. If the TV does not have those two components, you are wasting money.

You have to determine which is most important to you regarding the display. Is it: image quality,
power consumption,
flat design,
longetivity of the panel,
quiet operation,
overall size,
ability to handle computer images, DVD, movies and over-the-air broadcasts equally well

All of those were important to me, but I placed the greatest weight on image quality, panel life and ability to handle a wide variety of video inputs without burn-in problems. I chose the Mitsubishi DLP because there is no image burn-in even if the set is on pause for 5 years, the styling is attractive, the power use is low, it is lightweight, and the price was right for the 52" size I received. I gave up flat panel design and quiet operation.

Here is what to consider --


Plasmas have the best image quality, but they use the most power, get hot and suffer from image burn-in. It is advised that computers not be used with plasmas in a regular basis. Look at 37" Panasonics and Sonys.

LCDs are the most versatile and will probably be your best fit, but you compromise on higher price and reduced image quality. Check out Sharp Aquos 37" and 37" - 42" Sonys.

DLPs can display everything well and the image quality is a notch below plasma, but better than LCD. There is no image burn-in the power use is the same as LCD. Plus, the price is low, especially when you consider 50"+. But, the unit is larger and cannot be wall mounted. The fan to cool the lamp can get loud. Some DLP sets overscan computer images. Plasma and LCD sets don't have this problem.

There is a new technology called SED (Surface Emitting Diode) being developed with Canon and some other company. It promises to deliver breathtaking 1920x1080 images with all the benefits of LCD, plasma and DLP in a thin unit. The only drawback is the initial price of entry. However, because SED sets use the same construction methods of CRT sets, prices are expected to drop rapidly because the sets can be made more reliably and cheaper than LCD or plasma.


As for receivers, look at Harmon/Kardon, Yamaha or Denon. Forget about DVI in the receiver. DVI is only for computers these days. HDMI is the standard for video and is included with all new TVs. The HD-DVD and Blu-Ray players will use HDMI because of its superior copy protection and the fact that it will not be licensed for use on computers. HDMI in the receiver may be out of your budget. The $1,299 Denon AVR-3806 is the cheapest receiver I've seen with HDMI switching. It has two HDMI inputs and one HDMI output to the monitor. HDMI carries 1920x1080p HD signals and 8-channel uncompressed digital audio in a single cable.

You can get a DVI-to-HDMI cable for the PC connection, since HDMI is backward compatiable with DVI. Keep in mind that with the PC, you'll only transport the video signal. You'll have to run a separate digital cable for the audio from the PC to the receiver.

Most receivers have DTS-ES or Dolby Digital EX processors built in, so 6.1 sound shouldn't be a problem. Make sure you have 6.1 capability at the minimum.

You never mentioned anything about speakers. The is a matter of personal taste, the size of your room, the receiver you decide on and budget. I would tell you to get a Yamaha Home Theater-In-A-Box system and call it a day, but you want HDMI (DVI) on the receiver.

In short, if you're willing to buy the Denon AVR-3806 receiver for $1299 and hunt down a deal on a 45" Sharp Aquos LC-45GD"n"U LCD TV, and skimp on the speakers, you should be set. Sharp has several models for that 45" LCD TV:


All have 1920x1080 resolution, built in HD tuners and VGA PC inputs. Go to www.sharpusa.com for more info.

Try running some of this stuff through PriceGrabber.com and Google.com. Why pay full retail when you don't have to.

2005-11-04, 08:12


This was very informative. I was looking at the new Dell's (37" and 42"), but although the price is extremely attractive, they are not true HD. (is that what they cal ED?) Cannot see buying something like this with scaled HD and being disappointed in the picture when playing DVDs.

I am putting a flat screen TV in my office (14 ' x `12 '). My lounge chair will be about 10' away. Do you think 42" is too big. I want true HD (1080i.)

BTW, any idea on the differences of the Sharp models above. Website seems to indicate they are pretty much the same. I have an old 17" Sharp and was not that impressed. It is 3 years old. Have they improved?

2005-11-04, 08:21
Or... I could get the Samsung (http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1697,1681158,00.asp) 50" DLP TV. This one is only a 720p screen, but has pretty good downsampling for 1080i/p content. I can pick one of these up for $1500.

So, I could get a Samsung and Westinghouse for the price of the HP.

Damnit, I don't know what to do...
You might want to have a look at Samsung's new line (http://product.samsung.com/SamsungUSA/PRODUCT/20050708/DLP_78_series.pdf) of 1080p DLP sets. I'm looking at the 50" set and I'll snap it up once it hits my $2500 price point. I imagine that'll happen sometime during the holiday season or just after CES/superbowl time. Hell, you can find it for $3000-3500 right now, but that's not my price point. I'm patient. ;)

As for receivers, I'd look at Marantz. Anything in their SR line is good, but this SR-7500 (http://us.marantz.com/Products/306.asp) model looks very full featured and the sound quality of their amplifiers is tough to beat.

Some folks recommend that you find a receiver that does all your video switching and upconverting. I'd let your TV do that, since they're much better equipped for the job these days. Have you TV focus on video and your receiver focus on sound. Buy a Harmony 880 remote (http://www.logitech.com/index.cfm/products/detailsharmony/US/EN,CRID=2084,CONTENTID=9933&ad=AMR_H880HPB), some speakers you like and you'll be pretty much set.

2005-11-04, 08:37
But are not the DLP pretty deep? I like the idea of a 3-4" depth on plasma/LCDs.

2005-11-04, 08:45
I am putting a flat screen TV in my office (14 ' x `12 '). My lounge chair will be about 10' away. Do you think 42" is too big. I want true HD (1080i.)

If you write off your home office as a tax deduction, don't put a TV in there. If you do and the IRS finds out, they'll disqualify your home office tax deduction. As a matter of fact, if there's anything in your home office that is not business related, get it out of your office. Just a little tip. :)

2005-11-04, 08:47
But are not the DLP pretty deep? I like the idea of a 3-4" depth on plasma/LCDs.

Rear projection DLPs look to me to have the same depth (if not more) as traditional CRTs. I want my next TV to be flat too so I can mount it on the wall and reclaim some floor space. :)

2005-11-04, 08:51
I do not write it off. . . it is an escape from my four kids.


2005-11-04, 10:27
But are not the DLP pretty deep? I like the idea of a 3-4" depth on plasma/LCDs.
I like the idea of a thin set also, but I'd rather get a bigger screen with higher resolution and more features for less money. The 50" Samsung DLP I'm looking at is 14" deep. I think that's pretty good for a big screen TV and I'd have to pay thousands more to get a 50" 1080p Plasma/LCD screen.

I'll just be setting this new TV where my old (20" deep) CRT display was, so space isn't really an issue for me. YMMV.

2005-11-04, 12:00
I just bought a new sanyo plv-z3 projector (http://www.hdtvexpert.com/pages/plvz3.htm) for $1500 to replace an aging svga proxima projector.

Prices will probably drop after the holidays, but I don't know how much. I looked up how much the prices have dropped in the past year and found a couple references (through google news) to the average price of an HDTV 42" plasma going from about $4888 in Oct 04 to about $2600 this Oct. Rear projection is good for the price, but the sets seem really big, meaning that upgrading to a 50"+ HDTV plasma in a year or two would be pretty difficult and obnoxious.

2005-11-04, 13:11
The difference between HD and ED has to do with the horizontal line count on the display. HD is either 720 or 1080 lines, brodcast either progressively or interlaced. ED is 480 progressive.
(In case you are unfamiliar, interlace means that the odd numbered and even numbered horizontal lines on the screen are refressed alternately every 1/60th of a second. So, in the 1st 60th of a second, lines 1,3,5,7,9.... are refreshed on screen. In the second 60th of that second, lines 2,4,6,8.... are refreshed.
In progressive scan, all horizontal lines are refreshed at the same time)

The reason that ED actually does a better (not drastically though) job of displaying current DVD content, is that current DVDs play at 480 lines either interlaced or progressive depending on the model. 480 line output from DVD matches the 480 line screen perfectly. Converting that image to 720 or 1080 for display on HD will cause a small deterioration in quality. Again, it's not a lot, but remember that the EDTV set is substantiall less cost.

Now viewing HD content on a 1080 interlaced HDTV sounds like it would be more than twice the quality of that on a 480 interlaced EDTV, but it isn't. Quantifying the difference is obviously subjective, but the reviews from people who have looked at a lot more of these sets than I have generally put the drop in quality at about 10-15%. Remember, that's when viewing true HD content (and by the way, some broadcasters actually put out their HD content at 480p).

So, if money is an obstacle, EDTV is a great bang for the buck. If money isn't that big of an obstacle, go with HDTV. Or if time is not of the essence, I imagine that HDTV sets will continue thier price decrease and eventually EDTV will no longer be an attractive price/perfomance trade-off. Who knows how long that will take.

Again, I am fond of the Panasonic line of Plasmas (if Plasma is what you want). You can find the Panasonic plasmas in both "consumer" and "professional" release. These are basically the same display, but the professional series can be bought without the speakers - since you're likely spending thousands on seperate units, you won't miss the built-ins. They also have some that don't come pre-configured with all the inputs, but rather have replaceable boards that you buy and insert into the unit. So, if you have no need for Composit video, you just don't buy a composite video card, and you don't pay for one that is already built in (they may have a 1 or two built-ins on some models). You can buy HDMI, Component, Composite, S-video, etc.

As for the other components
I personally prefer Yamaha Recievers and Paradigm Speakers. If you've never heard of Paradigm speakers, do yourself a favor and try to find a local supplier and give them a look. They are great combination of quality/cost. And if you want to look for some independent reviews on them, you'll often find that the reviewer stacks them up against speakers twice the price or more just to make it a level playing field - they can be found in the price range of systems like Klipsch, Bose, JBL, Polk, Infinity, etc., etc., but IMHO are much better quality. (They do come in different price categories: Monitor, Reference, Premier, etc. - What I have and love, are the Monitor class - the lower price units).

Good luck and have fun - that's what is most important.

2005-11-04, 14:00
This just came out today on PCMag.com:


Any one have a view of Sharp versus Panasonic. The review to me seems only so-so.

Just went down to Best Buy to look at the 42" Sharp, but they do not stock it. Damn. . . .

2005-11-04, 15:22
I think Sharp makes the best LCDs, and as I stated above, I like Panasonic's Plasmas best. But, based on what I have seen, I would have no trouble buying a Sharp Plasma or a Panasonic LCD either. Both of these companies make some top quality products.

2005-11-04, 15:40
Rule Number one with TVs -- NEVER buy it without first testing it in ALL the ways you plan on using it. The HP looks great on paper, but it may get in your house and you hate it because the image quality sucks, HD reception is flaky, its too big, its too noisy, and you hardly ever run the computer on it.

Between the Panasonic plasma and the Sharp LCD, Panasonic is the winner. I have seen both sets in operation and plasma handles constant motion images better than LCD.

Going by your followup posts, it seems you want a flat screen.

Will you run a computer or games on this screen? If so, go with a High Definition LCD screen that has a minimum of 720 horizontal lines. Sharp has the LC-37D7U 37" with 1366x768 resolution. That resolution helps if you're used to 1024x768 computer screens. If you can get a display with 1920x1080, that would be great.

If you do not plan on running a computer or games on the set and will not use it for extended periods of time, get a plasma. They offer the best image quality for constant motion images.

If you watch broadcast TV and DVD only, don't care about seeing the detail in insects, seeing skin pores and caked on makeup and seeing the difference between Astroturf and grass, and do not plan on upgrading to HD-DVD/Blu-Ray, ED (480 lines) is OK. I think they are a total waste of money and many of the top-tier companies (Panasonic, Sony, Sharp, Samsung, Pioneer, LG, Toshiba, Mitshbishi) are downplaying ED.

The typical 42" ED display has a resolution of 852x480 -- perfect 16:9 size for DVDs. To my eye, DVD looks best on ED displays because DVD specifies 480 of horizontal resolution. In HD sets, the upsampling technology gives compelling results. I've seen fantastic results from 720 HD sets running DVDs through the composite (yellow RCA) inputs. Things get interesting with 1080 HD sets.

If you want a TV that can do it all and is ready for HD-DVD/Blu-Ray, and you're willing to take a hit with your budget and a slight hit in image quality, you should get a 1920x1080 LCD display.

You will get a flat design, max HD image, acceptable resolution for computer use, no risk of image burn-in, acceptable power consumption, quiet operation. You will take a hit on price, limited inputs and image quality.

Until SED comes out and gets cheap, you can't have it all.

As far as the amp, I'm a Yamaha guy, but I do like Denons too. But, the best specs come from Sunfire and Musical Fidelity, in my opinion.

I agree with zippy -- it is best to run all video sources straight to display, and run all audio through the receiver. Your overall results will be better, but you'll be shuffling 14 remotes. You aren't confined to one or two brands at higher than necessary price points. Then, you can get better speakers :cool: . I won't go into those because it took me even longer to get the ones I liked (Wharfedale), and I'm upgrading those to Magneplanars anyway. Eventually, I want a set of Martin Logans :smokey: .

2005-11-04, 15:53
You might also want to consider getting the Apple 30" display, a dual-link DVI card that can drive the 30" at 2560x1600, and a sound card with optical audio output (unless your computer already has one).

For the video card, look at the ATI Radeon 9600 Pro PC & Mac Edition ($199, AGP 8x) or the Matrox Parhelia DL256 PCI graphics card (about $699, PCI, PCI-X).

The monitor is smaller than 37", but it is less expensive ($2499), has better resolution, can be wall mounted, and will work with the media center PC you currently have. You will take hits on input flexibility and screen size, but if your media center is already handling all of your video needs, all you need is an optical connection from your PC to a good amp to handle your audio.

It all depends on what is most important to you -- a computing experience, broadcast/DVD quality, or lowest cost possible with compromises made all around.

2005-11-04, 16:01
I think Sharp makes the best LCDs, and as I stated above, I like Panasonic's Plasmas best. But, based on what I have seen, I would have no trouble buying a Sharp Plasma or a Panasonic LCD either. Both of these companies make some top quality products.

Although several manufactures sell plasma and LCD sets, each is on record for what they specialize in. Based on what I have read and seen:

Panasonic specializes in plasma
Sharp - LCD
Sony - LCD
Samsung - DLP
Toshiba - even mix of LCD and DLP
Pioneer - plasma
LG - plasma
Mitsubishi - DLP & LCD (however, their plasmas are the best I've ever seen, including Panasonic. They cost twice as much, too).

Take a look at the top product from each company.

2005-11-05, 16:44
There is a new technology called SED (Surface Emitting Diode) being developed with Canon...

I made a mistake with SED. The correct name is Surface-conduction Electron-emitter Display.

Canon's page on the technology is http://www.canon.com/technology/display/

2005-11-06, 03:15
I went to Fry's yesterday to purchase a new mouse. In the distance, I saw the 60" Sony KDS-R60XBR1. It uses three SXRD chips/panels to reproduce images -- one panel for the red :mad: , green :D and blue :eek: components of the image. SXRD is Sony's "refinement" of LCoS technology. Seems they got it to work because that Sony has the finest image quality I have EVER seen on a TV. I recommend to anyone who is serious about having the best image quality for their home theater to go check it out. It's really that good. It's a steal at $4,999. Fry's was selling it for $3,999. It pissed all over the Panasonic plasmas and the Mitsubishi DLP. The great thing is there is a 50" model too -- the KDS-R50XBR1. Looks like its time to trade up my Mitsubishi.

2005-11-07, 08:33
You might also want to consider getting the Apple 30" display, a dual-link DVI card that can drive the 30" at 2560x1600, and a sound card with optical audio output (unless your computer already has one).

I am intriqued by this idea. If I were to get a separate TV Tuner card, would this drive the 30". The Quad I ordered already comes with a 6600.

How good with the picture be? EyeTV is not high enough quality for 30" screen.

2005-11-10, 16:06
Sorry for not getting back to the thread sooner.

I studied the Elgato website and the different EyeTV units available. I liked what I saw. Until I joined this forum, I never knew a device like this existed for the Mac.

You won't need a separate tuner card since the EyeTV unit incorporates a tuner. From what I understand, you connect a coax connection from an antenna or satellite/cable box into the EyeTV. Then, connect a Firewire cable from the EyeTV to the Mac. Run some setup discs and you're copying away. Easy enough.

The 30" display requires a dual link DVI card, which your PowerMac has. Since HDTV maxes out at 1920x1080p (resolution of most 23" and 24" displays), dual link isn't required until the bandwidth exceeds 165 MPixels/s. The highest resolution I've seen on single link DVI cards is 2048x1536. Because a great many video cards are capable of those resolutions, it is unlikley a dual link version will be made available unless the HDTV specification improves.

(By the way, max bandwidth on a dual link DVI connection is 330MPixels/sec. Check out this page for a little more info - http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=2573)

According to Elgato's site, the EyeTV 200 works with antennas, cable or satellite boxes; recording any data received at the best resolution possible from coax or composite signals. Although excellent images can be obtained from composite connections, for HD displays (especially the 30"), the resolution may not be enjoyable enough. The highest analog resolution from the EyeTV 200 is 720x480, essentially that of DVD. One good thing I like about this unit is that it can record in MPEG-4, so you can save the recorded programs in QuickTime 7, then export the videos to a video iPod.

The output could be good enough, considering the many positive comments from EyeTV users.

The EyeTV 500 will deliver high quality images at up to 1920x1080i because it has an HDTV tuner. However, you're limited to the free stuff and MPEG-2 recording. It's not as flexible to use as the 200 is, and it costs more.

Since I'll soon be in your shoes, I would purchase the EyeTV 200 and connect it to the 30" equipped PowerMac. When one considers that DVDs do look decent on the 30" display, it can be hoped that a signal from a digital satellite or cable box will yield similar results. The bonus is being able to move the recorded shows from the computer to an iPod.

2005-11-10, 16:17
BTW, any idea on the differences of the Sharp models above. Website seems to indicate they are pretty much the same.

The main differences between the 45" models are case colors (silver, titanium and piano black), speaker configuration (side removable, side fixed, bottom removable), and channel distribution (some found at mass retailers, some found at A/V shops).
Performance is same across the models. All are able to display true 1080p HD spec.

Of course if you want to dwarf them all, AQUOS is now available in 65"....

2005-11-10, 17:01
Thanks for the info about the different models of the 45" Sharp LCD sets. I never knew until know. I would search all of them, looking for the best price.

The Sharp AQUOS 65" LC-65D90U. That is one hot set. My only issue is the 45" units left much to be desired after comparing Sharp against the similarly priced Sony SXRS set side-by-side. Compared to the Sony, the Sharp (and others) made people look they were the spawn of Michael Myers. If Sharp couldn't get it right at 45", I'm not expecting much at 65".

However, if you must have a flat panel that uses less power than plasma, works well with a computer and games, and you're willing to sacrafice the superior image quality of a plasma at this size range at a higher price ($19,999 list), the Sharp is the way to go. Why? It is the only 65" flat-panel with 1920x1080 resolution.

2005-11-10, 17:36
I recently purchased the EyeTV 200 and have been extremely surprised how easy it is to use (the user interface is TitanTV and it is great). Until my Quad arrives, I have been plugging it into my 17" PB and watching all my missed shows on the train to and forth NYC.

2005-11-10, 19:19
Will you connect a 30" display to your Quad? If so, I would love to know how the EyeTV works with that monitor.

2005-11-11, 13:28
My Quad gets here in 5 days. Was searching web one last time for a good price on a 30" display when I ran across this:


$2099 free shipping seems like a good deal but I had to buy something refurbished, even from Apple, without seeing it. Any one have experience in buying a high-end product from them?

Also, should I wait and use one of my 17" flat screens from another computer and see what Apple releases next in the Cinema display arena?

2005-11-11, 15:34
Generally their refurbed stuff is top notch, I do not hesitate to buy it. However, with something like a display, I really have no experience.

2005-11-11, 16:31
I guess one question I have about HDTV is, is there actually enough HD programing currently available, both in terms of amount and quality of programming?

For those of you who have HDTV, are you getting it by way of cable or by satellite? What are the good and bad points of your method of delivery?

2005-11-11, 16:50
I'm getting mine by way of antenna. The university refuses to install a cable card in my room, for HD tv programming so, I'm just getting it right off of the air waves when they broadcast it.

There is plenty of programming, you can get all the major sports events in HD, as well as many movies, and even things like the discovery channel. Its rocks.

2005-11-11, 22:24
I ordered the 30" refurbished from Apple. Will have both Quad and 30" by Thursday, so will report back how EyeTV looks.

Can't wait. . . .

2005-11-12, 02:51
$2099 free shipping seems like a good deal but I had to buy something refurbished, even from Apple, without seeing it. Any one have experience in buying a high-end product from them?

Also, should I wait and use one of my 17" flat screens from another computer and see what Apple releases next in the Cinema display arena?

The fact that you don't have to pay sales tax makes your deal all the better.

If you know someone who is a local, state or federal employee, that person could have sponsored your purchase of a new 30" display for $2299. I'm a former city of LA employee, so I have lots of former coworkers/friends who will assist me with the government employee discount prices on the high-end Apple products.

Many refurb deals can be steals. There was one AppleNova poster who works for Dell and he wrote that much of Dell's refurb merchandise consists of customer returns and cancelled orders -- the stuff isn't always defective. Because the items have already been sold as new, when it is returned to the manufacturer, if resold, it has to be sold as refurbished, even if the packaging hasn't been opened. They still have to repackage it in refurb boxes. A local news consumer guru in LA did a story a few months ago about refurbished merchandise, giving a great education on refurbished products. And, I have a few friends who swear by refurbished items.

The nice thing about Apple's refurbished stuff -- they say its been tested and it has the same one year warranty as their new products. The icing on the cake -- you can get AppleCare on the refurb stuff, just as you can with the new stuff.

As for the Apple Cinema Displays, the sizes offered are consistent with those of other computer and display manufacturers such as Dell, HP, Samsung, Gateway, Sharp and Samsung. To my knowledge, only Apple offers the 30" display. But, that may change with the gaining popularity of "media centers" and lower prices of LCD panel and dual-link video cards.

It is highly unlikley Apple will go larger than the 30" form factor for computer use. They may increase the resolution of the panel, but one you've seen how great anything looks on the 30" display, the argument for more resolution beyond 2560x1600 is weak. IBM has an ultra high resolution display, the 22.2" T221. It was designed for medical imaging, automotive CAD and oil exploration, according to IBM. At 3840x2400, it's the highest resolution display I'm aware of, but Apple has the biggest at 30".

2005-11-12, 04:18
I guess one question I have about HDTV is, is there actually enough HD programing currently available, both in terms of amount and quality of programming?

For those of you who have HDTV, are you getting it by way of cable or by satellite? What are the good and bad points of your method of delivery?

You can get HDTV by one of three ways -- over-the-air, cable and satellite.

As far as there being enough programming, it all depends on what you are looking for. At first, HDTV was limited to looking at caterpillars and scorpions breathe. Today, all the popular prime-time shows are broadcast in HDTV. Premium shows like the Super Bowl and the Oscars get the full HDTV treatment. For example, Lost is broadcast at digitally, but the Super Bowl will get 720p on ABC. Jay Leno on NBC is at 1080i. Law & Order is digital, but it doesn't have the crispness and clarity of Leno. Basically, if its a live event, it looks like you're there. If its a regular show, its about as clear as a typical DVD.

Over The Air

This is good old fashioned free TV. In every major city, all broadcast signals should be broadcast in analog and digital. In LA, all of the stations broadcast digitally, even if its 480i. ABC (720p), CBS (1080i), FOX (480p, 1080i), NBC (1080i) and WB (??) all broadcast digitally. According to what I've been reading, the federal government is proposing that analog signals go out in March 2009.

To get those over-the-air signals, you need an HDTV-Upgradeable display with an extrnal tuner, OR an HDTV-Ready (HDTV Integrated) display with a built-in ATSC tuner. Plug in some rabbit ears and you'll get HDTV.

The signals do what they are supposed to do -- deliver crystal clear reception with Dolby Digital sound. No ghosting and no static. Sometimes, the ditigal tuner takes 5 seconds to lock on to the signal and display the images. There is the occassional digital pixelation, but a roof antenna gets rid of that. Super Bowl 39 was fantastic! You will need a good UHF antenna since HDTV uses those frequencies. If you can, get a roof/attic antenna to ensure trouble free, artifact-free reception. The rabbit ears worked great until I got tired of looking at them next to a $2500 TV. Now, I have this gigantic Starship Enterprise antenna on the roof.


In addition to the local channels being delivered in HDTV, you can get HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, ESPN :) and others in HDTV. If you have an HDTV-Upgradeable set, you're good to go. The cable box is the external tuner. Just swap out your old analog cable box for an HDTV digital box. When you request the HDTV service, the cable operator activates the HDTV channels. Connect the digital output of the cable box to your Dolby Digital receiver and you're set. The image quality from the movie channels is EXACTLY the same as if you were viewing the DVD. Even the Dolby Digital audio sounds the same.


Same as cable, except you have to purchase the HDTV box, unless they're giving them avay these days. You'll either need a new dish installed, or your have your current one re-oriented to the HDTV satellite.

Over-the-air reception is the cheapest way to go, but its also the most limiting. The channel assignments are a bit different. Channel 7 became 7-1. Then, there was 7-2 for a loop of yesterday's programming and 7-3 for the Doppler radar. Channel 5 had 5-1 for the main broadcast and 5-2 for the Spanish simulcast. Channel 4 had 4-1 for the main broadcast and 4-2 for the weather and advertisements.

Cable is the most convenient since it doesn't change any habits if you're already used to cable. Just upgrade your TV and cable box.

Satellite is the most expensive, but it also offers the most variety.

Speaking of expense, in the long run, satellite may be cheaper because cable tends to charge more per month than satellite.

I tried my best to condende the info because there is a ton of it regarding HDTV. :\ The problem is there is too much choice. I studied HDTV inside-out for three years, and its unfortunate that consumers are confused about HDTV. I see it all the time, and the sales people tend to give poor information.

First, there's a trillion different acronyms, display types, screen sizes and resolutions. Then, the broadcasters are doing different things, so image quality isn't uniform among them. Now, there's the upcoming format war between HD-DVD and Blu-Ray (I'm a Blu-Ray guy). Because of the confusion, a lot of expensive mistakes will be made for a long time. :(

2005-11-12, 16:01
Thanks uypeterson for taking the time to give a comprehensive look at the current HDTV situation.

My original post didn't mention off the air reception as that proves problamatic for analog TV because of hills between Seattle and where I live. Is digital less prone to problems like that?

2005-11-14, 05:15
How are you receiving TV now? If you're getting it through cable, just swap out your current box for an HDTV box. For my area (Comcast), it was a $5 monthly upgrade.

For satellite, you have to purchase a new box and possibly a new antenna. I think the satellite companies charge less than $10 extra for their HDTV service, you you should check with your specific company.

I've seen HDTV coverage with Over The Air, Cable, DirecTV HDTV and DISH HDTV connections, and the quality of the images and audio is basically the same. The cable box may exhibit some pixelation as the signal locks in, but once the picture has stabilized (2-5 sec), it is crystal clear.

I live in LA and for the most part, it's a big flat bowl, so signal reception is pretty good. I'm not sure how digital compares to analog in hilly areas -- I didn't research that :\ . How is your digital cell phone receition? Chances are, your HDTV reception will be about the same. One thing about digital, once the signal is locked in, the picture is perfect. No ghosting, no static.

If you are having reception problems with over the air, it is important that an excellent UHF roof/attic antenna specifically designed for HDTV is utilized. I needed to replace my very old antenna with a new one, so I told my guy I wanted the best HDTV antenna he had. The setup ran $250. It's huge, but I have zero reception issues.

Before investing in an over-the-air antenna, rent or purchase a TV with a built-in ATSC tuner and plug in a set of rabbit ears. Kinda corny, but it works. Before I purchased my TV, I rented one for a couple of weeks to get a real-world test drive before committing to a potential mistake. Ask others in your area how their digital reception is. If there are signal problems, then it's probably best to go with cable or satellite.

Also, keep in mind that the HDTV antennas do not work well with the analog channels. The digital channels are crystal clear with the new antenna, but the corresponding analong channels are crap. Analog channels travel on the VHF (very high frequency) bands, whereas HDTV travels on the UHF (ultra-high frequency) bands.

2005-11-28, 15:30
Will you connect a 30" display to your Quad? If so, I would love to know how the EyeTV works with that monitor.

I hooked up last night using my PB 17". Don't think this will be any different than using the Quad when I comes (if it ever comes :( )

The first thing I watched was the Giants vs. Seahawks game from my desk (i.e., my eyes were about 3' from the screen.) I noticed (1) this is too close at full screen size and (2) around the players as the are moving real fast, there is some ghost imaging. Other than that, it was ok. Watched Desperate Housewives later and it seemed ok.

Now, when sitting in my lounge chair about 10' away, both the game and the show looked good.

Make no mistake--it is not as good as TV but not bad either. Kinda of like what TV was like 10 or so years ago.

Hope this helps. . . .

2005-11-28, 22:53
Thanks for getting back to me on that. I'm thinking of giving the EyeTV a try with a 23" display. Let us know when you get your Quad. ;)

2005-12-11, 12:40
OK, even though we watch little TV, weíve decided to upgrade our HD-ready TV to HD, primarily on the off chance that the Seahawks make it to the Super Bowl. Even though I wanted to go satellite with DirecTV, we decided to go cable with Comcast even with their yearly price hikes. The deal killer for DirecTV was the one-year contract and no local HD channels.

As I mentioned earlier, we watch little TV. Some month we donít record any programs for watching later, in others itís one or at most two times a month. Iím trying to figure out for our limited use what would be the best, most economical way to time shift programs. Comcast offers rental of a hard drive based digital recorder capable of recording standard and HDTV for $10 a month. Other choices would be to buy a TiVo and pay their subscription fee or simply buy a digital video recorder. Iím also wondering if using our existing VCR would be an option, until we decide if we do want to upgrade our time shifting capability.

I would greatly appreciate any opinions you might have on our situation. Thanks in advance.

2005-12-19, 16:59
Thanks for getting back to me on that. I'm thinking of giving the EyeTV a try with a 23" display. Let us know when you get your Quad. ;)

I have been using the Quad with EyeTV and the 30" for a couple of weeks and would say the following:

1. EyeTV in MPEG-2 up close on a desk (2-3') can be annoying, but across a small room it looks fine. Better for slower moving action (think NOT sports).
2. DVDs on 30" are as good as a regular TV. In fact, awesome.

Hope this helps. EyeTV is an awesome addition to any Mac. I am now using FolderShare to Sync the Eye TV folder to other Macs so I can download the TV shows on my Quad with 1 GB of HD storage and then move the shows to my PB to view on the train.

2005-12-19, 23:05
Anyone would be crazy not to consider front projectors. I have an InFocus Screenplay 4805, which can be found for under $1000 at Costco. It's spectacular for watching movies. I also have a $200 Da-Lite Theater Lite portable screen that conveniently pulls up from the floor. I have a Toshiba SD-3950 progressive/HDMI out, and even though the 4805 is not HD, it's a great, great picture. Check out all the positive reviews at http://www.projectorcentral.com. With all the money you save on the display, you could afford a kick-ass sound system.