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New living room monitor and media centre questions


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7 replies to this topic

#1
Humodour

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Hey guys, what should I look for in a modern TV? We don't watch television at all. It'll be purely for watching downloaded movies and music, as well as playing Mario Kart on the Wii. And maybe Left 4 Dead 2 on the Steam console when it comes out. ;) Or Ouya.

It'll need to be able to access a NAS, preferably the Seagate Black Armour, but if they're incompatible, I'm aware of a few DLNA compatible NAS devices that I can buy.

And media centres... thoughts? Not really necessary if I already have an NAS that the TV can stream from, right?

What else? What do you guys look for in modern home entertainment?

#2
Humanoid

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What else? What do you guys look for in modern home entertainment?


Size. Size trumps all. So short of a projector (including rear projection), just find the biggest plasma you can afford and lug it away. And plasma means either Panasonic or Samsung - my personal pick for value would be the 60" ST model for a touch under $2k (and therefore $1k cheaper than the 65"). The only meaningful difference between the mid-range ST and the range-topping VT model is that the VT has a blingier frame.

And before anyone says "but that's too big!" - here's a nice recommended viewing distance calculator, not based on rules of thumb or anything like that, but on formal motion picture standards: http://myhometheater...calculator.html - a 60" widescreen panel has a THX recommended viewing distance of 2.04m and a maximum of 2.87m. While this might seem very close to what is a big TV, bear in mind the intended use is for movies and not broadcast television.

Don't fall for the LED/LCD scaremongering tactic about plasma being susceptible to burn-in and that kind of rubbish.



P.S. The size criterion rule also broadly applies to speakers as well if you're planning on building something more complete - and you should, since while everything else about TVs is constantly improving, the quality of built-in TV speakers is almost at an all-time low. Get a basic AV receiver (can save a packet on mid-range receivers importing from Amazon Germany) and a pair of floorstanders to start (budget $1-2k), worry about stuff like the centre speaker, surrounds, and subwoofer later (floorstanders will delay the need to get a woofer, compared to if you started with a pair of bookcase speakers like I did).


EDIT: I know you're conscious about stuff like power usage and general efficiency of electronics, but unfortunately the current situation is very much the reverse of the above advice. LED-backlit LCD is the most power efficient current mainstream technology, followed by CCFL(traditional)-backlit LCD, and then plasma. However, LED-backlit panels tend to have moderate-to-serious problems with uniformity, leading to incorrectly bright areas on the screen, and any LCD will fall a fair way behind in terms of colour reproduction and motion as well. For what it's worth, most LCD panels used in televisions are MVA variants, which are less accurate than IPS panels (but moreso than TN panels) for colour but produce deeper blacks than both IPS and TN. However plasma squashes any LCD for deep crisp blacks.

Fortunately, the gap is smaller than it's ever been, and another factor is that plasma has variable power usage depending on the image being displayed (i.e. full white screen will suck up maximum juice, a black screen will sip power), whereas both LCD technologies will show more or less constant power usage.

Edited by Humanoid, 10 August 2012 - 01:04 AM.


#3
LadyCrimson

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So basically, Humanoid, size does matter? ..... *pause* ... *ducks*


...srsly tho, I agree, size and plasma. Of course, online streaming is not generally high-quality enough to actually need super-size or other awesome TV capabilities. Not that they're not plenty watchable - Netflix looks ok on a big screen....but they won't blow you away either (yet), no matter how great your huge TV is. To some degree, if that's seriously going to be the only method of film watching, I might stick with a smaller screen size so online compression artifacts (especially in dark scenes/fast movement) might be a bit less noticeable at times. But I don't know what the source is for your "downloaded movies" ... if they're high quality enough, go for it. And, of course, for gaming, bigger is always nice.

If you're not very demanding about sound quality but still want something at least better than the TV-speakers, the single unit speaker bars can be an option. You won't get big deep bass of course but it's still a fair improvement over the built-ins, for only 150-300US bucks and a lot less space. Also, I'm not sure about sound quality from online movie options to begin with. Again tho, could be worth it for the gaming at least.

#4
Humanoid

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There's no Netflix or equivalent in Australia, so it's assumed the movie files will be regular non-streaming 1080p video. Even if there was, the general speed of Internet connections here would preclude its use anyway. :p


And for good sound on a (relative) budget, I'd recommend at least a pair of active bookshelf speakers such as these Audioengine A5+, I personally use the regular version (no remote control) as my PC speakers.

#5
LadyCrimson

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There's no Netflix or equivalent in Australia, so it's assumed the movie files will be regular non-streaming 1080p video. Even if there was, the general speed of Internet connections here would preclude its use anyway. :p

Well, he did say downloaded....even if it's not streaming, if 'net speeds are slow, I don't care if it says it's 1080 it's still going to be highly compressed in order to be downloadable in a reasonable amount of time ... especially if the company is assuming most people don't have high-speed cable.

Then again, I have yet to purchase a download type movie, preferring to still buy them on disc, so maybe quality of such is a lot better than I'm imagining/my limited experience.
But over here, even cableTV(Comcast) isn't always that great (outside of sports and primetime), because they keep compressing things more and more as programming or costs (or greed) increases. I hate digital compression artifacts/effects. Sigh. :)

#6
Humanoid

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I have no personal experience either really, I buy my movies on disc (generally from the UK and US) and rip them myself. At 30-50GB a pop for a typical blu-ray, it's pretty space intensive, filled up about 12TB thus far.

#7
Humodour

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Hey guys, I just realised I never thanked you for the advice.

Turns out smart TVs are actually really dumb anyway. I strongly recommend AGAINST anybody buying one.

Instead, you should buy a dumb TV which has at least 1 USB port, 1 HDMI port, and 1 ethernet port (or has two USB ports and a wireless dongle).

With this dumb TV, you can then treat it like a monitor and plug in an Android mini-computer worth around $100. Boom, instant smart TV capabilities (and good ones, rather than the stock rubbish smart TVs come with) as well as access to the Android store (the same one as your smart phone).

Maybe one day Samsung will integrate Android into their TVs like they do their phones. At the moment the their smart TVs aren't Android, but a really ****ty custom UI and OS job. Don't bother - buy a mini-PC like the Cotton Candy and plug it in.

#8
Pidesco

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Or just connect your desktop PC.




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