ISF, Speakers, TVs
Is it wise to evaluate ISF technicians when it comes to the calibration of a mid-priced plasma or LCD? I live in downtown Denver, and there are so many techs listed on the ISF site, I cannot find much insight there.
I will be buying my gear from Ultimate Electronics here in town, and they offer a calibration service, though at $300, it seems a bit pricier than I remember. Reading about the number of judgment calls required to get good results during calibration in some of your reviews prompted this inquiry.
You are correct that TV calibration involves a few judgment calls, so trying to ascertain the skill of a particular technician could be important. On the other hand, much of the process is objective, and anyone with an ISF or THX certification has met certain criteria in terms of knowledge and judgment, so I would be relatively confident of anyone with either of those certifications. And $300 for a full grayscale calibration is actually quite reasonable these daysI've seen fees as high as $500. If the Ultimate Electronics tech is ISF or THX certified, I'd probably go with them because they are more likely to know the ins and outs of the specific products they sell.
I'm looking for a 5.1 speaker system to add to my Samsung 40-inch LCD TV and Sony STR-DG820 A/V receiver. Preferably, I'd like to stay under $1000. Most of the systems I see are HTIBs and usually include an upscaling DVD player and/or receiver. I already have a receiver and a Sony PlayStation 3 to play DVDs and Blu-ray.
The two main options I've focused on are the Aperion Intimus 4B Harmony SD system or the Klipsch Synergy Quintet III system with a Klipsch Synergy SUB-10 subwoofer. Which of these systems would you recommend, or is there another product that would be better?
We haven't reviewed either of these systems, but Ultimate AV reviewed the Aperion Intimus 5B system, and reviewer Steve Guttenberg liked it a lot. In that review, he said that the 4B system gives you 80 percent of the 5B's performance for half the price. Klipsch also makes great speaker systems, such as the HD Theater 500 for only $600, though reviewer Mark Fleischmann was unimpressed with the subwoofer.
I'm in the market for a 1080p plasma or LCD TV between 50 and 55 inches; my preference would be plasma. A Blu-ray player will have an HDMI connection to the TV for watching Blu-ray and DVD movies. The TV will not have any connection to either cable or satellite; it will be used strictly for movie watching. What would you suggest for a budget of $3000-$4000?
Also, if I'll be watching mostly Blu-ray and DVD movies on a good-quality Blu-ray player (e.g., Pioneer BDP-320 or Panasonic DMP-BD60), what specs really matter?
By the way, the living room is 12x14 feet and the viewing distance to the TV will be about 10 feet.
At a seating distance of 10 feet, you could go even larger to 60 or 65 inches. I agree that plasma will generally provide a better picture. You can probably still find a 60-inch Pioneer Kuro plasma within your budgeton Amazon, for example, I recently saw the PDP-6020FD 60-incher for $3700 (it was $5500 list). I must add that I've seen a lot of complaints about Pioneer plasmas buzzing audibly, but I've never experienced this myself during reviews.
As for a Blu-ray player, one of the specs that matters to me is the ability to internally decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD to PCM and send that via HDMI to the A/V receiver. Another is an Ethernet port that lets you update the firmware online. I don't care about multichannel analog outputs or BD-Live, though that is pretty standard these days. In my experience, Pioneer Blu-ray players have been frustratingly slow, while Panasonic players are very highly regarded.
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