The Monster TV Face Off What Do We Think?
Our comparison is biased. It's biased toward the display that can most accurately reproduce a video image. You may have certain preferences for your video image, and that's fine. All of these displays offer enough adjustment to paint or enhance any picture any way you might want. For us, we like to leave this job to the cinematographers who created the original images. We're not just preserving their original artistic intent, as lofty a goal as that may be. No, it's much simpler than that. We just figure that they get paid a lot more money to pay attention to these types of details than we do, so they're probably better at it than we are.
It's important to take note of the TVs' measurements. We've tried to mention, as much as possible, which sets could be further modified to produce an even better picture. Image accuracy is our ultimate goal, so our first recommendation would be to have the set calibrated by a professional, preferably one who uses appropriate test equipment. Nearly every set in the Face Off could be calibrated to look better and, after such calibration, would look nearly as good as the Pioneer. Some might look even better.
For those of you who don't have a qualified technician nearby (see www.imagingscience.com for a list) or who find the calibration idea objectionable, there are at least a handful of manufacturers that make sets that let you obtain a reasonably accurate image with very little tweaking. Toshiba, Sharp, Zenith, and Pioneer were the Final Four in our Face Off. Hitachi may qualify as a good runner-up. The judging panel agreed that choosing a winner from among these manufacturers was extremely difficult—considerably more difficult than in the other rounds. Claire pointed out that Pioneer won not necessarily for being fantastic but for being fairly good in nearly every category. There were TVs with better detail, for example, and TVs with better color fidelity (or contrast), but manufacturers that seemed to excel in one area saw their scores plummet in others, thus garnering them lower overall ratings. You may choose a different set purely for future-compatibility reasons (see our "The Future of HDTV Connections" sidebar). Displays from Mitsubishi, Sony, and RCA certainly offer advantages in this area. Whatever your reasons, you should now have the information you need to help you find the display that fits in with your needs and budget.