TV Recommendation, In-Ceiling Speakers, Panasonic or Samsung Plasma

What To Buy
Do you have a recommendation for a 46-inch (non-plasma, non-3D) TV? My budget is $800-$1300.

Daniel

Vizio's LED-illuminated LCD TVs are probably your best bet in that price range. The company offers no 47-inch LED models under $1000, but it has several in the $1000-$1300 range.

If you can stretch your budget a bit to $1570, the XVT473SV uses LED backlighting with local dimming, which is superior to LED edgelighting. Interestingly, the XVT3D474SV LED-backlit model includes 3D for less money—$1150. I recommend that you not reject 3D TVs out of hand, because they often provide better 2D performance, and there's no reason you ever have to use the 3D mode.

Another good candidate is the Sony KDL-46EX720 LED-edgelit LCD for $1350 on SonyStyle.com. Tom Norton reviewed the 55-inch version here and found it to be quite good overall. This model line is 3D, but again, you don't have to use it—simply enjoy its 2D performance. I'm about to review the Samsung UN46D6000, which lists for $1300 and does not include 3D capabilities, so stay tuned for that in a few weeks.

No More Than I Need
I'm looking for ceiling-mounted home-theater speakers. Bose has them in stereo pairs, but I need five speakers, so I have to buy three pairs and one speaker will be the extra. Do you have any recommendations?

Eli

First, I'm not a big fan of Bose speakers. From my experience, they generally don't sound all that good, and they're expensive, which means you're paying for the name as much as or more than the sound.

There are plenty of companies that offer excellent in-ceiling speakers you can buy individually. Some examples include Aperion, Atlantic Technology, Boston Acoustics, Definitive Technology, Polk, and SpeakerCraft to name a few. And don't forget to include a subwoofer, since these in-ceiling speakers can't reproduce bass much at all. Several companies make in-ceiling subs, including Klipsch, Polk, SpeakerCraft, and Velodyne.

Is there any way you can have freestanding or in-wall speakers in the front? If you use in-ceiling speakers for the front left, center, and right channels, the sound won't appear to come from the screen area, which can seriously undermine the entire movie experience—for example, the voices of people you see in front of you will come from above, separating the audio from the visuals in a very unnatural way.

A Tough Decision
I'm having a hard time choosing between the Panasonic VT30 and the Samsung D8000 plasmas. Which has better black levels and contrast? Also, is it true that Panasonic is using Pioneer Kuro glass and technology in its TVs?

Joe Nieto

We haven't reviewed the Samsung D8000 plasma, but Tom Norton did review the C7000 from last year, and he said it had solid blacks and contrast, so I would expect the D8000 to have them as well. Tom also reviewed the Panasonic VT30, which will appear in the September issue of Home Theater. It's blacks and contrast were also excellent, but surprisingly, not quite as good as last year's Panasonic flagship, the VT25. (The C7000 had a black level of 0.007 foot-lamberts, the VT30 measured 0.006fL, and the VT25 measured 0.004fL.) I'd expect the D8000 and VT30 to be roughly comparable to each other.

As for whether or not Panasonic is using Kuro technology in its TVs, the company is pretty cagey about that. I've asked several Panasonic reps, including Eisuke Tsuyuzaki, the CTO of Panasonic North America, about this very question, and I always get a fairly vague answer. I suspect that much of the Kuro technology is not being implemented directly, because to do so would increase the cost of the TV up into Kuro territory. The black levels of current Panasonic TVs bear this out—they're good, but not Kuro good.

The e-mail address to send questions for Ask Home Theater has changed; please send your home-theater questions to askscottwilkinson@gmail.com.

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COMMENTS
maj0crk's picture

I wonder if Kuro technology used more electrical power than is considered acceptable in plasmas nowadays? Just a thought.

eliOnline's picture

Thank you for the inputs-) I just got myself a Denon AVR-1912, so I need 7 speakers plus 1 subwoofer.

I finally decide to get 6 of Boston Acoustics HSIH460T2 in-ceiling speakers and 1 Boston CS 225C Center Channel Speaker. I will take your advise and mount the center channel somewhere close to the TV. Now comes my next question: "Will my old Sony Subwoofer SA-WM250 go alone with this set? If it's not, what subwoofer would you like to recommend?" Thank you Scott, you rock!

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