TVs, Adaptors, Tuners

Funny You Should Ask
I'm looking for a reasonably priced 42-inch HDTV. A standard-definition DVD player will be connected to it as well as digital cable, but no HD service. Plasma or LCD? I can go either way. It won't be wall mounted. I was thinking a 720p set would okay since we don't plan to have HD cable service, but I'd be very interested to hear what you think.

Mike Survilas

Home Theater recently did a face off between five 40- and 42-inch models, and I liked the Panasonic TC-P42G10 plasma ($1300) best out of the five. However, it looks best in a room with subdued light. If you plan to watch in a room with lots of light, the Sony KDL-40V5100 ($1500) is the best choice from that face off. It's 40 inches, but the difference in size is insignificant. You can read about both (and the other sets) here.

I always recommend getting a 1080p set whenever possible. Even if you don't have any HD sources now, you might in the future, and you'll be ready for them. Also, you won't have as many scaling artifacts as you might with a 720p set.

Adaptor Shmadaptor
I have a very high quality HDMI-DVI cable (Wireworld 5.2 flat). I'm replacing my DVD player (DVI-D) with one that has an HDMI output. Video-only notwithstanding, is there any loss if I use a DVI-to-HDMI adapter to connect to the new DVD player or should I replace the cable with a straight HDMI-to-HDMI cable?

Rick Miller

I'm not a big fan of using adaptors if it's possible to avoid. The fewer connections in a signal path, the less chance there is of signal degradation. And as you point out, you will lose the audio, which defeats the purpose of switching to HDMI. I would get a new HDMI cable.

I hope you're replacing the DVD player with a Blu-ray player!

Tuner Trouble
I have a Dell 3300MP projector in a DIY home theater setup with Comcast basic digital service and an OTA antenna lead from a large outdoor antenna. I'd like to find an HD tuner that has both OTA and QAM capability, but no DVR. I want a unit that does not "downscale" the signal as many DVR units do.

One model that would be perfect is the Samsung DTB-H260F. The problem is, it's not being made any more, and I can't find any new ones still for sale. (I guess since all TVs are now required to have HD tuners, there's no market for them.) There are some used Samsungs on the Web, but I'm a little skittish about buying used electronics online.

So the question is: What is a good standalone HD/QAM tuner that has component video output (my receiver doesn't have HDMI), digital audio out, no DVR, and is available new with manufacturer's warranty from a reliable outlet? It turns out there aren't many that fit all the requirements.

Dick in Denver

You're right, now that TVs are required to have onboard tuners, there's virtually no market for external tuners. I did find a couple of candidates, but they are from completely unknown brands. For example, the KWorld SA290-Q fits most of your criteria (except it has no digital-audio out, only 2-channel analog), and it's $75 at TigerDirect.com. However, I've never heard of this company, so I have no idea how good or reliable it is.

As for buying used electronics online, I normally don't have any qualms about that, at least if it's inexpensive. And I'd feel better about buying a used Samsung over a new unknown. But that's just me...

If you have a home-theater question, please send it to scott.wilkinson@sorc.com.

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COMMENTS
Brian Cash's picture

I disagree with you coments on a 1080p panel. It is not nessary on a 42 inch tv because you can't actually see the extra detail from more than 3 ft away, on this size of tv. As far a scaling artifacts The upconverting to 1080 of a low res signal will have many more artifacts than taking a 1080p down to 720. Don't be confused. A 720 tv will work fine on 1080p some peaple think it doesn't work at all. Total waste of money purly marketing on this size of tv.

Scott Wilkinson's picture

I agree that you can't see the extra detail offered by a 1080p panel compared with a 720p set beyond a certain distance, though I think that distance is more like 4.5 feet with a 42-inch set. And I also agree that upconverting 480 to 1080 will produce more artifacts than downscaling 1080 to 720. Still, I maintain that scaling artifacts are possible in that situation, whereas they are not possible when watching a 1080i or 1080p signal on a 1080p set, which is why I recommend getting a 1080p set whenever possible.

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