on September 13, 2007
The HPT-5064 is one of CNET's top 5 rated plasma HDTVs as of this writing (9/13/07), and with good reason. This TV has all the major features at the right price point in today's market, making it a strong contender on your shopping list. I shopped every LCD, DLP and Plasma in this price range, and the HPT-5064 emerged time and time again as the #1 choice.
Let's get something out of the way first - you're probably going back and forth between 1080p and 720p TVs, trying to figure out if 1080p is worth the premium. Quick calculation - at this size (50"), you're supposed to be sitting at least 10 ft. back. At that distance, your eyes won't be able to tell the difference between 720p and 1080p. So, my advice - buy this TV. If you can't sit at least 8-10" back, if you've got the patience of a monk and are willing to wait for 1080p prices to fall to 720p prices, or if you're one of those people who never buy anything for fear that there's something "better" out there, go for 1080p. Then again, you may get hit by a truck tomorrow, and 1080p isn't going to do you much good then, is it? Your headstone will say:
While He Was Waiting For 1080p
Got Hit By A Semi Going 73
Like something out of Disney's Haunted Mansion. You know what I'm talking about. Also replace "He" with "She" if you are a girl. I would have put "He/She", but that's a strange construct with all kids of linguistic baggage that I avoided in the name of brevity...even wit, if you could call it that.
The best advice for technology is, "Don't buy the hottest thing - buy yesterday's hottest thing". Why? Because technological upgrades aren't exponential, they're incremental. You're paying for a lot more than you're getting at the time. Meanwhile, prices on yesterday's hot thing are dropping faster than the housing market. Look at Apple. You buy something, and as the UPS guy is ringing your doorbell, they cut the price in half and release a new model. Apple's cool, though.
Enough philosophy. Here's what I love about this HDTV:
* Fantastic, natural-looking picture with no macroblocking, ghosting or blurring. Coming off a 32" LCD that suffered from all those problems, I'm very happy. Colors are perfect. Blacks are black (not CRT black, but CRTs aren't 3" deep either). Contrast is amazing. Feed this thing high-quality off-air HD channels, your Xbox 360 or PS3, HD-DVDs or Blu-Ray, or 480p DVDs, and you'll be impressed. Standard def, as expected, looks like standard def stretched out over a 50" screen. If that's your thing, go for it, but I don't suggest it. This thing thrives on a diet of steady HD content. Go to your parent's house if you want to watch...I dunno. I was going to say Sesame Street or Antiques Roadshow, but even public television comes in HD now, and your parents probably have an HDTV, so my joke has no punchline. Go to your parent's house anyway, your mom misses you and will probably make you a sandwich.
* 3 individual picture adjustments for each input with three modes - Dynamic, Standard and Movie. Dynamic (also known as "torch" mode or "store" mode) will make your eyes bleed, just don't do it. Standard is great for brightly lit daytime viewing (though tends toward the blue spectrum), while Movie features the greatest amount of adjustable values, and fits the bill as the default setting for discriminating viewers (see CNET's website for settings that are just about perfect). Any adjustments you make to the three modes are kept in memory for each input. It's a tweaker's dream. Just don't drive your significant other crazy trying to determine if "48" or "49" is the best color value. (P.S. - it's 48...or is it?)
* Burn-in protection. Go ahead, admit it. You're worried about burn in. You've read the reviews that say that burn-in is overrated, but then, right there on the forum, man, is a dude who took a picture of his brand new plasma with the CNN logo permanently etched in. If you're worried, Samsung threw in a few modes that can help you prevent and erase burn-in. I take the whole burn-in issue with a grain of salt, from both sides. Just like with your old CRT, you shouldn't display any still images for an excessive amount of time (multiple hours), but watching a letter-boxed movie one night isn't going to ruin your television. Just use common sense and don't leave Bioshock or your TiVo on pause for 6 hours with the TV on. And run the modes every so often, it can't hurt.
* Style - this TV looks better than its step-down model, the HPT-5054. The speakers are hidden beneath a thin bezel on the bottom of the set. It's also glossy. I'm not a glossy fan, but good luck trying to find a 50" plasma that isn't glossy. It's like trying to find a bathroom when you really have to use the bathroom. In other words, it's hard to find. Maybe I didn't look that hard. I guess if you really have to go, it doesn't matter if you find one or not. A bathroom, that is. It's also got the anti-glare screen and the USB port for showing pictures and what not. The TV, that is. I don't know of any bathroom that has a USB port, but hey. They're putting USB ports in just about everything nowadays, so who knows. Maybe I just gave somebody an idea. Which I won't get credit for. Again.
* Viewing angle - you can walk right to the edge of the bezel and this TV gives a perfect picture with no washout.
Other random advice: If you've got the room, go for this or a bigger set. Never settle for smaller when it comes to HDTVs. If you've never had a big set before, you'll get this thing home and say, "Dear God, what have I done?" like a mad scientist who has just seen his monstrous creation come to life. However, after a few days, you will acclimate to the size, and may even say to yourself, "I could have gone a little bigger." Then, one night, you will watch your old TV and say, "You are puny, and insignificant." And maybe you will make-believe that you are crushing your old TV between your thumb and forefinger with one eye closed, because it is really that small that it can be crushed in such a manner. Don't worry, your old TV doesn't have feelings. But you do. And you are sad that you paid almost half of what you paid for the new TV for the old TV. So you stop crushing it. And maybe you pout your lip a little. Maybe not. I'm just saying get the bigger TV, that's all, try not to read too much into it.