In my previous post, the chart doesn't seem to be showing up. Here is the URL to the article covering screensizes and seating distances:
A forum member PM'd me inquiring about 32" HDTV sets. I didn't think my reply needed to be private...
I've postponed my trip to HK and may not get the chance to shop in-person there until April or May.
Because I do not yet have first-hand observation of the flatpanels sold in HK, I can only base the following on the sets I bought in the US...
Virtually all the 32" HDTV sets in the US have panels manufactured with 1366x760 pixels (or thereabouts). Don't presume these sets will only ingest/display a 720p signal. ALL current HDTVs of all sizes are required ingest 720p and 1080i signals. Those sets with a 1366x760 panel will simply take the 1080i signal (1920x1080) and resize the image to fit accordingly. 1920x1080 panels will display a 1080i signal natively.
Do any of the major consumer electronics companies offer a 32" HDTV with a 1920x1080 panel?
To my knowledge, no one offers such a set. As a practical matter, MOST people would have to be sitting as close as 3 feet from such a panel to be able to appreciate 1080 detail at this size. Manufacturing cost, target market, & practical application make the prospects of a 32" 1080 set unlikely.
During a 1080i broadcast, does this mean a 32" set shows less resolution than a 40" set?
This of course depends on whether the 40" set has a 1366x760 or a 1920x1080 panel. If the latter, then YES there will be a noticeable difference. On thursday nights when new episodes of LOST airs (broadcast in 1080i), the difference is plainly evident on my 32" and 46" not entirely because of screensize, but because the 46" displays the signal natively at 1920x1080 -- no down-rezzing. How do the differences manifest themselves? In close-ups of actors faces, the 32" set shows beard stubble in the HD broadcast where the old analog broadcast could only convey a fuzzy-looking pattern. Jump over to the 46" native 1080 display and those same details become even more noticeable.. sharper individual bristles, faint character wrinkles on facial surfaces, higher pore detail. Just using this to convey the sense of detail, I don't have a pore fetish. Honest.
Pricing on 32" HDTVs are low, I'm desperate for my first "starter" set, should I buy it?
This depends. Will this set be your one-shot purchase and remain as the primary household display? The important thing to note is how Hong Kong's HDTV market mirrors that of the US. The US has had a few years lead and many of the patterns I've seen stateside, I now see in HK.
In the US, the majority of the first sets were only tunerless displays. This gave rise to a frustrating garbage heap of marketing-jargon; terms like HD-Ready, HD-Compatible, TrueHD only confused the consumer. Instead of these catchwords, always ask what the panel's native pixel resolution is (or research it online) and you'll have a better idea whether the set will properly display a 1080 signal.
HDTVs had been available even earlier, but around 2006, flatpanels started coming down in price. Most models by now featured a tuner. $1400usd (10800hkd) for a 32" HDTV was considered a tremendous bargain. Larger panels, however were still stratospheric. A 46" HDTV 1080i/ATSC was locked at $3000usd (23250hkd). Jumping up a little to 52" meant a $5000 (38750hk) pricetag. Sound familiar?
In 2007, the 32" sets averaged around $1100usd (8525hkd). 40" with a 1080 panel cost $2100usd ((17000hk). 46" slipped to $2600usd (20100hk) and 52" dips to $3200usd (24800hk).
Now in 2008, 32" hovers around $900usd (6975hk), a 40" 1080 costs less than $1400usd (10800hk),the 46" 1080 set is marked at $1700usd (13175hk), and a 52" is around $2500usd.
Two things drove the pricedrops. 1. HDTV buyers increased dramatically. In 2007, HDTV sales surpassed old CRT televisions. 2. Successful manufacturing yields on the LCD panels increased steadily.
HK feels much like early 2006 in this regard. The 32" sets are relatively affordable, but the bigger screens skyrocket in a geometric fashion. It shouldn't be this way. Not for long, at least. LCD panel manufacturers have already been producing 40, 46, 52" screens for other markets at lowered prices for a while now. They can't justify a $40000hk pricetag on a 52" panel on the claims that low LCD yields make them rare. They're not.
For those seeking a long-term primary HDTV now, I would suggest aiming for a 40" 1080 set with a DTMB tuner over a 32" 720.