Ok, I'm not really disagreeing with you, but thought I'd drop my $.02 into this conversation...
I have been wanting to get a new HDTV for awhile now. I have a 60" Marantz SD 9" CRT RPTV. However, I just have not been able to justify the move to HDTV for a couple reasons.
Of course, (at least until the last 6 months or so), a main reason has been the prohibitive cost of a 70+" HDTV. Why 70+"? Well, our viewing room is about 18'x18' that, due to furniture considerations puts our viewing distance at about 14'. At that distance, the height of the picture on our 60" 4:3 SDTV is about perfect. It is just that when displaying 1.78:1 (or 1.85 or 2.40+:1) material, the screen height becomes much less adequate. (Please don't get me started on the 1.78:1 (16:9) selection for the HDTV standard (for that "movie theater"-like experience, don't you know), when the minimum aspect ratio of movie theater material is 1.85:1 meaning they should have selected something between 17:9 and 21:9.) Anyway, I would prefer to have at least an 80" HDTV so that I would be able to get that theatrical impact. (Personally, I believe that you can sit at between 1.5 and 2.0 times the diagonal size of your TV and not be bother by pixelization of HD material (SD material (at least without a high quality upconversion) might be another story, rather than be hindered by the "recommended" 2.5 times.) Because of this, you can see my #1 limitation when we are talking about the HDTV I would like to get (70++") is cost.
However, if we take cost out of the equation, we still have a number of other issues to consider when making the choice between LCD, plasma, and DLP.
My next consideration is not (surprisingly?) resolution, but rather color accuracy. When I speak about color accuracy, I am talking about three different, but related things.
First, there is the issue of correct representation of the colors red, green, and blue (the basis of color picture creation in TV's). Typically, most HDTV's have presets that emphasize blue WAY too much. They do this because screens in a store appear brighter if they have more blue in them. This can usually be somewhat corrected if you go into the TV's setup menu and change the TV from its "Vivid" (or whatever they call it) to "Natural", "Movie theater", or something similar. Basically, you are trying to find the TV's setting that more closely meets the ISF's color standards (that all the mastering stations the media is prepared on are using) so that, at least, flesh tones appear more normal so that people don't look like they have been spending too much time in the morgue.
However, this usually means that you run into the second problem most TV's have in their decoders and this is "red push". This means that most TV color decoders take in the signal and interpret it to have more red in the picture than it really should have. This is not intentional (unless it is to somewhat compensate for the over emphasis of blue in the default settings), but will cause people to look like they have a bit of sun burn.
In general, I have found the green calibration to be fairly accurate and not affect picture quality nearly as much as blue and red. However, the general green tinge of the 1st, 2nd, and even some 3rd generation (cheapo) plasmas can be a problem that is almost impossible to overcome.
You can see the color decoding issues if you get a copy of Kane's Digital Video Essentials:
HD-DVD version coming in March:
Second, there is the closely related issue of correct grayscale representation. This is important because most SD [sic] material uses grayscale as the reference and essentially layers the colors over it. If they grayscale is incorrect, then the colors on top of them will also be incorrect and they will look "off".
Finally, there is the issue of contrast ratio. This is where the ability to show "near black" items in the picture really adds to the feeling of overall color vividness and picture "depth" (three dimensionality). With lower contrast ratios of less than, say, 2000:1, the picture is noticably "washed out" compared to sets with contrast (not "dynamic" contrast) ratios of >5000:1 or especially >10000:1.
IMO, this issue of color makes a far larger difference in the picture quality of HDTV sets than resolution (even from 720p to 1080p)!
Last, and least, is resolution. Being a geek, I want the highest resolution I can get, but realistically, I won't notice it as much until the screen size gets upward of 80+". At least not as much as I would notice inaccurate color reproduction.
Give *MY* requirements, I tender my (admittedly very subjective) ranking of the current display technologies as follows: (Not including front projectors as they all suck without very good ambient light control.)
I. DLP (A "micromirror" device that has hundreds of thousands of physical mirrors that uses an electro-physical method of moving and controlling the mirrors)
a. Inexpensive for the screen size (at the upper end).
b. Great contrast ratios.
c. Fair to good grayscales.
d. Fair primary colors once calibrated.
e. Pretty good power consumption (ie. relatively low).
f. Fairly bright (good in bright light situations), even in larger screen sizes.
g. Fair viewing angle.
h. One 100" set available (by Optoma, but as a "built in" only).
i. Relatively low power requirements.
a. Generally inaccurate primary colors (without a trip into the TV's service menus), a VERY dangerous place if you don't know what you are doing).
b. Only single chip designs are affordable (see a).
c. Color wheel rather than steady primary color light generation (see a).
d. Only fair grayscales (see b and c).
e. "poor" to fair 1080p resolution picture generation (due to TI not using a true 1920x1080 chip, but rather a 960x1080 chip that is "wobulated" (ie. vibrated) in the horizontal plane to double its effective resolution.
f. TI artificially keeping the chip price high and not implementing a full resolution consumer chip.
g. Only good in bright light environments.
h. Fair viewing angle.
i. Bulb replacement is expensive.
j. DLP and controlling circuitry are one unit, dramatically increasing cost to repair, if needed.
Why #1?!? Size, baby! Largest size screens for the money (70+" for <$4K). And they do a fair to very good job at the rest of the criteria (at least with the better brands).
2. LCOS (Basically an LCD driven micromirror device.)
a. The pros of DLP and...
b. Three chip design for superior color rendition.
c. Individual color lamps for superior color rendition.
d. Good to very good grayscales.
e. Slightly better than DLP brightness.
f. Fair to good viewing angle.
g. TRUE 1920x1080 resolution chips.
h. Cheaper than 3-DLP sets (only available in commercial DLP projectors now).
a. Slower than DLP (shows up as high speed motion abberations) a problem in action/sci-fi films (my favorite genres).
b. More expensive than 1-DLP sets that provide 85-95% of the performance for 75-80% of the cost (and some would argue that DLP provides MORE performance).
c. Limited to 72".
d. Is subject to the "screen door" effect if watched at too close a distance.
e. LCOS chips and controlling circuitry are probably more expensive to repair than they could be.
Why second and not first? Cost, baby! Why second and not third? Size, baby! Quality, baby!
a. Inexpensive for <=42" sizes (probably for <50" by the end of the year).
b. Highest true resolution technology at a given price point.
c. Light weight.
d. Low power consumption.
e. Most computer compatible.
f. Highly competitive market, with rapid price drops, and screen size and picture quality increases by the end of the year.
a. Picture quality:
i. Grayscale (generally washed out, an old problem with LCD)
ii. Contrast ratio (low, but new technologies may rectify that in the next couple years)
iii. Color accuracy (generally poor decoders in low to middle price ranges, probably due to pricing pressures)
iv. Color vividness (generally washed out due to low contrast ratios)
b. Pixel switching speeds can be bothersome with high motion material.
c. Expense of repair is often (usually?) higher than cost of new.
d. Size limitations (<56").
e. Sometimes big variation in quality of pictures between (1) various manufacturers and even (2) in sets by the same manufacturer. Name brands do not necessarily correlate to picture quality.
Why third rather than fourth? Cost, baby! Weight, baby! Power, baby! However, I would happily buy this FIRST for a secondary viewing set (<50" and probably mostly for the kids viewing). In fact, when my old 26" SD CRT set dies (is 20 years and still, miraculously, looks fairly good) I will replace it with either a 32" or 37" LCD (size limitations where it is going)!
4. Plasma (essentially thousands of micro-CRT's.)
a. Over the top color accuracy capable (depends on implementation, Fujitsu, the best I have seen, MANY no-so-good low end manufacturers).
b. Great contrast ratios.
c. Great color richness/vibrancy/depth.
d. Great viewing angle.
e. Great brightness (great for viewing in low or high ambient light situations).
f. Largest screen sizes available.
g. Theoretically capable of having individual pixels repaired (don't know what cost would be).
a. Cost, cost, cost, (getting much better recently and may even be reasonable by the end of the year).
b. Weight, weight, weight.
c. Power, power, power consumptions (at least 3 times (!) that of the other technologies at a given size).
d. Can suffer from "burn in", but would have to be abused to get burning on the newest generation plasma technologies.
e. Resolution (most sets are 1024x768 (720p, 4:3 pixels, but in a 16:9 layout with some 1280x720, 1365x768, and VERY FEW 1920x1080 (only at the largest screen sizes!) sets).
f. Some sets have screen door issues at closer viewing.
Why fourth? Cost, baby! Weight, baby! Power consumption, baby! If I were to ignore those three, it would be, by far, my first choice, but only at the higher end (color, resolution, and size).
I am not even going to touch future technologies such as OLED, SMD, carbon nanotube, etc.
Well, I spent WAY more time than I thought I would on this. However, it is an issue I have been debating with myself for about three years now as I have been wanting to get an HDTV, but have kept holding back because my current Marantz SD CRT-based RPTV still has a picture that is at least equal to 99% of the existing CRT-tube sets, but is 6 years old. Truly a phenomenal set. Until I feel that HDTV's can match the color picture quality/fidelity/vividness, I will hold off until it dies or I get a sudden influx of money (for a top end (ie. >$10K) 70+" plasma), in which case, the kids can watch the Marantz... well, in a year or so I would spend the money...