Guide to 120Hz HDTVs: Which Sets Have That Magic Number?

Illustration for article titled Guide to 120Hz HDTVs: Which Sets Have That Magic Number?

Click to viewIn the first part of this series we showed you how 120Hz technology will double up frames and make watching movies on HDTV even crispier than ever. Heck, with all those frames spewing forth, its butta-smoothness is almost like hyper-HD. Now, the first wave of these sets has arrived on these shores. We laid our own eyes on many of the 120Hz sets on the show floor at CES, and can vouch for their stupendous quality.

At CES in January, most of the major flat panel display manufacturers were showing 120Hz TVs, aiming to quell those rumblings that some of the standard HDTV sets weren't laying down smooth-enough video, especially when watching movies.

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Studying the HDTVs with this latest 120Hz technology built in was an enlightening experience. We were blown away by their overall quality. But then, the tack-sharp images of most HDTVs, even those that are capable of just 720p video at garden-variety 30/60Hz, are so good that a much of the program material isn't as good as the displays themselves. Even so, 120Hz makes a noticable diff, and we dig.

Illustration for article titled Guide to 120Hz HDTVs: Which Sets Have That Magic Number?



Sony

This Bravia KDL-70XBR31080p HDTV from Sony costs $33,000 and brings the serious specs. Sony calls its 120Hz technology Motionflow, and we could see nary a blur on its 70-inch screen. It also was packing Sony's x.v. color technology, and displayed colors that were almost too vivid for our tender eyes. Be still my heart. Some of us were even talking about robbing a bank to get one of these into our Gizmodo lair. Some of us are such bullshitters!

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Incidentally, Sony was also showing off an 82-inch prototype 1080p LCD screen, also graced with that coveted 120Hz frame rate. Its picture was nothing short of exquisite. Too bad it's not available yet, nor will it be for some time. And when it is, well, we'll just have to take up gun running or something to pay for it.

Illustration for article titled Guide to 120Hz HDTVs: Which Sets Have That Magic Number?
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JVC

JVC was one of the first to roll out 120 Hz HDTVs, albeit their first iterations, a 37-inch (LT-37X987) and a 32-inch (LT-32X987) set, were merely 720p displays. But still, there's that 120Hz refresh rate, giving them smooth interpolated motion between frames and crispy clean response.

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Then JVC updated those two models with more 120Hz LCD HDTVs earlier this week (pictured above), looking a lot like their 37-inch and 32-inch predecessors. However, they also stopped short of 1080p with their 1366x768 resolution. Look for the 32-inch LT-32LC95 and 37-inch LT-37LC95 models to roll out in Japan later this month for $1889 and $2381 respectively. Their 42-inch bro, the LT-42LC95, will be available in March for $3038.

Update: JVC says it only plans to release the above models in Japan, and in September will launch a pair of 120Hz 1080p sets in the U.S. with 42- and 47-inch screen sizes.

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Illustration for article titled Guide to 120Hz HDTVs: Which Sets Have That Magic Number?

Panasonic

You can't count Panasonic out of the 120Hz derby, either, and it showed its TC-32LX700 LCD HDTV at CES playing back 720p images in all their glory. Panasonic calls its 120Hz smoothed-up picture technique Motion Picture Pro, and its feature-heavy specs even include an SD card slot. The company didn't mention a price for its 32-inch 120Hz-packing monitor, but vowed to ship it March.

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Illustration for article titled Guide to 120Hz HDTVs: Which Sets Have That Magic Number?
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Sharp

And then there's our fave, the gorgeous Sharp Aquos D92 Series line, refreshed with 52-inch screens and smaller, where the top of that line will cost you $5,200 as they first go on sale in the coming weeks. Sharp made some bold claims for the line that also includes 42-, 46-inchers, quoting a contrast ratio of 15,000:1. It's also packing the inputs, with three HDMI ports on the back, plus a DVI port to plug in your PC. Those big contrast ratio numbers might be a lot of hooey, but to our eyes, this was the best-looking HDTV production model we saw on the entire show floor.

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Also looking spiffy was Sharp's 65-inch 1080p LCD which it's now calling the D93. It's similar to the Sharp Aquos 65-incher we saw on the CES show floor last year for just under $20,000, but now it's got that 120Hz refresh rate along with a lower price—shoot, it now costs a mere $11,000. Imagine that, it's almost half the price compared to a year ago.

This is by no means a complete list of all the 120Hz displays in existence, but it's a representative sample of what's hit the market thus far. This tech is proliferating and we're thinking soon 120Hz will be the standard frame rate. It's just too perfect—you can multiply 24 frames by five and get 120, or you can multiply 30 or 60 frames and get 120 as well. It's just a good, magic number for HDTV display, handling a variety of frame rates natively. There's still a slight cost premium for this technology, but we're thinking that will be short-lived. The result? Better TV for you and me.

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DISCUSSION

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HomeTheaterBiggun

The problem with this entire exercise is that none of the manufacturers are doing anything near to true 120hz processing. To get true 120hz processing, the TV's would have to paint 24 frames 5 times. None of them do that! That would be 5:5 pull down! As of now, only one TV sold in Japan does that. Pioneer does an accurate 72 hz and hence a 3:3 pull down.Note that Plasmas have no issue with "ghosting" so they do not need 120hz processing!

All these 120hz LCD TV's are painting 60 cycles twice! This introduces twice as much distortion and does not solve the problem with motion blur or "ghosting" as it is called.

No LCD is capable of the speed of a plasma. No LCD is capable of the incredible contrasts of a plasma! Panasonic panels now have a 100,000 half life. NO LCD is rated with more than a 60,000 hour half life.

Marketing more than anything defines the interest in LCD technology, not reality. LCD's are now approaching the capabilities that plasmas have had for ten years but they outsell plasmas 5 to 1!

Four or five years ago, Sharp made the largest LCD. It was a 37" horrible looking screen. Sharp also broke that barrier with the first 42" LCD. Sharp now sells the sole 65" LCD on the market. At that time Fujitsu already had a 61" Plasma! The companies that make LCD's spent millions to research the size limitations they were faced with. At the same time they discovered how to include more lines of resolution. LCD panels appeared with 1920X1080, 1080P. No plasmas came to market with these resolutions. Simultaneously, Toshiba, along with a consortium of companies came out with HDDVD , and Sony with their consortium of companies came out with Blu-Ray DVD. These two events sealed the fate for LCD's over Plasma, not to mention horrible advertising support from the companies that make Plasma, including Pioneer, Panasonic, Samsung and LG.

LCD Tv's have never performed as well as Plasmas. They have a response time which makes them slower and less suitable for gaming. They do not come close to the contrast ratios that plasmas have had for years. LCD are more expensive per inch although you can find great bargains in this tight consumer restrained economy. Plasma panels last longer and are much more accurate. Most plasmas now have pixel shifting technologies to eliminate the fear of image retention or "burn-in".

Samsung has started making glossy screen LCD's to increase the contrast ratios and produce much more stunning colors. Their LCD's produce the most vibrant colors. One of the benefits of an LCD has been the fact that the matted finish reflects less light in a brightly lit room. The glossy screen eliminates that advantage.

Another advantage of LCD's has been the lower energy consumption, but if taken in context, a 50" plasma will consume about $25.00 more in energy a year with "normal" viewing. Plasmas do tend to run hotter, but that can be all but eliminated by taking the setting off of the "showroom setting". Change the picture settings from Vivid, or whatever the default setting is to a "standard" setting. Calibrating the TV will reduce the energy consumption and the heat output by up to 30%!

With these comparisons, I see no reason to but an LCD over 37 inches as it is more expensive, does not last as long, does not have as good a contrast ratio, so the colors are paler or more washed out, they still have issues with motion blur as 120hz does not fix that issue but really gives they effect of motion as one gets on a boat, hence folks feel sea sick. This is because your eyes have to track the video twice as fast per second, causing a sense of imbalance. Most technical journals suggest you turn it off or to the lowest setting. Do not be fooled into buying and LCD with 120HZ. IT does NOT work!