SXRD vs. DLP, stereo receiver recommendations

Week of October 15, 2006

Q: I am confused by the difference between the SXRD and DLP technologies that compete in the rear projection TV market. What is the difference and is one better than the other? What is the big deal about “1080P” that I hear about with these new TVs?

-G. Frank, Ridgeland, SC

A: SXRD is Sony’s name for their LCoS (Liquid Crystal on Silicon) technology. It uses relective silicon panels and a lamp to create the image. JVC uses a similar technology under the trade name D-ILA.

DLP was invented by Texas Instruments. It uses a lamp, a spinning color wheel and tiny mirrors to create the image.

Both technologies can produce an outstanding HDTV picture. Sony’s SXRD sets have received rave reviews and the picture speaks for itself. In the DLP realm I have been particularly impressed with the new Mitsubishi sets. The Samsungs are excellent as well, but I found the picture controls, particularly for color, much harder to use. I preferred Mitsubishi’s simple settings for color temperature- Low, Medium, and High. Just set it to Low for accurate color.

Broadcast HDTV is either 1080i or 720p, with the number specifying the resolution and th i standing for interlaced. 1080P refers to a 1080 line image with progressive scanning- hence the “p”.   Progressive is considered superior to interlaced, which is why a 720p image looks comparable to a 1080i image when viewed with regular program material. 1080p is the theoretical ultimate. Whether this is a marketing ploy or actually has some merit is open to debate, particularly with smaller screen sizes (below 60 inches.) There is no 1080p broadcast HDTV and many of the first 1080P TVs did not have an input that could accept a 1080P signal. There are Blu-ray players outputting 1080p now, and 1080p HD-DVD players are on the horizon. Still, to make a long story short, both 1080i and 720p look spectacular as it is, especially to someone just moving up to HDTV, so I would not fret if you buy a TV or other component without 1080P capability.

Q: I enjoyed your column about the Insignia Speakers and want to use them in a stereo setup- I may even pull out my turntable and play some LPs! I checked onkyousa.com and the receiver you recommended is not available, either new or refurbished. Do you have any other recommendations, what should I do?
-Barb Schneider, McMurray, PA

A: I received many inquiries such as this one after the Insigina speaker column ran, so I thought it best to answer them all at once with a general response.

The Onkyo receiver I recommended was a surround-sound model. If you are building a two-speaker system for stereo playback you would be better served with a stereo receiver, particularly if you plan on using a turntable. Not only do stereo receivers usually give you more performance for your money, many surround sound receivers do not have a phono input to be used with a turntable.

The best deal I know of on a stereo receiver is for the Harman/Kardon H/K-3480, available refurbished for $198 at www.harmanaudio.com. Not only is it very powerful, it has great sound quality, a good phono section and it has received excellent reviews. Normally it sells for $399, so the refurbished one is quite a deal.

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