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Thread: Which HDTV technology is best for an elderly person with poor vision?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Default Which HDTV technology is best for an elderly person with poor vision?

    I am looking to help out a family member who currently has a 42" plasma HDTV that she sits five feet away from and must strain to read the subtitles.

    If I want to make things easier for her and not spend thousands of dollars, would I be better off getting a 50" or higher plasma or a 46" LED/ LCD back-lit model?

    In other words, will there be an appreciable increase in subtitle size with the 50" or will the subtitles be any sharper with switching to LED/LCD?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    I would go with larger size and go with 1080p so the text is clearer and larger. I would stay away from any 720p TV as the text can get a bit pixilated as the TV scales it to fit.

    LED/LCD sets are not any sharper than plasma. They can be a little brighter but at the expense of contrast. Assuming you have the space and the budget, I'd go with something like the 55-inch S or ST series plasma from Panasonic. The 55-inch ST series has 3D capabilities, but you don't necessarily have to use them. These feature Panasonic's new neoPlasma panel so they're more efficient and a bit brighter than last year's models. Here's a link:

    TC-P55ST30 on Amazon ($1441 delivered)


    Hope that helps.

    -CB
    Chris Boylan
    Editor in Chief
    Big Picture Big Sound

  3. #3
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    Thanks!
    Would you think that the difference between 1080 and 720 would be noticeable to an elderly person with with low-vision?
    You're saying that teh subtitles will be sharper and easier for her to read?

    And you would also say that she would see no benefit at all in LED vs plasma?

  4. #4
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    I'm saying that text will be sharper overall on a 1080p panel vs. on a 720p panel because there are more pixels to work with (more detail) and there will be no scaling of the text for 1080p and 1080i sources. On a "720p" set, the native resolution is normally not exactly 720p (1280x720 pixels). It's more commonly 1024x768 or 1366x768 pixels, depending on the screen size. This means that even for 720p HD sources, you will still get scaling of the image and text to fit the native panel. If the owner watches a lot of Standard Def or 720p HD content, it will need to be scaled up ("upconverted") to fit the panel's native resolution, even on a 1080p set, but it's better to have that additional detail available to you on the panel because it will lead to a sharper, clearer picture (and sharper, clearer text) on any source.

    Now if you are talking only about Closed Captions ('subtitles" that are generated by the TV itself, and not part of the content), then this will probably not be as big an issue, as the closed captions these days are done digitally and they should be generated by the TV at the TV's native panel resolution. But if the subtitles are in the content (Blu-ray or DVD), then these will be subject to scaling. And in any case, the larger screen size will help for those with low vision.

    I can't say that there would be no advantages to LED over plasma, just as I can't say that all plasma TVs are better than all LCD or LED TVs in overall picture quality - the performance varies from brand to brand and from model to model.

    As I mentioned, generally speaking, LED TVs can get a bit brighter than plasma TVs. But they typically do not have as high a native contrast level. To put that into understandable terms, the white text of a subtitle against a dark background might be "brighter" on an LED TV, but it might actually *appear* brighter on a plasma because the plasma has a better overall contrast ratio (the black levels on the plasma may be lower so the text actually appears brighter, and is more readable to someone with poor vision). I think really it's down to budget and preferences. Any good quality LED, LCD or plasma should be capable of delivering nicely readable subtitles and closed captions.

    But generally speaking, with a fixed budget, you can get a larger 1080p image on a plasma than you can on LED or LCD and I think overall screen size is going to make a bigger difference to readability than the technology difference (LED vs. plasma).

    Hope that helps.

    -Chris
    Chris Boylan
    Editor in Chief
    Big Picture Big Sound

  5. #5
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    May 2011
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    Default

    Thanks for clearing this up.

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