I reached Magnolia today, and they think the problem with the TV (for those tuning in late, it’s a Panasonic PT-52DL52 DLP) is likely to be the lamp. I’m somewhat dubious, because I only replaced it 15 months ago, and we don’t use the TV all that much (maybe 3 hours a day on average) — but Panasonic does have a history of lamp problems (in fact, the same year’s Panasonic LCD TVs are now the subject of a class action settlement based on lamp issues).
The new bulb would be a bit over $400. They did say that if it doesn’t fix the problem, they’d take it back and apply the cost towards a service call — the next likeliest problem is the ballast, which would be about $450.
So I went shopping this evening; Costco had a bunch of 720p sets for about $1800 (with stand). I didn’t see any 1080p sets there (but they had a great buy on toilet paper, so the trip was well worth it). Circuit City had a Sony KDS50A2000 (1920x1080p) for $2250 (no stand) — the picture looked great in the minute I spent, and the A2000 line is getting good reviews on AVSForum. They also had a few other 1080p sets, but mostly DLP, and I’m not sure I want to go that route again.
Tomorrow, I hope to visit Magnolia and see what they’ve got; I’m partial towards them because I can actually talk to the technical people, unlike, for example, the authorized service center in this area.
If I knew I could fix my existing set for the price of the bulb, I’d go for it — no, it’s not 1080p, but then again, I don’t have any 1080p sources. But if I might be looking at $850 or so to fix the set, it’s a different story.
So I guess I have to decide whether I’m feeling lucky or not. *sigh*