Panasonic TH46PZ85U plasma initial thoughts and why I chose it over LCD

Discussion in 'Displays' started by Ronald Epstein, Dec 24, 2008.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    If you guys remember from another post, we bought our Mother her first
    flat panel display last week, a Sony Bravia 40" LCD. It was defective right
    out of the box, but even being able to watch it, I was not impressed with the LCD
    image, particularly the jagged motion in fast action scenes and the diminished
    picture quality when viewing at an angle.

    Yesterday I took possession of the Panasonic TH46PZ85U. Hooked it up and
    immediately put on "burn-in" mode by bringing down the brightness and contrast
    to levels under 50, as suggested in a burn-in FAQ.

    Though I was not viewing the Panny in optimal calibrated settings, I was still
    impressed with the improved picture quality over LCD. The image was more
    film-like, with more natural and relaxed colors. Though I was surprised by the
    quality of the black levels on the LCD display, they were noticeably better on
    this plasma. Looking at a picture on a plasma is very much looking at a deeply
    detailed painting. I never got that feeling watching LCD.

    Reflection on a plasma is a problem. Last evening we had a light on in our
    living room and it was clearly reflected on the screen. It really detracted from
    the enjoyment of the programming -- but to be fair, the light should have been
    off in the first place. We were simply looking at our new Verizon Fios guide.

    I haven't had the chance to see how badly the display reflects during the day
    as it has been cloudy and rainy here on the east coast. Really, I am not going
    to go crazy about concerning myself with reflections as I knew this was one of
    the small downsides of plasma. I am more concerned with the improved image
    quality which I am simply enamored with at the moment.

    I had read a review over on Amazon where someone was complaining about
    the "thin" quality of the display's sound out of the box. I must disagree with
    that assessment. The sound quality of the Panny 46PZ85U is quite good, on
    par with the Sony Bravia LCD.

    Yeah, the plasmas really have to be babied more than LCD, but I think that
    it's the perfect choice for anyone who wants the best image quality possible.

    This is a beautiful, quality display, folks! Don't hesitate to buy it.
     
  2. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

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    Yeah, if I had to go direct view, I'd go with plasma - personally. At work, where we do a whole lot of direct view, we're putting in LCD a lot because of the burn-in issue (9-hrs a day, captioned material, some with bugs.) But the good plasmas just look so much better than the good LCDs...

    I've wondered if it was a light-emitting difference versus light filtering, and how a LED display would work, if the pixels were small enough... I guess I haven't had a chance to play with any OLED displays.

    Although I did like the Field Emission display I saw last year...

    Leo
     
  3. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    How's the glare compared to a traditional CRT?

    As for thin sound, that's why we have surround receivers [​IMG]
     
  4. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    I should have elaborated further. This television was bought
    for our Mother for daily television watching. She needs no
    surround so the sound of the television itself was important.

    It probably has as much glare as a CRT, but you notice it less
    when a CRT is 25" compared to 46".

    So far we are loving this display. When we watch movies on
    it we turn out all the lights so glare is not a problem. Waiting for
    the first sunny day to see how it looks in the daylight.
     
  5. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    Ron,

    I sell tvs for a living at a large Sears store. Your observations are spot-on regarding the difference between lcd and plasma displays.

    Many of my customers have heard horror stories from friends or neighbors about plasmas having limited life and horrendous burn-in. I suspect these anecdotal warnings are based on experiences with those bargain Gateway sets a few years ago or other off-brand bargain models. Our display sets run on average 12 hours a day in torch mode for as long as a year and none of the Pannys has exhibited any noticeable dimming or burn-in under this usage.
    The fact is that burn-in is far less likely than in the past due to reformulation of the xenon gas in the plasma glass and pixel-shift technology. Panel life on most sets is the same as or better than estimated backlight life on lcds. Pixel response time, contrast ratio, and refresh rate are all superior to even the best lcd sets, prices are lower.

    Some customers with very high ambient light and those who prefer the cartoonish vividness of the lcd sets are better served by them, but for accurate picture reproduction and home theater vs broadcast sports the plasma wins hands down. Our showroom is unfortunately extremely brightly lit to help the ancient security cameras but the Plasma sets compete pretty well with it. The screen is a bit more reflective than the matte finish on the V series Sony, but actually significantly less refelective than the Samsung 650 and above lcd models.

    As for reliability, at a given screen size the Protection agreement on a Panasonic plasma is significantly less than on any of the lcd sets of comparable picture quality--should tell you something.
     
  6. Chris Sherman

    Chris Sherman Second Unit

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    I waited until this year to replace my two 46" CRT, 1080i, widescreen sets. Their was no question about lcd vs. plasma for me. I bought a Panasonic 50PX80U for my living room and a 42PX80U for the bedroom, both sets combined were $1700, that's less than I spent on one Sony 46" WT520 rear projection set in 2005 with the matching stand. The new Pansonic Viera plasmas are rated at 100,000 hrs. for a 1080p and 60,000 hrs. for a 720p and that's for the set to reach 1/2 the original light output. An LCD fluorescent backlit set is estimated to last 60,000 hrs,total. I agree that many of the salesman misinform the consumer on the facts about screen burn in and life expectancy of plasma sets. For casual, non critical viewers, or those with very bright rooms where ambient light cannot be controlled, an LCD may look best to them and may be the best choice. For videophiles or movie lovers, that value accurate colors and black levels above all else, plasma is almost a no brainer . I went with 720p sets over 1080p, due to the consensus that at my 8 ft viewing distance and screen size of 50" or less, the difference between a 1080p and a 720p set is virtually imperceptible . That and I tend to upgrade sets every 5 years or so anyhow. I'm sure my next set will be 1080p and may even be an LCD, LED backlighting may soon dominate the market with the promise of black levels and picture quality to rival plasmas but right now the cost is prohibitive, for me anyway.
    On the website tweaktv.com they list their 10 most popular tv sets and of those 5 are plasma, and 5 LCD, the last time I checked the site anyway. Of the 5 plasmas the 50PX80U and 42PX80U were listed. I did a fair amount of research and saw the sets in action at local B&M stores before buying and I am more than happy with my choices. I think all the new VIERA sets are excellent looking and have a great reputation for reliability. If price were no object I'd go with a pioneer KURO set , but I view the Panasonics as kind of the "poor mans" KURO.
     
  7. Shawn1968

    Shawn1968 Auditioning

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    Any thoughts on how the TH-46PZ85U looks/performs when viewing standard definition material?
     
  8. R/T Rick

    R/T Rick Auditioning

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    It looks like crap but that's any SD on a HDTV, IMO. Watching YouTube sucks on a HDTV too. I have a TH-50PZ85U. I got it on sale at Sears with no interest on payments until 1/2012, and it was a great purchase. I find whenever you have direct sunlight coming into the room, it makes it hard to watch, but that's nothing a set of closed miniblinds that couldn't fix. I was watching "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" in the theatre and I couldn't help but notice that it seems like the black levels on my TV are better than that at the movies. I would like to get the picture and sound levels down pat and I would have to say my living room > the theatre.
     
  9. R/T Rick

    R/T Rick Auditioning

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    Oh, and it's a heavy and power hungry sumofbish. It's weights 90lbs with stand and the power consumption is rated at 690w. I believe it too as my UPS is always running at 40-60% (1500 watt capacity UPS) whenever the display is on. But it's still an EneryStar compliant TV.
     
  10. Jeff Willis

    Jeff Willis Producer

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    Ron,

    I finally entered the HD world last August with my first WS HDTV, the PANASONIC 50" Plasma TH50PZ85U . Your post (your Mom's LCD) is very similar to my story. Several weeks before buying my Panny Plasma, I bought Mom one of the Samsung 46" LCD's, I think it's the LN46A650 model. Since Mom was the "beta site" for us regarding HD WS TV, I went with the (my perception at the time) more popular LCD vs Plasma TV for her house. The viewing distance at Mom's is about 8 ft in a small room. The LCD is fine for Mom's viewing for everyday programming.

    I continued doing the legwork and research before deciding on my 50" Plasma purchase a few weeks after getting the LCD for Mom. I agree with the posts here regarding the Plasma's having the better overall picture. One of the first things I noticed was what Steve & Chris mentioned, although hard to put into words, a more, to me, "realistic" reproduction of movies vs comparable LCD models.

    Interestingly, several months after I had purchased the Panny Plasma, I was in my local BB store (I purchased the Panny at Circuit City..sad to see them leave the market). I was just comparing prices at BB several months after I had bought my set. A Panny Rep happend to be delivering some BR players to the store and I had an interesting conversation with the guy regarding some of the issues that had initially "scared" me away from getting a Plasma set for Mom. We discussed Plasma picture lifetimes, burn-in/retention issues, etc...all of the issues that, from talking to some friends, have steered them away from Plasmas in the past. Since the Rep worked for Panny, I knew that, well....I might need to take it in context, so to speak [​IMG] , but he didn't have a "sales agenda" with me since I'd alreay bought my set at another store, and we were in a 1:1 conversation so he wasn't speaking for any other ears. He said that the issue of image retention, which is a particular interest to me as I watch a large amount of 4:3 TV/DVD material in the "pillar box" mode, is largely "urban legend" and not true concerns for Plasma sets. I asked him about the necessity of choosing the light-gray pillar bars vs the black ones per the Panny manual to reduce retention issues. He said that selecting the black bars would not cause any permenant retention issues. He stated that, if a "pillar bar" retention image occured, that the pattern would disappear after a short time of watching a WS picture source.

    I do take a couple of "safeguard" actions with my Panny set in that I don't leave the picture in 4:3 mode for any length of idle time. Since my DTV HD Receiver and my DVD player both have "screen saver" modes that activate after a certain period of idle time, I'm not concerned with the overall retention issue.

    I do see the light-reflective issue vs the LCD's but as you and the posters mentioned, I keep that in mind with the lighting conditions in my viewing room at home. I haven't seen the reflective issue become an issue with my viewing. My current viewing distance is about 9 1/2 - 10 ft. I would recommend to those that are looking at WS sets, if their budgets allow, get at least a min of 46" screen size wih their purchases. My previous CRT set was the Sony Wega 36" set and I found that in order to get the same picture height size in a WS set, that I needed to get a min of 46" WS size set. I was actually looking to get a 52" size but have no regrets with the Panny 50 Plasma. It delivers and outstanding picture Q with both TV/DVD's and movies. I've read where some see what they consider to be a step-down in picture Q when watching older programming on HD WS sets (50's-50's TV/DVD's in my case). I haven't found that to be the case for me. To me, watching these older TV/DVD's on this Plasma set is amazing. The real thrill for me since entering the HD WS world is watching movies that I'm very familiar with the films and seeing them like never before seen in WS anamorphic upconverted HD. I'm seeing color def & details that I'd never been able to see with that 36" Sony Wega.

    BTW, there's plenty of clear warm weather down here in Tx [​IMG]
     
  11. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Jeff,

    Really nice read.

    I am so happy that you are enjoying your plasma. My Mom is
    really enjoying hers. It amazes me how good even standard definition
    content looks on it.

    I hope people considering LCD vs. PLASMA will take a hard look at
    some of the information provided here.
     
  12. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

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    something that's really a bit confusing to me, for I can't think of any logical reason for my observations, is, why does SD fed into an HD plasma tend to look better than SD fed into an HD LCD?

    That is, in either case, the signals are fed in either composite or component, 480i, to the display. The displays, ranging from 20" LCD to 65" LCD, and 42"-54" plasma, are all doing their own upconvert to their proper size.

    And, in general, the LCDs all look.. poor. Some of them look like, in spite of their sharpness setting turned all the way down, it's still applying about a 200% sharpen.

    (A lot of this goes away if the LCDs are being fed their screen-resolution to begin with, but where I work, that's rarely an option.)

    Leo
     
  13. Nick Graham

    Nick Graham Screenwriter

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    With tax refund time coming, and our financials in good shape, I am finally about to jump into the flat panel arena. My friend Des, who has two LCDs in his home and one plasma, has told me plasma is the way to go hands down, and the more I read about this unit, the more I start thinking he is right. Assuming the prices are still as fantastic as they now for this display, I will be ordering it as soon as we get our refund. Thanks Ron!
     
  14. Hank

    Hank Guest

    I too joined the plasma camp. My previous display was a Sony KDS-R50XBR1 SXRD, I originally was leaning toward a Sony 52" XBR6 LCD but I stumbled upon some great reviews on the plasma I purchased, a Panasonic TH-50PZ800U. The blacks are incredible and I really love the THX mode which looks great. My main source component is a Panasonic BD30 blu-ray player. I see no motion blur at all while watching sports, something I was worried about with LCD. I also enjoy the viewing angles. I may get an ISF calibration soon, my previous displays have all been ISF'd.
     
  15. THX 5150

    THX 5150 Extra

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    The feedback in this forum has made my jump from LCD to Plasma easier and of course I respect Ron immensely so his opinion is comforting.

    I have been dead set on getting a Sharp Aquos LC-65SE94U 120hz with 4 ms response time until I saw the Panasonic VIERA TH-65PZ850U. I am trading in my Sony 65" 1080i Rear Projection set I purchased 7 years ago for the Viera.

    I was a HUGE proponent of LCD TV's until I watched Dark Knight on the Sharp and also on the Panasonic. As watching film and replicating/improving on my experience in the theater is my first priority, movies look more "natural" to me on Plasma than LCD. Watching them both on the Sony BDP-S550 the difference was quite apparent. The LCD large screen experience, for me, was not good and very "unnatural."

    I could overuse the word "natural" to describe my experience with watching media on the Viera Plasma as its ability in replicating what is see in my local digital cinema in Petaluma is superior to the Aquos LCD.

    My set will be delivered Saturday, 1/31/2009, and I will post additional feedback after watching the following Blu-Ray tiles; Speed Racer, The Island (Warner UK Import), Thunderball, Cars, Wall-E and Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End. I will also play Gears of War 2 and Halo 3 on my XBOX 360 Elite for the first time in 1080p along with taking in an NHL game in HD (720P DirecTV)

    I don't think I will have a bad experience but will post my honest opinions/reflections and appreciate all of the posts on this topic.
     
  16. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Michael,

    Thanks for the kind words.

    Hank, Congrats on your purchase. Nick, hope you get that refund
    quickly. Looking forward to reading feedback on your displays.
     
  17. Jeff Willis

    Jeff Willis Producer

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    Hank,

    Thanks for the post. I also went with Plasma over LCD due to motion-blurring concerns since I watch a considerable amount of HD sports broadcasts.

    Michael, that 65" Plasma sounds awesome. Due to my viewing room layout, I decided to stay with a 50-52" range HD display.

    I'm curious about your viewing distance with a 65" display. With your Sony 65" set, what is your present viewing distance?

    What I seem to notice, particularly when watching certain sports on my 50" Plasma, is that if I get closer than, ~8.5 to 9 ft from the display, I find my eyes doing the "scanning" phenom, moving horizontally to view the entire playing field. I've noticed this more when watching NHL games in HD.

    Your "natural" picture analogy regarding the plasmas is spot on, imo. I noticed the same viewing experience when comparing LCD sets.

    Ron, thanks for your opinion about my earlier post, it's appreciated.

    Regarding your thoughts on watching std def source programming on the WS HD set, that's one of the biggest benefits for me, being a TV/DVD collector. I've been mentioning this occasionally over on the SD-TV forum for those that have been considering entering the WS market who are primarily 4:3 source viewers. The resolution improvement when I'm viewing these TV/DVD's from the 50's-60's is an amazing change from the CRT-TV days. It transforms TV/DVD viewing into a "movie/theatrical" experience. One of the main things I noticed was that my Plasma display doesn't "amplify" older TV/DVD transfer imperfections to the point of being distracting as I had thought it might when I was viewing these sets at the stores using my TV/DVD's. That was the main concern that I had before purchasing the Panny Plasma set.

    BTW, Michael, I like your Sig [​IMG]
     
  18. Randy_T

    Randy_T Stunt Coordinator

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    I ordered the TH-50PZ80U and it will be here on Thursday. A friend has a Sharp Aquos and I wasn't really impressed with the PQ. I will say that this person knows nothing about calibration and I'm sure the tv is still in the factory mode.
    My mom has a 3 year old Toshiba DLP. After I used the Avia disc on this tv, the PQ is pretty good. I just loved the picture on the Panny when I saw it at different showrooms.
    Now all I have to do is to convince some "friends" to help me move my 36" Sony CRT into my bedroom. It's a heavy s.o.b.

    Randy T
     
  19. Jeff Willis

    Jeff Willis Producer

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    Randy,

    Congrats on your buy. You'll love that set.

    I'd guess you're refering to your Sony Wega set. Get 3-4 of your weight-lifter friends to help [​IMG]

    At 270 lb, I had a friend take my old set for free and he moved it to his house with a flat-bed trailor rig [​IMG]
     
  20. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

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    my former boss got one about two years ago (the 36" Sony CRT, that is.) Fortunately for him, he's on a large plot of land with some heavy equipment. Used a front-end loader to get the sucker up onto the porch.
     

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