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When will plasma be affordable?


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#1 of 23 OFFLINE   Matt Mediate

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Posted April 18 2003 - 11:11 PM

Can someone give me an educated guess when Plasma TVs will be affordable to the average joe? When I say affordable I mean 42' models going for $1300 or so with the bigger sets running at about $2500. Please don't insult my intelligence by telling me they won't. I've learned a few things here and there about electronics over the years. 1. Novelty will wear off 2. Manufacturers will compete. 3 Prices will go down. It's just the way the world works. That aside, I just wondered if anyone has some information regarding newer models on the horizon with less of a pricetag. The New Gateway 42' for $3k is at least a step in the right direction. I'm not being cheap I just can't afford 6k for a televsion. Plain and simple. Someone help me out here. I'm tired of saying no when the best buy people ask if the can help me. - Matt
p.s. I think they're on to me.

#2 of 23 OFFLINE   sean_pecor

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Posted April 19 2003 - 01:55 AM

It's not simply a matter of when Plasma sets will be sold in greater numbers - allowing economies of scale to pressure prices down. There are real technical hurdles with manufacturing Plasmas that will keep prices high until some very smart engineers figure out how to build them more cheaply.

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#3 of 23 OFFLINE   Rich McGirr

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Posted April 19 2003 - 02:57 AM

I would venture a guess that plasmas will be "affordable" to the average joe to the extent of $1,300 for 42" and to $2,500 for the bigger models. As of today, sure you can get the Gateway (IMHO a very inferior set) for < $3K or for ~$3.2K you could get the 42" Panasonic ED model online.

I think they are affordable now and I purchased the Panasonic PT-42PD3. Awesome picture and this was an upgrade from 50" 4:3 Mitsubishi that I purchased 3 1/2 years ago for ~$2,500 (no deal there at todays prices either). Currect big screen RPTV's ($50"+) are up there in price also.

The bigger issue is not so much when plasmas are affordable but has to do with the whole DVI/HDCP issue. Many people have purchased HD RPTV's with the thought that their sets would be able to display HD television which it currently does. With HDCP, content providers (universal, time warner, etc.) are looking for security in not allowing their hi def content to be copied and thus shared (Napster).

As there is a ton of content on not only SD but also Sat I don't believe that HDCP will be a contender in the very forseeable future (The FCC has mandated timetables but so far I have two stations, hell, it took us three years to receive DSL when it was out for at least 5 already). As I was looking for an upgrade (and one that will last a while > 10 yrsPosted Image ) from what we had and I was able to sell the old set for almost $1K, I thought "Why Not?". The panny has excellent resolution, granted not HD, but good enough for us as most of our viewing is 75% sat, 20% DVD and 5% Sd cable. I have not been disappointed with the PQ. If you would like to see what the PQ is somewhat like take a look at www.avsforum.com and do a search for R Harkness who is a regular poster there. He has some great pics that he took of his panny.

It appears that the resolution of the set plays a very large part in the price difference from one plasma to another. For example the 42" panasonic ED is ~$3.2K, the panasonic 42" HD (not "true" hi def) ~$4.5k, which equates to an increase in price of ~29% and does not have that many more pixels. Pioneer makes a 43" HD model that costs ~$4K but then you have to buy a tuner card and if you want a hi def tuner card that's another ~$800. The 50" models are ~$6.5K with the pioneer Elite 1000 ~$10K (crazy to pay that by the way).

If I had a hi def set now I probably would have waited. The PQ of the plasma to what I had is heads and shoulders above what I had (no artifacts, no dead pixels, no stuck pixels, calibrated with Avia). Progressive DVD is simply just like the movie theater only better, IMHO.

The technology of affording Plasmas to the masses is catching up and part of that has to do with economies of scale, however, the technology itself in producing these units has improved dramatically to the point of very, very few dead/stuck pixels and a higher quality product. The current 3 comb filter on this unit is very impressive. Images from cable and sat are somewhat "soft" yet there are no jaggies and very, very few motion artifacts if any at all.

Remember, plasmas were originally built and made for commerical applications (sales presentations and information dissemination). For myself to even be able to think of seriously purchasing a plasma is in and of itself a huge plus.

Just my .02

PS What did you do with your tax refund???Posted Image
- Rich

#4 of 23 OFFLINE   Mike Hamilton

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Posted April 19 2003 - 03:37 AM

Plasma is already targeted by many manufacturers to be de-emphasised within the next 18 to 24 months.
Larger LCD products and developments in that arena are encroaching on the image fidelity that Plasma enjoys, without all the customer related pitfalls (burn-in, as an example) and field service issues.
Samsung indicates that they foresee Plasma pricing cut in half in the timeframe indicated above, with their shift toward LCD, and their intention of growing their LCD market share by going after Sharp in the same fashion as they did with DLP technology.

The Gateway 42" is / recently was $2,999. Expect similar offerings, possibly as low as $1,999 by this years end, and possibly $1,499 by 3rd quarter 2004.
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#5 of 23 OFFLINE   Jack Briggs

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Posted April 19 2003 - 03:41 AM

What I'd really like to see is manufacturers perfect the plasma panel concept. Until those black levels match those of even a DLP projector I won't be interested. These panels are sexy to the non-initiated, but the purist will always have problems with blacks rendered as a dark gray.

#6 of 23 OFFLINE   Rich McGirr

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Posted April 19 2003 - 07:34 AM

My plasma shows blackest black per Avia and I have not noticed any lack of detail or black level with this unit. The surrealism is amazing. When I can see a pimple on Don Henley's face in "Hell Freezes Over" how much more detail do you need?Posted Image

The black levels, in the past, have been a detriment to the plasmas but, IMHO, the current plasmas are on a totally different "playing" field than the ones offered >2 years ago. The internal scalers are top notch, some with the Farouda chip, some with the Sage chip, some with the Silicon Image chip, all excellent scalers in their own right.

Bottom line is you have to go see them....not just in HD but in all feeds. I think you will see that the black levels are very black and deep in detail for certain material (DVD's) and lacking like the rest of the picture in others (Sat/SD content). Plasma prices are dropping and have even come with "perks", eg Panasonic was offering a "FREE" ATSC tuner to purchases before March 30, 2003. Missed that one by a week.Posted Image Keep an eye out during the 3rd Qtr of this year, that's when panasonics new HD plasmas come out.

LCD's are getting bigger but they still have viewable angle problems. Similar to direct view sets. Plasmas have viewing angles of 160 degrees. Then again if we all pool our money together we could get a 100" OLED panel (dreaming, dreaming).

As far as "burn-in" goes, sure plasmas get burn-in just like any other display. To achieve burn-in just crank up the contrast and the brightness hook it up to a windows computer running the desktop and leave for two weeks....you'll have burn-in. I've "calibrated" my set with Avia and played "Halo" for ~5 hours.....not even a "ghost" trail.

Seriously, it comes down to whatever floats your boat and what you are happy with. It's your money spend it as you will. The plasma was right for me....doesn't mean that it's right for you.
- Rich

#7 of 23 OFFLINE   Rich H

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Posted April 19 2003 - 09:10 AM

Jack,

Rich is correct. Black levels of the Panasonic-based displays are excellent, certainly exceeding DLP and neck in neck with CRT (although not *quite* as deep as, say, a Loewe). I demand good black levels in my display, and have been incredibly satisfied with the Panasonic plasma I bought. Dark scenes look terrific!

"These panels are sexy to the non-initiated, but the purist will always have problems with blacks rendered as a dark gray. "

This casts me and any of the other video enthusiasts who like plasmas as "non-itiated," as if our notions of picture quality cannot measure up to yours. With respect, I suggest I'm as picky as you are: I'm an AV enthusiast and film professional who has shot films, directed shorts, edited, and continue to work in film post production wherein I am exposed to pro-level monitors of all types (Direct Views, RPTVs, Front Projectors). As well, I have good friends who are AV writers and AV dealers, so I've had the fortune of having good conditions in which to compare plasmas with all types of displays: CRTs (including calibrated Loewes many, many times), RPTVS, and even FPs. I hope that is "initiated" enough to join the club :-)

All displays have their strengths and weaknesses,of course. Although I note how the many problems of CRT displays seem to be downplayed by plasma nay-sayers. I hope our respected Calibrationist Michael Hamilton doesn't mind my quoting him, in his "AVS Forum Special Guest" thread, where he wrote:

"As for front projectors, we all know that CRTs with their gamma characteristics are a bit like tube audio...can measure bad, and sound great! Most of the SOTA CRT big boys can't track gray flat very well at all. But boy, they look great."

Likewise I find my Plasma's failings are virtually unnoticeable next to it's amazing technical advantages -making for a more natural and compelling viewing experience than I get from CRTs. Watching Spiderman on the Pioneer Elite RPTV is reminiscent of seeing it in the theater. Watching Spiderman on my Panny plasma looks so natural and "real," it's more like watching the actors through the film camera itself (or a window on the set). Either image approach is a valid goal, I believe.

Jack, take a look at the screen shot gallery below. It shows images of all sorts of DVDs you might be familiar with, playing on my Panasonic 42" plasma. Perhaps you'll see that the contrast and black levels are quite nice, and the smoothness, clarity and detail make for a rather realistic image. Feel free to disagree of course :-)

Click Here To See The PLASMA SCREEN SHOTS Gallery

- The "other" Rich Posted Image

#8 of 23 OFFLINE   Jack Briggs

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Posted April 20 2003 - 06:37 AM

I sincerely apologize for the quick-to-jump nature of my post (I should have thought it through better before posting).

Plasma panels have a lot to recommend them (high contrast ratio, good light output, rich chroma saturation, etc.). And they sure as hell can be dazzling to look at. Their slimness adds to the sex appeal.

Let me put it more succinctly: I will wait for the technology to continue to improve before I consider the plunge. That's not to say a satisfying home-theater experience can't be enjoyed with plasma now, though—as is evidenced here by The Two Riches! Posted Image

#9 of 23 OFFLINE   Greg_L_C

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Posted April 20 2003 - 01:52 PM

If I were Rich I'd have one!Posted Image

#10 of 23 OFFLINE   Mike Boniferro

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Posted April 20 2003 - 01:58 PM

I'm looking at buying a new video source very soon.
I was thinking rear projo, but am now considering plasma...
can someone here sell me? Posted Image

#11 of 23 OFFLINE   Rich H

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Posted April 20 2003 - 03:58 PM

Jack,

Thanks, I certainly wouldn't argue with your reasoning.
(BTW, did you get a look at any of those screen shots?).

It's interesting about black levels. I hear many "purists" talking about how anything but the deepest black levels are unacceptable to them. Yet I'd have to ask how they have put up with seeing theatrically projected films all their life (especially given the fact that is often the reference for Home Theater excellence). Black levels in most cinemas aren't that great, really, and are certainly not the deep, deep blacks purists crave from their CRTs. As calibrationist Robert Jones has written here before:

"...even movie theaters don't produce "total" blacks either, like CRTs do. 35mm - or 70mm - or 16mm - film is not capable of COMPLETELY stopping the raging fires of an arc lamp, which has the same intensity as an arc-welding tool."

He goes on to say if you really want to replicate cinema black levels, you have to actually let light back into your CRT blacks. Which begs the question: Just how "pure" are the purists? Posted Image

My Panny's black level is subjectively as black or blacker than most theaters I attend, so I'm happy. (Although, there is some detail missing in the very lowest gray scale...can't have it all...yet). Anyway, I appreciate and respect your opinion!

Cheers,

#12 of 23 OFFLINE   Rich H

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Posted April 20 2003 - 04:08 PM

Mike,

The question is a little vague. Do you want me to sell you on plasmas? Or sell you MY plasma? Posted Image

The best advice I can give is to compare RPTVs with plasmas yourself. If you can, make sure each display is in a "dedicated" set-up, not part of a split-feed scenario. Also, if you know the basics of getting a good TV image (calibration) get hold of the remote for the device you are auditioning, so you can adjust the picture out of the crappy factory/store settings, to see what the display can really look like.

For plasmas, check out those by Panasonic (deepest blacks), Pioneer, Fujistu and NEC. They are generally the best. However, the new Hitachi models are good too, as are the Toshiba. (JVC bases some of their plasmas on the NEC screens, so they can be good too).

For starters, click on the link below my name to see what movies look like on the Panasonic 42" ED (Enhanced Definition) plasma.

Finally, it's no dis to this forum to say: go to the AVSforum.com plasma/flat panel displays forum. It's the best source of plasma info on the net.

#13 of 23 OFFLINE   Mike Boniferro

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Posted April 20 2003 - 04:23 PM

Thanks for the info Rich...
I have been away from here for awhile... last time I was here sonosub's with dual shivas were the big craze Posted Image

I kinda had two reasons for asking... I have had a hard time finding info on them... and I am looking to buy one, and I also just got a job selling HT so I'm looking for reasons to buy these, as most people I talk to give the "way too expensive" response.

I will definately check out avsforum,
thanks again for the help

#14 of 23 OFFLINE   Max Leung

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Posted April 20 2003 - 06:19 PM

I have to agree that the latest Panasonic plasmas are very very impressive. I recall reading an article by a reviewing who used a colorimeter to measure the light output of his Princeton CRT monitor at 0 IRE, and measured virtually identical foot-lamberts on a Panasonic plasma display. This is very impressive indeed. I'd say that Panasonic has gotten the black level licked. As for grayscale tracking, who knows? I hope somebody has measured it. I wonder how tweakable the plasma TVs are?

The light output on the plasmas are damn impressive. Most people equate picture quality with brightness, which is why a properly calibrated RPTV (at 12-16 foot lamberts light output) will always lose out to a plasma display (50-60 foot-lamberts) when compared side-by-side. For example, my eyes boggle when I saw a Panasonic plasma showing concert and music video clips of those violin-playing chicks with tight clothing -- mmmmmmm eye-candy. Posted Image

Michael TLV mentioned to me that CRT front projectors have trouble with gamma tracking. In fact, some can be downright bad. Even CRT RPTVs can be troublesome, like my Toshiba TW40X81. I found that if my contrast is set to anything above 15, my blue gun's gamma goes off the scale! It will only track like the red and green guns if I leave the contrast at around 10 or 11 (which translates to around 11-12 foot lamberts).

I'm sure I can do better, if I fool with the blue trimpot a little bit more, but I got sick of it the last time I did that...I swear, staring at those gray bars and convergence patterns have caused me to be DLP rainbow prone. Posted Image

Of course, there could be a gamma tracking setting in the service menu, but I'm sure Michael TLV and the other ISF calibrationists would have me whacked if I found it. Posted Image
Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him...a super-callused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

Gamesh....

#15 of 23 OFFLINE   Max Leung

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Posted April 20 2003 - 06:20 PM

BTW, is it true that plasma TVs have a very short operational life? Or is that a myth?
Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and with his odd diet, he suffered from bad breath. This made him...a super-callused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

Gamesh....

#16 of 23 OFFLINE   Mike Hamilton

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Posted April 20 2003 - 10:25 PM

Hi Rich,

Nope....don't mind the quote :b

Max...The phosphors on a plasma are very thin, compared to the layering that is used on a CRT. This is to keep heat to as minimum a level as is possible yet still retain persistence. The problem is, though it was touted as an advantage further up the posts, 60-70 ftl. of light output is not only not necessary, but quite perilous.
If continued at that rate, the phosphor is likely to prematurely wear out. The main fear would be burn-in at those levels.
It is not necessary, as with DLP and D-ILA for example, to strive for such high contrast ratios with Plasma. Under prudent viewing conditions, 16-18 ftl. is plenty to provide a cinematic image.
Michael Hamilton
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#17 of 23 OFFLINE   Rich McGirr

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Posted April 21 2003 - 12:59 AM

Which is one of the reasons that my contrast is set at -16 and brightness at -12. "Life expectancy" of plasmas are, generally, average 30,000 hours before half brightness. AT 7 hours per day half brightness would not be reached until 11.75 years, at which time I will be looking to upgrade to a 65" OLED for $3,000. Posted Image Course, it all depends, like any unit, on what you have your settings at (torch mode or better than movie mode).Posted Image
- Rich

#18 of 23 OFFLINE   Rich H

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Posted April 21 2003 - 02:35 AM

...and for those of us who don't burn our retinas watching TV for 7 hours a day, the lifespan of our plasma should be even longer.

Like any card carrying home theater enthusiast, I too have my contrast and brightness calibrated significantly downward from the factory "torch" mode. Give plasmas the same care you'd give any other home theater display and it appears the "phosphor life problem" isn't the bugaboo some people fear.

But then, I'm a first adopter Guinea pig (well, by now maybe third adopter). A happy Guinea pig, though. Posted Image


MAX:

I's a funny thing about all these display types. A year and a half ago when I was researching my purchase, I kept reading that plasmas weren't ready for the "true" video enthusiast. Yet over and over in my comparisons with direct view and RPTVs my eyes told me some plasmas had the most realistic compelling images. I played my DVds on every display type I was considering...the best CRT consumer direct views and RPTVs. The Panny plasma simply brought the images on screen to life in a way the others did not. So, I chose to believe my eyes and bought one.

But I'd like to avoid the trap of thinking that because I like my display, it's "better" than someone elses.
Each display technology has it's strengths, and I'd never for a second argue against someone's preference (for instance, preferring direct view over plasma). But I would strongly disagree with generalized comments along the lines of: "plasmas don't have good picture quality," or "don't buy plasma because the picture quality isn't worth the money" or "any crt provides a better picture than plasma."

My pal owns a nice Front Projector system. I find myself enjoying the experience, especially how theater-like the image is. When he comes to my place, he's all agog at the realism and three-dimensionality of the plasma image (he said "the actors look so "there" it's like I'm having a psychotic episode").

These certainly are good times for us Home Theater geeks: lots of great choices out there!

#19 of 23 OFFLINE   Mike Hamilton

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Posted April 21 2003 - 04:20 AM

I have never heard the figure of 30,000 hours mentioned by anyone in an official capacity.
I HAVE heard the figure of 7,500 hours, so I am not certain what assumption can be made.
In any case, calibrating a Plasma display can reign in many items that are generally set for marketing purposes rather than image fidelity.
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#20 of 23 OFFLINE   Rich McGirr

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Posted April 21 2003 - 04:42 AM

Seek no more,
http://www.plasmatvb....matv-life.html
- Rich