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YAPQ (Yet another Plasma Question)


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#1 of 17 OFFLINE   David Yon

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Posted May 19 2008 - 05:14 AM

In reference to my YADPLQ thread, I'm pretty much abandoning my DLP approach for my home theater. To refresh the basic scenario:
  • Existing TV is 40" RPCRT, Toshiba TW40x81
  • 10x16 room in basement, so plenty dark
  • Seating position is 8' if using a RP unit, 9' or more if a flat screen
  • Have external tuners and sound, so a monitor-only situation is not out of the question (and preferable in some ways).
  • What started the DLP thread was the tempting prospect of being able to jump to a 50" screen for less than $1500, and my threshold of pain starts to get crossed at around $2000.
I've mostly been looking at the Panasonic lineup initially. I can comfortably afford a 720p 50" panel (TH-50PX80U, $1400 delivered). The THX recommendations show that at 9', I theoretically won't miss 1080p on a 50" display. Two things keep me from pulling the trigger on that:
  • Going from 40" to 50" is a decent jump, but I'm tempted to do the next size up to avoid this being an interim upgrade.
  • While 720p is probably fine, I still have that nagging concern about future proofing.
The Panasonic lineup has three options for doing better than the 720 50" panel:
  • Add 1080p (TH-50PZ700U, $1950 delivered)
  • Go up to 58" (TH-58PH10UKA, $2230 delivered)
  • Break the bank with both 58" and 1080p (TH 58PZ750U, $3300 delivered)
I've all but discounted the first option---it's in striking range of going to the next size up, and it's really unclear that 50"/1080p at 9' is a tangible advantage.

The second option is tempting---just over my threshold of pain, but having a 58" screen would be really sweet. But, alas, it's only 720p. The THX guide shows that I would be in the grey zone where 1080p would be an advantage for 58" at 9'. As previously stated, I have no problem trading a built-in tuner for some of the pro features (and competitive price).

The last option has everything going for it, except of course the price. So... here are some questions I'm pondering:
  • I notice that among the units I'm considering, going up to 1080p has a tradeoff of reducing contrast from 1:10000 to 1:5000. What's up with that? A potential issue to be concerned about?
  • Given the parameters, is there something in another brand I'm missing? Any deal-breaker problems with the units I've listed?
  • Am I sweating the 720p problem too much at 58"?
  • Any clues as to how soft the market will get in the next 6-12 months? If history is any guide, I would expect my 58"/1080p dream panel to drop towards $2500 by the holiday season. Am I kidding myself?


#2 of 17 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted May 19 2008 - 05:38 AM

David,

I'm not sure where you're shopping, but some of the prices (particularly for the newer displays) from reputable online dealers could be significantly lower, so the price diff for that 58" 720p Panny is actually higher than you think -- unless of course you do not want to buy online.

Also, if you're willing to buy online and would consider the Samsung 58", then I'm fairly certain that $2500 dream for a 58" 1080p can indeed come true by holiday season. As it is now, the Samsung unit *only* runs ~$2700 online. And it sounds like a nice unit that's hardly any different from the far more expensive Panny 58" for the display itself. And some places might also have the older model Samsung for a bit less too -- B&H has the older one for ~$2600.

_Man_
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#3 of 17 OFFLINE   David Yon

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Posted May 19 2008 - 07:10 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Man-Fai Wong
I'm not sure where you're shopping, but some of the prices (particularly for the newer displays) from reputable online dealers could be significantly lower, so the price diff for that 58" 720p Panny is actually higher than you think -- unless of course you do not want to buy online.
These are online prices. Haven't been able to come up with much that's significantly lower. For the 50" units, the 720p is $1350 delivered, and the 1080p is $1780 or $1880 delivered, depending on this years or last years model. My original quoted prices on the 58" panels is the same. That's from B&H, including delivery prices to NH, which run from $150-180.

Quote:
Also, if you're willing to buy online and would consider the Samsung 58", then I'm fairly certain that $2500 dream for a 58" 1080p can indeed come true by holiday season. As it is now, the Samsung unit *only* runs ~$2700 online. And it sounds like a nice unit that's hardly any different from the far more expensive Panny 58" for the display itself. And some places might also have the older model Samsung for a bit less too -- B&H has the older one for ~$2600
Will check out the Sammy.

#4 of 17 OFFLINE   David Yon

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Posted May 20 2008 - 04:32 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Man-Fai Wong
As it is now, the Samsung unit *only* runs ~$2700 online. And it sounds like a nice unit that's hardly any different from the far more expensive Panny 58" for the display itself. And some places might also have the older model Samsung for a bit less too -- B&H has the older one for ~$2600.
The Sammy looks pretty interesting. A long, long thread over in AVS Forum certainly compares it favorably to the Panasonic, and the online prices are indeed quite a bit cheaper than the Panny. Will have to check it out at a local store (for what that's worth), and keep my eye on prices.

#5 of 17 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted May 26 2008 - 08:04 PM

Hmmm... I just realized that if I went w/ a plasma, I probably won't need to spend $$$ on a new stand -- and could likely go back to using an old stand I got for my old 32" CRT. Posted Image That would save me $200-300 (vs buying a new stand for the 61" DLP). Also, I planned on spending ~$300 on an EW for the LED DLP, but would feel safer w/ plasma and could probably look at it as more savings toward a plasma. These savings could either make moving back down to a 50" display more palatable *or* make jumping to the 58" Sammy plasma more justifiable. Hmmm...

BTW, been scoping AVS a little. And maybe I need to stop doing more homework on this and just bite the bullet already. Posted Image Seems like I keep finding more issues w/ all kinds of display tech as I go along, eg. geometry/tilt issue and such w/ the 61" Sammy LED DLP, "green plainbows" w/ plasmas, etc. -- and soon enough, I may even be convinced to just stick w/ my old 53" CRT RPTV for another year or two (and even try to fix the slight amount of 4x3 image burn I have there). Posted Image

_Man_
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"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things..." (St. Paul)

#6 of 17 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted May 26 2008 - 08:11 PM

So I'm looking at that 58" Sammy again. Posted Image Anyone know how steady/reliable that swivel (or is it actually tilt?) stand is on that Sammy? How do they make it swivel/tilt and still hold up such a big, heavy (~130lb) panel like that? I would've thought it's a bit too top heavy to allow even the slightest bit of tilting -- and the stand base doesn't look all that big and stable in the pics though I haven't been able to check it out in person (as nearly all the demos I've seen of flat panel displays have them hanging on walls). I have no intention of ever tilting the display, but it does make me wonder about sturdiness anyway, especially since my old TV stand has a swivel base, which itself makes the stand wobble slightly if bumped/leaned against.

Right now, seems like I'm back to being indecisive between all 3 possibilities, ie. 61" Sammy LED DLP, 50" 1080p Panny plasma, 58" 1080p Sammy plasma. Posted Image

_Man_
Just another amateur learning to paint w/ "the light of the world".

"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things..." (St. Paul)

#7 of 17 OFFLINE   David Yon

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Posted June 03 2008 - 12:43 PM

So I did a quick sweep through BB today, impressions du jour:
  • The Kuros really do have noticeably better image quality, but wow, those prices.
  • I am now 99% sold on the idea that 50" would not be a huge upgrade over the 40" I have now. 58" at least, but again, wow, those prices.
  • The blacks on the PNxxA650 series seemed markedly better than on the A550 series. Don't know how much that's due to the ultra-bright filter or how much was variation in screen settings on the display units.
  • The blacks on the LCD's were better than I remember, and the price penalty for getting closer to 60" isn't quite as heavy as for plasma. Overall I still think I'm willing to splurge for plasma though.
Every time I look at screens, the less clear the decision becomes. I guess it's probably a good thing that the prices are a bit too steep right now.

#8 of 17 OFFLINE   David Yon

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Posted June 12 2008 - 03:22 AM

Been watching prices fluctuate over the past week on the Sammys. For a brief time the PN58A650 dipped slightly under $3K, where is it now hovering. The PN58A550 has stayed around the same price, within $70. The delta between the two is now less than $300, whereas even just last week is was more like $600.

Some questions:
  • Per my previous post, I did like the picture better on the A650. I'm wondering if there's any feedback to be had as to how much of an improvement is really is over the A550. I know there are a few other items---DNIe+, extra inputs, slightly better audio, some 'net connectivity---and if the delta stays that low I'd seriously consider the extra (hell, once you're over $2K, what's an extra $300?).
  • At this point, the A650 is 25% off list. Short of clearance pricing once the model lineup is refreshed, how realistic is it to expect that the discount would get significantly better?


#9 of 17 OFFLINE   Nathan Eddy

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Posted June 12 2008 - 04:20 AM

I just bought the Pany 50" TH-50PX80U, 720p. I've had it only three days, but I'm ENTIRELY satisfied. Blown away, in fact. Granted, I moved up from a 36" CRT, so anything would be an improvement. But I'm just stunned with this picture quality. Local over-the-air HD programming is just jaw-dropping good. I stayed up late the other night watching boring episodes of Jay and Conan, simply because I couldn't stop staring at the damn furniture and backgrounds. Posted Image

SD looks okay. DVD looks incredible. Black levels are fantastic, contrast is 15,000:1 (native). At 11 feet away, I don't think I'll ever miss the extra pixels. In the store, I compared it to the same size Pany 1080p. The feed was 1080i, split between every screen in the place. However, I couldn't tell a difference even up close. They were side-by-side, and I watched for a good 20 minutes. They wouldn't hook up a 1080p source, which irritated me. But considering that I couldn't tell a difference between the 1080i on either set, I don't know how much difference 1080p would make.

I got it for $1400 delivered, taxes and all. I talked H.H.Gregg down to 1299 from 1599.

#10 of 17 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted June 12 2008 - 07:37 AM

Glad to hear you're happy with your purchase. I'm glad people are letting their eyes in on the purchasing decision, rather than just going by specs and perceived expectations. Resolution is just one of many factors to consider when buying flatscreen technology, it shouldn't be the main deciding factor.
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#11 of 17 OFFLINE   Bob Graz

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Posted June 13 2008 - 01:54 AM

I just bought the Panny TH-50PX80U at Sears this week with promo's and a bit of twist of fate for just under $1k plus tax. The TV is amazing. The new better contrast ratio actually took some getting used to. The picture really pop's. Now that I've been watching it, the whole issue of 720p vs 1080p goes out the window for me. The 720p picture is stunning. I watch from about 9 feet and the 50in screen is a good size for that distance.

The technology for the price is just amazing now. Sear's has been offering some pretty unbeatable deals lately. I love my new Panny.

#12 of 17 OFFLINE   Nathan Eddy

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Posted June 13 2008 - 06:54 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Graz
I just bought the Panny TH-50PX80U at Sears this week with promo's and a bit of twist of fate for just under $1k plus tax.
Well goddamn. That makes my "talked them down $300" story look pathetic. I'm very jealous. No wonder they didn't give me much of a hassle over my insistence on $1299. I checked on the Internet for weeks, and never saw a price that low. That was one hell of a twist of fate. Care to explain, so I don't feel so bad? Posted Image

#13 of 17 OFFLINE   Bob Graz

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Posted June 13 2008 - 09:43 AM

Sears on Saturday was running a deal on the 50PX80U. It was $1299 with 10% off (and 6 months same as cash) if you used Sears CC. So final price would be 1169. plus tax. That was as good a deal I've ever seen so I went to Sears to check it out. While there I saw the 50PX75U for $1099 less 10% or $989. It was the price for the display unit but they had one more left in box that I could have for same price. After considering 75U vs 80U I decided that since 75U had been so highly regarded I'd take the extra $200 savings.
I put it in my Ford Windstar and brought it home. For 2 days it was fantastic. On 3rd day I started getting intermittant total green display while watching via OTA antenna.
I called Panny, they sent me to repair place. Repair place said most likely I needed 2 or 3 boards replaced, did I want to return it instead.
Since I knew I had last one Sears had, I wondered what the likelihood was that I could get Sears to do an even exchange for the 50PX80U.
I looked up the 80U and this week Sears had $500 off or 1199. Now I'm thinking 1099 vs 1199. (before 10% for Sears CC) maybe I can pull off an even exchange.
I bring TV back to Sears. Salesman was friendly and said well, I'll credit you back the 75U and then charge you for the 80U. Then I pulled out my trump card. Last weeks deal was 10% and 6 months same as cash using Sears card. That deal was now gone. So I said, well, I need the 6 months same as cash, and if you do that it'll be lost. That got him shaking his head. He went to mgr, explained my situation and came back and said, "we'll just do an even exchange" Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner.
So in the end I walked out with the 80U for the $989. plus tax price.
A very sweet deal and worth a bit of running back and forth. Thank you Sears!

#14 of 17 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted June 13 2008 - 02:04 PM

BTW, I visited a friend about a week ago and watched some stuff on his several-month-old Panny 50" 720p plasma -- not sure which model -- and it did look very good. He doesn't have Blu-ray yet, but Hot Fuzz on DVD looked excellent on it -- I'd say probably better than any DVD has looked on my uncalibrated 53" Panny CRT HD RPTV (though I did do a few DIY tweaks a long while back).

For typical HD broadcasts, I also think it's very hard to see a diff, if at all, between 720p and 1080p even when viewed close up. Part of that seems to be the rather heavy compression done on the video feed. Part of that is also that the source (camera) may not be full 1080i, eg. may be 720p, may be much less than 1920 horizontal, may even just be (linedoubled) 480i, let alone full 1080p.

So yeah, if 50" will do, 720p (especially at a bargain price) is definitely very worthwhile considering at this point. Certainly, if I didn't decide to just stick w/ my old RPTV for another year or two (and wait for a 58"-plus to fall in my range), then I'd definitely have to give serious consideration to a Panny 50" 720p (and maybe either upgrade or add a larger 1080p one a couple/few years later as I mused in the other DLP-related thread).

_Man_
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"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things..." (St. Paul)

#15 of 17 OFFLINE   David Yon

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Posted June 15 2008 - 07:02 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Man-Fai Wong
BTW, I visited a friend about a week ago and watched some stuff on his several-month-old Panny 50" 720p plasma -- not sure which model -- and it did look very good. He doesn't have Blu-ray yet, but Hot Fuzz on DVD looked excellent on it -- I'd say probably better than any DVD has looked on my uncalibrated 53" Panny CRT HD RPTV (though I did do a few DIY tweaks a long while back).

For typical HD broadcasts, I also think it's very hard to see a diff, if at all, between 720p and 1080p even when viewed close up. Part of that seems to be the rather heavy compression done on the video feed. Part of that is also that the source (camera) may not be full 1080i, eg. may be 720p, may be much less than 1920 horizontal, may even just be (linedoubled) 480i, let alone full 1080p.
Yeah, I'm down to about three choices: 720p if I decided to only go 50", a 60ish" DLP, or whole-hog 58" 1080p. From what I've read on the net, and the (admittedly limited) viewing I've seen in the stores, it would be the rare viewing environment where 1080p would be worth additional $$$ for a 50" set. Or maybe gamers care, I don't know.

But after staring at various HD source material, a lot of it quite detailed, even at very close range, I personally am hard pressed to see a win with 1080p on even the 50" displays.

#16 of 17 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted June 17 2008 - 05:28 PM

FWIW, Amazon seems to have an "open box" PN58A550 for sale at ~$2450 shipped. Seems like it could make a nice deal if the warranty is still good -- the description mentioned only some minor cosmetic damage(?). I believe they offer some sort of 30-day guarantee on it.

_Man_
Just another amateur learning to paint w/ "the light of the world".

"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things..." (St. Paul)

#17 of 17 OFFLINE   Nathan Eddy

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Posted June 18 2008 - 02:11 PM

Bob, thanks for the story! I feel much better now. As long as I know there is nothing else I could have done to get a better deal, I can watch mine in peace. Posted Image


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