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I'm such a traitor! Panasonic TH-50PZ85U vs Samsung PN50A550


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#1 of 26 OFFLINE   Father John A

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Posted May 22 2008 - 12:31 PM

Well I'm back. Few of you remember me but I've been a member for quite a while. I've been posting over at AVS but I feel like a traitor since this is where I started.

Anyway, just thought I'd get some input from the crowd here as I respect many of the opinions here.

Finally pulling the plug on a new display (after at least 2-3 years I think!). Can't decided betweeen these two.

Any input would be appreciated.
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#2 of 26 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted May 22 2008 - 02:24 PM

Since they cost about the same, I'd lean toward the Panny, if I were you. I imagine the Panny might be slightly better -- and even if not -- and would likely be more reliable than the Samsung. Call me prejudiced, but if all else are roughly equal, I'd much rather trust Panny for overall reliability than Samsung. Posted Image

Having said all that about reliability, I'm just about ready to take the plunge on a Samsung 61" LED DLP for similar ballpark $$$ myself, LOL. I'd love to own a big plasma unit, but 50" is just a bit too small for my tastes nowadays -- and the benefits of plasma over DLP just aren't quite that great as the DLP size-per-$ for my "needs". Posted Image

_Man_
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#3 of 26 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted May 23 2008 - 06:16 AM

What will be your average viewing distance of the TV?
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#4 of 26 OFFLINE   Father John A

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Posted May 23 2008 - 07:10 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Sun
What will be your average viewing distance of the TV?

Patrick I was hoping you'd chime in.

I'm picking up two of these, distances will be abou 9 feet in my home and about 12 at my parents.
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#5 of 26 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted May 23 2008 - 11:05 AM

Hehheh... I guess the next recommendation would be to consider one of the 720p (actually 768p) units instead, especially for your parents at 12ft viewing distance.

_Man_
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#6 of 26 OFFLINE   Patrick Young

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Posted May 23 2008 - 11:25 AM

As an owner of the 720p (768p), TH-50PX80U, I can tell you I love mine and I am at about 9 ft viewing distance. But, that being said this is my first HDTV period and I am coming from a 27" TV, so I guess anything would have to be a big improvement. Posted Image

I have had no problems what so ever with burn in or funky colors once I got it dialed in with some presets that I got off of AVS. I still want to have a professional calibration done, just not sure how to tell the wife that we need to spend another 300- 400 Dollars on that just after we bought it. DOH!! Posted Image

#7 of 26 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted May 23 2008 - 02:45 PM

If money is tight, definitely go with the 720p TH-50PX80U for the parents if they are sitting that far away. It'll be up to your eyes if you want to splurge and with the with 1080 p TH-50PZ85U model at 9' away. Go to the store, and stare at the 1080p and 720p sets from 9' away and see if you can discern enough of a difference to pay the extra $300-$500 more for the 1080p model.
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#8 of 26 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted May 24 2008 - 05:20 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Sun
If money is tight, definitely go with the 720p TH-50PX80U for the parents if they are sitting that far away. It'll be up to your eyes if you want to splurge and with the with 1080 p TH-50PZ85U model at 9' away. Go to the store, and stare at the 1080p and 720p sets from 9' away and see if you can discern enough of a difference to pay the extra $300-$500 more for the 1080p model.

When staring at the store, make sure they are using good 1080p source material though, not just whatever low quality digital cable/sat source (even if it's *supposed* to be HD) -- well, it's probably good to see a mix so you know how the upscaling quality looks like too, but seems like you won't have trouble finding plenty of that anyway. You'd think stores would do a better job of making sure the more expensive 1080p displays would actually get the needed quality sources to differentiate them from the cheaper 720p ones, but that doesn't seem to be the case in most stores.

In one store, I actually asked the salesguy why they don't do that and pointed out that I can't see any benefit at all between the 2 side-by-side plasmas even w/ my eyes just 1-to-2ft away from them because of the low quality source -- IIRC, I think they had Fox 480p digital cable showing a baseball game. Heck, w/ many of those demos, many folks might even prefer a 480p plasma -- at least there won't be upscaling artifacts then. Posted Image

_Man_
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#9 of 26 OFFLINE   Father John A

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Posted May 24 2008 - 05:28 AM

Well I've been to the store a few times now. These two sets are simply too close for me to make an easy decision. I viewed both the store feed and had them hool up a BR to both units.

Panny: better blacks (noticeable on some of the feed), seems to have a more reliable history, supposedly better IR handling and better anti-reflect. Graineir than the Sammy.

Sammy: nicer bezel by far, looked punchier (not overly so), supposedly much better color settings and reproduction. Clearly less noise than the Panny.

My biggest concern on the Sammy is the reliability and the IR handling.
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#10 of 26 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted May 26 2008 - 11:15 PM

Hmmm... Is the Panny grainier/noisier for all inputs or just the analog ones (ie. but not HDMI)?

And what do you mean by "IR handling"?

_Man_
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#11 of 26 OFFLINE   Father John A

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Posted May 27 2008 - 02:13 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Man-Fai Wong
Hmmm... Is the Panny grainier/noisier for all inputs or just the analog ones (ie. but not HDMI)?

And what do you mean by "IR handling"?

_Man_

Not sure about the differing sources affecting graininess.

As for IR= Image Retention

It's a moot point either way, I'm all but set on the Panny. I looked at both sets again at Sears this weekend and just couldn't get past the black levels between the two, the Panny was clearly the winner which made the overall picture that much better.

I was set to buy in fact but Sears is still towing the old "can't match Amazon" line which is just getting silly after this many years. They had the 85U on sale for $1999 but with tax that would be $2100. I have to pick up 2 of these so it would have cost me an additional $500 over Amazon's price. Just not worth it.
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#12 of 26 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted May 27 2008 - 07:47 AM

Hmmm... Is it grainy or blocky?

What sources/feeds were you looking at?

I find one big problem w/ most fixed pixel displays is that they tend to make SD sources and (SD level) compression artifacts look a good deal worse (w/ lots of blockiness/posterization) than CRT-based displays. The projection types usually seem less affected than the direct-view types in this regard though even direct-view CRTs can look awful to me in this regard, eg. I never understood how anyone can watch SD stuff on Sony's HD CRTs for instance.

Anyway, right now, given my specific situation and the way total cost of ownership is playing out for me, I'm starting to think I should just jump for the Samsung 58" PN58A550 plasma (I had started eyeing) instead of settling for the Samsung 61" LED DLP (for ~$400-500 less in overall cost) or the Panny 50" plasma (for ~$1000 less) -- and I even have the WAF giving me full support on whatever I decide, LOL. But I'm having a hard time overriding my own shopping sensibilities in making the ~$1000 leap from the 50" plasma to the 58" even though I might well get buyer's remorse if I settle for 50". What to do? What to do? Posted Image

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#13 of 26 OFFLINE   Father John A

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Posted May 27 2008 - 07:51 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Man-Fai Wong
Hmmm... Is it grainy or blocky?

What sources/feeds were you looking at?


Not something I've really seen myself to a great degree, though I did notice it a bit on the HD feed at Best Buy. I'd call it grainy. The Samsung was a bit smoother, the the other plusses of the Panny win out.
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#14 of 26 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted May 27 2008 - 08:06 AM

Hmmm... When you checked them out at the store, did you make sure to check out the settings and adjust them if necessary to give a fair comparison?

Sounds like maybe the Samsung demo might have some sort of DNR turned on perhaps while the Panny might not have. Also, the diff could possibly be due to the settings on the Panny oversharpening the image and bringing out the noise/grain more too.

RE: the diff in black level, etc., such things could also be due to settings diff, if you didn't make sure the comparison is fair. Spec-wise, they're both 30,000:1 native contrast, so I can't imagine the diff in black level could be quite that big. But even if there's a noticeable diff once properly calibrated for home use, I kinda doubt the diff would be quite that big when viewed in showroom environment unless it was far, far dimmer lighting than usual. Haven't been to a Sears in a long time, but I doubt they would have these particular plasmas set up in ideal situation for comparing black level (and dynamic range) fairly.

_Man_
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#15 of 26 OFFLINE   Keith Plucker

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Posted May 28 2008 - 04:06 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Man-Fai Wong
...I'm starting to think I should just jump for the Samsung 58" PN58A550 plasma...

_Man_

If you do get this, please report back on how you like it. I am seriously looking at the 58A550 myself and would love to hear about your experiences should you get it.

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#16 of 26 OFFLINE   David Yon

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Posted May 28 2008 - 07:38 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Plucker
If you do get this, please report back on how you like it. I am seriously looking at the 58A550 myself and would love to hear about your experiences should you get it.
Ditto. Although myself, I'm working on the willpower to wait for the drop to the next price tier. Hopefully by fall or the holiday season.

But then again, my birthday is coming in August... Posted Image

#17 of 26 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted May 28 2008 - 03:08 PM

Well, guys, sorry to have to do the "bait-and-switch" on yah, Posted Image but after doing some more homework into all my various options, I've decided to hold off on buying any new display and just settle for playing the waiting game a good deal more before taking the plunge. Posted Image

Meanwhile, I'm gonna see about improving the PQ on my 5-plus-yo Panny 53" RPTV w/ some long overdue tweaks, etc. and maybe even finally get it ISF calibrated for a fraction of the cost of a new set (after some chats w/ Mr Bob over on AVS). Too bad Gregg Loewen's no longer available to do this kind of work in the NYC area, especially w/ his expertise w/ the Panny's.

But for those of you actually interested in spending substantial $$$ on plasma right now and are wondering why I decided not to do it, here are a few points that detered me:

1. Plasma *still* hasn't fully matured it seems even though it's probably the best tech readily available right now (since CRT is dead). While doing some homework, I found out about the lagging green phosphor issue in fast moving/changing high contrast scenes. Basically, it acts a bit like the slow response time motion blur of older LCD tech, but shows up as a trailing green ghost/shadow on fast moving object against bright backgrounds. And in high key static scenes w/ quick shifts between bright and dark, you may also get momentary green color casts (between the transcients) instead -- and there might be other side effects due to the lagging green phosphor. You can find examples of this at these Youtube links:

YouTube - Panasonic 42PX70 green ghosting

YouTube - Panasonic PX60 Green Ghosting

YouTube - Green ghost

YouTube - Green Ghosting panasonic 42" pz85 E

2. You can save lots of *floor* space, if you're hanging it on the wall *and* don't mind that your speakers (and maybe audio rack) will still take up whatever floor space (that might make the area a little awkward, especially if you want the speakers away from the walls). But if you're just gonna put it on a stand like I would, then it's not quite that much space savings anyway.

3. Mr Bob over on AVS convinced me that there's still plenty of good life left in my 53" CRT RPTV -- though it could definitely use a good deal of tweaking. Posted Image His claim that it can "look better than new" really has me rethinking what it could mean to stick w/ my Panny RPTV for a couple more years or so. Posted Image Not sure yet what exactly I'll do in that regard, but the old TV just seems too promising to dump just yet. I should probably at least give the old DIY tweaking another good college try before giving up on it -- and even w/out any tweaks, it still should have enough life for another couple years.

Considering issues w/ #1, the lack of enough space savings perk in #2 and what seems like a (re)new lease on life for my old RPTV, I really cannot justify the big leap in price to go for the 58" Samsung at this point. I think if I feel like I'd be very happy w/ the 50" size (and will not have buyer's remorse about that), then I *might* be ok enough w/ the green lag issue and spend the smaller amount on a 50" 1080p. But given my situation, I just don't think 50" for a *new* purchase at the current going rate will satisfy me (even if there wasn't the green lag issue). As it is, part of the reason I wanted something new was to move up (not down) some in size from my 53".

And really, I could certainly use the $$$ on some other priority items instead while I bide my time, eg. a new HDMI prepro would be nice Posted Image (though I'll probably just settle for something like the Yamaha RX-V663 or a new Onkyo competitor to be used for that instead Posted Image), some speaker upgrades would be nice too, and then there's also funding toward violin lessons (and violins for the kids) Posted Image Posted Image (as their cost sure add up fast Posted Image ).

_Man_
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#18 of 26 OFFLINE   David Yon

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Posted May 29 2008 - 12:58 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Man-Fai Wong
2. You can save lots of *floor* space, if you're hanging it on the wall *and* don't mind that your speakers (and maybe audio rack) will still take up whatever floor space (that might make the area a little awkward, especially if you want the speakers away from the walls). But if you're just gonna put it on a stand like I would, then it's not quite that much space savings anyway.
Ah yes, my whole pet peeve on the space savings myth. Oh sure, if you are only going to pull signal from coax (no DVD, etc) and are going to use the built-in speakers, then yes you have a "zero space" solution. But beyond that, you are in for a lot of effort (building the rest of the AV equipment into a recessed space of some sort, hiding all the wiring) and compromises (dealing with the sonic issues with wall-mounted or in-wall speakers). Most serious HT folks are still going to have to put their AV equipment and front speakers somewhere, and that somewhere is probably going to make the effective footprint of the overall system be about the same regardless of it being a flat panel or otherwise.

But wall-mounting an LCD/plasma sure looks cool. Posted Image

Quote:
Considering issues w/ #1, the lack of enough space savings perk in #2 and what seems like a (re)new lease on life for my old RPTV, I really cannot justify the big leap in price to go for the 58" Samsung at this point. I think if I feel like I'd be very happy w/ the 50" size (and will not have buyer's remorse about that), then I *might* be ok enough w/ the green lag issue and spend the smaller amount on a 50" 1080p.
I would agree with your assessment there. For me, I've got a 10 year old 40", which could probably look a whole lot better with tweaking. The difference for me is that going from 40" to 58" would be a huge leap, which is primarily what I'm after.

But the price penalty of the 58" will likely keep me on the sidelines until it drops...

#19 of 26 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted May 29 2008 - 05:03 AM

All I know is that I've watched plenty of Battlestar Galactica in HD on my Panny plasma, and have never seen the green ghost on it. Maybe it's a Brazilian AC power issue. Posted Image

And any regrets I had in purchasing the set was more along the lines of "Why didn't I buy this TV sooner?"

Also, y'all are supposed to be ENabling each other, not DISabling each other's discretionary HT spending!!! Sheesh!
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#20 of 26 OFFLINE   ManW_TheUncool

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Posted May 29 2008 - 06:31 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Sun
And any regrets I had in purchasing the set was more along the lines of "Why didn't I buy this TV sooner?"

But Pat, didn't you switch from a Panny(?) 4x3 HD RPTV? IIRC, you bought that set on holiday clearance just a bit before I bought my 16x9 one. And I'd think a 50" plasma makes a nice upgrade from that.

Quote:
Also, y'all are supposed to be ENabling each other, not DISabling each other's discretionary HT spending!!! Sheesh!

Hehheh. Well, I did end up helping my in-laws to buy a new 42" Sony Bravia LCD to replace their dying Samsung 42" DLP. Well, I did actually offer to fix their color wheel problem for them for the cost of parts (only ~$100 for the color wheel) -- though they probably could've gotten it fixed by some tech guy for $200-300 -- and the dying bulb seems to only cost ~$150 to replace nowadays. But I also told them they could just go for a new 42" Panny 720p plasma for ~$900 at the local PC Richards and not worry about the bulb-based DLP issues going forward. And then, they decided they prefer to pay a little bit more for the LCD instead.

But anyway, nobody's discouraging HT spending here. Just talking about how to spend those HT $$$ more effectively. Posted Image Posted Image Some folks could even decide to jump on the Blu-ray instead, if they haven't already, for instance. Posted Image

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Yon
I would agree with your assessment there. For me, I've got a 10 year old 40", which could probably look a whole lot better with tweaking. The difference for me is that going from 40" to 58" would be a huge leap, which is primarily what I'm after.

But the price penalty of the 58" will likely keep me on the sidelines until it drops...

Yah, I think I'd probably spring for something if I were in your shoes. The price on the 58" plasma may seem too high after considering the 50" first. But look at it this way. IF you intend for the display to last you another 10-plus years (like your old 40" RPTV), then the $900-1000 premium isn't *quite* that great now. Obviously, it really depends on when you feel compelled enough to take the plunge. If you feel like it's definitely time to buy something new to replace the dying old one, then I say go for the 58", especially if you do plan to hang it on the wall -- and assuming your wall can handle the 140-150lb weight w/ wall mount included.

Alternatively, since you *are* indeed moving up in size from 40" to 50" -- and might not see too much diff between 720/768p and 1080p for your viewing distance -- then maybe the idea of going for a cheaper 50" 720/768p (at ~$1200) as a short term solution for the next few years would be a good way to go. And then, in a few short years, you can probably get a better version of some 60"-plus plasma, hopefully w/out the green lag/ghost, (or some 1080p FP or whatever other new tech display like laser) for well under $2K -- maybe even under $1.5K for all we know. And when you do that, you can just move the 50" into the bedroom or the den or wherever else could use a wall-hanging plasma. Posted Image Posted Image

FWIW, I did actually consider that scenario for myself too. But in my case, going to a 50" 720/768p would mostly be a lateral move (w/ some compromises), not a real upgrade, so I might as well just wait some more. But for others who don't have already own a 50"-plus HD display, that upgrade path might make good sense -- and then, there are some others who are not looking for real upgrades, but are looking for 2ndary sets or the like...

_Man_
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