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Looking at a new plasma. Need advice.


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16 replies to this topic

#1 of 17 Clinton McClure

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Posted September 22 2008 - 12:52 AM

Due to an unexpected windfall, I may be in the market for a new display for my HT within the next few weeks. Currently, I have a Toshiba TW40x81 which has performed flawlessly since I bought it, but I want to upgrade to a new display for a few reasons.

1. No more convergence drift, focus and geometry issues.

2. I want to finally take advantage of HDMI for a pure feed from my HD-A1 (and maybe even a new BluRay player).

3. Upconversion of my existing library which I cannot currently accomplish via component from the afore mentioned HD-A1.

4. No more internal light issues (no need to matte the inside of the cabinet).

5. No more dust on the lenses.

6. No more freakin' spiders between the guns and screen! Posted Image

I have done some research and it would seem that plasma is much preferred over LCD for critical HT viewing. (A special thanks to GeorgeAB for the tip about resolution loss on LCDs during action sequences! Posted Image ) I have seen some of both which look pretty awesome and I'm going to look at more today.

I've just about settled on getting a plasma but have a few questions.

I have a budget of $1200 max, but would like to keep it close to $1000. I'm staying away from the el-cheapo likes of Insignia, Vizio, Sanyo, et al and sticking with tried and true brands with good warranty coverage. I've heard some good things about LG, but have had nothing but quality trouble with LG in the past so they're out of the running. Right now, I'm looking at six different models, three of which are Pannys and three are Samsungs. The Pannys have a refresh rate of 480Hz compared to the Samsung's 60Hz. Why such a big difference?

Here are the displays:

Samsung PN42A410 42” 720P
Samsung PN42A450 42” 720P
Samsung PN50A450 50” 720P
Panasonic TH-42PX80U 42” 720P
Panasonic TH-50PX80U 50” 720P
Panasonic TH-42PZ80U 42” 1080P

How much difference between 1080 and 720 on both a 42" display and a 50" display would I be able to discern from 6 feet? I'm going to use my eyes the best I can, but is there that much difference in discernible resolution from that distance? If not, I'd be happy with a 720p display for less cash. I'd really like to go up to the 50" display, but not if there's a huge resolution difference.

1. After a proper break-in period and calibration, what's the life expectancy of a plasma nowadays?

2. ISF calibration. I have never had one done on my Toshiba, I just relied on Video Essentials and made a few geometry and focus adjustments and disabled the SVM circuit on my own. Besides greyscale, what else can be adjusted by an ISF calibrationist which I cannot already accomplish?

Thanks for any advice you can give!

#2 of 17 hodedofome

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Posted September 22 2008 - 02:10 AM

Definitely go with Panasonic, that's a no-brainer. The Samsungs have really accurate color, but very poor black levels. The Panasonics have much better black levels and still the color is pretty dang accurate. The biggest reason, however, is support. Samsung support is nothing compared to Panasonic. Panny will send you another tv to have while yours is getting fixed, with Samsung I had to wait over a month with no tv, and it still came back barely fixed. What's my motivation for getting it fixed again if I have to go another month?

I doubt you'll be able to get a 1080p 50" for $1k, or even $1200. You can swing a 42" 1080P Panasonic however.

I think at 6 feet you'll definitely be able to tell the difference between 1080p and 720p at the 50" size, not so much at the 42" size. As for how much of a difference it is, well I guess you'll have to decide that. Watch them side by side at 6 ft in a store and see if you prefer one or the other.

How small is this room your in, 6 ft is not that far away. A 50" is going to look freaking huge in that small of a roomPosted Image

#3 of 17 Bob Graz

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Posted September 22 2008 - 02:51 AM

I've had the Panasonic TH-50PX80U 50” 720P for about 4 months now. I sit about 10 ft from it. I love this HDTV. It's exceeded my expectations. I don't get hung up over 720p vs 1080p. I got a great TV at a great price and the picture is amazing. That's all I care about.

I set the picture up with a Sound & Vision DVD I had. It made a significant difference in the picture quality. I wouldn't do anything more because I'm personally happy with the quality of the picture after using the calibration DVD.

In the end, most of these decisions are guided first by budget, then by personal preference.

#4 of 17 Clinton McClure

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Posted September 22 2008 - 03:33 AM

Because of the location of my surrounds and the shape of the room, I cannot move back any further than 6'. This week I can get the 50" Panny 720p for $900 or the 42" 1080p for $1100.

#5 of 17 Ed Moxley

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Posted September 22 2008 - 04:08 AM

Realize that your room will need to be kinda dark, or the glass screen of a plasma, will reflect everything (lamps, windows, etc.). Just something to think about.

Panasonic's customer service must have improved a lot, from what it was awhile back....................?
Samsung HL61A750 (LED DLP)            Onkyo TX-SR805
Oppo BDP-83 Blu ray                                  Polk Audio LSi9
Polk Audio LSiC                                  Sony SS-MB100H
SVS PC12-NSD (Sub)                       ...

#6 of 17 hodedofome

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Posted September 22 2008 - 04:27 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Moxley
Realize that your room will need to be kinda dark, or the glass screen of a plasma, will reflect everything (lamps, windows, etc.). Just something to think about.

Panasonic's customer service must have improved a lot, from what it was awhile back....................?

So it reflects like every CRT we grew up with? People make a huge deal about the glare but it's no different than the tv's we've always had. And LCD's have glare, it's just more of a 'foggy' glare than a mirror glare. It's still annoying either way, and anyone with direct light is going to have problems with glare, no matter what tv they own.

As far as Panny's customer service, if they send me a tv while mine is getting fixed, I really don't care too much if they take a while to fix it

#7 of 17 Clinton McClure

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Posted September 22 2008 - 06:51 AM

I went out and looked at Best Buy and, I have to say, I was absolutely not impressed with the 720p plasmas they have. Even after making adjustments to the ones I could reach (most of their plasmas were high on the display wall out of reach) the motion was blurry and fine details and letters had jaggies all around. They all kinda looked like they were getting an edge-enhanced 480i feed from a bad satellite signal. The only 1080 plasmas they carry in store are 50" and range from $2000 - $5000, which is out of my price range.

I did see some 1080p LCDs which looked good. The 42" Toshiba 42RV530U for $997 in particular looked good and was actually indistinguishable from the 1080p Pioneer plasma right beside it.

I also need to add that I misspoke in my earlier post about my viewing distance. It's actually 8', not 6'.

Ed - I have taken into account the reflective nature of the plasma screens and find they are no more reflective than the screen protector on my current Toshiba RPTV.

#8 of 17 Alfonso_M

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Posted September 22 2008 - 08:19 AM

At 8' , unless you have the eyes of an eagle, you wont be able to tell the diff between a 768 and 1080, I spent closed to two weeks, nightly comparing side to side (literally) at BB, using the same HI-DEF feed to both units, and standing about 8' feet away, and I couldn't tell any difference.

After an Avia calibration OTA Hi-def pic rivals that of my old trusted Toshiba 1080i RPTV, and HD-DVD PQ is also superb, Standard SAT pic improved dramatically after doing an Avia calibration thru the DVD's S-Video connector, this unit has separate memory for different ‘inputs’ sources , and the 'Just' stretch mode for SD Pic is very good.

My Panny (50PC77) also accepts 1080p signals (BR-HD-DVD) although I haven't tested or compared that feature yet..

One thing I don't like about the Pannys, (unless the newer models changed this)is the fact that they lack direct 'push key' input selectors, you need to scroll down a drop down menu to select inputs, not a problem for me, but has turned out to be a nightmare with my senior parents....and may created headaches for programming Uni-Remotes for others,(haven't tested programming with my Harmony yet).

Also the set's sound quality is adequate at best, not bad, but my old Toshiba's is much better, surr simulation is not very good either, of course most around here probably have a Surround Sys. handy anyways...

The SD mem slot is a great feature, take pictures with your comparable camera insert memory card and watch slide show in your flat screen...get a high-speed memory card to avoid excessive 'load' time...


From what I've seen, prices already went down like 200.00 from what I paid..

#9 of 17 Ed Moxley

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Posted September 22 2008 - 08:58 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by hodedofome
So it reflects like every CRT we grew up with? People make a huge deal about the glare but it's no different than the tv's we've always had.
Right! And I've always hated it! Back then, we didn't have a choice. Now we do.
That's why I'll buy a DLP, or even a Sony SXRD if I can still find one. You might see a white foggy hue from a bright light, but you won't see the detail of the lamp, along with a reflection of yourself watching tv, like with the plasma, and old CRTs. If you don't mind the reflection, more power to you............. Posted Image
I, personally, can't and will not live with it, with my next tv.

I bring up the reflection, because people I've talked to (in person) have said they never thought about that, while they were shopping. But after they got it home, and realized how bad it was, they wished they had thought of it.
Samsung HL61A750 (LED DLP)            Onkyo TX-SR805
Oppo BDP-83 Blu ray                                  Polk Audio LSi9
Polk Audio LSiC                                  Sony SS-MB100H
SVS PC12-NSD (Sub)                       ...

#10 of 17 hodedofome

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Posted September 22 2008 - 09:33 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alfonso_M
One thing I don't like about the Pannys, (unless the newer models changed this)is the fact that they lack direct 'push key' input selectors, you need to scroll down a drop down menu to select inputs, not a problem for me, but has turned out to be a nightmare with my senior parents....and may created headaches for programming Uni-Remotes for others,(haven't tested programming with my Harmony yet).

You should be able to get the discreet input commands from the Harmony program. I was able to get them on my Samsung plasma (5044) with my Harmony remote, I can't see Panasonic being cheap and not making those commands available. I actually use a URC remote because I wanted RF, so I just use the Harmony to teach all the commands to the URC.

#11 of 17 Patrick Young

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Posted September 22 2008 - 10:07 AM

Hi Clinton,

I also have a 50PX80U Panny and I love it. I have had it since April and I have not had a single issue with it. I have it in a very bright room and yes there are glare issues during the day depending on where I sit(or should I say where the wife sits first). Posted Image

Also as related to glare the TV sits just 3ft from a 6ft bay window that faces south with NO curtains or blinds. My neighbor commented he likes watching my tv from his truck as he drives by. Posted Image

I sit 8 to 10 feet away and it just plain rocks. I have to admit this is my first HDTV and I went from a 27inch Proscan to this 50" Panny so the difference is HUGE, but I still love it. I hate watching anything not HDTV although it upconverts on its own ok. I have started to watch football again much to my wifes displeasure. DOH! It is so cool watching it that big. Anyway my two cents.

Pat

#12 of 17 Patrick Sun

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Posted September 23 2008 - 01:29 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alfonso_M
My Panny (50PC77) also accepts 1080p signals (BR-HD-DVD) although I haven't tested or compared that feature yet..

One thing I don't like about the Pannys, (unless the newer models changed this)is the fact that they lack direct 'push key' input selectors, you need to scroll down a drop down menu to select inputs, not a problem for me, but has turned out to be a nightmare with my senior parents....and may created headaches for programming Uni-Remotes for others,(haven't tested programming with my Harmony yet).


My 2-year old Panny TH-50PX600U allows for direct selection of inputs once you press the TV/Video button on the remote control, then you can press the number for the corresponding input listed on-screen to get to that input, instead of scrolling up/down and pressing the select button.

BTW, $900 is a steal for a 50" 720p plasma (I paid twice that 1.5 years ago).

As far as the reflections, it's better than dealing with the silkscreen effect (SSE) on DLP/SXRD/LCOS on screens that produce hot sparkly spots (for bright scenes) on the screen that totally destroys the illusion on the screen being displayed. It's the main reason I discounted any of the DLP/SXRD/LCOS models when I was looking at TV, plus those models are on the way out these days. If you don't see SSE, then you are blessed, I'm not so lucky.
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#13 of 17 Clinton McClure

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Posted September 23 2008 - 01:48 AM

Well I'm going out again today to have another look at the Panasonic TH-42PZ80U. A 42" is basically the same screen size as my Toshiba and it's 1080p. Best Buy and Circuit City both have it for $1100 and Sears has it for $999.

I spent a good deal of time last night and early this morning (my work hours have made me an insomniac on my off days Posted Image and I only sleep 2 to 3 hours at a time) researching BD players in case my better half lets me get one as well.

I liked the Panasonic BD-30 but I'm reading it only bitstreams HD codecs, and since I have a Yamaha RX-V995 receiver which predates HDMI (read 5.1 channel analog) and I'm not going to upgrade it anytime soon, the BD-30 is out.

I really got excited when I saw the Sony BDP-S300 for $250 at Circuit City and read it does internal HD decoding (with the exception of DTS-MA) after firmware upgrades, but I cannot find if it has 5.1 ch analog out. CNET says it does and Sony says it does not. Anyone care to tell me if they have one? I'll probably look at one today if I see one in the store.

I even found a great deal on the BDP-S350 but no 5.1 analog output.

I really like the new Sonys and Pannys, but I'm not gonna pay a lot for this muffler! $500 is still too expensive and BD will have to wait.

#14 of 17 Ed Moxley

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Posted September 23 2008 - 03:18 AM

The Sony BDP-S300s I've seen, do have the 5.1 analog outputs.
If Circuit City is sold out of them, Wal Mart may have some. Our Wal Mart has them for that same price, I think.

Don't know if the BDP-S300 and BDP-300 is the same player or not........... Posted Image
Samsung HL61A750 (LED DLP)            Onkyo TX-SR805
Oppo BDP-83 Blu ray                                  Polk Audio LSi9
Polk Audio LSiC                                  Sony SS-MB100H
SVS PC12-NSD (Sub)                       ...

#15 of 17 Clinton McClure

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Posted September 23 2008 - 03:41 AM

A Circuit City near me shows them in stock as well as 2 Wal-Marts within 40 miles of each other. CC has it on sale for $250 and Wal-Mart has it for $278.

#16 of 17 Alfonso_M

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Posted September 23 2008 - 10:20 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Sun
My 2-year old Panny TH-50PX600U allows for direct selection of inputs once you press the TV/Video button on the remote control, then you can press the number for the corresponding input listed on-screen to get to that input, instead of scrolling up/down and pressing the select button.

Yes, PatricK, you are correct, but the extra step is confusing still to my aging parents when they have to switch from OTA to SAT.. and even after they learned to use the TV/VIDEO key and scrolled down or selected the corresponding # to reach SAT, they forget the to switch the remote to 'SAT mode' control and as they hit the CH+ or CH- key the Panny switches back to OTA and they don't understand what happened then...

I'm going to try an old 'Harmony' I've got here and see how that goes, but I may be force to use the coax connection only for SAT and forget about OTA.. aging is not fun.....Posted Image

Quote:
BTW, $900 is a steal for a 50" 720p plasma (I paid twice that 1.5 years ago).


wow, that's a very good price, I paid $1450 for this one at Costco about a year ago...

#17 of 17 Clinton McClure

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Posted September 24 2008 - 12:35 AM

Ok, here's the deal.

I picked up the Panasonic TH-50PX80U for $1100 after tax at Best Buy. I was originally going to go with the 42" 1080p, but to get an additional 8" of real estate for less money, I just couldn't pass it up. I ended up going way out of my way to Circuit City just so I could compare them side by side and I could really not tell a resolution difference from 8'. Best Buy is really pushing $300 calibrations by their geek squad. The sales kid kept trying to talk me into one even after I told him I was going to have it professionally calibrated by a certified ISF tech. (I don't really have one lined up, I just couldn't get the kid to drop the subject.) Just for grins I asked him what their calibration consisted of and his answer was "They take the TV in the back and set up your brightness and color". I asked him if they make sure all the pixels are straight and he said yep, that was part of the calibration. Posted Image

While at Circuit City I also picked up a Sony BDP-S300 for $250 which is my entry into BD. I've already imaged a firmware update cd, but I haven't connected the player yet. In all the excitement, I forgot I only have one set of analog inputs on my Yamaha receiver so I have to pick up some Y-cables so I can connect both my HD-A1 and S300 to the analogs.

As a side note, anyone still looking for an excellent, cheap upconverting player, go to CC. They still have HD-A2s and A3s for about $50.

Right now I'm disconnecting all my equipment and putting together my new component rack, but I'll update the post when I get everything hooked up and going.


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