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Which Panasonic Plasma?


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#1 of 3 OFFLINE   Madmax18

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Posted October 21 2008 - 04:00 AM

After weeks of research and toiling, I've finally made up mind to go with a 50" Panasonic plasma for my HT. Unfortunately, now I'm torn between two sets. The Viera TH-50PZ85U and the Viera TH-50PZ800U. Both have received very high marks as being the only plasmas that come close to the picture quality of the Pioneer KURO sets – at a fraction of the cost. But here's my dilemma. A few folks I've spoken with at the big box stores have insisted that calibration is an absolute must for any plasma TV. However, they also claim that the 800U model is already pre-calibrated thanks in part to it's THX certification. The 85U costs about $300 less than the 800U, but from what I've been told, that's about how much it would cost to have the 85U calibrated. Is this a six of one, half dozen of another situation, or is their an obvious winner here? I want to believe the 800U is a no-brainer, but can I trust that the "pre-calibrated" talk is valid? I don't want to invest the money, only to find out that it still needs professional attention when I take it out of the box. Any guidance would be deeply appreciated.

#2 of 3 OFFLINE   JustinCleveland

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Posted October 21 2008 - 05:16 AM

There is no such thing as "out of the box" calibration. Calibration takes into account the lighting scheme in your room and other factors. With the price difference being only $300, I would say you're better off going for the 800u. It is an amazing set that was selling for 1k more than the PX85 just a couple months ago.

#3 of 3 OFFLINE   Brent Hutto

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Posted October 21 2008 - 05:18 AM

Our television only cost a thousand bucks and has very limited service-mode controls so we never seriously considered paying for a professional calibrator's services. That said, I think you can achieve an awfully good picture using a combination of advice gleaned online and a hour spent with a DVE Blu-Ray disk. IMO the cheaper display plus the cost of a copy of DVE is going to get you as close as the canned THX settings, if that's the only value you feel you're getting for the 300 bucks [1]. A professional calibration might be worth that kind of money but having one "better" stored setting is not the same as a customized calibration. [1] Having said the above, let me mention that being able to do the 48Hz playback of 1080p24 content is to me of definite additional value in the '800U. Not sure whether I'd pay $300 for it but most likely I would, regardless of THX mode. It's an awfully nice TV and I was impressed with the one I saw in a store.