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Choosing a TV - Show room impressions vs. tech specs & reviews


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#1 of 10 OFFLINE   ZapoTeX

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Posted February 07 2013 - 03:46 AM

Hi All! This is my second thread on this wonderful forum. I got your help choosing my audio system, now it's TV time! From my web search on specs and reviews, I had narrowed it down to three Panasonic 55" plasmas: the VT50, the GT50 and ST50. I went to Best Buy because I wanted to see them side by side and decide whether the difference was worth the price premium. When I entered the HT section (or "Magnolia", how they call it), I was shocked. I really did not like any of the three. Images on the VT look washed up and pale. When you drive a car on a sunny day and your windshield is dirty, you see everything kind of "veiled"? That's what the VT looked like. And it is the top end model! The Panasonic LED WT model looked a lot more crisp. Skin tones were richer, blacks were deeper, etc... (I know that the lab measurements say something else...) The Samsung plasmas (there was a 64" one, the 7000 series) looked even better, a lot more life-like, vivid colors, deep blacks. The thing is: can I trust impressions on "out of the box" TVs in a showroom? They were probably not color calibrated... Everyone seems to rave about Panasonic plasmas and the lab measurements from HT mag are at reference levels. Can it be that the parameters are just poorly adjusted out of the box? I asked for the remote controls, but the guy said it was not possible to play with the settings. Should I buy what I like or blindly trust expert reviews and lab measurements? Thanks everyone!

#2 of 10 OFFLINE   Steve Schaffer

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Posted February 07 2013 - 07:57 AM

Don't buy based on showroom observation without being able to adjust the set. If they don't have remotes available go to another store that does. Professional reviews are based on using the best settings, not default as is often the case in showrooms. If you plan on just using defaults buy what looks best in the store. If you're not averse to a little tweaking in the user menu, trust reviews.
Steve S.
I prefer not to push the subwoofers until they're properly run in.

#3 of 10 OFFLINE   ZapoTeX

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Posted February 07 2013 - 09:36 AM

Thanks for your reply! The question is: why does Panasonic make such great TVs and then lets them look bad in showrooms by not properly adjusting them? Mysteries of life I guess... :-) Do you know any electronics chain in US where you can play with the remote? Apparently Best Buy does not make it easy... Thanks!

#4 of 10 OFFLINE   Steve Tannehill

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Posted February 07 2013 - 09:47 AM

Do you have a store that specializes in home theater or televisions? Department stores are notoriously bad, and I would not trust anything at Best Buy. I've bought my last 4 TV's at a small retailer now called Modia, formerly Home Theater Store. I actually went by specs and reviews to order my last set, because I wanted the 73-inch and they only had the 65-inch on display. I was very pleased with the end result.

#5 of 10 ONLINE   schan1269

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Posted February 07 2013 - 10:08 AM

Best Buy uses torch mode on their TVs cause LCD has a higher profit margin. Torching a plasma makes it look like dog excrement. LCD don't look much better on torch either...you'd be amazed how many people think "out of the box" settings from the manufacturer are "best"...:rolleyes:

#6 of 10 OFFLINE   Gary Seven

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Posted February 07 2013 - 10:10 AM

First of all, you cannot assume Panasonic "lets their sets look bad in the showroom".  Who knows who played with the set before you got there... Best Buy worker, customer, etc.


I take my calibration disc with me when choosing sets and calibrate each set I am interested in.  If you cannot do that, than at least eyeball each set so all candidates are on an even keel then do comparisons.  Generally, if you ask the sales person at BB I am sure they will provide the remotes you need and even hook up a DVD player for calibration.  The person you spoke to was apparently an a-hole.  Speak to the manager if you have to.  Tell him/her you are not spending 3 grand on a set without checking its calibration.  They will accommodate.


#7 of 10 OFFLINE   Steve Schaffer

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Posted February 08 2013 - 06:33 AM

Sears stores should have the remotes out and available, if they haven't been stolen by "customers". Unfortunately Sears also thinks tvs should be displayed under the brightest possible lighting.
Steve S.
I prefer not to push the subwoofers until they're properly run in.

#8 of 10 OFFLINE   ZapoTeX

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Posted February 09 2013 - 08:33 AM

Hi All, thanks a lot for your suggestions! I followed your advice and went to a store specialized in TVs (videoonly.com, they have stores in California, Oregon and Washington). While at Best Buy they let me wait for half an hour, then they said that they could not give me the remote, at Video Only I was immediately welcomed by a competent guy who showed me all possible image settings on the P55VT50, looked for channels and DVDs that showed complete black and bright white, the different colors, quick actions, skin tones, etc... And the price is even lower than Best Buy (they have the P55VT50 for 1649 + taxes, that's even lower than Amazon). I was happy to give my money to them rather than Best Buy. Delivery will be next weekend (because I wanted it next weekend - they had availability much earlier). Thanks again!

#9 of 10 OFFLINE   Steve Tannehill

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Posted February 09 2013 - 09:39 AM

Glad you found a good deal and exemplary service at a specialty store. Come back and tell us what you think of your new set!

#10 of 10 OFFLINE   ZapoTeX

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Posted March 06 2013 - 03:47 AM

After a couple of weeks of testing and experimenting, I must say the VT-50 is incredible. With 1080p from Vudu the images look stunning, very deep blacks, hardly any noise even in "aggressive" picture modes such as vivid, sharpness even if I put my eye one foot off the display. No motion blur at all. With 720p from Amazon video it's almost the same - upsampling is great. With standard definition stuff from Netflix and Youtube you do see a bit more softness and noise (probably due to compression). What I would add/change if I designed the TV myself? A screensaver... I'm paranoid about burn-in and when I was connecting my accounts (Vudu, Hulu, Netflix, etc...) to the TV I was really scared that in the time it takes to type the password and stuff the image would burn in. Maybe just shift everything right an lef, up and down randomly by few tens of pixels, it would even be aesthetically pleasing. Also, I tried the Android app and it work great, but I can't figure out how to use my phone keyboard to type stuff on the tv... Is it possible? Anyway, all minor things related to usability and to the "smart" part of the tv. The performance is impressive. I've had LCDs in the past and visited friends with plasmas, but nothing like the VT-50. Have a great day everyone!




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