Is a plasma the right tv for me?

Discussion in 'Displays' started by Danny Beck, May 16, 2004.

  1. Danny Beck

    Danny Beck Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm in the final days a long tv search for my new basement. I'm finally going to have the dedicated space for whatever kind of setup I want. [​IMG]


    So, i've narrowed down my decision process to a few tvs and the one i've already put money down on was the Sony 60-XBR950 LCD Projection. I felt this was my best bet because I do like to play videogames and I just didn't want to worry about burn-in and the like. This is also considered to be the best LCD Projection tv available.


    So, before I make the final delivery I just want to make sure that I wouldn't be happier with a plasma. They certainly take up less space and I love the viewing angles. The Sony LCD is pretty darn good in that area but still not as good as a plasma.


    The 42" Sony XS910 plasma has caught my eye recently and I just want to give that set one last look before I decided for sure. So, i'm looking for opinions on my situation and what might work best for me. Here are my viewing habits.

    60% HD and SD tv
    25% Xbox gaming
    15% DVD viewing

    With that ratio does anyone think i'm at risk of burn-in? Of course I don't plan on watching 4:3 material on this set at all. I'm just worried about the static images in games and even the static portions of a baseball game in HD for instance. Can you burn-in the logo from FOX sports if I watched 6 hours of football on a Sunday afternoon?

    Theses are the types of things i'm wondering.

    I've also seen people mention "power supply" problems withs plasmas? What is that all about?


    I'd appreciate any input or insite that might make my decision easier. I'm just at that point where I know i'm buying a tv that i'm going to have for years and I don't want to regret my decision 6 months down the road. Thanks.

    Danny
     
  2. David Parrish

    David Parrish Stunt Coordinator

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    Of your two choices, I'd pick the LCD RPTV. I personally think Plasas are nice if you don't have space for a bigger TV, otherwise the cost/benefit just isn't there.

    I was in the same boat a few months ago and decided on the Toshiba 57HX93 CRT RPTV. It was $2300. I play X-Box all the time and have no burn-in( Contrast ratio is set around 20 and Brightness around 60-80 depending on daylight.) For TV I increase the Contrast to the 40-60 range.

    I plan on buying another TV or Front Projector in a year or two once DLP, LCOS, SXRD, or D-ILA finally get their act together and produce a product without artifacts, poor contrast, dithering, rainbows, headaches, etc... I really do think that digital TVs two years from now will be 5 times as good and half the cost. I'm betting by end of 2005 we'll be seeing three chip DLPs. That's when it'll get interesting.

    Did I mention the Toshiba's PQ rocks? I owned an XBR for two weeks and was fairly happy with it, but it had a glitzy screen and a high black level. In my book it wasn't worth $5500.
     
  3. Danny Beck

    Danny Beck Stunt Coordinator

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    Yeah, you returned your LCD XBR950 right?


    Well, I love the XBR950 but it still haven't been delivered yet. So, I still haven't had a chance to enjoy it at home yet.

    The reason i'm considering a plasma though is a matter of picture quality. These new Plasmas have black levels that are close to the quality of a crt. You also have problems on LCDs with fast moving sports like football. So, while I think i'll love the LCD XBR for most things i'm afraid i'm not going to enjoy as much during the football season. [​IMG]
     
  4. CalvinCarr

    CalvinCarr Supporting Actor

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    Do you really think that football will look bad?
     
  5. Danny Beck

    Danny Beck Stunt Coordinator

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    Well, there is certainly motion blur on all LCDs when viewing something like football where the camera is zoomed out and you see all those players in motion at the same time.

    On the XBR950 it might even be worse in some ways. I still haven't been able to view sports on the store demos. They've always got some sitcom or nature show on that doesnt' really show me much.


    It makes no sense that the XBR would be worse in this situation but from what i've seen it looks like the XBR is so much clearer than othere LCDs that the sacrafice for pure beauty and resolution means you notice the bluring more so than other LCD Projection tvs. I'll be recieving hte tv on Friday so I guess i'll find out for sure at that point. If it's really bad I may just return it.
     
  6. CalvinCarr

    CalvinCarr Supporting Actor

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    The dilema I have is that we plan to buy one in Sept. but the wife wants to buy a entertainment center to go around it. I'd hate to buy it then find I don't like it and send it back. I watch mostly network t.v. and sports. We watch maybe 2 movies a week. I'm wondering if this is even the set for me now.
     
  7. David Parrish

    David Parrish Stunt Coordinator

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    Football looks AWESOME on the XBR. I got kudos at my superbowl party. I don't remember seeing any motion blur whatsoever.

    This TV's big weakness is movies, which usually have a lot of dark scenes. Regular sitcoms and Sports are its strong suit.
     
  8. DaveGTP

    DaveGTP Cinematographer

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    Burn-in on plasmas is overrated.

    Recommended reading:
    AVSforum plasma forum FAQ:

    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...hreadid=167397

    Master burn-in thread:
    http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...hreadid=387707

    You'll find that most burn in is people that watch too much 4:3 TV, uncalibrated (known as torch mode). If you mix aspect ratios up (and be REAL nice to it at first - they are more sensitive to burn in at first) it should be fine.

    The plasma will have much better contrast and more detailed blacks than the LCD RPTV. BUT - The Sony plasmas aren't really recommended (although I guess this year's models are better). They garner a lot of attention on the store floor (must be how they are set up out of the box), but a properly calibrated Pioneer or Panasonic is, by most accounts, better. Panny in particular has much superior black levels/detail. Try looking at the Panny model in the store. Get your hands on the remote, crank down the brightness, contrast, and sharpness to sane levels, and see the difference (I did this instore @ CC, and it was a whole world of difference).
     
  9. Danny Beck

    Danny Beck Stunt Coordinator

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    I spent a good our last night at Best Buy comparing 2 plasmas. I've narrowed it all the way down now and it's comes down to this.


    The 2 plasmas were the Sony 42" XS910 and the Panasonic 50" TH50PX20U. They had the Panasonic marked down to $6500! That is an amazing price for a 50" plasma but in all honesty the Sony looked better to me. So, i'm left asking myself if I should get the Sony as that is what I really want to do, or get the Panasonic for it's extra 8 inches of beauty?

    Here is the breakdown. The Panasonic showed significan noise on certain scenes in the HD loop they were playing. In particular any of the film related clips were noisy to say the least. They showed clips from Master and Commander as well as the Spiderman 2 trailer and the Sony was very smooth and clean while displaying these clips while the Panny showed noise in the solid colored portions of the screen. Detail was fantastic on both but that noise on the Panny bothered me. Does that have something to do with the fact that the Panny doesn't offer 3:2 pulldown? I think it might.


    Then of course you have the XBR50 LCD Projection. I just cannot make up my mind about these sets. I am 100% convinced the picture quality on those 2 plasmas is better than the LCD but the LCD offers a larger picture and no worries of burn-in.

    This is such a tough decision as I just want to get it all over with and enjoy my new tv. [​IMG] I almost wish I didn't have the 3 options because it's making it so hard to decide.
     
  10. Mort Corey

    Mort Corey Supporting Actor

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    Take a deeeeep breath Danny...it's a lot of money for a TV so take your time and look at all the alternatives. The Panasonic 50 you're looking at is the (now) older model and that's why the price reduction (BTW, I've seen that model advertised on the web of about $1K less than you're seeing it at BB...FWIW) The Sony is an Alis (1024x1024) panel, vs a true HD panel like the Panny....BUT....it also supports a 720p input that the Panny doesn't (except via front computer input) and that may be a factor in using your X-box.

    I wouldn't put too much faith in the setup of the units on the BB floor. There could be a myriad of factors why one looks better than another.....from a conspiracy theory standpoint, I've often wondered it they might not do that on purpose. Adjusting the units they want to move to their best and the surrounding units adjusted poorly. Either display will look different in your home.

    I was initially concerned with "burn in" but haven't seen anything like that in the six months I've owned my plasma. When a station has their logo displayed (like Fox, SciFI, etc) it's not there long enough to cause any ghosting as commercial breaks are frequent enough to not let that happen. X-box?? Don't own one but I'd be leery of leaving anything with a constant, static, display on the screen for hours at a time (like if you left the Windows desktop on overnight)

    I spent six months dragging my wife to view plasma displays and researching all I could find about the different models from various manufacturers. I finally decided that the Fujitsu HD panel was the best in picture quality, warranty and features. When I finally went in to purchase it, they had a new JVC HD display sitting right next to it that, to me anyway, was substatially better in PQ and had more features than I was looking for.....go figure....the best laid plans of mice and men [​IMG]

    Good hunting

    Mort
     
  11. Rich H

    Rich H Second Unit

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    Danny,

    (Sorry I haven't got back to your PM yet...getting there).

    If it were me I'd take the Panasonic in a heartbeat over that Sony plasma.

    I've demoed the Sony and I've demoed the Panny 50" many, many times. The Sony can look superb with Hi-Def. It's about the punchiest plasma image out there (even slightly outdoes the Pioneer models in that regard, to my eye). That can give an impression of slight extra sharpness. (And often the smaller display will look sharpest, all other things being equal).

    But to me the Panasonic looks much more natural and believable...more realistic light and tonal quality. I've directly compared the Panny 50" plasma in really good set-ups to the Sony/Pioneer models and the Panny always gives me the most "looking at real life" feeling. For me, it's my top Hi-Def display, excepting perhaps the much more expensive Fujitsu P50 plasma.

    In regards to picture noise, the Panasonic plasmas have actually had the rep over the years of having the least picture noise (true in my evaluations). The black levels achieved by the Panasonic actually help reduce picture noise that is left visible by many other brands. (Especially in analog signals you can often see the whitish noise illuminating dark areas of an image. A plasma that can't do deep black levels leaves these dark areas, and the noise within, illuminated. I have the Panny ED plasma and I have never been able to achieve as noise-free an NTSC image on any other plasma I've demoed. So I'm very suspicious of any set-up that makes the Panny look noisy.

    I agree the Sony exhibits little noise in hi-def images. But frankly hi-def images are, in that respect, the least challenging material for a hi-def display to reproduce. When it has to play lower res DVD and NTSC (regular cable/sat) signals then you really see what the display's scaler is made of. I've yet to demo a Sony plasma, including the 42" and 50" XBR models, that didn't display significantly more digital picture noise than the Panasonic when playing DVDs. Since I'm a movie fan that is really important to me. I was actually appalled at how digitized and blocky details became on the Sony plasmas vs on my Panasonic plasma.

    Unless you are only going to watch movies and other material in a normal or bright lighting situation, I'd try and see the Sonys (both plasma and LCD) in dim to dark lighting. You may find the black levels are not satisfying enough once out of store conditions. (The bright lighting of stores can distort the impression of contrast and black levels so much: I've actually seen the Sony plasmas in the store look like they have better black levels than the Panasonic, when I know from experience - and from objective measurements - that it is quite the reverse).

    I personally have this thing about spending a ton of dough on a cool new display only to think when watching a movie with dark scenes "you know, my little 27" tube set actually looked better with this scene." With the Panasonic plasma I never have to confront that little demon thought. [​IMG]

    Now, about burn in and games. I still don't know what to think of that one because, frankly, I don't play games and I don't know how much, in terms of hours at a time each day you'd be playing them. I have seen quite a few people report they play games on their plasmas (even a self-admitted heavy gamer) to no ill effects. There was one report over at AVS of burn-in from games. It came from a father who bought an (older) plasma for his kids, strictly for game playing. After several months (6?) he said he could detect slight burn-in (if I remember correctly this was on an all white screen, and that it wasn't much noticeable on normal content). That's pretty severe misuse of a plasma in my estimation. But if you are mixing up content in the ratio you propose it seems to me that you'll be fine. I was actually worried about burn in when I first got my plasma. But after two years of paying anything I want on it - letterboxed movies, tons of news stations with tickers, lots of kids programming with heavy logos - (and there isn't even a hint of burn-in so I no longer worry.

    In regards to Panasonic and burn-in specifically: it's been my personal hunch that some brands of plasma are, in general, more prone to burn in than others. I only say this because in three years of monitoring the AVS plasma forum and various other bulletin boards the reports of burn-in have almost always been brands other than Panasonic. In fact, I'm not sure I've heard yet of a Panasonic owned by a consumer burning in. Each plasma maker drives their plasmas a different way electronically (and with different phosphor containing glass). Maybe this makes a difference. (Of course any plasma is susceptible to burn-in if you crank up contrast/brightness and play lots of static images). I notice my Panasonic has very little "image retention" in that images fade pretty much immediately to black. I've even mistakenly left the "DVD" logo from my player on all night. I could faintly see the "DVD" letters when I turned the DVD player off, but the image was wiped away within seconds when I simply turned the TV back on.

    The Sony plasmas have really stuck out in terms of their image retention, each time I've played with them. I was simply astonished at how long a bright image would last on screen when the picture turned dark. Even DVD menus would just stay ghosted on the screen for a while when turning the DVD player off. The salesmen had remarked that others had noticed that as well. Now, "image retention" or "ghosting" is NOT the same as burn-in (which is a long-tim phenomenon). And I don't know if there is any link whatsorver between how susceptable a plasma is to image retention and it's susceptability to burn in. But just seeing this trait in the Sony plasmas would make me, personally, wary of choosing it over some other brands, especially if I was going to test them with lots of gaming and such.

    The Panny 50" plasma vs the Sony GW 60" LCD? For me that's another easy one: Panny plasma. If it were a 42" plasma vs the 60" Sony I would stop and think hard, because that's a real big size advantage for the Sony, which adds up to a more immersive, cinematic experience. And that's nothing to sneeze at. But the 50" plasma gets you closer to a cinematic feel and for me the slight downsizing is worth it for what I think is the better image quality. I think the Sony LCD is superb in many ways, but I can't get past the black level issue. I am aware of it's poor black level performance even in bright lighting, and I can't deal with it in the lower lighting in which I watch films and even Hi-Def events. Further, and here is my film-guy bias, I find LCDs of all types impart a sort of metallicy, video-like quality to everything on them. I just don't find film looks like film on LCDs. Whereas I find a plasma like the Panasonic is more chameleon-like, looking lush and filmic with the appropriate film content, and startlingly realistic on Hi-Def content.

    Whew. That's all I can think of. I'm just giving you my personal experience and view on the matter. But, since I have walked away from many in-depth demoes of the Panasonic 50" plasma in awe, and in lust, it would be an easy choice for me.

    Over 'n out.
     
  12. DaveGTP

    DaveGTP Cinematographer

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    The noise you are seeing on the Panny in the store compared to the Sony is merely torch mode settings. Take the Panny's remote, turn the brightness down to about half of where it is set. Ditto for sharpness & contrast.

    The Panny torch mode setting looks like crap on the showroom floor. The set I played with at CC didn't look great, so I asked a salesperson to track down the remote. After cranking down the settings, it looked better than the Samsung DLP set next to it (instead of worse). The sharpness and contrast were set waaaaay to high.

    The JVC has also been well received (I believe it has Panny glass).

    As far as LCD projection, I don't like them. Many people may enjoy them, but I like a lot of depressing or otherwise dark movies (like LOTR). I don't even think the black levels are good enough on my Infocus X1 projector (DLP based), but they are decent. On the LCD RPTVs I've seen, I found them not good enough. Maybe if you don't watch a lot of dark material it becomes a moot point.


    And as far as LCD being 100% burn proof, you tell that to the HT-ophile AVSforum moderator who burned in his 30" Sharp Aquos LCD TV. Granted it was an excessively static screen (a static computer screensaver). They are very very burn proof but not 100%.



    As far as video games:

    I have read plenty of posts about playing hours of Xbox on AVSforum on their plasmas. Most of the burn-in reports are people who do something >80% of the time (4:3 SD TV, Xbox only, only movies, etc) and don't calibrate their set out of torch mode. Plus, Rich is right, no burn-in reports on the Pannys.

    I do plenty of gaming (I have a NES, SNES, Genesis, Saturn, Dreamcast, PS2, Gamecube, etc). Plenty of research told me I was OK as long as the plasma was used for widescreen movies plenty as well as games and 4:3 content. Plus, you're supposed to be nice to it during the first 200 hours or so (more potential for burn-in).
     

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