Opinions on Panasonic PT-56HX41?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Patrick Sun, Nov 23, 2002.

  1. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    It's going on sale tomorrow (for $1299), and I was just wondering if it's a decent 4:3 set with hidef capabilities?

    I watch too much TV programming currently to consider a native 16x9 set at the moment.
     
  2. Michael TLV

    Michael TLV THX Video Instructor/Calibrator

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    Greetings

    Nice set that calibrates very well. But no 16:9 mode for DVD ... unless you implement the 16:9 version command in the service menu and turn the TV into the 16:9 set.

    To properly address issues like contrast and colour decoder stuff, need access to 1080i signal too.

    Regards
     
  3. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    So it's actually possible to do the "squeeze" for 16x9 DVD material on this TV?

    Hmm...I may have to seriously check out this sale in a few hours (at Circuit City) today.
     
  4. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    I took a look at this set at Circuit City around noon, and for the price, it seems to be a nice bargain. It's a 56" diagonal, 4:3 set, and it does have the 16x9 squeeze feature as a menu option. It offers 9 point convergence as well. It does 1080i, but has no DVI input or firewire input, just the other normal S-video, composite and component inputs. I watch too much regular TV for the 4:3 screen size to be a deterrent for my viewing habits.

    It doesn't have all the latest and great whiz-bang features of models twice the price, but I think it's still a competent set. The video looks good when you feed it good source. The looped video feed had good stuff and poor stuff on it in terms of video quality, and it did make the poor stuff look bad. The HD content fed to it looks pretty good.

    Out the door, with free interest financing for a year, and paid delivery, and taxes, it'll cost around $1850 (I'm pretty sure I'll be buying the 4-year warranty for it for peace of mind).

    As you can see, I'm just trying to talk myself into buying this RPTV...
     
  5. Kevin Silence

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    I have been looking real hard for a 50" or geater HDTV. Due to price and other comments on htis board, I narrowed my choices to Toshiba and Panny. At first, I was leaning to 4:3, and alomst bought the Panny 51hx41 for $1,299 at Sams. Instaed, I changed my mind and decided to wait for the price to come down on the widescreen 53wx42.

    Then this circuit city ad came along today. As I understand it, this is the same TV as the Panny 53" widescreen, but set up to a full screen picture. Well, I bit the bullet and called Circuit City (local). They had one left in stock. They held it for me and I came and picked it up. I think they only had two sets to begin with. They told me the ad was primarily set up to get people in the store. Nevertheless, when I bout this one they also gave me another $100 off for a "manager discount".. So, bottom line I bought this set still in the box for $1,199 plus tax... unbelievable.

    After getting it home and setting it up, the first thing I did was lower my setting to about 40%. It is still plenty bright. Honestly, I was not expecting a good picture. I head these Pannys are usually far off right out of the box. Maybe, I'm just a novice, but I thought the colors were fabulous. After breaking it in, and a little fine tuning, this set is going to be awesome.

    My recommendation. If you can find this set somewhere at this kind of price, take it.

    BTW, the actual number is pt56hx41p. I know that the hx41 series is from last year. However, there few changes between that series and the newer WX42 series. I'm not sure yet what the p stands for. My manual is really for the 51hx41 and the 61hx41. Also, there is a strong reflection on the screen. I'm pretty sure that this set has the protective screen. I may try to take it off later.

    Well, sorry so long, but you wanted some feedback. For the price, I am more than pleased. Good luck on getting one.

    Kevin Silence
     
  6. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Thanks for the feedback. I'm still on the fence on the warranty (my peace of mind for $100/year for 4 years is how I'm trying to justify it in my head). Can someone talk me out of buying the 4 year warranty coverage ($400 for a $1300 set that's been marked down from a MSRP of maybe $1800-$2000)?

    I'm thinking the "p" at the end of the model number is the 16x9 squeeze mode in the menu system that probably wasn't in the original PT56HW41 model. I was surprised to find that feature in this set at Circuit City.

    I played with the video setting on the store display, and I got it to where I wanted it to look, except it never did look as "flesh-like" as the Sony's, but the Sony's had the "picture" setting jacked all the way up, and I don't ever do that to my TVs. I got a neutral look on the PT56HX41p which looked better than most of the other mal-adjusted RPTVs on display that cost 2x-3x.
     
  7. Kevin Silence

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    I would not worry about the flesh tones. I looked at the three different temp modes...cool (more blue), normal, and warm (more red). These temp modes affect flesh tones a good bit. I preferred the normal.

    I decided against the $400 extended warranty. It comes with a 12 mo parts and labor. That is good enough to me. The odds are I won't spend $400 in repairs over the next few years vs. a given of spending this much up front. In the end, it's your call. I don't see the value being worth the price.

    Good,luck in choosing one.

    BTW, this does have the protective screen. All of the 51,56,61hx41 do a squeeze for 1080i, but do not for the other signals, UNLESS as an ISF guy already mentioned, you can go into the service menu and actually change this TV to a widescreen, and show 16:9 only. I prefer not to go to this extreme, particularly with as much full screen cable we're currently still watching. But I do like the idea that if TV broadcast go completely widescreen in a few years, I can make this conversion.
     
  8. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Thanks for the 16x9 squeeze capability clarification. This will give me something else to consider in my purchase decision. I'm also leaning back towards no warranty as well...
     
  9. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Hi, all.

    I also saw the ad for this TV, but was turned off because I thought it could not do the 16x9 squeeze. I was actually set on getting the Toshiba 50H72 for $200-300 more, but now, I'm not so sure.

    Michael_TLV (or anybody else), is it easy to switch back and forth between 16x9 and 4x3 modes via the service menu on this TV? Is it feasible to do on a regular basis? I plan to use the TV mostly for DVD viewing and might even consider doing that exclusively--at least until I eventually get HDTV programming. Also, when in 16x9 mode, how does it display non-16x9 material? Does it show them in correct aspect ratio, albeit essentially "window-boxed"?

    Besides the lack of an official 16x9 mode for DVDs, what else about it might be inferior to the Toshiba 50H72?

    Thanks!

    _Man_
     
  10. MichaelFusick

    MichaelFusick Second Unit

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    Circuit City is blowing those out.

    Techinically the HX42 is the new model and the HX41p is older...

    Cost on the RPTV is $1245.36 so they are making like $50 on them and they are going quick. When they are gone they are gone.

    Probably the best deal you'll find for a brand new set.

    My thinking, You can get an open box Panny PT47 pr PT53WX widescreen for $100 to $200 more....

    If your an enthusiast...widescreen at this point might be better.

    That's your call, the 4:3 is great for cable for another year, but for DVD and HDTV your giving up resolution.
     
  11. Michael TLV

    Michael TLV THX Video Instructor/Calibrator

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    Nope ... not easy at all. Going either way involves many hours of convergence work. It has to be a conscious decision to make your TV a permanent 16:9 set ... just trapped in a 4:3 tv.
    Kinda like a woman trapped in a man's body. [​IMG]
    If you choose to make it 16:9 ... it becomes a 16:9 set. 4:3 is displayed within the 16:9 frame with gray bars on the sides. And of course you have the dead black space on the top and bottom.
    Regards
     
  12. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    I get the impression (talking with Gregg Loewen) that going to 16x9 with this set is a one way street, and then the set requires calibration/convergence work for the new 16x9 mode it's been placed in. Going back to a 4:3 would ruin the calibration/convergence in the 16x9 mode. Many of the current batch of 16x9 sets are former 4:3 sets which have been set for the vertical squeeze for 16x9 capability and factory calibrated for that mode of operation only.
    And if you did go to 16x9 mode with this 4:3 model, and then watched 4:3 material, you'd see black all around the image for a window effect, and a smaller 4:3 image on the screen.
    I actually went back to Circuit City last night, staring at this set, weighing the benefits against the disadvantages, and finally, after doing the numbers (on screen size for various aspect ratios), I decided I could live with a 53" 16x9 set over a 56" 4:3 set.
    My thought process:
    I currently have a 46" 4:3 set (getting old and not so sharp in video quality). My baseline was trying to get a wide enough 16x9 set where I would feel like I wasn't getting gypped when I would be watching 4:3 material on a 16x9 set.
    If I went with a 53" 16x9 set, I'd get the equivalent 4:3 display size of 43.5", which is 89% of my current 46" 4:3 set's display area. So I'd get a smaller 4:3 image with the 53" 16x9 set, but it's not so drastic that I would be crushed by going to a 16x9 set.
    Also, conversely, the 56" 4:3 will yield the same 16x9 display area as a 51" 16x9 set. But you still lose out on full 16x9 video quality (and would have to rely on the DVD player's downconversion capabilities for a good letterboxed 16x9-enhanced film on DVD).
    So, I will renew my focus on 16x9 sets 53" or larger, within my budget, of course. [​IMG]
     
  13. Gregg Loewen

    Gregg Loewen Video Standards Instructor, THX Ltd.
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    Go Patman Go!!
     
  14. MichaelFusick

    MichaelFusick Second Unit

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    What is your budget?
     
  15. Michael TLV

    Michael TLV THX Video Instructor/Calibrator

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    Greetings

    Just one thing to be aware of ...

    4:3 on a 16:9 set is inferior to 4:3 on a 4:3 set.

    The 4:3 image has to be digitally processed again to fit the 16:9 space ...

    Regards
     
  16. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Hi again. Wow! I didn't expect to see this many replies so soon! I rarely see posts about 4x3 sets... [​IMG]
    Anyway, I really don't know. I was set on getting a 4x3 set partly because my family watches a fair amount of 4x3 programming, including lots of VHS for the kids, and partly because the 4x3 sets are generally still considerably cheaper than their widescreen counterparts. And really, our only reason for getting an HDTV/RPTV now is for the movies, not even for HiDef programming really since there's not much that interest us on HiDef right now. Of course, that would change if YES network starts broadcasting Yankee games in HiDef. [​IMG]
    So anyway, I'm willing to consider using the TV for movies only and just stick w/ our 5-year-old 32" Toshiba for regular 4x3 programming other than movies. However, even for movies, I'm gonna run into plenty of cases where the DVD (or the occasional LD like the Star Wars trilogy!) is non-anamorphic OR simply 4x3 full screen(!) in its OAR. And w/ a big set, I definitely do NOT want to compromise on the already lower PQ of many of these images. This is one more reason why I wanted to stick w/ a 4x3 set. And as Michael_TLV just pointed out, these movies will look worse on a 16x9 set due to image processing--well, actually, probably only for letterboxed movies in zoom mode.
    And while everyone else seems so happy w/ some stretch mode or another, I will rarely want to use stretch mode for 4x3 viewing. It just doesn't make much sense to me, but maybe that's just me. [​IMG]
    Now, since it's not feasible to switch back and forth w/ this Panny due to calibration issues, will this also be true for the Toshiba 50H72? Is it possible to store/save the calibrated settings for both 4x3 and 16x9 modes on this TV so it's easy going back and forth?
    Thanks for all your help. [​IMG]
    _Man_
     
  17. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    One more question about the Panny. How does its PQ compare to the 53WX42 when set to 16x9 mode? How about the Toshiba 50H72 in 16x9 mode (other than the picture size of course)?
    Now that I feel like maybe I can live w/ minimal 4x3 viewing on the TV, except for non-anamorphic movies which might be 20% of the time, I'm tempted to go for the 53WX42(!), which costs about the same as the Toshiba 50H72. However, the WX42 doesn't have the protective screen, which we might need since we do have 2 fairly rambunctious little kids running loose.
    BTW, Michael_TLV, that's a great analogy on the "trapped" thing! Ha ha! [​IMG]
    _Man_
     
  18. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    Damn, I think Man/Michael just talked me back into going for the 4:3 set (due to the re-processed 4:3 in 16x9 mode).

    Ack! I do watch more TV than DVDs on the whole, so now I'm in a bigger quandary.

    On a scale of 0-100, how down the re-processed 4:3 material look on a 16x9 set?
     
  19. ManW_TheUncool

    ManW_TheUncool Producer

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    Patrick,

    In your case, doesn't it depend a lot on whether you can live w/ any of the stretch modes for regular TV programming? I don't believe there would be any reprocessing as long as you don't use stretch (or zoom) modes.

    If you're like me, then you'll have to decide whether it's acceptable to watch them w/ the grey side bars, except for 4x3 letterbox movies. I used to be concerned about burn-in caused by those grey side bars, but it sounds like it's not a real issue as long as you don't run your TV in torch mode AND watch a reasonable balance between widescreen and 4x3.

    Here's another couple questions about the Panny 53WX42 vs Toshiba 50H72's. How does the Panny's zoom mode for 4x3 letterbox images look compare to the Toshiba's 540p upconversion?? Which one is more tweakable for better PQ w/out having to open up the chassis? FYI, I do want to get ISF calibration, but my budget is too tight right now, so I plan to live w/ the TV pre-ISF for upto a year depending on how satisfied I am w/ the "out-of-box" PQ. OTOH, if I do get the 4x3 Panny, the savings might be enough to pay for the ISF work right away(!).

    Hmmm... Decisions, decisions...

    _Man_
     
  20. Patrick Sun

    Patrick Sun Moderator
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    I don't think Michael was referring to zooming for 4:3 displayed on a 16x9 set. But in order to display 4:3 on 16x9, the material still goes through some re-processing to get it to fit in its normal aspect ratio, 4:3, on the 16x9 set.

    I would not zoom 4:3 material if I had a 16x9 set. Everytime I see the zooming feature at the stores, I get a bit queasy from the fun-house mirror effect that zooming has the 4:3 material.

    The PT56HX41 is geared toward TV, mainly 4:3 and HDTV, it isn't geared towards DVD 16x9-enhanced video.

    It seems that there is no free lunch in terms of handling both 16x9 and 4:3 content for one single TV.

    I dislike the 53WX42's undersized base because it causes some warping of the bezel plastic for the bottomside of the screen that extend out over the undersized base. Once you see the set in real life, you'll know what I mean.
     

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