Panasonic 36HX42 at Circuit City

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Brent Hutto, Aug 2, 2002.

  1. Brent Hutto

    Brent Hutto Supporting Actor

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    Since the last time I was in Circuit City (a couple of days ago) they have received the Panasonic 36HX42 which is this year's model of the 36" HD-ready Tau direct view set. This is the first television I've seen whose picture quality is a match for the 36" Sony XBR. Best Buy also had an out-of-box last-years 36HX41 available but it was pretty beat up. Darned good picture, though.

    Give or take issues of setup and feed quality, comparing them side-by-side in the store, same feed, the XBR might have a tiny edge in holding black levels but in every other the way the Panny equals it. Plus the Panasonic had very good geometry whereas three of the four 36" XBR I've seen were anywhere from not perfect to very poor in terms of tilt and straight horizontal lines near the top and bottom of the screen.

    And the Panasonic is close to $500 cheaper. Plus it looks like it belongs in a living room and not as a prop in a cheezy near-future sci-fi flick.

    I had just about decided that a HD-ready 32" (probably Hitachi) was the way to go. And that's still what I'll probably do but Best Buy cheated today and ran the Lord of the Rings trailer. Standing 6-1/2' from the screen (same viewing distance as at home) that no-scan-lines 36" picture was mighty impressive. Circuit City has the HX42 for $1,745 with 12-month no-interest financing. If I weren't supposed to be a grown-up, I'd buy the damned thing plus a LotR DVD next week and be done with it...
     
  2. John-Miles

    John-Miles Screenwriter

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    Take a look at the Toshiba 36HFX71 or the 72, its about as much cheaper than the Tau as the tau is form the XBR and I personally think the Toshiba has a better picture than the Tau or the XBR (and at the very least i challenge anyone to show me 1000 dollars in picture quality difference)

    just my two cents, i recently bought a toshiba 36hfx71 and couldn't be happier.
     
  3. Bob S

    Bob S Extra

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    Brent,

    I believe that the Panasonic lacks the 16:9 enhanced mode (for anamorphic DVDs) that both the Toshiba and the Sony have. It also lacks a DVI Input like the Sony has. Whether either of these things matter is up to you of course!

    I agree with you that the Panasonic Taus are far more "living room friendly" in terms of looks vs. the Sonys.

    Bob
     
  4. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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  5. Brent Hutto

    Brent Hutto Supporting Actor

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    Bob S said..."I believe that the Panasonic lacks the 16:9 enhanced mode (for anamorphic DVDs) that both the Toshiba and the Sony have."

    So what are the implications of this for: a) a DVD played on a non-progressive player and b) a DVD plyaed on a progressive-scan player? Are you saying that in either or both cases some of the 480 lines will be used up creating black bars? That seems strange for a fairly high-end current-model TV. Not that I don't believe it, just that it's strange.
     
  6. Brent Hutto

    Brent Hutto Supporting Actor

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    After some further reading, I'm not sure that the 36HX42 is truly lacking the anamorphic squeeze. It is listed as having "auto widescreen mode for anamorphic DVDs" and "automatic anamorphic DVD detection". Does that still not necessarily mean that it does the squeeze? If it doesn't do the squeeze then what does it do when it automatically detects an enhanced DVD?
     
  7. Bob S

    Bob S Extra

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    Brent, you may very well be right. I don't own the 36HX42 but was basing my response on the 36HX42's specs on Panasonic's website (which does not list a 16:9 mode or anamorphic detection).

    I've been researching the 32HX42 for myself so I would love to know for sure if these models have 16:9 enhanced mode. Where did you read that the 36HX42 has "automatic anamorphic detection"?

    Bob
     
  8. Bob S

    Bob S Extra

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    I think I can answer my own question. Looking at the 36HX42 on the Crutchfield site, they list "auto widescreen mode for anamorphic DVDs" as a feature. It is a bit disconcerting that Panasonic's site doesn't list this feature, but as Brent aptly pointed out, it does seem strange that this relatively high end TV would leave out this feature.

    So the 32HX42 (which also lists this feature on Crutchfield's site) is now back on my short list. Now if only it included a DVI input, the decision would be made...

    Bob
     
  9. Page

    Page Stunt Coordinator

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    Just to clear up any doubts...

    I bought my Tau after Pansonic started releasing them a couple of years ago...the 36 and 32 inch models absolutely do the anamorphic squeeze. (At the time, the smaller sized models did not, but that may have changed.)
     
  10. Brent Hutto

    Brent Hutto Supporting Actor

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    I spent my lunch hour at Circuit City playing with their 36HX42 and I think I now have a clue as to what's confusing us...

    It appears that the 36HX42 will not do the squeeze on a 480i (non-progressive) input signal. We hooked up a cheapie Zenith DVD player to a component input of their display model and played the Pearl Harbor DVD. WIth the DVD player set to 4:3 mode, the picture looked correct on the TV. With the DVD player set to 16:9 (anamorphic) output the picture was vertically stretched (i.e. the sun was an oval, not a circle).

    There is an option under the TV's "Picture" setup menu for "Aspect" but it was set to 4:3 and grayed out. I'm only guessing that if the feed were progressive that would be an option you could change back and forth to make the TV do the squeeze.

    So if my surmise is correct, then the 36HX42 is off the list unless I want to spring for a $200 progressive scan DVD player. Isn't that the implication of all this?
     
  11. Brent Hutto

    Brent Hutto Supporting Actor

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    OK, I think it's settled now. The 36HX42 will only do the squeeze for 1080i inputs (as someone tried to convince me several days ago).

    I went to Circuit City last night and put a 480p signal into it with a Panasonic RP56 DVD player. Still no "16:9" option in the "Aspect" menu.

    Just got off the phone with Panasonic technical support. The guy I talked to confirmed that this is the intended behavior or that TV. He had no explaination other than that the TV was intended for use with a set-top box.

    He did suggest that the squeeze would probably work via the S-video input but also said that he was just offering that as an interesting bit of trivia, not a useful suggestion.

    So I guess I'm off to buy a Hitachi 36UDX10S. It's only $1,300 so I'm going to try it out and see how I like it. If that's not acceptable, I suppose I'll swap it in for a Sony WEGA and just bust the heck out of my supposed $2,000 budget. I actually prefer the innate PQ of the Panasonic to the Sony's but unfortunately I don't have a set-top box and 80% of my TV watching is DVD's. I guess I'm not Panasonic's target market.
     
  12. jeff lam

    jeff lam Screenwriter

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    If you have a budget of $2000, you can spring a couple hundred more and get yourself the new Panasonic 34wx52 34" 16x9 set. Don't have to worry about the squeeze since it's a 16x9 set. This set will also have a slightly larger viewing area for WS material than the 36" 4x3. However if you watch a lot of 4x3 material, maybe a 16x9 set is not for you unless you don't mind watching it stretched to fill the side bars.

    I saw this set at my local HIFI store for $2300 and that was the regular price. Ask CC if they will be getting this set in soon. You may be able to talk them down to your set budget.

    edit:
    I just read the part about you watching 80% DVDs. With you watching this much widescreen material, why were you even considering a 4x3 set? You should have your mind set on 16x9 with all the WS you watch.
     
  13. Brent Hutto

    Brent Hutto Supporting Actor

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    Jeff, I appreciate the suggestion but I just don't get the whole widescreen thing. And it isn't that I haven't thought about it, I've considered it carefully and it just doesn't seem to make sense. I probably shouldn't digress off-topic into this particular can of worms, but here I go anyway...

    If a 34" 16:9 and a 36" 4:3 were the same price and given that I watch a lot of DVD movies, it would be tempting. However, for the typical $500 or so extra expense you really don't get much more picture on a widescreen DVD with the 16:9 (like 29.6" width versus 28.8" width) and you give up tons of picture area with 4:3 content (like 22.3" width versus 28.8" width).

    So it seems to me that unless you almost literally never watch 4:3 stuff, you're cutting off your nose to spite your face and paying extra to boot. I can't imagine that I can tell the difference between a 29" and a 30" wide picture and for most DVD's that are wider than 16:9 there are still black bars either way.

    One final note. Given my recent experience, Panasonic would have a hard time convincing me that I should buy any of the television sets. They seem pretty clueless about the actual usage most people put these TV's through. For all I know, they would lock that 34" 16:9 TV into "Full" mode and screw up my non-anamorphic DVD's.

    If I decide to spend $2,300 it would almost certainly been on a Sony 36XBR800 (which I love dearly but don't want to pay for). I don't mean to disrespect your input, Jeff, or to seem bluntly dismissive. I must have been spending too much time on hold today...
     
  14. jeff lam

    jeff lam Screenwriter

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    I understand, some people feel this way. It is very logical also since most of the TV info is in 4x3 still. I just thought that since you had a $2000 budget and most of your viewing material was widescreen and you did like the panasonic better than the sony, I thought the 34" panasonic would be an excellent choice.

    For me, I have a maximum width of 36 3/4" to fit in my entertainment center. The only 36" that I know of that would fit is the Hitachi, but with only 1 input and the curved screen I thought it may not be for me. No other 36 will fit. The 32's will fit but now I'm degrading the size of my widescreen material by quite a bit and since I have an 11' viewing distance I need as much picture as possible within the restricted space so for me the choice is simple. The 34" 16x9 set. I will wait to see what the toshiba has to offer when it is released. But right now the Pani looks like a winner and at a price cut of over $1000 from the previous model, I think it's a good deal. And besides, it is 16x9 so when all the cable networks convert I won't have useless space on my TV. I don't know, just a thought. Although I still haven't ruled out the 32" sets completely. Depending on the price difference as to wether or not the 34" is worth it.
     
  15. Brent Hutto

    Brent Hutto Supporting Actor

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    There is one other way in the which a 34" widescreen is more convinient than a 36" 4:3 set. If you put both of them up where the center of the picture is eye level, the widescreen set won't put your center-channel speaker so high above your head.

    At any rate, I just bought the local Circuit City's last Hitachi 36UDX10S. I think it will be enough nicer than my 27" analog Trinitron that I'll forget I ever heard of Panasonic (except my DVD player, of course). I also picked up my Lord of the Rings DVD which will be the first thing I play on the new screen once I've calibrated it.
     
  16. Brent Hutto

    Brent Hutto Supporting Actor

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    Well, heck.

    I was all happy with my choice of the Hitachi 36UDX10S, even though I hadn't actually seen it displaying a DVD. I had seen mention of the "810 lines" thing but had not followed up on what that means until now.

    It turns out that what "810 lines" means is that when I play an anamorphic DVD and set the TV to 16:9 mode, the TV is going to strip every fourth line out of the picture.

    So the only difference between the Panasonic (which requires me to play anamorphic DVD's on 4:3 mode) and the Hitachi is that with the Panasonic my DVD player is discarding every fourth line and with the Hitachi it's the TV doing it. So the choice is whether to throw away 1/4 the resolution of the movie before or after it's upconverted to 1080i/540p or whatever.

    Which brings up another thing. I've seen hints that the Hitachi upconverts all its 480i/480p inputs to 540p, much like the Toshiba. So that would mean my DVD pictures would be smeared by an illegitimate upconversion and then have 1/4 of the remaining information discarded.

    Geez, no wonder people will pay $2,300 for a Sony...
     
  17. Bob S

    Bob S Extra

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    Brent,
    I had initially thought that the Toshiba 36AF72 (and 32AF72) had the anamorphic squeeze like the Sony does but from now reading the specs more closely, the Toshiba appears to only squeeze on 1080i HD content just like the Panny. [​IMG]
    I appreciate how you have kept us informed of your "anamorphic adventures" because I have learned a lot from this thread.
    Personally, I'm not sure what I'm going to do now since the Tosh and Panny lack 16:9 for anamorphics, but the Sony I lust after is 3/8" wider than my entertainment center opening.
     
  18. Brent Hutto

    Brent Hutto Supporting Actor

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    Bob S said...
    "Personally, I'm not sure what I'm going to do now since the Tosh and Panny lack 16:9 for anamorphics, but the Sony I lust after is 3/8" wider than my entertainment center opening."

    Well, I'm putting it on a TV stand so width is not a problem. The Sony I desire is about 3/8 of a thousand dollars over my budget, alas.
     
  19. Brent Hutto

    Brent Hutto Supporting Actor

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    OK, let's put it another way.

    Other than a) the staggering cost and b) the fact that it's huge, silver and ugly...

    Is there any reason not to buy a Sony Wega 36XBR800?

    By that I mean, if I want a 36", 4:3 Aspect Ratio, HD-ready, direct-view television to watch DVD's on then are the any major gotcha's involved with the XBR?

    It does the squeeze, it never messes with 540p, it has adjustments for everything under the sun (including user-menu access to disable SVM) and the picture looks great. Please tell me now if it has some fatal flaw that nobody has mentioned before.

    I'm tired and I want a Sony. So there it is.
     
  20. jeff lam

    jeff lam Screenwriter

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    The only complaint I have heard about with the XBR's is the geometry issues but that's an issue with all flatscreen sets. Sometimes you get lucky and sometimes you don't. Other than that, there is nothing to complain about with the XBR's. Get one already, it's worth the extra $$$!!![​IMG]
     

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