Originally Posted by LordAlfred
I've been using a 55ET5 from Best Buy for the past 3 weeks.
Some background: I have had a 50" Sony SXRD for years, and the bulb went out again. Tired of the bulb issues and slight fuzziness due to imperfect convergence (not to mention the threat of green blobs developing), I decided to purchase a new TV. I am a big gamer, and I had heard nothing but recommendations for the Panny plasma line due to the low input lag. So first, I tried a 55" Panny 55ST30 which was on clearance. Great PQ, but the thing buzzed horribly in bright scenes, and it was quite audible at a 10' seating distance. I adjusted brightness and contrast to try to eliminate it but could not. So, I just got a "bad" one, right. I took that back. There were no more ST30s so I ponied up for a new 55ST50. PQ is overall great but It too buzzed audibly on bright/white scenes (the Wii menus were a nightmare), and line bleed was annoying. Also, I have come to find that I am very susceptible to flicker, and I could "see" it in the plasma picture on bright scenes which made it hard to watch for more than a few hours. Active 3D also gave me headaches for the same reason. So, the 55ST50 went back. The Best Buy floor model also buzzed, so I finally admitted to myself that plasma simply wasn't for me and I'd have to make do with LCD. The Best Buy rep encouraged me to make another exchange. Enter the 55ET5.
The Good: Overall there is a lot to like in the set:
- The picture is very detailed and rock solid. In fact, I find the image to appear far more sharp and detailed than the plasmas did. As for PQ, I think it is technically worse than the plasmas but it is more pleasing to my eyes. There appears to be less judder, and on some content I found the plasma to be too "contrasty". I think the reason I like the LCD better is because I spent so much time with my rear-projection unit and was used to the less-than-stellar black levels.After some fiddling I was able to get colors the way I wanted them for the most part but its not perfect. I used the Disney WOW disc for calibration.
- I like the Panasonic menu system.
- I don't have a CRT monitor to test for lag but I can tell you that I don't detect it in "Game" mode any more than on the plasmas. However, the non "game" modes are noticeably laggy but that's to be expected.
- The internet platform and apps, media player, etc. are the same as the plasmas, and I liked those. I also like the iOS app that Panny has for their sets.
- Motion handling also seems fine.
- Passive 3D is far and away the better solution right now, at least for me. No flicker and no crosstalk which were both a big issue for me on the plasmas. Yes, you lose some detail but from a normal viewing distance it works very well in practice.
The Bad: Unfortunately there are plenty of negatives as well:
- Black levels are not good, but as I stated above this doesn't bother me too much as I rarely watch movies and never in a darkened room.
- In "Game" mode there is an odd visual artifact that is sometimes visible on glowing bright colors that shows up as very regular vertical bands. This goes away as soon as you switch the TV to a non-game picture mode. It doesn't show up often but it is occasionally noticeable in some game content. (I noticed it in the glowing blue sections of Marcus' uniform in Gears of War 3). Not sure what is causing that. You can see it in certain regular TV content if you leave the "Game" mode on so it's not in the source.
- There are no detailed color correction controls in the menus, so if you can't fix a color imbalance using the standard Color, Tint, and Color Temp, you are out of luck.
- There is some minor flashlighting in the corners and on the left hand side but again this is not something that shows up in normal viewing for me.
- Backlight uniformity issues. The worst thing is that the picture is slightly darker toward the very top and bottom of the screen. This wouldn't be too bad but it is not consistent all the way across and there are patches of lighter and darker screen. When the camera pans horizontally it becomes very apparent and my eye is drawn up to it. Sadly, this is the deal-killer.
So, I am going to return the set. I can say that I do like the TV a lot, and for me
it was a better set than the plasmas I tried. If this set did not have the backlight uniformity issues at the top and bottom I would keep it for sure, the overall experience otherwise is pretty great. When the second plasma didn't work out I went ahead and ordered a replacement bulb for my Sony (~$40) so I can just go back to my old TV for now as my wife is very annoyed at the parade of TVs we've had lately and I don't want to exchange yet again in hopes of getting a good panel which might end up being worse. I will say that if my SXRD dies or gets the blobs I will definitely try another 55ET5 and see if I can get a more uniform screen.