It's been a long while since I've posted here on AVS but I recently picked up this set from Costco and I thought I might chime in with some information that I have YET to see stated ANY WHERE on the net about the Costco version of this TV.
While I do like this set quite a bit, there is one caveat that every informed user should know is that this "Costco version of the 55le50" LACKS GAME MODE. It took me a bit of hoopla to figure it out, through reading numerous user reviews of the LE50 (which is suppose to be the same), Game Mode is apparently missing from the LE54. I wasted a good amount of time sifting through the LE50 downloadable pdf manual, googling and even calling Panny support (nice lady but she was as useful as a tits on a bullfrog). I even went a far as to go back to Costco and look at one of their display models thinking maybe the latest firmware I updated when connecting to the TV's internet features removed it or something and here's what I found:
Mine with the latest firmware:
Costco's display model showing older firmware mode:
But even with that older firmware Costco Display model, Game is not an option in Picture Mode:
Just Vivid, Standard, Cinema and Custom. Check Viera Tools and it's not there either.
It wasn't until I went back home and found the actual E54 (not E50) model pdf manual and did a word search for "game" to find that it said "no matches" vs the several that come up with the E50 pdf manual. Then it hit me, I realized it isn't a bug or "hidden" but rather AS DESIGNED.
Now why Panny felt the need to exclude a Game mode on the Costco model vs the normal E50 is beyond me considering they're the same effing set. I know this is a deal breaker for most gamers. If you think just simply turning off all the picture enhancements like the frame interpolation and stuff will make enough of the difference, let me be the first to tell you, it won't. The input latency is quite bad. I would say unplayable - it bothers me even to move my mouse around windows on my HTPC.
For me, surprisingly, even though I have such gamer roots, this does not bother me as I pretty much never play games in the living room. I have several other IPS based HDTV sets that I use for my PC & Consoles which use as my gaming rigs which perform far better (around 30ms of input lag). But for those of you who want this set to play your consoles on, you might be sorely disappointed with the E54 and should purchase the regular E50. Amazon sells it for a decent price but if you return it, you'll have to eat a $61 shipping cost because this display is a beast! 75lbs shipping weight for the 55". Ask me how I know, lol! For me, sure I'd like it, but I don't *need* as I know others do.
As far as picture settings go, I've found the settings ShinobiX stated for his E50 panel to be quite outstanding. It manages to bring out a ton of shadow detail while still maintaining a lot of "pop". I'm guessing his trick of jacking up the brightness so high but using the Black Level setting to "Dark" to bring it back down to normal is what's pulling this off. With this i'm seeing details in dark movies I've never even seen before (I guess my old set was crushing blacks and I didn't know) For your convenience, I'll post his settings here:
"Picture Mode: Standard
Back light +85
Color temp. - Normal
Color mgmt. - Off
A.I. picture - On
C.A.T.S. - Off
Video NR - Auto
Block NR - Auto
Mosquito NR - On
Motion Picture Setting - Weak
Black level - Dark
Eco Power Settings - Standard"
The only thing I modified from his settings was to turn off AI Picture, Video NR, Block NR, and lowered the brightness to 80 to compensate for AI Picture being turned off... oh and I turned down the sharpness to 30. Sharpness that high looks cool on some content but brings out a ton of grain on less than ideal content (ie. poor blue ray transfers, etc). Also looks like **** on my PC, 30 sharpness is about as high as I can get away with when viewing stuff on the HTPC.
With these settings, I continuously get blown away at how effing awesome the Smart TV's Hulu plus content appears. For 860 + wireless adapter + costco's free extra years warranty, I feel this TV is a bit of a sleeper as far as value when compared to other TVs on the market. In fact I even had Costco's Samsung ES6150 side by side and the Panny won overall as far as PQ.
The Samsung has * slightly* better black levels but had worse viewing angles, quite pronounced corner flashlighting (which was the dealbreaker for me because it continually distracted me) yet cost more despite it's huge sale of -$800 off (it's back up to $1400 now I believe). Both the Panny and the Samsung I cherry picked and chose the most pristine box they had on the floor so I don't think I've received a bad set of either. The Samsung's media player did have less problems with my blueray rips - it was most friendly with varying audio streams of my mkv files. Something to note, the Panny is nearly double the weight of the same size Samsung and is definitely far, FAR more sturdily built that the Samsung. Samsung loooooves their plastic. Makes for light lifting but questionable durability.
Hopefully Panny will update their player's file format and audio stream playing capability and for GOD SAKES implement game mode back in to the Costco LE54 model as it appears in the E50. Panasonic, if you're reading this. Please considering it - you're losing out to a huge market of strapped gamers who can afford your lower pricepoint - all they need is that already great Game Mode that exist in the E50 panel. Virtually no work and it's a win win.