Originally Posted by eagle_2
Okay I finally hit my 100 hours and got to try out a variety of media today on my ST50.
I'm not especially happy at the moment, but since I'm gonna concentrate on the negatives, let me get this out of the way first:
The picture looks amazing. I'm comparing this to my previous D7000, so I'm rather used to the image I was watching on that, which was also amazing (except for the horrendous fluctuating brightness in dark scenes which is why I own the ST50 now). I've also gone from a 50" D7000 to the 55" ST50 so the screen is larger as well, so of course things will look different. Since I've been watching the new Galactica on my D7000 I watched an episode of that tonight on the ST50. I was very happy with the image (I tried CNET's and D-Nice's settings to compare and they're both quite similar overall). Exceptional black levels as far as I could tell (I'm certainly no expert), and not a single instance of fluctuating brightness
! That alone made want to get up and cheer after the episode was over. I can't tell you how annoyed I was with the fluctuating brightness issue with the D7000 - not a hint of it here. Every single scene remained solid throughout. The color was deep and rich (in fact I might even back off slightly on the color saturation since I don't like the color too saturated but that's a matter of personal preference - for now I'm leaving it alone and seeing how I like it as is for a while). So picture-wise, I am so far very happy. I saw no sign of that weird line on the right of the screen, but then I didn't expect to since it's so hard to see even on the slides. I'm still wondering what that's about though.
So why am I not especially happy then? Because I was going to be relying on the built-in media player to handle my media playback, since money is so tight after this purchase. And all I can say is - shame on Panasonic for this media player.
Where do I begin? Well, the first thing I noticed after I copied a bunch of different file types onto a memory stick and inserted it into the USB port is it didn't play a whole bunch of files on it - it did not play any .mov files. Nor did it play any avi files (xvid/divx5/divx3, etc.). No .wmv playback either. The media player informed me that it doesn't support internal .mkv subtitles. Seriously? Is this a joke? It also couldn't play a .vob file (from a DVD) encoded in 25fps without stuttering wildly every half-second. It wouldn't play .wav files either. At least it played flac which is a plus. But no .ape support (which I already knew).
It gets worse. I tried playing an mkv file with DTS audio. It said audio format not supported and played the file with no audio. I tried another mkv file with DTS and it also wouldn't play the audio. A third file with DTS also didn't play audio. I then tried an mkv file with AC3 audio and it played. So DTS is not supported
- even though when I asked a few days ago when I called Panasonic, the customer service rep said yes, not only will it play DTS, it will pass it through optical and HDMI ARC
. WRONG! No DTS
. The D7000 supported 5.1 DTS and passed it through optical.
Then I started playing an mkv with AC3. As I feared after an earlier post here - it does
do frame interpolation when playing any 23.976fps MKV files when 24p Direct in is set to 60Hz. Even with frame smoothing turned off in the video player mode, and the tv set to 60Hz, (3:2 pulldown is greyed out for some reason), if you play any 23.976 material from its internal media player, it will still apply some frame interpolation when converting to 60Hz. - that means nasty "soap opera effect". At first it looked much worse but after I realized the media player mode had independent settings and I turned the motion smoother to off, it improved greatly. It does still appear to apply some interpolation though, and that's very unfortunate. It's somewhat mild yet still distracting and unpleasant for anyone who doesn't like that look. I'm considering calling Panasonic about this tomorrow to see what they say (like it matters). I'm not sure why 3:2 pulldown is greyed out for the video playback mode though.
I also hated the interface for the player - if it encountered a long file name, too bad - instead of scrolling it, it just cuts it off so you get to guess what it says. The D7000 scrolled the filename automatically. The D7000 also didn't apply this dreadful frame interpolation. Of course the D7000 also had a proper 96Hz mode, unlike the poor 48Hz mode in this set and the GT50.
Another thing is the "info" button which tells you nothing useful. It doesn't even tell you the framerate of the file you're playing.
So yeah, I'm disappointed with the media player, big time. The media player is crap, and Panasonic lied to me about DTS support. That means I have no media player until I fork over some money which I don't have for a media player. How can Panasonic screw up a media player this badly? And what were they thinking using frame interpolation even when it is turned off?
I also tried out some jpeg images in the photo viewer and selected auto transition effects, and I noticed that it struggles with the effects, often exhibiting "tearing" and slight stuttering. Why include transition effects if they look awful? Just include fade and be done with it, at least that looks good. The wipe effect just don't look so good - maybe the dual-processor GT50 handles that better?
I'm not giving up yet on this tv, and like I said, the picture so far is gorgeous, but this media player is worthless to me, and the forced frame interpolation of 24fps material is a major kick in the head for those of us who hate that effect. If it's set to off then it should be off, plain and simple.
And lastly, I'm not trying to offend anyone here - please don't hit me with "you should have researched this more blah blah blah" because I did - tons of research, even calling Panasonic, which just led to misinformation. And nowhere do they boast about their forced interpolation of 24fps material. I'm just letting others here know up-front some of the issues they are likely to experience with this set. The image is indeed fantastic, and that is certainly the most important thing, but why include a media player that is so crippled?