Originally Posted by biggerdaddynj
(When reading this please be mindful of the fact that I am not a videophile nor do I profess to have any video acumen--I'm just an average guy looking for help).
I took the plunge into the HDTV world with a Sony KDL-46XBR4 about five years ago--read David Katzmaier's CNET review in '07 and found posters who agreed it was the best LCD at the time. Last year, I decided to move that set into the bedroom and to replace it. Found AVS and another "High Def forum" that convinced me that my next set would be a plasma. The reviews of Panny's latest line of plasmas sealed the deal.
After watching prices for a year, I recently bought a 55GT50 that was delivered yesterdy. Hooked it up to my FIOS via HDMI and did the same with my DVD player and PS3--had to stick with component with the Wii. Bought the GT over the ST due to many posters noting the multiple presets including some that allegedly gave you a great PQ out of the box especially for brighter rooms. I added Katzmaier's settings for my custom preset.
I hate to say this but I am disappointed in the picture. Using the Katzmaier preset, which appears to be the recommended normal everyday viewing mode, regardless of the lighting in the room, I still find the picture (though very nice looking) to be "dull" and "flat" (my wife says it's "dark"). The "whites" aren't white--they appear washed out. As for Standard mode, I might as well be wearing a veil! Haven't used the PS3 yet or watched Blurays but frankly 99% of my viewing time will be cable via FIOS. Since all of the experts agree that I have a great set and am using well-reviewed settings, I can't help but to think, that the problem is with me. I tried the THX Bright and the Vivid presets but they were over the top.
Has my 5 years of LCD viewing on a "Modified Vivid" setting robbed me of my ability to enjoy a real, high quality PQ? Though I don't know if I will ever be able to enjoy "normal" settings, I have to think there is hope for me. Taking the Katzmaier settings into consideration:
can anyone recommend some modifications to save my GT from being returned? I'm looking for something that's not dull/dark/etc...
Thanks for your help and patience!!!
Very interesting comments BidDaddy which I can relate to and in some aspects share. For the past 5 years our only TV set in the house has been a 46" XBR4 in a family room with multiple windows on 2 different walls (very bright room). We probably sit 8-9 feet away from the screen (maybe less). Anyone who has come over and watched OTA HDTV on this set has been simply amazed by the picture - bright, crystal clear, very rich colours. During the day with our window blinds open (unless it is overcast) our viewing mode is the default VIVID setting. I actually think I have one of the picture settings cranked up even higher b/c the room can go so bright. When lighting is controlled I have my own CUSTOM setting I use which is geared towards getting the best contrast. As great as this XBR4 set has been/continues to be, I've known all these years that once the basement was finished a plasma was going down there. On certain Blu Ray movies the motion jitter or blurring on the XBR4 is very bad. Try watching the scene in the Dark Knight on BD when that long haired euro gangster stooge meets up with Dr. Crane/Scarcrow's crew in the parking garage at night... (remember, when the phony batman posse shows up? "My dog's are hungry"). The motion blur is so bad in that scene, especially when they haul out the junkie from the van and throw him onto the floor. There's actually several parts in the Dark Night on BD that are like this. For some reason the "CINEMA" view mode works the best at reducing the motion blur but its still there. Another thing I've learned to live with is that the XBR4's contrast ratio is not that great. In a well lit room the TV can make blacks look ink black by delivering such an awesome bright and intense picture, but in a dark room it can't hide its limitations. I often strive to get the blacks on a TV to blend with the black bezel or frame, so for example 2.35:1 aspect movies that show black bars top and bottom I like when these black bars on the image completely blend in with the black bezel around the screen, so that in a dark room you only see the actual 2.35:1 image on screen completely surrounded by black. This is impossible to achieve with our XBR4's even with the back light set to 0 and the picture settings significantly reduced. Many times did I try to hit this milestone until the day I realised when the image on screen is COMPLETELY black and the TV has even auto dimmed itself (after a perceived amount of time being all dark) the black screen will still light up a totally dark room lol. The black bars will always look greyish next to the TV's black bezel. But even having said all this and knowing the screen's weak points, this dinosaur of a TV set still delivers an awesome picture in the room it was intended for. I wouldn't consider replacing it with anything else. BTW I personally do not like the new LED LCD's - does anybody else find those new LED back lights deliver an almost unnatural hue? Like you can tell the brightness is artificial??
Well then, the basement was finally finished - like in the last 2 weeks!
I haven't had much time to sit down there b/c furniture has yet to be delivered but my new 65" Panasonic GT50 is up on the wall and the home theatre is all connected. I've been down there with a folding chair a couple times in the last week to play around and slowly dial everything together. Some of my observations mirror what you said BidDaddy - the picture on the GT50 is definitely "dimmer" overall. Less intense/vivid would probably be the best way to describe it. I also find that watching OTA on the Panny is not as "clear" or "sharp" as it is on our Sony... I read a comment posted by another member to this effect. But there are a few things to consider: I'm sitting (or will be sitting) 15 feet away from my GT50 downstairs (screen to eyes). With the TV now mounted and me placing a chair dead center 15ft away, this monster 65" actually looks small for the space believe it or not. But what I'm getting at is the advent of High Definition television actually reduced the ideal seating distances based on screen sizes due to the increased picture detail. When I move my folding chair and sit 10-12ft away from the screen the image starts to look sharper and clearer. I should have speced my seating a few feet closer now that the TV is here. Also consider that a smaller size screen will ALWAYS make the same picture appear clearer and sharper. As for the dim image, well that is the nature of the beast. I'm sure we can play around with the VIVID setting on the GT50 to chase the kind of stand out picture we are accustomed to enjoying on our Sony's, but that's really not what you want to do with a set like this. In fact, this is fastest way to run into IR issues. Like you I have used Cnet's custom settings on my GT50 as well as Black Op's setting (which are almost identical except for brightness being bumped up 8 points). I've compared Custom setting to THX Cinema and even tweaked THX Cinema the few times I've been down with my set. I think if you explore the options this TV set has you will able to find a really good sweet spot. I think I'm getting close. **Another thing I will share with you BidDaddy is that LIGHTING CONDITIONS makes all the difference in the world when viewing this set. The times I had the TV running for exercise while I was setting up other things in the basement with the "big lights" on, yes the screen looked very dim regardless where/how I looked at it. THX Cinema is not a great mode to use with any sort of useable lighting present. But the minute I killed the lights completely or set the pot lights to an extremely low ambient level, boy was that when I started to really get lost in the picture! These GT50's shine in the dark. I think back to those nights when I'd kill the lights upstairs and fight with my Sony to try and get the greyish bars on the screen to look just a little closer to actual black, and now I'm in heaven. I'm actually really impressed with how "film like" the image on the GT50 is. And I've only just started to explore and realise the potential of this black beauty
Final thought/suggestion: if you REALLY want to wow your wife. Watch a really dynamic image on your XBR4 in Vivid mode or your customized one, then sit down in front of your GT50 with the lights dimmed at least (or better yet completely dark), and watch something 3D on this set. I didn't buy the TV for the 3D feature but I got a bunch of 3D glasses and promotional disks from our buddy at Panasonic who got us the TV, and it is simply stunning. The other night I watched a demo scene of the Grand Canyon in 3D... its like watching Vivid on the Sony x 10 in 3D! Crazy.
Give the GT50 time. You'll soon discover how awesome this set is. And remember room lighting is everything! There's no way this new GT50 would ever be able to compete with my XBR4 upstairs, just as the XBR4 would never dare set foot in the basement now that the black Panasonic has moved in HUUUAAAHAHAHAHAHA!!! :P