So, I've had a 50" S60 in my living room for the past 48 hours. I'm glad to say, this set is awesome. Being that this is my first time owning a plasma, I had the usual concerns...
Heat generation - kept the thing on for 16 hours straight on day 1, and by the end it wasn't hot at all. maybe a little warm, but no more so than a crt would be.
Audible buzzing - with a high APL image on the screen, I was able to hear the slightest of buzzes if I put my ear within 6 inches of either side of the tv. darker screens and further distance, and i couldn't hear any buzz at all. even with a bright image, there was no buzz that i could hear directly in front of the screen no matter how close i got. only the side edges, and i guess probably the back, had the slight buzz.
Image retention - I know, I know, break in period and all that, but being a first-time plasma owner I wanted to see if I could produce some mild IR just so I could get a feel of how easy it is to make happen, and how hard it would be to remove. On the first night, after the tv had been on with 16:9 content for about 12 hours, I watched Wall-E in 2.35:1 ratio with black bars on top and bottom. The movie is about 1h 45min, and when it was over I threw up a solid light gray screen to check for IR. I couldn't see any IR at all. The following day I watched almost 4 hours of baseball with static score graphics in the corner. This was on mlb.tv, so during commercial breaks there was a mostly static slate with the mlb logo in the center. I put up that gray screen again when the game was over, and I couldn't see any trace of the graphics left behind.
Glare/Reflections - yes, this is a giant piece of glass with no anti-glare coating, but I found that this wasn't much of an issue in my room. I have a south-facing window to the left of the tv (left while facing the tv), and an east-facing window on the wall opposite the tv, but not directly in front of the screen. I get the most light during the morning hours, but none of it is direct sunlight thanks to some helpful oak tree coverage. Even in the brightest conditions, the reflections on the screen are not that bad. If you have more troublesome window arrangements, I could see this being an issue, but really once you turn the tv on it's own brightness overpowers all the reflections except in the darkest scenes. Once I get past noon or 1pm, my room gets dimmer and even the slight issues disappear.
Screen Brightness - I've never had a plasma of my own, but I have several friends with older model plasmas from various brands. Compared to those, this tv is bright! It is bright and the colors are rich and the blacks are dark. What more can I ask for?
So that's all good!
As for calibration, I am not a pro calibrator. I do my best with test patterns, but my priority is always on my own enjoyment and not 100% accuracy, so honestly I have no idea if the settings I ended up with are 'correct.' My only input source to this tv is a mac mini htpc running XBMC, hdmi to my sony soundbar system, and then hdmi to the tv. I'd say about 95% of my viewing is from within XBMC, with the rest through browser web players.
When I first hooked it up, I ran through the mac's color profile setup through system preferences. Ended up setting the mini to output a target 2.2 gamma level, and the white point balance set to native. That's not all that interesting, and it's what I expected. I then pulled up the basic avs709 test pattern mp4's from within XBMC, since that's how I'll be watching most everything. I set the tv picture to cinema mode, but before I even touched any other settings, I found that I had to tweak XBMC's own picture settings first. (For those unaware, XBMC has brightness and contrast sliders that can be adjusted for each video being played, and it can save and apply those settings to all videos or remember specific settings for individual videos. The slider goes from 1-100 with the default at 50.) On the black level pattern, I had to push XBMC's brightness up to 54 to make the flashing bars visible enough to work with. On the white level pattern, I had to decrease the contrast to 48 to see enough white bars flashing. I saved and applied these adjustments globally within XBMC.
I'm at work right now, so I don't have all the specific tv settings I finally went with, but here's the gist of it.
I saw a big difference for the better when I enabled the 1080p 4:4:4 setting. I googled around, but couldn't definitively find whether my mac mini outputs 4:4:4 color gamut, but I'm guessing it does since turning the setting on made the rest of the calibration easier.
I set panel brightness to Mid, thanks to looking at fairchild's settings. I honestly could not tell much difference between the Mid and High settings in either a bright or dark room, but both seemed to give a more lively picture than Low.
Black level is set to Light. Color gamut is Normal.
Color temp, I went with Warm 1 based on personal preference. Warm 2 was too warm for me. I turned off all the extra processing stuff like CATS, black extension, noise reduction, etc, etc. I couldn't see any difference between Vivid Color being on or off, looking at bright outdoor scenes from Planet Earth, so I left it turned off.
Then I went back to the black level pattern and started messing with the picture settings finally. I had to drop the brightness down to about -9, I think, to compensate for raising the brightness within XBMC. Black levels came out PERFECT. So very, very black. Bar 16 reference black stayed black, and bar 17 could be seen blinking ever so slightly. Later on, I put on Return of the King with the scene where Frodo is creeping through the icky spider cave, and the shadow detail in the rock backgrounds blew me away.
On the white level test pattern, I found that my XBMC contrast setting was the more important one to calibrate, as by default it was clipping the whites. Like I said before, at the default 50, I couldn't see any bars blinking at all, regardless of what I did with the tv contrast. Dropping the XBMC contrast to 48 I got blinking white bars visible to I think 237 or 238 (234 is reference white). Then I went back to the tv's contrast, which on Cinema is set to 85 by default, and I found that changing the setting had no effect on whether more or less white bars became visible/invisible. I'm not sure if I'm clueless and doing something wrong here. Lowering the contrast, even all the way down to 0, made the screen dimmer but the same number of bars could be seen. Raising it all the way to 100 made the screen brighter, but again no change in how many blinking bars I could see. So I kept it at 85, since that was the default for the Cinema profile. (By comparison, the Home Theater profile has contrast at 100.) Later, while watching Wall-E, I pushed the contrast up to 95, then backed it off to 90, and I think that's got it looking best according to my personal preferences. (If anyone has any ideas on how I could set the tv contrast 'correctly' feel free to educate me, but I'm quite happy with my current end result.)
Color stepping was almost perfect, with just the brightest two steps blending together on green and cyan. If I worked at it, I'm sure I could get those steps to differentiate, but I'm not all that concerned.
For tweaking the colors, I popped in an episode of Star Trek TNG from the season 2 bluray. I literally grew up watching TNG when it first aired, and I've probably gone through the entire series 5 more times in the 20 years since it's ended, so I can confidently say I KNOW what the color of those red, yellow, and blue uniforms should look like, or I at least have a strong preference. The only adjustment I ended up making was increasing the Red Hue a few points (to +3, I think, but I'd have to check). At 0, the reds in Picard's uniform looked a tad on the purplish side, so pushing it up to +3 had it looking more red to my eyes. As I watched this episode and other programming after, I ended up increasing the overall Color setting a bit. I had pushed it up as high as 60, but I think I ended up backing it off a bit to 57 or 58. Again, I'd have to check when I get home because my memory is notsogood.
Somewhere in the middle of this process I experimented with the tv's gamma setting and adjusted the brightness accordingly with 2.2 (default), 2.4 and 2.6, but I think it looked best with the 2.2 default, so that's where I left it.
And that's about it! I watched Wall-E and ESPN and baseball and an episode of Planet Earth and some other stuff, and, to me, the picture is the most perfect picture I've ever seen outside a reference monitor. I know this is probably old news to folks who've owned plasmas before, but I turned off all the lights and had the room pitch dark, then had the tv on and resting on a full black screen, and the room stayed DARK. I could see the rectangle of the tv lit up ever so slightly, of course, but it output almost no light into the room and I ended up stubbing my toe really bad on the coffee table. Comparing this to every LCD I've ever had, I was pretty amazed.
Not sure what else I can say, but if anyone has any questions for me, I'm happy to do some experimenting with my tv on your behalf. Of course, given that I'm using a mac mini with XBMC as my primary (and likely only) input, I know the settings I ended up with are tailored specifically to the output of that computer and probably won't work perfectly when inputting from dedicated bluray players or cable boxes, but if you want to know the precise settings I ended up with I'm happy to take a look when I get home. Likewise if anyone has any tips on how I can get it looking even better than it looks now, I'm all ears, though I have to say I have a hard time imagining how much better it could possibly look.
Hope this helped anyone who's thinking of picking one of these up!