So based on some of the reports here, I made a special trip to Robert's VE store just to check out the brightness pops. Robert & Wendy fed the same signal through to the 60" F8500, 64" F8500 and 55" E8000. Since the E8000 doesn't have these reported brightness pops, we used that as a benchmark in the event we saw something on the plasmas. We certainly know it has no impact from ABL since there is no ABL on the F8000.
So after spending about 2 hours with different material, mostly bright, and yes, hockey, lots of hockey
, here's what we saw:
* Initially, watching a bunch of hockey on Directv, we saw no brightness pops. We saw plenty of camera flashes that were easily discernible on all units and we were beginning to doubt we'd see it at all.
* However, after about 10 minutes of doing this, I finally spotted a scene where the camera panned along the ice toward a goal, and I was pretty sure I saw 2 distinct pops in succession. We re-cued the scene and Robert saw it too. They were two distinct (relatively speaking since we were really examining this closely) brightness inceases in rapid sequence. The first brightened the picture a bit and the 2nd a bit more. It was 100% repeatable every time we played that scene back.
* To confirm this was not in the source, we went over the F8000 and played the scene again. No pops.
* We looked for more instances of this with more hockey, a BD that had plenty of downhill skiing containing brilliant full-screen and nearly full-screen snow and frequent periods of skiers going into shade. So IOW, a rapid bright-dark-bright transition not unlike the hockey game. We saw nothing, zero, nada. There was just no popping to be seen.
* Going back to the popping we did see in that one scene, we found the magnitude of the impact of the camera flashes during the hockey game to be more distracting than the one clear instance of the brightness pop. The camera flashes were just brighter and more intrusive in both Robert's and my opinion. You simply can't watch these games without almost constant flashes. So the impact of that one instance of popping was, IMO, just not anything to get nuts over. YMMV.
* Now for the good news for those that are bothered by this (count me as one definitely not based on what we saw). We tried the "Cal Day" mode that Kevin had calibrated previously. We re-cued the scene where the pops were visible and this time, nothing, nada, zippo
. The Cal Day mode totally, 100% got rid of the one instance of popping that we saw. This was true of both the 60" and 64" F8500.
* So it would appear there is definitely some setting or combination of settings, contained within the Cal Day grouping, that eliminates this popping.
* Again, on these calibrated F8500s, Robert and I were just not at all 'wowed' by even that one instance of 'popping'. In fact we had to show it to Wendy about 3 times before she was able to pick it up. But I did see it on the first instance of playback, and I think Robert did too. But again, that was it and we spent 2 hours looking for additional instances with no success...and trust me, we looked really closely
just for this issue.
Personally, I feel much better about this issue after spending some 'quality time' with Robert and his calibrated displays.
I really appreciate Robert & Wendy spending the time to do this. I will tell you with all sincerity that Robert absolutely wanted to identify both the presence and magnitude of the issue. He had zero desire to close his eyes to this. Despite only being able to see that once instance of this popping, Robert will mention it to the Execs at Samsung to see if they can confirm it and, if necessary, come up with a fix for it.
But it's important to note that using the Cal Day mode, even the one identified instance of popping was eliminated totally.
I'll tell you the truth, for me coming from an LED, I have to get re-acclimated to judder in plasmas which I find more distracting than the popping that i saw today. I know some don't like the blurring of LEDs with motion, but to me this is far more natural than judder in plasmas. But hey, I lived with it before in my Kuros & Fujitsus, I can live with it again. And no, I didn't notice judder any worse than the VT50 or other plasmas I've seen and lived with.
Again, these were my observations and yours may differ. Just be aware that what you see in retailers are displays that are simply not adjusted anywhere near their capabilities.