Originally Posted by dborgill
Thinking about testing the strength of my marriage, biting the bullet and getting the PN64F8500..
The frustrating thing is if I had the 5500, S64 and 8500 all sitting next to each other, how big of difference would the black levels/colors really be? I'm 10' away and once again, care NOTHING for 3d, bells and whistles or anything. The price differences are so huge though, I just want to make the best decision before all three disappear for good..
somewhat depends on your viewing conditions. the f8500 has the best screen filter of any tv I've owned. it actually makes the blacks appear darker when the lights in the room get brighter! so if you were watching with ambient lighting, I would say the difference would be very noticeable.
however, viewing in total darkness, the blacks levels of the s64 and f5500 would only be slightly worse than the f8500. probably not noticeable unless you did side by side comparisons.
last year when I bought the f8500, it's main competition was the st60, vt60 and zt60. I felt in most viewing conditions, the blacks, contrast, and shadow detail were basically a tie. I know for sure that the st60, vt60, and zt60 are capable of deeper blacks, but I was never able to view those TV's under the conditions necessary to make that noticeable(too bad, as it may have swayed my decision at the time). I chose the f8500 for some of the untangibles. it appeared clearer to me, like it had less noticeable pixel structure, which is weird, because I believe the panny's actually have less space between their pixels(at least vertically). it was also several hundred cheaper than the vt60, and almost a grand cheaper than the zt60, so that ended up being the deciding factor for me.
anyway, I would say you should still be ok with the s64, from what I remember it's only slightly lower quality than the st60, and the st60 was every bit as good as the f8500 in a dark room imo. the key to the f8500 is that is was equally good in all environments. some stores put them out with the led's on the bright showroom and they looked right at home. others had them in the dim plasma section, where they also grabbed your attention. now that I've owned one for awhile, I'm also incredibly impressed with it's resistance to IR(something I've heard some complaints about with the panny's). but I've also found out that it's stellar blacks are a bit of a trick, and where I was reading reviews that suggested the f8500 should have black levels as good as the vt60, it's really more like the s60 in real world viewing.
Originally Posted by Archon
The F8500 has under gone a severe downgrade in black level and brightness since it went on sale last year. Some say it's firmware, some say it's the panel. In either case, the S64 represents a great picture and value and not worth skipping for double the price and risk your marriage for the weakened F8500.
this is nonsense. at the shootout d-nice mentioned a fw update that reduced floating blacks, at the expense of brightness and black levels, but that fw update happened a year ago. there is no reason to suddenly consider the f8500 'less' of a tv, because it's been in this 'post-fw' condition that it's received most of its praise. I would also point out that it was in this 'weakened' state that the f8500 managed to blow away the 'best' lcd's on the market and compete with the oleds(beat them in some categories).
besides that, I've owned the f8500 for about 16months, and I think it looks as good today as the day I bought it.
in fact, I remember being hesitant to do this fw upgrade after ppl started complaining about it. but when I did, I set up my camera and took before/after shots, using the same exposure/iso/etc.
i'll let you guess which is before and which is after(you may be able to tell by the clock if you can make it out)