Here are some initial impressions of my 42PX60U.
First let me start off with some background info. I am not a videophile by any means. I don't have any fancy equipment to measure brightness or contrast so you will not find any numbers in this review. But I try to obtain the best picture quality within reason. This is my first plasma TV so I will not be able to make a good comparison with other plasmas. My only experiences with plasmas comparisons are in store demos but those are difficult to interpret because the factory settings are always way off. This plasma will be replacing a Sony HS500 which is a 32 CRT HDTV I bought almost 4 years ago. I also have a Benq PE8700 a 720p DLP projector with a 106 screen which I use primarily for movies. Therefore, this plasma will only be used for DIRECTV viewing and gaming on my Xbox 360. My viewing distance is approximately 10'.
I bought this TV based purely on Panasonic's reputation in plasma displays. I have seen the 50u sets. I was about the buy the Samsungs based on price and availability. But after reading this forum I quickly change my mind. I was at my local Bestbuy to pick up my HD DVR and to look at the Toshiba plasmas. While I was there I overheard a salesman mention 60u to another customer and I quickly inquired about them. As soon as I was told they have 150 of them and can delivery them to my house in 2 days I was sold. I paid a little less then the new MSRP that has been reported. I was on the market for a 42 and 50 but they only had 42's in stock so I got 2 42's.
I took delivery of them about 9am yesterday. I took some pix of them that can be found in the other 60u thread for those who haven't been keeping up with that long thread. I hook it up to my HD DVR via HDMI and to my Xbox 360, Denon DVD-5900, and PS2 via component through a 4x2 switch. I have the HD DVR set to output at 720p because most of the HD programs I watch are in that format.
The first show I watch was the review of the CES on HDNet. Watching that show with all the new displays being introduced instantly ruined my excitement of my new toy. But none the less I was impressed by the picture quality. I did notice that the picture settings were way off. I went in to the picture menu and change the picture mode from vivid to standard which made things a little better. The difference between vivid and standard was -10 (from 30 to 20) in the picture setting and -5 (20 to 15) in the sharpness setting. The other settings available in the menu are brightness, color, and tint. There is no advance menu with other setting to adjust like most of us were hoping for. I didn't want to calibrate with Avia just yet because the lighting in my room at the time was very different, due to a skylight, than my normal viewing environment which is in the evening.
So from then until the evening I was pretty much in front of the TV the whole time. I watched some of the 76er's/Pacers and Suns/Mavs game on ABC in HD. The games look pretty good overall but I saw quite a bit of compression artifacts especially when there was a lot of motion. They were there before but the bigger screen just made them so much easier to spot. I watched the Doral Champion in standard definition so that gave me the opportunity to play around with some of the aspect ratio settings. The new H-FILL ratio looks like a combination of stretching and cropping. The others are zoom and 4:3, which should be self explanatory, along with full and justified. I could figure out what the difference was between full and justified from the picture or manual so I settled on full.
When it was finally dark outside, I popped Avia into my Xbox 360. After I went through the test patterns it confirmed my initial assumption with the settings. The default settings in standard mode were Picture +20, Brightness 0, Color 0, Tint 0, and sharpness +15. After calibrating with Avia the settings came out to be Picture +11, Brightness -5, Color -4, Tint -5, and sharpness -3. In the color decoder test pattern I did notice that blue was a little off towards the low side so I will try to poke around the service menu to see if I can adjust it in the next couple of days. Why did I calibrate with my Xbox 360, you may ask. Well it is because I don't know when the test patterns from DIRECTV come on and because I will not used this display for movies so I didn't calibrate with my Denon DVD-5900. I currently have the DVI port on the 5900 hooked up to my projector but I will hook it up to the Panny's HDMI port in the next couple of days to check out the picture quality and to check the picture settings. Too bad this display doesn't store individual picture settings for each input like my projector.
So after the calibration I put Spiderman in and went to the bridge scene at the end of the movie. It is scene 26 I believe. I used this scene to check my projector settings too so I am very familiar with it. There are a lot of subtle details, like the ripples on the surface of the water, in the scene that can be lost if black levels are set too low and the scene can look very foggy if they are set too high. All I can say is that blacks look very, very good. Obviously, they are much deeper then my DLP projector and it rivals that of my Sony CRT. I was some what surprised at how deep the blacks look based on plasma reviews in the pass. I was really expecting to give up a lot here to the CRT but I am happy to see that it isn't much. I am really satisfied with the black levels. I finished the day watching the Academy Awards in HD. I didn't get a chance to do any gaming yet so no comment here yet.
I read a post in the other thread with concerns about the fans in the 60u's. Apparently, the previous models did not have them. So I just want to report that the fans are not an issue. I can only hear them if I put my ear right next to the screen. In fact, the fan in my HR10-250 HD DVR is much noisier and it drowns out the fan noise of the display. That is with the display on mute. Even if all you watch are silent films you will not have to be concerned with it.
Overall I am really happy with the purchase. This display really exposed how choppy DIRECTV HD is. I only wish BB had the 50 but maybe that is a blessing in disguise since I may see even more DIRECTV compression artifacts. I am still considering the 50 if they get them in stock within my 30 day return period.