You know it's going to be an anxiety-ridden day when the delivery guys/installers from Magnolia:
1. Arrive 30 minute early (because they probably were told to "just leave" from their previous installation.
2. Decide it's a smarter move to unbox and take off all protective wrappings from your set in the middle of the street.
3. Wear no sort of gloves (insuring they leave several nice sets of fingerprints on your set), but plenty of metal keychains, beltbuckles, and zippers while they try to manhandle your set into the house.
4. Have difficulty attaching the power cable, but refuse to consult the instruction manual.
5. Try to screw down your set to its base without using screwdrivers because they don't have any.
6. Delight in renaming the inputs on the video selection from "DVD to Cable to CD to anything you want," because that's about all they're really good at.
(And, of course, coming with a two man crew so you have to lend a hand so you don't end up with a pile of glass and electronical parts.)
Well, today my set arrived/was delievered/escaped the clutches of the "capable" hands of the Magnolia team.
As others may or may not know, Panasonic wisely chose not to ship pedestal stands with this TV. And then, they wisely chose to leave the optional stands in Japan, so if you wanted to buy a stand at the $1199 list price you couldn't do that either. Well, I elected to try a commercial Panasonic stand for about half the price and also I prefer the black look and...it kind of fits. Due to about an extra 2 and 1/4 inches (which is the silver bottom part of the set--the part where the commercial set ends and magically the consumer set begins), the TV doesn't sit completely down on its posts. And the metal supporting columns which bolt on to the back of the TV only line up at one hole out of three. But the TV sits on the stand heavily and solidly without any fear of toppling over. (And a welder or metal-worker can easily drill in some additional holes in the columns for further stable bolting, so I might go that route.)
On to my first impressions.
Most of the day was spent fiddling around with my DVD players (an Onkyo upconverting SP-1000 and and a RCA HD DVD player) connected to the set. As a point of reference, I'm sitting eight feet back from the set.
The Onkyo had no problem being recognized as an HDMI device, but the RCA wouldn't link up. (Bad cables? Bad HDMI port? Panasonic's attempt to make sure only
Blu-Ray players can be used on the set?) I tried switching cables and inputs. Nada. Okay, I'll work with the Onkyo.
I switched from Vivid mode to Standard and popped in "Amercian Splendor" a low budget indie film. Not impressive. Watchable, but nothing to write home about. Next I try "Star Wars: Phantom Menace." I decide to give the THX Optimizer a whirl before starting. The starfield at the beginning--not the greatest blacks, but pretty good for a plasma. Then some scenes aboard some ships. Wow! Incredible! Some shots look like live TV. Looks as good as some HD DVDs I've viewed. Rich H. was right! (Speaking of HD DVD, I switch over to the RCA player.)
Bending the end of the HDMI cable back and forth yields success. Things link up. I put in "The Searchers" HD DVD. Looks great, but it looked great on my old RPTV. Try "American Splendor" on this machine. Still nothing to write home about.
Next I proceed to pull out "Avia" and Video Essentials" and do a little more calibrating on both players.
"Spider-Man 2" on the Onkyo is next. A tad too much red. Not as sharp as "Star Wars." Try it on the RCA. Not too much red, looks pretty good, but needs more calibration.
Next, it's onto the "Serenity" HD DVD on the RCA. Wonderful. Beautiful picture. I tweak it by eye to bring out better blacks and contrast. It's getting there.
I decide to screw around with those picture enchancement "goodies." Leave the picture at "Standard." Color Temp at "Normal." Switch on "C.A.T.S." God, what the hell is that?! Quickly switch it off. Run through them all, but for the most part leave them off. "3:2 pulldown" option? Nice.
(All through my testing this day I play around with the "Overscan" control. On 16:9 material, it works well. On 4:3 films, it needs to be tweaked so it can be used. The bottom of the picture has some "garbage." Maybe the entire picture needs to be lowered. I'll have to go into the service menu and see what I can do in the coming days.)
Final film for the night, a black and white classic "How Green Was My Valley" upconverted on the Onkyo. Beautiful. A little more tweaking on the Picture and and Brightness controls and it really shines. Everyone is talking about how great the Toshiba/RCA players upconvert SD DVDs, but the Toshiba is no slouch and I actually prefer it as my upconverting player. (Luckily, TH-65PX600u has two HDMI ports on the back.) I flip through all the different aspects: Full--looks great-- like the picture was shot in wide-screen/H-Fill--WTF?/Zoom--no thanks/Just--it just doesn't cut it; Full does the job so much better/4:3--a prefer totally black sidebars so I'll have use this sparingly until the set is broken in.
I "played" around with almost all the settings today, but I don't want to turn this into a book. Lots to tweak and play with so getting the right combination for some stunning viewing should be achievable. And no eye fatigue after a sleepless night the night before and looking at the TV most of the day. I've ready to watch more and more.
Where to go from here? See what the people are saying about the new commercial 65 inch Panny. If it's demonstratively better, I'll probably switch over since I've already got the stand.
I'm not much of TV guy. More of a film freak, so that set might suit me better. Buying this set was cheaper for me and came with a 30 day "no hassle" return policy.
And finally, yeah, I did
tip the installation guys twenty bucks when they left. I figured that they might just invest the money in some Home Theater magazines and get a better clue about their jobs.