Which weird Hitachi? Get into the user menu and look at the software version then read the flicker thread. Also, the black levels aint nothin to write home about-green can be adjusted with 4 clicks of tint adj to the left. Lovin' mine but I may be lucky.
Phillips 50 PF 9631 Current set, but new models out soon. (Nice unit) Samsung HPS 5053 Last years model, new HP-T5054 and HP-T5064 are out now. Toshiba 50HP86 Pass on Toshiba, they do not make there own panels anymore. Not impressive all all. Panasonic TH50PX60 - Haven't seen it in person yet Last years model, New 50PX75U is out.
You picked out some pretty good units. Price is always a factor to keep in mind too.
I'm up in Canada and selection is limited around here.
Maybe someone can help me choose?
Phillips 50 PF 9631 - Is this an older set?
Samsung HPS 5053
Panasonic TH50PX60 - Haven't seen it in person yet
Which is the worst if you don't know which is the best?
Go with the Panasonic, IMO it is the best overall panel in all areas, it's P.Q. rivals that of the higher end Pioneers at a much lower cost, and most importantly it' reliability and customer support are out standing.
I just purchased the 50" Philips 9731 (upgraded 9631) from Frys yesterday for under $1500 and I am really happy with it!!! Quality is great and the ambilight is actually a REALLY cool feature.
I was on the fence between the Samsung and the Panasonic but for the price I couldn't pass up the Philips. I looked at all of the Plasmas and the Pansonic did have the best picture but was priced $500 more. I figure i can buy a great entertainment sytem with the extra money and it will make up for the difference.
I know people knock on Philips for their customer service so hopefully i won't have that problem, with a 1 year warranty and an additional 1 year warranty with my credit card company to boot i feel like i am pretty covered.
I also purchased a Philips 50PF9731D from Frys. I found that the Frys retail store was about $400 more than Frys outpost (on-line). For under $1800 to my door (including tax and shipping) I figured it was a good deal.
Picture is really good IMO. I really like the fact that there are multiple settings for the picture (including one that automatically fills the screen). The Ambilight is a really cool feature. I read the manual on the Philips web site before purchasing to get a handle on all the features. One thing I missed is that the remote is not a "universal" remote. It only works with Philips brand DVD players and VCRs. This is one of my only negatives about it.
I was a bit concerned over the reports about issues with these models shutting down on their own. Then I read one of the firmware updates (another plus, updates through the on-board USB port) addresses this issue. The demo at the Frys retail store had this issue. I confirmed that they had an old firmware version.
Everyone from Frys and Philips (contacted about price of service contract before buying) was VERY helpful and knowledgable.
I hope this helps anyone trying to make a decision on a purchase.
One other thing. Why do those ho reference Consumer Reports mention the reliability (as someone mentioned, no sample quantity known), but no mention that the Philips model was also listed about #5. Only the 58" & 50" Panny 600U, the 50" Fujitzu (never seen it), and the 50" Panny 60U were listed higher. Some of these had less quality standard-def picture quality. Philips' Pixel Plus is another GREAT feature since not every channel is HD yet.