Originally Posted by natetheskate
After calibrating the basic settings on both using the AVS HD 709:
I still feel as though the image is crisper on the Samsung and has brighter whites and more vibrant colors. The detail in the darks is a lot better on the panasonic but I'm curious if its because the overall panel isn't as bright.
I'm so glad that it helped! As I suspected, Panasonic has some catching up to do with regards to factory settings. Not everyone can be expected to do a calibration. Either Samsung is at least doing some sort of "loose" calibration in the factory, or their variances between sets are much smaller. That said, it looks like you've taken one big step towards getting your VT50 dialed in.
As for white, when comparing against an LED LCD, pure white will almost always look better on the LED LCD. Conversely, black will almost always look better on the plasma. I owned the D-series 8000 Samsung LED and like you had issues with corner clouding, as well as a host of other issues. And like you, I was blown away at how crisp the set looked and how pure and clean white looked. It's a tradeoff of technology, at this point in time. The white on the VT50 will never look as good as the ES8000, and the black/shadow detail, as well as black uniformity on the ES8000 will never look as good as the VT50. At the same time, the UNES8000's "pop" to a certain extent is likely to be considered "inaccurate". I found that my UND8000 was extremely blue, which next to a properly calibrated set would make the other set look too warm/red. Of course beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but just keep this in mind when comparing them side by side as your eye can do funny things when trying to compare white balance. I think that was somewhat close to the point that Rogo was trying to make.
However, the white can still definitely be cleaned up some by a good calibration. You've already forked over a ton of cash for the VT50, so I understand that it might be hard to stomach paying for a calibration, but after using it for ~100 hours or so I would go ahead and just have it done. The great thing about the VT50 (vs. the GT50 or the ST50) is that it has all of the fine detailed controls for a calibrator to properly set the white balance. You cannot do this on your own without equipment and software, so don't even think of playing with the WB controls unless you take that dive. If you're interested in calibrating yourself, see the link in my sig. It details my first experience with calibrating, ironically on the Samsung UND8000 LED LCD that I returned. Ultimately, however, to get the best result you'd want it calibrated by a pro (like D-Nice or ChadB).
Let us know what you decide.