Before I give my mini review of the 500u I would like to start with my setup. I use a HTPC with a Radeon 9800pro. I used an Audio Authority transcoder VGA to Component. The component cable is Blue Jeans Belden 7710A 40 feet long. Lastly I use a 16:9 digital gray Goo screen 92â€ diagonal.
First off, I would like to say I never really liked the PT-L300U for many reasons. The non 1:1 pixel mapping, black level, Computer text was bad, scan lines and visible pixel structure on sharp focus, and the typical LCD green push.
To combat the black level on the 300u I used a FLD filter and played around with a ND filter. FLD filer worked great for black level and green push but it really darkened the picture and put a magenta hue over white text.
One year later the PT-L500U comes out so I thought I would try it solely on the hope of 1:1 pixel mapping. So begins my review:
I fired up the 500u just after dark and did the flicker tweak right off the bat. Turned on the HTPC and I was floored. The desktop at 1280X720 was razor sharp and very bright. I did not notice any FPN or vertical banding. The 500u was noticeably brighter than the 300u. Black level on the 500u is a lot better but not like CRT but we all knew that. Fan noise was the same on both units. I played around with the AI feature and found that it did make difference on certain DVDs. However, I cannot stand the fan noise on high lamp mode so I just left the 500u on low lamp mode. The colors are better on the 500u, much more natural. I did lower the green contrast about -3 to help with green push on the 500u. The ability to change each color on the 500u is a great feature. DVDs look better on the 500u compared to the 300u in terms of PQ. I did not need the FLD filter on the 500u because the black level is satisfactory for me now. In fact, I went to see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind after my first demo and noted that black levels at the cinema were not that much better than the 500u (my opinion).
So far the 500u out paces the 300u in ever category by a good margin in my book. One thing that always bugged me about the 300u was background resolution. You could tell the 300u did not have enough resolution for images that were in the distant background. What I mean by this is that a mans head in the background would only have four pixels making it up making it look blocky. The 500u looks very smooth from the foreground to the background on DVD movies.
HD movies look much better on the 500u. Whenever text shows up on the screen itâ€™s razor sharp unlike the block text that you would see with the 300u. Please note the only HD content that I have is the Microsoft wm9 HD trailer stuff.
Now comes the questions that many ask about up grading to the 500u from the 300u.
Yes, normal DVD movies do look better on the 500u. Enough so I think it is worth upgrading for that reason.
If you have a HTPC then it is a no brainer, 500u kicks the 300u butt in every category.
Everything I hated about the 300u was fixed with the 500u in my book. Making the 500u a great upgrade. The 500u right off the bat wowed me. I never was never wowed by the 300u. Now I can sharply focus the picture without worring about pixel structure and scan line with the 500u.
After installing a 30ft DVI cable on the 500u I was pleased even more with this unit. DVI is the way to go, really clean picture. Now that the picture is so clean and bright now I can see flaws in my goo screen like dirt so I am going to upgrade to a Firehawk soon.
Now I am confident to say the 500u was a great upgraded so now Iâ€™m selling my 300u, component cable, and transcoder on eBay.
Check out this link for the PT-L300u, Audio authority, and Blue Jeans Auction http://www.msu.edu/~hagenmi1/1.htm
Well Iâ€™m off to watch a movie on my 500uâ€¦ :)