SWMBO (She Who Must Be Obeyed) and I have decided to upgrade from our 27" Sony CRT to HDTV. We've verified we're "plasma people" and have decided on a 50" inch screen. Those points are no longer open for discussion.
We thought we had narrowed our choice down to the Panasonic TH-50PZ850U. Yesterday we went to Atlanta trying to find one to view. No luck but did find an 80 and 85 at a Fry's Electronics store. Both looked nice but not stunning. The store folk had made an effort to display the sets in an area with reduced lighting, better than the average big box operation. We viewed the sets in both HD and SD, signal sources unknown. Both were "nice" but not spectacular.
We left there and went to a nearby video specialty store that turned out to carry only the Pioneers - no Panasonics. We viewed the Elite 111 in HD and SD and were both shocked at the picture quality improvement over the Panasonics. The Pioneer was displayed in a low light living room environment. Signal sources unknown. This has left us, to say the least, uncertain we are on the right track with the Panasonic PZ850U. We leave tomorrow morning for an out-of-state visit to the grandkids for Christmas. On the road we're going to have a "come to Jesus" meeting about which TV to buy.
In our decision-making process some things are "givens" and not subject to discussion: we will not pay the price of the Pioneer Elite 111 HD - it's not an option, period; we would pay the price of the Pioneer Kuro PDP-5020FD only if it has a markedly better picture than the Panasonic TH-50PZ850U when viewing DirecTVHD, DirecTV SD and DVDs when viewed in a low-light (never no-light nor bright light) livingroom environment. Either TV has all the controls, connections, feature bells and whistles I would ever use (we're in our 50's and watch mostly movies, documentaries, news and football games; we like a nice picture but we're not videophile hobbiests). We're highly unlikely to spend the money for professional calibration for any of the sets so assume calibration will never happen.
In preparing for that meeting I very much need useful answers to the following questions, with the above listed "givens" firmly in mind:
1. In a livingroom low-light environment how does the picture quality of the PZ850U compare to the 80 and 85 models (black levels, color richness, color accuracy) using only the signal sources I've listed?
2. In a livingroom low-light environment how does the picture quality of the Pioneer Kuro PDP-5020FD compare to the picture of the Elite 111 when using only the signal sources I've listed?
3. In a livingroom low-light environment how does the picture quality of the Panasonic TH-50PZ850U compare to the picture of the Pioneer Kuro PDP-5020FD when using only the signal sources I've listed?
4. Can anyone suggest where, in Northeast Georgia, I could actually view the PZ850U and the 5020FD in operation? I've burned up a lot of cell phone minutes and gasoline trying to find these around here with no luck.
Please confine your comments to the models I've listed, the signal sources I've listed and the viewing environment I've listed, since I'm going to be traveling and trying to read the thread on my PDA. Please bear in mind that we are just folk who will be using this TV for a long time and just want a top notch picture. I won't be studying test patterns on the darn thing!
and I have no present plans to ever buy a BlueRay player.
Thanks in advance for your time and thoughts.