Originally Posted by smirchan
Just got my new TV a few days ago, and need help calibrating my set.
It is in a large living room, flanked by large windows on its right (i.e., your left if looking directly at TV set)
Can someone recommend optimal settings? Also, should I pay for professional ISF calibration? If so, when should I have this done?
I also have young kids who love to watch many non-HD 4:3 shows which will be displaying black bars on both sides.
I also travel quite a bit, and won't always be around to prevent the TV from being left on for long periods of time, to prevent shows from being paused for a long time (i.e., sometimes they will pause a show and then go play for a few hours and maybe or maybe not come back to the TV). ANy suggestions to prevent burn-in?
I want my TV to last as long as possible.
First, congrats on your purchase. I have the 58" and just love it. Here's what I've done so far:
We have lots of windows to the left of the set, so we installed curtain rods and hung dark brown velvet curtains to block incoming sunlight. If you treat your plasma like a true home theater, then this is a no-brainer. Movie theaters do not have windows for a reason. The idea is to minimize all distractions and focus the viewers eyes completely on the screen. When you're not watching TV, turn it off and throw the curtains aside to let the sun in. Don't try to have it both ways; it's not good for your eyes, or your TV. If you must watch TV and enjoy the sunshine/view, then face the panel 180-degrees away from the windows, or put a different format TV in that room that you don't have to worry so much about (CRT, LCD, DLP).
Re your "young" kids... you have invested in a high-qualitym, top-of-the-line HDTV. Why would you even consider allowing young children to even touch this set? If they are too young to appreciate its value, then you would be wise to either exchange it for a bargain big screen that you don't mind them abusing (and they will, so why set them up for unnecessary drama down the road?), or simply prohibit them from using it. Surely, you don't let them operate your vehicles or other equipment that would be either dangerous and/or expensive to replace/repair. This is why many parents do not invest in nice furniture until the kids are either mature enough to respect its value, or have moved out.
If you cannot trust them not to respect your investment and/or rules regarding use of the set, then simply remove the power cord and take it with you on your trips. If you provide them with a cheap, alternative set to watch in your absence, they will be content with that and leave yours alone. Most kids are way too lazy to go to the trouble of locating/purchasing a replacement power cord when it's much simpler just to watch the cheap TV instead.
Re black bars: there's a setting that shows only grey bars on 4:3 aspect programming.
First thing to do in any case is break-in the set using the break-in DVD or the still images on an SD card for 250 hours. Some say this is unnecessary, but Panasonic recommends at least a 100 hour break-in at low settings, followed by the next 900 hours avoiding side bars, letterbox programming, and channels with constant static graphics such as business/news channel tickers, shopping channels or channels with bright, static logo "bugs." Basically, keep your Brightness and Picture settings below 50, (I set mine to "9"), then after the break-in, reset them to the C-Net settings or whatever looks good to you. Try to avoid ever using the "vivid" settings. I believe these are meant only for showrooms. They are way too risky for actual owners to use, and completely unnecessary. Some ambient light BEHIND the flat panel that you can dim to taste is helpful, and better for your eyes.
The 'Studio Ref" preset, IMO, is a really great setting to watch post break-in, and I think you will be most pleased with the picture even if you never get it calibrated. I feel this setting alone gives you a picture superior to most any other set on the market. The black levels rival those of the Pioneer sets, and the DCC setting does make the colors pop quite nicely compared to the 800U's THX preset.
My set is post break-in, but still under 1,000 hours, so I have turned the settings up (mostly just use Studio Ref preset). However, I only record/watch full screen HD programming or Blu-ray DVD's on the set for now. If a movie has wide screen letterbox format, I use the ZOOM setting to fill the screen. The resolution is still great, and I don't feel I'm really missing what little picture gets cropped off the sides at that setting as I thought I would. Because of my diligence, I have seen absolutely no evidence of any burn-in on my panel when looking at an all-white screen, as I did with my previous two Samsung plasmas, both of which I returned before choosing my 850U.
I got this TV, along with a Blu-ray player, surround sound system, and reclining theater seats as a replacement for a progressively worse experience going out to movie theaters. I used to love going out to the movies, but tight-fisted theater owners have made that experience a very poor value since I was a kid, what with rude audiences that flap their gums throughout the film, yap on their cell phones, kids who kick the back of your seat, improper low-watt bulbs in the projectors, untrained projectionists who don't know how to properly focus/frame the picture on the screen, soaring ticket prices, commericals, and ridiculously priced snacks including popcorn that tastes like burnt cardboard most of the time.
My wife is a very mature adult, and even she does not appreciate all the nuances of this particular plasma. She gripes about not being able to watch any show she wants on the set, but we have a 40" Sony LCD in our bedroom that I have pronounced "safe" for 4:3 aspect, standard def. programming. I make it clear that the plasma is MY domain, and that respecting my rules on it will result in many years of superior HD viewing. I allow her to watch 4:3 shows on it if she takes care to either stretch the picture out to fill the screen, or enable the grey side bars, which she does. So far, this has not resulted in any burn-in.
One final note: I've been noticing that the picture seems a bit dark when I first start watching the set with the Studio Ref settings, but after the set warms up, the picture really begins to take off! So my current advice is until you get it calibrated, Studio Ref is still a cut above most other plasma pictures. However, it's important to watch in LOW LIGHT conditions where any light comes from behind the panel, but not a completely dark room. Also, let the set warm up for 10-20 mins prior to when your program starts.
As for your kids: train them well, or buy them a Westinghouse LCD they can abuse to their heart's content.
Hope this helps. Good luck! ~ Crag