A couple of years back, one eagle-eyed member on this board noticed that approximately 8 minutes of "Pirates of the Caribbean" was misframed on the Blu-ray release. This news spread very quickly to other boards, and a little known company called Disney repressed the title and set up a trade-in program for defective copies already in the field. I know there is a world of difference between a little piece of plastic and a 4k plasma television, but the principle is the same. The point I am making is that, even though the problem was only acknowledged as such by a tiny minority of the AV consumer public (and that 99.9% of J6P did not even notice), a little PR pressure can go a long way. I have been thinking more about the THX facet of the black-level issue (and the fact that, although they do not advertise MLLs directly, they do quote contrast ratio… which is adversely affected). It may do no good, but I have penned the following letter to the general manager of THX concerning the issue, putting it in terms of their credibility in light of Panasonic's "it's a feature, not a bug" approach. I would suggest that everyone with an issue do the same, and maybe the heat will be turned up just a bit.
I just bought my 65V10, for $3700 (the best price I could get locally – I cannot barter worth a $@#^% - and I did not want to go online). It is less than a month old, and you could count the number of hours on it on your hands. Needless to say that I have not seen any problem yet (I just watched "Armageddon" last night, and was very pleased with the blacks). I did, however, call my credit card company this morning, and established that, should the MLL rise sharply after 300 hours (or whatever… there seems to be a wide range of numbers reported here and elsewhere), I can contest the charge based on quality issues. All I need is a second opinion, which I can get from a local calibrator after he takes a quantitative MLL measurement, and verifies the rise. The credit card would then go after Ultimate Electronics, and then Ultimate Electronics would have to go after Panasonic. The fact that Panny does not consider this a warranty issue is not a factor at this point. Anybody who bought their set on plastic might want to look into this.
Anyway, here is the letter. I have not sent it yet, so if anybody has any suggestions, please chime in.
1600 Los Gamos Dr.
RE: xxxxxxxx, General Manager
San Rafael, CA 94903
Dear Mr. xxxxxxxx,
Although I imagine that you are receiving a lot of these types of comments, I felt it necessary to add my voice to the cacophony. I recently purchased a Panasonic TC-P65V10 plasma TV, largely on the basis of its THX certification. This is my first plasma, and I chose it carefully due to both the reviews I had read, as well as the great black levels plasmas are known for. This, in addition to the extremely strict THX standards, I equated to a fantastic picture for several years to come. Then I found out about the rising black level problem being quantitatively measured in mature Panasonic plasmas (both 2009 and 2010 models - which now bring floating blacks to the party). In many cases, this has been observed to double or even triple the MLL output (and correspondingly decrease the contrast ratio) in just several hundred hours: the time it takes a plasma to just be comfortably broken in. I am hard pressed to believe that the THX standards are so slack as to allow for this significant of a change in picture quality, and still remain within THX specifications. Many owners of Panasonics, like me, view this as a “bait-and-switch”, where Panasonic promised one thing (which they did deliver on… out of the box), then change the specs drastically from those advertised within a few hundred hours use. The reputation of THX as being uncompromising is now being questioned, as is the value of being THX certified. Some are saying that the “THX Certified” stamp should include an expiration date, as Panasonic is also stating that the advertised specs are only accurate when the unit is new. While I do not agree with this point-of-view, I find that I am uncertain how much weight I should advise others to place in THX certification. It is my hope that you are investigating this issue further. Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.