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The Official LG xxPK550 Owner's Discussion Thread [no price talk] - Page 3

post #61 of 5211
I am needing to make a purchase soon. I have five year old Sony KDF-60WF655 rear projection LCD in which the right quarter of the screen has a blue overlay. It started about six months ago, but now is spreading a couple inches a day.

I am down to choosing between the LG 60PK550 and the Samsung 63B550 or 590. Clearly the latter two cost a bit more especially the 63B590.

Any suggestions? I have sevearal windows behind the television but never much light as there are many big trees in the yard.

BTW I have Netflix streaming and Pandora with a Samsung Blu-Ray player. Those are great features. For those of you who might not have had them, they may turn out to be much more valuable than you think.

Scott
post #62 of 5211
^^^ thats easy actually if those are your only choices, 50PK550. Great overall set with an excellent picture. 42" is to small


...woot! bigger TV
post #63 of 5211
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cleveland Plasma View Post

^^^ thats easy actually if those are your only choices, 50PK550. Great overall set with an excellent picture. 42" is to small

What about between 54G20 vs 50PK950?
post #64 of 5211
Quote:
Originally Posted by Encrypted Neuron View Post

I'm still in a toss up over this set, waiting for some more reviews. My short short list is this one 50PK550, the LG 42LH90, or the Panny TC-P42G25. I don't really care if it can stream Netflicks and all that, and THX is just a factory preset which you can do youself, but I just want the best PQ for my price range. I have never owned a plasma, but they still have the best looking picture from the different sets that I have seen. It's tough with the whole itchy trigger finger right now, also my dad retired from Sears soooo, I could use employee number for an additional discount..hmmmm
For those that have the set, how is the black level in a dark room? This has been one of key factors for me. Any of you can give a mini review? I haven't seen any expert reviews yet, I know CP is working on one (which I'm patiently waiting for ), but maybe one of you can post your take on it.



See, at night, my LCD was often too bright. My eyes would hurt after a while, so I'd have to have a lamp or small light on after a while. With the plasma, it wasnt so bright. It was still vivid and bright in the sense of clarity and all, but it wasnt blinding. I like the pk550, becuz i was able to turn down the brightness, the image still stays nice and clear and still black and vivid. I had the brightness on my pk550 at 55 and it was pretty bright. I turned it down to 32, and it was just perfect. With lights on or completely dark. My lcd was an extreme. Either it would be too bright or too dim. So id have to alter contrast and back light. Man it was annoying.

To answer about the blacks. The blacks on the lg always stayed very black and deep, even with all the lights turned off.
post #65 of 5211
Quote:
Originally Posted by borcth View Post

I like the pk550, becuz i was able to turn down the brightness, the image still stays nice and clear and still black and vivid. I had the brightness on my pk550 at 55 and it was pretty bright. I turned it down to 32, and it was just perfect.

borcth,
the brightness control of the OSD, on all plasma, works only to the black's point. The Contrast control, instead, works to the white point. If you set the Brightness control too low, you will lose some details on the low lights. If you set it too high, you will lose the best black. Here is the Tom Huffman (a famous professional calibrator) description about that:

"The most basic aspect of video calibration is getting the correct white and black levels. White level—the intensity of light the display produces when the video signal is at 100% intensity—is adjusted by the contrast control. Black level—the intensity of light the display produces when the video signal is a 0% intensity is adjusted by the brightness control."

If, at night, you find the display too bright, you should work on 2 controls: Contrast and power saving. When you will get again your PK550, I suggest you to set it with the settings I have written here yesterday (Cinema mode a bit modified). Then, with those settings, start to set the power saving to "low", and watch it for 2-3 days. Then, when your eyes are accustomed to, if you want, you can try to set the power saving option to OFF. On my LG I always use the power setting to "low", because the panels of LG plasma are very bright by themselves, and I don't need to completely turn off the power saving option to get a perfect picture to my eyes.

I suggest to you all, interesting in knowing something about display calibration, to read this great (and enough easy to understand) article from Tom H. The title is "Basic Concepts of Video Calibration". Here is the link:

http://www.displaycalibrationonline....ices_guide.asp

enjoy
post #66 of 5211
OK guys... got the 50PK550 from Sears yesterday.
This is my first plasma (had a bunch of LCDs before), so any advice is welcome.
My first observation:
No buzzing. By default the set was set on "Vivid" mode and the picture had almost the same "POP" as the LCDs.
This set is pretty bright. Once you turn it on there is not much glare you could see.
My viewing environment is pretty dim so I was trying to see how it would preform under that condition.
The "Standard" mode with power saving set to "Auto" was much better for the dim environment.
For some reason, when you switch to the Cinema mode it seems it disables any power saving on this set
and it was pretty bright for the dark room. I have not played with the Cinema settings yet.
When watching the TV in completely dark room (no lights) the black areas are not completely black.
I was actually expecting black bars (in 4:3 or 2.35:1 content) to be totally off. It is something that common to all plasmas?
The blank screen glows - something that Panasonic owners were upset with, when their blacks had risen.
I notice when the power saving is engaged and it detects no signal the screen goes completely off.

I've laso tried to play 24p content from my PS3 to see how it handles motion (Planet Earth blu-ray).
I have to say the picture was really smooth with no artifacts. The only thing I was not sure whether it
was doing 2:3 or 3:3 conversion. The info on the TV was showing "24p". I could not find the place in the TV
menu where you would set 2:3 or 3:3 conversion.

I also have an HTPC connected via HDMI and noticed some strange thing when moving content (windows) on the screen.
I don't know how to explain it, but it look like it creates some kind of horizontal ghosting (or bands) that is produced by
a window or any other object on the desktop. It specially noticeable when you start moving stuff around the desktop.
When you move a small white window for example, you can see a horizontal band (a shade) that follows the window height from
the both sides of the window.
Any comment on that?
Found a similar image that describes the issue:
http://img187.imageshack.us/i/img0953dp2.jpg/
(notice the light colored lines that extend form the dark lines)


Re image retention. Yes it is there. The TV has not been broken in so it may not be the thing to worry and it seems it goes away
pretty quickly when you watch a different content.

Sound: the sound is actually not bad for such a thin TV. It does not feel that tiny as with the most "slim" sets.
It actually has some good midrange.
post #67 of 5211
I've done some gaming on my 50PK550 and I have absolutely no burn-in.
I've seen some IR but it's all gone after 5-10 minutes.

Now, I've started running the break-in DVD slides for a couple of nights. I'll game some more in a couple of days, after a good 100hrs of break-in slides, and let you guys know about the IR.

So far I'm extremely happy with this TV. I've had it for 10 days or so and it's awesome! I've had some issue when streaming playing mp4 movies from the xbox 360, I had some judder and it really was annoying. I bought a PS3 and movies look much better now. And of course the motion is great and smooth using the PS3 BluRay player
post #68 of 5211
i believe the lg uses 24p real cinema, which is supposed to be 5:5 pulldown. Right?
post #69 of 5211
Quote:
Originally Posted by dumon View Post

OK guys... got the 50PK550 from Sears yesterday.
This is my first plasma (had a bunch of LCDs before), so any advice is welcome.
My first observation:
No buzzing. By default the set was set on "Vivid" mode and the picture had almost the same "POP" as the LCDs.
This set is pretty bright. Once you turn it on there is not much glare you could see.
My viewing environment is pretty dim so I was trying to see how it would preform under that condition.
The "Standard" mode with power saving set to "Auto" was much better for the dim environment.
For some reason, when you switch to the Cinema mode it seems it disables any power saving on this set
and it was pretty bright for the dark room. I have not played with the Cinema settings yet.
When watching the TV in completely dark room (no lights) the black areas are not completely black.
I was actually expecting black bars (in 4:3 or 2.35:1 content) to be totally off. It is something that common to all plasmas?
The blank screen glows - something that Panasonic owners were upset with, when their blacks had risen.
I notice when the power saving is engaged and it detects no signal the screen goes completely off.

I've laso tried to play 24p content from my PS3 to see how it handles motion (Planet Earth blu-ray).
I have to say the picture was really smooth with no artifacts. The only thing I was not sure whether it
was doing 2:3 or 3:3 conversion. The info on the TV was showing "24p". I could not find the place in the TV
menu where you would set 2:3 or 3:3 conversion.

I also have an HTPC connected via HDMI and noticed some strange thing when moving content (windows) on the screen.
I don't know how to explain it, but it look like it creates some kind of horizontal ghosting (or bands) that is produced by
a window or any other object on the desktop. It specially noticeable when you start moving stuff around the desktop.
When you move a small white window for example, you can see a horizontal band (a shade) that follows the window height from
the both sides of the window.
Any comment on that?

Re image retention. Yes it is there. The TV has not been broken in so it may not be the thing to worry and it seems it goes away
pretty quickly when you watch a different content.

ur gonna have to adjust the brightness and use cinema mode, not vivid. Just mess with the calibration and you can get it just right. I had my brightness down to 32 and it was just right.
post #70 of 5211
Quote:
Originally Posted by borcth View Post

ur gonna have to adjust the brightness and use cinema mode, not vivid. Just mess with the calibration and you can get it just right. I had my brightness down to 32 and it was just right.

I am not using "Vivid" at all - it is just for stores.
I'll try to play with "Cinema". I've tried one of the Expert modes calibration wizards, and could not
get it right for my taste - it was too dim for some reason.
So how is the black level for you? Do you see it glowing slightly?
post #71 of 5211
Quote:
Originally Posted by borcth View Post

i believe the lg uses 24p real cinema, which is supposed to be 5:5 pulldown. Right?

According to the specs it is 3:2 and 3:3, but I could not find any settings
in the TV menu.
post #72 of 5211
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by barrist View Post

What about between 54G20 vs 50PK950?

TC-P54G20 then Bigger is almost always better. All the models you have mentioned are great sets.
post #73 of 5211
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cleveland Plasma View Post

TC-P54G20 then Bigger is almost always better. All the models you have mentioned are great sets.


Since we are doing comparisons, how about the Samsung PN50B850 vs the LG 50PK550? I'm debating between the two but the LG has a huge price advantage here over the Samsung even though it's an 09 model. Does the features of the Samsung warrent holding off until the 2010s come out hopefully reducing the price?

I have a PS3 so internet access is not an issue to me, Samsung is hit and miss with the buzzing issue but I personally have not heard it at any of the stores I've visited. I guess it will boil down to picture image both hd/sd and price.


*******
Also if it's not too much trouble, could you provide the demensions of the 550 box? Want to know if it would fit vertically in my SUV and save me from a delivery fee. Thanks
post #74 of 5211
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Tasty View Post

Since we are doing comparisons, how about the Samsung PN50B850 vs the LG 50PK550? I'm debating between the two but the LG has a huge price advantage here over the Samsung even though it's an 09 model. Does the features of the Samsung warrent holding off until the 2010s come out hopefully reducing the price?

I have a PS3 so internet access is not an issue to me, Samsung is hit and miss with the buzzing issue but I personally have not heard it at any of the stores I've visited. I guess it will boil down to picture image both hd/sd and price.


*******
Also if it's not too much trouble, could you provide the demensions of the 550 box? Want to know if it would fit vertically in my SUV and save me from a delivery fee. Thanks

I've actually drove it laying flat in my wagon. Just don't hit any holes on a road.
post #75 of 5211
Quote:
Originally Posted by dumon View Post

According to the specs it is 3:2 and 3:3, but I could not find any settings
in the TV menu.

On my 2009 LG LCDs (which have 2:2), you do not get to choose a pull-down option when you send the TV 24p. It automatically sets to 2:2. (If for some reason you want to convert 24p to 60Hz you have to do this in the Blu-ray player.)

Maybe the PK550 is like this -- fixed 3:3 on detection of 24p? Do you see any telecine stutter?
post #76 of 5211
Quote:
Originally Posted by walt73 View Post

On my 2009 LG LCDs (which have 2:2), you do not get to choose a pull-down option when you send the TV 24p. It automatically sets to 2:2. (If for some reason you want to convert 24p to 60Hz you have to do this in the Blu-ray player.)

Maybe the PK550 is like this -- fixed 3:3 on detection of 24p? Do you see any telecine stutter?

Have not seen any shutter. I was specifically looking for the camera pan shots. It was pretty smooth.
Didn't it produce some flicker @ 2:2? It would mean 48Hz refresh rate.
post #77 of 5211
Quote:
Originally Posted by dumon View Post

Have not seen any shutter. I was specifically looking for the camera pan shots. It was pretty smooth.
Didn't it produce some flicker @ 2:2? It would mean 48Hz refresh rate.

Cool -- it sounds like LG has finally got 3:3 working on their plasmas this year!

On LCDs, 2:2 does not flicker because (due to different construction than plasma) the pixels don't change state -- the image doesn't decay between refreshes even though the refreshes only go at a slow 48Hz. Unfortunately the motion blur is pretty bad.
post #78 of 5211
How does the 50PS60 measure up against the 50PK550? The former had good reviews.
post #79 of 5211
Quote:
Originally Posted by walt73 View Post

Cool -- it sounds like LG has finally got 3:3 working on their plasmas this year!

On LCDs, 2:2 does not flicker because (due to different construction than plasma) the pixels don't change state -- the image doesn't decay between refreshes even though the refreshes only go at a slow 48Hz. Unfortunately the motion blur is pretty bad.

Right. I did not pay attention that you were talking about LG LCD.
As a long time LCD user I can definitely see the plasma's 60hz flickering (specially on light backgrounds).
I am just trying not to notice it. I remember on old days CRT computer monitors I could not tolerate 60Hz
refresh rate at all and was always changing it to at least 72Hz (if monitor/card would support it).
post #80 of 5211
Omg!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It will be here wednesday O.O I'm gonna poop my pants
post #81 of 5211
Quote:
Originally Posted by dumon View Post

Right. I did not pay attention that you were talking about LG LCD.
As a long time LCD user I can definitely see the plasma's 60hz flickering (specially on light backgrounds).
I am just trying not to notice it. I remember on old days CRT computer monitors I could not tolerate 60Hz
refresh rate at all and was always changing it to at least 72Hz (if monitor/card would support it).

Bummer -- I guess everyone has a different threshold for seeing the flicker.

I used to see it sometimes in the movie theatre (before digital) with the projector shutter going at 48Hz but I couldn't see any flicker on 60Hz CRT.

But you say you don't see it so bad at 72Hz (like on CRT monitor) so I infer your LG plasma must really be going that fast (and not merely pulling down and going at 60Hz).

This model (50PK550) has just been announced for Canada (is just showing up on retailer web sites here). I am getting very tempted to go for it as a stop-gap til 2011-12 at which point 3D might become irresistible.
post #82 of 5211
Quote:
Originally Posted by walt73 View Post

Bummer -- I guess everyone has a different threshold for seeing the flicker.

I used to see it sometimes in the movie theatre (before digital) with the projector shutter going at 48Hz but I couldn't see any flicker on 60Hz CRT.

But you say you don't see it so bad at 72Hz (like on CRT monitor) so I infer your LG plasma must really be going that fast (and not merely pulling down and going at 60Hz).

This model (50PK550) has just been announced for Canada (is just showing up on retailer web sites here). I am getting very tempted to go for it as a stop-gap til 2011-12 at which point 3D might become irresistible.

Best Buy stores (in Toronto atleast) have them on display already.
post #83 of 5211
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Tasty View Post

Best Buy stores (in Toronto atleast) have them on display already.

Future Shop in ottawa has them on display as well (called them this afternoon)
post #84 of 5211
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Tasty View Post

Best Buy stores (in Toronto atleast) have them on display already.

I must have just missed them ... I was in Best Buy Leaside late last wk. and they still had last year's. Which location have you seen them in?
post #85 of 5211
Quote:
Originally Posted by walt73 View Post

This model (50PK550) has just been announced for Canada (is just showing up on retailer web sites here). I am getting very tempted to go for it as a stop-gap til 2011-12 at which point 3D might become irresistible.

That what was my way of thinking. I've seen the Panasonic VT20 demo at local Best Buy - it was really good.
Until the content will catch up, I could not justify buying it.
post #86 of 5211
Quote:
Originally Posted by walt73 View Post

I must have just missed them ... I was in Best Buy Leaside late last wk. and they still had last year's. Which location have you seen them in?


Funny enough, it was at both Eg & Leaside and at Eg & Warden.
post #87 of 5211
Quote:
Originally Posted by dumon View Post

I am not using "Vivid" at all - it is just for stores.
I'll try to play with "Cinema". I've tried one of the Expert modes calibration wizards, and could not
get it right for my taste - it was too dim for some reason.
So how is the black level for you? Do you see it glowing slightly?

glowing? Like...grey blacks? Idk, i'm pretty good at adjustments. I've had several tvs in the past. Anyway, it only took me a few times to get it right. Experimenting. Trying different movies, I like my colors vivid and deep. So i tend to have a higher contrast then maybe most pple? Idk, I llke having dynamic contrast high and setting black levels to light (the darker of the two options) I had my brightness to 32, color gaumet to wide(still was experimenting with that one) I only had the unit for a day before i returned it(not cuz of the PQ, but cuz of a defect with the panel itself. Waiting for my 2nd one tommarow!!
post #88 of 5211
Recently I had the opportunity to calibrate and evaluate the new LG 50PK550 plasma at Cleveland Plasma.

The PK550 is very slim, and that combined with the narrow border give it a sleek, modern appearance. The screen, though highly reflective, seemed to stay fairly dark under high lighting conditions.

Though the PK550 lacks the THX mode of some of LGs other models, the ISF Expert modes offer a good mode to build upon. There are two ISF picture memories available, and they can be tuned to have a separate day and night mode for each input. In addition, they can be locked if you decide to get the unit professionally calibrated and want to make sure nobody makes unwelcome changes to your settings. Even before calibration (attachment 1), the results in ISF mode were closer to accurate than I normally see. However, the negative red in the absolute luminance graph and skewed magenta seen on the CIE graph suggests the uncalibrated ISF preset will have a similar color tone to the THX modes of early production Panasonic V10 and G10 plasmas, before their THX mode was fixed. These measured errors lead to a yellowish antique cast and can rob skin tones of their natural color and ruddiness. The PK550 often automatically dims the black level when it senses a few seconds of no picture content.

Fortunately, the PK550 has one of the best, most extensive advanced calibration menus available. Some of the nice touches include color isolation controls, which allow more accurate color adjustments than the filters included with test DVDs, a partial CMS adjustment, and the choice of either a conventional 2 point or a 20 point white balance and gamma adjustment.

The 20 point adjustment is very detailed, but is extremely difficult even for a seasoned calibrator to work with. For instance, the brightness of the menu changes the reading slightly, and some pattern generators and test DVDs do not have the required 5% small window patterns. Also, the PK550s non defeatable burn in protection dims the output if the image size stays the same for too long (no matter if the patterns brightness is changed), meaning you must change the size of the test pattern frequently and then go back to the windows you are working with. Though I was thankful to have it, the 20 point adjustment is a great example of too much of a good thing.

After much more work than required on an average plasma, the results were outstanding! The PK550s CMS adjustment, even though it was not as thorough as that on some other brands, allowed the colors to be extremely accurate. The higher measured error of the blue primary is not subjectively important in my experience. Light output with a small 100% white window measured 50 fL, and the pre-dimmed black level measured around .0132 fL. ASI contrast measured a very good 2000:1. Contrast measurements were performed with my profiled Milori Trichromat-1 meter, which is very stable and consistent with dark measurements. The light output and contrast measurements are both significantly improved over those of the LG 60PS60 plasma I reviewed last year, and mean the PK550s picture should have excellent pop and impact. The PK550 handles RGB or YCbCr colorspace properly via the HDMI input, and resolution is strong or perfect at all HD resolutions. I could find no pumping or stability problems.

After calibration, I turned off the lights and put in some very familiar 1080P/24 Blu Ray demo material. The first scene I looked at was the DVE HD basics test disc restaurant scene. I noticed right away that the pans were handled very well; they were noticeably smoother than on most other plasmas, with no judder, but not to the point of the dreaded soap opera look that plagues many LCDs. The panning and motion reminded me of the 96Hz mode on a Panasonic V10, which is a strong compliment. As the carrots and food appeared, I couldnt help but notice the colors; simultaneous vibrancy and naturalness is a rare combination, but the PK550 pulled it off in abundance. Shadow detail was superb; dark images were not washed out, but neither were dark images sunk down into a black blob. Thanks to the long hours spent fine tuning the 20 point adjustment, very dark images were properly neutral in color tone and were shown in the perfect balance between being easy to see and being dark/contrasty. The image had a strong sense of depth and dimensionality. The flesh tones were surprisingly rich but also quite natural; people didnt look sickly or too sunburnt. I expected very good pop and vibrancy due to the good measured light output, contrast, and gamma; and the PK550 even exceeded my high expectations in that regard by a bit. While still behind that of the best local dimming LCDs or the discontinued Pioneer Elite Kuros, I cant imagine the PK550 disappointing any level headed videophile in that regard.

There was a Panasonic 50G25 I had just calibrated sitting right next to the PK550. I just couldnt let the opportunity for a comparison slip by.

The thing that jumped out at me first is that the PK550 picks up much more glare than the G25. The G25 is probably the best plasma I have ever seen in that regard. With both sets turned off, the PK550s screen might have been a tiny bit darker with the lights on; but the reflections were much more distracting. The slim PK550 seems to run hotter than the thicker G25, which seems to produce surprisingly little heat. With both sets on but with a black 0% input, the G25 subjectively has slightly darker blacks, and its blacks were more neutral in color than the PK550s slightly greenish glow. The PK550 seemed to be more susceptible to image retention than the G25.

The PK550 has much smoother pans; the G25s 48Hz mode has too much flicker in my opinion, so I never use it. That gave the PK550 the advantage in handling 1080P/24 Blu Ray motion. The PK550 had bolder colors than the G25, and had a harder edged look with more pop. The G25 looked less contrasty and a bit on the washed out side of neutral in comparison. The G25 had more visible shadow detail, but it was a bit too visible to be truly accurate. The G25 had a slightly greener tinge and paler look to fleshtones. If you are the type of videophile who routinely turns down the color saturation to make various sources more palatable, then the G25s presentation would appeal more to you. On the other hand, lovers of rich and vibrant color tones would be more attracted to the PK550s picture.

Because of the G25s highly visible shadow detail, slightly higher light output capability, and superb resistance to reflections, I feel it would be an excellent choice for a brighter room. However, the PK550 has a more exciting and accurate image and would be a superb choice for a more light controlled environment.

While making this comparison, I was struck (and a little dismayed) by how much my impressions paralleled what I saw when I compared the Panasonic G25 to the Panasonic S2, but in this case the G25s role was reversed because of the characteristics of the set it was compared to.

I am very impressed with the overall accuracy and superb picture quality of the PK550. It shows a significant step up in performance from last years PS60, and in my opinion it even merits a good portion of the giant-slayer status that I give LGs bang for the buck leading LH90.

 

LG 50PK550 before ISF.pdf 149.740234375k . file

 

LG 50PK550 after ISF.pdf 139.1875k . file
post #89 of 5211
Quote:
Originally Posted by dumon View Post

According to the specs it is 3:2 and 3:3, but I could not find any settings
in the TV menu.

i think its automatic. I think you have to have it in cinema mode which uses the full 600hz sub field? I believe..

I read that the 24p real cinema on the pk550 was 5:5 pulldown.... Idk what it was, but the LG just looked way more crisp, clear and more smooth then the panny s2 by a long shot. I watched hellboy 2 and the LG took my breath away. I watched hellboy 2 on the panny and it was ...well no where near the PQ of the LG imo. I thought something was wrong..so I spent at least 30 mins on the movie trying to get it nice, and no matter what, it didnt look near as fluid and crisp as the LG.

The picture quality going from my toshiba regza lcd to this, was like night and day.
post #90 of 5211
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chad B View Post

Recently I had the opportunity to calibrate and evaluate the new LG 50PK550 plasma at Cleveland Plasma.

The PK550 is very slim, and that combined with the narrow border give it a sleek, modern appearance. The screen, though highly reflective, seemed to stay fairly dark under high lighting conditions.

Though the PK550 lacks the THX mode of some of LG's other models, the ISF Expert modes offer a good mode to build upon. There are two ISF picture memories available, and they can be tuned to have a separate day and night mode for each input. In addition, they can be locked if you decide to get the unit professionally calibrated and want to make sure nobody makes unwelcome changes to your settings. Even before calibration (attachment 1), the results in ISF mode were closer to accurate than I normally see. However, the negative red in the absolute luminance graph and skewed magenta seen on the CIE graph suggests the uncalibrated ISF preset will have a similar color tone to the THX modes of early production Panasonic V10 and G10 plasmas, before their THX mode was fixed. These measured errors lead to a yellowish antique cast and can rob skin tones of their natural color and ruddiness. The PK550 often automatically dims the black level when it senses a few seconds of no picture content.

Fortunately, the PK550 has one of the best, most extensive advanced calibration menus available. Some of the nice touches include color isolation controls, which allow more accurate color adjustments than the filters included with test DVDs, a partial CMS adjustment, and the choice of either a conventional 2 point or a 20 point white balance and gamma adjustment.

The 20 point adjustment is very detailed, but is extremely difficult even for a seasoned calibrator to work with. For instance, the brightness of the menu changes the reading slightly, and some pattern generators and test DVDs do not have the required 5% small window patterns. Also, the PK550's non defeatable burn in protection dims the output if the image size stays the same for too long (no matter if the pattern's brightness is changed), meaning you must change the size of the test pattern frequently and then go back to the windows you are working with. Though I was thankful to have it, the 20 point adjustment is a great example of too much of a good thing.

After much more work than required on an average plasma, the results were outstanding! The PK550's CMS adjustment, even though it was not as thorough as that on some other brands, allowed the colors to be extremely accurate. The higher measured error of the blue primary is not subjectively important in my experience. Light output with a small 100% white window measured 50 fL, and the pre-dimmed black level measured around .0132 fL. ASI contrast measured a very good 2000:1. Contrast measurements were performed with my profiled Milori Trichromat-1 meter, which is very stable and consistent with dark measurements. The light output and contrast measurements are both significantly improved over those of the LG 60PS60 plasma I reviewed last year, and mean the PK550's picture should have excellent pop and impact. The PK550 handles RGB or YCbCr colorspace properly via the HDMI input, and resolution is strong or perfect at all HD resolutions. I could find no pumping or stability problems.

After calibration, I turned off the lights and put in some very familiar 1080P/24 Blu Ray demo material. The first scene I looked at was the DVE HD basics test disc restaurant scene. I noticed right away that the pans were handled very well; they were noticeably smoother than on most other plasmas, with no judder, but not to the point of the dreaded soap opera look that plagues many LCDs. The panning and motion reminded me of the 96Hz mode on a Panasonic V10, which is a strong compliment. As the carrots and food appeared, I couldn't help but notice the colors; simultaneous vibrancy and naturalness is a rare combination, but the PK550 pulled it off in abundance. Shadow detail was superb; dark images were not washed out, but neither were dark images sunk down into a black blob. Thanks to the long hours spent fine tuning the 20 point adjustment, very dark images were properly neutral in color tone and were shown in the perfect balance between being easy to see and being dark/contrasty. The image had a strong sense of depth and dimensionality. The flesh tones were surprisingly rich but also quite natural; people didn't look sickly or too sunburnt. I expected very good pop and vibrancy due to the good measured light output, contrast, and gamma; and the PK550 even exceeded my high expectations in that regard by a bit. While still behind that of the best local dimming LCDs or the discontinued Pioneer Elite Kuros, I can't imagine the PK550 disappointing any level headed videophile in that regard.

There was a Panasonic 50G25 I had just calibrated sitting right next to the PK550. I just couldn't let the opportunity for a comparison slip by.

The thing that jumped out at me first is that the PK550 picks up much more glare than the G25. The G25 is probably the best plasma I have ever seen in that regard. With both sets turned off, the PK550's screen might have been a tiny bit darker with the lights on; but the reflections were much more distracting. The slim PK550 seems to run hotter than the thicker G25, which seems to produce surprisingly little heat. With both sets on but with a black 0% input, the G25 subjectively has slightly darker blacks, and it's blacks were more neutral in color than the PK550's slightly greenish glow. The PK550 seemed to be more susceptible to image retention than the G25.

The PK550 has much smoother pans; the G25's 48Hz mode has too much flicker in my opinion, so I never use it. That gave the PK550 the advantage in handling 1080P/24 Blu Ray motion. The PK550 had bolder colors than the G25, and had a harder edged look with more pop. The G25 looked less contrasty and a bit on the washed out side of neutral in comparison. The G25 had more visible shadow detail, but it was a bit too visible to be truly accurate. The G25 had a slightly greener tinge and paler look to fleshtones. If you are the type of videophile who routinely turns down the color saturation to make various sources more palatable, then the G25's presentation would appeal more to you. On the other hand, lovers of rich and vibrant color tones would be more attracted to the PK550's picture.

Because of the G25's highly visible shadow detail, slightly higher light output capability, and superb resistance to reflections, I feel it would be an excellent choice for a brighter room. However, the PK550 has a more exciting and accurate image and would be a superb choice for a more light controlled environment.

While making this comparison, I was struck (and a little dismayed) by how much my impressions paralleled what I saw when I compared the Panasonic G25 to the Panasonic S2, but in this case the G25's role was reversed because of the characteristics of the set it was compared to.

I am very impressed with the overall accuracy and superb picture quality of the PK550. It shows a significant step up in performance from last year's PS60, and in my opinion it even merits a good portion of the giant-slayer status that I give LG's bang for the buck leading LH90.

Just what I needed to hear. Thank you for boosting my confidence.
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