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Poor setup in B&M stores? Samsung plasma looked terrible

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
After numerous positive reviews, I'm set to buy a 42" Samsung plasma (PN42C450.) So I went to check it out at Best Buy and the picture looked positively horrible: grainy, pixelated. Lines are jaggedy. But I refuse to believe this is actually a bad TV.

So I asked the salesman to set all the 42" models on the same program material so I can compare. Here's what disturbs me:

The Insignia "Advanced" LCD (NS-L42X-10A) looks positively gorgeous. Clear, bright, natural colors. I can't take my eyes off it. The Panasonic to the right looks OK (TC-P42S2.) The Samsung to the left looks terrible. Skin tones are ruddy. I ask the salesman, "Why does the Samsung look like butt?" He does not know.

Now I'm considering the Insignia. I do some research at home and discover: Insignia is a Best Buy house brand. Conspiracy theory churns in my head. Are the Insignia models calibrated correctly to increase sales, while the other brands are left to fend for themselves?

Am I crazy?
post #2 of 14
You cannot go by how a TV looks in the stores, and you cannot trust Best Buy. They usually don't have the TVs set up correctly and don't have the settings optimized. And they have an agenda. I've seen brands and models that i KNOW look fantastic in homes (friends, family, neighbors, and my own home) look like crap at Best Buy (as well as other stores).

Do you honestly think Samsung would produce a TV that looks positively horrible, grainy, pixelated, and jaggedy? It's their signal or the way they have it connected or improper settings causing the problem.
post #3 of 14
Even the almighty Kuro can look like garbage in less than ideal conditions. I witnessed this myself at a Sam's store last year. I probably wouldn't worry too much about the Samsung. Buy it, set it up in your environment, and return it if it still looks like garbage.
post #4 of 14
I have a c450 plasma myself, and actually it has an extremely clean image for a plasma. Much cleaner than my relative's Panasonic X1. Like others have said, its impossible to judge true PQ at a B&M store if you can't tweak them all in a normal viewing environment (which isn't a showroom floor).

Even if the feed is the same it doesn't mean the signal strength coming in to each TV is the same. Likewise, some TVs default in standard mode, others movie mode. Some TVs need to have their color reduced to provide the best picture, some need to have it pumped...some brighter/dimmer, movie/standard/thx, etc....Check out the owners thread and see how everyone thinks of their respective models if you can't tweak/compare instore. The c450 is a fine plasma, and by most of us it has actually exceeded our expectations for a budget 720p plasma.
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the advice. That was my hunch all along.

Randy, when I said, 'Am I crazy' I meant "...or is actually a sales tactic for Best Buy to sell more Insignias."

The difference was not subtle, or even a matter of taste. I'd say the image was objectively worse. I think 10 out of 10 random passers by would say the Insignia looked better.

On a positive note, I stuck my head right next to the Samsung and could not hear even a faint buzz.

Also, the saleman told me, "Our demo feed is actually 720p" which may explain why the 720p and 1080p sets don't look noticeably different across the board.

I'm still leaning toward the Samsung, but I may check it out at Fry's and buy from there...
post #6 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by xefned View Post

Thanks for the advice. That was my hunch all along.

Randy, when I said, 'Am I crazy' I meant "...or is actually a sales tactic for Best Buy to sell more Insignias."

The difference was not subtle, or even a matter of taste. I'd say the image was objectively worse. I think 10 out of 10 random passers by would say the Insignia looked better.

On a positive note, I stuck my head right next to the Samsung and could not hear even a faint buzz.

Also, the saleman told me, "Our demo feed is actually 720p" which may explain why the 720p and 1080p sets don't look noticeably different across the board.

I'm still leaning toward the Samsung, but I may check it out at Fry's and buy from there...

Very difficult to hear the buzz in-store with all the ambient sounds. I'm on my 2nd B series Samsung, and it buzzes, though not as loud as the 1st. I can barely hear the buzz in-store even if I get right up on the set.
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sadmaker View Post

Very difficult to hear the buzz in-store with all the ambient sounds. I'm on my 2nd B series Samsung, and it buzzes, though not as loud as the 1st. I can barely hear the buzz in-store even if I get right up on the set.

I just checked them out at HHGregg today. And while the one in BB sounded dead silent, the one in HHGregg produced a small hum. Not a big deal at all, certainly not a "buzz" rather a hum, a normal plasma hum.

I asked the sales dude if he'd heard of the buzz problem and he said, "they're basically computers."

On the plus side, the picture looked spectacular!
post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by RandyWalters View Post

You cannot go by how a TV looks in the stores, and you cannot trust Best Buy.

and this is one of the reasons I am on this forum. To get advice, read other's thoughts, etc. But i feel as if many on this forum are quick to laugh and say "are you srsly going to base your decision off this forum? Go to the store and whatever looks good to you..." Unfortunately where I live, Worst Buy (BB) is the main electronics store outlet, and their setups are, sad. Then again, I am also avoiding the buy a tv, doesn't look good, return, repeat several times game.

Good luck man
post #9 of 14
The quality of store feeds is pretty variable for a number of reasons. One is the method of distribution to the sets. If the store feed is distributed via component cables all kinds of bad stuff can happen as that is an analog connection subject to loss of strength due to multiple splitters and long cable runs. A digital distribution via HDMI or ATSC signal distributed via coax to the set's RF inputs is more reliable--digital stays consistent down to a certain point and then the obvious macroblocking and freezeups occur.

Then there's the source of the signal--is it a proprietary satellite feed or coming off a central hard drive server?

Last but far from least is the material being displayed--lots of it can easily be poorly upconverted stuff originally done in 480i.

Just feeding the same signal to a number of nearby sets doesn't mean they'll all look their best either--a simple reduction of the sharpness control, for example, can make a lot of really nasty jaggy looking sets (I'm talking Panny Plasmas here) smooth out and really shine.

I really gotta laugh at those who theorize that the stores deliberately monkey with adjustments to make some sets look better than others. That assumes first that anyone in the store even knows how to adjust a television set, and second that they care, highly doubtful in my experience.
If anything they'll do something dumb like turn up the brightness and sharpness all the way to try to get more light output when a customer complains that one set isn't as eye-searingly vivid as another. If the remote's accessible a crappy misadjusted picture is more likely due to some customer messing with it than store sponsored sabotage.

In my experience most sets are put in default vivid or dynamic mode and left there. Some mfgs. defaults look better than others, none are particularly accurate, but if the set were adjusted for an accurate picture it wouldn't sell compared to the carnival colored piece of crap next to it.
post #10 of 14
The insignia "advance" series is actually a decent TV. I'm not saying it is better than sammy/panasonic but they aren't like vizio or something.
post #11 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by xefned View Post

Thanks for the advice. That was my hunch all along.

Randy, when I said, 'Am I crazy' I meant "...or is actually a sales tactic for Best Buy to sell more Insignias."

The difference was not subtle, or even a matter of taste. I'd say the image was objectively worse. I think 10 out of 10 random passers by would say the Insignia looked better.

On a positive note, I stuck my head right next to the Samsung and could not hear even a faint buzz.

Also, the saleman told me, "Our demo feed is actually 720p" which may explain why the 720p and 1080p sets don't look noticeably different across the board.

I'm still leaning toward the Samsung, but I may check it out at Fry's and buy from there...

That is 100% true by the way, he was not lying. (Former best buy employee)
post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by e2g_ View Post

and this is one of the reasons I am on this forum. To get advice, read other's thoughts, etc. But i feel as if many on this forum are quick to laugh and say "are you srsly going to base your decision off this forum? Go to the store and whatever looks good to you..." Unfortunately where I live, Worst Buy (BB) is the main electronics store outlet, and their setups are, sad. Then again, I am also avoiding the buy a tv, doesn't look good, return, repeat several times game.

Good luck man

I agree, a combination of both online reviews, and personal in-store shopping is best whenever possible.

I too am trying to avoid the buy, return, repeat syndrome.
I've now looked at them in Best Buy, HHGregg, and Fry's - although when looking at Fry's I was only looking at 1080p LCDs at the time. I'll probably take another 40 min. drive up there just to check out the 720p plasmas.

I went in to buy at HH with the $50 off coupon. My forum head was leaning toward the Panasonic P42C2, but my heart wanted the LG just based on the smaller bezel, and shorter stand. (Something tells me one should always go with their head when making a long term commitment.)

Still I pulled out my credit card to buy and was told: "Out of stock on the LG. Won't have any more for 3 weeks."

What to do... buy the Panasonic, and use my $50 coupon. Or drive to Fry's for the LG and pay full price....?
post #13 of 14
Some sets have a "store setting" and revert to it when turned off and then on again. The store setting is usually the least pleasing picture...in torch mode.
I have also gone into a store, set a picture up to my taste and gone back a week later to find it is still on those settings.
Oh ya, ended up buying a sam 63" 590. Very nice at home. CRT like big screen. Excellent colors...great black levels...no rise...no off angle viewing problems.
post #14 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by tsaville View Post

Even the almighty Kuro can look like garbage in less than ideal conditions. I witnessed this myself at a Sam's store last year. I probably wouldn't worry too much about the Samsung. Buy it, set it up in your environment, and return it if it still looks like garbage.

Yep, my KURO didnt look good at all in BB when I bought it. Thankfully, I knew better. Actually, to be honest, some of the LCDs looked good. No wonder why they sell more of them. At home though, the KURO looks better turned off than most LCDs do with a 1080p feed.
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