Originally Posted by oldcband
Well lets see if I can shed a little lite on the issue. From listening to experts on televisions since the early 80's and one of my favorite persons to listen to on satellite radio was Chuck Dawson. He started Home Theatre magazine and the one thing he used to tell callers calling in asking what television they should buy, he'd always say as TV's get larger "brightness" is everything and buy a Runco if you want the best. So heres where we start, I'm starting to see more and more members saying, you have to get your plasma out of the really bright mode. Well its common sense that I ask why? The more I learn if you have to reduce the brightness of your TV something is wrong. And its a contrast problem. Now your more expensive plasmas don't have these issues from what I've read, so if your going to buy a plasma buy a Runco, Fujitsu or a Pioneer and the least expensive one in this bunch is the Pioneer. Which has a contrast ratio that is lower than most plasmas.
Now whats more expensive these plasmas or a 45" Sharp? And I don't believe we have to be professional experts to have worthy opinions. Buy what works right with the budget that you have not something you might be disappionted with.
Also another test is to go BB or CC and look at a subtitled movie on LCD and plasma (budget plasma) and tell me what you thing when there in the brightest modes.
I'll disagree with several things you've said:
1) It isn't just "brightness" that is being reduced when you move the settings from the typical out-of-the-box defaults - it is also saturation, sharpening, and other settings. Over-saturated, over-sharpened & in general over-processed displays cause problems in color accuracy, contrast, edge artifacts, "clayface", black crush, etc - regardless of the brightness. I will agree that a low contrast ratio can be a problem at very high brightness - but it can also be a problem at low brightness, and it certainly isn't the only issue.
2) Who said Fujitsu, Runco & Pioneer don't have the same issues with contrast ratio? They do - it's all just a matter of degrees, and the BIG thing these displays do better than the others is not contrast ratio - it is the signal processing electronics.
3) In the "old days" brightness was the major factor for home theater - but of course we were all talking about analog CRTs, and front & rear projectors. Plasma & LCD flat panels and digital signals changed the landscape considerably.
4) Unless you are looking at measured contrast ratios in a consistent & controlled environment, contrast ratio specs are meaningless. You can't compare the mfr specs for contrast ratio between Sharp & Pioneer (or any other two mfrs).
If you want the highest contrast ratio, buy a direct-view CRT. If you want the brightest flat panel display, buy an LCD. If you want the best overall picture quality for home theater in a 50" display at the lowest price, buy a plasma. ;)