Originally Posted by Owen
It will be interesting to see how the Panasonic performs with contrast drastically reduced to lower light output to an acceptable level, but unfortunately black levels will not improve as they will on a modified SXRD.
I just don't think the Panasonic plasma's black levels will do for someone as black-level-obsessed as you. (And that's coming from a fellow black level fiend
They just ain't CRT and ain't gonna be anytime soon. Although, with some ambient lighting on I find the current (non-1080p) 9gen Panasonic plasma have pretty impressive looking black levels, especially for a digital display.
It sounds like you have a problem with the SSE on digital RPTVs like the SXRDs. Same here, it just kills the experience for me (and I'm actually blown away by just how obtrusive it can be, like watching an image through crinkled plastic wrap). But, then, your ND filter idea could be the ticket to get it low enough in light output to make SSE less an issue.
Your comments about the peak FL that you are comfortable with also seems to make the Panasonic less compelling. As you have pointed out, you'll probably be wanting to get the light output down quite a bit for low-light viewing and (minus an ND filter tweak) all you are doing there is reducing the dynamic range that is part of plasma's appeal.
As I've mentioned before, I've actually experimented with ND filter gel on my Panasonic
plasma, and it's fascinating to see a plasma with such deep black levels. But of course I do take a hit on overall brightness to get it there, and the NG gel isn't optical-quality, and so there's a little hit in clarity.
It sounds like some plasmas with terrific contrast/black levels are on the horizon from Pioneer and Panasonic, but not likely until late 2007 at best (I believe).
Now, after sounding somewhat down about the black levels of the Panasonic I can at least tell you my personal reasons for why I'd be choosing the Panasonic 65" plasma over a RPTV of any type (that includes experience viewing most of the top digital RPTVs, as well as top-notch CRT RPTVs, ISF calibrated etc).
I choose plasma for the different look to the image, that I just don't quite get from the RPTVs. There is a vibrancy and to me life-like dynamic of light play that is captivating.
There's also what I see as a more palpable, more "there" image, vs the somewhat holographic, projected, "shifty" quality of any RPTV I've seen. Then there is the impression of stunning clarity that you can get in a plasma. (The most amazing HD images I've ever seen, in terms of pure realism, came recently from viewing the new Pioneer FHD1 1080p plasma).
So, even as someone who is somewhat obsessed with black levels myself, I've been willing to trade on the black levels in order to enjoy some of the unique qualities of plasmas over RPTVs. In controlled lighting (I view in the dark, with black backdrop and black masking when necessary), when the plasma screen glass disappears, the sensation of an ultra-direct, pure image is captivating and I have not seen it quite re-created by another technology.
If that kind of quality appeals to you, then it's possible you might also find the plasma-black trade-offs acceptable for now too. And that extra real estate, jumping up to 65" really
pays off in terms of a cinematic experience. I find even the 60" displays don't feel "big" like 65" of plasma appears.
But for the most film-like image, deeper blacks, probably better shadow detail,
CRT RPTVs still reign.