I just got my Toshiba 34HF81 on Thu. Those of you who are interested in a state-of-the-art direct-view set, should strongly consider this newest 34-inch unit. I must tell you that I'm waiting for the best plasma, the Pioneer PDP-4330HD , which boasts true XGA and FireWire inputs, and got rave reviews from folks attending CEDIA. Since the 42-inch Panny is currently on hold to have its buzzing fixed, I chose the Tosh as a "temporary bride."
CEDIA attendees also noted that direct-view sets still produce better black levels than any PDP. Since the Pioneer is set to ship in early 2002, I figured I needed something to while away a probable six-month wait. So, I left the 4:3 world behind and traded up to my first 16:9 set. The Toshiba received a favorable mention in SoundStage's CEDIA coverage . After reading that review and noting that the Sony KD-34XBR2 was $4000, I decided the Toshiba was a better buy for $2500.
One reason why I know I'll love my 43-inch flat screen is that it weighs 69 pounds. Something liftable. The Tosh weighs 163 pounds, and stresses my IKEA media cart!
I bought the 34HF81 from The Good Guys in San Francisco (Van Ness). BTW, the day I bought my Tosh, I got a demo of the Kenwood DV-5700M from my sales rep Rich Mitra. Since I'm not convinced demo circumstances were ideal, I'll reserve judgment until I can compare notes with others.
Instead, I chose the one DVD player Stacey Spears called "a steal" -- the Panasonic DVD-RP56 (build date: July 2001; version: V065 45W045). After all, who can resist a Sage chip-equipped player for $250? Of course, what struck me immediately about using a 16:9 set is why so many posters find the RP-91's scaling capabilities such a monumental feature. We want that valuable real estate occupado!
The Toshiba 34HF81 is a very "kewl" TV. It has one feature I hope everyone puts in their displays, two-level mute. One tap, 50% silence. Two taps, total silence. I want to stay in touch, so that first tap usually does the job.
After running the first batch of AVIA tests, I sat down to some extended viewings with all the DVDs everyone likes to test with, Fifth Element, The Matrix and Toy Story. As expected, Toy Story 2 simply looked amazing last night. But Fifth Element was awesome too. The Matrix looked too green to my liking. I have the Superbit version of Fifth Element on order, as well as other demo DVDs people are raving about, like The Pledge.
Here are my AVIA settings:
Color Saturation: 42
I must admit, I spent the first evening watching a bunch of movies with progressive scan turned off. Reason: buried in the Panny manual was this "intuitive" explanation, "Prog Out" means on.
Anyway, the Tosh is impressive. The real test will come when I hook up my Zenith DTV1080 STB, but I'm afraid that will totally turn me off NTSC TV.
I'm open for questions.
Editor, Prosumer Ezine
[This message has been edited by Prosumer.tv (edited 09-30-2001).]
Thanks for the excellent rundown on this apparently great set. I have been waiting for reviews to come in! BTW, did you see Tosh's last year's version of this 34"? It did not get fgreat reviews, however I thought it looked very nice (I forgot the model #). How do they compare?
Can you share the price? I think the local Wash DC price is about $2400.
WOW! I see the price quoted at CEDIA is $1900.
[This message has been edited by WOLVERNOLE (edited 09-30-2001).]
I find it incredible that you already know that a plasma display which won't ship for 4 months or so is better than any on the market now, based on rave reviews from folks attending CEDIA. If it's based on Pioneer's new 50, which is in some ways apparently superior to and in some ways inferior to Panasonic's 50, can we really draw any conclusions about the 42 Panny vs. the 43 Pionner.
I doubt we can. Until we see it. For sale. Production units. Real reviews, not anecdotes. FWIW, I'm tempted to wait too, but to compare, not because I've concluded.
I notice Toshiba states in thier ads for this set that it still line doubles to 480p, while all their new RPTV's are now 540p. I have this TV's parent, the CW34X92 and love it, especially after having it ISF'd. I have yet to see a RPTV that would make me give up this set.
I agree that buying something sight unseen is not something I advocate. I did it with the Toshiba, because of a single "eye-witness." I'm waiting for the Pioneer because others on this forum have said it was excellent, but I'll make sure to examine it up-close at CES before I spend my hard-earned dollars.
BTW inthe plasma forum, there are several people who are laying out 11 grand without *ever* having seen the PDPs they're buying in person. Makes we look like a wimp.
Michael, sorry to have "bitten your head off." It was this quote that got to me though:
"I must tell you that I'm waiting for the best plasma, the Pioneer PDP-4330HD ..."
We have no way of knowing if it's the best plasma. It appears that in the case of the brand new Pio 50, the blacks are not as good as Panasonic's, for example.
I am like you in searching for the perfect plasma, and debating an interim purchase in the meantime. I have contemplated the new Sony 43 projection unit. To me, the widescreen 34s are wimpy small when watching 4:3, which is a big deal for me given how much of my viewing comes from Tivo.
Michael Tchong: I have two Toshiba CW34X92 sets and had both ISF'd at the same time. Yes it made a big difference. If you could use Avia or VE on each mode (video 1,2,3, HD1, HD2, etc) and save the setting, you could probably get by. Honestly, if you spend the amount of money it takes to buy a HDTV, it is worth it to get the settings correct. Toshiba's, I'm told, are the best out of the box with respect to calibration, but even given that, I saw a big difference.
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