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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just saw a 42PA20U next to a 4330 at CC viewing HD content. From what everyone says, the pio black levels are it's weak point.


I don't get it. :confused:


When images like a man in a dark suit appeared, you could barely see the lapels on the guy's jacket on the panny. However they were much clearer (brighter) on the pio. I really doubt this had anything to do with ED vs. HD, since the rest of the images were the usual differences I have noticed before. I thought bad black levels meant you lost detail in the blacks. Well, if the pio has worse black levels than the panny, I've now come full circle....YET AGAIN....on choosing panny over pio. %#[email protected] I was all set to get the 50phd6uy, now I'm no so sure I shouldn't just get a creaky 503 and be done with it.


This.....hobby.....sucks. :(



P.S. IMO, the weak point on the pio is that the whites look yellowish, which probably can only be noticed when sitting next to another panel like the panny.
 

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Pioneer always had more details in blacks.


Black level on this forum refers to how dark a picture is.
 

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Right, Pioneer had better shadow detail but less good absolute black level. Those are two similar issues, but they are not the same issue.


The new Pioneer might be even better there. But I wonder if you had calibrated the Panasonic what would've happened.
 

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Additionally, the performance benefit relative to "better blacks" tends to be much more noticeable in a darkened room setting as opposed to a well lite environment. Most store displays are in well lite environments so the Panny often suffers as a consequence.


That said, image quality on the Pio is certainly very appealing. If in fact a high percentage of your viewing is going to take place in a room where the light level will be relatively high (lets say a room without controlled lighting )and you are a user that will be doing a good deal of daytime viewing then the Pio has so many other good things going for it that you would have to consider its high light level environment performance as something of an advantage.


You should really consider your application when trying to attach values to the performance characteristics of these displays. Although I am oversimplifying a bit in order to make the point, in my opinion, the Panny can outperform the Pio relative to image quality in a darkened room or low light level environment ala better blacks and the Pio can outperform the Panny in a daytime relatively higher light level setting. Not to say that blacks and light level should be your only consideration but definitely consider your particular application especially relative to the Panny the Pio and the Fujitsu 50" displays. Those three and maybe the NEC appear to be a cut above the other plasma displays at the moment and it might really come down to the particulars of your application if you have narrowed your search down to those three or four suppliers.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
"Right, Pioneer had better shadow detail but less good absolute black level. Those are two similar issues, but they are not the same issue."


Gah, this is what makes me ill. ;)


My understanding of a "good black level" is how deep the blacks can get *while still* maintaining detail. To me, if you have deeper blacks but less detail, that's not a good black level. Same thing if you have greyish blacks *with* detail. A good black level (to me) would be deep blacks *with* detail. From what I've seen so far it seems like you have to choose between the two...


As for my application, I have full light blocking shades so light won't be a problem. However, I'd rather not live in a cave 100% of the day so it'd be nice to have the option to view with or without ambient light. The store was farily bright (all artificial...no windows in the area) but not overpowering.


Thing is, I'm even having this issue with my new 13" Sony WEGA. The blacks are deep but the detail sucks unless I crank the picture and brightness to near 100%. So I exhanged it for a Samsung 16" which had greyer blacks but more detail. I would have kept the Samsung but I wasn't able to adjust tint/sharpness when using component so I exchanged it back to the Sony (gotta love CCity).


So in conclusion, methinks I'm a bit too damn picky and will likely not be happy with any damn TV I get, so I guess need to deal with it or bag the whole idea and read books instead of watching TV. ;)
 

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You do not have to choose between the two for any particular technical reason.


It is quite possible to have a dark black level and good shadow detail.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by goombawa

[B

So in conclusion, methinks I'm a bit too damn picky and will likely not be happy with any damn TV I get, so I guess need to deal with it or bag the whole idea and read books instead of watching TV. ;) [/b]
Just make sure you get a book with deep dark print but yet good shadow detail.
 

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I went through the same thing you are and compared the two displays over and over and bought the 433 seven months ago.I would make the same purchase again even comparing it to new panny.I just love the Pioneer image, black level be damned.
 

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I own a Panasonic but I've always loved the images on the Pioneer models too. I find the Pioneer models seem to have a somewhat richer color pallet, with more intricate color detail. Overall I found I valued the Panasonic's deeper black levels over the strengths of the Pioneer, but I wouldn't say the Panasonic is "better," just different.


Yesterday I was watching Attack Of The Clones on the Pioneer Elite 43" plasma. Wow! It was breathtakingly rich and involving.
 

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"I guess I need to deal with it or bag the whole idea and read books instead of watching TV."

_______________________________________


Wrong. What you have to do is stop watching the TV and start watching the program.


TVs are like cars. There is no one car that is perfect for every driver. We all weigh factors like safety, mileage, style, durability, warranty, reputation, status, features, options, prices, how long we expect to keep it, what new models are one the horizon, etc. But eventually we have to pick one or we will be riding the bus by default.


I've had the Pioneer 503 since January and am quite happy with it. Our room has daylight and it's great. At night it's great. Sure, I can look at the closing credits of a movie and notice that the background is not totally black-black-black. But if I start letting the background of the closing credits become the standard by which I enjoy the the movie experience, then I'm seeking a perfection which I obtain no where else in life. (By the way, the last time I was in a theater, I noticed that the "black" of the credits background also had a projected glow that rendered it very dark gray.)


We have had lots of friends over to watch movies. All have raved about the TV and all have raved about the movies. Not one has ever commented on the black levels. I guess I'm just going to have to find more critical friends. Wouldn't that be a joy?
 

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OK, now you guys have me really confused. I have been researching a plasma purchase for a long time and on several occassions I have been very close to pulling the trigger on either an NEC 42MP4, Toshiba 42HP82 or a Pioneer 433. Each time, I have convinced myself to wait just a little longer as the next generation will surely improve issues (black levels, DVI/HDCP, etc.)


This week I have once again come very close to pulling the trigger on the new Panasonic 42HD6UY given that it has superior black level & DVI/HDCP. I have always been under the impression that superior black level detail meant definition and detail in dark parts of the picture. I too have been to CC and seen the new Panasonic ED next to the Pioneer (consumer). Personally, I can never evaluate PQ in these environments. The settings are way off and without Video Essentials (much less an ISF calibration) dialing in reasonable settings for a comparison seems nearly impossible.


Having said that, I have seen the Panasonic next to both the Toshiba and the Pioneer (at both CC and PC Richard) and although I thought the picture on the Toshiba (re-badged NEC) was excellent, I still thought the black level detail on the Panasonic was superior.


Most of my viewing is TV (I have HDTV access through TWC), not DVDs and I usually have lights on. Now, given all of this...what do I do?
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Speaking as objectively as possible (meaning based purely on the tech details), is the 50phd6uy *that* much more advanced than the 503 with the appropriate cards? I know the old saying "a picture is worth a thousand words" is the ultimate proof, but I'd also like to get the numbers angle as well. I'm just concerned that I'd be spending roughly the same $$$ on either panel (6uy being maybe $400 more), and since the 503 is 2 years older....well, it just kinda goes against my nature to do go that route. However in this case I just might if I feel I wouldn't be obsoleting myself prematurely. The other option is to wait for the 504 but I can't wait that long (estimates are 1/04)
 

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goombawa, I am in the same situation as you. I am finding it difficult to pull the trigger on a 433CMX - it is two year old technology & the whites do look a little yellow. But the blacks definitely exhibit more detail. Overall, the PQ is still quite impressive.


I was able to view the same source material (Tomorrow Never Dies & U-571) on a Panasonic ED (consumer version) & a Pioneer Pro-800HD. In the opening scene of the Bond DVD, the whites are yellowish (compared to the Panny). Maybe this can be adjusted. The U-571 DVD (Chapter 7) clearly demonstates better black level detail - the characters in this scene are on the deck of a submarine at night & it's raining - you can make out more detail on the Pioneer.


I too cannot wait until 1Q2004 (have been waiting since Oct 2002). If we had a release date, it might be different.


Right now, my daily debate is between the PWD6UY & the PHD6UY.


And on and on it goes!!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Glad to see I'm not the only one. ;)


I look at my choices for a 50" as being the 50phd6uy (just heard inventory should be in by next week), the 503 or the P50. The P50 just seems to be a little pricey for the advantages over the 6uy so I don't think I'm going that route.


Here's another question - what is the most current consumer version of the pio 50"? I'm confused as to the models...I know there is the 5330 (consumer version of the 503) but I'm not sure how the Elite models, e.g., 1000, play into the mix. Can someone elaborate on this?


P.S. I just switched from RCN to TWC and got the pioneer 3510hd STB w/ DVI output. Here's to hoping it actually works. ;)
 

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All "superior black level" means is that dark, inky black is possible. That's it.


"Superior shadow detail" means that you can see detail in the dark parts of the picture.


One of my favorite black-level tests: Get a space movie. Space is supposed to look black. It does on my old CRT TV. It should on a good plasma. Black as in BLACK. Turn the lights down; this test doesn't work in a bright room and you rarely would watch Star Wars in a bright room so why test it that way!


[The Panasonic is -- objectively, as in instrument measureable -- the best here and LCD actually are not good. You can read Peter Putman at www.projectorexpert.com and see this from his data.]


One of my favorite shadow-detail tests: Watch something where guys where black suits. Look to find the detail: where the lapels end, what the fabric really looks like. It is hard to see this on most digital TVs. I use Without a Trace a lot for this one and -- in honestly -- I felt the Pioneer was still not amazing here. I want an even better plasma! Perhaps the new ones.


It seems to me that a Men in Black (I or II) might offer both enough dark space and enough dark scenes / look at the suits moments (and you want to see them in dark suits both in dark rooms and in light rooms) to do both tests.


Sorry to be a broken record.
 

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Disclaimer: I've got the pio 503cmx. That aside, here are my thoughts:


I think there has long been a consensus on this board, borne out by my own observations as well as those of many others panny and pio owners, that the pio has better detail in dark scenes and more vivid colors while the panny has better black level (defined as rogo has defined it). (Note that I said 'consensus', not unanimity....most people seem to feel this way, but there are some who would disagree.)


I prefer the pio -- I like its punch, which is easier to see in daytime in a lit room while still looking great at night -- and I love its detail in dark scenes...these are the reasons I got it. I would make the same choice now. But lots of others prefer the panny, both because of the better black level and because some believe its slightly more subdued colors are more 'film-like'. Richard Harkness is quite eloquent about this in his many superb posts.


As for which version is the current consumer version of the pio -- why are you looking for the consumer version. Once again, there is a consensus on this board that you are better off with the 503cmx than with the consumer version or the elite, and you'll save some money to boot.
 

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A really good test of black level detail is the scene in The Fifth Element where our hero is in the hotel room and asks if there is anything to wear. On cue, the woman opens a closet and runs out a bunch of dark suits. You need to have a display properly calibrated to see the details.
 

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Just to clarify the difference between detail in the dark areas and black levels---


Back when I was a photography student, we had to master something called the Zone System (courtesy of Ansel Adams and Minor White). Simply put it mean that there were ten basic steps between Zone 0 (pure black) and zone 10 (pure white) with zone 5 being middle gray. Textured black objects (a black suit for example) were zone 2, meaning that they were two full steps away from total black. My guess is that some plasmas max out at zone 1 and some go all the way to zone 0. To many people, the extra contrast gives more of a three dimensional quality to the image.
 
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