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Discussion Starter #1
Alright guys, I finally got my 500 in after all of the snow. For those who weren't following the other threads, I've owned the 300 for the past year, that was my first pj. I love the 300 and had no legitimate need to upgrade, but I wanted the extra resolution and the DVI with HDCP, so I made the call.


I have adjusted them both with AVIA and to my and my wife's eye we prefer the Normal setting. I am not a videophile, I don't own any color analyzers or light meters. I'm showing on a 106" DaLite HCCV screen, the pj is ceiling mounted, I'm using a Pace HD cable box, the freebie Panasonic RP62 DVD player, connected via Component (don't have a DVI source yet), and everything is switched through my Pioneer Elite 45tx receiver.


1st Impression:

Not as big of an upgrade as I had hoped for. But I'd do it again.


Details:

I don't have a way to hook them up simultaneously for a same time side by side comparison. But my wife and I (she's an extremely educated and critical viewer--knows more about pjs and hd than many folks here) sat and watched the 300 with HD for about 15 minutes before switching to make sure we were familiar with the pq.

When we put the 500 in the mix, it looked great, but it wasn't a huge difference with HD. Do not misunderstand me, it's a gorgeous picture, and an improvement (will explain below), but it's not a night and day difference.


In another thread where component vs. DVI was being discussed, I asked people to rate the difference on a scale of 1-3, with one end of the scale being a difference that you could notice even if you hadn't seen the other pj in a day or two and the other end of the scale being a difference that you could only see in rapid A/B switching or side by side comparison.


The change from the 300 to the 500 is probably the latter of those two choices. As far as HD pq, even though you added 78% more pixels, the improvement is hard to notice. NOTE: I do not have a 720p source at this time, all of my sources are 1080.


Pros:

1) There is virtually NO visible pixelation. Screen door was never an issue for the 300, but I could see pixels if I got within about 2 feet. Now it's virtually impossible to see a pixel at any distance.

2) Blacks and contrast seem a hair bit better. Not a knock you out of your chair difference, but an incremental improvement.

3) Marginal improvement in HD quality, but this is something that you need a great HD source to see and a quick A/B to tell.

4) May even be a hair quieter than the 300, almost silent in low.

5) Seems a little brighter than the 300, but the 300 has 420 hours on the lamp, so that's not fair.

6) Peakaboo scanline after flicker adj, is almost non-existent now.


Cons:

1) The VB is a hair more prominent with this model than the 300, but I can't put my finger on why. I actually think it's because of the increased resolution and smoothness in the image that the VB stands out more. The image is so clean and smooth with this pj, that the pixelation on the 300 isn't there to hide/disguise any of the VB.


NOTE: I HAVE made some improvements in the VB with the proper color, contrast, flicker settings already, and I have not tweaked any of the Advance menu settings yet, so I am hopeful to get rid of it completely. AND, the VB was never as bad as the pics of the Z2 VB posted in the other thread.


2) My DVD's actually seem to look worse? Let me explain, it seems like I'm picking up flaws in the DVDs now that I couldn't see before. For example, in the opening battle scene of Gladiator, I could actually see what looked like film grain artifacts, like there would be a black spec that would move from around the screen from one frame to another, like I was watching film at a movie theater. I'm not sure what this actually is, but I've seen that scene hundreds of times on my 300 and I never noticed those things. My wife noticed it immediately also. It's as if the resolution of the 500 has outstripped the capacity of the dvd and is now showing more of its flaws than the 300 could.


Miscellaneous:

I haven't played with the AI feature much. The high fan mode is still node too loud, but when compared to the almost dead silence of the low mode, I don't feel the CR boost is worth it. It seems minimal to me anyway. My problem was never CR anyway, I'd like darker blacks and more shadow detail.


Bottom Line:

If you're happy with your 300 and you have other things you could do with your money, then I would. If a mild incremental improvement is worth the extra money for you, then go for it. If you're buying your first pj, you will never get as much bang for your buck as the 300, so your money is best spent there and take the extra cash and buy other components.
 

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Excellent post!!


I'll concentrate on upgrading my audio components for now. My 300 still knocks the socks off of everyone who sees it. I'm convinced that you are right in your supposition about the more pronounced VB (with the Z2 as well).


I'll skip a generation of pj's, like I did with my DVD player (47A to 59AVi).


Anyone need a mint 55TXi? I'm going for the 59!
 

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So the HDTV improvement from the 300 to 500 isn't 78% sharper as the 78% more pixels would suggest (I know it was farfetched, just making a funny). I'm getting HDTV installed on my 300U tuesday, and was worried I may get an upgrade bug to go to the 500U. Please elaborate more on you impressions with HDTV on both machines. And if you could do me a favor, can you tell me how much better HDTV will look compared to DVDs on my 300U :D ?
 

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yeah you'll see more "bad stuff" in dvd transfers now than you could before. I don't think that is a con though...you're just getting to see the source in an improved way. If it looks good then it will look even better now on the l500 compared to the l300
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Quote:
Originally posted by Markolc
So the HDTV improvement from the 300 to 500 isn't 78% sharper as the 78% more pixels would suggest (I know it was farfetched, just making a funny). I'm getting HDTV installed on my 300U tuesday, and was worried I may get an upgrade bug to go to the 500U. Please elaborate more on you impressions with HDTV on both machines. And if you could do me a favor, can you tell me how much better HDTV will look compared to DVDs on my 300U :D ?
Nope, it was maybe a 5-10% improvement in HD. Now, maybe with a 720p source you'll see a much bigger improvement.


HDTV with the 300 ROCKS! You're getting about 95% of the HD WOW factor at a lower price. I really thought there would be more difference. I tried the 720, 1080, and Pass settings on the Pace cable box and really couldn't tell any differences, so it didn't seem to be a scaling issue.


I'm going to do a better comparison this afternoon. I got an RCA adapter today and will be able to do A/B comparisons, although it won't be side by side simultaneous and the HD won't be the exact same clips. My wife will help, she can actually switch them and let me guess which I'm watching.


I think the take home from all this is that the 500 is a great machine, and the VB can likely be tweaked out 95%. The picture is cleaner and smoother and I'm no longer pixel hunting in light colored solid backgrounds like I was before (but that was nitpicking).


BUT, the 300 was a price/performance breakthrough that will be very hard to achieve again. It is so good on HD and dvds that any improvements we see from here on out will be incremental, not revolutionary. That is, until we get some 1080p source material.


This comparison does make me say this though. HS20 owners telling you that you get an improvement in HD going from the Z2 or 500 are full of it. I just upped the pixels by 78% and can barely tell a difference. Going from 1280x720 to 1366x768 is not going to be noticeable. I know that'll start a fight with the Sony guys, but I just don't believe it.


I'll post some more of the comparison later on. Maybe with some specific scenes from DVDs. I know one from FOTR that I'd like to see if the 500 is able to add any shadow detail.


Again, let me clarify for newbies. I had the money to do this, it was not a stretch for cash, I would have blown it on something. That's why I say I would do it again, because it IS an improvement. But if I had a weak link in my setup, it wasn't my Panny 300. If your speakers or receiver or screen or dvd player sucks, that's where you should put your upgrade dollars.


Bubbawilly, talk to me about that 55Txi :)
 

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Some notes :). With good scaling, your DVDs will look VERY nice. HTPC with FFDShow and Dscaler filters, and it looks downright amazing. We've discussed VB in another thread. I also think you're doing yourself a disservice not running it in AI mode. AI2 is superb :). Just remember that AI is only active in Normal power, and not Low.


-MP
 

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Thank you for sharing your comparison with us. As a happy owner of a 300U for eight months and having used it for both DVD and HDTV, I wondered how much better the 500U could be. The 1080i and 720p HDTV I have seen using a Zenith 420 ATSC tuner is terrific. I only use a 68 inch wide white matte pull down screen, but for my theater that is big enough. Until the high definition DVD's come along in a few years I would think that the only way to make those images better would be a better contrast ratio.


I have compared my 300U against higher output Panasonics that we use at work, but which have only a 400:1 contrast ratio. The 300U with its 800:1 ratio makes a big difference.


My plan is to wait until the high definition DVD's come out or they offer a 1080p front projector. But until then the 300U does it for me.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
My wife and I just finished the head to head comparison, being able to switch within about 1 minute of each other. Here's the consensus:


The Panny 300 is 99.5% of what the 500 can do. Period.


We like the colors slightly better on the 500, but my wife sees more VB on the 500, so that's a wash. We could not tell which we were watching with 1080i material, we could not tell which we were watching with DVD.


I wanted to hallucinate some more improvements to justify the price I paid, you all know the wishful thinking that goes along with a speaker wire upgrade or something like that. I'd like to say it's a hair smoother, but that's really a stretch, my wife disagrees.


My wife said she couldn't tell a difference between them no matter how hard she tried, and I have to agree.


Would I do it again now, after this more in depth comparison? NO. The 300 is just as good in virtually every aspect. Unless seeing the faintest hair of pixelation or screen door if you want to call it that or you need an HDCP compliant DVI or you just like paying more money for virtually the same machine, keep your 300 or go buy one RIGHT NOW while you still can.


This is not a slam of the 500 at all. I just believe that the 300 is that good. My brother in law is going to inherit one hell of a machine.


I'm secure enough with myself to be able to tell you honestly that there is virtually no improvement, and perhaps the VB tradeoff makes it a bad upgrade. I'm not going to tell you it's a big improvement to justify my purchase. I researched here for the past 4 months on this one.


MP-I will give the AI another try, but I don't think I'll use it. The AI bumps CR by giving you the brights you'd get in high lamp mode and the darks you get in low lamp mode. I want my CR improved by lowering the black floor, not raising the white ceiling. And I love the total silence of low lamp mode.


I'll consider this a bulb upgrade and if I get a DVI source I'll now be HDCP compliant so those will be bonuses. I hope I've saved a lot of you guys a lot of money. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
One last thing:

I know folks will talk about using an HTPC and other options like that where the 500 may excel. I can't dispute those because I don't use an HTPC. My review is the every man's review with just a dvd player and an HD source. I hope to tweak out the VB and improve the picture, but there's no way I can improve the HD resolution and other factors.
 

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*shrug* We'll agree to disagree then. My AE500 is a considerable improvement over my L300U, especially with HTPC source and a true 720p signal. But we each have our preferences :)
 

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MP, As I said, I don't have an HTPC and I don't even have a 720 source. My local ABC station is a Sinclair station and TWC can't get ESPN for me yet. So there may be a significant improvement there. I'm not disagreeing with you at all. I'm sure there is a noticeable improvement for you, it's just not happening with my setup which is less sophisticated than yours. I just wanted to be honest about this for all the guys here. I'm still holding out hope that when I do get 720 material or a DVI out cable box and DVD player that I'll see a significant improvement.
 

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Actually, you're making much the same point I made when I upgraded. If you are happy with your L300U, don't upgrade. I happened to be in a position to get almost as much for my used L300U as what I paid for my AE500, so it was a no brainer. But really, the L300U is a GREAT buy.


Oh, and one more semi-important reason you might need the AE500. HDCP compliance on the DVI. That'a biggee for some people.


-MP
 

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I think i want the 500 simply for its HDCP capabilities. I would like to sell my 300 and go the 50 route. Now if i only knew how much to ask for the 300...
 

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Well, my advice would be to research what they are going for new, factor in how many hours you have on yours, check the recent prices on well known auction sites, and give it a try. I know a lot of people are jumping at the chance to buy a 300 now. Whatever you do, please don't post saying how much you want for it :). And for everyone else, please don't ask him!


Thanks,

MP
 

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I wonder if you want to use the VGA port or DVI to see whether or not it reduces the vertical banding?


How does the "peak-a-boo scanlines" compare between each of these projectors if you factor in the tweaking?
 

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Jacksonian, thank you for a very informative thread and for being straight up with us 300 owners. If your brand new 500 is only marginally better than your 300 - which has several hundred hours on it - then I'll be hanging on to my 300. We are rarely watch TV so high definition is not important for me and I really can't justify an upgrade. Until the format of dvds change I'm keeping my 300. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #19
DrewB,

You're welcome. I've been a regular on this forum on and off for over a year and a half now and I'm a psychiatrist, so I understand how the "wishful thinking" bug works. When I first hooked up the 500, I was looking for any little thing that I could grab onto that was better than the 300 and I thought I saw them. But when we went back and objectively compared, most all of those things were already there. I've done the same thing with speakers and cables, etc...People will say, "Oh yeah, I upgraded my speaker wire and now I can hear much more detail, etc..." But I've done that and then gone back to the old, and all of that detail was there, I just wasn't listening for it and wishing it to be there.


On another note, if you're not watching HD on your Panny 300 -- YOU'RE MISSING THE MOST AMAZING, LIFE CHANGING UPGRADE IN THE HISTORY OF TIME! I am not exaggerating on this one. This is a slap you in the face difference, especially on a huge screen. Please do yourself a favor and find a way to get some HD. Even if you only like movies, you can watch them on INHD, HDNet Movies, HBO-HD, Sho-HD. I promise that is an upgrade that will make every other upgrade in your life meaningless.
 

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I can deff. concur with that statement (about the HD content) I can't get HD here in Singapore, but I've played the M$ WMV9 HD content on my Z1 through my htpc, and It is AWESOME. Makes DVDs look like regular TV. If you're in the states, and you have any of these great PJs, you need to get HDTV. Enjoy your PJs all.
 
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