Pioneer and Panasonic are at the top of the list. Pioneer is probably regarded as being a bit better although the Panny does very well. Also many believe the Pio has better stretch modes if you plan to stretch your SD out to fill the screen. I don't care for stretched 4:3 myself, but some do.
IMO LCD is much worse, regardless of resolution. Also SD on a 1080p looks even worse than on a 768p set.
Fujitsu and Runco display SD the best. Behind those, it seems the Pioneer would rank 3rd and the Panasonic 4th. Pioneer's two SD stretch modes are better than Panasonic's JUST mode (i've confirmed this myself). But one thing i HATE about the Pioneer is that the sidebars when watching 4:3 SD OAR will be either gray or a strange black/white duplite image of the show you're watching - you cannot set the side bars to black.
I don't know how a 1080p plasma would display SD, but i have come to the conclusion that the various top-of-the-line 1080p LCDs don't display it as well as a good plasma.
That's right, I forgot about the Fujitsu and Runco
I don't care for the gray or duplicate image sidebars either. I was able to find a workaround to get black sidebars, but this may be limited to STB's that will allow this. I've shared this before and will post here again for anyone who may be able to get this to work too.
(Randy, I replied to another of your posts with this info hoping maybe this would work for you, but not sure if you saw it. I'll PM this too you too just in case.)
I don't know if your STB will allow this, but I found a workaround to get black sidebars when watching SD through my DTV HR10-250. I don't care for the gray bars or image matching bars either.
I set the HR10-250 to output letterbox color black and set the TV aspect correction to Panel which outputs 4:3 material with those black sidebars. Then on the Pio I keep my display on FULL. This way it is technically stretching that 4:3 image with the black bars out to fullscreen - otherwise with the display on 4:3 I would have the 4:3 image with black bars and gray bars.
EDIT: Randy, I just realized you own a Panny, so this may not be of any help for you to begin with...
I just had a chance to see a Fujitsu Plasmavision 42" (last year's model) at a local Magnolia B&M store for the first time. Wow, extremely impressed by the PQ. I dare say I thought it was the best PQ in the store. I also thought that the overall design of the TV itself was perfect and elegant. I can now understand why people would pay a premium for this TV. Can't wait to see this side by side vs. the new 8G PIO.
The Philips 9631/9731's do an awesome job on SD and the AUTOMATIC function to fill the screen is state-of-the-art. I use it all the time on SD and 4:3 material and friends never even notice the stretching, they just assumed the broadcast was 16:9. The overall PQ on SD is about the same as on my 27" Sony CRT that it replaced.
I've owned a Philips 9631 and a Pioneer 4270. The Pioneer is head and shoulders over the Philips in overall SD image quality. The Philips downfall is excessive "false contouring" and it's internal processor does not do that of what top the top dogs do. It's auto stretch mode however works really well and feed it a well upconverted signal or HD and it's a great tv.
A forum community dedicated to home theater owners and enthusiasts. Come join the discussion about home audio/video, TVs, projectors, screens, receivers, speakers, projects, DIY’s, product reviews, accessories, classifieds, and more!