Interesting. I wonder if that is indeed what will happen in 5 years -- that is that average people will be shocked at how much well-heeled early adopters paid for plasmas? Or, will early adopters have moved on to new more expensive display technologies, or simply traded up to huge 80-inch plasmas that will be out of the price range of most folk?
One could argue though, that plasmas currently really aren't all that expensive by comparison to other top video display technologies. At full retail, the Fujitsu P50, arguably the best plasma image money can buy right now, costs $10K. And the Pioneer 503CMX, arguably the second or third best non-Runco plasma money can buy, which is easily found on line, costs $6500. By comparison, all of the top HD2 DLP projectors cost $10K or more at retail. Some cost far more. Same with some of the top D-ILAs.
And, lest we forget, it wasn't all that long ago that videophiles were paying $50K for a 9-inch CRT projector, plus $20K for a processor to feed it, plus thousands for installation and calibration.
Early adopters will continue to be early adopters, as far as their finances allow. It's hard to imagine a plasma enthusiast not being tempted to purchase the first 80"+ models, or a projector owner not being eager to buy into the first generation of 1920x1080 projectors.
In a few years, we'll all be siting around talking about those insane days in which it wasn't unheard of to pay $10k for a 50" plasma, or an HD2 projector... And after we're done reminiscing, we'll pay yet another outrageous sum to stay on the cutting edge
This isn't a hobby, it's an addiction
I'll probably get off the upgrade wagon once I see a 1920x1080 projector I'm really pleased with... Until they come out with higher resolutions, that is
I dont really consider myself part of the Ultra-High End board but rather the High-End. I am also not too Fimiliar with plasmas though i am very interested in them; but at Cambridge Soundworks (i dont know if you all have one of access around you) they have a very nice looking Marantz 61-incher, and i thought it looked very stunning. From about 10' at first i thought it was the VP-12s2 (seeing as to how CSW deals with Marantz) it was pitch dark, and again looking VERY GOOD. I dont know how worht it this unit really is because it cost $17,999 at their store, but since you guys are talking of high-roller status plasmas i thought i should bring this up.
Yep, that Marantz 61-incher is surprisingly good. But it's still a 61-incher and they're just not quite there yet -- not enough pixels to get a great fill factor unlike the good 50 inch plasmas which look just right. 50 inches is the sweet spot in plasma sizes right now.
But if you watch a lot of movies and sit far enough back, there's no substitute for square inches, and a 60+ -inch plasma has that advantage.
The runco's in my opinion are far better in terms of blacks and color saturation then any other plasma on the market, as well as detail and contrast. The PFP controller also gives you much better scaling and provides great control in motion scenes. Have seen the fujitsu and the runco side by side off the same source and the runco looked better hands down. Both were isf'ed and running off a arcam DV27. Dont get me wrong the fujitsu looked good but the runco is so much better.
In contrast to S&V Design's post, my experience evaluating Runco plasmas has led me to the opposite conclusion about the worth of their premium price.
I have the Panasonic 4UY 42" ED plasma. Runco offers this same plasma re-badged at an incredibly inflated price. It comes with an external scaler, said to improve picture quality, along with claims of improvements to the plasma itself (some nebulous stuff about changes to internal electronics possibly, and maybe a different screen coating, as Bang and Olufsen does in their re-badge of this plasma). My Panasonic plasma cost me $8,000 Canadian (this was before the precipitous price drops, since I bought well over a year ago). The Runco is going for...get this..."on sale" for $22,000 (down from something like $25,000).
A Runco salesman wished to convince me that it was actually worth "upgrading" to the Runco, given the picture improvements. "You'll never get a picture like this no matter how hard you try from the off-the-shelf Panasonic model" he assured.
So, a couple months ago, I brought in my reference DVDs for a run through. The Runco had the benefit of a flawless set-up: it was ISF calibrated, in a dedicated room (I could control lighting), hooked up to very high end sources, high end cables, power conditioners, the whole shebang.
The result: The Runco plasma's picture was NOT AS GOOD as the one I get from my off-the-shelf Panasonic plasma. It was very good, for sure, with nothing glaringly wrong. But the image from my Panasonic plasma is cleaner, sharper, more noise-free, less "processed" and more solid looking.
Basically the plain vanilla Panasonic just looks more precise in every way. (Subsequent hashing out of this experience on these forums revealed that such a result is not totally unexpected, given Runco's approach).
The salesman, of course, simply wouldn't believe that it was so. I pointed out areas of picture noise in the Runco that simply are absent in my display, and fuzzy edges to the image etc. But the salesman said something like "You can't tell me a Toyota is performing better than a Porsche."
Well, I've had enough of this. I've read R Harkness's posts in this regard before. First, I would point out that the current Runco's are based on Pioneer units, if I'm not mistaken, not Panasonics. Second, Panasonic doesn't make a 60-inch unit which is the subject of this thread, so comparisons to 42-inch units aren't germane. Third, apocryphal stories such as this aren't terribly useful as I've learned the hard way myself. Who knows how the Runco was set up in that store and since this was not a side-by-side comparison, how do we know if Mr. Harkness' set up at home looks better in actual fact?
I see the latest 42-inch and 50-inch Runco plasmas several times a week myself, and they are absolutely superb. Expensive to be sure, but very, very good. I "think" they look better than what I have at home, but can I be sure without doing a direct comparison?
I may be getting my Forum members confused, but if I recall correctly, R Harkness also believes that his S-video input looks better to him on his Panny than the Component input. That's a new one on most of us, including Panny 42-inch owners. So, there may be matters of taste here rather than absolute judgments about picture quality.
Which is fine. Absolutely fine.
But what bothers me is the tone of these posts. Runco hasn't committed any crimes. Nobody is forced to purchase a Runco. So, why the attitude? Plenty of well-to-do individuals seem to value what Runco offers: Integrated scaler and source switching, custom painted bezels, huge dealer network, excellent customer service, exclusivity, the best resale value in the industry, and a zero dead pixel policy (try to get that out of your phone rep at Panasonic North America when you've got a pixel problem!) -- which is nothing to sneeze at.
One more thing: How soon we forget. It was Runco, not Panasonic, et al, that showed the first plasma with a truly excellent picture and great black level. It was a 42-inch unit, and there was certainly a price premium. But everyone who saw that unit was flabbergasted at how good it looked. It was a breakthrough. For the first time, plasma was shown to be capable of sufficient image quality to satisfy the truly serious video enthusiast.
Same with their breakthrough 50-inch which dealers such as Harvey here in NY literally couldn't keep in stock because the picture was so much better than every thing else -- even though the asking price was $25K... and no discount!
So yes, Runco may not be affordable for all of us, and Fujitsu and Panasonic may make plasmas that are better values. But it is Runco that is continually pushing the envelope of top video image quality. First in CRTs, then in digital front projection and plasmas. And now, Runco is pushing the picture quality envelope in products priced for the masses -- witness the new Matterhorn chip Runco projector being offered at $6K that's generating so much positive comment over on the Digital Projector Forum.
All of which decidedly benefits all of us HT enthusiasts here, whether or not we choose to buy their products. What more could an HT enthusiast possibly ask for? Yes, Runco's not for everybody (what is?), but their competitive presence and products are enriching to the HT marketplace. When will posters such as the above get that, I wonder?
"apocryphal stories such as this aren't terribly useful as I've learned the hard way myself."
I'm hoping you meant to write "anecdotal ," not "apocryphal " as apocryphal puts me as a liar ("fictitious, false" being among it's synonyms).
But anecdotal...on that I'd agree; we should be cautious about any info we read on these forums.
I think you make some very good points about Runco, and wherever Runco has been beneficial to a consumer or Home Theater in general I applaud them.
But I was describing a particular scenario precisely as it happened, and it *is* germane to the subject of this thread. (I inspected every single connection, to make sure there were no screw ups..the picture did indeed look ISF'd to D6500 as the salesmen claimed, and the components, like the high-end Classe DVD player used, were top-of-the-line).
I went and re-checked my numbers and in fact the price of that Runco plasma I auditioned, only a couple months ago, was $27,000 (E.g, over $18,500 US)!!!! $27,000 dollars! I paid $8,000 for my Panny, essentially the same display. Let me help you: that's $19,000 MORE than the Panny. Yes you get the Runco scaler with it too, but it is mostly justified in that everything Runco has done is going toward improving the image. For $19,000 more it better be one hell of an improvement. Now the Runco image was GREAT, but the Panny image at my place is BETTER, in some very objective parameters (less evident picture noise than the Runco, slightly sharper, cleaner image).
What would YOUR reaction be if you had the same experience? A *little* bit of caution the next time you read or are told claims of image superiority by said company, regarding their plasmas? Perhaps?
Could something more have been done to make the Runco sing? Could it have actually blown away my little Panny? Who knows? I can only go on what my eyes saw in as meticulous an audition as I could manage, not on imagining what could have been.
My "anecdote" is merely a caution; it can never be said enough "don't swallow hype, promotional claims or specsmanship. Test for yourself and believe your eyes."
I hope you'll agree with that.
Slight diversion: PF, you did throw in a little dig about my preferring the S-Video signal, which amounts of course to a dig at my credibility. Perhaps you never saw my post were I displayed pictures of my S-Video signal against my Component signal? I've always claimed that the S-Video signal was sharper, cleaner and more noise-free than my Component signal (and that the Component signal was slightly richer in color). While a static screen shot cannot show how moving picture noise ceases, it can at least demonstrate the clarity aspect. (The component screen shot is ISF'd settings, the S-Video my own setting. Ignore for now the difference in tone and concentrate on the comparison of sharpness between the shots - each input had sharpness at "0" on both my display and DVD player). Here's the component screen shot:
Here's the S-Video input screen shot of the exact same frame. Note the slight increase in clarity. It's particularly easy to note if you have two browser windows open for each shot. Switch between them and look at how her eyes and eyelashes clear up on the S-Vido shot:
Yes, I've seen those shots, but trust me, that is NOT a typical S-Video to Component Video screen shot comparison. Nor does the Component video feed seem to be set up correctly. It's way too hot, if the photographs are any guide. Maybe your cables are the problem; maybe your DVD player is the problem; maybe your component input on your Panasonic isn't working properly; who knows? But yours is NOT a typical situation, I assure you.
And frankly, Scarlet, I don't give a damn about the price difference especially when you confuse the issue with metric dollar price comparisons between your ED plasma and the HD, Pioneer-based Runco! Come on now. More importantly, Runco charges what it charges because that's what it deems to be necessary to make a profit, keep the dealers profitable, and survive. Who are we to say that is an "incredibly inflated price," as you did? If their business model is a poor one, the market will let them know in no uncertain terms.
We all know as well that Canadian dealers often don't charge the straight exchange price difference. That may not be Runco or the dealer's fault because of duties, shipping, GST, etc. For consistency, the list of the Runco in the U.S. is $14,995. The list for a comparable consumer HD resolution 42-inch plasma is all over the place ($12K for the Sony XBR), but $8K for Fujitsu, and I believe the same for the consumer version of the Panasonic, seems to be typical. Now add $4K for a Faroudja NRS or a Runco PFP scaler. So, we're talking about approximately a $3K difference at retail. Not exactly earth shattering, especially when you consider the Runco's resale value, customer service reputation, zero dead pixel policy, etc.
Of course, the difference is a couple of thousand dollars greater if we compare the Runco 42 to the industrial Panasonic units commonly available on the web, but that's not fair to Runco as they do not compete there (who in their right mind would want to? -- there's no margin in it for the sellers).
Look, I give up. I think you're contributions are quite valuable usually. But this hard on you've got for Runco does us all no good. Enough already with the story of the hapless Runco salesman. It really isn't meaningful. My sister once had a video salesman tell her that a plasma was not the thing to buy because the plasma "liquid" had to be re-filled every few years. We all know that there are salesman who are not terribly informed.
But even at that, your "test" amounted to nothing more than your word against his. There wasn't any direct comparison between units. You tried the Runco and then, relying on your memory, you informed him that your Panasonic at home looked better. Okay, what's he supposed to say at that point?
He made the mistake of arguing with you, that's all, over an unprovable point.
In casual observation, every time I've seen a well set up Runco plasma I've been impressed - particularly with black level. The Runco plasma's always seem a generation ahead in performance (at least in that regard) than the models on which they're based, not to mention the competition. Is it worth the price? Up to each buyer. But are they excellent? To my eyes undoubtedly.
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