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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm currently doing the AV rounds checking out the latest CRT tube sets and RPTVs for family member (you know how we AV geeks get "the call" when someone we know is thinking of upgrading...and half the time they don't take your advice anyway and buy whatever is at the store at the time....)


Anyway, I was surprised today to bump into the new Panny consumer 42" ED plasma model (TH-42PA20U/P with attached speakers). I didn't think it would be hitting our shores so soon.


I had the trusty bag o' reference DVDs with me, but unfortunately this turns out to be more a minor document of "store gremlins" than an accurate review of this unit.


The store had significant daylight washing in, which is hardly ideal for ascertaining the black levels and contrast ratio (although it was a cloudy day, which helped).


Naturally they had it connected to a Panasonic DVD-35 progressive scan DVD player via the S-Video connection. (Sheesh). While the salesman took his time looking for component cables at my request, I spun some DVDs via the S-Video connection. Black levels? Couldn't tell. Didn't look any deeper than my 1 1/2 year old 4UY model. Brightness or contrast? Even in it's initial "vivid" mode picture setting it did not give me the impression it was any punchier than the 4UY model (in fact, it struck me as a bit less punchy, but it definitely could have been the ambient light issue). I did switch to the "normal" picture settings and proceeded to fiddle with black levels to see how deep I could get them, and to render the best image I could.

On the S-Video input the image wasn't impressive in any parameter. It wasn't horrendous, but it was a softer, smearier picture than I've seen from the Panasonic ED model in most stores. It was definitely softer than the component signal from my Panny, and very soft compared to my Panny's S-Video picture.


We hooked up the Component video cables (TWO, count 'em TWO component inputs on the back...I'm so jealous). The picture improvement was not subtle - it snapped into relative focus...closer to what I'm used to seeing with the Panny ED model. Jaws on the TH-42PA20U/P was still definitely a bit softer than what I get from my Panny's component signal, which looks cleaner and more precise. (I checked when I got home). And it was even farther behind my Panny's S-Video signal for DVDs.


I felt I was seeing "store gremlins" in action, which is my term for the mysterious phenomena that, even in seemingly the best store set-ups were a plasma should rock, it still doesn't perform at the level it does when you get one home. This TH-42PA20U/P was in a dedicated set-up, component feed direct from DVD player to plasma, and still it just looked softer than my, or several other 4UY and 5UY models I've seen. When I got home and spun the same scenes on my Panny plasma, it was in simlarly tough lighting conditions, with tons of daylight pouring into my living room closely matching the store. But my 4UY still looked better in every way. Why? I dunno.


Basically ithe TH-42PA20U/P image wasn't bad looking. And the styling is fairly cool, although I prefer the slimmer monitor look, rather than the bulkier addition of side speakers. But in this encounter, which isn't worth much, there was nothing I could discern that showed a picture improvement over the 4UY/5UY, in any parameter I checked: color, contrast, sharpness, motion, brightness etc.


I'll have to leave those questions for another time, in a better set-up.


That is all for now...sorry I couldn't provide better insight. I'll keep a look out for more of them, and the new 50" model.
 

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Rich- Next time out, how 'bout getting wired up with a webcam. Bet I'm not the only one wishing they could peek over your shoulder.


thanks.
 

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Interesting observations, Rich. I have seen the display at four stores now and have been somewhat disappointed. As you said, maybe it's the store setups; the only problem with that is that I went to the same stores to see the P3DP and was quite impressed. The only reason I did not purchase the P3DP was that it lacked 2 component inputs.


I am beginning to have some reservations about this new display. Is it possible that Panasonic has "cheapened" this model in some way - in order to bring the price down. That would be one way to compete with Gateway, Akai, Samsung et al.


Several months ago, I compared the Fujitsu P42VHA20US to the Panasonic P3DP consumer display on the same source material (at ABT Electronics). There was some noticeable smearing on the Fujitsu. The picture on the Panasonic was smooth and the blacks were slightly better. IMO, the Panasonic produced a better image.


I think I will head back to ABT this weekend to see if the new Panny can hold it's own with the Fujitsu. The new HD Panasonic (TH-42PX20U) is also finally on display at ABT. Hopefully, all three displays are being fed the same HD signal and are connected to the same DVD player!!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
"Rich- Next time out, how 'bout getting wired up with a webcam. Bet I'm not the only one wishing they could peek over your shoulder."


Yeah, then you'd get the joy of watching exchanges like this as I stood in the large, darkened Rear Projection TV section of the store:


Me: I'd like to look at your CRT Rear Projection TVs.


Salesman: They are all Rear Projection TVs we have here sir.


Me: Yes, but I'd just like to look at your CRT-based displays for now.


Salesman: They are all the same, all Rear Projection TVs, sir.


Me: But they use different technologies, right? I mean, this Hitachi is CRT-based, which is what I want.


Salesman: What do you mean sir. CRT?


Me: Yes, Cathode Ray Tube.


Salesman: ?


Me: As opposed to that DLP unit, or that Sony LCD-based rear projection TV? You have three different technologies here, right?


Salesman: Oh...ok...I see....I didn't know CRT....


Of course, this salesman's total ignorance of what he was selling would not cause him any hesitation in providing recommendations to help customers allocate thousands of dollars toward the right display.


Shakes head sadly...the horror....
 

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I have a feeling it was those gremlins you spoke of. I'll be the first to admit I'm not a big fan of the panny pq (imo not enough punch and there's not enough shadow detail), but the pa20 I saw in 2 different stores still looked very good. The difference being this was using an HD source not SD or DVD, so take it with a grain of salt. I also saw it with a DVD signal that was being daisy-chained onto several panels and it looked like crap...but so did the others.
 

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Hi Rich,


Saw this consumer model running on Pal in a simulated 100Hz mode hooked to a thin slab design Panasonic DVD player through SCART RGB connection. Egad was it awful. All the salesman could do was blame the cable quality. After an extensive phone search of local auditoriums I found one with a unit hooked up presumably better, I'll report back. But I'm starting to reassess my urge to jump the gun - maybe the commercial models are better, or the internal scaler is worse on the consumer units? :confused:
 

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Rich, I think you have the Panny model I first saw at Tweeter about a year and a half ago. I had just got back from Japan where they were displaying mostly plasmas in stores and it was possible to compare "all" of them. The best pq IMHO was the Toshiba, which I later found out was a re-badged Panny. So I was real interested in evaluating the Panny here. I thought it was terrific at that time and I was expecting great things from the 42 HD when it came out a couple of months later. But I was disappointed. It looked soft to my admittedly naive eye--I've got less naive ears. Since then I believe Panasonic released another new ED model prior to the latest, which also looked soft to me. And this latest model also looks soft to me, so much so that I'm having a hard time convincing my fiancee that it's a contender. I second, or third or whatever, the idea that the Panny ED models may have regressed. I suppose it's possible that tweaking can overcome such first impressions but I'm becoming more skeptical.
 

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You guys should have a serious look at the new Pio 434. The picture might be not totally rock solid, the blacks not as good as Panny but look at the crisp vivid picture.


Life is full of compromises...
 
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