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WOW!...Adventures in Toyland

630 Views 10 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Rhob
On the advice of some of you experienced videophiles (I have been reading the threads...just a little humor...is this what "flaming" is--trying to raise a ruckus? Its not in the glossary: very helpful, that.) I drove down to Phoenix yesterday to actually see some plasmas in action, rather than just read about them (though admirably discussed herein). Thanks so much for the suggestion, and what I've learned here the past couple days, hopefully en route to a major purchase. Here's some of what I learned/observed, and a couple questions:

1. First things first: Wow! When I finally got to a store that had real-time (rather than taped, or DVD) HDTV signal (PBS-HD) I was floored by the profound difference between that and my Sony CRT XBR running DirecTV. The epiphany came watching (if I remember correctly) a Pioneer 43" HD monitor. There was a whale swimming around and I could practically feel the water undulating off his body. When he/she dove and flipped his tail, my body automatically startled a little, as if to prepare for the splash. I thought that seemed ludicrous, but it happened many times as I continued to watch...it was really a new experience...thus the "Wow!" Hard to believe if I were to take that major investment leap of faith, I could have access to this innumerable times, alone. I was stunned.

There was an EDTV monitor (can't remember) right next to the Pioneer, but it did not induce the same somatic response. Though from reading the threads I know that was likely due at least in part to how that monitor was dialed in, etc., I was 12 ft. away while watching, so I was still a little surprised by that after what I had read about relative equality at distance.

Such a cool experience. Thanks, forumites.

2. I didn't see any jitter all day, as promised.

3. When I was told by a CC salesman that he really couldn't recommend plasma because once the gas leaked out it couldn't be recharged, armed with knowledge I respectfully nodded--he was a nice old guy.

4. Several times I heard about the buzz which occurs with plasma at higher altitudes. Enough times that I started giving it credence, though that I hadn't learned about. One guy said 6,000 ft. , another 7,000 ft. , a third said Panasonic's warranty says 6,000 ft. but there is a built-in 1,000 ft.cushion. One said is was from the transformer working overtime, another said the gas itself vibrates. (I can see how at lower air pressure, assuming the screen was manuf at sea level or the corresponding pressure, the relative pressure of the gas within the pixels would be increased "upping its desire" to escape as nature abhors even a variable vacuum. Though I don't see why this would create a hum.) I have a call in to Panny's tech dept. re: the altitude limit; what does anybody know about this? (My house is right about at 5350 ft.) Anyone from the Rockies, Sierras, Cascades, etc. willing to share what they've experienced?

5. I was intending to buy a Panny 42" HD/6 comm., (I can get a good price, some of you rave about the PQ if what you're after is "video fidelity" (is there a better term?), and that's what I want, and I think I will most appreciate over time--but I might delay and go down there again; I saw Panny ED, but not HD., and I went to the major specialty shop in Phoenix and to the local Bang and Olafson outlet) but I noticed that when I paced off my 12 ft., there was far less immersion than closer up. Then I got home and read here that for 12' the 50' was a better experience and "ask yourself how you'd feel a month or two later when you realized you really should have bought the 50'."

Scary thought, that: this is a one time only proposition so I better do it right--I think that's part of the fear factor for me; that, and that this $5K piece of glass looks like no CRT I've ever seen, or thought of owning. I admit to being a little scared to touch the thing....I'm going to Sears and Costco today (all that's here in this AZ mountain town) to actually play with a few so plasma seems less foreign. Don't you think I'm right about the 50" at 12'?

6. Re the forum in general: I've read many free-flowing discussion/arguements, and past the merit of the content, its also very cool to read the work of so many clearly smart, articulate people.

7. Thanks for the help. There's a lot to learn here. Feels like I would like to learn it.

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Sounds to me like you know just what you're looking for, with the knowledge to back it up and crystal clear opinions.....no advice needed. Get out the check book!

I laugh every time I hear the leaky plasma gas story....reminds me of Star Trek. They are always leaking plasma gas out of the warp core. Ha!
I wish I had as many electronic stores to visit as you... I'm pretty much force to go online with my next purchase.
Nice post, Ed!

Yes, plasmas can buzz - try a search here, it gets discussed periodically. The worst buzz typically comes when the plasma is displaying solid white, as this is the most taxing for the power supply. My Pioneer 433CMX (43" HD) occasionally becomes audible with bright white scenes, but the audio has to be quiet to hear it. Doesn't really bother me in general. You can ask Rogo for his opinion, as he returned a number of noisy plasmas last year, I think.
see Trainerdave's post about buzzing (post 15)


Nice trip report!
I just read it and it was informative (and a bit disconcerting--I'm one of those anal perfectionists--man, its a lot of dough; but gorgeous, even otherworldly).

When the member in that thread compared his buzz with a familiar buzz (ie. his fish tank pump) I found that immediately helpful. That'd be great if any folks at altitude could respond that way (though it sounds as if buzz is one of the current vicissitudes of this new tech adventure; luck never hurts, does it? It'd be nice to quantify the chances of its annoying-levels occurrence with some kind of straw poll.)

I will call later today the Panny Regional District Manager whose # I got from the Panny techline re: altitude effects and buzz and will report once we hook up.

Thanks, Mark. You were one of the guys I was thanking, above.

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Flaming - an insulting criticism or remark made to incite anger and heated debates.
Yeah, I was right.


It is kind of enticing; but this is one of those we, not me, endeavors--isn't it.



The NEC plasmas are rated for high elevations. Also, Zenith has high elevation models of its plasmas.

I'm sure if you ask around here you'll find plenty of high elevation owners that can give you some great advice.

5350 ft. is definitely high enough to be concerned.
Note also that seemingly each individual plasma may buzz differently - some are better, some are worse.
Originally posted by Ed Desh

When the member in that thread compared his buzz with a familiar buzz (ie. his fish tank pump) I found that immediately helpful. That'd be great if any folks at altitude could respond that way (though it sounds as if buzz is one of the current vicissitudes of this new tech adventure; luck never hurts, does it? It'd be nice to quantify the chances of its annoying-levels occurrence with some kind of straw poll.)
Ed -

I just got a Pioneer 4340, and I live at approx the same alititude as you. Mine does indeed buzz, and it sounds like any other electric buzzing to my ears (lights, refrigerators, etc...)

It only bothers me if I let it. If I really listen for it, I can hear it from 5' with the sound low. Otherwise, from a normal listening/viewing distance, I don't believe I can really hear it, but rather imagine I hear it.

It seems that most plasmas make some amount of noise, and it seems to effect people at all alititudes, so I'm not sure if mine would be any better at sea level, or worse.

If you're planning on sitting 12' away, I'd be really surprised if you could hear it.

Hope this helps.

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