After my deliberations and investigations, I ended up with the Fujitsu 50", in part because of the contrast ratio which is, I believe, analogous to dynamic range in audio: the range from darkest to brightest. This 50" uses Panasonic glass, which is where the contrast ratio comes from, so Panasonic (and JVC and others) share that feature coupled with their specific electronics. Overall, the Fujitsu had the best picture (for me) and is generally regarded as the favorite.
In 42"s, it might be the same but you might go to www.avsforum.com for an informed and lively(!) discussion.
There seems to be a consensus that Panasonic is the standard to beat. I would pay at least as much attention to the rear of the unit as to the picture. DVI is good. So are just about as many other inputs as possible as you never know what you might want to hook into it. Cumputer, Playstation, component, composite, etc.
Believe me, once you have it in place you will even want to use it's monitor capabilities when you log onto Audiogon.
I think the Fujitsus and Pannys both get quite high marks for PQ--definitely second the recommendation regarding the "golden eyes" of the AVSForum and their discussions. I won't buy anything video related w/o their blessing...
After looking a bit, I ended up buying a 42" Panny commercial EDTV, not the HDTV version. From my viewing distance (9'), the HD v. ED was not noticeable. The 42" commercial is a good deal, and an amazing box. I had been waiting for the 1080p DLPs to show up and this was just to tide me over, but I'm now thinking I'm not going to bother changing anytime soon. Its *that* good.
Since you are looking for 42", I recommend the Panasonic. The current model has contrast ratio of 4000:1. My last year model has 3000:1. Panasonic makes it own glass and for others. If I recall correctly, this is the 6th generation of Panny making plasma. It could be 7th by now. Besides avsforum, you can visit PlasmaTVBuyingGuide.com for plasma TV buying guide. I got all my info from such website when plasma was in its infancy as avsforum did not have much info then.
Can you explain what that contrast ratio stat is all about? 4000:1 is obviously better than 3000: 1. Or is it? I have seen some very costly plasmas with ratios of 850:1. What's that about? Thanks in advance.
The 42" plasma to own is the Runco (with their outboard scaler). I was blown away...
"Contrast ratio is the ratio of luminance between the brightest white that can be produced and the darkest black that can be produced. Contrast ratio is a major determinant of perceived picture quality" So, the bigger the better.
Contrast ratio was just discussed in the latest issue of home theater magazine...it was pretty interesting to say the least...they say that the specs are not accurate as they can be formulated in a number of ways...not to mention, the human eye can only pick up 300 to 1 so 3000 to 1 is useless or something like that...pick up the issue...it was a good one.
I think you'll be much happier with a 42" plasma than with a 32" LCD. For a 42" Plasma, the contenders are going to be Panasonic, Fujitsu, Pioneer, and
Sony. Each of these displays has a slightly different look. You'll want to go out and have a look at them to make up your mind. The only problem is getting good audition conditions. Most of the kids that work in these Home Theater type shops don't know how to work these screens. The brightness is typically turned way up, some screens may have been calibrated, while others have not. In the stores, they will be playing High Definition television, which is good to see, but since there is very little High Def TV to watch, I think it is just as important to see how the screen performs with DVD, but then you have to find a kid who can hook up a DVD player to the screen, etc. Make sure your plasma display has an HDMI or DVI input (two is even better!). Bring a DVD with you that has dark scenes because this where the displays differ the most -- how they handle "black." Does it achieve good black levels, do the blacks look "grayish," is there detail or is there just blocks of black?
Extended warrantee--good idea? Pretty pricey , but considering the cost of the Plasma, doesn't seem to be, down the long road, a bad idea. How do you service these babies if there is a problem? Thoughts on this? Would seem by the general feedback I've been getting, from 'goners as well as some others; the Panny line won't disappoint. Would anyone know the model number of the one to buy? I want HD, obviously, having the option for it in my cable service. Cost of $14 a month, for their box. Saw HD on my brother's 42" Fujitsu. Man, that is the way to go. Thanks for your help, guys...
I'm far from a videophile, but I'd be wary of HDTV via a cable box. Most of what I've seen is far inferior to satellite, which is understandable considering the differences in how the HD signal gets there. The box used by the cable company in our area is predictably cheap and it shows (literally).
Also, I don't think you can do much to fix Plasma screens. It's useful life without problems is somewhat less than other technology anyway, so make sure you factor those in to your decision. BTW, the LCD screens at the HE2004 show were quite impressive and negated some of the weaknesses previously associated with that technology.
The only experience I have with satellite transmission is what I've seen in the stores. 'twas, quite amazing, but I have seen, as I said, HD via cable, and it was great to my eyes. Better than regular TV, but maybe not as fine as satellite. I'm not a TV watcher 'cept for the Yankees and a few shows here and there. I'm sure the LCDs are killer, but a 42" probably cost way more than a 42" plasma. Right?
The problem with LCD is that it looks good from the sweet spot, but when you move off-axis, left or right, you get that tropical fish, florescent thing happening -- and LCD also has a problem with "blacks" which becomes exascerbated when you move off-axis. I'm not sure why HD would look any better from a satellite than from an HD Box. I get mine from an HD Box and the HD I get looks terrific -- I just wish there was more programming available. The difference between HD and non-HD is really startling, which makes it hard to watch anything in standard def. If you're looking to skip the auditioning process, trying to find a kid who knows anything about the screen, etc., I don't think you will go wrong with a Panasonic. The guys and gals over at AVS Forum seem to swear unanimously by Panasonic plasma.
Check out the PANASONIC - TH-42PX25U/P. It has HDMI input and is HDTV ready. Next, you'll need an HDMI equipped DVD player.
Do check out avsforum.com, you will find NEC being mentioned as one of the best and on par or better than Panasonic by many.
I have a NEC 42VP4, 42" EDTV, bought it while Panasonic was out of stock 6 months ago. With a little tweaking (and all monitors need a little tweaking out of the box), PQ is equivalent to Panny and I am only using component input. NEC also makes its own glass, and they are still made in JAPAN, not like the newer Panny which is coming from China if avsforum.com threads are accurate.
Best part is NEC monitor has lots of input option, unlike Panny professional version which needs optional "blade". Consumer version will not have this issue, but cost a lot more with the added ATSC tuner, speakers, and stand, so still a good deal.
Anybody buy from Plasma Concepts? Called them to ask a few questions. Prices seem to be excelllent, but I'm new in the plasma kingdom. Suggestions for other places to buy? Bestbuy I hear is good. Yes? Thanks again...
I bought my plasma from plasma concepts. They were very easy to work with, but the proof is generally when things go wrong. In my case, everything went right--delivery showed up on time, everything worked, no dead pixels. They also got points in my book when I ordered the separate panny DVI card and a DVI cable over their website, and they called me to let me know that the DVI card came with a decent DVI cable. A lot of internet retailers would have just shipped it; they lost out on $90 by being attentive. I appreciated that.
I'd note that they also had a special "AVSForum Members Price" on the panny I bought, just for the asking... Check the threads over at AVSForum.
Labtec--I'd be careful of blanket statements like HDTV via CATV being bad. It is highly dependent upon a lot of factors. I've tried to summarize some of the relevant factors in a post here:http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?bhome&1083566550&openusid&zzEdesilva&4&5#Edesilva
Thanks for that, Ed. What's the "dead pixels" thing? Sorry, I'm a complete doofus with this video stuff. What would constitute (in dead pixeldom) reason to send it back?
Dead or "stuck" pixels are pixels that are constantly white, like little tiny "stars" in the sky that is your screen. This can be annoying when watching a movie. If you get a screen with stuck pixels, you should send it back.
A little off topic, but I never knew about avsforum.com. I must say thanks! Being primarily an audiophile with a "decent" HT, I now know where to go when it is time to upgrade the TV.
I am currently in the process of looking for a large flat panel display (FPD) TV and decided that for the moment, TFT-LCD reaction time is still too slow and prices have not come down enough to warrant buying LCD vs plasma (even here in Japan where aggressive foraging can yield quite good prices). I expect my choice will come down to Panasonic or Pioneer but have not completely made up my mind (and won't until I see the new Pioneer 505 out at the end of this month).
FWIW (which ain't much), here in Japan the Pioneers enjoy a better overall reputation/rating among consumers than the Pannies, despite the contrast ratio issue. I think it is partly due to lighter weight and lower electricity consumption but the major issue appears to be color accuracy (perceived good for Pioneers, less so for Pannies). I tend to agree the Pioneers have the best overall color. In their first week of being on sale, the new 42" and 50" Pannies (TH-42PX300 & TH-50PX300 here) have not been a runaway hit vs the Pioneer 434HD and 504HD despite similar prices. People appear to be looking toward the Pioneer 435/505HD series which go on sale later this month. Both the new Pannies and the new Pioneers are probably being released with a respectable but not huge uptick in technology in order to get a new model out before the Olympics, which is expected to be a huge boon to short-term sales for large-size FPD mfrs.