In the market for a plasma.........suggestions?

I've been researching plasma tv's for quite some time now and would like to hear any suggestions which brands to check out. My sitting distance is around 12.5' from couch to wall where I'd like to wall mount the plasma. The screen size would either be a 42 or 50 inch. Been reading over on avs forum and it seems many people are happy with the Panasonic and Hitachi displays. I've looked at the Panasonic th50px60u and Hitachi 42HDS69 and really liked them. Apparently though with the Hitachi, many people were having macroblocking issues in dark scenes. Do all plasma's have problems such as the Hitachi? I'd like to keep the purchase under 3k. Thanks for your help.
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With that kind of distance from the screen, have you considered a projector? I recently went to one and with a 107" screen, I'll never go back. And it's easily doable in your price range if you buy used.
Many professionals I know in the entertainment biz use the Panasonic Pro plasma displays or the Panasonic consumer plasma TVs.
It maybe that Sony tries to keep it's products out there but go to shop which has most brands.Settings will be different and you have to take that into account but I am amzed at what lower end Hitachi and Samsung can do.Just find Sony prices are pretty high.Also check ratings at library form Consumer Reports and check out on line C/Net.Latter is probaly best bet.Wasn't Audiogon going to do a Videogon thoing?Also ask tha denizens at Audioasylum same question.

Unless you need your TV to hang on the Wall in a tough spot I would follow Jab's advice. The new LCD's are very good and the DLP's are superb.

I researched this for quite awhile and chose the 50" Panny Plasma. Absolutely no regrets.
I researched this for quite awhile and chose the 50" Panny Plasma. Absolutely no regrets.
Danlib1  (System | Threads | Answers)
Which model number specifically?
Man Plasma scares me with burn in issues, I hate to muddy the waters but I would only look into LCD, sorry if I wasnt any help.
The new Sony LCD does look really good, but is over my budget. Which Panasonic do you use Danlib 1? Anyone know which size I should go with from 12.5 feet away? Thanks.
12.5 feet away, you should go with 50" minimum.
If you can stretch the budget? look at the Pioneer Elite plasma
I got mine on sale for $4900.00 @ Tweeters Electronics
50" job to boot. GREAT product, no regrets. And the HD quality is amazing is a good place to research this stuff. Cheers,
Sorry Tvad...bought the TH-50PX600U. I got a great deal on it as well. I considered the commercial panny but once I added the extra HDMI blades I wanted, plus the stand and shipping, the consumer TH-50PX600U was nearly as inexpensive.

Easy setup, beautiful contrast, good upconversion for standard broadcasts.

My only worry is that my neighbor warned me that all plasmas lose their "gas" charge within a year and have to be recharged at the factory. When I pointed out that this - like instant plasma burn in- was another plasma urban legend, he assured me that the guy who sold him his DLP swore it was true.

Gee...I'm sure I'll learn my lesson when my year's up :)
he assured me that the guy who sold him his DLP swore it was true.

Let that be the your first indication that gas recharging will not be required. No one knows less about TVs than TV salesmen.
after years of waiting, i finally went with a Mitsubishi 57" DLP and have been loving every minute of it. A signal upconverted to 1080p through my processor via an HDMI cable is quite beautiful and to this point is without an equal. No buyers remorse here.
I broke down and bought a 50" Toshiba plasma this year. Yeah, the Pioneer plasma's are the best that I've seen, but they were out of my price range. For my eyes, LCD and DLP don't compare visually to plasma. Yeah, the gas burn out does scare me, but all these formats have their potential risks.
So I just went with the best picture under $3K.

I've had it for 7 months and no far... :-)
Thanks for all of the suggestions so far...keep them coming! I haven't considered projection as I don't want wires everywhere and the space between my main speakers has a limited viewing area. Danlib 1- Can you tell me where you bought your plasma from and what are the differences between the panasonic 50" model 6u, 60u, and 600u other than the obvious differences in the bezel color. I don't remember looking at a Toshiba before, I'll have to check it out at my local BB or CC. I'm also having to buy a new dvd player and would also like to hear any suggestions. I'm leaning towards a Oppo or denon dvd. If I do purchase a plasma from an online retailer, should I buy an extended warranty and if so, where? Thanks.
Check out your local Costco--a must !
Of the current offerings out there the 2 best as far as picture are the Panasonic and Pioneer plasmas. Panasonics are known for having the best black levels in the industry where the Pioneers tend to be a little better in the color accuracy department. I personally own the 7th generation 50" Panasonic monitor. I bought the monitor to save money since I did not need a tuner or speakers. Panasonic, I think just came out with their 9th generation monitors and pricing has come down. Might want to check them out if you don't need a tuner or speakers.
I bought a Sony 42" Plasma before they stopped selling them.
I used a test DVD disc and insisted on direct connections. (I even brought MY OWN DVD player in and cables!) Then I could tell which Plasma picture was the best. And the Sony won. I am particularly impressed with its color palette.. very refined.
I am NOT impressed with the menu system, nor the sound adjustments in the TV. I like having hidef tuner, and a toslink sound output from HDTV tuner.
IF I was in the market at this time, I would go with a bigger screen. At least 50". Panasonic, Pioneer are brands I would consider.
Another thing: about LCD.. is motion smearing, which is much worse than in most plasmas. The EXPENSIVE LCD screens do not have this problem as much.
As for burn in.. I was worried when I got the set, but I used a reduced power setting at all times, and run the all-white screen now and then. After a year, I do not worry about 4/3 or 2.35 bars.
I love my Plasma!!!!
To my mind, it is as big a change as going from Black and White to color!
Thank you all for the suggestions so far! The pq of the Pioneer plasma's look better to me, but not enough to justify the price difference! I'm leaning towards the Panasonic th-50px60u and would also like any suggestions for a dvd player and a surge/line conditioner. Right now I have a PS Audio uo with my cdp(Cary 303/100) plugged into one plug and a PS Audio juice bar plugged into the other outlet with amp(Innersound esl), pre (Cary SLP 98), sub (REL Strata), Sony trinitron(to be replaced),vcr (lol), and a el cheapo dvd. I would like to get rid of the clutter with the uo and juice bar and get one single unit for +6 components. One that comes to mind is the now discountinued PS Audio power director 3.5. Any others that are similar to the 3.5 with around the same price? After reading and researching dvd players, it seems many people favor Oppo, Denon, Samsung, and Panasonic. Thanks again for your thoughts and suggestions.
I just bought a Esoteric DV-60. I find the picture is much better than my Denon 5910.
I also just received my DV-60, it connected directly to my 1080p TV is equal to my Toshiba HD-XAL and AVM 50 signal upconverted to 1080p. Sound quality via the DV60 is far better though.
OK. I am going to be a bit different and suggest you look at the Fujitsu plasma. And if you do sports a lot forget DLP or LCD. Too many motion artifacts.
I have to add that Panasonic and Pioneer have always topped the ratings/reviews. Personally I chose the Panasonic Professional series, since it is much cheaper than the consumer models and ships without a lot of extras I don't need (e.g. speakers, integrated HDTV receiver, etc.). The only downside is you have to buy a separate HDMI board for about $150.

I would recommend you avoid Pioneer Elite and Fujitsu plasmas. The price premium doesn't necessarily translate to better image. In fact many of the Pioneer Elite models marketed in the US are regular Pioneers overseas.

Read Cnet, and to get some insights and good reviews. In fact there was a recent post on Gizmodo how the vaulted 1080p format marketed as the be-all, end-all of resolution may not in fact be any better than 720p in real world situations.
I watch sports a lot, I have a DLP, I do not suffer from motion artifacts at all. Plasma does have a few advantages over a rear pro, and to be honest i never thought i would ever own a rear pro. but for the money, the size screen, and the technology built inside, it blows plasma away.

I cant hang it on a wall and make it look as sexy like as a plasma. In some scenes the colors are darker and richer, the plasma wins there. But that is really where it stops. If you were to wrap all that info up, I really feel someone with a critical eye, who isnt biased towards one type of tv or the other, would pick a rear pro. They are finally getting that good.
I'm sure the esoteric dv-60 is very nice, but it is way out of my budget. My budget for a dvd player is no more than $300. I think that the panasonic th50px60u is the plasma that I'm going to go with, but now I'm not sure which power conditioner to use with the plasma. Should I separate the video side from the audio side with two different conditioners? My ultimate goal is to upgrade the video side while at the same time simplifying any extra clutter from cables,etc. A product such as the PS Audio power director 3.5 would help with the clutter. Is the power director 3.5 a good product and value? Thanks.
Why do you assume you need a power conditioner?

If you want a good surge protector on a budget, consider a Powervar ABC 1200-11 unit often sold on Audiogon (or E-Bay), or the Brickwall PW8R15AUD. Each is around $250.
I've read that most displays benefit from a power this correct? Of course my main concern is to protect all the gear with a surge protector. Are you using one of the units you mentioned Tvad? Thanks.

You asked about viewing distance with a 50" diagonal 16 X 9 screen. The maximum SMPTE viewing distance to obtain a 30° viewing angle is 6.8 feet; the maximum THX viewing distance to obtain a 26° viewing angle is 7.9 feet. The recommended THX viewing distance is 5.6 feet. These distances are aimed at providing an immersive theater experience for movies.

Front projection matches these viewing angle requirements, because the diagonal can easily be 100" or more, but front projection requires a darkend room, a darker environment than you might wish for casual TV viewing. Then there's the bulb life issue.

In any case, I don't think you want to sit 12' from a 50" image. I've read advice of viewing distances ranging from 1.5 to 2.5 diagonal, but 1.5 to 2 seems more reasonable -- assuming you want some immersion, not just an image you can see. (The maximum vieiwng distance for a 50" screen is 18 feet)!

Power conditioner: For Video it really works well.
The image has better detail, less grain with a good conditioner.
I tried doubling power conditioners up, (A Monster 7000 to a 5000, but on my Plasma, the picture became a bit 'washed out').
I use it/them on all the DVD/HDTV devices.
I have a Monster 2000 voltage device and a HT7000ss. I would not sell them even if I could get $100 more than I paid. I would just have to go out and find some more!
10-28-06: Bradz
Are you using one of the units you mentioned Tvad? Thanks.
Bradz  (Threads | Answers)
I own and use the Brickwall unit, but not on my video. I don't use a power conditioner on my video although I use a power strip with surge protector.

My ultimate goal was to upgrade my video side while eliminating clutter as well. That's how I wound up with the Esoteric DV-60. Instead of having a dvd player for my HT and a seperate cd player for my audio system, I sold them both and got the DV-60 to fill both needs. The DV-60 was actually less expensive than my cd player alone. Sonically, it is equal, but different. Visually it is much better than my old DVD player.
Fewer power cords, fewer interconnects, one less box.

As for power conditioner, I'm using a PS Audio UOHC for the plasma, and it works great. I do believe you are better off using seperate circuits, if not power conditioners for audio and video. I have the video, digital, and analog each on their own dedicated 20A line. Works great for me.

Happy hunting,

Hello and congrats on your plasma decision. Plasma is the optimum PQ technology these days, until SED displays make it to the mass market---if ever. DLPs suffer from color inaccuracy and essentially non-realistic PQ. The single color wheel DLPs by definition can never be accurate and the newer LED displays, while better, still dont make it. LCDs work on light bulbs so a decent contrast ratio can never by generated, as a shadow detail and shardes of darker colors cant be reproduced by a light bulb ( ie off is off). Their refresh rates are indeed a tad too slow , although improving. Meaning motion artifact will occur.

AS far as brands, I find Pioneer to be a better display in lighter conditions, such as a room with daylight. Panasonic is the better display in a darkened room and over time, their is less viewer fatigue with a Panny display. Hitachi is excellent too, with NEC in fourth place in my opnion. Some folks fell NEC is a much better display than given credit for. While I dont agree, I thought it worth mentioning. Sony discontinued their plasmas; they had absolutely disastrous QA problems; Samsung falls in to the next group followed by the Vizios, Maxents, Phillips, Gateway, and Zenith products.

Fujitsu used to have absolutely the best Plasma but hasnt had an update to their famed AVM-2 processor in years. Reportedly new tech coming out soon. Still a great display however! Very expensive.

AS far as power conditioners/line consitioners--hit and miss effect--often based on local current conditions really. Your PQ will be drastically more affected by a good calibration than a power/line conditioner. Surge protection however is a no brainer and I am not talking about a 10 dollar power strip either.

DVD players-- well--are you planning to watch Hi Def DVDs or standard def dvds? Assuming standard def-- you want excellent 480P players. If you get an HD-Lite display--ie 1366 x 768 res or a 1024 display, you now have to consider whether you want to upscale at the level of the DVD player or the display. Remember OPPO DVD players cannot de-interlace over a component connection as an FYI. At 12.5 feet, our eyes cannot really discern resolution differnces so easily, so keep that in mind. hometheatersecrets and Kris Deering and co do their famed DVD shootout where you can compare myriads of DVD players in total score but more importantly in written test result form too. SO you can see strengths and weaknesses of most DVD players out there. Check that out. A lot of the best 480P players came and went a few years back as much of the newer emphasis and R and D dollars have been placed into HDMI connectivity and Hi Def DVD players. ie; law of diminishing returns over time.

good luck.
I can't help but think that the Panny pro models were geared directly towards Audigoners. I doubt many here would use the cheap amps and speakers built into most commercial offerings.

For casual viewing I don't want to fire up my separates, so I rely on the audio from the TV. That may be true for more folks than you think. Sure, I could listen in great surround sound, but I don't really care for the PBS evening news.

I ended up with the Pansasonic 600U. I'm pretty picky with stuff, and No regrets here.

Go with the 600U over the 60U if you want a PC VGA port that hooks up to native resolution 1366 x 768. Unfortunately, HDMI does not accept 768P (720P and 1080I ok) so hooking PC up via digital is not the best.
I've been using a 27" crt for what seems like forever and I think that a 50" plasma will be fine. My room isn't ideal for a projection because of the light, current house is a rental, and especially the WAF. It sounds like using separate conditioners/surge protection for video and audio is the way to go. Your suggestions Tvad look great and I was wondering if you compared the powervar to the brickwall and with what results. The audio side will be amp, pre, cd, and sub. I'd like to have a extra plug for a turntable in the near future. The video side will be plasma, dvd, and vcr(or a dvr). I also looked at the professional plasma's and really like the look of them, but I don't want to have to buy a hdmi blade and power up the separates every time I watch tv. Why would I want to use a vga input Goatwuss? Thanks again all!
Your suggestions Tvad look great and I was wondering if you compared the powervar to the brickwall and with what results.
I have not owned a Powervar. I do own a OneAC, which is a transformer based conditioner similar to the Powervar. I find my OneAC hums, so I use it elsewhere now. The Brickwall is dead quiet.
Bradz - You would use the VGA input if you wanted to hook up a computer to your display. If you ever think you might have an HTPC to manage and play digital movies, show photos/home videos, or just want to use the plasma as a PC monitor. For me, that having that input was worth a couple hundred extra for the 600U
Donbellphd, if you were firing up a front projector with a complete OTL set up I might agee, but, with a plasma, for the rest of us, it's just a flick of a switch.

It's a matter of running a pre-pro combination and two or five channels of amps. Sure it can all be turned on with the flick of a switch (actually press of a button), but what about the wasted energy?

The commercial displays have outputs for two speakers so you can attach whatever you want if you dont want to fire up the separates. However, the speakers have to be pretty efficient as the watts per channel from the little amp that comes with is like 8 watts per channel solid state.
Thank you everyone with the suggestions! I think that I'm going to go with the Panasonic th50px60u plasma, but am not sure which dvd player I should consider. I didn't mean to take this thread from plasma to dvd to power conditioning/surge protection...sorry! Hope to hear from anyone with suggestions for a dvd player. Thanks again.
You always have better picture quality for less money with a rear-projection TV if you have the space behind (and the right RPTV). Of course, the best bag-for-the-buck is CRT rear-projection. If you absolutely must have a flat-panel due to space limitations, then you picked the right one. I hope you're not going to make the most common mistake I see today; that is, "flat panel over the fireplace." I don't know who started this, but whoever it was definitely was NOT a videophile. Believe me, I've been doing this for over eight years now, and I know of only one client that's happy with his, because it's in a room adjacent to his kitchen and they primarily watch while standing and cooking. I try to talk clients out of this configuration; I usually get called-in after they do this to "make it better," which is usually not possible. Save your money with an RPTV and spend it on a nice sound system. Think about it.

Regarding DVD players I don't think you can do better than the units from Oppo Digital. They have gotten rave reviews (The Perfect Vision and others) and are extremely reasonably priced. Their nice universal player is $149, and an upgraded DVD-video player with Faroudja upscaling for $199! (These prices are direct from their website.) I recently put one in a client's system and was so impressed that I'm going to buy one for my demo/family room! They even throw in a DVI cable! Check them out at
Well;45 responses re. a video subject---at A-gon?? (Amazing !) A lot of good ones,too.! I've been here and at for 6/7 years each. Personally I find most all the conditioners I have tried didn't help video much. Sure, they helped my old rp crt sets. HD is a different animal. Re. a dvd player;--What about the Tosh. HD DVD player?? Less than 400; if you look around. They rent the discs at Netflix and the player upconverts the SD discs. No, I don't have one yet.I know the players, out of the box, need the 2. firmware upgrade but if I were looking for a cd player this or the next gen. is what I would buy.
My tv?? Mits 9"guns,crt.--Big and bulky.--The blacks are pretty good tho. Actually I used to rent every disc that came out; going back to LDs. The image is better in HD so I quit renting---.
Just to be sure on your choice go to AVSFORUM and check out comments on the panny...also go the the NEC thread which has the reviews on the 50XR5
I have a suggestion... LCD
And above comments from Soundsmith1 has it right with both the RPTV & Oppo suggestions, but I still suggest the newer LCD vs. CRT now. 2 years ago I would have said CRT.. The new SONY 3 panel LCD and SXRD's are just amazing and easily the top rated today.

Also the OPPO digital is the Best Video player on the market, it easily competes in picture with the Denon top units at multiple thousands and they can be had for under 200, unless you need the best SACD, DVD-a, Redbook performance in sound too, the oppo is the way to go.
Chazzbo - I need to set the record straight on something you said.

..."but I am amzed at what lower end Hitachi and Samsung can do."

Hitachi plasma TV's are NOT lower end. The Hitachi brand is is less well known in the US, but they are huge in Japan and the rest of Asia. Hitachi plasma screens are made in the same factory as Pioneer Elite. All of the electronic "experts" I've talked to about Japanese and Korean electronics state that Japanese made products tend to be of higher quality. Based on my consumer experience with both brands I would have to agree with their take.

Earlier this year I did a side-by-side plasma comparison (all things equal) between LG, Samsung, Phillips, Hitachi, Panasonic and Pioneer elite. The best was the 50" Pioneer Elite, followed by the 55" Hitachi. With 5 extra inches and $1K+ price difference, the Hitachi was a no brainer - particularly in light of the only minor PQ differences.

Hope this helps.
I used a monster cable surge protector with my sony crt years ago and it made a big difference. Avguygeorge....Why do you think there isn't as much of a difference when using a conditioner with a HD set compared to a crt set? Thanks also for the suggestion of the Toshiba HD dvd player....I've read positive comments about it and didn't consider it because I thought that it wouldn't work with SD dvd's, but it's good to know that it will. It would be nice to know how the Toshiba's pq compared to something like a Oppo 970 pq. Thanks for the suggestion for the NEC plasma Unclejeff. I wished that there was somewhere I could see it with my own eyes though! Funny that you mentioned how people put their displays over a fireplace Soundsmith1...I've never understood why someone would have a display so high and with possible neck strain, instead of the recommended center of view to the center of a display. My wall for a display is free of a fireplace. The plasma would hang above a four shelf (34-36" high) rack in between the speakers. I've read that the Oppo 971 is known for not working well with Panasonic because of its Faroudja that correct? The Oppo 970 though may be a better match with the Panny because of the different chipset. Sorry that I didn't mention it before, but my main purposes is to free up the space between the magnepans, therefore not interfering with the soundstage like it is now with my crt and to have a cleaner look. Thanks.