Plasma 42 inch ....

My Panasonic 42 inch was stolen recently .

At the time I bought the Panasonic(about 1 year ago ..) it was the best choice,considering performance vs price.

Looking at a new 42 inch.Any comments regarding the best buy currently ...?

The pioneer pro elite and fujitsu 50 inch plasmas are thought to be among the best so you might want to see if they have smaller units in the same top line range. If you don't need to hang your screen on a wall and don't view at extreme angles, check out the new 50 inch sony SDRX grand wega sets. They better all the DLP and LCD sets I've seen but start at 50 inches. I believe that plasma sales are on the decline and some companies may stop production in a year or two as other technology is taking over. The best plasmas (IMHO) still have the most movie like picture but not the ultimate resolution of the newer technology but things seem to change every month.
Pioneer Elite 43" would be my first choice in a commonly available plasma that size. The Panasonic Onyx 42" is specifically the only Panny I consider comparable and it is very good. Scarcer but even more film-like than these to is the Runco plasma. I believe it uses the same glass as the Pioneer Elite, but a further improved chipset.

The Fujitsu plasmas are quite good and are contenders, but IMO video just doesn't look as good framed in silver as framed in black.


If you use your plasma in dim light the Panasonic still is tops. The Panny black levels still best the rest ( Fujitsu is the exception, but they use Panasonic Glass-Pixels). Our eyes are much better able to see differences in contrast levels than pixel counts as we move further away from the monitors. Pannys superior contrast ratios and black levels make it the best for dim lihgt becuase of these factors.

In ambient light. Pioneer is a good choice. Pio 5060 for instance But they are very restrictive in their dead pixel return policies and are closing Plasma plants next year and importaing glass from other vendors.

Their isnt anything special about a Runco plasma other than its price. It isnt using a superior chipset, whatever that is referring to. ( Usually this refers to a deinterlacing chip in common usage but thats what good DVD players are for- you generally dont rely on a monitors chip alone for deinterlacing)

Lots of misinformation in the first response as well. Plasmas sales have skyrocketed andsome companies cant keep up with demand. Companies with QA problems, restrictive internet sales policies and authorized reseller agreements are quickly falling by the wayside. But the remaining manufacturers are cleaning up. The analogy here is Toyota GM- overall car sales worldwide arent declining but some companies arent doing as well as others.

AS far as the best value/performance purchase-- an easy pick- The Panasonic PWD8UY commerical plasma monitor which including the stand-- costs 1500 from authoprized resellers if ya know where to look. I am not aware of other contenders at the 42 inch level. AT the 50 inch, then you go with the Panny 50 inch HD commercial set for 3000.
The regular series Panasonics are not nearly as good as the Onyx series nor the Elite, though their black levels are very good. Also some or all of the standard series do not have 3:2 pull-down for film. They're OK. The Onyx series is another matter entirely, fully competitive with anything out there.

The Runco plasma is exceptional. If you can't see the difference...well, I can't suggest how to fix that.

The standard Pioneers are very good, better than the std. Panny's, IMO, but not equal to the Elites or the Onyx.

Panasonic's standard-setting contrast ratio is unfortunately offset by more LCD-like "video-ness" to the image character. Fine on video, not as accurate on film material transferred to DVD. However, if you're considering Panasonic, Pioneer, Runco, Fujitsu and perhaps the new Hitachi, in plasma, you're considering good images compared to plasma from Sony, LG and all the 16 bit LCDs.


You might as well upgrade to 50" or better yet, 60" I have read that these larger sizes give you a much more realistic view. Read the (How to choose Display) in Peter Moncrieff's website He highly praises the new NEC plasma sets. Interesting reading.
Size selection is a function of viewing distance. The issue currently is that a 42" plasma and a 61" plasma have the same resolution (pixel count). So it's not necessarily better to go bigger if you can't increase your viewing distance for the same effective image quality. Now, if viewing distance is fixed and resolution increases for a larger screen size, different story but that's not how it is right now.

Coulndt let this one go by without comment. The Onyx series from Panasonic and the same sized other current Panasonics are all the same as far as glass electronics and power supply. There are not separate Onyx plasma plants! How funny. The differences are largely cosmetic. PQ is identical. Runco sources their glass and does not even make their own. Again, there isn't anything special about a Runco plasma except the price tag. Absolutely none.

3:2 Pulldown is a function of DVD players by the way. The statement that certain plasmas do 3:2 Pulldown and others don't pretty much misses an understanding of very basic concepts. Your DVD player does the 3:2 pulldown and if its not done well by the player and its chipset and it won't matter what your plasma does ( yes even a Runco!)

The discussion about Pioneers and Pannys is fair game however- at least there is something to talk about here. Pioneers have a certain recognizable eye popping Wow! image--especially in well lit stores compared to seemingly dull panasonic ( yes even the Onyx). This is due to differences in performance of the TVs in various lighting conditions. Inngeneral- Pannys have the edge in the dark and Pios in ambient room light. But Pioneers black levels really improved this year in 2005 with their 6th generation sets. Not quite up with the Pannys.

LCDs- yes LCDs have also imporved. Their images from top producers are crisp and clear and very sharp. Hwoever, the large difference still remianing in black levels and therefore contrast ratios between LCDs and plasmas means an incredible loss of shadow detail in darker scenes in LCDs relative to plasmas. This is even mentioned in periodicals such as the Perfect Vision and Sound and Vision in their latest issues while reviewing the newer offerings. Again, the human eye can see differences in contrast ratios where at 8-10 feet we really have trouble decerning differences in pixels counts. Try it out sometime.

LCDs videoness is exactly its limiting factor. With an LCD you know you are watching TV( a very good one!)- with a plasma, if its set up correctly, you are looking through the window. I agree with the divisions between between top plasma groups versus the others. My favorites right now are Hitachi and Panasonic.
The Panasonic Onyx and standard series are indeed different in PQ, and this is easily apparent in any setting where both can be compared side-to-side with same signal and quality of adjustment. 3:2 or 3:3 pulldown is available in DVD players but that doesn't address other digital sources that are transmitting film-based rather than video-based programming. It also doesn't mean some sets don't do it better. You can plainly see this effect on the mass-market Pannies displaying film-based media from non-DVD sources, and it is addressed in the Onyx series, as well as Pioneer and most others. For most people it is a small issue, since most people are not critical.

As for the Runco, well of course they don't make their own glass. But again, I've seen it in direct comparison with Elite, Onyx, Fujitsu, and it is clearly more natural. I didn't expect this, so was surprised. Worse, it costs more. But damned if no matter what you did to the picture, the Runco PQ dominated the group.

The limitation of LCD, and the cause of their false vivdness compared to good plasma sets, is their 24 bit displays. 16.7 million colors isn't nearly sufficient to show film, and this is easily demonstrated by the superior subtlety and gradients visible in the 1+ billion color displays in Pioneer, Hitachi and Panasonic plasma.

I agree the new Hitachis look promising, and the newest Elites have advanced as well.

Thank you so much for your responses,very much appreciated.

I do agree with Rysa4,that the commercial, basic Panasonic PDW 42 inch, remains a brilliant buy ,when it comes to performance vs value.

This is what I had and it will most likely be what I buy again.

Good luck to the original poster. Also I really agree that Hitachi is a true plasma force yet to be reckoned with. Soon the vastly improved quality of their displays will take front center stage in the plasma world, as other makers fall by the wayside. SAmsung has the resources to put out a high volume quality product as well, but they have had more QA issues than Panny and Hitachi. Pioneer stops their production lines in 2006 ( March) and will source glass.
2 plasmas -- both 42" -- Panasonic latest commercial and Fujitsu commercial from 2004; 1 32" LCD (Philips). The Fujitsu kills the others in black levels, picture quality, etc. etc. If you want the best, buy a Fujitsu. Despite what others say about Panasonic black levels, the Fujitsu is the best (and I am comparing a model from mid-2004 to a late model Panny...bought Panny because of the supposed better black levels and regret the choice). All have been calibrated by an ISF technician.
The 2 42 HD Fujitsu models MRSP are at 6000 and 7000 dollars. WE are actually in a model switch right now where you can get either. The Fujitsu 42 ED offering is at 5000 MSRP.

The Panny 42 inch HD is at 2499. The Panny ED is at 1500.
These are for the commercial displays. The Panny 42 HD has a couple of problems IMHO. I do note that the Panny 50 HD is at 3000, well below the price of Fujitsu 42 inch displays.

Panny black levels do measure the best, but I agree that overall the Fujitsu still has a slight edge in PQ. The difference in price isnt really justified relative to the difference in PQ however. It really isnt gonna matter down the road. Fujitsu sees a very limited restrictive distribution and that in combination with pricing makes it a minor and diminishing player for plasmas. They source their glass from Panasonic or Hitachi ( I think they switched in 2005).
I bought a 43" Pioneer Elite Pro920 around 4 months ago and finally put it up during thanksgiving week. I would have to say I'm very proud of that tv. The picture is amazing with the 6 local HD channels I get and its pretty much just as amazing playing dvd's with the pioneer 59 dvd player. I really dont think that you will be disappointed buying this tv.

Also too bad that your either not in california or didnt know about The GoodGuys going out of business sell. They had some brand new ones that were going for $4K. I was actually very happy with the deal I got at The GoodGuys acouple months before they said they were going out of business. I haggled them down to $4500 and got the $500 rebate from pioneer. So I basically paid $4K.

Good luck in your decision.

Also FYI. If your going to wall mount it check ebay and hold out for a good deal. I bought a brand new Omnimount tilt for $45 shipped. Thats way better then bestbuy for $300.
My father is looking to pick up a new TV, an a thinner @ 42" is probably a good bet for him. He is very concerned about off-axis viewing, and plasma seems like a good bet, here. But are there any valid concerns regarding burn-in or longevity?

Thanks, Tom.
Wanted to finnish up with the comment about the Panasonic Onyx series brought up by another poster. The Onyx was a failed attempt by panasonic to introduce a more expensive line largely based on cosmetics. They use 7th generation technology only and arent made anymore. They are on clearance everywhere at steep discounts. The new Pioneers and Hitachis are better displays at a lesser price, as is the newer 8th generation Panasonic Plasmas.

There are certain websites that give bad info on plasmas; not sure where the side by side Onyx is better comment came from-- but its a technical impossibility unless the comparative neer panasonic is poorly calibrated.
Rysa4, what are the "couple of problems with the Panny 42 HD" you mention?

We looked at Panny ED and HD in Magnolia the other day and felt that the PQ with HD content is considerably better on the HD model, while SD looked only a tiny bit better on the ED. Of course, who know how they have these things set up. Anyway, I think we've decided to go HD. I am now struggling with the consumer vs. commercial decision.
Panasonic is still the best choice as far as I know.

I have a Panny 42" Pro Model which saves you from all the add-ons that you really do not need.I have a stereo system and I do not need theirs.

good luck!
Thankyou for your question. here are my answers. First I am in full agreement that a true HD signal will look better on the HD Panny than the ED panny in general. A bowl of fruit for instance will show more detail of an apple in the background. I have made those comparisons myself dozens of times.

The consumer Panasonic 42 HD has the following issues. 1. For certain- you cannot perform greyscale calibration at all. I mean the function is not present even if you hire an ISF technician to do it. It cannot be done. What this means, and I do not mean to intimate that others dont know what this is--- but if the whitelight is off from the standard d6500 ( considered "perfect white light") you cannot adjust it. Well if the while light level is off, all colors will be off too. Not good.

2. The 7th generation panasonics had a "black levels changing" problem. This is key. What this means is-- you calibrate your brightness contrast etc-- you are watching a DVD or whatever- and then there is a sudden adjustment during a bright scene that changes the brightness ( by decreasing it) of the entire screen. This is some sort of auto adjust circuitry built in and is a nightmare. The interesting thing is that this is only apparent on Panny 42 HD sets; not the ED or 50 inch. My guess is that the smaller pixels cause greater amounts of light to be generated for the same lumens level resulting in this function to kick in much sooner ( ie at lower signals of brightness) than on an ED set, which has larger pixels ( and less of them of course). ANyway its bad and I dont think its corrected for the 8th generation plasmas.

The only positive here is that on the commercial Panasonic 42 HD you CAN calibrate the greyscale. The black levels changing issue is out there. The 50 inch HD from Panasonic does not seem to have either of these issues.
Thank you again, Rysa4, you are an exceptional resource.

Someone on AVS Forum also claims that the 8th generation consumer does not allow for overscan adjustment. In practical terms, I don't know what that will mean to me, but I'd say the evidence is mounting against the consumer HD.

If if were your decision, I gather you'd get the 42" ED or the 50"HD, consumer or commercial. Correct?
Based on all of the latest input, I am now adding the Hitachi 42" units to my consideration set. A little more money than the Panasonics but they seem very full-featured and are quite handsome. A few consumer reviews have even commented on excellent performance with SD. Blacks not as good as Panasonic. Anybody have opinions on Hitachi?
I have the th-42px50u for 6 months now and it is the best i have seen...My friend got the Samsung hp-r4252 because the panny was out of stock and it was just awful with HD and DVDS...I spent 5 days working on it and finally told him to exchange it...which he did for the same panny I have when it came took me 5 minutes to set up with the same calibrations from my set and he was blown away by the detail and color doesn't not have all the bells and whistles like some sets..but what it does have is the best picture quality of any plasma set I have ever seen and that's what counts ...even pioneer is trying to match panny's standards in video with their latest sets which they actually used a panny set as the benchmark...for about 2500 bucks this is the best you can get at any price
The Panasonic units have been going gangbusters in the marketplace, and before I left retail earlier this year, I sold my share of them.

I work with Hitachi units for custom install both because of the quality of the Alis panels, but also because of the all-discrete hex codes, which not all brands have. Not a big deal to the casual buyer, but if you are programming a sophisticated control interface, then suddenly it really matters.

FWIW, my employer and I spec more 55" sets than 42" ones. What that says about the market, I don't know... :)

I like the Fujitsus a lot, but I don't like the silver cabinetry.
Nice thread. Can anybody suggest which of the above is more future-proof with regards to Blue-Ray, etc.?
Thought I'd add a couple of things based on the recent posts-- I was in a high end store two days agao looking at Fujitsus, Hitachis ( Plasmas) as well as the new Sony SXRD ( LCos) displays. I do think that adding Hitachi to the consideration is a good call. They ARE very full featured. The Fujitsu still has the edge in pure PQ, but they are only monitors without all of the features of the Hitachi. I still maintain that in the end, the Plasma world is gonna boil down to Hitachi and Panasonic and thats it.

AS far as which technology is compatible is HD-DVDs/Blu-Ray-- well that gets interesting. In the December issue of The Perfect Vision- their is an article about advertised 1080P displays that cant really display 1080P. It seems you are safe with Panasonic and Hitachi Plasmas . However, my guess is that the actual HDMI plug, meaning the physical plug itself--is actually gonna change. Too many problems with the current one.. What to do? Heck I Dunno. I am gonna wait until the dust settles etc.. but I already have a nice home theater.
We bought the Hitachi, but we may take it back. The problem is not the set itself so much as the difficulties we are having adjusting to widescreen, high def, loss of TiVo and so forth. It's less easy to just sit down and watch TV and, as great as the PQ is on HD and DVDs, we're not sure it's worth it. Plus, I am beginning to notice things that are bugging me (color banding in black-and-white films, lack of focus in some parts of the screen, odd distortions in crowd scenes). This is not unlike high-end audio in that I find I am focusing so much on the picture that it can get in the way of enjoying the content. On thge other hand, I have found myself deeply immersed in programs that I might of passed by with my old TV, such as a Discovery piece on India and some segments of an Isle of Wight concernt in HD, which gave me goosebumps it was so involving.

And what's with widescreen DVDs that display black bars across the top and bottom?
Drubin- What connections were you using? And what model Hitachi ( ie is it the latest). I dont understand loss of TIVO ( but then again I dont have one) and the other comments about color banding etc- I dont have any of that. ( i have a panny plasma myself)The bars you mention are normal for many DVDs depending on if they were pordicued in the 1.85:1 aspect ration or the 2:35:1 ration and anamorphic vs non-anamorphic. The aspect ratio button on the plasma controlk shou,d allow for a zoom mode, which will remove black bars or greatly lessen them
The Hitachi is the latest, model is 42HDS52. I am using DVI to HDMI from STB and component from DVD at the moment, but I will experiement with those to see what's best.

Thanks for the anamorphic explanation. 16:9 zoom gets rid of the bars but you lose some on the sides and the quality seems to decline a bit.

Loss of TiVo: we used to run STB to TiVo to TV. But the best connection the TiVo box can offer is S-video. If we keep it in the chain in the same way, not only are we not able to TiVo any HD content but we won't be able to even see HD. One solution is to connect the STB directly to the TV through one input and connect it via TiVo using S-video through another input. This should work, but adds complexity and and layer of decision to the process of watching TV. Plus everything coming though the TiVo will probably have a poorer PQ than what comes directly from the STB. One solution is to get used to Comcast's inferior DVR interface. Another is to switch to DirectTV, which is available with TiVo for HD.

We've also noticed some synch problems between audio and video (all audio goes through an AV receiver). Is there so much video processing going on in the Hitachi that it actually creates a noticeable delay? Doesn't seem likely.
OK- Here are my thoughts on these issues;

1. A-V dissociation delay; Usually the audio trails the video when the vid signal goes directly to the display and the audio goes through a receiver. But not always. I cant comment on Hitachi video processing causing a delay because I dont own one. Maybe ask your retailer about it. But look again and see if its audio or video that is delayed. Often its hard to tell. My Receiver allows for some adjustment in this regard. Occasionally I see this problem with certain DVDs but usually not.

2. Ability to view cable HD signal-- I would look into using a cable card- that Hitachi has a cable card slot. Users at report a better HD picture via use of the card. Sound and Vision Magazine November issue ( I think) also discusses the advantages of the cablecard over the set top box.

3. Tivo- If it is possible to somehow have HD signal via cable card and non HD signal via STB ( ie signal splitting) I might go with the s-video for the non-HD channels since its reliable and simple. DVI to HDMI is a potential headache. I dont like that set up at all. Too many chances for video signal to be altered.

4. I do see that the Hitachi has built in tuners- Are these potentially helpful? Perhaps not. But can the cable signal utilize the built in tuners ( I know often times the answer is no). I only use my plasma for HT so I don't really get into the multi device hookup scenario.
Drubin- If you have access to comcast cable, why not use the dual tuner HD DVR box and eliminate that extra connection? Interface is not that bad. IMO.
Thanks guys. We do have the Comcast HD DVR but are struggling with the interface.

The problem with cable card is there is no way to do DVR, as far as I know.

DVI to HDMI shouldn't be a problem as I understand it. It's effectively an adapter (no conversion whatsoever).
I bought a 50" Pioneer Elite a month ago

the Six generation really refined the black levels

what a picture

I debated going smaller (43") and was glad I bought the larger screen (ymmv according to viewing distance)
10' away the 50" is great and you really feel in the movie
hdmi dvd source rocks, can't wait to get hi def satellite


The DirectTV HR 10-250 is a great HDTV/TiVo unit with HDMI and component video outputs if you could consider switching to satellite from cable. It can record 2 channels simultaneously. We too found that TiVo was more important to us that HDTV, but now we have both in a very nice package.

For most people, PVR's totally change the way they watch tv. It's one of those innovations that once you have it, you wonder how you ever lived without it.

Regarding HDTV, I think the 2 key content streams that benefit the most is sports, and the movie channels. It's not like Jay Leno is funnier, nor CSI more pompous in HDTV, but hockey or football in HD is stupendous, especially on a big-ass* display. And movies that are well rendered to HD from film are a joy to behold.

*big-ass is industry insider tech jargon. It means "large"
We watch CSI: Miami in HDTV mainly for the panoramic shots. The surround sound is another treat. I watched the Rose Parade in TiVo's first stage fast forward mode. That eliminated the inane chatter; the DirectTV CBS HDTV feed from KTLA was commercial free.

IIRC, KTLA was one of the first two TV stations in LA during the time of the 10" black and white sets "enhanced" with a bubble to make the picture seem larger, and when kids (me included) piled into a neighbor's living room to watch the picture.

Update: we are keeping the Hitachi and looking forward to TiVo's cable card HD box, which should be released later this year. For now, we will endure the Comcast DVR.

The audio synch problem continues to be an annoyance. Audio is ahead of video. I was able to add 50ms of delay in my Oppo DVD player, so that input is okay, but my AV receiver does not have this feature so I can't adjust the delay from the STB/DVR. And we still have our TiVo in the system, and the delay from it is horrendous.

I use an inexpensive Panasonic digital AV receiver, only run the system with two channels, and use the receiver for audio only (video connections are all direct to the plasma). I think the only solution to the synch problem is to get a receiver with audio delay capability, and it needs to work independently for each input. But I love the sound of this Panasonic and really don't need anything more except for the delay feature. Any suggestions?
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>I'm beginning to think there are bugs in the whole paradigm shift to digital broadcasting.

No question about it.
Yeah, and those bugs are not provider specific. I have been noticing some synch problems on the Comcast HD feed recently.
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I noticed the same thing on my Sony when I switched to digital. Not the same with the basic analog, however, both the sound and overall picture seems better with digital.
I have the Hitachi 42HDS52 and I use a Sony DHG-HDD250, an HD DVR. I have intermittent lip sync problems with both my digital sources which are a Cambridge Audio DVD79 DVD player and the DVR. The weird thing is that the problem I have is the opposite of what most receivers and other components compensate for, which is the same mentioned here, that the audio is ahead of the video. Most components I've seen that provide a method to compensate for lip sync add a video delay because the sound comes before the video due to the delay involved with the video scaling/processing, and this includes my DVD player. Obviously this doesn't help so I'm in the same boat as others here...

All that aside, I am extremely pleased with the picture quality of the Hitachi plasma. I keep an eye out for models in the same price range and have yet to see one that looks as good for the price ($3k), the panasonic's being a close second. Hitachi's ALIS technology (closer pixels) creates a nice smooth-looking screen, with less of the "screen door" effect that is noticeable on most plasmas. If I could do it again, I'd buy the HDT series (same tv, more outputs) for a few hundred more to get the firewire output, but I'm not crying about it yet :).