"Commercial" plasma screens the real deal for HT?

Following my other thread where I was asking for advices on $1500 screens for my small 10*11 audio-video room to be used solely for DVDs (no TV cable input), many have amswered that the best deal remain traditional CRT TVs, wide-screen (Sony Wega or XBR).
I stumbled onto a forum that advocates the purchase of commercial plasma screens (about $1500 for 42": Matrix, Hyundai or other NEC) with none of the consummer gadgets, no speaker, just component input. That would do the job for me as I have no HDMI output on my McCormack UDP-1.
What is the catch, if any? resolution (800*400 and change) too low? reliability? this seems to be a good deal to me and will not create a big mass between my audio-first speakers.

Any opinions?
I would be intrigued to hear more information, too.

The consumer "features" on most of the plasmas I have seen are really lousy, and every time I ask for no speakers, no tuners etc, salesmen give me a blank stare.

The "real deal" for HT, IMO, might have higher resolution but perhaps there are commercial monitors for HD as well?
If you are concernced about having some big box between your speakers I would reccommend looking into getting a front projector for your space. You would mount a screen on the front wall, the projector on the back wall and have nothing between your speakers.
I have the BenQ pb6100 which can now be had for about $750 or so. From 14 feet back I have a beautiful 90" diagonal picture on a pull down screen on my front wall. If you are looking for an immersive movie experience at home, that is the way to go. Check out AVSforum.com for alot of info and screen shots on what you can expect from a front projector. There are many that can be had for around what you want to spend and they are alot more fun than a tv. Send me an e-mail if you want some more info.
I have the "Commercial" version of a 42" Panasonic plasma. It is identical to the "residential" model, except for some bells and whistles that an audiophile would not use. You save money not only because some stuff is omitted, but also because the commercial distribution chain has lower markup.

Even though it has no speakers, it does have two ten watt audio amps, with volume control on the remote. They don't play very loud with low efficiency speakers, but if you used high efficiency single drivers they might do the job for you.
Most of the commercial plasmas I've seen have been pretty close to the consumer versions, but without some of the bells and whistles. I bought a commercial Panasonic EDTV plasma--great deal, and quality-wise no different than their consumer models. Like some of the other commercial units, it had blade slots so you could add on other inputs--I added a DVI/HDCP card for that input. Pioneer also has a well regarded line of commercial units. If you don't need speakers, it can be a good deal. Probably not the end all or be all of HDTV, but worth considering. The gurus over at http://www.avsforum.com can give you specifics.

You also have the flexibility, if you are interested, in buying four of them (or nine of them) for a really big plasma screen. ;)

I own the consumer version of the current Panasonic 42" EDTV Plasma. I really like it. The commercial version has the same picture quality, but loses the table stand, speakers, hi-def tuner and cable tv tuner. If you don't need those features, the Pansonic is a great monitor (42" EDTV monitor <$2000). Heck, I saw the 37' consumer version at Circuit City last week for $1795. Surely the 37 commercial version would be under $1700.

I really like the Panny EDTVs for the price. I'm enjoying it even more than I expected. The picture is really good at 8' viewing distance. Yes, I would like HDTV, but the EDTV picture quality is so good that I'm glad I didn't spend the extra $1500-2000 for the HDTV version.


Commercial version has higher radiation due to spec requirement, but probably close to consumer version since it's not cost effective to use 2 different types of internal organs for different models.

However, consumer version usually has the benefit of extra features like screen refresh or screen saver when still image is displayed after prolong period of time. NEC model in particular allow you to change your BNC input to component and double your component inputs instantly. There are numerous features that are not available on consumer version, but most of them are not really useful for HT use.

So to save money, commercial version is definitely the way to go.

As for resolution, 480P display is adequate when you sit 6'+ away from the PDP and SDE will not be visible.
Digital front projectors are the REAL DEAL of HT. YOu can get a nice one with a screen and a ceiling mount for $1500. No rinky dink 42" here. We're talking 92" of vibrant colors and jaw dropping clarity. The screen width is 1.85 times the seating distance. :-)

All you need is a little light control. ..and since you aren't watching 'teevee' .... ;-)
EDTV resolution is fine if you are stilling at least a distance from the screen of 2x the screen's width. E.g., if the screen is 36 inches wide (horizontal) than you should sit about 72 inches away from it (perpenticular). That way you don't notice "the pixels" or see the "screen door effect" (SDE). EDTV or SVGA (widescreen SVGA) resolutions are fine, if you are only watching non-high-definition content, like DVDs, NTSC satellite TV, laserdisc, non-HD gaming consoles, etc.

EDTV or SVGA is also a OK compromise if you can't make the extra $$$ commitment for the 720p, 1080i, or 1080p resolutions either because the value proposition for HD isn't there, or your don't _use_ your HT all that much, or maybe you'd rather put the extra $1-2k for something else in your life, like audio, the cars, or the missus. Seriously every time I fire up my lowly SVGA front projector, I forget that it is "only" SVGA. I don't feel that I'm missing out on all that much.


Front projection is teh biggest bang for the buck. However, if you want a flat pannel and are thinking about a Comercial version you may want to talk to an ISF guy. Some of the comercial displays are the same as Consumer without bells and whistles. Some others are intended to display still images (flight schedules, billboard type advertisements, talking heads, etc). These displays do not do well with fast movement and even a non-videophile would be sorely disapointed by these. An ISF guy could tell you much more than I can and probably get you a hell of a deal on an appropriate Comercial display. The Pioneer comercial displays should fit the bill.

The Commercial plasmas tend to have two main differences; Coating; FCC Class A so silver coating is OK. Consumer requires FCC Class B, so a different coating material is used to decrease emissions through the front glass.

Commercial plasmas tend to have BNC connections, a higher grade video true 75 OHM connection as opposed to the RCA connects which are audio actually if you go back to their origins.

There are only three manufacturers of plasma glass and the rest get from these three; the comment above about commercial plasmas being made for still images is incorrect; there is no "still image" glass factory.

And yes those bells and whistles are not present on commercial plasmas. EDTV plasmas are usually better than HD plasmas for 480p DVD source, as one- to one pixel mapping introduces less artifact than upconversion. Thats the big picture so to speak.

Finally an opinion; front projectors are great if you have room and certainly more cinemtaic; however, I really dont find the PQ to be as good as plasma and also moany of the FPs do not have enough lumens to generate the light needed for optimal PQ. Even at CES this year, some manufacturers aimed three FPs at a time to one spot same source just to get the lumens necessary.
The way a television deals with movement involves the scaler not the glass. If all of the rest of the specs on a set look impresive but the scaler is not up to par the image is going to look bad or atleast not as good as that of other displays with better scalers.

The Imaging Science Foundation (while not completely unaffiliated with manufacturers) is into R&D for measureing and calibrating video displays. Chances are there is a local dealer who has a resident geek who happens to be ISF certified. These guys can calibrate a display to output an even temerature throughout the reproduceable color spectrum. THey can show you what a displays performance is before and after calibration on a printed graph. Also the subjective aspect; you should see an improvement in the picture of any given set after calibration. At around $350 per input (usually only one input calibration is needed) it is a small investment in comparison to line conditioners, set-up discs, fancy cables, and any tweeks available. There are adjustments that are only available via the service menues of these displays. ISF guys are able to get into these, make changes to get the best performance out of a given set, and all without messing things up (as ambitious videophiles often do).

Check out the ISF website. It's not great but it can put you in touch with a guy in your area who knows how to explain the pros and cons of the different options.


Hope this helps.
1. ISF calibration does not always produce the "best" results. The above post is correct in that a set can be tweaked to "ISF School" perfection, which an individual isnt going to hit exactly. One of the threads on avsforum discusses this in detail, and offers "The steaming rat method" with comments about that vs ISF calibration with someone who has gone in both directions. Sometimes tuned perfection just isnt as appealing as adjusting the set to get a looking through the window real life skin texture type orientation, guided by steps, set up disks etc. Individual mileage may vary, so to speak. The concept that everyone agrees on what looks best obviously isnt true.

2. I have never seen a plasma with motion artifact and there are no differences in the scalers or glass used in commercial vs consumer plasmas with the exception of the coating I mentioned due to FCC classification. Motion artifact has been an inherent problem with Flat Panel LCD displays and is most obvious in sporting events to me. BUT- LCDs have gotten better on this.
I have a plasma display from NEC. It is a non-consumer model as it does not have a tuner or speakers..a true display only. Excellent product, and I saved a ton of CAN$ by avoiding the retail, consumer marketplace and sourcing it elsewhere. In addition to on-line sales, one can typically get a "commercial display" from vendors of audiovisual equipment.
WOW, thanks for all the info. One last question: a salesguy told me that plasma screens really burn fast because of the two large black stripes that are indeed still images top-bottom of movies on DVD format....bullshit or truth? he then tried to sell me an LCD for over $7,000.....but I tend to listen to people whose job is to be profesionnal.
That salesguy needs to back to diplay school. What a load o' BS. Plasmas can suffer from burn-in, but with normal use (like not leaving a still-image on the screen for hours) you shouldn't have any problems.
My Panasonic has an anti-burn-in feature. It slowly moves the picture around... so slowly and by such a small amount that it can't be seen. This feature can be turned on or off.
How does black burn pixels? That doesn't make an ounce of common sense. However, if you watched strictly letterboxed movies on a 4:3 screen, so that the top and bottom of the screen were always black, then I suppose you could have a situation in which the center area of the screen would, in time, be dimmer than the rest of the display. I would imagine that this would take thousands of hours of use, and would be noticeable only when watching full-screen 4:3 programs (which also doesn't make sense since plasma displays are widescreen and not 4:3). This could, possibly, show as brighter bands at the top and bottom of the screen relative to the dimmer center of the screen. However, this is really a guess on my part. I believe the salesman was employing a "technique" to upsell you to a more expensive set.
There is a thread about burn in at the top of the plasma forum at avsforum.com. A few things;

1. I have had my plasma for over 2 years and I dont see any burn in on my plasma.

2. A set is most vulnerable to burn in during the first hundred hours of use or so ( NOT an exact figure)

3. Leaving up black bars for extended periods of time CAN cause asymetric phosphor wear. I am using that term not because I am taking the SAT soon ( that was 20 years ago), but to stress that uneven phospor wear is the true danger. With black bars, that uneveness is defined as the stuff inside the black bars wears differently than the non-firing pixel black bar areas of the screen. The pixel phosphors have a time to half brightness, or a half life for all of you chemistry guys. With normal viewing, this occurs evenly over time. Constant black bars disrupts this so uneven phosphorescence occurs. Watching movies with bars, which I do frequently, will not cause this. Leaving this up for days on end might. Also, adjustments on the DVD player may change the area of these bars. Or by using the just or zoom mode they can be eliminated entirely. I leave them for movies because thats the way the movie was cut.

If you get this type of problem, use the reverso screen which turns black to white and white to black--kinda like turning jeans inside out before washing them. That can even things up.

After image burn in- a different thing entirely is what you see at the airports where old schedules can be seen on the screen even though the video data is not being actively transmitted as such. If you see this-- DONT FREAK! It is often temporary in the home setting and goes away.

The above poster is talking about the Panasonic wobbler, an anti-burn in feature like he says.

Again- check the master burn in thread at avsforum.com
I have a commercial Panasonic 42" EDTV, which is perfect for DVDs as the resolution of the monitor matches the source exactly. At a viewing distance of greater than 8 feet, there is no difference between an EDTV and an HDTV in my opinion. The only drawback to the commercial vs. consumer versions is that you'll have to buy a mount separately, as well as speakers (if you're not using a HT setup). Also they tend to use BNC connectors instead of RCA jacks. Cnet has some very good discussions on commercial vs. consumer plasmas, including Panasonic's new 50" HDTV. You can also look at http://www.plasmatvbuyingguide.com/ which has some good info on the differences.
When I got my commercial plasma, I asked for some BNC-to-RCA adapters. Vendor threw a bunch in at no cost. Problem solved.
Mine did too. The better solution is to get BNC native connects on one end and RCA on the other. The free apaptors were 50 OHM instead of the optimal 75 ohm. I have 6 in a drawer somewhere.
You know,I should look at what I actually did receive! I think the ones I got were the "better solution" ones you are using. Also, my NEC plasma has both BNC and RCA inputs.

The street price on the Commercial version of the Panasonic EDTV plasma has dropped below $1500 and I've seen it as low as $1249, plus $249 for shipping from a web-vendor. That is a stellar price on this unit!


Thats pretty much a buy now do not pass go price. I havent seen it that low from authorized resllers ( internet included) but obviously that doesnt include the wall mount or table stand I would suppose.
If someone needs a table top mount for a 42" (might also fit 50") Panny ED plasma, I just gave mine to my parents, but I think they are buying a wall mount. So...