Pros Picture Quality, not paying for features I don't want
Cons no in-home warrantee
Summary I've had this set for a few days now and I am completely pleased with it. The picture quality is jaw droppingly stunning. I have it connected to my JVC D702B A/V receiver via HDMI which is connected to my Dish Network VIP622 satellite receiver, also via HDMI.
I keep the plasma's aspect ratio set to "full" and use the VIP622's remote to change the aspect ration for non-HD channels.
As to burn-in... Yes, all plasmas can show burn-in or image retention, but Panasonic has done a lot to reduce the possibility of burn-in. That said, I am following some procedures I found in the AVSForum that help to further reduce the chance of burn-in. Apparently, plasmas are much more succeptable to burn-in early in their life, so, during the first 100 hours of use, I always have a full picture displayed (no bars on the sides or top) and, most importantly, the brightness, contrast and picture settings are set to 0 (use the Cinema mode). The picture is not quite as vibrant as it would otherwise be, but I can deal with this for a couple weeks.
I like the fact that I don't have to pay for features I won't use, like speakers and a tuner.
Since the commercial (professional) versions of Panasonic plasmas don't come with an in-home warrantee, I decided to purchase my plasma from Costco. Although it was a bit more expensive than other online retailers, they can't beat Costco's return policy.
Pros Picture Quality, Frame Border, Price.
Cons Makes anything less than HD and even other sets with HD boring.
Summary I read all the TH-50PHD8UK reviews here and other places and went for this year's 9UK 50". Like the 8UK the 9UK is something you buy if you want the best picture above all else. With an HD source it's like looking at the sceen through a glass window. It's that good. I am watching HD DVD's through the HD-A1 and this unit does 1080i as good as I can ask for. I also like the minimal border; simple, black, and thin. Only pain was no hardware for the wall mount (non-OEM) I bought. Just got HD cable today. I'll update after I see how it looks.
Pros Beautiful picture, easy set up
Cons So far, so good...
Summary Remember what you're getting here: This is a video monitor--no speakers, no tuner. You must have a video source, such as a DVD player or a cable box with video outputs, and an external audio amp and speakers, such as a home theater receiver.
That being said, this is one beautiful picture, and probably less than you'll pay for any similarly sized display from any manufacturer. I've been watching 1080i and 720p sources on cable (sports, movies, and network shows), and nothing has disappointed.
I purchased the optional HDMI board. I am a do-it-yourselfer, but was admittely a bit nervous when the boxes arrived. No worries--the installation was simple, plug-and-play. If you don't have HDMI sources, pretty much every other common video input is supported with the basic unit.
Pros Great Picture and fantastic value
Cons No speakers, No tuner, and No HD aspect control
Summary Panasonic just announced that as further proof of how superior their plasma screens are they are offering a 5 year extended warranty free of charge if purchased by the end of this year (or if cynical to increase sales during holiday season and before they offer an even better upgraded plasma monitor in the beginning of next year). Either way the extended warranty on top of the already superior picture made my decision easy. While I would prefer more aspect control, the lack of additional inputs, speakers, etc are no big deal as I run it through my a/v receiver and speaker system.
Pros high def picture, advanced picture settings, minimal appearance
Cons limited connections
Summary After a lot of research, selection was limited down to the pioneer and panny. Pioneer was $1k more for same size set, thus the nod went to the panny. If money were no object, then the pioneer would have gotten the call.
Next decision,consumer vs professional model. Consumer model has a lot more connectivity options out of the box, but the two tone appearance was a big turn off for me. The minimalistic look of the professional model (50ph9uk) was exactly what I was looking for.If you like the way the consumer model looks, then you should probably go that route.
The negatives for the professional set: a stand and hdmi card were needed out of the box for my set-up. I did not need speakers b/c I always use a/v receiver for surround. Though the connectivity options for the prof model are modular, only 2 hdmi inputs can be added; it really should come out of the box with at least one HDMI input. The HDMI blade for this set is v1.1, which is kind of old since 1.3 is out now - perhaps an updated blade will be available soon.
High def programming on this set is stunning - I was expecting it to be decent but it has exceeding my expectations. Std def is OK, I was expecting worse but it is OK. I am using a DirecTV HR10 for input, soon to be upgraded to an HR20.
Would I purchase this set again...absolutely, no question.
One other thing, the reviewer who rated this set low b/c of burn in must not have done their research about plasmas and the potential for burn in - esp in the first 100-200 hrs. Burn in is not unique to this set, but all televisions utilizing this technology. If you want no burn in potential,go with a different technology - lcd,dlp etc. However, in my opinion, the high def picture on a plasma is superior.