Pros Picture Quality Second To None / Blacks are BLACK!
Cons HDMI Input Would Have Been Nice
Summary Let me start by saying I began seriously looking at HD displays 3 years ago knowing that I would take whatever time necessary to make an informed decision on the competing technologies BEFORE I made a decision. Additionally, I recognized that prices would most likely fall dramatically during that time so I hoped to benefit in that respect as well by waiting.
Man, am I glad I took this approach in my selection quest! When I began my research, I naturally started like many do...stopping by the home theater departments in all the larger mass market retail stores trying to get a sense of picture quality comparison. And, this was a good first step...but ultimately was inconclusive. I did learn that asking "informed" sales staff was less than informative as welll. Most didn't know as much as I did and really didn't care.
So, I began in earnest to research the Internet, Consumer Reviews, home theater magazine articles...anything I could get my hands on to become more enlightened about the technology differences between Plasma and LCD since I knew one of the two would be the most logical fit given budget and viewing room size.Updated
But, my foremost driving selection criteria was centered around one element...PICTURE QUALITY...regardless of price differential, which would include brighness and viewing angle. It's always been about the brightness and quality of the picture for me, and this unit delivers a better picture than ANY other display I viewed in the past 3 years regardless of price.
Though the Panasonic TH-50PHD8UK was not even available when I began my research, but it's predecessor, the TH-50PHD5UY was. The best price I could find 3 years ago was around $5500, so waiting for the 8UK (which has even better picture quality) was a real plus given the price I paid was less than half that amount! I'd also like to add that I can't recommend a better online store for service and price than rapidplasma.com, which is where I purchased my 8UK. These guys know their stuff and are extremely professional and helpful, not to mention having the best price and lowest shipping cost on the Internet.
Remember, the 8UK is a "no-frills" commercial model display, so that IS the reason it doesn't come with all the extra inputs, speakers, stand, etc. that you get with its consumer model cousins, the TH-50PX50U and TH-50PX500U. But, the display itself is the same as consumer version models. And if you won't use the speakers or tuner, why pay for them? I'll soon add the HDMI board to my 8UK as I upgrade my DVD player, so yes, it would have been nice to have had this already included.
So, yes, you'll have to purchase extras...either a wall mount or pedestal stand. And yes, you'll have to buy BNC to RCA adapters for your component video cable. And yes, you'll have to purchase good quality component cables. Skimp here if you want, but I bought the best cables available from Monster. Did I mention it's all about the picture quality? I viewed many a display over the past 3 years with "noisy" signals due to crappy cables or poor connectors.
Once I had my display set up, I arranged my appointment with Comcast to install HD Digital Cable service. Once hooked up, the installer and I stood back and "pulled the trigger". His reaction was..."WOW!" "I hook up a lot of plasmas, but this is awesome!" And, he was right...the 8UK looked better in my living room than any store in which I had viewed the same display. Now, three months later, I'm still amazed at the depth of textures and colors...especially blacks (which can be a bit dull or grey on other models I've seen). The Panasonic TH-50PHD8UK is the only TV I've ever owned (and I'm 53)that I didn't have to make a single tweak in color or any other picture adjustment. The picture is simply perfect as it comes "out of the box".
But, the real acid test was my wife. As a long term skeptic, she simply refused to believe there could be "that much difference" to justify paying "that much money for a TV". Her skepticism was not only quieted, but she has become a raving fan of our new plasma. My greatest rebate for all my research and waiting was hearing, "Honey, you were right!" Finally, I'm right about something. And, oh by the way...did I mention it's all about the picture?
Regardless of what you take from my opinions within this review, I hope you are ultimately as pleased with your decision and purchase as I have been with mine.
Pros Most versatile in terms of being able to add any input. I added HDMI with a $125 plug in module.
Cons I don't have any place to put a second one.
Summary I have a cable TV tuner, and a surround sound system with speakers, and I wanted the smallest footprint on the wall, and this was perfect. One of the best pictures available, plus it's more "tunable" than the consumer models. For the right situation this is a bargin.
Pros Great Picture, Minimalist design, Great bang for the Buck
Cons Not as many inputs as consumer model.. can't just"run out and get it"
Summary The cons listed above should be taken into perspective, as they can easily be avoided by buying the consumer model. For this reason I give it a 10.. it's not fair to give it a point off (9/10) becuase it's missing options that are only missing because I wanted to save money and didn't need them. Sure they could add speakers and a HDTV tuner.. but they already make that version, it's the consumer model.
This TV exceeded every expecatation that I had. Paying around 3K for this was difficult considering that the 1st time I even saw this set was when "mine" arrived.
That being said I am glad that I listened to the numerous recomendations that this set recieved on the various A/V sites. The picture is fantastic out of the box, even better once you get it set up. You'll need BNC-RCA adapters (radio shack about $20 for 3 gold connectors) or one of the available DVI or HDMI cards.
For someone like me (who has a home theater and a HDTV STB) this is a great way to get the ultimate in picture performance (under 5K anyway) without paying for speakers / HD tuner that would be redundant in my setup.
The minimalist design is exactly what I was looking for, I didn't want all that cheap looking sliver plastic that seems to infect most "consumer" displays. I like that it looks like the serious piece of AV equipement that it is, not like a clone of the companies' DLP and LCD projection sets.
It took me a few weeks to get, but it was worth the wait.
If you have "The Jones" and need an HDTV that you can buy today and use tonight with minimal set up, this may not be for you.
On the other hand, if you take a purchase of this size very seriously and don't mind a minimum of inconvience (ordering online, buying a mount ect..) this is the best bang for the buck out there.
The picture is 110% amazing.
Pros Easy to Use, Excellent PQ. Noiseless. Simple, Slim and Clean design.
Cons Heavy Mass! 110lb feels like 200lbs. Wall Hanger Beware
Summary I got mine last week from Visual Apex below 3K. Manufactured in Nov 2005. Crubside delivery to me in durable and heavy duty double box cartons. DHL driver help me to move into garage. Open it the next day and everythings are sealed tight and intact. One more commendation on Visual Apex. They even throw in 4 pcs of BNC to RCA connectors for this model so you would not have to worry. Rate 10 for buying experience.
Next, this Panny is too heavy even for 2 people to carry around. I and my wife exhausted after moving it to 2nd floor. I guess the mass is so much for such a compact design causing this, but still OK to handle it. This is the only negative that I found. Be sure to have enough blanket to cover or let it lay flat on the floor when handling it.
Now, the best parts of this Panny is functionality and PQ. I expected it would be a struggle to have it work right at the frist startup. To my surprise, it works right out the box instantly. I use HTPC on VGA input and DishNetwork STB on component input. All fire up instantly and this Panny does an excellent job on automatic adjustment for different inputs. I do not even have to do any picture positioning. My HTPC use ATI AIW 9600XT and I just pick 1280 x 768 @ 85Hz and it was scaled rightly on the display crisp and clear. It even scale many games automatically in full wide screen like KOTOR. Some does not though but a simple flip of aspect ration makes it no problem.
Many says plasma display is not for HTPC because of burn in issue. Now I do not seems to worry about it any more. I does dial not contrast, brightness, and sharpness below 50%. This Panny still display as bright and as sharp to be usable. The screen wabble feature also help reducing burn in and is not annoying. I did not changed my usual viewing habbit, and watch a few DVD movies in 2.34:1 format with top and bottom black bar. My HTPC has 3D Aquarium 3D and 3Deepspace screensaver runing fullscreen at 10mins idle. I notice no screen retention, no after image of any sort after 1 week of regualr use. Though I would try to view all materials in full screen or gray bar, but I do not even bothers to use every burn in preventions in Panny menu.
PQ is absolute amazing. Color is almost perfect right out of the box even without 3/2 pulldown. As i have said before, euqipped with 3D screensaver with HTPC not only last the display but also give my living room a stunning gallery. Screen refresh is also excellent and never cause delay to AIW but instead speed up the whole HTPC operation quite a bit.
Another postive about this Panny is absolute quietness. No fan and surprisingly minimum heat front and back.
Aesthtically this Panny is also a beauty. No switch or plug in the front expcet a LED and a logo and a brand gives me a non-intrusive feel yet subtle frame for picture display. As a strong supporter of HTPC, I would never recommend display with useless speakers. Save the crap and get yourself a 6.1 or 7.1 high end THX HTiB.
Talking of interfaces. Yes it does not have HDMI, but if you use progressive DVD drive in HTPC, you do not need HDMI. VGA in is not that much inferior to all digitals. In fact, any lost during AD/DA conversion is not as much impact to real use. But rememeber this Panny is interfaces swappable and expandable. So it can accomondate future better than most others on the market. Even component is still usable today for 720p. Unless everythings is 1080p and all digital, this Panny can still do remarkable HD job for you.
If you do not want to hang this on the wall as in my case. The STK08 stand will cost you extra $200 about and 30 lbs more. It looks good in person than in picture, and is all metal contruction, plus it hide those wires in the back pretty well.
Last I would recommend is research, research, and research. Goto and look up every discussions at www.avsforum.com if you worry about problem down the road. AFAIK, this 8th Gen Panny plasma does not have quality issue unless it is a lemon. If you want a reasonable TV table stand for this beauty, I recommend Stormark brand at IKEA under $60. Why pay $200-300 worth for made in China at may places?
Pros Picture, clean lines
Cons Need to buy a stand, HDMI blade
Summary I looked everwhere for this plasma at my local big box and "mom and Pop" appliance retail stores but being an "industrial" model it was not to be had. Ultimately I bought it online at VisualApex and found that buying it a very nice experience. Make the effort to get this monitor because it is truly the best of many I've seen. A stunning picture with great clarity and brightness. Set up was easy although it does weigh a ton. I'm not sure why Panasonic gives it's best to the "industrial" rather than "consumer" side but this is the way to go if you don't need al the extras such a a tuner or speakers (although the latter can be added). Don't let the brick and morter stores scare you away from this monitor becasue it's "industrial", it's the best out there in a 50" display and I've seen many.