"Great TV... Great Value... I held out for this one & am happy."4.5 starson by sirspe
Pros: Panasonic Repuation (best blacks, great color), Anti glare, style, speakers, HD Tuner
Cons: All minor - Slight Delay when turning on, no PIP, no VGA for PC input.
Summary: I've been on the HD sidelines for a long, long time. I've always thought I'd settle on a Panasonic (unless Pioneer became far cheaper), and after looking everywhere at everything, this was the TV for me.
With my living room, I needed a flat panel. Honestly, for the difference in money, I might have gone with other HDTV's if space weren't a concern. I only had a certain amount of height, so 37-42 inches was the biggest I could/should go... The side mounted speakers on this TV were a big plus. But enough about why this model was made for my living room...
More generally, this TV is a great value. I'd been checking out Costco for the best prices (worst selection), but this TV was there. It's price was better than everywhere else... until I saw the same regular price at Sears... But Sears doesn't require membership AND they will run promotions to further reduce the price. I was fortunate enough to hit it just right 1,299 minus $150 promo (check on sears.com first, Sears Stores will price match any discrepancy with their Website Plus an additional 15% of the difference) minus another $150 for opening a Sears Card... so, under $1000 once everything is done!
Style is nice… clean, thin black border with thin speakers on each side.
Like all TV's the settings out-of-the-box needed to be cranked way down. CNET has the optimum settings for this line (copied here):
Picture mode: Custom
Color: - 4
Tint: - 1
Color temp.: Warm
Color mgmt.: Off
Zoom adjust: N/A
Each input remembers its own settings, which is a nice feature, but a minor pain to re-enter each time. On the definite plus side, everything can be labeled… So instead of HDMI Input 1, you can label it “Cable”, so there’s never any confusion as to which input display which device. Also, you can skip unused inputs, so you can cycle between the 3-4 you actually use instead of all 8.
I was very concerned about Plasma burn-in... so, I was careful for the first 100 hours as recommended (filling the screen with moving images. Simply toggling aspect ratios to keep watermarks or scrolling text in different places)... Now, I'm not as careful and have had Zero burn in issues...
Only 2 HDMI and 2 Component inputs, so I had to figure the best way to divide them among peripherals.
With its Toslink Optical Out (no optical in), I decided to use the TV to switch between Cable, DVD, and Video Game and the audio receiver simply plays whatever is on the screen (my wife hates the "I can see the TV, but can't hear anything" and the "I turned off the TV, but the audio is still playing" issues...).
The anti-glare is a big difference - and most apparent on the showroom floor. The reflection of the store's fluorescent lights are diffused nicely (and FAR better than any other plasma screens, including the Pioneers). I'm not sure it's as good as LCD, but it's really really close. I have a very bright and glare-y living room, and I have no problems (but I did install room brightening shades on my windows, just in case).
Although I love my audio system (Ascend Acoustic speakers, Hsu Sub, Denon Receiver), sometimes the whole house doesn't want to hear the TV... and I'll say that the built-in stereo speakers are really good. They're still TV speakers, but the range is very good and discreet; and the audio imaging exceeded my expectations. And they can go quite loud too (I've never cranked it past half, but if I want volume, I'll switch to the audio receiver anyway).
While waiting for the Verizon FiOS install, I purchased an HDTV antenna to check out what was available for free... The built-in Tuner was great. And considered cancelling cable (but didn't ). The TV will display the signal quality, allow you to select which channels to keep in channel up button (of course this is only if you're using the tuner... not with a cable box.) With any input, the is a great feature on the remote - a "recall" button - that will display the current channel/input (which is typical), but also will display the current resolution!!! I can see if I'm watching something that's 480p, 720p or 1080i... In fact, my FiOS box defaults it's output at 720p... and the tech was able to access the Box's setup menu to default everything to 1080i... without this simple feature I'm sure I'd never have known if I wasn't watching at the highest resolution I could (I certainly paid for it!).
All the important stuff is exactly right with this TV... good service (both Panasonic and Sears), great picture, great sound, 1080i HDTV tuner (I think it'll down-convert 1080p... but it's generally thought that one can't really distinguish between 1080i and 1080p with anything 42" and lower... and most cable doesn't broadcast at 1080p anyway).
The side panel inputs are nice for a video camera or other AUX. There's an SD slot, too.
I wish it had a VGA for PC input... but I'd never really use it if it did... I plan to use a DVI to HDMI adapter to plug in a laptop if I ever needed to... and if the PC doesn't have a DVI out, I could simply use an S-Video too.
I wish it had Picture-in-Picture, but again, I'd rarely use that... and many cable boxes with dual tuners can add that functionality anyway.
Overall, I love it. I've had it for about a month and recommend it to anyone.