Panny Troubles, D/A Conversion, LED Illumination
I just bought a Panasonic TC-P58V10 plasma to replace a Panasonic TH-42PA20 that I've had for about six years. I was expecting an even better, crisper picture with more detail, but it's not even close to being as sharp and detailed as my old TV! Both DirecTV HD and my library of more than 600 DVDs look awful in comparison. What's wrong?
I'm astonished that the P58V10 looks so much worse than the 42PA20, especially on HD material. The old set had a resolution of 858x480, whereas the new one is 1920x1080. The increase in resolution should easily compensate for the bigger screen size when viewing HD content.
I'm not as surprised that DVDs might not look that greatthe old set was displaying them at their native resolution, and it was fairly small, so depending on your viewing distance, it probably looked quite sharp. By contrast, the new set must upscale standard-def material, which can add visible artifacts that are more visible on larger screens.
In his review of the TC-P58V10, Tom Norton liked it quite a bit, but he did note some less-than-stellar performance on standard-def material: "The Panasonic had some difficulties with SD sources. It failed our most challenging 2:2 and 3:2 pulldown tests. Again, this didn’t produce excessive artifacts on normal program material, but the set’s 480i-to-1080p upconversion did produce a slightly soft image. While the set handled 480i sources adequately, if you can convert them to 1080p before sending them to the set (as with an upconverting DVD or Blu-ray player), you might get better results if the external device has better video processing." Still, he thought the set's HD performance was fine, and in the end, he gave it a Top Pick designation.
Perhaps you got a faulty unit. Have you tried to exchange it? Alternatively, try using an upconverting DVD or Blu-ray player to see if that works better; set the player to send 1080p from its HDMI output to bypass the TV's internal scaler. I recommend transitioning to Blu-ray anyway, and I'd be curious to see how that format looks on the new setI'd be shocked if it looks less than spectacular. Finally, you could try an external scaler, such as the DVDO Edge, which does a great job upscaling standard-def material.
We have an LG 47-inch LCD TV, and we want to connect my modest "computer" speakersJBL Creature IIs. However, the LG only has digital audio out, no RCAs. We are not about to buy a dedicated receiver for our bedroom, so is there a conversion accessory to get the audio to the Creatures without spending a bundle?
Happily, there are many such inexpensive accessories. For example, the Gefen TV Digital to Analog Audio Converter will do the trick for well under $100. If the TV outputs a Dolby Digital bitstream, you want the Gefen TV Digital Audio Decoder, which can accept Dolby Digital (up to 5.1 channels) or uncompressed 2-channel digital audio and convert it to 2-channel analog audio from RCA outputs. It's a bit more expensive at around $100, but that's still not nearly as much as a receiver.
Back From the Edge
I was wondering if you've been able to review some of the newer edge-lit LED LCD TV's and compare their performance to sets like the LED-backlit B8500 series from Samsung. I'd like to upgrade my TV to an LED LCD, and the edge-lit models are easier to find and afford.
We have reviewed quite a few edge-lit LED LCD TVs along with LED-backlit models; click here for all of HT's flat-panel TV reviews. In general, manufacturers are placing more emphasis on edge-lit models because they can be thinner and less expensive than backlit designs. However, edge-lit LED LCDs can't usually produce black levels as low as backlit sets, and their black-field uniformity isn't as goodfor example, shots in outer space don't look as evenly black. Then there's local dimming, which allows LED-backlit sets to exhibit much greater contrast, though it can also produce halos around tiny bright objects on an otherwise dark background, such as stars in space.
The Samsung B8500 is a great LED-backlit set, but it's very expensive and getting hard to find as a 2009 model. Another option is the LG LE8500 LED-backlit LCD TV, which is a 2010 model and more affordable. It provides great blacks and the best off-axis picture quality I've ever seen in an LCD TV.
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