Shopping for a 70-inch Flat Panel

I've recently installed some built-in cabinets in my family room, leaving me enough space to fit a 70-inch TV. Currently, I have a 50-inch Pioneer Kuro (non-Elite) that I've been extremely happy with. But now that I've got the space for a 70-incher, I'm strongly considering upgrading. The problem is that I've been pretty disappointed with what's currently available in the way of 70-inch TVs. I realize that I'm limited to the Sharp 70-inch models or the larger Elite (which is out of my price range). I could increase my options if I considered a 65-inch set from Samsung or Panasonic, but hate the thought of giving up those extra five inches.

Also, I'm pretty spoiled by the picture quality of the Kuro. I love the shadow detail and lack of motion artifacts on the plasma, and I'm worried that I'll be disappointed with the performance of some of the larger LED TVs. I was excited that Sharp announced the LE945U line at CES this year, which is supposedly going to include full-array local dimming, but I've seen recent reports that Sharp may not include local dimming on their 2012 sets. Have you heard anything about this? Is this feature really worth waiting for over the full-array LC-70LE735U (with no local dimming) that can currently be obtained at a substantial discount?

Jim Remus

I don't think there's a dramatic difference between 65 and 70 inches, so I wouldn't rule out 65-inchers. On the other hand, if you're the type of person who obsesses about such things, it'll stick in your craw and detract from your enjoyment. Only you can make that call.

I agree that the Sharp sets with full-array LED backlighting but no local dimming are not the best way to go. I just sent a query to Sharp about local dimming in the LE945U series (seen above at the company's CES press conference), and the response was, "The 9-series discussed at CES is still under development. Specs are still being finalized, so we cannot confirm specific features at this time." I hope they do implement local dimming, because it's definitely worth waiting for.

If you're spoiled by the Kuro—and who wouldn't be?—I doubt you'll be happy with any LCD TV, except perhaps the Sharp Elite, which is beyond your budget. The only other LED-LCD TV with local dimming you might want to consider is the Sony XBR-65HX929 (55-inch version reviewed here), which is pretty expensive at $6000 for a 65-incher, and like all LCDs, the picture quality degrades as you move off axis. Also, 3D images exhibit ghosting if you tilt your head.

I recommend getting a 65-inch plasma from Samsung or Panasonic. We expect to get the 2012 flagship plasmas from both companies for review, but we don't have them yet, so it will be several months before those reviews are published. If you can't wait that long, I recommend the Panasonic TC-P65VT30 2011 flagship ($4000) or, if that's too costly, the TC-P65ST30 ($3000). As you can see, at this size, even flagship plasmas are significantly less expensive than comparable LED-LCD TVs, and they offer better overall performance to boot.

If you have an A/V question, please send it to askhometheater@gmail.com.

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COMMENTS
audiofool's picture

I usually don't post, just linger here but thought you might be interested in my experience. I liked the older plasma's from Pioneer and Panasonic, I tried the 2011 Panasonic models GT and VT but found two issues that I couldn't live with. The first minor issue was line bleed in some scenes, not often but enough to distract. The major issue I had was yellow trailing in fast moving high contrast scenes. This made black and white movies unwatchable for me, I had to made an effort to Not see it. Not everyone sees it, kind of like the issues with color wheels and DLP projectors. Spoke with Panasonic, they say it is native with the technology and doesn't bother most people. Just to be sure it doesn't bother you flick your eyes quickly from one edge of the screen to the other and back - if you see yellow trailing around high contrast scenes it will probably bother you in the long run. I ended up with the Sony XBRHX929 - issues are viewing angle, a little DSE and blooming - nothing I find distracting if sitting in the center - the processing, color accuracy and black levels are fabulous. Good luck with your shopping.

SunriseGatefield's picture

I'm another lingerer who doesn't comment too frequently, but I was simply too struck by audiofool's comment to resist. That post almost could have been written by me. I too began with a Panasonic plasma--the 55" ST30--but had the exact same problem with yellow trailing. I tried for the entire 30 day return window not to see it (because otherwise I loved the set) but it never went away. So I second audiofool's advice to watch out for yellow trails on plasmas (as audiofool says, not everyone does--my wife couldn't see it, for example). I'll just add that if you see it on one plasma, you'll probably see it on all of them. I tried a Samsung (59" PN6500) before realizing I had to go with an LCD. Also, you might not see the effect on the showroom floor. I looked hard for it before I got the Samsung plasma, but only saw once it was in my living room and the lights were down. You probably won't get the effect, but just have the mind-set that the first TV you bring home won't necessarily be the last one you do! Like audiofool, I ended up going with the Sony XBR-HX929 (55"). From front and center it is great. It was tough to pay twice the price, but it was the only LCD that I thought matched or bettered the Panasonic ST30.

jimremus's picture

Scott,

Thank you so much for your feedback, and to you as well, audiofool. Image quality is of the most importance to me. Perhaps it was slightly unclear in my original question. I simply meant that if I could get the same IQ in a 70" display as in the 65" sets, I would undoubtedly prefer the 70". If that's not the case, then I'd be fine with a 65". With that said, you definitely confirmed my fears and experience thus far, in being disappointed with every LCD except for the Elite, which I was quite impressed with when I viewed it at my local home theater store.

Audiofool, I appreciate you sharing your experience with those two Panasonic plasmas, as they were definitely on my short list of sets to consider. I will be sure to demo anything prior to making a purchase, and I'll try to pay special attention to that.

At this point, I'm in no rush to pick up a new set. I'm likely to wait for the first round of reviews of the 2012 models to come out before deciding on one of those or trying to pick up one of the 2011 models at a substantial price reduction.

Thanks again!

yachtmandu's picture

My grumpy father in-law used to say, "if you want a big screen TV move your chair closer". Keep the Kuro and move your chair closer until OLED hits mainsteam. Meanwhile, if you can't live with a 50" Kuro, try to find a used 60" Elite. It's unlikely LCD, LED-LCD will ever deliver the PQ you have now. And here's one for conspiracy theorists: Panasonic/Matsushita built the panels for Pioneer, a few years ago when Panasonic was short on panels, some of the 50" Pannies ended up with Pioneer panels and processors. They were 720P sets, but remarkable. The serial number range is

StudioApt HT's picture

I got the 65VT30 from Amazon, as the prices have dropped significantly there. I wanted the top line plasma from Panasonic as I had been happy with a previous Panasonic before. I also decided to go for a professional calibration after reading extensively about it on the forums.
I have seen my VT30 look very good, albeit a little dimmer than what I am used to. But recently I have had nothing but trouble with it color-wise. Blu-ray (direct source) looks great still, but my Dishnetwork channels vary so much in regard to skin tone that I am going crazy; it seems to bias toward green and there is definitely something peculiar about the gamma detail adjustment settings (input signal level gains). I am in process of getting the issues resolved with panasonic and a second local calibrator, but so far I have not been able to determine if the issue stems from the panel, the satellite provider, or the calibration. I just had the satellite box replaced, but the issue remains.
I have a feeling this set will look incredible once the problem is resolved or replaced if necessary and, since messing around tirelessly in the settings myself I was able to make significant progress, I have faith that it will indeed be resolved.
Some things to consider: This panel has myriad settings, including a pro settings menu that is a bit jumbled and out of order. With so many variables, it is very difficult to do it yourself without expensive equipment and software.
If you do go for a pro calibration, I highly recommend doing research on the forums (highdefjunkies, avs, etc.) and go with the most LOCAL, well-reviewed calibrator you can find. Many of these calibrators do tours, and though I hired an out-of-towner who had a great rep, I am at a loss until he returns to this area. Not all calibrators have the same approach or philosophy, either.
I am not sure all calibrators would agree, but it seems that in order to get accurate color with this particualr panel, certain sacrifices must be made in terms of panel brightness. You can make adjustments yourself to boost the output/ fl of the panel, but at a (I assume) color accuracy cost. This is a panel best viewed in darker environments (but name one that isn't!).
Lastly, I have read of people getting very very good calibrations on their 65VT30s and being very happy with them. I am confident I will get there, thanks to some very helpful souls. But I sometimes wonder if I would have been as satisfied with the 65ST30, reviewed here with honors in value and performance. It may not have as many options for calibration, but that may have saved me a lot of headache and dollars in the end.

mailiang's picture

Unless you have a defective set, a good calibration and switching to DTV is probably your best bet.

Ian

dnoonie's picture

Hi,

I have a Kuro unit too and can't imagine trying to replace it. Yeah it would be nice to have something bigger and by this time something bigger and better should be available for a reasonable price but it isn't.

So do what I've done...move the couch a littler closer to make the image bigger and enjoy the wonderful quality of your Kuro and wait for something better at a reasonable price.

Wish Pioneer still made TVs. Sorry to see them go...Thanks Pioneer for trying to make it with a quality product.

I could continue with a rant about how mediocrity has become the new high quality and how bad has become the new mediocre but...I'm hoping that my Kuro lasts till a new quality standard gets set.

Cheers (be happy with what you have),
DN

jimremus's picture

I appreciate all of the responses that I've gotten in this thread. Believe me, I wish that I could just move my seat closer; however, my wife would never go for that. Apparently there's something wrong with putting the couch right in the middle of the family room :)

I agree that the sentiment that quality has taken a hit since Pioneer stopped making TVs. It just makes me wish I would have had the ability to purchase the 60" KURO Elite when it was available. Here's to hoping that the 2012 and 2013 sets are a big improvement over last year's models.

dnoonie's picture

Hi,

Just some thoughts to possibly help

1. Can you negotiate to temperamentally move the couch closer just for movies. (If you don't move it back in reasonable time we'll both be in trouble)

2. Is there a smaller room you could put the TV in. (I have a small house with small rooms so it's pretty easy for me to sit close, the TV is on the front of the stand and the couch is 1 foot off the back wall, pretty easy).

jimremus's picture

Time to revisit this :)

The new 2012 models are out for most of the major manufacturers, and I'm getting the itch to upgrade again. Some of the preliminary reviews are in for the Panasonic TC-P65VT50, and most people are pretty high on this set. I've read several reviews that claim this to be the best plasma set since the Kuros. In fact, the only real negatives that I've read relate to IR or burn-in issues.

I'm hoping that HT will officially review this set soon, but I'm curious to see if anyone has any opinions regarding whether this is worth upgrading from my PDP-5020, or if I should continue to hold out and wait for a better display.

Thanks again ...

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