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Purchased Panasonic P50ST50D plasma TV yesterday

  1. #1
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    Default Purchased Panasonic P50ST50D plasma TV yesterday

    Purchase the above TV yesterday after considerable deliberation, checking up, reviews, etc. Well, after two years!!!







    TV was delivered yesterday and should be installed in a day or two. Going with wall mounting. Will post reviews and pictures soon.
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    Congratulations on your purchase, it would be good if you post the pricing too.

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    Price: INR 105,000
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    50ST50D - First Impressions


    As stated in the title above, these are first impressions only. This TV has been universally praised and I may not have much to add. Hence I am not going to dwell upon many factors already written about - at lease not today. I am certainly not a video expert and could claim slightly biased opinions. Although I have a HD-Ready projector, this is the first time I am experiencing a Full-HD TV. Nevertheless all assumptions, impressions, over-boarding, criticism, errors are my own.

    The TV was installed today. The guy arrived when I was out of home and by the time I arrived, he had already unpacked and attached the wall brackets.



    I am going to wall mount it in my bedroom. But for the moment, it (the bedroom) does not have DTH cable running to it. Hence I just asked the guy to fix the wall mount but set the TV up in the living room on the pedestal stand. Here are some installation pictures:





    After the TV was properly setup, I checked was the hours that were clocked using the SRV-Tool. I was overjoyed to see that the total running time was 39 minutes and TV was switched on 4 times (thumbs up to dealer "Rajesh Trading Company").



    In the box:
    The box contained the usual. Besides the TV, it had the remote+2 batteries, the desktop stand, 2 pairs of 3D eye active 3D glasses (Universal), Composite Cable Connector, and Component Cable connector. The wall mount came separately. Other countries do not offer a free wall mount. It would have been nice if an 1.5m HDMI 1.4 cable was included at the price charged/paid; hence taking a pint off.



    Form Factor:
    The TV is very slim. The actual panel is just 15 mm or so and thus can compare appreciably with the LED panels. My neighbour thought that it is an LED TV (without being turned on).

    ----------------------
    All following observations were made on the "Normal" and "True Cinema" mode.
    ----------------------

    Picture Quality:
    I did not tweak the settings much except that I have reduced the contrast for most settings to 35 and left rest as they are. When the picture setting was "Normal", some of the soaps appeared too brightly coloured. When I changed the setting to "Dynamic" (Contrast=100), the picture became too bright for my liking and I turned it away immediately. This proves what most are saying - in the brightly lit showrooms, the picture setting appears much toned down because of ambient light. In my hall, I pulled the drapes across and dimmed the ambient light as much as possible. Under these conditions "Dynamic" is plain eye-hurting.

    I have no reference of the PQ in any other LCD/LED/Plasma other than some friends/relatives. But whatever I remember, I think that the SD quality is very good when compared to others. Note that all my friends/relatives have LCD or LED TVs and they are 40" or less. We all know that smaller the picture size, greater is the clarity/quality. And I was quite skeptical when others reported that they were disappointed with SD quality on 50XT50 (the entry level Panasonic Plasma). I had seen 50ST50 and 50XT50 in the dealer showroom for nearly 30 minutes and thought that SD is what it should be.

    In SD, picture is soft as expected. Entertainment and Education/Infotainment channels were OK. Sports was mediocre. But most channels, especially news channels, were atrocious in quality and intolerable to watch. Overall. I am overall satisfied with SD quality. Perhaps I am not critical enough.

    HD DTH (1080i) Picture Quality is superb. I have no complaints here.

    Blu-Ray Quality:
    Next I connected my blu-ray player to the set and put on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part I. I particularly wanted to test the dark (black) parts of the movie. The ST50 does not let down. I tested the "The 7 Potters" chapter. What appears smudgy/total black on other screens at home, revealed more details here. The experts have already said a lot on "black levels". I am going to do more tests soon and see how I feel.

    -------------------
    p/s. I have taken many other pictures of the TV in action. Alas! All of them are blurred by handshake. I shall try to take pictures using a tripod and then post.
    -------------------

    Overall PQ is excellent. Blacks are just superb as reported by experts.

    Glare/Reflections:
    When the drapes were open, there were reflections on the TV. But they were not too distracting. The ST50 has anti-glare panel and this helps as great deal. My window is 90 to the TV. When watching from the side, the glare was more apparent. When the drapes were drawn across, there was no issue. The reflection could be seen only when the TV was switched off.

    There are two (incandescent) lights - one directly above the TV and other facing it. When both were switched on in the evening, the "True Cinema" setting became too dull. "Normal" was also a bit dull while "Dynamic" was too bright/gaudy for me. So I switched off the light above the TV and "Normal" was OK then.

    3D:
    The dealer gave me a copy of some 3D movies (.mkv) format such as Avatar, Puss in the Boots, Transformers 3, Tron Legacy, Smurfs, etc. The ST50 comes with the universal 3D glasses (RF sync 'ed via Bluethooth) with the "Full HD 3D RF" logo. 3D is very good but my eyes started feeling tired after 1 hour or so. Tron Legacy's 3D starts when Sam enters the grid. I could make out some cross talk but not much. But I clearly see that 3D is not going to my cup of tea.

    HDD:
    I connected my 1 TB HDD to the TV. The TV took ages to read my HDD. The first time, I simply stopped after 15 min's or so. So my conclusion was that the TV's processor is very laggard. I thought that my disk had too many files. So I removed all non-video content. The disk now had all episodes of "Everybody Loves Raymond" (about 215 files) and 8-10 3D movies. Still it took over 10 minutes to read the disk. And every time you switch from USB to other source and then back to USB, the reading begins back again. This is expected as the TV is not a computer and does not have a cache. But I am quite disappointed all the same about the performance.
    Tip: Use lower capacity disks and do not keep too many files in the disk.

    Networking:
    Connecting to the network in itself was easy. But my WPA2-AES key is 48 characters long and hence I had to spend over 5 minutes to key it in properly. The base software needed an upgrade; it did not show any internet content. The software upgrade took nearly 25 minutes on my 512 kbps connection. But once done, the Viera applications/internet were accessible. I did not try many - just browsed a couple of sites. Facebook application is slow to start.

    Overall:
    A first class TV. I would rate it as 4.75/5.

    ------------------
    Please post your comments/questions. I may not (indeed I have not) covered all aspects just yet. I shall be happy to provide my views.
    Last edited by just4kix; 22nd August 2012 at 01:55 PM.
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    Attached are some SD pictures ... once again, I will say that photo of TV comes out quite bad. But based on photos of FHD, HD and now SD, you can do a comparison:





    As expected, there is no light bleed ...


    Weekend before last, I was trying out DLNA streaming. I have my Samsung Galaxy S2 and on its SD card, I have some AVI files (Everybody Loves Raymond). Using the phone's media player, I started playing it. Went to options and selected "AllShare". The Samsung AllShare application detected the ST50 immediately and I could send the output to TV very easily.

    OK. First test passed. No issue of streaming over wireless network.

    Last weekend, I shifted the TV to the bedroom and here the wifi signal is weak. Only one bar was shown. The stream started stuttering and sputtering. Not good. Fortunately, I have one more wireless router with me. So I connected that and created another wireless network (with different IP subnet and all that). This wireless router was placed on the glass shelf above the TV (see pictures in the previous posts). Now there were no problems.

    As I stated in my earlier review, the ST50 is pathetic when it comes to reading large size HDD. My HDD is Seagate 1TB. I deleted all contents from it and now it contains only 6 or 7 3D HD MKV's. But the TV takes 10+ minutes everytime it reads the disk. This was extremely frustrating. So I copied all MKVs to my laptop and decided to stream it via Windows Media Player.

    Source played: Avatar 3D mkv (about 17.4 GB)

    Problem 1: WMP would not play MKVs.
    Reason: Missing codecs.
    Solution: Downloaded codecs; installed them
    Result: MKVs started to play.
    --------------------------
    Problem 2: Tried to stream MKVs to TV via DLNA. Error displayed: "Cannot find media player server" or something like that.
    Reason: It appears that MKVs cannot be streamed by WMP.
    Solution 1: Found many solutions on the internet. All said download this, or download that. On closer inspection, found that many (all good and recommended ones) were paid software or trialware. I hate cracked software. So rejected this solution.
    Solution 2: On one forum, one guy said that he just renamed the .mkv to .avi and it started playing. I tried the same.
    Result: Viola!! The .mkv renamed as .avi started to stream perfectly. Isn't this amazing?
    --------------------------
    Problem 3: Huge stuttering on the 3D movies.
    Reason: MKVs or any 1080i/p HD rip (and probably 720p rip too) require very high bandwidth. The 54mbps wireless network is not good enough to receive the stream from source and transmit it to the destination at the same time.
    Solution 1: Most solutions suggested going to 8.11n range. Even here, some said that stuttering cannot be eliminated altogether.
    Solution 2: Go wired. I decided to adapt this solution. I connected the TV to router by ethernet RJ-45 cable.
    Result: MKVs (or rathe HD AVI) started to stream.
    --------------------------
    Minor problem: There is still some minor stuttering. But this usually happens if I FF or jump to a particular point suddenly. During normal playback, I did not observe this much. Needs thorough testing though. Also, my laptop was still on wireless mode.
    Solution: Try full wired mode
    Result: Not tested as yet.

    I hope this post helps many other people.
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    The TV has been running for almost a month now. I may be able to add some personal observations at this point.

    Picture Settings:
    Picture settings are very personal in nature. My wife, for instance, prefers the neutral tones of the "natural" setting - even when watching movies on BD. I prefer the "Cinema" mode, especially while watching movies. I felt that the "True Cinema" adds too much yellowish tinge to the whole picture. Apparently the engineers at Panasonic feel that, that is the correct colour and contrast setting for having the real cinema like experience.

    As stated in my previous post, the contrast for all settings was 50 except for "Dynamic" where it was 100. I reduced the contrast for each setting to 30~35 during the break-in period. After that, I shall reset the factory setting and then tune each setting to our liking. I have adjusted the sharpness to +3 in "Normal" mode so that now SD picture appears sharper than before.

    I do not have any recommendation here and would ask everyone to fiddle around with contrast, colour, sharpness, etc., till you arrive at a setting that you prefer most. The ST50 also gives control over gamma and other such aspects but I am a novice at that and did not touch those. My wife and I were unanimous on the "Dynamic" mode - we did not like it at all.

    Aspect Ratio Settings:
    There are no tweaks possible here. The ST50 offers 16:9, 14:9, 4:3, Just, Zoom1, Zoom2 and Zoom3. The "Just" setting works well universally but because I wish to avoid letterbox bars at top and bottom during the breakin period, I am using one of the appropriate Zoom ratios. The Zoom makes the picture too large for the liking but I guess I will have to live with that for another 60 hours or so (as of date). I recommend Zoom setting for all plasma owners during breakin period.

    Sound Settings:
    The sound of this TV is very unimpressive and disappointing. I was not expecting a lot and knew the drawbacks of the tiny speakers of a typical flat panel. But this was worse that expected. I have to raise the volume to 35 so that dialogues are better audible. I have turned off all surround sound effects - they make the whole sound more attrocious. I am not going to use this TV in my HT room and I am comtemplating whether a decent sound bar will be a good investment.

    Reflections and the role of "Infinite Black Pro Filter":
    Before buying the TV, I was quite worried on this aspect mainly. I did not want to end up with a new mirror. I am happy to report that because of the infinite black pro filter in the ST50, the reflections are minimal and quite tolerable. My large window is 90 to the TV and when I pull the drapes across, the hall light during day can be reduced to a huge extent; in fact it appears like late evening in the hall when this is done. This makes the TV viewing very pleasureable. The infinite black pro filter reduces the brightness of the TV, increases black levels and this works very well for me.

    50" Size:
    After a week, I was wondering whether 50" is too big. Because after extended viewing (3+ hours continuous), my eyes felt fatigued.Or maybe, I was not used to it as yet. Now this feels OK.

    3D Experience so far:
    I did not purchase this TV for 3D. 3D is/was the least of my priorities. Whatever I watched till date was 3D content copied from the dealer which included some 3D movies. To be honest, other than Avatar 3D I did not find any of the other movies very grand. I get a slight headache after watching 3D after some time. Honestly, 3D is not for me.

    3rd Party impressions:
    One Saturday, some friends visited me and when they saw the TV (it was not switched on), they asked, "When did you buy this LED TV?", "How much?", etc. I switched on the TV and they were super awed with the experience (TataSky HD). When I turned the blu-ray player (X-Men Origins: Wolverine), all of them were found collecting their jaws from the floor.

    The "Plasma TV" label is very obscure and not very much readable at 10 ft. Every was thinking that this is the latest LED. It was at this point that I told them that this is a plasma TV. One of them has an LED TV and he agreed that his TV does not give this kind of depth of experience. To defend his own TV, he also added, "also your TV is much larger too".

    X-Factor:
    As stated in my earlier post, when some friends came home, they were simply blown away. Some time later, I received a call from NASA. They said that space station had come across some unidentified flying objects. They sent a space vehicle to investigate and found a few humans who initially were unable to speak. Later they could identify themselves. They found that I was the culprit in launching them and warned me not to do it again.
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    The 2012 Panasonic 3D glasses

    As we all know, Panasonic plasma TV continues to be in the "Active 3D" camp. Enough has been written and said about Active 3D technology and glasses, pros and cons of active 3D, etc., so that nothing needs to be repeated here. I am writing my own impressions about the Panasonic 3D glasses.

    The good: As many know, Panasonic introduced the universal RF based 3D glasses in 2012 TV models. These work on bluetooth instead of infra red. This improves the connectivity issues virtually eliminating the need for being within 30 to 45 from center. Then they are very light at about 23g or so. This does not present much issue while wearing them, even over prescription glasses. And because they are universal, they are compatible with any TV that supports universal active 3D.

    The Bad: They are not compatible with the 2011 TV models and earlier but who cares? It is unlikely that someone owns a 2011 or earlier 3D TV as well as this one. But if you do, then that's fate. Next, these are very expensive. There is no official mention of the price but dealers quote Rs. 3500 or so for a pair. Amazon quotes $50 or so. These are outrageous prices considering that Samsung 3D glasses are just Rs. 1300 or $18~20. But I expect sanity to prevail and if not, one can always buy 3rd party glasses.

    Now about the glasses themselves.

    I received 2 pairs of TY-ER3D4MA glasses free. I suppose that the last character 'A' stands for 'Asia'. It is 'E' in Europe and 'U' in USA. These glasses do not have a rechargeable battery; instead they have a button cell inside. This is good and bad. Good because the rechargeable model will require electronics and Li-Ion battery that would have made the glasses heavier. Also Li-Ion battery would have started to deteriorate after 1000 charges or so and afterwards would have rendered the glasses useless. But 1000 charges is a pretty long time; about 3-4 years of life in my opinion. The bad about the non-rechargeable batteries is that every now and then it will mean an expense of Rs. 25 or so. The battery does not last long either. I used glasses to watch one movie for half the time and the battery indicator showed 75%. And also, the battery may just die during the middle of the movie. So a bit of advice - keep some spare ones handy.

    They are quite flimsy. I suppose this was done to keep the weight low. But that does not inspire confidence. While hunting for the TV, I was looking at various TVs and the LG salesman showed the passive 3D glasses. He dropped them on purpose to show durability. Nothing happened. I will not dare to try this with the Panasonic glasses. And for heaven's sake, don't keep the glasses lying around on the sofa or bed, lest you sit on them accidentally.

    While wearing them, they are not very clumsy or cumbersome. They fit on my prescription glasses well and I felt more comfortable wearing them than the one that they give at the local cinema. Because they were worn over my own glasses, they is some slight interference because of narrower viewable area but should not worry people not wearing glasses.

    When it comes to performance, I suppose that they do their job OK enough. I used 3D rips to view 3D. I do not own original 3D stuff or a 3D BDP (as yet). So unless I try original stuff, it may not be fair to compare using "copied 3D rips". I did get tired of the 3D with the slight headache or more of a dizzy kind of a feeling. I did observe crosstalk but I will reserve my opinion till I can test with some original content. My latest order containing Hugo-3D is on the way and I am thinking of selling my free HT and buy a 3D BDP after paying difference if required.

    On the whole, I am not impressed with the Panasonic 3D glasses and would rate then '2 out of 5' or maybe a '3'.
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    Quote Originally Posted by just4kix View Post
    Attached are some SD pictures ... once again, I will say that photo of TV comes out quite bad. But based on photos of FHD, HD and now SD, you can do a comparison:
    I presume you connected your Tata Sky HD Box with a "HDMI Cable". Or did you connect using RCA cables?
    Can you please share the details? I am also researching quality of SD/HD channels on a plasma TVs. I have HD DTH connection from Videocon d2h.

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    Quote Originally Posted by just4kix View Post

    Sound Settings:
    The sound of this TV is very unimpressive and disappointing. I was not expecting a lot and knew the drawbacks of the tiny speakers of a typical flat panel. But this was worse that expected. I have to raise the volume to 35 so that dialogues are better audible. I have turned off all surround sound effects - they make the whole sound more atrocious. I am not going to use this TV in my HT room and I am contemplating whether a decent sound bar will be a good investment.
    I would highly recommend 5.1 system. Sony has some sub 30k budget systems and they are worth every penny. If you can find a home theater system that has both HDMI in and HDMI out it would make an excellent setup but if not then use the HDMI for connecting the HD box with TV and analogue cables from HD box to your sound system. I have a similar set up and it works very well.


    Does this TV make any humming sound?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Admin View Post
    I would highly recommend 5.1 system. Sony has some sub 30k budget systems and they are worth every penny. If you can find a home theater system that has both HDMI in and HDMI out it would make an excellent setup but if not then use the HDMI for connecting the HD box with TV and analogue cables from HD box to your sound system. I have a similar set up and it works very well.


    Does this TV make any humming sound?
    Actually, I received a free DVD-HT (Panasonic SC-HX170) with this. It was not up to "my standards" so sold it off and got the Panasonic 3D BDP (BDT-DMP220GW). It was region locked - region C (for BD) and region 5 (for DVD). I applied a region free making firmware (from frimwareinfo<dot>com) to this and made it region free.

    It is not as if the sound is very bad. I have tweaked the settings and increased the mid-range frequencies so that dialogues are better now. But bedroom does not have space for an HT.

    And to answer the last question ... No, the TV does not make any humming sound (as reported for plasma TVs).
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    Quote Originally Posted by ssray23 View Post
    I presume you connected your Tata Sky HD Box with a "HDMI Cable". Or did you connect using RCA cables?
    Can you please share the details? I am also researching quality of SD/HD channels on a plasma TVs. I have HD DTH connection from Videocon d2h.
    I have connected with HDMI cable. Always use HDMI cable for HD.
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    Smile whole new experience...

    hi..
    I bought this TV and am very happy with this. Whether, I am watching movies or listening to music on it, it is a whole new experience for me. It is far more smarter and better than my previous TV.
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