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Adventures with a Panasonic TX36PF10

Discussion in 'Televisions' started by Steve Thackery, Jul 21, 2001.

  1. Steve Thackery

    Steve Thackery
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    One of the problems I had when researching which 36" widescreen to buy was the number of pretty damning comments people were writing on all of them. The fact is, no matter which TV you choose, there is always someone who hates theirs (and others who love it).

    One thing that made it easier for me is that I didn't want to pay for any surround sound facilities, as these will be handled by a separate amp. I had the view that I'd rather the money was spent on the picture than additional decoder chips, et al. I realise that it may not always work like this!

    I looked at five sets: the Hitachi 810, the new Toshiba Z18P, the Phillips 9525C, the Sony FS70 and the Panasonic PF10.

    The Hitachi I was able to exclude fairly easily. It's a good TV, but they've put a lot of effort into the sound system (which I wasn't interested in) and the picture quality is competent but not outstanding. If you want an all-in-one package, though, this is a major front-runner.

    The new Toshiba was a surprising disappointment. It's in the most compact box of them all, but the picture was a real problem. I just couldn't extract any detail from the dark areas of the picture, no matter what I did with the brightness and contrast. It looks like a permanently underexposed photograph. Exit Toshiba.

    Next one out was the Sony, much to my surprise. Especially as this was the one I'd set my heart on. I was lucky enough to be able to play with a line up of all three remaining TVs, with good signal feeds. I had high hopes for Sony's DRC, but the honest truth is I couldn't say it actually looked any better than the Phillips or the Panny. Different, yes, but better? Hmmmmm..... very debatable. The other big thing is that the Sony is about £500 more than the other two. That decided it for me: maybe the picture is better, though it's hard to tell, but it sure as hell ain't worth another £500. Exit Sony, with much regret.

    So now we're down to the Phillips and the Panny. They both provide very similar facilities, and both cost about the same. The only big difference is Phillips' Natural Motion technology. I spent ages poring over these two. Fact is, you'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between them in normal use. The Natural Motion thing is interesting. It isn't really much help in normal live broadcasts, which are recorded at 50 pictures per second anyway. It's really mostly with films - 24 pictures per second - that it helps. And even then, most noticeably with fast panning and the like. Film makers are already wise to this, because of course films are really intended to be shown at a cinema - at 24fps - anyway. So the number of cases where Natural Motion makes a real difference is fairly small.

    The disadvantage of it is that it definitely introduces processing artefacts. My advice would be to view a Phillips carefully. If you really want smooths pans enough to live with the processing artefacts, then go for it. It's very much a personal thing.

    I chose the Panny. First, the good points. The picture quality is really great. Clean, bright, smooth, sharp - basically perfect. Absolutely no 100Hz processing artefacts at all, to my eye. I promise you won't be disappointed. I'd like a little more black level expansion (Gamma correction) but that's all. It really is a great set to watch. I cannot see any of the cross-talk (or whatever it is) that people have reported on the RGB input. Convergence and focus is cock on. No colour bleed or overlaps. Also, no buzzing whatsoever from the field coils (another problem reported here). Sound is absolutely fine for a simple NICAM TV. Also, I cannot get het up about the way AV inputs can't be assigned channel numbers, which so incensed a previous correspondent. The TV switches to the active source anyway, so it seems a non-issue to me. Still, read his comments and make your own judgement.

    The noise reduction facility is the best I've EVER seen on a TV. It converts my snowy C5 signal into a damn good picture. Also, Panasonic's JUST mode, which spreads a 4:3 picture to fill the whole screen, is the best I've seen. It combines a slight zoom with some non-linear spreading, and whilst it is inevitably a compromise, it's the best compromise I've come across. I don't use it - I want my material undistorted - but if you do, then you won't do better than the Panny.

    The bad points: the geometry was poor on 4:3 and 14:9 material (ie where the picture has black bands either side of it). Specifically, the picture got wider towards the bottom. (You wouldn't notice it, of course, on a picture that went all the way to the edge). Five minutes in the service menu reduced it to an almost unnoticeable level (but note I couldn't eliminate it completely). The only other point - which I don't believe has been mentioned here - is disappointing EHT regulation. Specifically, the picture grows and shrinks a little bit according to the amount of white in it. This is a very well known phenomenon, which all CRT TVs and monitors are prone to, although some do an excellent job of managing it. I think Panasonic could have done better, although the effect is slight enough not to bother me.

    The Panasonic Auto mode - where it alters the aspect ratio automatically to suit the source material works well enough, but too slowly. When widescreen adverts come on during a 4:3 programme, it sometimes takes quite a long time to kick into widescreen mode. I don't care about it - personally I prefer to manually select the mode. But I thought I'm mention it.

    The verdict? None of the 36" TVs I looked at were perfect. Note even the Sony. But of them all, the Panny is genuinely a cracker and the best one for me. I don't have even the slightest regret about buying it.

    A warning to prospective buyers: be careful about letting vociferous individuals with very strong feelings bias your own opinions too much. NONE of the 36" TVs on the market are poor. Let's be honest, they are the flagship TVs in the manufacturers' ranges. So keep things in perspective, listen to every view, take a look at them yourself, and be assured that by taking your time and choosing thoughtfully you will almost certainly be delighted.

    Steve Thackery
     
  2. loz

    loz
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    What a well written report.
    You obviously did your homework yourself rather than relying on the biased opinions of others.

    Enjoy your Panasonic.

    Of course, the Philips IS better :D
     
  3. sirjohnofbalham

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    I bought one of these sets when they were first released and have yet to see a better 36" picture. In my view the new PG series is a retrograde step. And now you can buy one for around £1,500 they are an absolute bargain. It will be interesting to see how the new PB series (when they are released) measures up. I suspect the PF10 will be phased out soon so if anyone is thinking of buying one - hurry.
     
  4. Stupot43

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    Hi Steve,
    What a refreshing report on the TV`s.It`s nice to read well written article and one that has obviously been well researched. I have been recently thinking of upgrading my Philips 32" "nearly flat" tv to a 36 incher and I,like youself am not concerned with surround sound modes as I have my own seperates system, and I had also had eliminated all but the Panny and Philips. I must admit I was leaning more towards the Philips because of the 2 RGB capable scarts plus one more and the fact that the Panny is now getting a little long in the tooth. But your report has made me think again,I have always liked the Panny ever since it was released. Would like to read more reports on the bulletin board like yours. Thank You.
    PS Would like to know if the price would have influenced your decision if you could have got the Philips for £182 cheaper than the Panny.The cheapest that I can find the 36PF10 for is £1589 inc.P&P and the Philips £1408 inc.P&P
    Stuart : :)
    PS

    [ 24-07-2001: Message edited by: Stupot43 ]
     
  5. Steve Thackery

    Steve Thackery
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    To be honest, I would probably have not let that final £180-odd swing it for me. I'd set myself a "sort of" £1500 budget - a guideline budget - and both TVs were near enough for me to feel that I could leave it purely to my preferences, without the money being a factor. Of course this must be different for every individual.

    I truly believe you'll be happy if you go for the Phillips. It's cracking value for money and a good picture.

    Steve
     
  6. Stupot43

    Stupot43
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    I`ve just been looking at the Catalogue that Panasonic have sent me (audio visual 2001) and it says in there that the 36Pf10 has RGB on AV1 and AV4. I`ve had a look on the Panny site, but on there it has listed only AV1 with RGB capability. Could you confirm this with your new set. I`m wondering if Panasonic have changed the spec or whether it is a misprint?

    Stuart :confused:
     
  7. Stupot43

    Stupot43
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    Just thought I`d let you know that the informationin the brochure was incorrect. The 36PF10 has only one RGB capable scart which is AV1. What a shame, I had almost made my mind to have the Panny, especially now that I can get it for under £1600 delivered.

    Stuart :(
     
  8. Guest

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    Does anyone know if this model [pf10] plays reg 1 DVD without problems noted on newer panny tvs? <img src="confused.gif" border="0">
     

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