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Just got my 36" Panasonic Pl30 - so heres why I chose this one.

Discussion in 'TVs' started by Phil Brown, Jan 26, 2002.

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  1. Phil Brown

    Phil Brown
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    Just got my Panasonic 36" PL30 and thought you all might be interested in how I arrived at this desicion ( it was a long journey - with some interesting lessons learnt ) !

    Couple of months of ago bought my surround system - Denon 1802, Kef KHT eggs and sub, Toshiba 210 dvd ( with much thanks to the folks who post on this board ) .... I had Sky Digital ( not sky + yet ! ) and vcr. Quickly realised my old Toshiba 33" wasnt up to the job so started the reseach for a 36" widescreen.

    For a 36" the decision is quite narrow Sony, Toshiba, Panasonic, Hitachi, Thomson, Philips.... as we all do I spent many weeks searching thru the mags for reviews etc, went round all the shops ( comet, currys, Allders, JLP, Powerhouse etc ) trying to get a look at them all.

    And there's lessons number one... the mag reviews, tend to give all the TVs pretty good ratings, bit of a mix between picture Vs sound... interesting to read for features etc, but it did not help me close the choice.... as for looking at the TVs in the shops... typically the quaility of picture ( poor sources, set up etc ) was diabolical and would put you off buying a 36" tv at all.... I had to conclude that this was only useful for looking at the aesthetics of the TVs and hope that when back at home with a decent signal, they would all be pretty good ( bit of risk though ) !

    Throughout all this I was searching this board and although i fear that many posts here are from owners with problems ( there must be many happy owners out there ) this board was really the place that helped me shortlist the options :

    Sony - normally I would highly rate Sonys TVs, but just too many people here have had too many problems and add to that the Sony 36" is really very expensive compared to the others... that was off the list.

    Toshiba - I like Toshibas ( had one for 8 years ) but again was finding many folks here with problems, and one thread talking about poor build quality.... plus there is something about that "pictureframe" screen that did not make it quite look like a real big beefy tv ( silly i know, but there you go ) - however the toshiba stayed on my short list as the picture quality mostly got rave reviews.

    Hitachi - this dropped off my list quickly, general reviews were Ok but not stunning, plus I did not really like the overall look of this range.

    Thomson - unknown quantity this one, looked Ok, but couldnt find much info about it at all... so that was dropped off the list.

    Philips - I liked this TV, pictures generally very good, features good and a nice looking TV - that stayed on the short list.

    Panasonic - again from history i like panasonic as a manufacturer ... and their latest 36" are very good looking sets... however lots of threads here about the PB50 suffering problems ( some doubt setting in ! ) - but lets leave it on the short list.

    So I was down to Panasonic, Philips, Toshiba.... and they all seemed pretty good.

    But then I discovered some threads about the Panasonic PL 30, same chassis TV as latest Pana's, but without all the built in surround sound ( nicam only ) plus all those with them seemed to love them. ( and none of the PB50 problems !).

    Having just spent a lot of money on a seperates surround system, this PL30 started to be an attractive choice ( why buy all the surround stuff again, and inferia at that ).... then the clincher, this TV could be bought for less than £1400... and this was quite a few hundred pounds off the others ( hard to ignore ).

    So decision made, but where to buy... Empire Direct was best price £1379, but JLP do that price match stuff and 5 year guarantee... I found a shop advertisng PL30 for £1499 in the mags, so off to JLP for some negotiations... damn, PL30 is not a stock item for JLP, they will get it in but wont price match on special orders. So lets phone Empire direct and ask a few questions !

    Now this was a pleasing experience, very helpful lady, explained all about extended guarantees and their Nationwide Service Agents, 13 of them in stock... I was happy.... 2 mins later I had ordered my new 36 inch Panasonic PL30. Plus I added 3yrs extended for £119 and £50 delivery.... She said I would get a call in a couple of days from the courier company to arrange delivery. All very easy.

    2 days later I got the call as promised and we arranged a delivery day ( one week later, but that was ok )

    On the day it arrived ( 4 days ago ) it was huge... just got thru the front door, and had to unpack in the hall to get it into the living room.... I was excited.

    Got it plugged in wired up and switched on... OH grief !! what have I done, picture was terrible, grainy, washed out, horrible ( and I mean horrible )..... started playing with contrast, brightness, colour etc... things got much much better ( the default settings are gastly )..... then I started thinking about the AV feeds... as stated many times here RGB is best, there are 2 RGBs on this set and my Digibox and DVD also output RGB... so grabbed a couple of fully wired scart leads and connected up... now looking better still, then i realised I needed to tell my Digibox and DVD to output RGB.... that was it.. stunning pictures at last.... Digital was great and DVD outstanding.... finally decided to invest in some decent quality scarts ( techlink at £20 each was enough ) and a slight improvement was noticeable again.

    Main lessons :

    1) dont rate the tv by the quality of picture you see in the shops, they havent a clue how to set them up properly. ( plus on these big tvs, stand well back, get too close and they all look orrible ).
    2) look at the mag reviews, but trust in this buletin board, this is real experience from real people ( but keep an open mind )
    3) dont buy a tv with built in surround if you already have it... it can save hundreds off the overall bill.
    4) do spend some time thinking about connections, use good leads and RGB or S,vhs if you can.... and dont forget to tell your boxes to output the needed signal.
    5) dont be afraid of online companies... Empire rates very high for me, and their after sales service agents, I think will be no better or worse than any other company.
    6) MOST IMPORTANT - do your research... and put bulletin boards such as this high on your list of sources for information.

    So that it... end of story and one very happy Panasonic PL30 owner joins the ranks.... and hopefully "views happilly ever after".

    Phil
     
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    Phil

    A few questions for you:

    1) Have you had any problems yet with your 36PL30?
    2) How many scart sockets does it have?
    3) What's the geometry on the set like (any tilts or curves)?

    Thanks for the useful pointers. I've currently got a Toshiba 36ZP18 and am having problems with it so am looking again at 36" TVs.
     
  3. Markster

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    Phil

    As per Dens note above now you have had the set a while have you noticed any problems with this set at all?
     
  4. MrJubbly

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    Phil,

    Sounds like we have been on very similar journeys.

    I am awaiting my PL30 as I write. The only difference is, is that I was very much put off buying on the WWW. I was more or less resigned to buying from Empire at one point, for £1626 with 5 year warranty and delivery, but then I noticed that my local Hi Fi outlet was doing free 5 year warranties on Pannies. The warranty is the same as Empires'. i.e with Domestic & General including appliaince breakdown, accidental damage etc.

    After a bit of negotiation I talked the shop down to £1650. I was more than happy to pay the extra 24 quid just to be able to have the option of bashing someone over the head should things go pear shaped. Somthing I've learned is more than possible with these 36" sets (not neccessarliy the PL30, but 36" ers in general).

    The TV should arrive sometime this week, and I'll post with my opinions once I'm set-up.

    Regards

    MrJUbbly
     
  5. Phil Brown

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    Sorry for delay.. been busy... the questions :

    No problems at all, I love it ( once I got it set up right, colour. contrast etc ).

    3 x scarts and 2 are RGB capable... so sky digibox in one and dvd in the other ( sky looks better than ever thru rgb ).

    I dont think I have any convergence, tilt or other funny effects on the screen ( I say i dont think, cos I am not sure I would see it if I did ) i,m not blind, but I do wonder what some of these threads are talking about.... I guess I would know if I had !! so the real answer is no... picture looks great to me.

    One slight niggle, it seems to jump into and out of widescreen ( or zoom ) from time to time... depends on scene... I think I need to change a setting so it doesnt auto adjust itself for best size.. I,ll get to it.

    Still very happy and highly recommend the PL30. Rgds phil
     
  6. Reeves29

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    Thanks for posting your experience Phil its been a great help.

    I have been looking at buying a 36" set for a few weeks now, having the same problem choosing 1 as they all seem to have problems.

    Got my choice down to the Sony KV36FS70, Panasonic 36pb50c or Panasonic 36pl30.

    Most of my other Home Cinema Equipment is Sony which i am more than happy with (including the 28" i am currently using) so i'd buy the Sony from a loyality/good reputation point of view. But i am put off by all the bad press it has had on this forum.

    The Panasonic PB50 has more features than the pl30, picture in picture (not much use to me as i don't use terrestial tv, only DVD and Sky+)(can you view 2 av's wiht PIP?) DD and DTS (again no use to me as i have seperate 5.1 setup, Sony 940). The 2 RGB scarts is a big plus point over the sony.

    Has the Pb50 any other features over the pl30?

    Also what is / POP/ PAP/ PAT? something to do with picture in picture :confused:

    cheers
     
  7. Zacabeb

    Zacabeb
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    The PIP modes mean as follows:

    POP = Picture on Picture (miniature picture in corner)
    PAP = Picture and Picture (two pictures side by side)
    PAT = Picture and Teletext
     
  8. Cool-hand

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    Reeves,

    Well done. You would be very wise to steer clear of the Sony 36FS70. I had this set for 4 months and although the picture was very good the geomtry was bad and very off putting. Many people on this forum have experienced this so be very aware. :eek:
     
  9. thestorm

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    Glad u're happy with the panasonic 36'' I was in a similar dilemma
    myself. One and half years ago. I wanted to buy Sony due to their reputation. But they were too damn expensiveand I didn't want to pay extra for sound processing. Philips looked to un-natural, thomson was ..well thomson! So I decided in the end
    to buy the Panasonic 36PF10. Ive had it switched on for most of the day since then and it's still going strong. It'll soon be abused with a computer games console! I bought it from HI-SPEK, I highly recommend them.
    I bought it with a 5 yrs guarantee, free delivery and it was only 1,500quid total :) I've bought at least half a dozen items from them since then.

    About u're screen aspect ratio query.... well.....u've got it set to AUTO. If you set it to WIDESCREEN, it'll stay like that.
    I'm at work and don't have the remote close to hand... but it's the button with a square logo picture and arrows pointing outwards from centre (i think). That changes the aspect ration eg widescreen,4:3, zoom, super zoom etc.

    Cya,
    Shaz
     
  10. phil r brown

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    Thanks for the updates folks.... bit more from me on some of the questions above :

    - I took a much more critical look at the picture, convergence etc at the weekend... put up some menus ( sky guide etc ) and various channels, to try and see how straight the horizontal and vertical lines actually are and whether I have any funny pulling etc around the edges... the good news is I cannot fault it, everything looks fine right out to the edges etc. ( cant comment on the football... never watch it - sorry all footy fans ! ).

    One thing I can re-clarify.. if you stand too close to these big screens the picture can look awful ( grainy, ghosty )... but as soon as you move back a few feet it all comes into crispness and looks great ( so dont stand too close when checking these out in the shops... youll never buy one ! ).

    - PB50 Vs PL30 - during my research I found some interesting views on this BB.. seems the PB50 and PL30 are based on the same base chassis ( and technology we guess )... the only difference being that the PB50 has 2 tuners ( to give pop, pip etc etc - gimmicks for me ) and has onboard Dolby Digital 5.1 .... but here seems to lie the problem !! it is generally felt that these additions are the reason the PB50 suffers problems the PL30 does not seem to exhibit.... having discovered that, plus the price of the PL30, plus that I already had a surround seperates system... the choice of PL30 ( not PB50 ) was easy enough to make.

    n.b. I would add also that the basic Nicam sound on the PL30 is very good indeed... and for general viewing we tend to use just that ( for her indoors the Soaps are just fine in Nicam !! ).

    For Reeves and his Sony loyalty... I am with you, as a very keen Videography I have lots of Sony stuff and rate it highly ( sony first, panasonic second ) I also have a small sony widescreen in the bedroom ( great ) ... for this 36" TV debate however, the evidence against the Sony was just too compelling... its a great looking TV ( but very expensive ) and I am sure there are many out there that are just fine... I just did not want to take that chance ( and saved some £500 to £600 at the same time ). I am not put off Sony as a manufacturer, I just think they have suffered with their 36" TV ( it happens from time to time ).

    Rgds Phil
     
  11. Reeves29

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    Thanks for the reply phil, there's only 2 more things i am sure about before i choose between the PB50 or PL30.

    Looking at the empire direct website (can't find anyother site with PL30 info) it doesn't list 'Motion Estimation' as a feature thats on the PB50.

    Also can the PB50 show 2 av's sources in the PIP mode? e.g Sky and DVD?

    cheers
     
  12. Phil Brown

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    Hm, getting down to the detail now... simple answer is I really dont know for sure on both.

    I would expect that all this pip/pop stuff really shoudlnt care if its an arial source of an AV source... but who knows !

    I will have a look in my instruction book for anything about Motion Estimation... it doent ring any bells though !

    Maybe better solution is to start a new thread asking for any PB50 owners to comment ( this theads getting a bit old now so maybe not many people come back to it ! ).

    Cheers Phil
     
  13. Phil Brown

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  14. andyk

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    I'm another happy 36PL30 owner. I've had mine about 2 months now with no real problems

    My minor gripes are
    1. slight buzzing noise when the volume is low (well all the time I guess, but ususally you can't hear it). I understand that this is just "one of those things" - all that high voltage stuff you know...
    2. lack of discrete IR codes for AV source selection (for my Pronto)
    3. I'm not very happy with DMM. I had it on for a while when I first got the set but have switched it off now (I now use flicker reduction = on). I was finding that moving parts of the image were a bit "jerky". It was almost as if the TV was trying to keep the image static all the time and only moving it when it couldn't cope any more (a bit like some of the early digital panning stabilisation features when you tried to pan too quickly wit a video camera). I found this effect particularly bad with football, but it could be evident (if you start looking for it) even with a person walking across the back of a shot. Having had a long moan about that - I am quite happy with the picture as I have it now. Anyone else found similar?

    All in all though I am v. happy and would like to echo the original post in this thread. I went through almost exactly the same process to arrive at the PL30
     
  15. teknosys

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    I have had mine since xmas and was very weary. but tv seems ok
    Was also concerned by poping in and out of picture in auto. but any other choice of screen puts a thicker black band around picture - which would be ok if tv was not silver -i f tv black/grey it hides the black edge. any suggestions for picture settings would be appreciated.
     
  16. shaunthedude

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    ive had my 36pl30 for around 5 months now. the only gripes i have are.

    1. when playing american signal you get these moire lines down either side of the set. I improved this a great deal in the service menu.
    2. a vertical stripe about 1 inch from the edge of the screen (on both sides) this is most noticable when watching football or other fast panning action. the stripe is about 1 inch wide but is on top of the picture so it remains static while the picture moves.

    apart from these i have had no trouble and the picture is great. i tend to keep it in the just mode for watching. I have now got a panny rp tv coz the stripes were just too annoying. However, this has a major fault and im waiting for currys to deliver me another. meanwhile they said i could keep the 36 until i find another tv im happy with. GREAT SERVICE FROM CURRYS.
     
  17. phil r brown

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    Some other interesting things coming out here now :

    1) as advised earlier on this thread, I have fixed the screen size jumping around by putting the picture mode to Widescreen ( actually shows as 16.9 as you step thru the options ) and not having it on Auto.... the button to do this is on the remote and once you set the option once it stays that way. All pictures ( whether widescreen or not fill the screen nicely ).... and although there is a very slight black band around the screen ( approx 6mm ) it is no more than I see on all other TV's.

    2) I have not run any U.S. formats into the TV, so not aware of the Moire effect.

    3) plus no discernable vertical stripe down edge of screen... I dont watch much footy, so I will try this to see if I have the problem also !

    Phil
     
  18. roemichael

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    Anyone else got a view on this model? From what I've read, it seems to be 1st choice in 36". Certianly, the Tosh seems to have its fair share of problems and the Sony is just too expensive.

    Does anyone have any views about the quality trade-off of choosing a 36" over, say, a Sony KD32DX100 (similar price)? Obviously, there will be a degradation in picture quality, but is it that noticeable? It's impossible to tell by comparing in a shop because of the crap signal.
     
  19. shaunthedude

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    i had a sony 32 tv. now got the panny 36 and I must say i think the PANNY has the better picture
     

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