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Pioneer PDP-43MX1 or Panasonic

Discussion in 'Plasma TVs' started by John_N, Mar 20, 2005.

  1. John_N

    John_N
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    Hi guys
    I am on the brink of buying a 42" plasma and have been reading all the posts for the last few weeks.
    I realise there is a debate ongoing between 'HD-ready' displays and lower resolution panels. All things being equal I would obviously prefer a higher resolution panel.

    I want to spend as much as necessary, as little as possible, and in any case my ideal comfort zone is around £1500.

    I have noticed that RS sell the pioneer PDP43MX1 for about £1800 which has a native res of 1024*768

    Conversely I could get a special offer panasonic 42 PW7 from an online supplier for about £1300 although this has a lower resolution.

    decision complicated by the fact that I believe the panasonic has better black level and hence better contrast and I understand that the input board on the pioneer crushes black detail although it is fine for an input panel for a HTPC.

    The panasonic 42 HD panel is a bit expensive at the moment and I'm not sure the outlay is worth it given that HD programming is not around and even when the sky box is launched I think it will be a while before you get enough material to justify it.

    On the other hand, the SD panasonic panels concern me a bit given they support 480 lines and PAL has 576 active lines meaning a loss of detail.

    I've tried to view them side by side but the environment in RS is not exactly ideal and I haven't visited a dealer yet.

    I will be sitting about 12 feet from the screen and viewing mainly sky+ material - this isn't my main cinema system - I use a projector for that in another room - so I just want a good bright clear useable panel with sky+ type programming and the occasional DVD. The DVD will feed via component when connected and I guess the sky will feed via an RGB to VGA converter. I already have a HTPC that I <could> use if I had to but I would prefer to keep this living room system simple.

    So any ideas? As I see it I could;
    a) Get a SD panasonic PW6 or PW7 panel
    b) Get a higher res pioneer panel MX1
    c) Wait around and see if the HD panasonic panel or others like it fall to below the 2K mark.

    Feedback appreciated.
    J
     
  2. MAW

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    Actually that Pioneer is not below the £2k mark, it seems not to include the video board, £250 if a Pioneer dealer is kind enough to sell you one without the screen. Bearing in mind it's a 2nd viewing area, and money is an issue, I'd go Panasonic if I were you.
     
  3. John_N

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    Hi.

    I verified with RS that the price included a video board. I inspected the board and it was the 5004 board which does S video / composite / RCA component connections.

    I read some posting on this board crushing black detail - there was speculation that it was not reading 0IRE as black but rather 7.5 IRE as I recall. How noticeable is this in viewing conditions? Bear in mind that I happily watch movies on a Sony HS10 LCD projector that is now about 2 years old and probably loses some black detail in anycase and I'm quite happy with it.

    In an ideal world I would like the display to be able to show computer data from my HTPC as well as sky. The higher resolution panel of the pioneer appeals to me because I'm sitting quite close. The majority of the viewing will be via Sky+ and I'm happy to use a RGB ->Vga convertor for that.

    I've heard the talk about panasonic black levels being very good - but in the non-ideal viewing conditions of RS I wasn't really able to make a meaningful comparison. most of my living room viewing will be in daylight or with lamps on - for proper lights out viewing we will be using the projector.

    So. Given the all-in price of about £1800 + stand for the pioneer or about £1300 + stand for the PWD7 am I still better off going for the panasonic even though by doing so I am deliberately downgrading our PAL 576 resolution to an NTSC 480 line display?

    What do people think?
     
  4. John_N

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    What DO people think of the pioneer PDP 43 MXE1 ?
    I know the more expensive and newer panels are highly regarded but there seems to be no mention of this one.
    Maybe that's why RS are selling em cheap...
     
  5. MAW

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    You are right on the contrast, but this problem goes away with a scaler or PC on DVI. They are teriffic used like that, I'm not so keen with analogue inputs. Hence the Panasonic advice. If your budget was 2.5+k, I might say different.
     
  6. symphara

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    MAW, what do you think of the 50MXE compared to the 50PHD7? I've seen them both and liked the Pio more (perfect black levels are a non-issue for me as I don't watch movies in complete darkness, I find it too tiresome for the eyes). I just thought the image texture was, for lack of a better description, just nicer and more fluid on the Pio.
     
  7. John_N

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    Thanks for the response.

    Well.... If my budget was 2.5K then I would be looking at the Panasonic HD7 panel or maybe one of the better pioneer panels.

    I guess the benefit is not going to be commensurate with the cost to spend more given that I personally don't think that widespread HD programming is going to be around for quite a time.

    I think I'll go with the Panasonic PW7 or PWD7.

    Which leads me to a question I posted on another thread;

    I want to be able to view Sky+ and also DVD and have a picture in picture of a composite or S-video input from an existing security system.

    Any feedback on limitations of the pIp system on the panels would be appreciated - I gather the business version has twin digitisers and is more flexible... But how much more flexible? Any ideas?
     
  8. MAW

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    That's a laugh, the MXE you'll find is by far the better tool, apart from lack of HDCP support. There are too many reasons to list as to why it's better, apart from the gloss black surround of course.
    PIP limits, only the business one can include the PC port as one of the inputs, at least that's what I'm told. I don't sell PW's so I have no way of confirming this.
    Symphara, 2 fine panels. Going the scaler route on a 50" would make the differences down to personal taste, apart from: The MXE sooner or later they will get HDCP compliance together. On the 7 series Panasonic, they will never get native res or 720p support going at 50Hz. It does have HDCP support, so with a scaler will be HDTV ready, but with possible judder issues.
     
  9. symphara

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    Thanks - HDCP compliance is a non-issue here (DVI/VGA is fine, actually I struggled lots to convince myself to get the 5004 board) as I use the PC for everything, bar DVD-A/SACD playback. MAW you know I'm not a scaler guy ;P. The 50Hz issue is a thorny one indeed, and I'm very surprised with Panny being unwilling to fix it.
     
  10. John_N

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    Hi Maw
    I think you misunderstood my meaning - or I'm misunderstanding your meaning....

    If my budget was higher, I meant I might consider the panasonic HD7 which I hear is a very good panel, or alternatively, one of the other pioneers from the range such as the 435 - which I understood to be better than the PDP-43MXE1.

    If the Pioneer PDP-43MXE1 is fundementally a better panel than the panasonic, however, would it not be better for me to buy that, and upgrade it with a scaler or build another HTPC to scale if I find the PQ unacceptable with sky sources?
     
  11. MAW

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    John, the Pio is fundamentally better than the pw7 in terms of resolution, but it is fundamentally better than those black things in every measurable way except it's not very plug and play. Joe public would not understand why this telly has no aerial socket. I prefer the panny on analogue signals.I own a PHD7 myself, with a scaler.
    Symphara, Panasonic are highly unlikely ever to fix the native res at 50Hz thing, they don't see it as a fault.
     
  12. John_N

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    OK. So now I'm going back the other way again and leaning towards the pioneer..

    I think I'll have to ask the guys at RS to give me a demo in their little dark room. They are OK as box shifters but as advisors they leave a lot to be desired.

    If I and my missus find the PQ of the pioneer acceptable then we may get that one and I can always mess with it using a scaler or a HTPC (I've got a lot of spare PC parts) over the coming months.

    I'm trying to find out about the Picture in picture options on that one now. .. ..
     
  13. John_N

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    ...And I've come up with an action plan after seeing all the SDI stuff available in www.pluggedin.tv

    http://www.pluggedin.tv/item--SweetSpot-SDI-Video-Processor--SDI001

    1st) Buy the plasma and use 'vanilla' with existing inputs to assess quality.

    2nd) Replace the DVD player with another HTPC which will output via DVI / VGA. This should give a useful increase in quality.

    3rd) If necessary supply HTPC with SDI input card and have my sky+
    box modified to get an SDI output. Sky+ High quality viewing will be
    via the SDI connection. Sky+ 'wife friendly' viewing will be via an analogue connection.

    <Edit>
    Or would I be better off binning the HTPC idea and buying a
    Lumagen Vision DVI Scaler which I understand has two HDCP compliant DVI input ports - so presumably would accept a 720p/50hz signal from our mystical Sky HD box when it arrives? If this was to happen, presumably the lumagen output would just be vanilla DVI video without the copy protected content so the plasma would pick it up ok?
     
  14. philgreeen

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    MAW, Are you saying that even the next generation of Panasonic screens are unlikely to support SKY's HD service without the use of a scaler ?
     
  15. Dutch

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    Unfortunately the Lumagen is not allowed to output a non-HDCP digital or analogue output, although there are a couple of devices that will output analogue from an HDCP-encrpyted source (nudge, nudge, wink, wink ;) )

    Steve
     
  16. John_N

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    Typical.
    This HDCP is becoming a real pain in the neck. I would imagine however that when SKY HD is launched, the box should also provide 720p over component since otherwise a lot of existing plasma and projector owners will not be able to view the material and will be unwilling to replace their displays just because sky says they have to.

    In terms of the panasonic HD7 v Pioneer MXE1 question, I think that basically is comes down the question of HD panel versus SD panel, and the fact that SD panels can look better with non HD material on occasions unless the scaling is performed correctly.

    Given that you can upgrade your scaler by using an external one, but you can't uprate your panel resolution, I suppose I've answered my own debate.
     
  17. symphara

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    I think they're both HD panels.
     
  18. John_N

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    Sorry, Typo. The 42PHD7 is indeed a HD panel but the panel(s) I was comparing were the 42PW7 and the business
    model 42PWD7, both of which are SD 852*480 panels.

    Anyway. I've bitten the bullet and reserved the pioneer so will pick it up later this week. Then we shall see. It looked fine in the shop on a variety of material but due to the non-ideal conditions it's hard to tell .

    I don't like the idea of viewing a panel at a 'proper' dealer, taking their time, and then going off and buying it cheaper somewhere else - not really playing the game fairly - so I've got to pay my money and take my choice..

    J
     
  19. symphara

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    Well best of luck with your purchase. I've seen the 43MXE and to be honest I liked it a lot - more so than the 42" HD Panny. Then I saw the 50MXE and decided that was the panel for me. The 42" SD Panny has indeed, in my opinion, a better contrast and blacks, but for computer/scaler use the MXE should do better due to its higher number of pixels. The only issue you'll have with PC use is the non-square pixels - the resolution is 4:3 on a 16:9 aspect ratio display, but there are ways to fix that. At the very least you can use a widescreen resolution with the correct format (such as 1280x720) on your computer and let the panel scale it on its pixels.
     
  20. John_N

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    I had forgotten about the non-square pixel issue. Thanks for pointing it out! I'm not sure how Theatertek on a HTPC would react, displaying a widescreen movie on a 4:3 desktop - I would imagine that by default it would put big bars at the bottom and top of the screen which would need to be manually removed by stretching. This would be irritating.

    As you say, you could always get the panel to scale but then we would be scaling twice and I think personally that it would degrade things quite a bit. Better to scale once and do it properly - which basically means get an iScan or lumagen I suppose. Ho hum.
     
  21. MAW

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    Theatretek copes perfectly well with the aspect issue, only the windos desktop is seriously affected, but that's only 'fat' icons.
     
  22. symphara

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    I was just going to say that - you can also try PowerDVD, it has superb MPEG playback and aspect ratio control. MCE2005 also can use 16:9 displays, and newer games either have native 16:9 support (all based on the Valve's Source engine) or can be hacked into it.
     
  23. John_N

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    That's good to hear. I might experiment a bit then
    because i've got 90% of a spare HTPC kicking around from a previous PC rebuild. I know the HTPC v scaler debate has probably been done to death in other arena so I'm not going there - but I would imagine that you could get quite close to the quality of a dedicated scaler using a HTPC - and a lot cheaper - although with a lot
    less user friendliness and a lot more hassle. I would guess
    that the hassle will increase exponentially as you add sources to your system - which is why my existing HTPC has no inputs - just a digitv card and theatertek - keep it simple. Even then it's a pain in the neck sometimes. I don't think a HTPC could be better than something like a lumagen - since common sense indicates that this type of device has been designed with one purpose in mind and one only, whereas a PC is not really a video processing engine at heart at all... But horses for courses I guess. It would be nice to surf the web and play games on the screen and if I could get to 75% of the quality for 20% of the cost then that would be a fair trade off for me (don't forget I have computer parts lying around idle anyways).
    J
     
  24. MAW

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    I think you are looking at more than 75% of the quality, but lets not go into usability, symphara is passionate about his PC, and I don't doubt it's wonderful. Several other things MXE wise. Internal processing runs at 72Hz. Install the video card and other modes become available, but be aware that using them nobbles PinP. Native res at 50Hz with internal processing at 100Hz is likely to give the best results.
     
  25. symphara

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    John - do not worry, all is not lost. A good setup (1:1 pixel mapping, 50Hz, decent software DVD player) shall give you a lot more than 75% of a scaler image output.

    It's entirely possible to get the better image using the computer, since every software DVD player these days has excellent deinterlacers and scaling algorithms which will produce a near-perfect picture at native panel resolution, straight out of the bat. Compare it to using an external DVD player (which will NOT produce images at your native panel resolution) which then have to be scaled by, well, the scaler. The chain is longer and more susceptible to weaknesses, as the scaler has to "guess" more, since the original information (namely the actual MPEG2 stream) has already been translated by the DVD player and therefore no longer available to the scaler. This can be minimized by using very expensive scalers, which "guess" really well, and using the expensive SDI datapath between the external DVD player and the scaler - however you're still at the mercy of the DVD player in terms of MPEG2 => SDI conversion.

    If you get into more exotic compression modes, such as MPEG4 (commonly referred to as DivX) or WMV-HD, or more unusual file formats (OGM, MKV) the best way to display such files (and often the only one) is to use a computer. Even good players such as the Pioneer 575 can't match a computer on DivX playback, and they're often plagued by compatibility, subtitle, syncronization, stream seek etc issues.

    MAW is weary of home theatre software (which is occasionally buggy - but these things improve in time) and he loves the ease of use of his scaler - nothing wrong with that, but expensive! I personally like the virtually infinite number of features, software, options, and ultimately control that a computer, as a tool, gives when used wisely.

    One thing caught my eye - "whereas a PC is not really a video processing engine at heart at all...". A computer in general is nothing at heart at all. It makes a bulky door stop at best. However, with the appropriate software and interfaces, it can render the special effects in Lord of the Rings, fly a space craft to the moon and back, run - why not - Windows XP, play DVDs and mp3s, and the list goes on :)
     
  26. John_N

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    Thanks for the pointers about internal processing speed. Shame that messing with them nobbles the pIp but you never
    can have everything all at once in this game can you?

    Whatever solution I choose for the plasma moving forward will have to be reasonably 'idiot proof' and that's the limitation of the HTPC - they tend to require lots of TLC whereas something like a lumagen would be a black box in the cupboard and never even touched - now that sounds appealing!

    However, the idea of an 'all-in-one' that plays my DVDs and scales external sources still appeals - I've never tried the capture side of a HTPC but I notice you can get sweetspot RGBs capture cards and SDI cards from those helpful pluggedin.tv people..

    Is Sky+ over SDI noticeably better than RGBs into a scaler / HTPC ?
     
  27. MAW

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    Noticeably better yes, but grievously more expensive! Best part of £600 more in fact... The improvement is nowhere near the order of magnitude of just RGB capture/scaling whether PC based or scaler. Diminishing returns have kicked in big time.
     
  28. John_N

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    ..and a reply about the HTPC issues...

    You don't need to try and convert me :) I already
    run a HTPC doing 1:1 pixel mapping to my WXGA projector. The sound from the HTPC is digital to the amp since you can manage to stream the DD bitstream over SPDIF direct.
    I use a nebula digiTV card for broadcast TV and I have both Theatertek 2.0 and PowerDVD for players. And I've been very very happy.
    but :rolleyes:
    I also have had a few hassles, crashes during films once or twice, and for some reason my Theatertek doesn't give me sound on 'Sexy beast' (Ray winstone) but PowerDVD does. Sometimes I get a bit fed up of computers foibles and wish they were a bit less flaky. Another example - I use the nebula digi TV software. Supposed to do live program pause, record digitally etc. But it's nowhere near as reliable as the software inside the sky+ box. The number of times I've paused a live broadcast and then wished I hadn't because the sound started to mess up when I restarted, or I've had weird lip-sync issues and had to restart the machine - or even when we've set the machine to record programs and next morning it hasn't recorded properly or missed the end off.

    So I love my HTPC and I may well build another one. But if I had unlimited funds, which of course I don't, (and bear in mind this plasma is going to be my living room - casual system - not the main system for watching films) - I would be tempted also by the turn-key solution offered by a decent progressive DVD player (which I've got already since it was made redundant by my HTPC) and a lumagen scaler - which at least would handle the multiple inputs from VHS video recorder, DVD player , Sky+ box, playstation for the kids and not cause anyone too much grief...

    Horses for courses. I'll have to see. Maybe if I did a black box HTPC, turned on 24/7, software permanently running, automatically boots into the scaler software so you never even need to touch a mouse or keyboard it might work. It would be quite a bit cheaper than going and buying a scaler.
     
  29. symphara

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    I do understand you.. I try to keep messing around to a bare minimum. I usually get to a stable configuration (which right now is MCE - love the interface, it makes me feel like having a true 21st century entertainment system :) - and PowerDVD for DVDs) then stop until I need some new DirectShow filter, some new codec etc. I also am very weary of using software in it's alpha or beta stage, or has a version number under 1.0! Keep in mind that this HTPC trend is very much in its infancy stage, and things (i.e. integrated MCE-like software) will get a lot better in the next couple of years. A box just to do scaling would simply not cut it for me, as it won't play my OGM files!
     
  30. John_N

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    MCE? Windows Media Center edition?

    Unfortunately I built my own HTPC so I run Windows XP Pro on it instead. Its an Athlon 64 3200 with 1gB of RAM, 200gB of disk space and a Radeon 9800 gfx card. I carefully used very quiet components in it. Most of my movies are in an electronic jukebox upstairs (on another computer server) and accessed over an internal ethernet in the house.

    Yes. HTPC are very flexible and good solutions for some people. But for others - not. Particularly if you arent' good with computers. My parents would never be able to keep a HTPC system running, never mind design and build one. Likewise, my missus operates my HTPC but when something goes wrong she doesn't have a foggiest why there's no sound or whatever. ...
     

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