The Panasonic TH-50PX500
We looked long and hard before settling on the Panasonic TH-50PX500. This
is the Canadian model that, at the time of purchase in the fall of 2005, was
exclusive to Future Shop and Best Buy. It's made with Panasonic's 8th
generation "glass" and while the "glass" is identical to the TH-50PX50,
it has a couple of more bells and whistles including PIP, an SD card slot
and more inputs. The major selling point for us was the black border
around the picture on the 500 versus the all silver of the 50.
This set does a great job displaying both standard definition signal and
high definition signal. The built-in speakers are a nice-to-have
when the home theatre in-ceiling speakers can't be used due to people
sleeping above. I'm running component video to the TV from my
receiver (the receiver doesn't support HDMI) and I think the picture looks
great. See the Panasonic specs
The jury is still out on how reliable plasma technology, so I opted for
Future Shop's 4 year warranty, which includes coverage for a power surge (2
of which I've had due to lightning strikes in the past 5 years). Some
of the cost of the warranty was returned to me in reductions in price to all
the other components. If you buy a warranty, I think you'll get some
room to bargain.
Other plasma models considered were:
Panasonic Onyx series. Positives for
the Onyx were a separate media receiver, detachable speakers and an all
black border. But this model was made with 7th generation glass and
cost thousands more. The higher-end retailer of this model wouldn't
deal on this so it was thumbs down to the Onyx.
Panasonic monitors like the TH-50PHD8UK. 8th generation glass
and very highly-rated. They come without speakers, a tuner and the
like, but I really could have gotten by with just the monitor, having
already opted for a home theatre and cable box. These models were not
available at Panasonic retail outlets in London, Ontario and appear to only
be available on-line in Canada. When I was looking, they appeared to
be significantly cheaper than the consumer models and they might be a great
option for some.
Pioneer PDP-5050HD. Again, a set with a separate media receiver
which I like. I thought the 5050 compared well beside the Panny at
Best Buy, but I didn't think the price difference was warranted. Early
reviews of the PDP-5060HD model out in Canada in September '05 didn't
indicate that Pioneer had surpassed Panasonic in picture quality and its
still higher MSRP were enough to convince me that I didn't need to wait to
see a 5060 in London.
Samsung HPR-5072. Nice looking set with all black border.
Unfortunately, its picture didn't stack up when viewed right beside the
Panny at Future Shop. I read a few negative reviews about the DNIE
technology, whether DNIE-related or not, the picture quality is what ruled
this set out for me.