Video Processing, LED Backlighting, Big Plasma
Two For One
I have a Pioneer Elite PRO-111FD plasma with a Denon DVD-3800BDCI Blu-ray player, and I have two questions. First, should I set the Denon to output 1080p/24 manually or just leave it set to Auto? Second, a friend is encouraging me to get the DVDO Edge because, he says, its processing is probably better than either the Pioneer or Denon. Do you think this is true, or is my current gear sufficient?
I'd leave the Blu-ray player set to Auto, which sends whatever is on the disc to the TV without changing it. Virtually all movies are stored on the disc as 1080p/24, which is what they should send to the Pioneer. (Be sure to set the Pioneer's Film Mode to Off for progressive signals.) A few Blu-rays, such as some live-concert videos, have content stored at 1080i, which is what will be sent to the TV if the player is set to Auto. In this relatively rare case, I would see which devicethe player or TVdoes a better job of deinterlacing. To do this, set the player to output 1080p (leave the Pioneer's Film Mode off), then set the player to output 1080i and set the Pioneer's Film Mode to Advanced. Look at the same footage in both cases to see which one looks better.
As for the DVDO Edge, it's a very good processor, but it does a better job deinterlacing HD than it does upscaling standard-def material. That's not to say it does a poor job of this, just that the improvement on real program material is not dramatic and not as evident as it is on test patterns. I'm sure the Pioneer and/or Denon do reasonably well at thisin fact, the Denon has the HQV Realta processor, which does a great jobso I wouldn't spend the extra dough on an outboard processor.
I have decided that I want an LCD TV with LED backlighting and local dimming. From what I understand, the Samsung 7000 and 8000 series use LEDs, but they are located at the edges of the screen, which does not allow local dimming. I have been told that Samsung's UN55B8500 uses LED backlighting with local dimming. Is that correct, and if so, how did Samsung accomplish this while keeping the panel so thin compared to its previous backlit model, the LN55A950? What is your overall opinion of the UN55B8500?
You are exactly correct, the 7000 and 8000 series are both LED edgelit, not backlit, so neither provides local dimming. The UN55B8500 has LED backlighting, so it does offer local dimming. I don't know how Samsung managed to do that in such a thin cabinet. Tom Norton just finished his review of the 8500 for the January issue of Home Theater, and he liked it very much. His main reservation was the price of $4500, which is quite high, especially considering that the Vizio VF551XVT 55-inch LED-backlit LCD is $2200. Tom and I agree that the Samsung looks better than the Vizio, so I guess it's true what they sayyou get what you pay for.
Large Screen, Small Sacrifice
Why have you not reviewed any models in Panasonic's new V10 line of plasmas? Specifically, I'm seriously considering the TC-P58V10. Also, I'm concerned that flat panels above 50 inches sacrifice a lot of picture quality. I would very much like to buy a larger plasma to get more of a cinematic effect, but not if the quality will not be there!
Tom Norton reviewed the exact model you're looking at, the TC-P58V10, which will appear in Home Theater's January 2010 issue. Overall, he liked it quite a bit, giving it a "Top Pick" designation, in part because of its priceonly $2700. The blacks weren't as deep as he would have preferred, but it produced a very watchable picture overall.
As for large screen sizes sacrificing picture quality, I strongly disagree with this assertion. I've seen plenty of plasmas and LCDs over 50 inches, and the best ones look great. Also, consider front projectors, which can produce very large images at the same resolution as many flat panels, and I see no sacrifice in picture quality there, at least as long as you sit the appropriate distance from the screen.
Now, it's true that a larger picture does tend to reveal flaws in the source material more than a smaller screen, but that's not the fault of the display. Also, if the display's processing isn't up to snuff, a larger image will reveal that more readily. With a good source and good processing, large-screen flat panels can look spectacular, so I wouldn't let that deter you from getting a 58-inch model or even largeragain, as long as you sit at an appropriate distance from the screen, which is good advice no matter how large or small it is.
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