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The HDTV Podcast
This review is featured in the latest podcast from The HT Guys
http://www.htguys.com/archive/2007/May22.html

Back in January of this year we reviewed the Panasonic TH-50PX60U and were impressed with what we saw. At that time we had three things we didn't like about the TV. Today we take a look at Panasonic's new 50 inch 720p plasma, the TH-50PX75U, which comes with a street price of $2100 (Buy Now) and addresses the three nit picks we had with the earlier model. This is a 720p TV with a resolution of 1366 x 768, a 10,000:1 contrast ratio, two HDMI inputs, and an SD card reader. One of the issues we (mainly Ara) had with its predecessor was its silver bezel. The 50PX75U comes with a thin black bezel that hides the speakers very well and looks quite good even when its off. Rounding out the features, the TV come with built-in ATSC/QAM/NTSC Tuners. Build quality is quite good. The product dimensions are 47.7 x 3.8 x 31.3 inches and it weighs 89.8 pounds which is almost identical to the previous model.

We were very pleased with the 60U's performance and likewise we are pleased with the 75U. The TV does a great job with bright HD content. Colors are accurate and skins tones look natural. We found that dark scenes were not a problem for this TV and it we were able to make out detail even with the most demanding material. LCDs are making great strides with black but it is still difficult to beat a plasma. The television produced very black blacks. So far this sounds pretty much like the review of the 60U TV. Well we did have two issues with the picture performance of the 60U that were addressed with this TV.

In our last review we were not pleased with how over compressed 1080i HD looked. In our case we are talking about HD on NBC from our local affiliate. They really compress the main HD channel. We have seen data rates as low as 12Mbps. The 75U does a much better job at dealing with this. For that reason we recommend leaving the MPEG NR on. Most reviewers suggest leaving it off. If you watch allot of HD from overly compressed sources (OTA, Cable, or Satellite) we recommend engaging this feature (See our calibration settings at the end of this review). It made a difference in our opinion. We also felt the TV did a good job reducing noise that our other TVs had a difficult time with. We recommend leaving the the Video NR feature on as well. If you have good clean content that is at a data rate near 18Mbps for 1080i or you are watching HD DVD or Blu Ray turn these two settings off. It will actually make the picture worse.

The other area we saw an improvement is in SD viewing. While it is not perfect it is definitely watchable. We used an over the air source for this assessment. We felt the TV was producing pictures that were close to what our old analog TVs were capable of. But to be honest with you, its been a while since we've seen analog TV on an analog screen so don't sue us if you disagree. But we definitely didn't say that looks terrible.

The following is taken from our January 5th review verbatim. It still applies:
Menus are very clean and simple to navigate. The remote is basic and we recommend replacing it with a universal remote (but when have we not said that). The TV has a digital output that makes it possible to send the Dolby Digital audio track received over the air via the ATSC tuner to your Home Theater Receiver. The speakers as we mentioned before are underneath the screen and sound OK. The TV has a virtual surround mode that we found kind of useless. The audio was clear and easy to hear though.

The TV also supports Pansonic's proprietary EZ Sync control functionality that can be used with other Pansonic gear.

Conclusion:

The TH-50PX75U is a worthy follow on to the successful 60U line of plasma televisions. The new black color with thin bezel are welcome changes. Issues we found with the 60U have been addressed making this TV a great buy at $2100. If you can live with the issues of the 60U you can save about $315 and get one for $1750 (Buy Now).

Calibration Settings (We did not get to spend enough time to dial these settings in. Please use them as starting points)
Normal: No
Picture mode: Custom
Picture: +20
Brightness: +10
Color: 0
Tint: -2
Sharpness: -10
Color Temperature: Warm
Color Management: Off
Video NR: off
3D Y/C filter: Off
Color matrix: HD
MPEG NR: On
Black Level: Light

Posted by The HT Guys, May 22, 2007 7:00 AM

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About The HT Guys

The HT Guys, Ara Derderian and Braden Russell, are Engineers who formerly worked for the Advanced Digital Systems Group (ADSG) of Sony Pictures Entertainment. ADSG was the R&D unit of the sound department producing products for movie theaters and movie studios.

Two of the products they worked on include the DCP-1000 and DADR-5000. The DCP is a digital cinema processor used in movie theaters around the world. The DADR-5000 is a disk-based audio dubber used on Hollywood sound stages.

ADSG was awarded a Technical Academy Award by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2000 for the development of the DADR-5000. Ara holds three patents for his development work in Digital Cinema and Digital Audio Recording.

Every week they put together a podcast about High Definition TV and Home Theater. Each episode brings news from the A/V world, helpful product reviews and insights and help in demystifying and simplifying HDTV and home theater.