My 2011 Choice for a Plasma TV
OK, I’ve decided to post about picking out my new plasma TV. This is not a post regarding LCD/LED VS Plasma technology, as I made the decision a few years back and continue to hold the view that plasma TVs give you a better viewing experience unless you have the sun blasting directly on the screen. I understand that many people have strong views on the LCD/LED VS Plasma discussion but it will not be the purpose of this post.
I am going to talk about my project to get a new plasma TV. I am not a professional reviewer, but I enjoy technology and enjoy finding the best deal possible while combining that with getting the best technology in my price range. Because of this I enjoy the challenge of researching countless forums while also watching and reading every review I can find on the TVs that I am looking to possibly purchase. Here is where I will share the results of my search. Maybe it will help you pick out your TV and save you some time in the process.
In the world of plasma televisions you don’t have nearly as many choices as you do with LCD/LED. You are pretty much limited to Panasonic, Samsung & LG. And researching for just a few minutes will tell you that most consider it a battle between Panasonic & Samsung. Most people feel that Samsung’s TVs look great and have a very vibrant picture while maintaining very good black levels (the holy grail when considering plasmas). Panasonics are known for the best black levels (of currently available TVs, I am not counting the old Pioneer Kuros which are considered the best plasmas ever made), have drastically improved their looks (at least on the GT30 series and up) and have excelent picture quality, though some say it's not as vibrant. I am not going to comment on the LG plasmas because honestly I never even considered them as a true option in my plasma TV search (sorry LG).
My choices thus came down to the Panasonic TC-P60GT30 and the Samsung PN59D7000. These sets are respectively one step below the top of the line plasmas that each company makes and at least on the Panasonic side, it is a huge price difference between top of the line and the GT series.
In the end I chose the Panasonic TC-P60GT30 as my TV of choice. It was a tough choice and I almost decided on the Samsung (despite being extremely happy with my several year old Panasonic Plasma). While they both seemed like they would give excellent viewing experiences, I chose the Panasonic due to the countless reports that I read about the Samsung 7000 and 8000 series plasmas having a screen peeling issue. What was being reported was that the special anti-reflective screen filter would bubble up and peel underneath the glass panel. And while Samsung seemed to be fixing or replacing this at no charge, there were just to many reports of people having 2 and 3 visits from technicians and have 2 and 3 TVs replaced. I also read reports that Amazon.com stopped selling these TVs directly because of these quality concerns (this seemed to be confirmed as you can only get it through 3rd party Amazon retailers, unlike the Panasonics which are directly through Amazon*). I just did not want to deal with that kind of hassle.
That issue along with good reviews of the Panasonic GT30 series (There are some some reports of fluctuating brightness levels with the Panasonic, but after a week with mine I have not seen this at all) is why I chose to go with this TV and I could not be happier, though the wife thinks it’s too big (she was out voted by my friends). After a week, I have found no issues with the TV at all. The picture quality is bright and clear (you can find the picture settings I used here), the TV is thin and modern looking. You can also get this TV in sizes ranging from 50 inches all the way up to 65 inches.
Also of note, if the Panasonic GT30 series is too rich for your blood, the step down Panasonic ST30 series is supposedly the same plasma panel. It lacks the THX Certification (which I honestly never used on my old TV, but have used it a bit on this new one) but most say that for the average user you won’t be able to tell much of a difference at all. I almost went this route but the Panasonic GT30 series has a much slimmer and modern look, which needless to say the wife and I liked.
I decided to purchase my TV on Amazon.com and my experience could not have been better. I order it late on a Monday night and the TV was delivered on Thursday afternoon. The drivers pulled it out of the box and helped me set it up after we checked the screen for damage (there was none). Another item of note, is that the TV was about $2200 on Amazon when I purchased it and was on sale at Best Buy for $1999.99 (which would have come to around $2100 with tax), Amazon price matched the $1999.99, threw in a free 3D kit (Avatar 3D, and 2 pairs of 3D glasses valued at $250) and I did not have to pay tax or delivery. Amazon (as always) was a great shopping experience.
Want the Panasonic GT30 series that I chose:
Want the (slight) step down Panasonic ST30 series:
Want to go all out and get the Panasonic VT30 Series (Top of the line):
*This is important because Amazon has great customer service and an awesome return policy, and though I'm sure some of the 3rd parties have this as well, it could be hit or miss.
Feel free to ask me any questions regarding my purchase as I would love to help you out in picking out your TV.