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PT56 Owner Review

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Tip from Gene Lockaby:  "My F95 arrived on Thursday night at the local ABF terminal. Picked it up myself on Friday, since they couldn't deliver to a street address for several days. Took four of us to wrestle it into the house. Had house guests all week-end, so we watched it a lot but had no time to fiddle and tweak. All I can give you right now is a 'just out of the box' impression.

I was expecting to have to give it a HD signal to be impressed. I was wrong. The set is very impressive even on a very average cable signal. The DSS S-video image quality is even better and is exceeded only by the component video image from my Sony DVP-7700 DVD player. We watched 'Saving Private Ryan' Saturday night (signal from DirecTV DSS). Clarity, color, and detail were excellent. Wondered what it would look like in 1080i.

Bottom line is, for right now, I'm glad I made this decision. With the 720p capability of this set, it provides a platform I think I can be satisfied to work from for the forseeable (3-5 year) future. I'm very anxious now to spend time with it, i.e. calibrate and re-set convergence etc., and even more anxious to see what a good HD signal (especially 720p) will do for it. But, first impression-wise, I couldn't be more pleased.

Odds and ends: Purchased from OneCall - worked with Stephanie - very pleased with how they responded. Carrier dropped the first one they attempted to ship. She called immediately to relate this disaster and advise of the delay. Somehow, she managed to get another within a week. Wish she'd have more success in getting me a TU-DST51 STB.

The huge 310 pound box traveled from Mexico to Spokane, WA, to Charlotte, NC, without damage.

Documents provided are very inadequate. Owners manual is only 25 pages leaving a lot of important detail missing.

Some early information from Panasonic Web BB on this set is inaccurate. For example, all aspect control options are available for all video inputs, i.e. component (HD and DVD) as well as NTSC inputs. The BB had advised that aspect controls were only available on NTSC inputs.

Prior to order, and fearing a phone order deal, I met with owner of local Panasonic authorized factory service - and found him to be competent, and his company to be well staffed, in business for 15 years, apparently able to back up the three year extended warranty I bought from OC for additional $200.

I'll provide another update once I get a TU-DST51 and get a 720p signal to it."

Review by a Potential Buyer:

Tip from Mike Witt:  My local dealer phoned me yesterday and informed me that he had received Panasonic's new PT-56WXF95 56" RPTV. So today I paid him a visit to have a look at the set. The following review is from a laymen's point of view, so if I don't get "technical" enough for some of you, I'm sorry. If you have any questions that I fail to answer, just ask and I'll try to elaborate.

The 1st source material that I viewed was a 1080i HDTV loop from a Unity Motion STB.  I had seen Panasonic's WXF90 (last years model of this TV) before playing HDTV, and I was very impressed with its performance then, and now with the new model.

Panasonic seems to have mastered a very "transparent" processing of the HDTV signal, if that explanation makes sense. The picture from the HD source was very sharp, colors looked very natural, black level looked great, and motion artifacts seemed non-existent. All in all this set shouldn't dissappoint with a 1080i source. The image produced looks as good as any HDTV I've seen, and I've seen most of them out there.

Sadly, we didn't have access to a 720p source to view this televisions capablitity to display 720p in its native resolution. For those who don't know, the PT-56WXF95 is the only consumer oriented HD-RPTV capable of displaying 720p in its native resolution. All the other RPTVs in this class convert 720p to another resolution, such as 1080i or possibly 480p. I was very satisfied with this televisions handling of HDTV material.

The 2nd source material I viewed was regular broadcast CATV. I was actually surprised with the picture from a NTSC source like cable. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't fantastic or anything, but definitely watchable. The Panasonic has 5 display modes for NTSC sources. One of these (Justified) does the "gradual stretch", leaving the middle of the picture fairly unaffected while stretching the outside edges. The Panasonic does a good job in this mode, and I think I could watch my 4:3 material using the Justified mode without any problem.

The 3rd source material viewed on the set was from DVD, specifically The Fifth Element. I was a little less impressed with the picture the Panasonic put out with the DVD source. BTW, this was an NTSC DVD, not progressive scan. The DVD was being played simultaneously on the Panasonic and on a Pioneer Pro-700HD. The Panasonic seemed to exhibit some shimmering and some jagged edges on certain portions of video from the DVD. The Pioneer picture looked somewhat better. The Panasonic picture was not terrible on DVD, just not as good as others I have seen. Some portions of the DVD looked great and were on par with the Pioneer, others showed less detail. We paused the DVD in several places and made comparisions, and my dealer agreed that the picture was not quite as good on the Panasonic. BTW, I am being more critical of the DVD image than the CATV image because I expect more from the anamorphic quality of a DVD as compared to a CATV image.

Other things to note about this RPTV:

I was very disappointed with the apparent build quality of the TV. Panasonic has built this television out of mostly plastic and composite wood materials, and they didn't even bother to cover it up with something that looks better than plastic or composite wood. The Panasonic was in the same room with the Pioneer with its Urushi finish, and a 73" Mitsubishi widescreen from the Diamond Series. Both these TVs look excellent, and the Panasonic looks very "cheap" sitting next to them. While my dealer was out of the room, I tapped the sides and top of the Panasonic and heard that "cheap" hollow plastic sound (you know the one I mean) that you hear from cheaply built electronics. I'm sorry but for this kinda dough, they could've made the thing look a little better.

There is more I could say in this review about the Panasonic, but I feel like I'm starting to ramble. If anyone is interested in more observations I had about this set, post a question and I'll add to what I've already said. I think this set does a great job with HDTV, but you might want to invest in a external line doubler for DVDs. But I guess most people are saying that about the other HD-RPTVs anyway."