Panasonic Plasma - Black Level Issues: Do you still recommend Panny Plasmas?

David Matz -- Mon, 03/22/2010 - 19:09

Apparently cnet has discovered that Panasonic has purposefully programmed the black levels to diminish over time.  This means that folks who bought gorgeous TV's like the G10 and the V10 for around $2 or more, are stuck with less than stellar levels after 1200-1500 hours.  However, Panasonic advertises "infinite black" and a 100,00 hour panel life.
 
When I click on the v10 review on this site, it takes me to the panasonic site.  What's going on?  Is this part of planned obsolescence?  How prevalent is the problem?  
 
Should one still look at Panasonic plasmas?  or should one buy a competitor's model at half price? Do you guys still stand by your reviews?

BWalter (not verified) -- Tue, 03/23/2010 - 12:24

I have a 54 inch G10... bought when they first came out last spring. I'm pretty picky about blacks and while the black level has probably increased, my set does not seem to have the issues that others have reported. When I first turn on the TV, the background is very grey for about 1 second and then shifts down to a nice, dark level. And it still does as of now (and the set is used nearly every day).
If the deterioration in black is a firmware issue, it should affect all the G and V series but it certainly hasn't impacted my set. And I sold my last two HD sets just because I felt the blacks sucked.
Based on my sample size of one, I would still buy another Panny. Your results may vary:)

David Matz -- Wed, 03/24/2010 - 08:05

CNET recently downgraded all of their Panasonic plasma reviews. There is a disclaimer on all of their reviews saying that they can't guarantee the black levels to look as they do on the TVs they use as review samples, which may have only a few hours on them. This is a pretty strong action to me.

I hope your black levels stay put.

john195 -- Wed, 03/24/2010 - 23:56

My mother has a Panasonic TH-50 PZ, she has had it for over 2 years and the picture & black is as good as the day she first turned it on !

mauidj (not verified) -- Thu, 03/25/2010 - 03:24

 This sounds like some kind of major conspiracy theory to me.
How exactly did they discover this? How do you program this kind of thing and if it can be proven why are Panasonic not in court?
Some hard evidence would be appreciated by this new G10 54" owner!

mauidj (not verified) -- Thu, 03/25/2010 - 03:42

 HMMM.
I guess I can answer my own questions.....
This is the Cnet article... http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-10462105-1.html
And this is re the law suit..... http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-10462551-1.html?tag=mncoll
Damn!!!!!!

FM (not verified) -- Wed, 04/21/2010 - 19:41

I was going to buy a 24fps 58" model this year.  Now I'll either wait until there is a fix from Panasonic, or buy a different brand.
 

Anonymous())(() (not verified) -- Wed, 04/21/2010 - 23:04

smart. I am concerned that the editors here have not chimed in. Panasonic is an advertiser here, but this shenanigans by panasonic is ridiculous.

jack d ii -- Mon, 04/26/2010 - 22:07

I doubt that any magazine will have anything to say until the lawsuit is completed.  That might take years and then be setteled and nobody will learn anything.  In that case the magazines will ignore the issue for fear of being sued.  I cant see any way we will learn the truth.  You would think that CNET would think that they were on very firm ground before publishing that information, but I'm at a loss as to how a set could be "programed" to diminish performance.

 Jack D II

David Matz -- Tue, 04/27/2010 - 16:00

Panasonic is an advertiser on hdguru dot com and they raised this as an issue risking the relationship with Panasonic. Also, cnet recently performed a long term test, and they confirmed this via measurements - the truth is out there.

I think any future review of Panasonic by anyone other than a "fanboy" must include a long term test - or a strong caveat that the black levels will poop out.

http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-20001640-1.html?tag=contentMain;cont...

SC (not verified) -- Wed, 05/05/2010 - 14:57

 Too bad, I was getting ready to pull the trigger on the 2010 54G25, but I'll now look elsewhere - too much money to outlay on a questionable vendor / product.

kr (not verified) -- Tue, 05/11/2010 - 18:42

I helped my dad purchase a Panasonic TC-42PX24 42" plasma last week.  I set it up for him, along with an HD box from Comcast, and we were all quite impressed with it.  After 3 days he told me that the picture was suddenly not as good.  I went there and confirmed that the blacks seemed noticeably greyer, like a faint, gauzy curtain over everything, even the HD channels, but especially more noticeable in the std def channels.  I think this one is going back to Costco tomorrow.

amclaussen (not verified) -- Thu, 05/13/2010 - 18:18

This kind of affairs are not impossible, or as remote as some people think. These things are real and happen too often.
Today, many of the functions and tasks performed by electronic equipment are done by microprocessors which work with a set of instructions included in a "firmware".  Therefore, it is TOO easy for designers and manufacturers to imprint some "special" twists to their product, sometimes with completely undesirable results for the unsuspecting owner.
I don't know (neither understand) the possible reason for the "geeks" at Panasonic for reducing the black level, unless their original setting was going to cause an undesirable effect on some other specification (like on a reduced panel duration, for example).
But be aware that in today's world, so called "product designers" are playing too much with digital gimmickry. A true example of a Designed-to-fail circuitry can be found inside the removable battery of many Lap-Top computers, where among the several IC's mounted on the very small printed circuit boards inside battery housing, a certain circuit is counting hours of operation, or cycles of charge-discharge or even passing dates... so that at a given moment, the battery charge status starts showing a diminishing battery performance, until the battery only works for a few minutes and signals the Lap-Top computer "it is going too low on charge", even when it was properly charged, and is only showing a reduced capacity... Then the owner starts thinking that his battery is "going bad", and quickly purchases another battery to replace the original one, believing that it has "expired"...
I have opened several battery packs from Lap-Tops from Dell, Sony-Vaio and other brands... just to find that in most cases, the Lithium-Ion cells of the cylindrical 18650 type were almost FULLY charged!!! (more than 4.05 volts per cell, no less), and capable of being recharged and used many more cycles!.
WHAT this means?   Simply, our nice good "friends" at Sony, Dell etc. are cheating on us!  (Of course, a clever company official would quickly point out that this was designed "to protect the user" or to "improve the level of safety" or any other convenient lie).
With the high prices of the ridiculously varied, not-standarized size and form factor of Lap-Top batteries, the poor consumer is going to pay a premium price to replace a battery pack which Lithium cells are still strong, but which its internal chips tell it is time to go and buy another. This is a true fact.   I don't recommend everyone to go open their Lap-Top packs to confirm this, since opening a pack is not as easy and if you are not careful, you could make a short circuit and burn yourself with your apparently discharged battery!, but I wrote this to show people that in today's world, the manufacturer is taking advantage of the capabilities of digital IC's to play games, doing anything to extract every penny from the consumer, and if the Panasonic plasmas show a diminishing preformance, and Panasonic has said that their now underperforming plasmas are working as intended "by design", believe it!
They are capable of purposely doing this and more without showing ANY respect for the customer that bought their product. Go figure.
Finally my true appreciation and congratulations for the people at C-NET for noticing AND REPORTING this.  Lets give a painful lesson to this kind or tricky manufacturers by showing them how to respect us, the informed consumers.  I was going to buy a large Panasonic Plasma... that is, before I read this matter. Not any more.  And mine won't be the only set they are NOT going to sell, family, friends and many co-workers that consult me about video and Hifi, will be fully informed by me... Are you listening Panasonic, want to keep your previously loyal customers? Then accept you are wrong and correct this ASAP, without pretending the customers paying you a single cent.

DaveR -- Thu, 05/12/2011 - 12:52

I think it is far more likely that the changing black levels is caused by natural phosphor aging than anything done in firmware to intentionally degrade the picture.  If the firmware is changing how the display is driven I would expect it to try to compensate for the natural aging of the phosphors in order to keep the picture as good as possible.  I guess we'll find out as the law suit progresses.

Dave

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