on 28 June 2011
I rely a lot on the reviews on Amazon, and have rarely found that they have been wrong, or misleading, and so when I considered this TV I was somewhat dissapointed with the reviews, and would normally have just not bothered investigating the product further. However, the wife and I had just been to John Lewis to look for a TV, and of their great variety of stock it was this one that really impressed us. So I was in two minds. After dithering over the weekend we decided to go for it.
Amazon, as always, gave awesome service, ordered mid afternoon, it was here at 9am the following day! Easy to setup for a simpleton like me. First thing I did was to see if it suffered from any of the failings as mentioned in the other reviews. The HD channels appeared not to exhibit the increase in sound volume, check that off the list. As much as I peered I couldnt see any ghosting, going well so far. Back light issue, Gordon Bennett! There is a stripe along the bottom of the screen of increased brightness, its not just visible, its almost distracting. On a dark image its nasty, on lighter images its hardly visible. But now I see why other reviewers were so upset by this, for a decent quality TV, its a bloomin great failure in quality. Decided we would use the TV a couple of days and see if this was something acceptable to us, or not. Meanwhile, investigated the TV futher.
We have no interest in all the connectivity bells and whistles, its really for just watching TV and a DVD once a month. So the TV pic and sound quality are paramount. The picture quality is fine, looks excellent in HD (doesnt everything?) and not so good in SD. There are few picture calibration options with this (and I susepct all) Panasonic TVs, this isnt a TV where you can fine tune and calibrate the image, basically you can just play with contrast and brightness, and frankly they dont make a huge difference. However, the image is good, and the colour rendition seems very lifelike, it lacks that saturated brilliance of some TVs we've seen, but I suspect over time the more natural colours will win out over that in yer face saturated brilliance. Sports looked fine, no noticeable lag or ghosting. Was very dissapointed in sound, and I am not a finnicky sound person, whether I had it on the options of voice or music it sounded like it was inside a barrel, muted and dull. So messed with User sound setup and basically just randonly clicked the bars on the equaliser, and it was much better! I guess spending an hour or so fine tuning the sound would improve it further. So my recommendation if you get this TV is to use User option in Sound, and play with the sound equaliser until the sound appears good to your ears.
This is a good TV in my opinion. Its solid yet not heavy to lift, everything seems to work as it should, and a bit of time doing basic user calibration helps. However, the simply horrible back light bleed at the base of the screen is really unforgivable, and its 50/50 at the moment whether we return it because of that.
By the way, when we visited John Lewis on Friday evening it was £799 and they wouldnt budge on price, saying they had already reduced it to price match. Came home, straight onto Amazon and it was £584. Sorry JL, we love you, and your 5 year warranty, but £215 price difference is just too much.
Anyway, if you are considering this TV, and reading this review then I urge you to read all the reviews for it, as there seems little doubt that it will have lower screen back light issues to some degree, from either the minimal to the horrible. I would give the product between 4 and 5 stars if it werent for the back light issue, as it is, I really cant give it more than 3 stars.
Update 5th August 2011:
We returned the TV to Amazon due to the backlight and sound issues. And replaced it with a Sony Bravia which was truly lousy, returned that and got a Samsung, which wasnt too bad except it had backlight issues as well, and returned it! Then read some of the latest reviews on this Panasonic and it seemed maybe there is a later version that is improved. So thought, what the heck, let's see if the issues are fixed.
Well, I am happy to report, its great!! All the things that were good about it are still good, and the backlight issue is gone, also the sound is much improved.
My advice based on this experience is if you get one of these TV's and it has backlight and/or sound issues then return it and replace it, as there is every chance you will get a cracking good TV for your money. I really dont know if its a case that some of the TVs are better than others, or whether its an old v new stock case. But if you get a good one it absolutely knocks the socks off Sony's and Samsung's offerings in this price range, better in every facet - sound, image, connectivity, build quality, even the stand is a better product. A good one is really worth having.
So I have changed my original review rating of 3 stars to 5 stars. I hope this saga helps you in some small way with your decision making.
And I must add that Amazon's service has been spectacular. Next day deliveries and pick-ups for returns. No quibble refunds.