Sunday, February 03, 2008

Panasonic TH-42PH9UK Pro Plasma Calibration

The plasma market is dominated by just 2 manufacturers, Panasonic and Pioneer. I have already covered the Kuro 5010FD and the Panasonic PZ700U. The third TV vying for alpha status in this hot segment is the professional line of Panasonic plasmas. There are 720p and 1080p models ranging from 37 to 103 inches. Today’s subject is the 42-inch, 720p PH9UK.

The pro-Panasonic models are strictly monitors. There is no internal tuner or speakers. You can buy add-on speakers which bolt to the sides of the panel for about $600. You’ll also need to add a pedestal stand or a wall-mount bracket. Inputs are customizable with 3 slots for “blades” or terminal boards. You can have different combinations of HDMI and analog inputs to suit your particular system. The newest models, the PF10 series, come with a dual HDMI board that accepts 24p signals. This particular PH9 had a single HDMI input and a component input, both of which I calibrated.

Each input has its own memory for all settings which is very nice. There are a complete set of controls in the user menu for grayscale and gamma. In addition you can adjust image size and position for each scan rate independently. Upon setting up my pattern generator, the first thing I noticed was the extremely stable black levels. There was no visible change in the pluge patterns as I moved through different APL patterns. The DC restoration was every bit the equal of a Pioneer Kuro. Color primaries were slightly oversaturated but the decoding was spot on at factory defaults. Rec 709 colorspace was used for all scan rates. Grayscale was fair at the warm color temp setting. Once the white balance controls were adjusted, tracking was within 100k of D65 from 20-100 IRE. There are only red and blue controls for high and low but they were sufficient to achieve a nearly perfect grayscale. The newer models have a full set of RGB cuts and gains. There is a gamma control which has 4 settings. Default is 2.2 but to actually achieve a 2.2 gamma, I had to set it on 2.4. The gamma curve was absolutely perfect at all scan rates on both component and HDMI. I was able to set contrast fairly high without any color shift. This gave me a bright, punchy image upon completion of my work.

The end result was a reference-quality image for both HD and SD. These panels are used professionally as mastering monitors for a good reason. The video processing on this panel is excellent. It did quite well with the motion tests on Avia Pro. Upconversion of SD material was very good. Since this panel is actually 1366x768, all material is scaled including 720p content. It will accept 1080i signals. I can’t help but recommend this and all pro-Panasonic panels as the value leader. A 50-inch PF10UK can be had for under $2500, accepts 1080p/24 and is a rugged, well-built TV. The 720p panels are even cheaper with the 50-inch coming in at under $1500. You can’t go wrong with any panel from either Panasonic or Pioneer. But you’re looking for the most display for the money and you don’t need speakers or a tuner, the pro-Panasonics can’t be beat.

Thanks for reading and enjoy the view!

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