Pros: High Definition Projection TV, Self contained unit ~ no need for bottom stand, Wheels
Cons: Big~need room for it, Upgrading TV will have you upgrading other components
If you have been "browsing" the big-screen TV area at your local electronics store, look no further! The Panasonic Color Video Projection System, specifically the Model PT-51HX40 is a wonderful size that is big yet workable into most rooms, and it is one of the few big-screen TV's out there capable of handling the digital world, now and in the future.
This Panasonic has 27 input/output jacks on the back of the unit to more than match any sound, recording, video and satellite system you want to hook it up to. There is also hookup inserts for direct line speakers. And it does not stop there! There are also 4 input/outputs under a "hidden" door on the front for connecting your camcorder directly into the TV, a game system, etc. Interested? Read on!!
I recently wrote a review on the DVD player that we had decided upon some time back. In that review I mentioned that we regularly "visited" our big-screen TV and DVD for months before buying. Funny thing is, when we went to buy "our" TV, we changed our minds and went with the Panasonic PT-51HX40. We were so sure of the other model, but when it got down to the nitty gritty, and a fantastic salesman who really knew the two models and the differences between them, we went with the TV that was going to meet our needs now and in the years to come.
If you have ever read any of my stereo or satellite reviews then you know we have cables galore connecting the whole system, including the computer together. With our old TV we were unable to directly link all of the components together for a total integrated system. Now we have 2 VCR's, a DVD, tuner, receiver, cassette deck, CD-player, computer, a big dish and a small digital dish, and our stereo surround sound system all hooked up and linked together. There are so very many inputs/outputs on the back that we have about 21 we haven't even touched yet!!! If you are checking out big-screen TV's be sure to ask and look at just input/outputs, S-video cable slots are available ~ for those who have a lot of components to tie together it does make a huge difference.
Another feature to check on with any TV you are thinking about is does it have "red, blue, and green" video input/outputs. Having a TV with these 3 color jacks enables you to receive the highest in color separation, sharpness and clearness. There are big-screens that do not separate color 3-ways. Ask ~ This is a feature that will ensure you will be taking advantage of optimal color separation and luminance, for a picture that is so "real to life."
This TV has PIP, or Picture in Picture, capability. What this means is that you can be watching one show and bring up a smaller picture in a corner of another channel. For example, you can watch 2 sports events at once, or a movie and a news program at the same time, and so on. You can flip back and forth between which show is big or little too. There is a slight catch to all this though ~ if you have cable this works with no problem. If you have a satellite dish this will not work unless you have 2 receivers. The dish/satellite system cannot run 2 channels through one line like cable can ~ so if you have satellite this feature is mute for you unless you do have another separate receiver. Now since we have a big dish and a little dish we can do the PIP option, but it is good to be aware of the "catch" to this, especially if you really really want that PIP feature.
The Panasonic PT-51HX40 has it's menu navigation on a 3-D 6-sided "circle." On the rolling circle menu button your main choices are Lock, Timer, Channels, Set Up, Picture, and Audio. Once you have selected your main choice a press of the remote control arrow will show you all the features within that main choice. While the menu navigation is fairly easy to move through, it will take you a bit of time to actually work your way through all of the features, try them out, and get the hang of it all.
As a couple examples of the features attached to the main choices I will go over what all the control choices are for Set Up, Audio, and Video, since these are most likely the ones users would need to learn first.
For Set Up, you will have control over: Program Channels ~ Mode, Antenna 1 or 2, Auto Program, Manual Program (add or delete). Closed Captioning ~ CC on Mute (activate cc when mute is selected), CC Mode with choices of T1 through T4 or C1 through C4 with program guides and show information. Other Adjustments ~ Auto Power On, Convergence (Adjustments to counteract the effects of the Earth's magnetic field on the projection tubes).
For Audio, the menu will bring up: Audio Adjustments ~ Mode (Stereo, SAP, Mono; Bass, Treble, Balance, Normal. Other Adjustments ~ AI Sound (automatically adjusts volume to preset levels). Surround ~ Spatializer (three dimensional surround sound adjustments). Speakers ~ On-PTV normal operation, OFF & VAO (Variable Audio Output adjustable by TV controls), OFF & FAO (Fixed Audio Output adjusted by external amplifier), Dolby Center Mode & Fixed Audio Out ~ TV speakers provide center speakers for Dolby sound, external speakers provide rest of surround sound set up.
For Video, You can adjust: Color, Tint, Brightness, Picture (adjust white areas), Sharpness (detail), Normal (factory default). Other Adjustments ~ Scan Mode (adjustments made when switching between video games and digital TV), Color Temperature (adjust white balance to cool -blue, warm -red, or normal), Color Matrix ~ adjustments to color parameters for high definition or standard definition transmissions).
The picture quality of this Panasonic is sharp and clear IF you are getting good transmission of the signals. Digital signals and DVD's really do give you a picture that is like real life. You do end up noticing more things in the scene, pores in people's skin, threads in clothing, small wrinkles are right there too! Poor transmissions and low qualilty DVD's or cartoons are very very obvious ~ For example, on many of the cartoons out there you will notice dots where the color in the animation cell was not colored in all the way, or where the frames were rushed out with little effort put into clear lines and solid color definition. Because there are so many lines of color being read, if what is fed into the TV is of poor quality you WILL notice. Another example is on some of the "cheaper" DVD's out there -- if the DVD's are produced from regular TV series, or are recorded off of tape the picture you will see is going to be a bit blurry on the edges, teeth sort of run together weird, and the overall focus of the movie is just off a tad. Look for high quality DVD's that are digital from start to finish.
The picture quality of this TV is high, and when you see a digitally mastered DVD on this TV you will be sucked right into the scene and feel like you are right there. You can really see just how wonderful the picture is when you are feeding high quality in. You have got to see it to really appreciate it, and afterwards, nothing else is going to compare again.
This Panasonic places it's screen center lower, so that when you are sitting your eyes are just about at center. This TV is best viewed from the position where your eye-level is at the center of the screen ~ the screen is slightly brighter right at the center, and the picture will look slightly different if you are standing as opposed to sitting. No big deal, but an added touch that might otherwise go unnoticed.
Big screen TV's are best viewed from at least 8 - 10 feet away. Think about your room arrangement and decide if you have the space to accomodate this large piece. While I can walk right up to the screen and see the picture clearly, you cannot take in the whole screen adequately. Put some distance between you and the screen, then sit back and enjoy the marvels of technology!!! :o)
I recommend the Panasonic PT-51HX40 to anyone looking to upgrade their system to the big-screen world. This is a great TV that has the big size without the bulk of alot of big TV's. The unit is self-contained so that you do not have to buy a separate cabinet to sit under it (as alot of TV's do need). The speakers of the TV are below the screen. The top of the TV is just wide enough to fit a center speaker and a digital dish without doing a balancing act, but you will need to buy or find a separate cabinet to fit all of your other components in.
Ok, now where is that remote control . . . .