A couple of months my fiance and I bought our first home and decided that we needed a few new "things" for our humble abode. After explaining to her that "things" did not include makeup, shoes, or purses we headed out to look for a TV.
I have a three year old Sony flat screen that I like a lot. But, the allure of a beautiful new plasma TV was too much to avoid. We both did our homework (Web sites, Consumer Reports, Epinions, etc.) and decided that it came down to which Panasonic we wanted.
The first thing we noticed from our research was that Panasonic had numerous "lower" priced models. A big plus when the first TV you see at any electronics retailer is sure to be the $12,000 model- not sure why they insist on doing it this way as it has scare off a number of potential buyers. However, lower priced model in this instance still brought us in around $3,000. Not exactly cheap, but significantly less expensive than many of the other plasma TV's.
So, we decided to make the purchase. The very first thing we noticed was the weight of the box. Moving the three year old Sony required a minimum of 19 people; the Panasonic box could not have weighed more than 50 or 60 pounds. Furthermore, the box actually fit in the back seat of my car without having to move around the seats (The Sony would have required pushing the passenger seat all the way forward in order to get the giant box behind it. The Sony would have also resulted in my fiance having to ride in the trunk for 30 minutes. The last time that happened, well, she was not too happy.) and angle the box in order to get it through the door. Hallelujah!
We got home and unpacked the box and, for the first time, we were truly able to realize the dimensions of the TV. While in the store it is difficult to get a feel for the true size since there are numerous other TV's surrounding you. When you get home and get it out of the box and see how it stacks up versus your old TV and in the space where the old TV sat, you will see what I mean.
The Panasonic 37-PWD4U measures more than three across and just about two feet high. The edges on the front of the scree are no more than an inch wide. What this means is that virtually all of the front of the TV is screen. A nice change from the Sony. However, the biggest difference is in the depth of the TV. My Sony has an 18 inch "butt" (Think Rosanne) and, hence, can only fit in certain places in a room. The 37-PWD4U has a 3.5 inch "butt" (Think Kate Moss). The difference is amazing. Suddenly you situate your TV virtually anywhere and not have to worry it sticking out from the wall in an odd manner, or getting in the way.
So, what about the picture? I mean the picture is why we buy a TV, correct? You will not be disappointed with what you will see. The picture is simply flawless. One of the problems that plagued plasma TV's had going back a few years was the degree of blackness that permeates the picture. You will not notice this problem with the Panasonic. The blacks colors are deep and the colors are bright.
A few thoughts to keep in mind with regard to the 37-PWD4U and plasma/ flat screen TV's in general. First of all, the further back you sit, the better the picture will be. I am not suggesting sitting in another room, but leave yourself a good eight or more feet. Secondly, a few flat screen models have problems when it comes to bright lights. The 37-PWD4U does not have this problem since it has an extra- bright dynamic setting. In essence, this filters out the bright light.
Another aspect of the picture is the sound; you need good sound to complete the experience. The 37-PWD4U has great sound. You can adjust the controls to favor different speakers or use the justify option. Either way, you will feel as if you are at a theater. A great aspect for a TV.
A problem that some people run into with a new TV is how to get the thing programmed in less than a decade's time. The 37-PWD4U is fairly simple to set up and then operate. The remote permits you to change virtually all of the settings with ease and the menu's are easy to follow. I would estimate that it took us 20 minutes to get all of the settings where we want them and the channels programmed. All in all, I do not think this is a terrible amount of time.
So, what are we not thrilled about- other than having to take out a home equity policy to pay for a TV? I think the first and most obvious thing is the location of the jacks. The odd thing is that you have the full complement of jacks outlets, but cannot use them all at once. The reason is that the set will only accept one digital and one analog source at a time. While I do not utilize TiVO or a PlayStation, I can imagine the annoyance in having to unplug one in order ot hook up the other. A way around this is to purchase an adapter, but Panasonic should have done a better job with the jacks.
Thankfully, this is the only problem we have found to this point. However, one thing to be aware of with Plasma TV's is that they tend to run "hotter" than what a "normal" type of TV might. Do not let this worry you. Most plasma TV's do this and it is completely normal. We placed a call to the service center to inquire and were told that this is not a problem.
Would I take out the home equity loan again to purchase the Panasonic 37-PWD4U again? Yes, without a doubt. The picture is wonderful, the sound resonates, and the TV has a cool factor to it. If price is a factor, wait for a few years. The price should come down as plasma screens become more and more inexpensive due to increased competition. But, do keep in mind that the prices have come down a lot already due the the soft economy. The bottom line is that this is a wonderful and affordable- for a plasma screen- TV.
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Amount Paid (US$): 2950