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CR's 3D TV shoot-out: Samsungís LCD vs. Panasonicís plasma

Lee Stewart
03-12-2010, 07:43 PM
3D TV shoot-out: Samsung’s LCD vs. Panasonic’s plasma

March 12, 2010

As you might know from our previous blogs, we’ve been testing the first new 3D TVs on the market—Samsung’s 46-inch 7000- and 8000-series LCD TVs with LED backlights and 240Hz technology, and Panasonic’s 50-inch VT-20 series 1080p plasma. We bought the Samsung 7000-series set at retail, and purchased the 8000-series model and Panasonic’s plasma as pre-retail samples directly from the company.

For the purposes of our tests, we connected the TVs to each company’s new 3D Blu-ray player, and then switched them to see if the Samsung Blu-ray would work on the Panasonic TV, and vice versa. (They did.) While the Monsters vs. Aliens 3D Blu-ray disc played on both players—as it should per the Blu-ray 3D specification—the 3D demo disc from Panasonic, which includes clips from the Astro Boy movie, plus some sports and nature live sequences, would only play on the Panasonic Blu-ray player.

While we haven’t completed our comprehensive tests on these sets, we have already seen some performance differences between the models, which in the 3D mode are mirroring some of the differences we see when we test LCD and plasma TVs with regular high-definition programs.

So how did the TVs perform? As we’ve reported, when displaying 3D all three sets delivered impressive three-dimensional effects in full 1080p resolution. All were were able to provide a reasonably bright picture, which is advantageous when using 3D shutter glasses, which can make images appear dim.

Overall the Samsung sets provided excellent picture detail, with satisfying colors and contrast. But we did notice some cloudiness on both the 7000-series model—which uses a conventional edge LED backlight—and the 8000-series set—the first set we’ve seen that uses an edge LED backlight with local dimming—which can be distracting when viewing dark scenes. Also, both Samsung sets exhibited a degree of “crosstalk,” or ghosted images, on 3D content, indicating that the images for each eye weren’t being kept completely separate. It wasn’t so noticeable as to be distracting on all scenes, but when visible the image echoes diminished the 3D effect. We also noticed that if you tilted the 3D glasses, such as you would if you were lying down watching the TV, the picture would increasingly get dimmer.

Panasonic says its VT20 sets (as well as the VT25 models that will arrive soon) have new features designed to help boost performance. One is its “infinite black” technology, intended to improve black-level performance. In fact, this TV’s black levels were excellent, the best we’ve seen from a TV since our review of Pioneer’s Kuro models. We also found picture detail to be excellent. Unusual for a plasma set is the inclusion of blur-reduction circuitry, which was extremely effective. Based on our preliminary tests, this TV may have the best anti-blur performance of any plasma we’ve ever tested (although we wonder why it’s a feature that has to be activated).

When viewing 3D content, the TV was absolutely free from crosstalk, with sharp, clean edges on objects in scenes. Also, the set’s virtually unlimited viewing angle with regular high-def programs held true with the 3D content we played, so even those viewing the screen from an angle could see a great picture. Also, there was no change in the picture if the 3D glasses were tilted sideways, unlike the LCD sets.

So what’s our initial reaction to these sets? All the tested sets can produce compelling, realistic three-dimensional images that can duplicate the excitement you’d get in a movie theater. But based on our preliminary tests, we give the Panasonic the edge. In the 3D mode, its lack of crosstalk and great black levels really made three-dimensional images pop. It also didn’t have any issues with backlight cloudiness, and offered a very wide viewing angle. But remember that we haven’t completed our final tests, and haven’t seen enough 3D sets to make any judgments about whether plasma or LCD is inherently a better technology for displaying 3D. But we can’t wait to get more sets into our TV Lab.

—James K. Willcox and Claudio Ciacci

http://blogs.consumerreports.org/electronics/2010/03/3d-tv-3dtv-comparison-test-reviews-labs-bluray-3d-content-3d-glasses-crosstalk-three-d.html

Lee Stewart
03-12-2010, 08:08 PM
Good to see that they switched the 3D BD players around and they worked with no issue.

Would have loved to see them run the signal through a 1.3 receiver to see if it passed through.

Strange that the Panny demo disc didn't work on the Sammy player.

No surprise about the outcome.

PFC5
03-12-2010, 10:14 PM
I expected that the same issues with 2D LCD would exist and it sounds like they are even worse with 3D. So now it seems that even the angle of the glasses to the screen will effect PQ on the 3D LCDs. :eek:

Lee Stewart
03-12-2010, 10:19 PM
Also, both Samsung sets exhibited a degree of “crosstalk,” or ghosted images, on 3D content, indicating that the images for each eye weren’t being kept completely separate.

This might be due to the inherent response time issue in LCD technology. The crystals just can't switch fast enough

PFC5
03-12-2010, 10:34 PM
Most likely since they seem to require twice the updates with 3DTV specs for full 1080p for each eye. It just further shows the current limitations of LCD even more with 1920x1080p x2 for each eye.

Lee Stewart
03-12-2010, 11:07 PM
Most likely since they seem to require twice the updates with 3DTV specs for full 1080p for each eye. It just further shows the current limitations of LCD even more with 1920x1080p x2 for each eye.

2ms sounds good for LCD until you realize that the response time for PDP's is about .001ms.

Samsung will be releasing a 3D PDP series in May.

wkward83
03-13-2010, 05:41 PM
After reading that article it looks like plasma is the way to go with 3dtv. I will be getting the samsung 3d pdp when it's released.

Lee Stewart
03-17-2010, 10:41 AM
3D TVs go head to head in our latest video

http://blogs.consumerreports.org/electronics/3d-tv/

PFC5
03-17-2010, 12:52 PM
Great link Lee thanks!!!!!!

Seeing how much different 3D looks between the two techs it seems a no brainer to choose plasma. That video showing that difference is startling IMO.

Lee Stewart
03-17-2010, 01:47 PM
Great link Lee thanks!!!!!!

Seeing how much different 3D looks between the two techs it seems a no brainer to choose plasma. That video showing that difference is startling IMO.

Forget the 3D part. Look how bad the LCD performed under 2D testing. :eek:

PFC5
03-17-2010, 02:02 PM
But we already KNEW about how it did on 2D testing. Plasma beats 2D testing but IMO LCDs cannot produce a 3D image worth buying based on that video. Who the hell wants to see double/ghosting images to watch 3D? There was none of that with the plasma 3D model in the video. Add that simply moving your head a little on the 3D LCDs will turn the picture dark on the LCD but doesn't hurt the Panasonic plasma at all when they tilted the glasses on it.

Imagine seeing double/ghost images on your new $3,000.00+ 3D LCD and then if you tilt your head the screen gets much blacker so you cannot even see the picture. :eek:

HiDefRev
03-17-2010, 02:08 PM
Wow. I'm impressed with the results of this test. I've seen some 3D shows that were less than good. I'm glad that the manufacturers are doing a first class job with the technology. And, it looks like LCD still has a long way to go in order to catch up with plasma.

PFC5
03-17-2010, 02:13 PM
I think 3DTV is going to mostly be a plasma tech until they figure out how to fix it on 3D LCDs. Right now IMO, I wouldn't pay $10.00 for 3D on a LCD based on the video in that last link.

Lee Stewart
03-17-2010, 02:32 PM
I am curious to see the Toshiba and Vizio 3DTVs put under the same testing. yes they are LCD, but both are using real local dimming - LED arrays behind the panel and not edge lit with light pipes delivering the light. The Toshiba has 512 zones - the Vizio a few less (???).

Still, there will be the response time issue difference.

Panasonic 3DTV for me! 58" or 65" depending on the price difference.

Over at AVS, one of the CR testers has joined the thread and had been answering some questions.

Travis_stl
04-02-2010, 06:32 PM
I just hit Ultimate Electronics and bought the pack: 46in led 3d TV, Samsung 3d player and got free 3d glasses and Monster vs Alien movie. So I had the issue with ghosting or cross talk with the 3d movie. The worker at Ultimate told me to get a high speed cable so I bought a new HDMI cable. I got a Sony HDMI 1.3a Category 2 high-speed certified from Walmart for 35 bucks. WOW... It is a night and day difference

SantaPimp27
04-02-2010, 08:31 PM
I thought 3D needed 1.4 hmmm

Lee Stewart
04-03-2010, 09:26 AM
I thought 3D needed 1.4 hmmm

A Cat 2 certified 1.3 high speed cable is the same as a HS 1.4 cable. They didn't change the speed when they upgraded HDMI from 1.3 to 1.4. Both are still at 10.2 Gbps. 3D uses way under that.