Panasonic plasma brightness 'problem' won't be fixed

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Ty is a journalist with 15 years experience in writing for IT and entertainment publications. He is in charge of the home theatre category for CNET Australia and is also a PC enthusiast. He likes indie music and plays several instruments. Twitter: @tpendlebury

Panasonic plasmas have been reported to be increasing in brightness after a certain period of use causing some overseas users to complain, but the company says this is normal and will not be fixed.

In a statement to CNET US, which had received a "barrage" of reader complaints, Panasonic said that its plasma TVs' "background brightness will increase", but described the change as "automatic" over the TV's lifespan and part of normal operation in order to "achieve the optimal picture performance throughout the life of the set".

Bob Perry, senior VP of Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company (US), said that "since the TVs work as designed, there's nothing to fix".

In a couple of forum posts stretching back to 2008, Panasonic users have complained that the black levels of their television had supposedly "halved" overnight, including the Panasonic G10.

While CNET Australia has received several enquiries from readers it has yet to hear of any compaints from local Panasonic owners.

Professional TV calibrator Aaron Rigg from Avical says that plasmas tend to dull over time, but has "never noticed" any specific issues with Panasonic plasmas he had worked on.

Rigg said plasmas normally tend to drop in brightness — by as much as 5 per cent in two years — but reckons it is still a very stable technology in comparison to the majority of LCDs.

"LCD brightness drops off very rapidly in the first 1000 hours, as much as 20 per cent in my opinion", Rigg said.

"I won't disagree with that", said Evan Manolis AV manager at Samsung Australia, "That's why LED was invented. It's more like plasma and is better at keeping its brightness and picture quality."

Manolis, who previously worked at Panasonic, also said he had never heard of the issue, and added that it wasn't the case with Samsung plasmas.

Avical's Aaron Rigg said that it is possible to "drive" plasmas harder which would make them brighter, and that the Panasonic plasmas could be doing this slightly after the panel has been run-in. He said that the effect was probably imperceptible, and that even a change as large as 20 per cent was difficult to tell in isolation.

Meanwhile, another 'calibrator' who goes under the screen name D-Nice told CNET US the problem appears more sudden and says he believes it is an engineering problem. "It seems as if Panasonic Engineering goofed on a portion of their software that modifies the pixel voltage levels periodically... The end result is an elevated idle black that worsens as more hours are clocked on the display."

The local effect of this issue is unknown, as representatives from Panasonic Australia failed to return CNET Australia's attempts to contact them by the time of publication.

Panasonic G10

The Panasonic G10 is reported to be one of the televisions affected by sudden increases in brightness. (Credit: Panasonic)



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plasma fan posted a comment   

I just took back a panasonic TC-P42S2 plasma tv which was an open box tv at best buy. The picture was terrible compared to my 5 year old Haier plasma which I believe was made by LG. The black level was grey, the colors dull and the picture was fuzzy.

 

jensy posted a comment   

I just got off the phone to Panasonic Australia. VERY interesting conversation. As it turns out:

PAL systems were manufactured LATER then the NTSC systems, using different hardware.

The PAL systems we use here in Australia are NOT affected.

Panasonic Australia has not had any issues with rising black levels.

American/EU models are built in Mexico, whilst Australian models are built in JAPAN.

 

Matt posted a reply   

yes, well i have the late 2009 58" plasma, made in japan, and would have only watched 100 hours max. i see what you say about the aus. models being different, but it is from panasonic you heard this, so of course they aren't going to admit fault. i have also emailed them and got a similar reply to yours.

 

Ringo posted a reply   

Sorry mate Pana lead you up the garden path... of the 09 range all the G series were made in China, only the raw panel came out of Japan. Only the V series and the 54" S were 100% Jap.

 

Big Sven posted a comment   

Reading between the lines it seems that a 'grey' plasma is still miles better than an LCD, which come that way standard from the factory, not to mention being blighted with pixel-drag. ALL electronics tire with age, even my trusty Trinitron 21", now 13 years old and still capable of a great picture despite only 900x720 or so pixels (it is a similar size to a 26" 16:9 LCD, but minus 15 p/cent at each end, resolution is about 1200 compared to the 26" 1366). Many of the plasma-complainers seem to be 'fiddlers', some seem to have professional diagnosis equipment, and all love venting the slightest fault they can find. Why they are out there in the forums. For every complainer there must be 1,000's out there who are satisfied, hence we never hear from them. You will find fault with ALL tv's, electronics, anything really (even the wife!) if you look hard enough. I'm thinking of upgrading to a big-screen tv for the first time, a 37" seems to be the best size for me, there is very little HD around so a top-spec model is not important to me. I'm not impressed with LCD's, though the new ones might be better, my old Trinitron beats the lot hands-down on all but size, but was very impressed when looking at a 42" 1024 plasma beside a full-HD 42" LCD (Panasonic both). I couldn't see any difference other than the contrast seemed better on the plasma. I'm not into bells-an'-whistles (3-D, wifi, games, internet, I've a computer for that) so a base-model is perfectly ok for me. The new budget 37" Panasonic P-X20E 1024 seems interesting, slightly slimmer, 6 kgs lighter, better screen, better 'engine', 30p/cent less Watts, and - WOW! - is priced the same as the 2009 model in the current sales! No point in buying a 2009, then. Shame they didn't increase the resolution to 1366, but, as said, I can't actually see the difference. A tv should be just that, a tv, so my advice is to buy the CHEAPEST model, and just sit back and enjoy the programs.

 

Bruno posted a comment   

I wouldn't be concerned, weekendatbernies2010.

The CNET US site is basing it's report on a blog started on the AVS site. The users on that site site use more tools and analysis techniques than the average TV technician, let-alone the average punter watching blu-ray and sport (like me). Any degradation in black quality will not be noticeable unless you have a purpose-built darkroom. D-Nice says as much on the AVS blog.

I bought a 46-inch G10 2 weeks ago, it is brilliant.

 

brosephcox posted a comment   
Australia

My 50V10 seems to be exhibiting these symptoms. Set has 1000+ hrs up and last week over night it developed severe IR (image retention), and screen with empty AV input now glows (grey) in the dark "much" more than previously.
Movie viewing blacks and grey scale still seem "ok" but IR is now a serious problem.
This is my 4th wide flat screen since 2003 and have not experienced this before.
I have a Tech visit booked.

 

brosephcox posted a comment   
Australia

My 50V10 seems to be exhibiting these symptoms. Set has 1000+ hrs up and last week over night it developed severe IR (image retention), and screen with empty AV input now glows (grey) in the dark "much" more than previously.
Movie viewing blacks and grey scale still seem "ok" but IR is now a serious problem.
This is my 4th wide flat screen since 2003 and have not experienced this before.
I have a Tech visit booked.


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