Size Matters

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Before we moved into our new house we both said that we wanted a big television. The owners of our favourite guesthouse in Beer, Devon had Pioneer 50″ Plasma that always impressed us when we stayed there. Unfortunately, Pioneer, arguably the makers of the best plasma television ever produced, no longer produce televisions. After looking online to find out what are currently the largest televisions available for sale, I had decided that either the soon to be released Samsung PS63C7000 63″ 3D plasma or the Panasonic TX-P65VT20B 65″ 3D plasma were the best choices. With my current television at the time being a Panasonic plasma I was initially drawn to the latter. However, after a trip to the Panasonic store in Solihull I was put off by the insanely high price tag. Early online reviews of the Samsung were positive, aside from the difficulties in finding them stocked anywhere in the UK.

During our visit to the Panasonic shop we asked for a demonstration of the 3D feature found on the latest televisions. Having been disappointed with 3D films I have seen at the cinema, my expectations were very low. The demonstrator showed us a short trailer for the IMAX documentary GRAND CANYON ADVENTURE: A RIVER AT RISK (2008). The 3D effects were undoubtedly impressive but it wasn’t until we had water splash in our faces and drip down the lenses of the glasses that we were surprised by the quality of the effects. 3D was not the intention of wanting a new television but it was now a welcome bonus.

The 63″ plasma was being sold for a very competitive price at very.co.uk; a website that I usually do not feel confident about ordering from. As part of a package, you would have the television with a Samsung 3D Blu-Ray player and a 3D starter kit that included two pairs of 3D glasses and the film MONSTERS AND ALIENS on 3D Blu-Ray for free. My plan was to sell the Blu-Ray player in order to help pay off the television. I was also able to sell MONSTERS AND ALIENS on eBay for ??50, taking advantage of the demand for 3D Blu-Ray content. Vouchers helped bring the price down by 20% and the selling of my old Panasonic made it even cheaper.

It took over two months for the television to arrive due to it’s lack of availability. In finally arrived, thankfully in one piece in August. The box itself was unbelievably large in size, so much so that I could easily walk in and turn around with ease.

The immediate thing that struck me was how thin the television is. It sat perfectly on the AV stand I purchased specially for the television but, because of its size, it can wobble slightly when you walk near it. I was disappointed to find that there was no instruction booklet in the package but this was offset by the inclusion of another pair of 3D glasses. I was also able to claim for another pair of glasses as part of a promotional deal by Samsung, meaning that I now had four pairs for free.

Performance has been very pleasing; I have no major complaints about the set at all. Some online reviews have commented about some of it’s shortcomings but when compared to the double in price 65″ Panasonic it wins hands down for overall value.

SD content does not look as good as HD content but that it is to be expected. Some upscaled DVDs, however, such as the Optimum release of A LIZARD IN A WOMAN’S SKIN, look very good indeed. Blacks are strong and colours are very natural. I setup the television using settings that were suggested by someone who had calibrated their set professionally. The results continue to be impressive. The media file playback feature has been very useful, offering seamless playback of HD mkv files and easily synchronising with my media server. The internet@tv feature is somewhat limited but it gives welcome access to YouTube and iPlayer. It is a bit naughty that the television does not come with wireless as standard but it happily connects to my homeplug.

Despite the lack of 3D Blu-Rays currently available I have been able to locate numerous 3D IMAX movies, the German 3D Blu-Ray disc of GRAND CANYON ADVENTURE is excellent and has impressed everyone who has seen it so far. The standout 3D movie so far has been AVATAR which looks magnificent. Viewing it in 3D for the first time was most certainly a memorable experience.

I have been using the Sony BDP-S570 for region B Blu-Ray playback, multi-region DVD and 3D Blu-Ray. It is not the best Blu-Ray player and I currently await the release of Oppo’s BDP-93 which should be the best all round Blu-Ray player. I use my US PS3 for gaming and region A Blu-Ray playback. My HD-DVD player remains. Regretfully, I sold my much loved Sony DG820 home cinema amp to pay for the Onkyo 508 3D ready amp. Whilst the sound quality of the Oppo is excellent, its usability most certainly is not. I am also convinced that it has HDMI handshaking problems with the PS3 and Sony Blu-Ray player. I intend to sell it in the near future so that I can purchase the Sony DG810 amp.

So there you have it, my current setup. By selling lots of my old gear I have been able to pay very little for everything, the television especially being a bargain.

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