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How does the VT20 hold up these days?

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Offline Konsolkongen

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How does the VT20 hold up these days?
« on: 23 April 2015, 04:59:34 PM »

I've been looking to replace my Sony W905A with a plasma for some time now. Had several on hand, but some sellers were idiots, and other TVs were almost completely ruined by permanent burn-in.

But as I was mentioning to a co-worker that I was looking for a plasma, my boss heard me, and said I should just buy his. A 50" Panasonic VT20.

Awesome! I'm just not sure how well the VT20 holds up to the later plasmas. Because I used to own a 42" S20, and the difference in picture quality and blacklevel between it and the later 50" ST50 was insane. I have read the review, but here's hoping someone can answer these few questions I still have :)

  • Does the Panasonic VT20's black levels get worse over time? This was speculated to be a non-issue in the review due to the new panel type.
  • Can overscan be disabled on 720p sources? I'm pretty sure it disables overscan on everything in 16:9 (why not 4:3, Panasonic?) but it's best to be sure :)
  • Is there any pixel orbiter? And if there is, can it be disabled?
  • As far as I understood from reading the review, the input lag is exactly the same, regardless of the picture mode selected. I will of course choose Professional, mainly because it doesn't have floating blacks. But I will also be calibrating it.
  • The US manual I can find says that the TV allows the user to switch between 16-235 and 0-255 for HDMI inputs. Is this also true for the European version? I think S20 couldn't do that, but back then I would have no idea what it was anyway :)

If the picture quality is still top notch then I'll buy it. I had the S20 for a while and it was by far the best plasma I've had in terms of IR resistance and it also had the best screen uniformity. So hopefully that was carried over to the more expensive models.

I have owned a 50" ST50 (for about a month, because the uniformity was terrible), and it looked amazing. I then had the 51" Samsung E6500 which also looked good, although the black levels were noticeably worse.

I'm looking for something that doesn't look much worse than the ST50. But according to the review the ST20 has some pretty amazing black-levels. Even better than the VT30 and VT50 :O

And it has the lowest input lag of all the recent VT-series. Which is a huge plus.

I do however expect the scaling to be equally mediocre on all of them (noticeable ringing).

I was a bit worried about the color sub-sampling, since I've grown to like the perfect 444 on my Sony TV so much. But I switched to the Cinema preset (also calibrated), which does sub-sampling, and it still looked quite nice, with less blur around reds than I remembered on the S20. Would the VT20 look about the same as the Sony W905A with sub-sampling? :)

Also, what would you say a 50VT20 is worth? My boss asked me, and I said probably around 6500-7000DKR taking the current prices of used VT50s and VT60s into consideration, which are usually around 10-11000DKR.
But it could be more, or even less :)
« Last Edit: 23 April 2015, 05:17:52 PM by Konsolkongen »

Offline David Mackenzie

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Re: How does the VT20 hold up these days?
« Reply #1 on: 23 April 2015, 05:59:55 PM »
1. I don't know. Hopefully the blacks stay where they are but I can't confirm myself.
2. Yes, I think so, since the option is called "16:9 Overscan". You can disable it on SD so I'd be surprised if you couldn't on 720p.
3. If memory serves, there is an orbiter, but yes it can be disabled.
4. Yep!
5. That option isn't on the Euro models.
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Offline Konsolkongen

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Re: How does the VT20 hold up these days?
« Reply #2 on: 23 April 2015, 06:30:47 PM »
Thank you David for that fast reply :)

Strange that the european models doesn't support 0-255 RGB. But is there really any difference with this loss of colors on a plasma screen, where everything is dithered anyway?

Offline David Mackenzie

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Re: How does the VT20 hold up these days?
« Reply #3 on: 23 April 2015, 06:46:28 PM »
They do support 0-255 RGB - it's just the feature to switch between 16-235 and 0-255 YCbCr that isn't supported - again if memory serves. It's been a while!
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Offline Konsolkongen

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Re: How does the VT20 hold up these days?
« Reply #4 on: 23 April 2015, 07:05:38 PM »
Oh yeah I forgot to mention that I meant RGB :D I can't imagine that I would ever need 0-255 YCbCr :)

So provided that the TV is just fine, does it still qualify as an amazing TV? Or have the newer plasmas improved so much that I should wait for one of them to show up instead? :)

Offline David Mackenzie

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Re: How does the VT20 hold up these days?
« Reply #5 on: 24 April 2015, 01:35:23 AM »
I would wait for a 50 or 60-series personally.
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Offline Konsolkongen

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Re: How does the VT20 hold up these days?
« Reply #6 on: 24 April 2015, 07:48:39 AM »
Hmm okay. Mainly because they offer much better calibration tools I assume? :)

The design is certainly also better on the VT50/60. In fact, I don't think the VT20 looks very good, but I've only seen it in pictures, where this is sometimes hard to determine. Not necessarily a deal breaker for me.

And I assume the Smart TV features are obsolete and completely useless by now. And the DLNA-playback never was very good to begin with. This isn't a big deal either, when you can just add an Apple TV or a Raspberry Pi to handle this stuff instead.

If it still has inky blacks, good uniformity, no dead/stuck pixels and no burn I'll certainly consider it :)

Offline FoxHounder

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Re: How does the VT20 hold up these days?
« Reply #7 on: 24 April 2015, 10:07:01 AM »
Does the Panasonic VT20's black levels get worse over time? This was speculated to be a non-issue in the review due to the new panel type.
MLL does elevate some bit. Given VT20 had best-in-class blacks in 2010, its "elevated" black level still looks pretty good. I'm pretty sure it looks deep enough compared to LED LCDs.
If I remember correctly, MLL started very low, below 0.01 cd/m2, and with time it will be up to 0.02 cd/m2 (it's an approximate numbers, not for record).
As you may know, LED LCDs are at 0.03-0.05 cd/m2 at best with all their uniformity issues.

Personally, I like VT20 picture quality, although I'd recommend you to search for 50 or 60 series. Totally agree with David on that one. :nod:
« Last Edit: 24 April 2015, 10:12:19 AM by FoxHounder »
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Offline SETEM

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Re: How does the VT20 hold up these days?
« Reply #8 on: 24 April 2015, 01:09:22 PM »
Hey, Konsolkongen, I got your PM. No worries :)

In my opinion the VT20 is a top notch TV and still one of the best out there, although some newer plasmas have it beaten. Personally I think that the LX5090, ST60 and VT60 are all noticeably a little better, mostly because of that extra little bit of black depth. I can't speak for the Panasonic 50-series though, as I've only played with them under store lighting. The same goes for any recent Samsung TV, except for that Samsung's have coarser dithering from what I've seen. The VT20 has/had noticeably better blacks and overall PQ than my old G20, though, and also a little better than my old G30 (I have not seen them side-by-side).

As for LEDLCD-TV's... I think the best one I've seen, in a home environment, is the (55" 4k) Sony X9005 from 2014 (I think this is the name). A cracking TV, with very good blacks when dimming is set to minimum but... I think I'd still choose the VT20 for overall PQ and of course motion resolution - plus, you don't need to activate any dimming, so you get that better local contrast performance all over the screen and no other dimming side-effects :P (It's been a while since seen my friends 65" VT20, while the X9005 was more recent, so that's why I'm saying I "think" I'd pick the VT20 - I'd most likely have a definite preference if had seen one after the other with less time in-between, and I'm pretty sure that it would be the VT20.)

I don't know if the blacks on my friend's 65" VT20 have gotten lighter over time. However, I have seen the TV both when it was very new and also after 3-4 years or so, and I did not notice any definite change in mll, or anything else...

Personally, because of prices, I'd wait wait for a VT60.
Also, what would you say a 50VT20 is worth? My boss asked me, and I said probably around 6500-7000DKR taking the current prices of used VT50s and VT60s into consideration, which are usually around 10-11000DKR.
But it could be more, or even less :)
I'd say that the difference in PQ on VT60 is definitely worth an extra few thousand DKR. It just has that little bit extra... Like a KURO :P

Which is another point - I'd much rather buy a used LX5090/KRP500 for 5000-7000 DKR than a used 50" VT20 for about the same price (provided they were both in goo condition, with no red blacks on KURO or anything like that.) Even with the red tinge to blacks, the 4.5 years old LX5090 still had THE best PQ I'd ever seen when I bought it, no question about that - I literally giggled, thinking that "ok, now I see why it's so 'legendary'..." Now it's around 5.5 years old and, except for the red tint to blacks making themselves noticeable now and then, overall it still matches my VT60, with pure viewing pleasure.

So, no; As close as the VT20 is to the best of the best (IMO), personally, I wouldn't buy the VT20 for that price now, given that there is more than one alternative which will yield equal or better results for around the same price. Unless you could get the VT20 for something ridiculous like 4500 or 5000 DKR... But then your boss would be pretty crazy :P
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Offline FoxHounder

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Re: How does the VT20 hold up these days?
« Reply #9 on: 24 April 2015, 01:20:38 PM »
I think Konsolkongen seeks a plasma for gaming, so there are some requirements with overscan, RGB handling and input lag that rule out many TVs. :chin:

Some used VT60 sample without IR or uniformity issues would be nice choice, I tell you. ::)
There's plenty of controls to have best picture preset for every need, including calibrated video or game mode.
« Last Edit: 24 April 2015, 01:27:59 PM by FoxHounder »
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Offline SETEM

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Re: How does the VT20 hold up these days?
« Reply #10 on: 24 April 2015, 05:30:43 PM »
I think Konsolkongen seeks a plasma for gaming, so there are some requirements with overscan, RGB handling and input lag that rule out many TVs. :chin:
Yes, he does... Been in contact via PM, since he was asking about the VT60 but, like he said, he's been unlucky with sellers and condition so far :no:

Yes, I forgot about the overscan limitation of the LX5090... It will only do 1:1 pixel mapping ("Dot by Dot") for 1080i/p sources :-[

Some used VT60 sample without IR or uniformity issues would be nice choice, I tell you. ::)
There's plenty of controls to have best picture preset for every need, including calibrated video or game mode.
Oh, it's lovely :-* And, pardon my French but, I just f*****g LOVE the "Remote Smart Calibration" via the phone app! :P I use it all the time, since it can save/load presets and you don't need the menus up ;D (I don't use it for high quality material like BD's, though, since the [Custom] mode does differ slightly from the [Pro] modes, but for certain gaming and lower-quality sources, it's such a nice and handy feature!)
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Offline Konsolkongen

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Re: How does the VT20 hold up these days?
« Reply #11 on: 24 April 2015, 11:00:33 PM »
Does the Panasonic VT20's black levels get worse over time? This was speculated to be a non-issue in the review due to the new panel type.
MLL does elevate some bit. Given VT20 had best-in-class blacks in 2010, its "elevated" black level still looks pretty good. I'm pretty sure it looks deep enough compared to LED LCDs.
If I remember correctly, MLL started very low, below 0.01 cd/m2, and with time it will be up to 0.02 cd/m2 (it's an approximate numbers, not for record).
As you may know, LED LCDs are at 0.03-0.05 cd/m2 at best with all their uniformity issues.

Personally, I like VT20 picture quality, although I'd recommend you to search for 50 or 60 series. Totally agree with David on that one. :nod:

Thank you for that. 0.02 cd/m2 is still pretty good, and actually the same as a new VT30 according to the review :)

Which is another point - I'd much rather buy a used LX5090/KRP500 for 5000-7000 DKR than a used 50" VT20 for about the same price (provided they were both in goo condition, with no red blacks on KURO or anything like that.) Even with the red tinge to blacks, the 4.5 years old LX5090 still had THE best PQ I'd ever seen when I bought it, no question about that - I literally giggled, thinking that "ok, now I see why it's so 'legendary'..." Now it's around 5.5 years old and, except for the red tint to blacks making themselves noticeable now and then, overall it still matches my VT60, with pure viewing pleasure.

So, no; As close as the VT20 is to the best of the best (IMO), personally, I wouldn't buy the VT20 for that price now, given that there is more than one alternative which will yield equal or better results for around the same price. Unless you could get the VT20 for something ridiculous like 4500 or 5000 DKR... But then your boss would be pretty crazy :P

A Pioneer is not really an option for me. They are too laggy, and the 720p overscan kills it :) They are great TVs no doubt, but they just doesn't appeal to me at all.

4500-5000DKR is much lower than I anticipated. Sure it isn't worth more? What has happened since the VT20, besides a bit deeper blacks, that justifies more than double the price? Surely Smart TV can't be that expensive :D

Has the amount of dithering decreased since, or has the overall brightness of the display increased? In case of the latter, I don't really need a brighter TV, as I find the Sony W905A perfectly fine with Impulse mode enabled :rofl:

What I really liked about the S20 was the exceptionally (almost perfect) screen uniformity. And it also was extremely resistant to burn-in. Hopefully this would be the case for this particular VT20 as well. Because it sure as hell wasn't for the later ST50 :p

I think Konsolkongen seeks a plasma for gaming, so there are some requirements with overscan, RGB handling and input lag that rule out many TVs. :chin:

Some used VT60 sample without IR or uniformity issues would be nice choice, I tell you. ::)
There's plenty of controls to have best picture preset for every need, including calibrated video or game mode.

You're right. I will be using it mainly for gaming, so the 16-17ms lag of the VT20 vs the 23-24ms of a later model is also worth mentioning. Especially if you need to add an external scaler for retro, which adds lag on it's own. It all adds up, and can quickly become unplayable :/
Also, the Professional-modes are just as fast apparently, and offer the possibility for the most accurate picture. This is great, as I want the screen calibrated as good as possible for gaming too, and I don't want to switch back and forth between presets if it can be avoided.

I realize that the calibration results of the VT20 is certainly lacking compared to the later models. But I think I could live with that. Perhaps further adjustments would be possible, were I brave enough to fiddle with the service menu? ;D

I know I seem to be defending this TV, without having even seen it yet. But at least on paper it does seem to hold up very well.

Buying from my boss is a lot easier than buying from someone from across the country. I have already spend a good 3-4 hours driving out to someone, only to find that the TV was ruined by burn-in (50VT60), or to find one with a strange horizontal bar across the screen, and a strange patch covering the entire right side, which I presume was caused by their TV hanging too close to their chimney (Samsung D8000).
No, buying a used plasma certainly isn't easy. Especially not if you're as picky as me. No dead/stuck pixels and no burn-in is a must for me :)

But I'm also not going to go with the VT20 just because it's the easy, available solution. If that were the case I wouldn't have started this thread :)

Hopefully someone can explain to me why the VT60 is worth almost twice the price :)
« Last Edit: 24 April 2015, 11:06:54 PM by Konsolkongen »

Offline FoxHounder

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Re: How does the VT20 hold up these days?
« Reply #12 on: 24 April 2015, 11:16:05 PM »
Hopefully someone can explain to me why the VT60 is worth almost twice the price :)
VT60 adds more versatility over VT20. Other than some nuances, it's a classic case of "the best is the enemy of the good". VT20 certainly justifies its price, though.
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Offline Konsolkongen

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Re: How does the VT20 hold up these days?
« Reply #13 on: 25 April 2015, 05:16:35 PM »
I also asked the current used price for a 50" VT20 on Flatpanels.dk.

They value it at about 2000-2500DKR which I find completely insane  :o

I think it would be insulting to suggest that little. SETEM, you seemed to suggest that 4500-5000DKR would be really cheap. So what's a fair price? :)

Offline SETEM

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Re: How does the VT20 hold up these days?
« Reply #14 on: 26 April 2015, 01:37:18 PM »
Hopefully someone can explain to me why the VT60 is worth almost twice the price :)
Well, that's kind of relative :P If the VT20 was around 10'000 DKR, I wouldn't say that the upgrade to a VT60 was literally worth an extra 10'000 DKR. But if it's a case of paying 6-7000 for a VT20, then I'd personally pay an extra few grand for the VT60. If you could get the VT20 for 5000 on the other hand, paying like 5000 more for the VT60 would maybe be where my limit would be for justifying the extra money.

The VT60 has noticeably better mll, although the VT20 is not at all far behind. Only in medium-dark and darker images would you see a difference, I think. I think it's a fair guess that the VT60 has less dithering noise, which would be most noticeable in darker areas I, I think. If you select Panel Luminance "Low", the mll will go up to roughly the same level as the VT20's and the max. light output will be capped sooner, but then it will almost certainly have much more "solid" near-black shades than just about any TV except a last-gen KURO, with extremely little dither.

The VT60 miiiight have a slight edge in motion clarity, but that is probably more or less a moot point anyway, since the VT20 has no problems with motion clarity ;)

The "daytime filter" on the VT60 might be better..? I should be after 3 more years of R&D, lol.

Aside from this, it's also a case of one TV being (max.) ~5 years old, and the other being only (max.) ~3 years old potentially still within warranty or "reklamasjonsrett" ("right to reclaims"?) limits..?

Regarding the overall "a new VT60" vs "a new VT20" it is like FoxHounder said, really. I definitely appreciate the extra little bit of depth which the slightly deeper mll gives, however, in addition to the versatility. :) IIRC, the VT20 has 1080p 3D all the time - the later models do not, and lower the res. now for certain tones/circumstances (it is noticeable, so this is not merely a "nuance", if you care about 3D).

(NOTE: There have been "reports" here and there of mll rising slightly with time, and of slight floating blacks on the VT20, so that is something to keep in mind. "Some say it does, and some it doesn't." So, I wouldn't necessarily trust it (HDTVtest found no floating blacks), but I'd definitely look out for it if I were buying one.)

Oh, and 2500 DKR sounds retarded. Why the hell would someone rather have 2500 DKR than a 50" VT20? :P

If the VT20 is in excellent condition and you can get it for 6000 DKR, maybe you should just go for it..? The lower lag is definitely a strong point for any serious gamer..!
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