Panasonic TC-P42G10-415

(March 3, 2010)  Reports regarding a rise in the black levels of Panasonic’s 2008 and 2009 plasmas led CNET’s David Katzmaier to investigate the controversy. Katzmaier queried Panasonic. In their reply to CNET,  a Panasonic executive confirmed:  2008 and 2009 model plasma HDTVs’ black level brightens as the panel ages to provide a 100,000 hour lifespan (link).

Katzmaier stated he would perform aging tests to measure the change in black levels. On Feb. 5, HD Guru deferred commenting until David published his test results.

Katzmaier (link) published  his results yesterday: Panasonic’s 2009 model TC-P42G10 and TC-P50G10 black level changed from .008 ft. lamberts to .023 ft. lamberts after 1500 hours.

In layman’s terms, the lowest black levels of these test models lightened enough to be noticeable in a dark viewing environment.

Panasonic advertises on HD Guru. Regardless, the increase of the black level of any HDTV over time is not desirable.

Is this condition limited to Panasonic, or do its competitors (LG and Samsung) plasma HDTVs black levels also rise? We don’t know.

Almost all the products reviewed at HD Guru (and most other home theater websites) are loaned from their respective manufacturers. We are not aware of anybody performing long term testing of HDTVs.

THX Responds

The Panasonic plasma series reported to lighten their respective black levels as they age, are also THX certified. Black level performance is one criteria of THX’s robust list of performance parameters.  We asked a THX spokesperson if their certification testing process includes aging tests.  Below is THX’s official response to HD Guru obtained by email.

“THX certification aims to reproduce the highest standards for image quality, color accuracy and signal processing performance for TVs right out-of-the-box. With any display product, stability during the aging process is always a concern. However, today’s display technologies offer far better stability than was experienced in the past. We are aware of the reports about the Panasonic displays and are gathering data on the models in question. Feedback can be sent directly to THX at [email protected].”

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