Thursday, May 26, 2011

1 Astro B·yond 2 TV, Panny Plasma

While I have the secondary TV, the old SDTV successfully setup for Astro B.yond in my mom's room, I have a 42" Panny non-3D Plasma as my (well, in fact not me but my mom's) primary TV...



The Panasonic P42V20K 42" non-3D Plasma TV connected to the HDMI out of Astro Byond decoder showing non-HD AOD and ESPN HD channels.

I just realized that the default mode of the Astro B.yond decoder is 1080i or the installer set that for me. I should have set it to 720p as I watch sport channels in HD most of the times. Some of you might have a question, 1080 > 720, so isn't 1080i better than 720p? I think this video provides a good layman answer...


But either 720p or 1080i is still dependent on the source, so I went to Astro website to find the answer...


That doesn't help to decide which setting to go. I went on with some tests and found out that SD channels look better on 1080i (than 720p) whereas HD channels appear sharper on 720p. The result seems logical to me (it's a long explanation, I make a pass here), that's my personal observation though. You might want to check your TV setting and decide what is best for your viewing experience.

Here's where you change the HD setting on the decoder (you need the installer code, default is 0000)...


I highlighted in my previous post and this plasma TV does not support decoding and downmix of Dolby Digital to stereo, so you have to change the audio setting of the decoder...


Back to the TV. These are the connection options at the rear...



That's not all, you have some options at the side for easy connection, camcorder for example...


2 USB for wifi dongle and Skype camera...


It's a HD camera capable of 720p with 4 mics (so that you don't have to sit close to the TV when Skyping). And you must hook it up to internet either through a certified wifi dongle or its Ethernet port to gain access to the Skype program in Viera Cast...


You can press on the big green button or the Viera CAST button right above it...


That brings you to the menu...



Other than Skype, YouTube, Twitter, Picasa, Bloomberg, Weather.com and WoW TV are available. Total of 20 applications (7 apps on each page minus one slot for Setup) can be added to the TV, but what I have on the screen is what is available now. Further bad news is Panasonic just launched a brand new App Store called Viera Connect. I don't know (but I doubt) if Panasonic is going to develop something that will be backward compatible with Viera Cast. Hold on your temptation if you plan to buy one, even the 2010 3D models (VT20 series) also come Viera Cast not Viera Connect. Bad move and certainly Panny will be losing some customers to Sammy with the latest launch of SmartTV series. Nonetheless, what is there is working quite well but a drawback is you can't type and display Chinese in YouTube. Some scree shots of each application except WoW TV which requires me to buy a subscription...







As mentioned, this is my mom's primary TV (mine is big screen ^^). One of the decisive reasons I bought this model is because of its Skype feature. Once you've properly configured the Skype with auto login whenever TV is on, it's just 2 press away on the OK button to answer an incoming call...



That's pretty intuitive for my mom who knows nothing about IT but she is now able to video chat with her lovely granddaughter and new born grandson in Singapore sitting comfortably in front of TV screen.

The other feature that I often use is the DLNA feature...


It streams the supported media files directly from my NAS, such as avi, dvix etc. No MKV support though. You get better support on media formats (i.e. MKV) from Sammy and LG.

After all, it sounds like Panny is not the best (and not cheap too!) but why I still buy it? Few reasons:
  • Skype.
  • I don't buy Korean products due to bad experience.
  • I am a fan of plasma (especially Pioneer Kuro).
  • No LED for now. IMHO LED is still immature, I still see comet shadow tailed the ball on Beckham's kicks.
  • Like I mentioned in my old post, I trust my eyes and they love the color reproduction of this model compared to the others. Very soothing.
  • I got a good deal.

And how good was the deal? I grabbed it at RM2999 with free Skype camera (RM600+ RRP) and 5 years manufacturer's warranty while it was still tagged at RM4200 RRP. Thanks to my buddy who introduced me to the shop that was having promotion! I think this model is no longer selling in the market now. The 50" VT20 3D plasma series is selling at RM5000+, used to be RM15000+ in package or RM9000 in sole unit. I would suggest wait for 2011 model (for its Viera Connect feature) if you don't buy Korean products like me or go grab a Sammy's SmartTV if you can't wait.

This completes my 1 Astro B·yond 2 TV mission. Next, 1 Astro B·yond 3 TV!