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Customer Review

on July 12, 2012
This is my first HDTV purchase. I waited a long time for them to come down in price, and am very happy with this TV so far. I've had it for about 3 weeks now and it is working great. I've watched various movies, the Euro Cup games, MLB All-star game, etc. As many have pointed out, it has a great picture, but may need some tweeking to get it how you want. This isn't hard to do if you have basic technology skills (i.e. finding the "Menu" button on remote and going to "Picture," then playing around with settings). Again, as others have noted, sound is okay. I'm not an audiophile or anything, but like good audio. I'll probably get a sound bar at some point, but it's just fine for now. I would not let others criticism of the sound deter you from buying this TV. I have not used the internet ready features, but will once I get a wifi blue ray player hooked up so can't comment there.

The biggest issue with the TV is what others have noted - Panasonic's shoddy packaging. This really surprises me considering the quality of TV. Spend a few more pennies to get an extra layer of card board in there! My box had several holes punched right through it (thanks Fed Ex), fortunately they were all in the back which had more room for error (extra inch or two of depth) than if it were in front where the screen was. If the holes were in the front, whatever punched through the box probably would've damaged the screen.

To summarize - excellent TV that I'm very happy about. Great price, especially with no tax and free shipping. I got the TV, the Mediabridge HDMI cable, and a 3 year warranty for less than what I would have paid for just the TV at a local big box store before tax! Not sure how Amazon does it, but I'm happy to benefit from their methods. The only thing here is you are rolling the dice having such a large item shipped. Be home when it arrives, inspect the box, give it a whirl. If it doesn't work or has damage then send it back. From the feedback I've read, Amazaon is very good about this. Fortunately I did not have to deal with it. I did take pictures of the damaged box though as a precaution.

I'll update this in the future if anything changes, but otherwise am very happy! Wait for it to go on sale and Prime it!

8/2/12 UPDATE - I've begun to notice vertical banding - vertical, translucent lines that almost look like shadows, and range in width from 1" to 4" across the entire screen. This is PARTICULARLY noticeable when I have been watching olympic soccer or baseball games with the green background when the camera is panning or following the action quickly. You see it at other times when there is a bright background and the camera is moving. I've also noted when objects move quickly in movies or shows there is some serious distortion. Other 95% of time picture is great. It is not an HDMI cable or input issue. This is a 120hz TV, so it should not be a refresh rate issue IMO. Here are some links on the topic as it appears to be a common problem w/ LCD and LED tv's.

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Unfortunately, I'm past my 30 days to return it to Amazon. I bought the Square Trade warranty and talked to them first. They were very friendly and helpful, recommending that I use the Panasonice warranty and if they denied me to call back as they would service it. Initially Panasonic DENIED my claim for warranty service as their customer service determined it was not a "serviceable issue." They gave me information on how to dispute the decision. I ultimately asked for a supervisor, who cleared it to be serviced w/o me even talking to them. Technician is coming to my house next week and I look forward to seeing what he says b/c according to the links above it may just be a chronic problem LED/LCD tv's. Even if the tech says it is working properly, I'm still pretty happy with this tv. Panasonic's customer service is more up in the air at this point. I'd love to hear if anyone else has seen this problem with this TV?

I'll post again once I get it serviced and update this again...

8/7/12 UPDATE - I see they wouldn't allow me to include my links from my last update...oh well. So the technician came to my house today and noticed the problem right away. I guess that does make it a "serviceable issue." We enjoyed watching some of the Brazil and S. Korea match for a while. He tried a few things. We reproduced it on other channels and on a DVD. He said it's not the panel or backlight as he put it to a blue screen and everything was perfect. His best guess was something is wrong with the refresh rate for whatever reason, and noted that since it is a 120hz TV it should not be happening. He said he has not seen this particular issue before, and it looked comparable to what most 60hz TV's look like. He called it in and described it as a "noisy background." The person on the other end of the phone tended to agree so they are replacing the "main board" on the TV. On the receipt it is noted as a "Main PCB," and is a $262 repair. The part is being delivered to my house and repair scheduled for next week. I'll continue to update as it happens.

8/16/12 UPDATE - Same tech came back today and replaced the main board. This did not solve the problem. He tried adjusting settings, called into his office to talk to technician who is particularly knowledgeable about settings and calibration, still no luck. He did say that issues like this are not uncommon in LCD/LED TV's. Next step is to call Panasonic and see what they say. Problems seems undetectable to some, others notice it immediately.

9/23/12 UPDATE - Wow. Where do I begin. I'll start out with this - Panasonic's customer service is an epic nightmare. That's a pretty good summary. I'm now a month and a half into dealing with them. I've made 5-6 calls to them since my last post in August, spent hours in discussion with them, hours on hold, hours being disconnected, hours being re-routed to the wrong people and the wrong department. In a word, incompetent would be putting it nicely. The service company who came out to service the TV declared it non-repairable back in August. Panasonic claimed they never did this. And around and around we go. There are so many stories I don't even know where to begin. On one call I was told that I could not speak to a supervisor and that I could not leave a message for one. End of phone call. Seriously. It's just insane. This past Friday I spent over an hour with them on the phone as they told me my "TV was working to specifications and would not be replaced." It really took them over a month to determine this? When I asked for a full clarifcation as to why, again, they are cherry picking information from the repair company. The TV is working to specs, however, it also still has the screen issue and they have no idea how to fix it. This is clearly noted in the report. I was told I would need to call the repair company as they would not replace the TV unless the repair company changed their report. I called them (A&E Repair) and they were responsive, friendly, and competent. What a change. We now have an appointment for the same tech to come to my home on Wed. to verify the problem is still occurring (which it is). Then we are going to call Panasonic together and tell them the TV needs to be replaced. A&E said this way Panasonic cannot claim that the TV was never called in as unrepairable, again.

At this point Panasonic is at least guilty of incompetence in their customer service and warranty department. At worst, they are disingenuous, lying, and not standing by their product in an attempt to get me to give up my attempts at getting a working product. What they have yet to learn is that I'm pretty persistent and they've chosen the wrong customer to do this to. I've yet to decide if I will report them to the Better Business Bureau yet. That will depend on the outcome of my experience on Wed. Regardless, I will continue to update this post, my post on CNET forum, I plan to write a personal letter to Panasonic Corporate, and publish a lengthy post to their public Facebook page. That will be a start. To all others who are having the same problem from Panasonic (many of you have contacted me personally), I suggest you document everything - the dates, times, names and ID #'s of all employees in every interaction you have with them. Demand a supervisor as they are slightly more competent than the typical person who answers. And good luck, because you will need it. I will update again as this develops.

10/6/2012: I've now dropped my rating of this product to 2 stars. The TV has begun to have serious backlite bleed through - blotchy and ligther in some spots than others when on a black screen - especially in the corners. For the type of LED TV this is, my understanding is that this shouldn't be happening. I wish I could attach pictures. Maybe a video review is in my future to prove all of this. The original banding issue is still occurring. It's also down to 2 because of the overall terrible customer service - unexcusable.

Anyway, the technician never came to my house. He was in contact with Panasonic techs who told him that this problem is "normal." They even asked the warranty technician why he was still in contact with me and that he shouldn't be speaking with me anymore since the case is closed. They basically told the one person trying to help me to stop talking to me. Can you believe this?! I've never experienced anything quite like this. I actually spoke to someone at Panasonic that seemed to know what they were talking about in customer service and it's as simple as this - unless I can get someone to claim the TV as unrepairable, there is nothing customer service can do. Since my TV is "working to specs" and the problems people have actually acknowledged exist are "normal," nothing is going to happen. My last ditch effort is an email to the Panasonic technician dept. he was speaking to, along with attached photos and videos of the problem. As always, I'll post their response.

This review has become a book and is silly by now, but for me it's the principle of the matter at this point. I'm glad to see the time I've taken to write this has actually deterred people from buying this product. Hopefully more of you continue to comment.

10/31/12:
Happy Halloween. No trick here, I'm actually getting my TV replaced. So I was able to take video and photo proof of the problems on the TV. I emailed it to Panasonic at the address they requested and surprise, surprise, no response after 2 weeks. I then filed a Better Business Bureau case and had a call from the North American branch of Panasonic within 48 hours. The employee that called me was friendly, professional, and re-assured me right out of the gate that my TV will either be replaced or my money back - my choice. I was informed however, that my current one could not be repaired. I asked them how that could be when they were willing to replace it, but yet other staff had told me it was "working to specs." This is no lie now - I was actually asked if I was recording the conversation. I reassured them I was not. I was then told that it is known internally that there are problems with Panasonic LED line of televisions. REDEMPTION!

The employee said that they could not repair the issue because techinically it was within their accepted specs, and that they could not comfortably replace it with the same model as it would be likely that the replacement would have the same issues. In talking to a friend who works at out local Best Buy, he told me that they had not received any Panasonic LED shipments in a while and his guess was maybe they are actually doing something about this now.

Anyway, I was offered a full refund, or an upgrade to a Panasonic plasma TV that was much nicer, larger, and a lot more features. I took the TV and I talked them into giving me the next model up from what they offered me an even exchange for due to my troubles. Basically I'm getting a $1200 TV for my orginal price of $750. My Square Trade Warranty also transfers over. I have the employee's direct line so I will be dealing only with them for any future issues - another reason I was willing to take another Panasonic. I'm waiting for the TV to be delivered to a local business who will be delivering it to my door and taking away the "old" one. Hopefully I'll only be writing one more review after this professing love for my new TV. If you are having the same problems that I had, save yourself a lot of stress and wasted time and just open up the BBB case if Panasonic is dragging their feet.

I win...maybe

11/30/2012:
I've had the replacement for almost 2 weeks now (got delayed due to demand and Hurricane Sandy...seems right for my luck in all this). I talked them into giving me a TC-P50ST50 plasma unit as an even exchance. A regional repair company sent a technician out to pick up the old one and set-up the new one. The replacement TV they gave me is absolutely stellar. The plasma picture is far superior to the LED I had. The sound is also much better. It truly is a pretty spectacular TV. Unfortunately, the stock Netflix app is not working on it. Fortunately I do not have to go through Panasonic anymore. The repair technician from the delivery company is in direct contact with their tech dept and is handing it. Panasonic tried to say it was b/c I have too low bandwith - something I thought was plausible considering I only get 3mbps to my house. So I had my cable company bump me up to 15mbps (plenty of bandwith for the app) for a day to see what would happen. I verified via a speed test that I was up and running at 15mbps. It did not solve the problem. I think the app was corrupted on install or something. The technician is awaiting a response from Panasonic at this time. The fun continues...

1/10/2013:
The Netflix issue was resolved without repair, but rather by some help from the Amazon community. It actual was likely happening due to Comcast intentionally restricting bandwith to the TV (apparently something they readily admit they do to other on-demand competitors). Once I changed the IP address on the TV to the public Google server, the app has worked just fine since then. The replacement plasma TV I received is fantastic. I'm very happy with it.
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