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  1. I went into Myer Maroochydore today to see some of the current Panasonic HD TV sets in use. They had a L55ET50A which I persuaded a salesman to let me try out for a while. Unfortunately all these stores tend to daisy chain their sets to broadcast SD commercial TV through some antiquated and tortuous video plumbing with poor quality amplifiers and cables (probably hangovers from the analogue era), so any assessment of picture quality can only be comparative between the various brands and models so lumbered with such poor quality source imagery. To get around this I brought along a portable USB HDD with a range of different video files and still images to try out. My USB powered HDD required 2 USB ports to boot up (using supplemental power as I expected) but was then recognised by the TV. Both my FAT32 and NTFS partitions worked ok. As I use a Mac computer, I tried out a few MOV H264 files that I had made myself. A P&S 640x480 file was pretty well unwatchable scaled up to full screen (as expected but worth a try), although there is the option to view at original size - so best seen on a PC screen anyway. A bunch of 720p H264 MP4s played OK, but as these had been down sampled from 1080p to upload to YouTube, they did not look that great either. I had a 1080p MOV straight out of Final Cut Pro X, but the TV would not recognise this. A shame, as that was the equal of broadcast HD. I then tried out a variety of older AVI format DIVX and XVID type movie encodes from DVD. As long as the bit rate was up there (i.e. video file of at least 1.5Gb or bigger) they were acceptable to watch at armchair distance, although some macro blocking and artefacts were seen. Finally I tried out a few 720p MKV files at 4Gb or bigger encoded from blu ray. These all looked great on the screen and upscaled quite well. I imagine a good quality blue ray player with original disc would produce stunning results on this set but I was unable to try this out. I did not try out the 3D capability either. The menu file navigation system on the set was able to move about a bunch of folders within folders and then the files within those ok. I then tried out viewing photos on the TV. I was immediately disappointed to find that when viewing JPG images, the file structure is totally ignored. The display just dumped thumbs of every JPG image found on the HDD with no way to discriminate and only see a small collection in one folder. This is a severe limitation as I had hoped to be able to have my entire photo library available to selectively view, maybe there are options to deal with this, does anyone know? (The inelegant solution is to load up a thumb drive with those pics desired to be seen). When viewing the JPG files however, the results were exceptionally good. The source images were all well over the 1920x1080 size (many were 21MP from my Canon DSLR) and these downscaled for the screen and displayed extremely well. I am a photographer and being able to view my photos on such a large screen is actually quite important to me. So thumbs up for this, if only the folders containing the images were respected by the TV viewer firmware. I have been looking more into these sets and now will probably wait until June for the release here of another model, which has even better specs, although a slightly smaller screen size. The Panasonic TH-L47WT50A looks to be my choice. Anyone have comments on the above?
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