Q I have read your previous recommendation of the Panasonic ST30 plasma HDTV. These models are no longer available. What is your current hot recommendation for a 50-inch plasma?
Answer: I am currently evaluating the Panasonic ST50 series plasma, which replaced the ST30. It is better in every way, but three things stand out.
The Wi-Fi is now integrated so you no longer need an awkward Wi-Fi dongle tethered to the TV via a USB cord. The picture quality is noticeably improved and looks a lot like Panasonic's much more expensive plasmas of last year. What impressed me most was the ease of tweaking the picture to look just perfect. The ST30 needed precise adjustment to look its best, and I spent a lot of time tweaking it and then published the settings on my website. With the ST50 it took me just minutes to achieve a picture with realistic yet beautifully saturated color, natural flesh tones and deep blacks with excellent shadow detail.
I've been watching a lot of Blu-ray on the ST50, and it is just super. The Austin Powers movies are fun to watch when evaluating a TV due to the mix of action, bright colors and lots of interesting characters with radically different appearances. I don't think I have ever seen the movies look better than they have on the ST50.
The 50-inch Panasonic ST50 is available now at a street price of $1,150. Larger sizes are also available.
Cambridge SoundWorks Radio update: Some time after I recommended the Cambridge SoundWorks i765 Radio, I started to receive what became a large amount of email from readers. They complained about the radio being sold out and what they felt was poor service from Cambridge's customer service reps, who told them they could no longer receive the 20 percent discount even if they pre-ordered. It got to a point where I felt I had to contact Cambridge SoundWorks about the issue and ask what happened and if they planned on doing anything about it.
I have to give them credit for being proactive. I was looking over reader correspondence and organizing my thoughts when I was contacted by one of their executives. He explained that the radio was in the midst of a production change and upcoming units will have an improved disc drive that does a better job reading scratched discs.
They sold out of current stock more quickly than anticipated, and the new radios are still weeks away. The reps did not have instructions on how to proceed and there was no way to use the discount code online once the radios were out of stock. They recognized they had a problem and assured me they want everyone who wants a radio at the promotional price to be able to get one. Details will be posted on their website soon.
It was a relief to see that one of my favorite products looks to be in good hands after all. Besides their good attitude and willingness to make things right, the company is now owned by audiophile entrepreneurs with prior industry success. They are looking to take the company to new heights, and -- based on what they shared with me about future products -- I think they are on the right track.
Read product reviews by Don Lindich at soundadviceblog.com. First Published June 24, 2012 12:00 AM