is facing down a class-action lawsuit alleging that the company's G10 line of plasma televisions is defective. The 'alleged', in this case, is a bit of a misnomer, as the issue has been independently confirmed and admitted by the company itself. The question at hand is whether or not the change is picture quality constitutes a breach of contract. The brouhaha started last July when a member of the AVS Forum noted that his Panasonic G10 was displaying a much brighter black than it had previously. Discussion of the problem burbled along, as such things do, until the company admitted
to CNet that the issue existed and is caused by an automatic voltage adjustment as time passes.
From the email: As a result of this automatic voltage adjustment, background brightness will increase from its initial value. After several years of typical use, the internal material characteristics will stabilize and no additional automatic voltage adjustments are required. The Black Level at this stabilized point will yield excellent picture performance. The newest Viera plasma HDTVs incorporate an improved automatic control which applies the voltage adjustments in smaller increments. This results in a more gradual change in the Black Level over time.
When asked if Panasonic intended to fix the televisions that had shifted to a brighter black that their now-unhappy owners deemed unacceptable, Bob Perry, Senior VP of Panasonic Consumer Electronics responded "Since the TVs work as designed, there's nothing to fix." That answer hasn't proven popular among Panasonic owners aware of the issue; today's lawsuit is the result. Thus far, the company has attempted to duck behind claims that the image changes are "subtle," but this may not fly in court if the plaintiffs can demonstrate that the difference is both un-subtle and particular to certain models of Panasonic displays. At the same time, however, image quality is a nebulous measurement that's highly dependent upon each individual's eyesight and ambient light conditions.
If you own one of the affected models, drop a comment below and let us know.