Panasonic TC-P50VT25 Review

Panasonic Viera TC-P50VT25 is considered so far to be the best 3D plasma TV model to be released in 2010, and it is not only its 3D capability that catches the eye of the consumer in search of novelty. The image quality is out of this world, and word has it that buying the Kuro technology from its former master, Pioneer, has something to do with Panasonic Viera TC-P50VT25’s excellent performance in this respect. While it lacks the 2D to 3D conversion capabilities seen on models like Samsung PN50C8000, this is not a big loss, since this particular plasma’s performance is really great in both 2D and 3D. New technologies were employed in the making of this 50 inch plasma TV, and it truly shows. A new anti-reflective screen gets the work done, the blacks are the best seen in 2010, color accuracy is amazing, and connectivity is to be expected for a flagship model, although you won’t find built in Wi-Fi. Let’s take a closer look at the model’s capabilities and on the reasons why you should spend a small fortune on the new Panasonic Viera TC-P50VT25.

Pros:

  • Amazing black levels
  • Great color accuracy
  • Very good 3D performance
  • Reliable anti-reflective screen

Cons:

  • Power hog
  • No built in Wi-Fi (but wireless capabilities are present)
  • Some artifacts showing in 1080p/24 mode

Features

People today are not just buying a new HDTV, they buy an entertainer, which is why the TV’s features are very important. While it does offer full access to the Viera Cast Entertainment system, there are better options to be found on other 3D HDTV models, in this respect. Netflix is going to be included, and access to Amazon Video on Demand, YouTube, and Pandora streaming is available. Yet, other competitors, like Samsung PN50C7000, have also access to Blockbuster and VUDU, which are very popular services right now. Panasonic Viera TC-P50VT25 also has no DLNA functionalities that can be found on the plasma flagship model from LG, LG Infinia 50PK950 (even though the latter has no 3D capabilities). To compensate for the lack of a 2D to 3D conversion capability, this Panasonic plasma TV is gifted with a new type of phosphor that makes transition from two dimensional viewing to 3D viewing smoother, and issue free. A pair of 3D glass is included in the price, and also, a USB keyboard can be attached, to make navigation through Internet options easier and more convenient.

Design

The Panasonic Viera TC-P50VT25’s looks are a little different from most HDTV models seen so far this year, in the sense that the stainless steel frame is missing. This does not make the flagship model from Panasonic less appealing to the eye, and it even makes it stand out of the crowd, so it should not bother you. The silver borders, present on both the frame and the oval stand, are also quite stylish and complete the rest of the design rather well.

Connectivity

The connectivity on this particular Panasonic plasma TV model is very good, and as expected from a series that is going to cost quite a bit of cash. There are no less than four HDMI ports present, two USB inputs, and one PC input for hooking up your computer and play the latest games. Due to the new phosphor developed for this 50 inch plasma TV, issues like burn in should appear even less. There are two composite video ports present as well, one RF input, two component video inputs, placed in the back, and digital audio output. Still, you will not find an S-video input on Panasonic Viera TC-P50VT25, and the wireless capability can only be used with a Wi-Fi dongle.

Picture quality

Panasonic invested a lot in its 2010 Viera models, and Panasonic Viera TC-P50VT25 is no exception. All kinds of picture enhancements were employed to make picture quality really great. It seems that they did a great job, and, as many plasma TV reviews point out, this 50 inch plasma TV has great chances to be crowned as the best in its league. Color accuracy in THX mode is really amazing, and handling 1080p/24 content from Blu-ray discs is not a problem for Panasonic Viera TC-P50VT25, as the refresh rate allows for great conversion.

Black levels

Ever since the words was out that Panasonic bought the Kuro technology from Pioneer, people have waited for the results to show. And it seems that the results will not be waited too much, as the excellent black levels one can see on Panasonic Viera TC-P50VT25 are the living proof. They are better and blacker than seen on the company’s models from last year, and the shadow detail is also amazing.

Color accuracy

The THX certification was not awarded for nothing to this Panasonic plasma TV model. When running in THX mode, the TV’s performance is truly great, and nothing bad can be said about its beautiful colors. Excellent quality coming right of the box is also guaranteed and the high contrast ratio also contributes to a full display of great quality images. The color gamut is something that you will thoroughly appreciate, in case you decide (and have the money) to purchase this Panasonic HDTV.

Video processing

Video processing capabilities are quite great on Panasonic Viera TC-P50VT25. Although some minor artifacts can be seen when playing content in 1080p/24 mode, probably because of the lack of a dejudder processor, the overall performance is quite good. Nasty effects like ghosting, or blurring, are not to be seen, and it may be ‘blamed’ on the new phosphor that allows a slower decay rate for primary colors. Regular 2D content can be watched at 60Hz refresh rate, although you should not compare this refresh rate with the one found on LCD screens, plasma still being better at displaying a more accurate picture.

When 1080p/24 content is fed to the TV, it is capable of switching to the 96Hz refresh rate mode, which allows you to watch movies in their native cadence, for a true movie like experience. Some artifacts appear sometimes, but there is nothing major, and it could be overlooked because of the model’s overall excellent picture quality and performance.

Anti-reflective screen

Panasonic Viera TC-P50VT25 has a new anti-reflective screen which performs quite well. Because of concerns regarding plasma TV models being able to showcase the same great image when watched under bright light conditions, attention is often drawn to this particular aspect. Panasonic does quite a good job here, and the model’s capacities are well enhanced, delivering a picture with less glare, even when watched under such conditions.

3D performance

3D TV technology is still in its early age, but this does not mean that the main HDTV manufacturers are not interested in investing a lot in the novelty. Best plasma TV models, as well as new LCD TV models, now have this option readily available for consumers. As far as 3D performance on Panasonic Viera TC-P50VT25 is concerned, there are some slight issues that must be taken into consideration. Because the screen brightness is somewhat lower than seen on other plasma TV models, 3D content may look a little too dim at times. Also, the lack of the ability to convert 2D content in 3D that can be found on models like Samsung PN50C8000 can count in the eyes of some consumers, when they want to make a choice. The refresh rate, of 120Hz, when displaying 3D content, should not be considered inferior to the higher numbers found on 3D LCD TV models, like LG Infinia 55LE9500, that sports a 480Hz refresh rate. Plasma is still better than its LCD TV counterparts in this respect, because of the quicker response time.

As already mentioned, 3D TV technology still has a long way to go, and adjustments can be made along the way.

Standard definition

Unfortunately, the great performance of Panasonic Viera TC-P50VT25 in full HD and even in 3D is marred by a less than stellar performance when it comes to standard definition content. Even this is an understatement, as almost all the nasty effects one does not like to see on their TVs, – especially one bought for a large sum of money – all kinds of jaggies and motes, when the image is sourced by a DVD. Also, the edges of objects look too soft, and the Panasonic plasma TV does not solve all the lines of the DVD format.

Conclusion

Although Panasonic Viera TC-P50VT25 is mainly advertised as a 3D plasma TV, its performance in the 2D area is what truly recommends it. With ink like blacks, great accurate colors right out of the box, and video processing that can handle all kinds of sources, this 50 inch plasma TV is surely a model to be taken into consideration. As far as 3D performance is concerned, the model does quite well, the little issues being nothing but tributary to the novelty of the technology that is still in its early stages.

Want to Buy It?
This review applies to the following size variants:

  • 50″Panasonic TC-P50VT25Buy on Amazon.com
    (the model reviewed here)
  • 54″Panasonic TC-P54VT25Buy on Amazon.com
  • 58″Panasonic TC-P58VT25Buy on Amazon.com
  • 65″Panasonic TC-P65VT25Buy on Amazon.com
We recommend Amazon.com!

Because in our experience most of the time it has the best prices on HDTV, our recommended store is Amazon.com. Do look around for the best price, but make sure you don’t skip Amazon.com or you might miss a good deal.


Samsung PN50C8000 Review


The C8000 series from Samsung is meant to be the flagship of the company for 2010’s plasmas, which basically means that Samsung PN50C8000, the smallest of the series, comes equipped with all the goodies the manufacturer invested in to impress consumers. The model is 3D enabled – as the competition for 3D TV is going strong among plasma and LCD TV manufacturers – and this is not all. A new filter, called Real Black, was employed, and the manufacturer claims that its blacks are as good as they get, and that while reducing glare and reflections, a problem even the best plasma TV models have not succeeded to eliminate completely so far. This 50 inch plasma TV also comes appointed with extensive entertainment options that make it a complete product, worthy of consumers’ interest.

Pros:

  • Really great blacks
  • Less glare than seen in last year’s models
  • Extensive entertainment options

Cons:

  • Some perks, like Motion Judder Canceller and 600Hz Subfield Motion, are more marketing buzz than true add-ons
  • Not as slim as LCD TV models released this year

Features

As expected from a Samsung plasma TV that claims to be the best of the pack, Samsung PN50C8000 comes fully packed with features. The most appealing are included in Internet@TV services and Samsung Apps, as having access to online streaming and other services is a must have for people looking for the best plasma TV models released in 2010. When buying this 3D plasma TV model, you will have access to great options, such as Netflix, VUDU, Blockbuster, for movies, as well as others, like AccuWeather, Twitter, and USA Today. As opposed to its competition, represented especially by Panasonic TC-P50VT25, this Samsung plasma TV wastes nothing in these terms, which is a great plus. The model is also 3D capable, and it has a special engine that allows conversion of 2D content to 3D, which is something particular to this series. Wireless DLNA comes to complete the picture, along with some extensive perks, meant to enhance picture quality.

Design

Samsung PN50C8000 is not as sleek and trendy as LG Infinia 50PK950, but its looks are not bad, either. The titanium like Touch of Color design is the mark of the series, and the 1.4 inch thickness of the panel tells a lot about the model’s slim figure.

Connectivity

This Samsung plasma TV model does not lack anything in terms of connectivity. With four HDMI inputs, two USB ports, built in Wi-Fi, Ethernet port and wireless DLNA, the only thing that can be said about Samsung PN50C8000 is that its connectivity makes it a well rounded product that comes equipped with everything someone would expect from a model of this size and reputation.

Performance

There are certain points that Samsung PN50C8000 can boast about, and it seems that the reputation that preceded the product itself told no lies. Practically, with good blacks and anti-glare performance that no longer wants to fall behind what LCD TV technology does, the Samsung model strives to deliver great picture quality in both 3D and 2D. Video processing capabilities are the best, as anyone trying the product can attest, playing all kinds of formats, and doing quite a swell job for any kind of content, despite the fact that it comes in full HD and this is its main forte.

Black levels

Samsung advertises its best product of the 2010 line up of plasma TV as having some incredible levels of black. Because of the Real Black filter, it seems that advertisement does no justice, as critics say that the levels of black are as close to the Kuro as possible. The praise is not in vain, as the manufacturer decided to invest some in making its blacks better than what could be seen on last year’s models. The shadow detail is also kept crisp and accurate, which makes for really great picture quality, at least on par with what can be seen on other plasma models from competitors.

Color accuracy

Color fidelity is one point that Samsung also lists as being among its assets for this year’s line-up of plasma TVs. Samsung PN50C8000 has very accurate and crisp colors, and so far, the plasma TV reviews that have commented on the model’s capabilities show that people are pretty impressed with the colors it can exhibit.

Video processing

Samsung PN50C8000 is full HD, which means that high definition content is what the Samsung plasma TV does best. It also comes equipped with a bunch of perks, such as Motion Judder Canceller, which is meant to reduce blur from fast moving scenes, as the 600Hz Subfield Motion technology should do. However, as most plasma TVs rarely experience such troubles, Samsung PN50C8000 is no exception, and these technologies are more eye candy than anything else. If you want to watch your favorite movie on Blu-ray disc, Samsung PN50C8000 is a pretty nice surprise, with its Cinema Smooth 24p technology, that allows you to watch movies in their natural cadence. If you engage this mode, make sure to turn off the Motion Judder Canceller, as it could ruin your videophile like experience.

Anti-glare capabilities

This is yet another of this 50 inch plasma TV’s strong points. The Real Black filter, besides increasing the black levels intensity, and delivering accurate shadow detail, is able to reduce glare and reflections, when you want to watch TV in a room scalded in light. As plasma TVs before could not do it properly, many hopes are closely related to the new filter from Samsung, and expectations are quite high. So far, they do a great job, and the results are pretty amazing for a plasma TV.

3D content

As mentioned earlier, Samsung PN50C8000 is 3D enabled, which means that it is capable of playing 3D content. The Active Shutter technology employed by the manufacturer seems to be able to get the job done, which means that you will be able to watch the latest releases in what is supposed to be the latest trend in TV watching. The model also comes equipped with a special engine which is responsible for converting 2D content in 3D, something that you will not find on competition’s models.

Standard definition

If you still want to watch standard definition content, you will be able to do so on this particular Samsung plasma TV model. It is worth saying that Samsung PN50C8000 is more than just an average performer when standard definition content is involved, and it is still better than Panasonic TC-P50VT25, or Panasonic TC-P50VT20.

Conclusion

Samsung PN50C8000 is a 3D plasma TV that has a lot of frills to go around and impress any buyer. Great viewing angle, amazing black levels, accurate colors, and excellent video processing capabilities, make this particular Samsung plasma TV model a very good performer in all areas, as far as image quality is concerned. It has 3D capabilities – as expected from a flagship model -, it has a wide array of internet streaming services, and very good connectivity options. All in all, this 50 inch plasma TV has many good points that may convince you to give it a shot, when you are shopping for a new TV to watch 3D content, as well as other types of content.

Want to Buy It?
This review applies to the following size variants:

  • 50″Samsung PN50C8000Buy on Amazon.com
    (the model reviewed here)
  • 58″Samsung PN58C8000Buy on Amazon.com
  • 63″Samsung PN63C8000Buy on Amazon.com
We recommend Amazon.com!

Because in our experience most of the time it has the best prices on HDTV, our recommended store is Amazon.com. Do look around for the best price, but make sure you don’t skip Amazon.com or you might miss a good deal.


LG 50PK950 Review


In the past, LG didn’t succeed to impress with the levels of blacks on its plasma models, but 2010 is the year of change for the famous manufacturer (more famous until now for its LCD TV series rather than for its plasmas). On LG Infinia 50PK950, image quality is much improved, although some reflections, due to the glass sheet covering the screen, mar a performance that is otherwise very good for a product that is priced less than its direct competition. Connectivity is good, although you need to buy an extra dongle to take advantage of the Wi-Fi functions of the LG Infinia 50PK950. The design is what catches the eye, when you take the first look at this LG plasma TV model, as the manufacturer is aiming at creating very sleek designs that will fit on any wall.

Pros:

  • Excellent black levels
  • Great extra functionality, like DLNA and online streaming
  • Decent price

Cons:

  • Reflections when watched in a brightly lit room
  • Wi-Fi functionalities need an extra dongle (bought separately)
  • Not on par with the best plasma TV models when it comes to high definition content

Features

As the flagship model of LG’s 2010 line of plasma TVs, LG Infinia 50PK950 does not disappoint, and it comes fully packed with some pretty extras, that you cannot find on just any other 50 inch plasma TV model. This LG plasma TV has access to NetCast, an entertainment service, from which you can access different options, such as YouTube, or Picasa. For information on weather, you can access AccuWeather, which can prove quite useful for consumers. Skype is also available, and the DLNA functionalities are nothing to sneeze at. VUDU, Napster, and Netflix are also great add-ons and a guarantee that you will not get bored when sitting in front of the television. Yahoo!Widgets, for those that find them useful, are also readily available. Among other features that make LG Infinia 50PK950 a very good plasma model, you will also find the TruBlack filter – on direct competition with the Real Black filter found on Samsung PN50C8000 and Samsung PN50C7000. The fact that LG Infinia 50PK950 is THX certified makes us think that LG did it better than the competition in this respect.

Design

The borderless design is the first thing that you will notice, after throwing just one look at LG Infinia 50PK950. The bezel is almost non existent and the panel looks like an integrated piece of glass. The stand, also made of glass, offers you the possibility to swivel the HDTV around, and adjust it anyway you like it. The model is also slim, but it does not stand a chance against the sleek figures exhibited by Samsung PN50C8000 or Samsung PN50C7000.

Connectivity

The connectivity options on LG Infinia 50PK950 are well rounded, and you can access the Wi-Fi capabilities of the model, if you pay extra for an USB dongle and connect it to the plasma TV through one of the two USB inputs present. This is just an add-on to the mandatory Ethernet jack that is also present to make your life easier. Multi-media playback is almost a must these days, and LG Infinia 50PK950 performs beautifully, being able to play any type of content from an USB device. This is where Panasonic TC-P50G20, often used as term of comparison with this non 3D HDTV, falls behind, and where LG Infinia 50PK950 can boast about its capabilities. An interesting connectivity feature you will discover on this 50 inch plasma TV is the Wireless Media Hub, which allows you to connect other devices to the HDTV, without the need for cables.

Picture quality

As for any other plasma TV, picture quality is what truly makes or breaks a purchase. Investing in the TruBlack technology has proved beneficial for LG, since, indeed, the level of blacks on LG Infinia 50PK950 really show that the manufacturer – better known for its LCD TVs – is in the game, and intends to stay. Color accuracy is pretty amazing, as well, and, since this LG plasma TV is THX certified, it must mean that the manufacturer did something right with this particular series. Some glare issues – caused by the one sheet of glass design – mar somehow this otherwise great performance, and standard definition performance, while still not the best, is accurate enough to avoid disappointment.

Black levels

LG makes some new promises and takes a vow with the TruBlack filter technology, as it intends to improve the quality of its blacks tremendously. So far, it seems to be making real progress, and LG Infinia 50PK950 is the living proof. Black levels are accurate and inky, and as black as seen on Panasonic TC-P50G20, which represents direct competition for this non 3D plasma TV. If it weren’t for the reflection issues that prevent the blacks to be preserved well, one could say that LG really succeeded in making a well rounded product, with more than decent blacks. Shadow detail is quite good, as well, but it is far from being perfect, as the grayscale on LG Infinia 50PK950 is not perfect, either, but it is not that noticeable if you do not watch television as a consumer electronics critic.

Color accuracy

Color reproduction is very good on LG Infinia 50PK950, but there is a little issue present, even if you engage the THX mode, and that is a slight tint of yellow that can be quickly addressed with some calibration. Color intensity is well preserved, even when watched from extreme angles, which is a big plus for even the best plasma TV models. The lifelike colors delivered by the LG model are a pleasure to watch, even though they do tend to become washed out, because of the glare produced by environment light.

Video processing

High definition content looks quite detailed and good on LG Infinia 50PK950, which really counts if you plan on making a decision regarding what HDTV to choose for your home this year. The motion resolution also does pretty well, and you will not be able to notice any kind of motion lag or blur when you watch fast paced sequences, such as sports. Although high definition reproduction looks so good, you still need to put LG Infinia 50PK950 next to other plasma TV models, as you may notice differences that will incline the balance towards one or another.

Anti-glare capabilities

Unfortunately, LG Infinia 50PK950 does not make a good impression as far as its anti-glare capabilities are concerned. Because of its sheet of glass design, it is incapable of fighting glare and reflections efficiently. While a good plasma TV as a whole, it fails to convince, since it does not employ an efficient filter to keep the colors accurate, and the black levels as black as they should be, in case you decide to watch TV in a room that is well lit.

Standard definition

Standard definition performance for this LG plasma TV is quite good. While not the best, still provides something to watch at, without the need to storm off the room, as it happens with other models, like Samsung PN50C6500. The image presents enough detail, and color reproduction looks really amazing, despite the device being fed regular broadcasting or DVD content.

Conclusion

LG Infinia 50PK950 is a very elegant 50 inch plasma TV that, by its looks alone, is sure to impress. However, if you want to take a closer look at its performance, you may find a few things that will not be entirely to your liking. For instance, exactly the elegant design is what determines a major flaw, the appearance of glare and reflections when you watch television under bright light conditions. The THX certification was not awarded in vain, though, and you will get to see some of the beautiful colors to be watched on 2010’s plasma TV models. Details, such as response time and eliminating phosphor trailing, are handled well. Features come by the dozen, and connectivity options are very good. However, if you are still undecided whether to go for this LG plasma TV or not, you might take a look at other models, as well.

Want to Buy It?
This review applies to the following size variants:

  • 50″LG 50PK950Buy on Amazon.com
    (the model reviewed here)
  • 60″LG 60PK950Buy on Amazon.com
We recommend Amazon.com!

Because in our experience most of the time it has the best prices on HDTV, our recommended store is Amazon.com. Do look around for the best price, but make sure you don’t skip Amazon.com or you might miss a good deal.


Panasonic TC-P50G25 Review

Although it is not 3D ready, like its more expensive brothers, TC-P50VT25 and TC-P50VT20, Panasonic Viera TC-P50G25 has a lot of perks. If you do not mind not being able to watch just yet the scarce 3D HDTV content that it is out there, then this Panasonic plasma is among the best HDTVs money can buy in 2010. An improved type of panel, NeoPDP Infinite Black, is guaranteed to make the performance better, especially in the black levels area, the employed 600Hz sub-field drive technology is supposed to eliminate all blur from fast moving scenes (although plasma never had such problems), and the THX movie mode will get the job done when you want to watch movies in all their glory. Panasonic Viera TC-P50G25 is a great product, and, with the exception of a few flaws, it delivers as promised.

Pros:

  • Great black levels
  • Above average anti-glare capabilities
  • Amazing colors in THX mode

Cons:

  • Issues with 1080p/24 sources
  • Sub-par standard definition performance
  • No real built in Wi-Fi (it works with a dongle, though)

Features

Panasonic is trailing behind its competition when it comes to providing entertainment options directly on your TV. For instance, LG Infinia 50PK950 has DLNA functions, which cannot be found on the more competitive Panasonic Viera TC-P50G25, and the latter also lacks popular services like VUDU and Blockbuster, that are readily available on Samsung’s proprietary system Internet@TV, on products such as Samsung PN50C6500, which are a step down in matters of performance. Still, the inclusion of Netflix on Viera Cast Entertainment will change things for the better for this 50 inch plasma TV. Other features included for this TV are the capability to use an USB keyboard, and the possibility to use the Panasonic plasma TV’s wireless capacities, if you are willing to pay extra for a Wi-Fi dongle.
Design

Panasonic did not opt for the sleek design one can see in LG’s HDTVs launched this year, but Panasonic Viera TC-P50G25 is not a bad looker, either. We could say the design is quite minimalistic, a single accent strip contouring the frame, and making it stand out just a little.

Connectivity

It seems that there are more than just 3D capabilities that are given up on the Panasonic Viera TC-P50G25 by the manufacturer. Only three HDMI ports are available, which is even less than what we get to see on models that are situated a little lower on the top list – at least, as far as plasma TV reviews are concerned – , such as Samsung PN50C6500 (with four HDMI inputs). Still, connectivity is fair enough, with two USB ports, two composite and two component video inputs, one RF input (for antenna or cable), one PC input, one Ethernet port, and digital audio output included. Some would say that it is a shame that Panasonic Viera TC-P50G25 lacks built in Wi-Fi, and, for the price, it is not exactly the manufacturer’s best policy to ask for extra money for a Wi-Fi dongle, in case the buyer wants to use this 50 inch plasma TV’s wireless capacities.

Performance

Many plasma TV reviews have words of praise for Panasonic Viera TC-P50G25, when it comes to picture quality. It seems that Panasonic did it right, and its Infinite Black technology is a true deliverer. Since black levels are very important for image quality, and Panasonic is able to deliver true blacks on its top of the line models, there is no wonder its products, Panasonic Viera TC-P50G25 included, are considered to be among the best plasma TV models released this year. The THX mode succeeds to make primary colors look really good, and, if it wasn’t for some problems with engaging the 1080p/24 mode, this Panasonic plasma TV model would have no competition.

Black levels

The blacks seen on Panasonic Viera TC-P50G25 are incredible, and it seems that only the defunct Kuro still surpasses them. Except for that incredible plasma TV model, about all the others, from competition, and from the same brand, cannot succeed to beat Panasonic Viera TC-P50G25 (only Panasonic Viera TC-P50VT25 and Panasonic Viera TC-P50VT20 being able to be on the same level, and this is understandable, since they are the flagship models from the manufacturer’s production lines, 3D TV included). The blacks go deeper than what is seen on LG Infinia 50PK750, but some tests show that there could be a direct competitor for Panasonic in this area, and that is LG Infinia 55LE8500. The best surprise in this comparison is that the latter is an LCD TV, not a plasma TV, although it does employ the newest technologies, such as the LED backlighting.

Color accuracy

The colors on Panasonic Viera TC-P50G25 are quite good, and just engaging the THX mode will make them look really great. Small issues may be noticed by a very keen eye, such as the turning towards a little greenish tinge of the skin tones of characters appearing on the screen, when you watch a movie. As this Panasonic plasma TV model does not have an incredibly accurate grayscale, this is understandable. On the positive side, the blacks managed to stay black, and did not develop any bluish tinge, as it happens on some other models. Since this is a very competitive model, it is natural to focus on the little details, too, even if the overall picture quality and colors are really great.

Video processing

Full HD content is displayed beautifully on this 50 inch plasma TV. Still, because it cannot engage the 96Hz mode, like Panasonic Viera TC-P50VT25, some issues appearing when 1080p/24 content is played cannot be avoided. It is also preferable to keep the mode in 60Hz, as engaging the 48Hz mode only makes it worse, flicker being one of the most obvious problems the HDTV encounters. The presence of the 600Hz sub-field drive is not that much of a great deal, since best plasma TV models do not usually encounter problems with fast moving sequences. All in all, this one is not really the best recommendation if you want to watch 1080p/24 content, and it is better to opt for the more expensive Panasonic Viera TC-P50VT25.

Anti-reflective capabilities

The new anti-reflective screen does marvels, especially if you compare Panasonic Viera TC-P50G25 with the company’s models from last year. In a brightly lit room, glare is usually a problem for plasma, but not for this particular model. The colors are preserved well, and brightness is cleverly reduced, to avoid hurting the eye, and even the blacks do not turn grey.

Standard definition performance

Panasonic Viera TC-P50G25 is not a good performer when it comes to evaluating its standard definition performance. Especially if you want to watch regular DVDs, you will notice that the image is far from looking anything close to perfect. On the contrary, a bunch of problems can be noticed with the naked eye. Jaggies, and motes appear and they are noticeable, and the image looks soft for a HDTV of this caliber. Samsung PN50C6500 and LG Infinia 50PK750 are better performers, and they are more recommended, if you want a plasma TV on which you can watch regular content.

Conclusion

Panasonic Viera TC-P50G25 is a very good plasma TV model, and it has some very strong points that recommended, such as the ink like black levels, and the accurate colors delivered in THX mode. Still, some small issues that appear when you want to watch 1080p/24 content (which means Blu-ray discs), and the fact that there are other competitors that can perform better when it comes to standard definition content, mar the reputation of this Panasonic plasma TV. It is better to wait a little for the prices on new models to move downwards a little, and then to make a thorough comparison between this model and others, and see which truly deserves your money.

Want to Buy It?
This review applies to the following size variants:

  • 42″Panasonic TC-P42G25Buy on Amazon.com
  • 46″Panasonic TC-P46G25Buy on Amazon.com
  • 50″Panasonic TC-P50G25Buy on Amazon.com
    (the model reviewed here)
  • 54″Panasonic TC-P54G25Buy on Amazon.com
We recommend Amazon.com!

Because in our experience most of the time it has the best prices on HDTV, our recommended store is Amazon.com. Do look around for the best price, but make sure you don’t skip Amazon.com or you might miss a good deal.


Samsung PN50C7000


A tad lower on the performance scale, if compared with its more expensive brother Samsung PN50C8000, Samsung PN50C7000 has about everything one would expect from a model that aims to score among the best plasma TV models released in 2010. Besides being 3D capable, the model also delivers excellent 2D image quality, which is not to be taken lightly since 3D content is actually quite scarce and it cannot really count for making or breaking consumers’ choices in new HDTVs. Slight issues with accessing the applications Samsung’s proprietary system offers for access with this trendy television set, as well as the fact that sources in 1080p/24 format are not handled quite well, mar a little the praise Samsung PN50C7000 should deserve. However, if you are willing to let these slide, and you do not mind that the manufacturer did not care about adding a pair of 3D glasses with this 3D plasma TV, then you may find it to be one of best plasma TV models on the market right now.

Pros:

  • Excellent blacks
  • Overall great picture quality
  • A wide array of streaming options

Cons:

  • No 3D glasses included
  • 1080p/24 performance subpar for a model of this caliber
  • Not as energy efficient as LCD TV models

Features

It is true that you will search in vain for a pair of 3D glasses when the package containing your new Samsung PN50C7000 is delivered to your door (something that Panasonic TC-P50VT25 comes equipped with), but, on the other hand, the fact that this 3D plasma TV has a special feature allowing the conversion of 2D content into 3D makes it stand out of the crowd. Also, when compared with the competition, represented mostly by Panasonic TC-P50VT25 and Panasonic TC-P50VT20, it has much more options for online entertainment. Internet@TV is readily available, offering access to services like Netflix, VUDU, and Blockbuster, among many others, and Samsung Apps are very much appreciated, as well.

Design

Samsung PN50C7000 sports a clean, classic design, which may not be as sleek as the latest LCD TVs, like LG Infinia 50PK950, but it is still slim enough to make heads turns. The see through stalk and the brushed metal stand complete the picture, and you will surely not be disappointed with the design exhibited by this 50 inch plasma TV.

Connectivity

There are not many differences between Samsung PN50C7000 and Samsung PN50C8000 (the flagship model of the manufacturer for 2010) when it comes to connectivity, but still, the ones that exist may be considered important by some consumer. The 3D plasma TV that is reviewed here has wireless capabilities, but no integrated Wi-Fi. On the other hand, everything else is in place, and with 4 HDMI outputs, 2 USB ports, and one Ethernet port, there is almost nothing to complain about. There is no S-video, this is true, but not many find it as necessary as in the past. The Samsung plasma TV model also has one PC input – so you can use it as monitor for your computer when you play game – and one digital audio output for great sound fidelity.

Performance

When evaluating the performance of a model like Samsung PN50C7000, you need to consider both the 3D TV performance, and the 2D performance. As far as the first is concerned, the abilities of this 50 inch plasma TV are on par with competitive models like Panasonic TC-P50VT25. Also, its 2D capabilities are nothing to sneeze at, since picture quality is great indeed, because of its very accurate levels of blacks and vivid colors. Video processing does not fall behind either, although engaging the 1080p/24 mode pose some problems. All these will be explained more thoroughly below.

Black Levels

For any plasma TV, and HDTVs in general, the intensity of blacks is very important because it says a lot about picture quality (which is, undoubtedly, still the main reason why people with enough cash to go around prefer one model over another). The blacks on Samsung PN50C7000 are pretty amazing, and they are better than one can see on the competition models, like LG Infinia 50PK950, and Panasonic TC-P50G20. Still, despite sporting the same Real Black filter as Samsung PN50C8000, its blacks are not as good as seen on the flagship model. Overall, the black levels are solid and stable, yet, shadow detail may be a little obscured at times, and somehow under what Panasonic TC-P50G20 can sport.

Colors

This is one area where Samsung PN50C7000 pulls it off quite nicely. Overall, color accuracy is excellent, despite some very small issues, such as the primary colors turning a little too vivid in certain movie scenes. On the other hand, the dark areas or shadowy scenes do not turn bluish, like it is happening on other plasma TV models.

Video Processing

Samsung PN50C7000 is full HD, which means that it is perfectly capable of playing high definition content. Still, the main reason for discontent is related to the hitches that can be encountered when the 1080p/24 mode is engaged (that is, when you want to play a Blu-ray disc, and watch a movie in its natural cadence). As the Cinema Smooth technology is reserved only for Samsung PN50C8000, its absence is easily noticeable, and it can be deemed as being particularly annoying, especially if you are a videophile in search of an authentic movie experience.

Anti-Glare

There is a very important reason why all plasma TV manufacturers try to do their best when introducing new filters. The new Real Black filter from Samsung aims to reduce glare and reflections, and it does succeed, its success being worth noticing. You will encounter fewer problems with glare when you watch TV on this Samsung plasma TV, no matter the light conditions in the room, as the new filter really strives to get the job done.

3D Performance

Since Samsung PN50C7000 is a 3D plasma TV, we need to talk a little about how the model performs in this area. One issue encountered by many 3D TV models released in 2010, whether they are plasma TVs, or LCD TVs, is the crosstalk. It is worth mentioning that Samsung PN50C7000 solves the problem quite well, and image accuracy for 3D content is really great, and superior when compared to models like Sony Bravia XBR-52HX900, or other LCD TVs. Its 3D performance is really on par with Panasonic TC-P50VT25 when it comes to eliminating crosstalk, which is very important, since these are the best 3D TV models on the market. Also, image quality is very good, and the amount of noticeable details is pretty high. All in all, it can be said that Samsung PN50C7000 is a very good performer as a 3D plasma TV.

SDTV

With so much buzz going around the new 3D wave, we may be tempted to forget about how important is to have a TV that still sports great standard definition performance. Playing your favorite DVDs, or watching regular broadcasting can be done easily and with no hassles, since performance is quite great for this 50 inch plasma TV. The noise reduction capabilities are solid, and image artifacts are not a bother, even when more demanding images are displayed on the screen.

Conclusion

Samsung PN50C7000 is a model that is worth a second look. Lacking only a few things, when compared with its brother Samsung PN50C8000, like integrated Wi-Fi, and Cinema Smooth technology, it still delivers great image quality in 3D, 2D, standard and full HD. Any type of content can be played on this screen, and you will not be disappointed, as its capabilities are truly amazing. Scoring among the best plasma TV models released in 2010, Samsung PN50C7000 is a complete product, with excellent connectivity, and great entertainment options that can be accessed online.

Want to Buy It?
This review applies to the following size variants:

  • 50″Samsung PN50C7000Buy on Amazon.com
    (the model reviewed here)
  • 58″Samsung PN58C7000Buy on Amazon.com
  • 63″Samsung PN63C7000Buy on Amazon.com
We recommend Amazon.com!

Because in our experience most of the time it has the best prices on HDTV, our recommended store is Amazon.com. Do look around for the best price, but make sure you don’t skip Amazon.com or you might miss a good deal.


Panasonic TC-P50S2 Review


For those consumers that are looking to purchase a fairly priced product that does deliver as promised, without having them breaking the bank, Panasonic Viera TC-P50S2 may be just the next best thing. Showing that improving the last year technology is something totally in their powers, the manufacturers decided to make this model, as well as the others in the same series, a great combination of more than decent picture quality with the no frills type of attitude, under a not so boastful design. If you are to compare this 50 inch plasma TV with the step up models from the same company, like Panasonic TC-P50G20, and Panasonic TC-P50G25, you will see that there are several important changes, such as the lack of the THX certification, and the absence of wireless capabilities. Also, access to Viera Cast Entertainment is dropped, but, for a Panasonic plasma TV which comes with a price tag that does not go over the $1,000 mark much, there may not been too much need for such bells and whistles.

Pros:

  • Deep and strong black levels
  • Reduced power consumption (when compared to last year models)
  • Overall picture quality on par with more expensive models from the same company

Cons:

  • Color accuracy drops for low end signal
  • False contouring issues
  • Grey haziness present when playing standard definition content

Features

This is not exactly an area where Panasonic Viera TC-P50S2 does that great, but it is understandable since the more fancy extras are usually reserved by all manufacturers to their best plasma TV models. You will find no 3D TV capabilities, no THX certification, no Wi-Fi abilities, and no online streaming options. As opposed to models like Panasonic Viera TC-P50G20, or Panasonic Viera TC-P50G25, all these may sound like a big loss, but, considering the difference in price, they can be just the reason why this particular Panasonic plasma TV is considered to be a good deal. The one feature that consumers will find to come pretty handy is the Viera Link which enables them with control over other equipment attached to the TV. Also, Viera Image Viewer lets you use the SD card for viewing pictures. The same type of panel as the one used in the making of more expensive models is employed, although the lack of the Infinite Black technology may cause slight differences in image quality.

Design

The design on Panasonic Viera TC-P50S2 opts for a wider frame, which is not exactly this year’s trend, which aims at making all the best HDTV models as thin as fashion supermodels. While not engaging in the new thin and sleek craze, this Panasonic plasma TV has the Clear Touch type of design, which makes maintaining the bezel cleanliness totally easier.

Connectivity

Clearly, Panasonic Viera TC-P50S2 is not aiming at making the connectivity options it has, a forte point. It has only three HDMI ports, but this is not a biggie, since its more expensive and pretentious brother, Panasonic Viera TC-P50G20, only has three, as well. You will find no Wi-Fi capabilities, though, and, since you cannot have access to online streaming services, this should not come like such a big surprise. Still, you can use the SD card for viewing images, and the PC input to hook up your computer and play some games. All in all, for the average consumer, looking to spend well their hard earned dollar, such connectivity options may be considered to be enough to go around.

Picture Quality

Despite the fact that the Infinite Black technology is not present on the Panasonic Viera TC-P50S2 model, picture quality, as exhibited by this 50 inch plasma TV, is excellent, and on par with the higher end models. The best thing about image performance is the quality of the black levels, which shows much improvement over last year’s models. Also, color accuracy does not disappoint, although you will not get the THX certification for this one, and the best performance belongs to the high definition content, as it happens with the other models from Panasonic’s high tier series. Standard definition is not that great, and playing 1080p/24 content can be a little tricky, but, all in all, the Panasonic plasma TV reviewed here does a pretty good job.

Black Levels

It is true that Panasonic Viera TC-P50S2 cannot compete with Panasonic Viera TC-P50G20 or Panasonic Viera TC-P50G25 when it comes to black levels, as it does not have the Infinite Black technology. Also, you may find that other models on the market, like Samsung PN50C7000, have better, ink like blacks, or that this Panasonic plasma TV does not compare with LG Infinia 50PK750, which has the TrueBlack filter incorporated. Still, the black levels are quite good and their contribution to image quality is very important. Combined with a good level of brightness, it renders a great shadow detail, as well.

Color Accuracy

Panasonic Viera TC-P50S2 has no THX certification, which means you still have to tweak a little more with the controls until you obtain the right colors. Also, you will be able to notice differences when playing different types of content on your plasma TV. The colors tend to look more saturated, when you watch full high definition content, than otherwise. If the signal broadcast on your TV is of lower quality, the colors will not look as punchy as you would expect.

Video Processing

The best performance Panasonic Viera TC-P50S2 can deliver is with high definition content. As it is happening with other competitive models from the same manufacturer, this is the area where these particular Panasonic plasma TV models excel at their best. Because of the great blacks the image has, and the accurate enough colors, the image looks quite good, although you should not expect out of this world performances when you want to watch 1080p/24 content. The superior refresh rates are still reserved for high end models, and it shows. The contrast ratio, which is still rather dashing for a product in this category, and the 600Hz sub field drive technology, may have their contribution in rendering the best HD image. Panasonic Viera TC-P50S2 is able to produce 1080 lines of moving resolution, like the better models, which is a great plus.

SDTV Performance

The manufacturer did not succeed in making Panasonic Viera TC-P50S2 a model that can play standard definition content at its best. But, since it did not succeed this with higher end models, either, this should not come as such a big surprise. The set’s inability to render the most accurate grayscale affects the way you are watching standard DVDs, or regular broadcasting, but keep in mind that this also happens on the more competitive, higher priced Panasonic Viera TC-P50G20, as well. The image tends to look a bit too soft, and image artifacts can also be a problem.

Conclusion

Panasonic Viera TC-P50S2 is not at all a bad choice. Its image quality falls very little behind of the one seen on models that cost much more, and it comes equipped with all that matters. Direct competition from other HDTV manufacturers, include models like Samsung PN50C6500 (which has better connectivity), or LG Infinia 50PK750 (which has streaming options, and THX certification to make it rise above), but, depending on your personal preferences, you can go for one model or another. Also, you should take into consideration the very attractive pricing, since Panasonic Viera TC-P50S2 is still a model released in 2010 and its performances are more than just a tad above those seen on last year’s plasma TVs.

Want to Buy It?
This review applies to the following size variants:

  • 42″Panasonic TC-P42S2Buy on Amazon.com
  • 46″Panasonic TC-P46S2Buy on Amazon.com
  • 50″Panasonic TC-P50S2Buy on Amazon.com
    (the model reviewed here)
  • 54″Panasonic TC-P54S2Buy on Amazon.com
  • 58″Panasonic TC-P58S2Buy on Amazon.com
  • 65″Panasonic TC-P65S2Buy on Amazon.com
We recommend Amazon.com!

Because in our experience most of the time it has the best prices on HDTV, our recommended store is Amazon.com. Do look around for the best price, but make sure you don’t skip Amazon.com or you might miss a good deal.


LG 50PK750 Review

LG is one of the HDTV manufacturers aiming at creating products for all ranges of quality and prices. LG Infinia 50PK750 is only one step lower than its brother from the other Infinia series, LG Infinia 50PK950, but the TruBlack filter already cannot be found on it, which means a decrease in picture quality, as well. On the other hand, this 50 inch plasma TV has solid entertainment options, and, even if there are certain issues concerning image performance, for the price, LG Infinia 50PK750 can be quite a good deal. It is also THX certified, which means its colors are really something to brag about. Obviously lower in terms of quality, when compared with products such as Panasonic TC-P50G20, and the more competitive 3D HDTV models on the market, this LG plasma TV still has its fair share of good points, as we will see further.

Pros:

  • Extensive entertainment options
  • Fairly priced
  • Elegant design

Cons:

  • Black levels not as accurate as on other plasma TVs
  • Image retention issues
  • Problems when displaying 1080p/24 content

Features

Although a little less competitive than LG Infinia 50PK950, LG Infinia 50PK750 has about the same online streaming options and services that make the product quite worth your while, if accessing services like YouTube and Netflix are your thing. Usually, most companies keep the best extras for their flagship models, but, since LG decided to have two series of plasma TVs in their Infinia line, LG Infinia 50PK750 does not disappoint as far as entertainment options are concerned. The Wireless Media Box is also present, which makes connecting other devices with the plasma TV quite an easy job. VUDU and Netflix are the most popular services provided on LG Infinia 50PK750, so, as far as features are concerned, this 50 inch plasma TV is quite a well rounded product.

Design

The sleek look of LG Infinia 50PK750 is quite impressive, since being slim is key for all HDTVs released in 2010. The one sheet of glass design, with no visible edges, makes it interesting and elegant. Even critics agree that the borderless design exhibited by LG on its Infinia series released in 2010 makes them the most good looking HDTVs on the market.

Connectivity

The connectivity options are really great on LG Infinia 50PK750, and nothing is really missing, except, perhaps, for built in Wi-Fi, but, since the more competitive LG Infinia 50PK950 does not have this feature, either, it cannot be held against this LG plasma TV, which does very well in terms of connectivity, provided the price charged. There are four HDMI inputs present, along with two USB ports, one input for PC, two composite video inputs, two component video inputs, one RF for cable or antenna, one digital audio output and an Ethernet jack. If you want to use the model’s wireless capabilities, you will need to buy an extra dongle and attach it to one of the two USB ports.

Picture Quality

Image performance is very important for any plasma TV, and LG Infinia 50PK750, unfortunately, does not really impress. While it is true that the model is THX certified, its black levels are a huge disappointment and drag the model under, marring its overall performance. There are also some issues related to displaying correctly the format in 1080p/24, mainly found on Blu-Ray discs. As consolation, the standard definition performance is quite decent, which cannot be said about other, more pretentious models that can be found on the market, such as Panasonic TC-P50G20, or Samsung PN50C7000.

Black Levels

Blacks are very important when evaluating the value of a plasma TV, and, since usually, LCD TVs are the ones to suffer in this respect, it is quite a surprise – and not a pleasant one – to discover blacks that look so light on a plasma TV model released in 2010. Unfortunately, the low quality of blacks affects image quality as a whole, and the image tends to look less realistic than wished for. On the positive side, it can be said that the manufacturer invested some effort in delivering better blacks than seen on the company’s plasma TV models. The absence of the TruBlack filter – present on LG Infinia 50PK950 – truly makes a difference, and, if you want to see more competitive levels of blacks, you need to go for the superior model. Shadow detail, though, looks quite good on LG Infinia 50PK750, which is a plus, seeing that the blacks are less inky than desired and expected.

Color Accuracy

Color accuracy, luckily, is one of this 50 inch plasma TV’s strong points, and the fact that LG Infinia 50PK750 received the THX certification is a clear proof that something was done right this time around. Most colors look vivid, crisp and realistic, and even skin tones look good on this LG plasma TV. Small issues may be noted, like a green that can get a little too intense, when pictures of vegetation are displayed on the screen. Despite not relying on some great black levels, the color saturation seems to be quite solid, and reliable. Shadows tend to look a little bluish, as well, but, if you are not a critic, you may not notice such slight mishaps.

Video Processing

LG Infinia 50PK750 is full HD, and high definition content is almost always displayed accurately. We say “almost”, because there are some issues with the way the content in 1080p/24 format is displayed. It is not something LG Infinia 50PK750 can boast about, but the fact that it does not sport a special mode for such content may be the main reason why image artifacts are quite common when you want to watch movies in their natural cadence. Tests show that this plasma does even worse than some 240Hz LCD TVs, which is not something to be taken lightly, since plasma TVs are usually supposed to be better than their LCD TV counterparts.

Uniformity

While many 2010 models no longer experience uniformity issues, unfortunately, LG Infinia 50PK750 is not one of them. It does experience image retention, and burn in effects, exactly like its brother, LG Infinia 50PK950; if you do not want to confront with such problems, it would be a better idea if you would go for the Panasonic TC-P50G20 model, or Samsung PN50C6500. The traces disappear after a short while, however, which means that image retention is not such a big problem; yet, the fact that it does exist may influence your decision when you want to buy a new plasma TV.

Anti-Glare Performance

The borderless design is what brings a lot of problems for LG Infinia 50PK750. While it looks extremely dashing and elegant, the glare problems that result are not to be taken lightly. In short, you will not be able to watch your television shows, or anything else you like, on this 50 inch plasma TV, without having to experience glare and reflections. The colors and the blacks are also affected, and they tend to look more washed out than you would like.

Standard Definition Quality

Luckily, LG Infinia 50PK750 does quite well in terms of standard definition performance. For instance, DVD sources are handled well, and even regular broadcasting is not marred by visual artifacts. Noise reduction capabilities are great, indeed, and jaggies are kept to a minimum, which cannot be said by many other models released by the competition in 2010. The image delivered is quite sharp, and, while this LG plasma TV may not be the best model seen this year, it seems to have its good points, and standard definition is one of them.

Conclusion

LG Infinia 50PK750 is a product that comes with a fair price attached to it. For the price, image quality is not the best, but it is still good, despite some issues that cannot be overlooked that easily. It does a little worse than its brother, LG Infinia 50PK950, because it does not come equipped with the TruBlack filter, but, otherwise, its colors are THX certified, and the entertainment options are really good, not exactly something to be found on products that are priced under their market value.

Want to Buy It?
This review applies to the following size variants:

  • 50″LG 50PK750Buy on Amazon.com
    (the model reviewed here)
  • 60″LG 60PK750Buy on Amazon.com
We recommend Amazon.com!

Because in our experience most of the time it has the best prices on HDTV, our recommended store is Amazon.com. Do look around for the best price, but make sure you don’t skip Amazon.com or you might miss a good deal.


Panasonic TC-P42C2 Review

Panasonic TC-P42C2 is a great option when you are looking for a certain product. It has only 720p resolution, but this may not be such a huge hindrance for you, since this 42 inch plasma TV does not really need more resolution points, seeing that the screen size is quite on the small side. There are other things about Panasonic TC-P42C2 that makes it an interesting product. While Panasonic TC-P42U2 has 1080p resolution, Panasonic TC-P42C2 may be considered better, despite the lower resolution sported, and that is because of the presence of the NeoPDP panel, which also contributes to improving image quality, besides saving some energy. Panasonic TC-P42C2 is not the greatest product that the manufacturer thought of this year, but it is a great opportunity to buy a 2010 HDTV with better image quality than last year’s models.

Pros:

  • Decent blacks
  • Affordable price
  • Not so bad connectivity for the price

Cons:

  • Unimpressive design
  • Subpar standard definition performance
  • Inferior 1080p/24 performance

Features

One cannot expect too many features from a Panasonic plasma TV that costs as little as Panasonic TC-P42C2. While it may not have the best features around, it may have just the right amount you need from a non-frills product. VieraCast is not featured, nor wireless capabilities. Also, you should not expect this 42 inch plasma TV to be a 3D TV. Counting the eggs in this product’s basket, we need to mention the presence of the Viera Image Viewer feature, that allows easy playback of images from an SD card, and the Viera Link feature, that is really useful when you want to connect other devices with your HDTV. Do not neglect to notice that the NeoPDP panel is present, and that the 600Hz Sub-field drive is also employed to reduce blur from images rendered at high speeds.

Connectivity

Connectivity options for this Panasonic plasma TV are quite bare bones, but, considering that you do not have to spend a lot of money to afford this model, you may consider them to be quite the things you need. It only has two HDMI ports, which is one HDMI port less than the three seen on Panasonic TC-P42U2. There is no Ethernet jack to connect to the Internet, and no PC port, which means that you do not have the means to connect your TV with your computer. There are no USB ports present, either.

Picture quality

Picture quality is the most important aspect to concern you when you want to buy a new HDTV. You will be surprised to discover that image performance is quite good on this 42 inch plasma TV with only 720p resolution. If you do not like to count the pixels on the screen, you will get the chance to enjoy the deep blacks and the crisp colors this model sports. Which may come as a disappointment, though, is the fact that standard definition does not look the best, and you may want to consider buying a cheap Samsung model instead, if you buy your TV to watch regular content on it. The anti-reflective screen is quite good, on the other side, which means you can still watch your favorite shows, even if the room is well lit.

Conclusion

In case you are not among the people to care about 3D capabilities, wireless options, and superior resolution, you may have just found the best plasma TV to suit your taste. Panasonic TC-P42C2 is great for people looking for a non-frills plasma TV that will offer hours of pleasant pastime in front of the screen. Image quality is quite good for the price, and this may be just the right argument to convince you of this product’s performance.

Want to Buy It?
This review applies to the following size variants:

  • 42″Panasonic TC-P42C2Buy on Amazon.com
    (the model reviewed here)
  • 46″Panasonic TC-P46C2Buy on Amazon.com
  • 50″Panasonic TC-P50C2Buy on Amazon.com
We recommend Amazon.com!

Because in our experience most of the time it has the best prices on HDTV, our recommended store is Amazon.com. Do look around for the best price, but make sure you don’t skip Amazon.com or you might miss a good deal.


Panasonic TC-P50X1 Review

The main attraction of Panasonic TC-P50X1 is, no doubt, the price, a thing that comes naturally, as this 50 inch plasma TV is an entry level product, without fancy features. While you cannot compare this Panasonic plasma TV with top of the line models, rest assured that the image quality is more than what you pay for. One would expect Panasonic TC-P50X1 to perform in the same way as a C1 model, because they share the same 720p resolution, but this is not the case; the X1 representative has better contrast ratio and more connectivity options, making it more competitive for the price. Plus, the company did not spare the effort to install the new anti-reflective screen on the X1 series, a thing that cannot be said about C1 and U1 (despite the fact that the latter has 1080p resolution).

Note: This review is brief, covering the most important aspects. For a more in-depth review of this model, you should also read Panasonic TC-P42X1 review. Both models are from the X1 series and share the same features and characteristics.

Brief Specifications

  • Panel type: G12 Progressive HD PDP (older model from 2008)
  • Native Resolution: 720p
  • Contrast ratio: 30,000:1 (native) / 1,000,000:1 (dynamic)
  • Shades of gradation: 4096
  • Anti-glare filter: New AR Filter

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Solid black levels considering it is a budget HDTV
  • Good price
  • Decent set of features

Cons

  • Uniformity issues
  • Colors are not so accurate
  • Mediocre at displaying standard definition content

Performance

The general performance of this plasma model is very good, especially if we take the price into consideration. Its black levels are the best seen in 2009 – sharing them with all the models released by Panasonic this year, no matter the price and level – , and this aspect counts a lot. Color accuracy has some issues, and the model even has some uniformity problems that cannot be overlooked so easily, yet, the overall picture quality is as good as it gets, for a plasma model that is sold so cheap.

Black Levels

No one could complain about the black levels sported by Panasonic plasma models launched over this year. They are, for now, the best out there, considering that the well known Kuro from Pioneer is no longer produced and it was the plasma TV with the best black levels ever seen. If you look for ink like black levels, then you got them: Panasonic TC-P50X1 is able to deliver. While they are completed by reliable contrast ratio, they contribute paramountly to the overall great picture quality.

Color Accuracy

The issues that mar color accuracy deal especially with green and red. As you can hardly tweak with the controls, there is not so much to do in this area. On the other hand, the dark areas are not affected by bluish or greenish tendencies, a common place in many plasma TV’s, including the models from Panasonic S1 series.

Uniformity Issues

Some faint, gray lines appear noticeable on the screen when watching from a closer distance. They may not really be a burden when standing at a fair distance from the screen, but they could become a problem, so, therefore, they must be mentioned.

Video Processing

Having only 720p resolution, dealing with higher resolution do not deliver the same results as plasma TV’s with 1080p resolution. But Panasonic TC-P50X1 deliver good results for high definition content, with crispy clear image quality and absolutely no motion blur.

Standard Definition

Standard definition is not a strong point for this Panasonic plasma. The objects are not rendered sharp and jaggies still appear, making from watching regular DVD’s or regular television channel only a run of the mill experience.

Glare & Reflections

The anti-reflective screen does its job, but no more. If you intend to watch your favorite programs on this plasma TV in a room brightly lit, you will still experience somewhat washed out colors, especially from extreme angles.

Conclusion

For a 50 inch plasma TV, coming from an entry level series, Panasonic TC-P50X1 performs quite well. With image quality that may suit a more expensive product, with quite decent features (although you cannot have THX certification or 24p cinema mode at this price), Panasonic TC-P50X1 represents a really good deal for the money spent.

Want to Buy It?
This review applies to the following size variants:

  • 50″Panasonic TC-P50X1Buy on Amazon.com
    (the model reviewed here)
  • 42″Panasonic TC-P42X1Buy on Amazon.com
We recommend Amazon.com!

Because in our experience most of the time it has the best prices on HDTV, our recommended store is Amazon.com. Do look around for the best price, but make sure you don’t skip Amazon.com or you might miss a good deal.


Panasonic TC-P42X1 Review


Those seeking to buy an entry level plasma TV with great picture quality and a decent set of features have found it in Panasonic TC-P42X1. This Panasonic plasma TV is cheaper than the models from mid and high level mainly because of its 720p resolution, but it does not lack much in the area of overall image quality and connectivity options are not to throw away. Keep in mind, though, that this 42 inch plasma TV has the same panel Panasonic used for its last year series, so do not expect amazing improvements from 2008 models. The X1 series is part of the lower line of Panasonic plasma TV’s, as well as C1 and U1, with some differences. While X1 has 720p resolution, as C1, it does have the same contrast ratio as U1, and Panasonic TC-P42X1 can still be listed as a very good plasma TV, especially because of the price.

Brief Specifications

  • Panel type: G12 Progressive HD PDP
  • Resolution: 720p (standard)
  • Contrast ratio: 30,000:1 (native) / 1,000,000:1 (dynamic)
  • Shades of gradation: 4096
  • Anti-glare filter: New AR Filter

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Good black levels
  • Fair price
  • Reasonable set of features

Cons

  • Uniformity issues
  • Color accuracy is not too great
  • Standard definition performance is mediocre

A Quick Look at TC-P42X1

One can easily see that Panasonic TC-P42X1 is a step lower than the models from S1 series, just by noticing the panel. Panasonic TC-P42X1 uses the G12 Progressive HD PDP panel, and not the new NeoPDP panel, meant to save more energy. There is also the matter of resolution, as the X1 representative has 720p, while S1 has 1080p resolution. Panasonic has spent the work to gift Panasonic TC-P42X1 with anti-reflective coating, one thing the company did not do for the low entry series, like C1 and U1. You cannot expect to find in a X1 model fancy features, such as THX certification and 24p cinema mode, that can only be found in top of the line series, like G10 and V10. A thing that Panasonic TC-P42X1 has in common with the previous series is the cheap price, and this is one aspect that cannot be neglected, especially in our nowadays world, marked by the economic crisis.

Connectivity

Panasonic TC-P42X1 comes with a decent set of features, with three HDMI inputs (one more than for C1 and U1 series), two component-video inputs, one AV input with composite and S-video, and one RF input for cable or antenna signals, as well as one optical-digital audio output. This model does not have a special VGA input for your PC, as this particular feature is reserved for more advanced series from the same manufacturer. The SD slot allows the user to view pictures on their plasma TV screen, at superior quality.

Design

Design is one area where Panasonic TC-P42X1 does not deliver any style surprises. You will not find in it the sophisticated look from top of the line series, but this does not mean that the model won’t fit your home and make it look more into style. The glossy back exterior covers the frame, which is not as slim as of a G10’s, and a strip of silver rims the margins, giving it a plus in design. Without the looks of a top of the line plasma model, Panasonic TC-P42X1 does not give any false illusion, yet it compensates through its picture quality.

Panasonic TC-P42X1
Panasonic TC-P42X1 Design – glossy black finish with silver strip

Performance

The overall picture quality of Panasonic TC-P42X1 benefits a lot from impeccable black levels. Some uniformity issues are prone to appear, and color accuracy is not so great, green and red encountering some problems when they should display properly. The thing is that, in general, the images are stunning, clear and crisp, and that counts a lot, even compensating for the limited 720p resolution. Seeing that the cheap price can beat up the competition, all in all, we would say that the performance offered for the price is too great to be ignored. Another thing that contributes well enough to the great quality of the picture is the contrast ratio, better than in the low entry C1 series.

Black Levels

Black levels on Panasonic TC-P42X1 are as good as on any other Panasonic model released in 2009, because of the new technology the company has brought forward, called Infinite Black. This model, also, encounters no problems in delivering the deepest shades of black, and shadow details are displayed so accurately, that the entire cinematic experience on Panasonic TC-P42X1 is realistic and amazing looking. From the tests run by specialists, it has become obvious that the realistic blacks sported by Panasonic 2009 plasma models are only overcome by the critically acclaimed Kuro from Pioneer (which is no longer in production). That particular aspect leaves Panasonic the best black level deliverer on the market.

Color Accuracy

For Panasonic, it seems to be a little bit too hard to overcome the problem of color accuracy. Panasonic TC-P42X1 does show green tones to appear too green, and the same problem appears for red. That can make the expert eye to be a little taken aback by the range of colors displayed by this plasma model, as red and green are basic colors. Even so, one good mark should be offered to the X1 series, if compared to the more expensive S1. Dark tones do not get too bluish or greenish, a thing that can become quite obvious on many other plasma TV sets, even the S1 series from the same manufacturer.

Video Processing

Video processing capabilities are marked, of course, by the fact that Panasonic TC-P42X1 only sports 720p resolution. That is why, when using 1080i or 1080p video sources, one cannot expect to see the same amount of detail as when using a plasma TV with 1080p native resolution. However, high definition content is rendered as sharp as on other plasma TV’s and motion blur is not at all noticeable, if any (one big plus, when comparing plasma models with LCD TV’s). It is advisable to use the 720p resolution at its best, as 1080i sources will not be displayed correctly, with the extreme edges of the images not being shown. The good news is that you can watch Blu-ray discs on your plasma TV, even if some softness is still prone to appear.

Standard Definition Performance

For standard definition content, Panasonic TC-P42X1 is not the best choice on the market. When resolving lines from standard definition content, such as regular DVD’s, there are plenty of jaggies left when moving diagonal lines on some objects, and the objects, in general, do not look as sharp as they should. But noise reduction capabilities are quite good and motes and snow are removed from low quality images of skies or sunsets, as well as moire from fast moving sequences.

Uniformity

Usually, plasma TV’s do not have uniformity issues, but this particular model does. The problem consists of some faint, yet persistent grayish lines, visible especially on lighter areas in a picture. While these may not be visible to the inexperienced eye, for someone pickier, it can become a problem. The issue is more visible when standing close to the TV and it does not appear on black areas.

Glare & Reflections

The anti-reflective coating Panasonic TC-P42X1 comes equipped with does a pretty decent job, but this does not mean that the model is the best there is in this aspect. Panasonic has implemented this type of anti-glare screen mostly on all its models launched in 2009, less the C1 and U1 series. There are, however, other plasma TV’s (produced by other manufacturers) that do a lot better in this area than the Panasonic model.

Bottom Line

If you are looking for top quality and you have the money, you can find much better models out there. However, if you are not very demanding from your TV and you need a cheap model, Panasonic TC-P42X1 in probably the best choice.

Want to Buy It?
This review applies to the following size variants:

  • 50″Panasonic TC-P50X1Buy on Amazon.com
  • 42″Panasonic TC-P42X1Buy on Amazon.com
    (the model reviewed here)
We recommend Amazon.com!

Because in our experience most of the time it has the best prices on HDTV, our recommended store is Amazon.com. Do look around for the best price, but make sure you don’t skip Amazon.com or you might miss a good deal.


Samsung PN58B850 Review

Just saying that Samsung PN58B850 is a top of the line plasma TV may seem like an understatement, if one just throws a single look at it. With its 1.2 inch depth in frame, that makes it look elegantly thin from the side, this series from Samsung is considered to have delivered the best looking plasma of the year. For a Samsung plasma TV, Samsung PN58B850 comes fully packed with all the fancy features of a high end product, like Picture in Picture, the ability to connect to the Internet, and the 600Hz subfield motion technology, aimed to match the 600Hz subfield drive from Panasonic, the direct competition. All in all, this 58 inch plasma TV is worth a second look, if you have the money to spend on it, despite the fact that its performance matches the previous series from the same manufacturer.

The only difference between PN B860 series and PN B850 series is the presence of a manual option for 1080p/24 mode and an extra calibration setting on PN B860.

We’ve made this Samsung PN58B850 review short, covering only the most important aspects. If you want to read more about PN58B850 you should also check Samsung PN50B860 review. Everything there, with the exception of what I said above, applies to this model as well.

At a Glance

  • 1080p Full-HD native resolution
  • Contrast ratio: 3,000,000:1 (dynamic)
  • Anti-glare filter: Ultra FilterBright Plus
  • 24p cinema mode
  • USB
  • Ethernet
  • WiFi
  • Internet@TV
  • Picture In Picture
  • Wide Color Enhancer Pro

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Good black levels
  • Very accurate colors
  • Very good video processing
  • Solid standard definition processing

Cons:

  • No S-video input
  • Relatively expensive because it is slim
  • Anti-glare performance is good but other models are better

Performance

Even if it does not match the performance of Panasonic top of the line products, Samsung PN58B850 does not come short in terms of performance. Its black levels are more than decent, the colors are as accurate as they come, and its video processing capabilities are solid. The owner of this particular plasma model will get to watch anything they want on their HDTV, be it Blu-ray discs, regular DVD’s, 1080p, 1080i video sources, or standard definition channels.

Black Levels

The best levels of blacks ever seen on a HDTV in 2009 belong to the latest series from Panasonic, but Samsung manages a second place, with pretty nice blacks. The performance in this area is about the same as for a 650 model, the novelties of the 850/860 series relying mostly on fancy features like the slim design and the Picture in Picture mode. Shadow detail performance matches the one of black levels, and it is nothing to complain about.

Color Accuracy

Samsung PN58B850 impresses the viewer through its crisp accurate colors. As opposed to its competition that still may encounter some color accuracy issues, the primary and secondary colors on Samsung PN58B850 are nearly perfect, and better than any others on a plasma TV released in 2009. If you are a fan of incredibly saturated colors, then you may be inclined to choose a Panasonic plasma, but this feature is influenced by the deep blacks their models sport.

Video Processing

Samsung PN58B850 can compete easily with the V10 series from Panasonic in this area. The 1080p/24 cinema mode works without a glitch and its overall high definition processing capabilities are solid and reliable.

Standard Definition

No artefacts are seen on Samsung PN58B850 when the TV is fed with standard definition video sources. Noise reduction features are also very sturdy, and even the experienced eye won’t notice any jaggies or moire in the scenes displayed on the screen.

Conclusion

Displaying competitive image quality and a high tech design, Samsung PN58B850 is addressed to people that do not mind spending extra for the looks. The performance matches the representatives of the 650 series from the same manufacturer, so basically, the difference in price is justifiable just through the work put into delivering a cool looking design.

Want to Buy It?
Models of B850 Series are not available on Amazon.com at the moment. You can consider B860 series which is almost identical (slightly better).

  • 58″Samsung PN58B860Buy on Amazon.com
  • 50″Samsung PN50B860Buy on Amazon.com
We recommend Amazon.com!

Because in our experience most of the time it has the best prices on HDTV, our recommended store is Amazon.com. Do look around for the best price, but make sure you don’t skip Amazon.com or you might miss a good deal.


Samsung PN50B850 Review

In terms of performance, Samsung PN50B850 is on the same level with the models from the previous 650 series from the same company. One would wonder why spend more on this 50 inch plasma TV, if the performance is the same, but it would only mean that that person has not seen the new high tech design Samsung had in store for the 850/860 series, with a frame that is only 1.2 inches thick. There is little difference between this Samsung plasma TV and its 860 counterpart, the latter having as extras, the ability to switch manually to 24 cinema mode, as well as an extra calibration mode. The overall picture quality is great, and its video processing features are very reliable.

The only difference between PN B860 series and PN B850 series is the presence of a manual option for 1080p/24 mode and an extra calibration setting on PN B860.

We’ve made this Samsung PN50B850 review short, covering only the most important aspects. If you want to read more about PN50B850 you should also check Samsung PN50B860 review. Everything there, with the exception of what I said above, applies to this model as well.

At a Glance

  • Resolution: 1920×1080
  • Contrast ratio: 3,000,000:1 (dynamic)
  • Anti-glare filter: Ultra FilterBright Plus
  • 24p cinema mode
  • USB
  • Ethernet
  • WiFi
  • Internet@TV
  • Picture In Picture
  • Wide Color Enhancer Pro

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Good black levels (improved compared to last year)
  • Highly accurate colors (better than Panasonic models)
  • Solid video processing
  • Solid standard definition processing

Cons:

  • No S-video input
  • Relatively expensive, being a slim model
  • Though anti-glare performance is good, other models are better

Performance

As mentioned earlier, there is not much improvement over the 650 series from Samsung, when we talk about these models from the top of the line series. There are even tests that show that the black levels on 650 models are a tad better than on Samsung PN50B850, but this aspect does not influence much the overall performance that is still very good, and only very little behind the competitive V10 series from Panasonic.

Black Levels

Samsung PN50B850 cannot complain about its black levels, even if they do not match the Panasonic’s incredible blacks. It appears that the main issue that this model encounters is the inability to recreate true black, but, in general, dark scenes and shadow detail are displayed realistic and punching enough to recommend this model as a buy.

Color Accuracy

Even if Samsung PN50B850 cannot boast about having the deepest levels of black, like Panasonic, it can do it when it comes to color accuracy. Its colors are truly amazing and no tinges or smearing is experienced. Even if Panasonic’s colors are more saturated (due to its incredible black levels), the colors on the Samsung model are more accurate, which gives Samsung more of an extra edge over its competition.

Video Processing

High definition content is displayed with no problems on the Samsung PN50B850’s screen. Be it 1080p or 1080i video sources, the viewer will have a nice watching experience. Blu-ray discs can also be watched without a glitch, as the model does automatic implementation for displaying content in 24p cinema mode. While it may not equal Panasonic in terms of video processing, as its 600Hz subfield motion technology delivers inferior results if compared with the 600Hz subfield drive from Panasonic, the differences are too thin in order to be taken into consideration.

Standard Definition

Samsung PN50B850 does not encounter problems as other plasma TV’s do when it is needed to display standard definition content on its screen. It is able to solve every line from regular DVD’s, and low resolution images are also displayed without visible artefacts. This is more than most plasma TV’s on the market do, and it is a strong point for this plasma model.

Conclusion

While it is more expensive than the 650 model from Samsung, having the same level of performance, Samsung PN50B850 catches the eye with its sleek, awesome design. If you are interested in having the coolest looking plasma TV, with looks doubled by excellent performance, and you have the money for it, then this is a recommended buy.

Want to Buy It?
Models of B850 Series are not available on Amazon.com at the moment. You can consider B860 series which is almost identical (slightly better).

  • 58″Samsung PN58B860Buy on Amazon.com
  • 50″Samsung PN50B860Buy on Amazon.com
We recommend Amazon.com!

Because in our experience most of the time it has the best prices on HDTV, our recommended store is Amazon.com. Do look around for the best price, but make sure you don’t skip Amazon.com or you might miss a good deal.


Samsung PN58B860 Review

Someone looking for a luxury product, should stop by and check on the 2009 release from Samsung, the Samsung PN58B860 plasma TV. For a 58 inch plasma TV, it is not unusual to carry a steep price, but some people may decide against such a buy, seeing that almost the only novelty the 850/860 series from Samsung brings over the previous 650 is the – we must say it – astonishing sleek design, with only 1.2 inches in depth. Performance is about the same, and this Samsung plasma TV is still a product meant for those that don’t mind paying extra just for having a cool looking HDTV installed in their living room.

You might consider reading also the Samsung PN50B860 review which is a bit more in-depth. Both models are part of the B860 series from samsung and share the same performance and features. The only difference between them is the screen size – 58 inch for PN58B860 and 50 inch for PN50B860.

At a Glance

  • 1080p resolution
  • Contrast ratio: 3,000,000:1 (dynamic)
  • Anti-glare filter: Ultra FilterBright Plus
  • 24p cinema mode
  • USB
  • Ethernet
  • WiFi
  • Internet@TV
  • Picture In Picture
  • Wide Color Enhancer Pro

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Good black levels (significantly improved compared to last year’s models)
  • Highly accurate colors
  • Solid video processing
  • Solid standard definition processing

Cons:

  • No S-video input
  • Relatively expensive
  • Though anti-glare performance is good, other models are better

Performance

While Samsung PN58B860 can complement any room where would be placed, its performance is nothing to sneeze at. Besides taking into account the ability to connect to certain resources on the Internet, the 600Hz subfield motion technology, and the new antiglare filter, taking it down to the basics, Samsung PN58B860 sports very nice black levels (although not as black as on Panasonic models, which are the deepest blacks seen on a plasma TV in 2009), great accurate colors and reliable video processing abilities.

Black Levels

Not entirely the strongest point of Samsung PN58B860, the black levels still manage to display well. The 650 models seems to have a bit of the upper hand in the matter, with slightly better quality in the area, but the differences are not so noticeable. Shadow details are pretty decent as well, contributing to the overall good quality in performance for this plasma TV.

Color Accuracy

Samsung PN58B860 has crispy clear image, with accurate, above the mark colors. The performance in this field is unequaled by any other plasma TV sold on the market these days, and this must say something. Primary and secondary colors are displayed accurately, despite failing to acquire the same amount of saturation as Panasonic models, that benefit a lot from sporting the deepest blacks seen in 2009. Despite that, there are no tinges of a different color smearing the black areas, and all colors are shown properly.

Video Processing

No matter what type of high definition content you intend to watch, you will have a very pleasant surprise with Samsung PN58B860. You can watch Blu-ray discs, as well as any 1080p or 1080i video sources. Ignoring the fact that the 600Hz subfield motion feature is there merely to add to a list of fancy option, the quality of high definition content watched on Samsung PN58B860, including 1080p/24 video content, is one of the best.

Standard Definition Performance

The same thing is applicable for standard definition performance. Samsung PN58B860 does a pretty good job, too, when it comes to solving the lines from regular DVD’s, and no artefacts are noticed when the image is displayed on the screen.

Conclusion

A sign of social status, Samsung PN58B860 offers looks and performance in the same package. For the consumer only interested in having a competitive plasma model in their home, the thin high tech look may not seem much, as long as the performance stands on the same level with the less expensive series 6 from Samsung. If you don’t mind paying for a cool appearance, this particular model is tailored for you.

Want to Buy It?
This review applies to the following size variants:

  • 58″Samsung PN58B860Buy on Amazon.com
    (the model reviewed here)
  • 50″Samsung PN50B860Buy on Amazon.com
We recommend Amazon.com!

Because in our experience most of the time it has the best prices on HDTV, our recommended store is Amazon.com. Do look around for the best price, but make sure you don’t skip Amazon.com or you might miss a good deal.


Samsung PN50B860 Review

The top of the line series from Samsung can brag about its picture quality, as well as its accurate colors. While it does somewhat stand lower than the V10 series from Panasonic, this Samsung series from 2009 is not a bad option, either. Samsung PN50B860 sports about the same quality one would find in the less expensive 6 series from the same manufacturer, but what makes it stand out is its sleek design, that could make you take extra money out of your pocket, provided that you want to acquire the coolest plasma model on the market these days. This Samsung plasma TV has little over the 850 sub-series, represented only by a manual option in order to turn on the 1080p/24 mode, as well as one calibration mode more. For a 50 inch plasma TV, this model provides a very good performance, so, if you are willing to spend more for its 1.2 inch depth screen, it can be quite a catch.

At a Glance

  • 1080p resolution
  • Contrast ratio: 3,000,000:1 (dynamic)
  • Anti-glare filter: Ultra FilterBright Plus
  • 24p cinema mode
  • USB
  • Ethernet
  • WiFi
  • Internet@TV
  • Picture In Picture
  • Wide Color Enhancer Pro

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Nice black levels
  • Accurate colors
  • Great video processing features
  • Solid standard definition display

Cons:

  • Lack of a S-video input
  • Steep price
  • Some reflection issues under bright light conditions

Connectivity

Samsung seems to have forgotten they create plasma TV’s in a world where S-input connections are the norm, some would be tempted to say. The truth is that the sleek design the company chose for this particular model had to demand some sacrifices, which came with the lack of an S-video input. Connectivity is quite solid, though, despite this. Four HDMI inputs are located on the back, and those interested in the options presented by Samsung PN50B860 will also find 2 USB inputs, a VGA-style PC input, and one component-video input. One RF input for antenna/cable, one optical digital audio jack, and one Ethernet port are also present to complete the set of connectivity features this plasma TV comes equipped with.

Design

One could not just overlook the especially thought design of Samsung PN50B860. With its thin depth, of just 1.2 inches, this plasma model catches the eye, through its razor like appearance, if looked at from one side. There is no other plasma TV on the market to be thinner than Samsung PN50B860, except from the Z1 series models from Panasonic, but Samsung beats that through a less hefty price tag. Let’s say that enthusiasts of slim design for their plasma televisions would be advised to go for the Samsung PN50B860 rather than breaking the bank to acquire the Z1 model from Panasonic. It is true that the Samsung representative cannot boast about the one sheet design like Panasonic’s V10, but its glossy frame makes for a high tech appearance that compensates enough in terms of design. Fans of cool design would also notice the transparent stalk that links the plasma screen with the swivel stand. Its reflections in the stainless steel of the stand complement the already high tech feeling this plasma TV gives.

Performance

As mentioned earlier, Samsung 850/860 series does not bring much improvement over the 6 series in terms of performance, aiming more at achieving a title in the coolest looking design. While the 6 series can boast about very good performance, the same thing is available about Samsung PN50B860. With glorious black levels – although not the best on the market – , and accurate colors that can almost stand their ground in a head on confrontation with the acclaimed Kuro from Pioneer (no longer in production), as well as reliable video processing capabilities, Samsung PN50B860 makes for a very good buy, despite the expensive price.

Black Levels

Interesting enough to notice, while Samsung PN50B860 does sport excellent deep levels of blacks, this trait falls behind other plasma screens, when trying to acquire true black. It must also be mentioned that the 650 model from the same company seems to perform better than its more expensive brother in this area. Overall, however, the differences does not seem to be fatal, and it would be the right thing to say that black levels on Samsung PN50B860 are still nice and they perform well. The shadow detail is, of course, influenced by the performance of black levels, and there are scenes in which an experienced eye would notice that other plasma TV’s sold on the market display a better quality of shadow detail than this 50 inch plasma television.

Colors

If for black levels, there are some little issues worth to be brought forward to the sensible consumer, color accuracy presents a different story. This is one area in which Samsung can boast about having better colors than the current leader on the market for plasma TV’s, Panasonic. Samsung PN50B860 has almost perfect basic and secondary colors, which gives the picture the sought after realism. Panasonic may present a greater deal in saturation, but this is one aspect that relies heavily on its performance in black levels. All in all, the colors on Samsung PN50B860 are the most pleasing to the eye, seen on any plasma TV released over the year of 2009. Another thing worth mentioning is that Samsung PN50B860 does not colorize black areas or shadows with bluish tinge, like it happens with other models.

Video Processing

Samsung PN50B860 has no trouble in delivering as promised when 1080p/24 video sources are involved. The content is displayed with no problems, equaling in performance the acclaimed V10 series from Panasonic. The 860 model comes with a manual option for initiating the 1080p/24 mode, but the automatic implementation, available for 850 models, as well, works like a charm.
Another feature that Samsung has implemented for its top of the line series is the 600Hz subfield motion technology. If that sounds to you like the 600Hz subfield drive feature from Panasonic, you are not far off the mark, but the truth is they are quite different when it comes to results. Both are meant to solve any motion blur issues that may appear when fast moving scenes – like sports – are involved, but tests have showed that Panasonic is the most competitive one when it comes to this. The truth is plasma TV’s, in general, cannot complain of motion blur issues, and all this buzz about 600Hz technologies is intended for fighting back 120Hz or 240Hz LCD’s, that still have to overcome the blur that appears when watching fast action scenes on their screen. Only the eye of an expert could tell the difference between Samsung and Panasonic when it comes to this, so blur is not an issue for Samsung PN50B860.
All in all, the model presents solid video processing capabilities, being able to display properly any 1080p and 1080i video content.

Standard Definition

A strong plus for Samsung PN50B860 is that it can display standard definition content at a very good quality. Any line from such sources, like regular DVD’s, is solved gracefully, and noise reduction capabilities are nothing to sneeze at. Jaggies or moire artefacts are not an issues for Samsung PN50B860 and this means a lot in a world where HDTV’s care more for displaying stunning scenes for any high definition content, leaving somewhat behind the old faithful standard definition.

Glare

Watching your favorite TV shows on a plasma screen in a brightly lit room may have its downsides. Because plasma TV’s tend to show reflections or glare when there is too much light in the room, manufacturers, Samsung included, have tried to bring something new. The Ultra FilterBright Plus filter implemented for Samsung PN50B860 does a pretty decent job, provided that the blacks do not tend to be as washed out as on a Panasonic model from 2009. But this filter cannot fight so efficiently against reflections, which are present under bright light conditions, and that may become a distraction.

Conclusion

Overall, there are more positive things to say about Samsung PN50B860, rather than pointing out its minuses. It is true that the steep price comes as a consequence of its sleek modern design, and not of much improved performance over the 6 series from Samsung. This means that you may consider buying the less expensive model if you are only interested in performance. On the other hand, if you intend to astonish your friends with the coolest plasma TV of the moment, go for the Samsung PN50B860. Its black levels, its accurate colors and solid video processing capabilities are just well complemented by the high tech design.

Want to Buy It?
This review applies to the following size variants:

  • 58″Samsung PN58B860Buy on Amazon.com
  • 50″Samsung PN50B860Buy on Amazon.com
    (the model reviewed here)
We recommend Amazon.com!

Because in our experience most of the time it has the best prices on HDTV, our recommended store is Amazon.com. Do look around for the best price, but make sure you don’t skip Amazon.com or you might miss a good deal.


Panasonic TC-P54S1 Review

In the 54 inch category, Panasonic TC-P54S1 has plenty of competition. The good news is that the 54 inch plasma TV does not aim to beat up higher level plasma, as this was not what it was designed for, but it still performs more than decently, which brings it closer to those top of the line products, despite its less expensive price tag. It is true that Panasonic TC-P54S1 does not come with fancy features, such as THX certification, 24p cinema mode and Viera Cast abilities, all enhancements that the company brought forward only with the high level series, such as G10 and V10, but its picture quality is still great, and this recommends fully the Panasonic plasma TV we review here.

Note: We have the Panasonic TC-P50S1 Review which is more in-depth than this one. Both models are virtually the same except of their size, so if you want to find out more about TC-P54S1 feel free to take a look at TC-P50S1 review as well.

At a Glance:

  • Panel type: NeoPDP (offers quite a few advantages over older types)
  • Resolution: 1080p (standard) / 1920×1080 (exact)
  • Contrast ratio: 40,000:1 (native) / 2,000,000:1 (dynamic)
  • Shades of gradation: 6144
  • THX certified: NO
  • Anti-glare filter: New Anti-Refective Filter
  • 24p cinema mode: NO

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Not as expensive as top of the line series. Great if you need high value for money.
  • Good overall picture quality
  • Black levels similar to those from top of the line G10 and V10 series
  • Relatively accurate colors (unless you are very exigent)

Cons:

  • In this size class, if you are looking for quality and you have the money, G10 and V10 series will be a better choice
  • No THX certification
  • Anti-glare performance could be better
  • Color accuracy issues and not enough picture adjustment controls to overcome this

Performance

The overall performance of Panasonic TC-P54S1 depends largely on the new technologies used in its making. In comparison with the older X1 series from Panasonic, Panasonic TC-P54S1 displays 1080p resolution and the new NeoPDP panel, which helps it acquire the deepest level of blacks seen on 2009 plasma TV, while consuming less power. It is true that its colors are not the most accurate, but this is not actually a hindrance, as the level of blacks compensate for the loss.

Black Levels

It is only natural to start with what Panasonic TC-P54S1 has best. Due to the “Infinite Black” technology employed by the company in this year’s plasma models, the blacks exhibited by this plasma TV are the deepest ever seen in 2009. No wonder that the series caused admiration in the general public and the specialists, as well, seeing that its level of black and shadow detail dare to compete with those seen on the Kuro model by Pioneer (no longer in production). Panasonic has really drawn the lucky card with this new technology and it shows: its newest series have no trouble competing for the crown due to their deep blacks.

Color Accuracy

The colors on Panasonic TC-P54S1 are not as accurate as on top level plasma, but they are at least decent. Green tones can become offensive from time to time, affecting especially the skin tones on characters displayed on the screen. Also, the colors tend to be not as saturated as needed towards the edges of the screen, but, all in all, seeing that the model has no THX certification, like G10 and V10, we just guess that this is the best that this plasma TV can deliver.

Video Processing

Compared with the previous X1 series from the same manufacturer, Panasonic TC-P54S1 comes with 1080p resolution. This means that the model does well with 1080p and 1080i sources and the video content is displayed at its best, like one would expect from a competitive HDTV. Adding the 600Hz sub-field drive capabilities, we end up with a crisp image that does not have to deal with any motion blur problems, like we find in regular LCD’s.

Standard Definition Performance

There is still work to do for the researchers at Panasonic, as Panasonic TC-P54S1 does a mediocre job in upscaling the image from standard definition sources, such as regular DVD’s. The image is not as sharp as desired, and there are still artefacts such as jaggies, appearing around some objects. Luckily, the noise reduction capability is pretty sturdy, so low quality shots of skies or sunset are less grainier than expected.

Conclusions

While it does not reach the level acquired by Panasonic with its G10 and V10 series, Panasonic TC-P54S1 is better than the models in X1 series, through the novelties it brings, especially the 1080p resolution and the NeoPDP panel. The quality of the picture is very good, especially due to exceptional black levels, but foremost, the balance inclines in favor of this model of plasma, because of its price, which is less expensive than those of top of the line plasma TV’s.

Want to Buy It?
This review applies to the following size variants:

  • 54″Panasonic TC-P54S1Buy on Amazon.com
    (the model reviewed here)
  • 50″Panasonic TC-P50S1Buy on Amazon.com
  • 46″Panasonic TC-P46S1Buy on Amazon.com
  • 42″Panasonic TC-P42S1Buy on Amazon.com
We recommend Amazon.com!

Because in our experience most of the time it has the best prices on HDTV, our recommended store is Amazon.com. Do look around for the best price, but make sure you don’t skip Amazon.com or you might miss a good deal.


Panasonic TC-P46S1 Review

Panasonic TC-P46S1 brings honor to the company’s name, through its overall competitive picture quality. This Panasonic plasma TV is a very good example of what the manufacturer intended to bring forward with the new plasma TV series released in 2009. The blacks are the deepest seen on a plasma TV in 2009 (the same quality as in V10 and G10 series), and, while the colors are not as accurate as in its newer mates, because it does not have the THX certification, this 46 inch plasma TV offers a good deal for the buck, as its price is lower than, for example, Panasonic TC-P46G10. Of course, this does mean that you won’t enjoy the fancy features you find in the top of the line series; but, if you are looking for a very good plasma TV at a competitive price.

Note: Panasonic TC-P46S1 is the 46 inch variant of S1 Series from Panasonic Plasma TV 2009 Lineup. The Panasonic TC-P50S1 Review is more in-depth and you might want to check it out as well. Both TC-P46S1 and TC-P50S1 have the same performance and features, the only difference between them being the screen size.

At a Glance:

  • Panel type: NeoPDP (improved plasma display)
  • Resolution: 1080p (standard) / 1920×1080 (exact)
  • Contrast ratio: 40,000:1 (native) / 2,000,000:1 (dynamic)
  • Shades of gradation: 6144
  • THX certified: NO
  • Anti-glare filter: New Anti-Refective Filter
  • 24p cinema mode: NO

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Second best 46 inch plasma TV from 2009
  • Good picture quality
  • Black levels as good as those found on more expensive models
  • Generally good colors
  • NeoPDP panel makes it more energy efficient and gives it an advantage in picture quality

Cons:

  • Lacks THX mode (as opposed to high-end series from Panasonic)
  • Anti-glare performance is good but not great
  • Even after calibration, perfect color accuracy is not possible.
  • Lacks advanced picture controls (Samsung models are superior in this area)

Overall Performance

Panasonic TC-P46S1 does not disappoint in terms of overall picture quality. Being gifted with the “Infinite Black” technology from Panasonic, this plasma model successfully acquires the deepest blacks, which became a standard for the series released lately by this manufacturer. Critics may point out that the colors fail to cover the best accuracy possible, which is explainable by the lack of THX certification (introduced only from the G10 series up), but the issues are not as difficult to deal with, and they do not ruin the watching experience.

Black Levels

Through its deep blacks, Panasonic TC-P46S1 can be considered to be, in terms of picture quality, closer to high level plasma TV’s, rather than mid level products, as its price indicates. As the display has the ability to shut off the pixels on areas of the screen which are very dark or black, the blacks are flawless, and word has it that they are worthy of challenging the blacks displayed by the now defunct Kuro from Pioneer, still considered the best plasma TV ever made. Shadow detail is also incredibly good, making for great picture quality and a realistic experiences when watching movies on this plasma TV.

Color Accuracy

Color accuracy is not the best in the S1 series. Panasonic TC-P46S1 still needs improvement in displaying the best colors, as they do not look as sharp and accurate as they should on the edges of the screen. Plus, we had to keep in mind that the series does not have the THX certification, a more expensive feature that is available only with G10 and V10 representatives.

Video Processing

Being a step up from Panasonic’s X1 series, Panasonic TC-P46S1 boasts about its 1080p resolution, and it has the ability to deal with 1080p and 1080i video sources without a fret. Because it does not have 24p cinema mode capabilities, it is easily surpassed by the newer G10 and V10 plasma TV’s from the same company, which enjoyed better research in this area from the manufacturer’s specialists. As a HDTV, Panasonic TC-P46S1 deals well with high definition content, and there is nothing to reproach here.

Standard Definition

Unfortunately, not the same thing can be said about displaying content from standard definition sources. The objects shown on the screen are less sharp than on other plasma TV’s made by other manufacturers, and jaggies can still appear, despite the fact that the noise reduction is quite solid.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a reliable plasma TV and you do not care for exotic features that also contribute to a rise in price, then Panasonic TC-P46S1 is meant for you. With its great picture quality, this Panasonic plasma TV has all the reasons to stand proud among its peers.

Want to Buy It?
This review applies to the following size variants:

  • 54″Panasonic TC-P54S1Buy on Amazon.com
  • 50″Panasonic TC-P50S1Buy on Amazon.com
  • 46″Panasonic TC-P46S1Buy on Amazon.com
    (the model reviewed here)
  • 42″Panasonic TC-P42S1Buy on Amazon.com
We recommend Amazon.com!

Because in our experience most of the time it has the best prices on HDTV, our recommended store is Amazon.com. Do look around for the best price, but make sure you don’t skip Amazon.com or you might miss a good deal.


Panasonic TC-P42S1 Review


Gifted with the new NeoPDP display and a resolution of 1080p, Panasonic TC-P42S1 represents a very good quality mid level plasma TV, and a step up from the manufacturer’s X1 series. Although it does not display the latest features in plasma TV’s, like THX certification, Viera Cast web options, and 24p cinema mode (found in the superior V10 and G10 series from the same company), this Panasonic plasma TV offers great picture quality at an affordable price. For a 42 inch plasma TV, this represents a good deal, especially because of the price, although its colors are not as accurate as you can find in a G10 plasma TV in the same size category.

Note: Panasonic TC-P42S1 is the 42 inch variant of S1 Series from Panasonic Plasma TV 2009 Lineup. This review is shorter than Panasonic TC-P50S1 Review, so you might want to check that out as well, if you want a more in-depth perspective.

At a Glance:

  • Panel type: New NeoPDP 2009 screen
  • Resolution: 1080p (standard) / 1920×1080 (exact)
  • Contrast ratio: 40,000:1 (native) / 2,000,000:1 (dynamic)
  • Shades of gradation: 6144
  • THX certified: NO
  • Anti-glare filter: New Anti-Refective Filter
  • 24p cinema mode: NO

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Very good overall picture quality
  • Deep black levels and shadow detail
  • Good colors
  • More energy efficient than older plasma TV generations

Cons:

  • No THX certification
  • Anti-glare performance could be better
  • Colors are not perfectly accurate

Performance

One buying a Panasonic TC-P42S1 won’t have a word to complain about the level of blacks on the screen. Even at its lower price, the S1 plasma TV still claims the field for having the same quality in black levels, as can be found in more expensive series, like G10. This is an important warrant for overall great picture quality, even though, without the THX certification, Panasonic TC-P42S1 does not have the same accurate colors, and tweaking is difficult, due to the skimpy controls. Video processing is decent, although the 24p cinema mode, implemented in the higher priced G10, or V10, does not appear in this series. Still, for the price it exhibits, one can count on a very good product, from a manufacturer that fills the empty first place on the plasma market, left vacant by Pioneer.

Black levels

HDTV’s today are required to have the blackest of the blacks, since Pioneer, through its elite plasma TV series named Kuro, has imposed the standard through its great quality product. It seems that Panasonic has managed to overcome the gap from the leader through its “Infinite Black” technology. Panasonic TC-P42S1 is gifted with this technology, as well, and this allows for the pixels on the screen to totally shut off in dark scenes. Needless to say, the result is remarkable, and the blacks delivered have absolutely no competition outside the manufacturer’s own series.

Color accuracy

The area where Panasonic is not yet the absolute leader, despite its exceptional products launched on the plasma TV market, is color accuracy. Besides the fact that the series does not come with THX certification, and colors are not as great as in a V10 or G10 plasma TV, it also seems to have troubles with the greenish tinges that affect especially skin tones, when watching movies. But this issue is not as bad as one may think, and the overall picture quality is still great.

Video processing

As Panasonic TC-P42S1 is a 1080p plasma TV, it deals well with 1080p and 1080i video sources. Its 600Hz sub-field drive also contributes to even a crispier image for fast moving sequences (like sports), although plasma TV’s really do not have to worry about being surpassed just yet by even the best quality LCD’s.

Upscaling

Standard definition content does not look as great on Panasonic TC-P42S1 as on other counterparts sold on the market. While it can still deliver decent accurate colors and the deepest blacks, even from DVD video sources, the jaggies and the artifacts appearing in some scenes tarnish a little S1’s reputation.

Conclusion

Panasonic TC-P42S1 may not be the best 42 inch plasma TV on the market. But it does deliver great quality picture, very close to that displayed by more expensive products, and that at a price that cannot be beaten by said products.

Want to Buy It?
This review applies to the following size variants:

  • 54″Panasonic TC-P54S1Buy on Amazon.com
  • 50″Panasonic TC-P50S1Buy on Amazon.com
  • 46″Panasonic TC-P46S1Buy on Amazon.com
  • 42″Panasonic TC-P42S1Buy on Amazon.com
    (the model reviewed here)
We recommend Amazon.com!

Because in our experience most of the time it has the best prices on HDTV, our recommended store is Amazon.com. Do look around for the best price, but make sure you don’t skip Amazon.com or you might miss a good deal.


Panasonic TC-P50S1 Review

Many consumers usually prefer mid-level products, as they can enjoy a good quality product, without having to break the bank for it. Panasonic knows this oh-so-well, and their 50 inch plasma TV, Panasonic TC-P50S1 is the proof. Without being fully packed with features like THX certification, Viera Cast add-ons, or 24p cinema mode (found in the most expensive series such as G10 and V10), the S1 series can boast about exceptional black levels and reliable color saturation. You can also find a good deal for this Panasonic plasma TV, as this is less expensive than the newer plasma TVs from the same manufacturer. With its NeoPDP panel and its 1080p resolution, the S1 is also more than one step up from the entry level series X1, being placed closer to top of the line plasma TVs, rather than low level products. All in all, Panasonic TC-P50S1 is a mid-level plasma in terms of price, but not exactly the run of the mill HDTV.

Note: Panasonic TC-P50S1 is the 50 inch variant of S1 Series from Panasonic Plasma TV 2009 Lineup. This review applies to all size variants of S1 series (42, 46, 54 inch), as all of these models share the same features and performance.

At a Glance:

  • Panel type: NeoPDP
  • Resolution: 1080p (standard) / 1920×1080 (exact)
  • Contrast ratio: 40,000:1 (native) / 2,000,000:1 (dynamic)
  • Shades of gradation: 6144
  • THX certified: NO
  • Anti-glare filter: New AR Filter
  • 24p cinema mode: NO

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Overall great picture quality
  • Amazing black levels
  • Great color saturation
  • More energy efficient through its NeoPDP display

Cons:

  • It does not have THX certification, 24p cinema mode and Viera Cast fancy add-ons
  • Anti-reflective capabilities are limited
  • Small issues with color accuracy

Features

When a new series is launched, the most important questions float around the new capabilities that it presents over the last product released by the same company. We have seen where Panasonic TC-P50S1 stands from the newer series, like G10 and V10, more oriented to luxury goods. One thing that should be noted is that the S1 series is the first series for which Panasonic has implemented the new NeoPDP panel. As plasma TVs are known to consume more power than LCDs, due to their demanding display, this is a battle in which plasma manufacturers have to use all their weapons. Panasonic came up with a new panel, and, while its products are still important energy consumers, they are more efficient than other plasma TVs. The S1 plasma TVs also have 1080p resolution, while the previous X1 series has only 720p resolution. Better contrast ration and shades of gradation come to complete the picture, rising S1 well over X1 series.

Connectivity

Connectivity is another area in which S1 does not claim the leading role, as its capabilities are decent enough, without being anything out of the ordinary. It comes with three HDMI inputs, two component-video inputs, one AV input with composite and S-Video, one RF input for cable or antenna, one digital audio input, and one SD card slot. It must be noted that the VGA input lacks in this series, although it can be found in the newer models coming from the same company.

Design

Though simple, the design of TC-P50S1 is elegant and can fit any interior design. Unfortunately the stand does not swivel.

Though simple, the design of TC-P50S1 is elegant and can fit any interior design. Unfortunately the stand does not swivel.


As Panasonic TC-P50S1 is aimed more at the budget minded consumer, it is also less appealing than its more luxurious counterparts, in terms of design. It also does not have a swivel stand, but this does not mean that this plasma model won’t complement well the room where it will be installed. The company decided to keep the old design, but it made a concession, by allowing more rounded edges, and opting for the hidden speakers, which is considered the latest fad in flat screen TVs. Panasonic TC-P50S1 still looks elegant enough with its glossy black frame, marked only by a narrow silvery line. Obviously, the company didn’t put too much into making the S1 series fancier, but, if you do not mind having a good quality plasma TV with last year looks, than this aspect should not be bothersome.

Performance

The strongest point of Panasonic TC-P50S1 is its overall excellent picture performance, granted especially by its incredibly deep levels of black, that can easily compete with the more expensive series like G10 and V10, as well with those displayed by the formerly known as the best plasma TV ever made, Kuro by Pioneer. It is true that this model does not come with THX certification, which means that you cannot enjoy the best colors on a plasma TV, and it does not offer special abilities for watching 24p video sources, but, all in all, in its category of price, balanced by the great quality it provides, Panasonic TC-P50S1 can be rightfully considered the best choice when seeking a mid-level plasma TV.

Black Levels

As mentioned before, the S1 is no less than V10 and G10 in terms of black levels. Needless to say, its blacks are blacker than seen on last year’s plasma TVs, making S1 a commendable purchase among 2009 releases. Maybe it does not have the same perfect blacks as Pioneer’s Kuro, but there is far too little difference to consider, as dark scenes, areas of black and shadows are rendered perfectly on a Panasonic TC-P50S1. Combined with capable contrast ratio, this plasma TV offers realistic cinematic experience, that one could expect on high level, top of the line plasma TV, and not on a mid range product.

Colors

Color accuracy is one issue that Panasonic still needs to win a fight or two against. As the manufacturer has failed to obtain absolutely perfect color accuracy even on its top of the line series, it is not exactly a surprise to see that Panasonic TC-P50S1 is not as color accurate as desired. The model does not come with THX certification, which means that it does not have the ability to render great colors directly out of the box. The most offending color is green that seems to smear and tinge even skin tones on characters appearing on the screen. While trying to adjust this, you will find it quite difficult to achieve, as color saturation tends to receive damage during the process. Luckily, color saturation is really solid, especially due to the perfect black levels Panasonic TC-P50S1 is able to offer.

Video Processing

Panasonic TC-P50S1 deals decently with decoding 1080p and 1080i video sources. Specialists running tests in this regard have noticed that this model has trouble de-interlacing film based video sources, but the issues resulting are not bothersome, and, for the usual consumer, they can hardly pose any problem. Do not expect 24p cinema mode from Panasonic TC-P50S1, because you will not receive such fancies from a mid level plasma TV like this one. One trait that Panasonic TC-P50S1 still can boast about is its 600Hz sub-field drive, meant to eliminate motion blur from fast moving sequences. Yet, this is mostly a marketing vehicle, as usually plasma TVs do not have issues with blurring such scenes, as do LCDs. If the 600Hz sub-field drive is there to eliminate motion blur not seen by the human eye, it is very possible to do a great job, because no reproaches can be made in this regard.

Anti-Glare Performance

While motion blur is not a problem for plasma TV’s, glare is, and this is one area where LCD TVs stay better than their main opponents. Panasonic has implemented a new anti-glare screen (AR filter) in its 2009 plasma series, but Panasonic TC-P50S1 still does not offer the same great quality image when the room where the TV is installed is showered in light. Colors become a little washed out, from larger viewing angles, and even its deepest blacks have to suffer from too much light. A thing to be noted is, though, that the anti-reflective screen does its job, and glare is much reduced, even under such circumstances.

Standard Definition (SDTV)

Any plasma TV is put to the test, to see if it can offer great quality picture for both HD and SD video sources. While for HD sources, Panasonic TC-P50S1 does a very good job, for standard definition, one cannot say the same thing. The details do not appear as sharp as on other plasma TVs, and the upscaling conversion, while it can resolve every line on the screen from a DVD source, it allows jaggies to appear around the edges of some objects. Luckily, Panasonic TC-P50S1 displays solid noise reduction, which contributes to less grainy skies, when using standard definition video sources. Also, moire is not a problem for Panasonic TC-P50S1, as it does engage properly the 2:3 pull down mode.

Conclusions

If we take into consideration the fact that Panasonic TC-P50S1 is a mid level product, the conclusion is a positive one. It does not have, indeed, the fancy features we find in top of the line products, such as Viera Cast web connectivity, or THX certification, but the lack in this department helps a lot in keeping the price down. At a less expensive price then those hanging on higher level plasma TVs, you enjoy 1080p resolution, great contrast, incredible black levels, good color saturation, which all make for an overall great picture quality, basically what one budget minded consumer would seek in a mid ranged plasma TV.

Want to Buy It?
This review applies to the following size variants:

  • 54″Panasonic TC-P54S1Buy on Amazon.com
  • 50″Panasonic TC-P50S1Buy on Amazon.com
    (the model reviewed here)
  • 46″Panasonic TC-P46S1Buy on Amazon.com
  • 42″Panasonic TC-P42S1Buy on Amazon.com
We recommend Amazon.com!

Because in our experience most of the time it has the best prices on HDTV, our recommended store is Amazon.com. Do look around for the best price, but make sure you don’t skip Amazon.com or you might miss a good deal.


Panasonic TC-P54G10 Review

The main thing that can be said about Panasonic TC-P54G10 is that it offers just the right balance between price and quality. Even though it does not exactly match the quality of its V10 counterpart in all areas, it falls only slightly behind it and it is also less expensive, which can make it the right choice for those that do not intend to spend more money just for a product that is a new release. As any Panasonic plasma TV released in 2009, it comes with many new and exciting features, also displaying exceptional black levels and overall picture quality. For a 54 inch plasma TV, it provides the viewer with a great watching experience, guaranteed by its overall great picture quality, marred only by a few flaws.

Note: Panasonic TC-P54G10 shares the same features and performance as all models in G10 Panasonic Plasma TV series. This review here is slightly shorter than the Panasonic TC-P50G10 review. If you want to find out a bit more about this model (especially about its features), feel free to consult that review as well.

At a Glance:

  • NeoPDP panel
  • Resolution: 1080p (standard) / 1920×1080
  • Contrast ratio: 40,000:1 (native) / 2,000,000:1 (dynamic)
  • Shades of gradation: 6144
  • THX certified
  • New AR Filter
  • 24p cinema mode
  • VIERA Cast™
  • VIERA Link™
  • VIERA Image Viewer™ with AVCHD playback
  • 600 Hz sub-field drive
  • 3 HDMI inputs

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • The superb black levels are the best on the market at this moment
  • Good colors using THX mode
  • Viera Cast and Amazon Video on Demand
  • Very good value for the money

Cons:

  • Colors are not perfect, especially in non-THX modes.
  • 1080p/24 content unwatchable using the 48Hz mode

Performance

With the best black levels ever seen on a plasma TV released in 2009, Panasonic TC-P54G10 can also boast about great shadow detail and contrast. These traits pile up for making overall great picture quality, despite little flaws that mar the otherwise impeccable data sheet on this plasma TV’s performance. Video processing is not at its best, and upscaling conversion has some issues, but, all in all, this model is surpassed only by its brother, TC-P54V10, in its size category.

Black Levels

In people’s homes and specialists’ tests, Panasonic TC-P54G10 has delivered an incredible quality of black levels that many did not see from the discontinued Kuro series manufactured by Pioneer. Providing for an incredible overall picture quality, along with very good shadow detail and contrast, this plasma TV has earned its place on the market. Its capabilities are due to the technology used, called “Infinite Black” that cause the pixels to turn off, where no light is present in the picture, making for this superior quality of the black levels.

Color Accuracy

With THX certification, Panasonic TC-P54G10 has the guts to present itself even to the most pretentious customers. Yet, there are voices saying that the greens can become somewhat offending to the eye, and even the THX mode can render the image to appear a little dim, in case the customer prefers better the brightly lit LCD’s. Also, the colors can become a little washed out, when the room is scalded in light. Panasonic is trying its best to eliminate the glare through special antireflective screens, but there are other competitors that managed to deal better with this issue.

Video Processing

Besides THX, Panasonic TC-P54G10 is superior to the S1 series also through the fact that it can handle 24p cinema mode. This means that you will be able to watch the latest Blu-ray discs. Yet, one cannot expect wonders, as the 48Hz frequency still delivers enough artefacts to render the watching a little too enduring, and it is highly recommended to use the 60Hz frequency to avoid this. The V10 is superior to the G10 in this matter as well, as its 96Hz frequency has eliminated the flicker altogether.

Noise Reduction

For SD content, Panasonic TC-P54G10 does a pretty decent job. This means that there are other plasma TV’s on the market that can perform better at this, despite the fact that Panasonic TC-P54G10 has solid noise reduction capabilities. Some jaggies appear around some objects, and the objects are not rendered as sharp as on other displays.

Conclusion

If you want the best of the best in 54 inch plasma TV, and money are not important, then TC-P54V10 should be the logical choice. But if you do intend to get a better deal, and still enjoy the second best, then you should go for the Panasonic TC-P54G10. It delivers great quality picture and it is less expensive than the top of the line, which matters for a plasma TV of this size.

Want to Buy It?
This review applies to the following size variants:

  • 54″Panasonic TC-P54G10Buy on Amazon.com
    (the model reviewed here)
  • 50″Panasonic TC-P50G10Buy on Amazon.com
  • 46″Panasonic TC-P46G10Buy on Amazon.com
  • 42″Panasonic TC-P42G10Buy on Amazon.com
We recommend Amazon.com!

Because in our experience most of the time it has the best prices on HDTV, our recommended store is Amazon.com. Do look around for the best price, but make sure you don’t skip Amazon.com or you might miss a good deal.


Panasonic TC-P46G10 Review

As well as its little brother Panasonic TC-P42G10, the 46 inch TC-P46G10 is considered to be the best plasma TV in its size category. Being gifted with the same great features available for the entire G10 series – amazing black levels and THX certification for great colors – this Panasonic plasma TV deserves such a great rating. The manufacturer seems to have thought about all the categories of customers. Those looking for a large screen plasma TV and better quality, may want to avert their attention towards the V10 series from Panasonic, while others that seek a better price deal, while settling for good (but not the best) quality, may be interested in Panasonic S1 models. But if you search for the best 46 inch plasma TV on sale right now, then your choice should be Panasonic TC-P46G10.

Note: Being part of Panasonic G10 series, this TV reviewed here shares the same features and quality present in all G10 models. For a slightly more in-depth review you should read Panasonic TC-P50G10 review of the 50 inch variant.

At a Glance:

  • NeoPDP panel
  • Resolution: 1080p (standard) / 1920×1080
  • Contrast ratio: 40,000:1 (native) / 2,000,000:1 (dynamic)
  • Shades of gradation: 6144
  • THX certified
  • New AR Filter
  • 24p cinema mode
  • VIERA Cast™
  • VIERA Link™
  • VIERA Image Viewer™ with AVCHD playback
  • 600 Hz sub-field drive
  • 3 HDMI inputs

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Has the same exceptional black levels as Panasonic V10 models
  • THX mode provides good colors out of the box
  • Viera Cast and Amazon Video on Demand
  • Very good primary color gamut

Cons:

  • Colors are not perfect. Equivalent Samsung models have more accurate colors.
  • Not for those with a tight budget
  • 1080p/24 content unwatchable using the 48Hz mode

Performance

It is not a wrong thing to say that, in terms of performance, TC-P46G10 from Panasonic is close to the very top of the line of plasma TVs released this year. One cannot complain about the impeccable black levels and shadow detail, even though color accuracy has some small flaws. The THX certification – that cannot be found in the previous series – is a warrant of great colors out of the box, no extra tweaking required. Video processing boasts about 24p cinema mode (also inexistent in the S1 series), but running the TV in 48Hz frequency still produces flicker, so owners of Panasonic TC-P46G10 have to use the 60Hz mode to avoid such artefacts when watching movies on a Blu Ray player.

Black Levels and Contrast

Panasonic TC-P46G10 shows its real powers when it comes to comparing its black levels with any other competitors. Expert reviewers agree that TC-P46G10 is on par with the V10 series, and only slightly behind the long acclaimed, but now out of production, Kuro from Pioneer, which is considered the best plasma TV ever made. The great quality of the black levels along with great contrast capabilities also influence the level of shadow detail, which is exquisite on the TC-P46G10.

Color Accuracy

With all the hype around the THX certification, one would expect no necessary extra tweaking to be needed for Panasonic TC-P46G10. Yet, specialists point out that color accuracy was not so easy to ignore, having small flaws, THX mode or not. Color decoding seems to be a problem for this model, as slight tinges of green and yellow may appear in scenes where such colors are predominant. Color saturation is good when watching HD content, but for SD sources, it seems to fall back a little.

1080p/24 Video Processing

It is not advisable to try to watch Blu-ray discs in 48Hz mode on Panasonic TC-P46G10. This option causes flicker to appear, and the whole watching experience is practically ruined. It is better to keep the 60Hz mode, this being a problem Panasonic succeeded solving, only with the V10 series that don’t come in 46 inch size.

Standard Definition / DVD Content

Attentive watchers can detect a certain level of graininess to the picture, when Panasonic TC-P46G10 makes the upscaling from SD sources, like the regular signal or DVDs. The contours are not as sharp as those rendered by other plasma TVs, and jaggies are still prone to appear. These do not cause big trouble, however, and watching your favorite DVDs won’t be a problem on this 46 inch plasma TV.

Conclusion

Panasonic TC-P46G10 is more than a good choice. If a 46 inch plasma TV is what you are looking for, then you should know there is hardly any other plasma TV in this size category to compete with this product. A step up from the manufacturer’s S1 series, Panasonic TC-P46G10 is the best you can get, even though V10 models are superior. As the latter does not come in 46 inch, we guess you know who sits comfortably on top of the list.

Want to Buy It?
This review applies to the following size variants:

  • 54″Panasonic TC-P54G10Buy on Amazon.com
  • 50″Panasonic TC-P50G10Buy on Amazon.com
  • 46″Panasonic TC-P46G10Buy on Amazon.com
    (the model reviewed here)
  • 42″Panasonic TC-P42G10Buy on Amazon.com
We recommend Amazon.com!

Because in our experience most of the time it has the best prices on HDTV, our recommended store is Amazon.com. Do look around for the best price, but make sure you don’t skip Amazon.com or you might miss a good deal.


Panasonic TC-P42G10 Review

This THX certified 42 inch plasma TV has impressed buyers and critics through its exceptional black levels and overall picture quality, ever since its release, being overcome only by the newest series from Panasonic V10, and, of course, the long acclaimed – but now discontinued – Pioneer Kuro. In its size category, (as V10 doesn’t come in 42 inch), it is the best, and this Panasonic plasma TV rises over the S1 series, through its THX certification and the pack of features it comes equipped with, like Viera Cast and the ability to access Amazon Video on Demand service.

This is a brief review of Panasonic TC-P42G10 and does not go into full detail, covering only the most important things. If you would like to read a more in-depth review, look at Panasonic TC-P50G10 review which is the 50 inch version from the same series. As both models are part of Panasonic G10 series, the only difference being their size, the same things apply to both models.

At a Glance

  • Uses the new NeoPDP panel
  • Resolution: 1080p (standard) / 1920×1080
  • Contrast ratio: 40,000:1 (native) / 2,000,000:1 (dynamic)
  • Shades of gradation: 6144
  • THX certified
  • New AR Filter
  • 24p cinema mode (not working well, though)
  • VIERA Cast™
  • VIERA Link™
  • VIERA Image Viewer™ with AVCHD playback
  • 600 Hz sub-field drive
  • 3 HDMI inputs

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Superb black levels and shadow detail, much like V10 series
  • Very good colors in THX mode
  • Nice to have features as Viera Cast and Internet connectivity
  • Great color gamut

Cons:

  • Color accuracy in non-THX mode requires tweaking
  • Relatively expensive
  • 1080p/24 mode produces flicker and is unpleasant to watch

Performance

Panasonic aimed at making picture quality in its 2009 plasma models the best ever seen. In this process, they succeeded in acquiring amazing black levels, and by adding the THX certification, to guarantee great out of the box colors. The colors are better in Panasonic TC-P42G10 than in its little brother, S1, and adding the 24p cinema mode (which however doesn’t work well), this plasma model wishes to draw attention from videophiles. There are still some issues with video processing, when using the 48Hz mode for watching 1080p/24 frames video content, but overall, there is little to complain, especially since you can find some great deal prices. To cut the story short, if you are looking for a smaller size plasma TV, then this is one choice that you won’t regret.

Black Levels

Buyers’ opinions and specialists’ tests altogether show the same thing: Panasonic TC-P42G10 displays incredible black levels and shadow detail. The contrast ratio, combined with this trait, delivers an amazing cinematic experience, and not even the most pretentious buyers have trouble finding anything to complain about. Panasonic’s Real Black Drive System, along with the new NeoPDP panel that Panasonic TC-P42G10 comes equipped with, helps a lot in achieving the deepest blacks, as the level of illumination on the screen is well reduced in areas where the pixels are shut off.

Color Accuracy

Performing better than the S1 series in terms of color accuracy, Panasonic TC-P42G10 can boast about its THX certification, because it can help in delivering better looking colors, without having to tweak with the settings or to pay for a professional calibration service. Yet, there is some criticism directed at the G10 series, that has yet to achieve perfect color accuracy, not even the THX mode being able to solve some small issues.

Video Processing

Panasonic TC-P42G10 can display with great results 1080p and 1080i content. When it comes to delivering good quality pictures from 1080p/24 frames video sources, such as Blu-ray discs, even if the G10 series has the possibility to use a 48Hz mode (a multiple of 24), it is recommended to let the plasma TV handle the source using the 60Hz mode, as the first causes flicker to appear, rendering the content unwatchable.

Noise Reduction

When it has to deal with upscale conversion, Panasonic TC-P42G10 does not encounter too much trouble, as its noise reduction capabilities are quite solid. Still, some details reproduced from DVD’s do not look as sharp as on other HDTV’s and the problem of jaggies is still obnoxious enough to not be looked over so easily.

Bottom Line

If you are searching for a smaller size plasma TV, then you got yourself a winner. Panasonic TC-P42G10 performs very well, and the image it displays is of superior quality. The little flaws the series carries do not count too much, as they do not actually hinder a great watching experience. From all Panasonic plasma TV models launched this year, this is the best 42 inch HDTV and one of the best overall.

Want to Buy It?
This review applies to the following size variants:

  • 54″Panasonic TC-P54G10Buy on Amazon.com
  • 50″Panasonic TC-P50G10Buy on Amazon.com
  • 46″Panasonic TC-P46G10Buy on Amazon.com
  • 42″Panasonic TC-P42G10Buy on Amazon.com
    (the model reviewed here)
We recommend Amazon.com!

Because in our experience most of the time it has the best prices on HDTV, our recommended store is Amazon.com. Do look around for the best price, but make sure you don’t skip Amazon.com or you might miss a good deal.


Panasonic TC-P50G10 Review

With the G10 series release, Panasonic proved its serious intentions of taking over the plasma TV market in 2009. Although this Panasonic plasma TV is slightly below the newer V10 series, in terms of performance, it is still a great purchase, with Panasonic TC-P50G10 being rightfully considered being very close to top of the line products. For a 50 inch plasma TV, Panasonic TC-P50G10 has the excellent black levels one can find in the superior V10, and, despite some minor color accuracy issues, it is nothing but a fully feature pack that any buyer would enjoy. Also, it represents a step up from the previous Panasonic series, like S1, being appointed with the new THX certification that guarantees good colors right off the box.

Specifications:

  • NeoPDP panel
  • Resolution: 1080p (standard) / 1920×1080
  • Contrast ratio: 40,000:1 (native) / 2,000,000:1 (dynamic)
  • Shades of gradation: 6144
  • THX certified
  • New AR Filter
  • 24p cinema mode
  • VIERA Cast™
  • VIERA Link™
  • VIERA Image Viewer™ with AVCHD playback
  • 600 Hz sub-field drive
  • 3 HDMI inputs

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Amazing black levels – similar if not the same as V10 series
  • Good colors provided in THX mode
  • Nice extra features such as Viera Cast
  • Excellent primary color gamut

Cons:

  • Some issues encountered in color accuracy
  • Not for the budget minded customer
  • Flicker appears in 48Hz mode when viewing 24 frames content

Features

When talking about Panasonic TC-P50G10, one cannot help to compare the product with the series produced by the same manufacturer, as well as with other products on the market. It seems that Panasonic has a battle to win over its own plasma TVs, because they succeeded in rising over the competition with the new series they have launched so far this year. As things are getting better, the newest Panasonic TC-P50V10 is overall superior to G10, but one can easily see why G10 is above the previous S1 series and many other plasma TVs.

The THX certification counts as an extra feature that makes the difference. Of course, other interesting traits such as Viera Cast that allows for access to some Internet entertainment venues add up to the price tag, but if you are looking for a buff out plasma with all the extras that you can get your hands on, than this 50 inch plasma TV should be your first choice. You cannot find any of these in a S1 model, and you will be required to spend extra for enjoying top quality.

Another feature that is meant to attract customers towards Panasonic TC-P50G10 is the ability to access Amazon Video on Demand for movies; the user can preview the content before buying, which is a big plus when one wants to make a buy. Plus, if you are familiar with the buzz around the new NeoPDP panel, than you know that Panasonic TC-P50G10 was granted with it, which means it has a significantly improved picture quality over 2008 models.

Connectivity

A G10 cannot boast about connectivity capabilities, in the same way as a V10. With three HDMI inputs, 2 component-video inputs, one AV input with composite and S-Video, and one RF input for cable or antenna, as well as one VGA input for PC, the connectivity on Panasonic TC-P50G10 is standard. If you want to hook up a home theater audio system, it is possible through the Digital Optical audio output. You can also watch your favorite pictures, or watch videos or listen to music, using the SD slot that TC-P50G10 comes equipped with.

Design


The style of TC-P50G10 is meant to be attractive and elegant. Even though it cannot boast about the one sheet glass that complements the V10’s looks, it still looks sophisticated enough to be installed in a pretentious living room. A thin frame goes around the edge of the screen, rimmed by a silver line that fades to black, into interior. The look is also complemented by the glossy rounded stand, but, unfortunately, this does not swivel, so its practical trait is somewhat lacking.

Performance

Panasonic TC-P50G10 provides the user with excellent picture quality, due to its amazing black levels. The model from G10 series is superior to its little brother from the S1 series, even in terms of color accuracy, because of its THX certification. Even so, one seeking to search for G10’s flaws would notice that colors should be better in such a praised product. Also, a thing to be noted about video processing is that engaging the 48Hz mode will cause flicker to appear when watching 1080p/24 frames content. But, overall, this 50 inch plasma TV is a great performer, despite its minuses.

Black Levels

This is one of TC-P50G10’s strongest points. The model exhibits excellent black levels, the same that can be encountered in V10 models, and it is not surpassed by any other plasma TV, except for Pioneer’s Kuro, which is no longer in production. Due to its capabilities, this Panasonic plasma TV can stand side by side with the Kuro in many aspects considering the black levels, including the shadows details, that falls only a little behind the praised – but defunct – Pioneer model. Also, this G10 model scores better than its S1 relatives, which do not succeed in displaying the same amazing black levels. The quality of its contrast capabilities is hard to surpass and it gives a realistic experience when watching movies.

Color Accuracy

As said earlier, it is hard to comment on what is lacking in TC-P50G10, as the image quality is just unbelievable in a world without Kuro. But, yet, color decoding doesn’t seem to work all that great, and there are other plasma models that can boast about providing better color accuracy than the Panasonic (e.g. Samsung models). Even the THX mode fails to provide the viewer with a perfect color quality in terms of the HDTV standard, and, even if for the unpracticed eye, it may not be an issue, specialists can tell that the green and yellow tinge that the image gets during some scenes. Still, Panasonic TC-P50G10 displays more than decent colors, and better than those exhibited on the previous Panasonic models, including the S1 series. You should also keep in mind that the slightly inaccurate colors are not obvious in a real life scenario unless you’re looking for this “flaw” on purpose.

Video Processing

Panasonic TC-P50G10 has great video processing capabilities, and it has no problem displaying 1080p, as well as 1080i content. Even though the model is equipped with a fancy feature called 600Hz sub field drive, designed to reduce motion blur, one can hardly tell if any improvement is visible. The thing is that Panasonic TC-P50G10 performs great, and it does not show any motion blur, like many other plasma TVs, so this feature can hardly act as a true enhancer, being a mere marketing vehicle and no more.

As far as 1080p/24 frames content goes, it is advisable to let the plasma handle this video source at 60Hz frequency, as the 48Hz mode cannot help to produce flicker, which may lead to a subpar experience. As Blu-ray disc provide such content, and they are the latest buzz in home entertainment, it is obvious why Panasonic TC-P50G10 must perform well in this area. It seems that Panasonic solved the issue about the multiple of 24 frames frequency only starting with the V10 series, that can now handle 1080p/24 frames sources without flicker at 96Hz. As far as the G10 series is concerned, it is recommended to let the plasma TV handle such video content in 60Hz mode, rather than venturing with the 48Hz mode. No matter how good the intentions, the flicker that it exhibits can be really bothersome.

Standard Definition Content

When it comes to displaying standard definition content, Panasonic TC-P50G10 is able to provide solid noise reduction, but its abilities in reproducing high quality picture for SD are somehow limited. The details on the scenes coming from DVD sources are not as sharp as in HDTV models made by other manufacturers, and, while it does remove unwanted snow or motes from images with skies, jaggies still appear around some objects.

Glare

In 2009, Panasonic came with a new antireflective screen, which reduces the glare coming from ambient light. The TC-P50G10 does a good job at attenuating glare and reflections in a room with average light. It is one of the best HDTVs from this perspective, however some LCD models are more recommended if you have a lot of sunlight.

Conclusion

Before the appearance of the V10 series (also coming from Panasonic), Panasonic TC-P50G10 rightfully achieved the title of the best plasma TV released in 2009. As the replacement is just its big brother, there may be no complaints here. Plus, the differences in quality between the two series can be considered negligible, by someone that is not absurdly pretentious. All in all, TC-P50G10 is a great product, able to provide amazing picture quality, with incredible black levels, despite some color accuracy issues. If you want a top quality 50 inch plasma TV, the TC-P50G10 should be on your list.

Want to Buy It?
This review applies to the following size variants:

  • 54″Panasonic TC-P54G10Buy on Amazon.com
  • 50″Panasonic TC-P50G10Buy on Amazon.com
    (the model reviewed here)
  • 46″Panasonic TC-P46G10Buy on Amazon.com
  • 42″Panasonic TC-P42G10Buy on Amazon.com
We recommend Amazon.com!

Because in our experience most of the time it has the best prices on HDTV, our recommended store is Amazon.com. Do look around for the best price, but make sure you don’t skip Amazon.com or you might miss a good deal.


Panasonic TC-P54V10 Review

The V10 series from Panasonic comes in large sizes, being addressed to those videophiles that love a nearly life like experience when watching their favorite shows or movies. Panasonic TC-P54V10 is considered by many to be the rightful replacement for the defunct Kuro from Pioneer. In 2009, Panasonic graced the plasma market with a large gamut of series, from low budget products to expensive and competitive HDTVs. This Panasonic plasma TV is very much similar with G10 series, but it does come with many improvements, like better video processing capabilities, for 1080p/24 frames content, and more picture adjustments settings. In its size category, this 54 inch plasma TV challenges the first place, and no one seems to see it otherwise. In this review of Panasonic TC-P54V10 we will take a look at what exactly this HDTV has to offer.

Important note: This is a brief review of Panasonic TC-P54V10 and it points out only the most important aspects. For a more complete, in-depth review, check out Panasonic TC-P50V10 review. While the model numbers are different, one being a 54 inch model and the other a 50 inch model, they are in fact identical. Both of them being members of Panasonic V10 series, the feature set and performances of TC-P54V10 and TC-P50V10 are the same.

Brief Specifications of TC-P54V10

  • Screen size: 54 inch
  • Resolution: 1080p (standard) / 1920×1080 (exact)
  • Panel type: NeoPDP (new panel from 2009)
  • Contrast ratio: 40,000:1 (native) / 2,000,000:1 (dynamic)
  • Shades of gradation: 6144
  • THX certified: YES
  • Anti-glare filter: New AR Filter
  • 24p cinema mode: YES
  • Digital Cinema Color
  • VIERA CAST™
  • VIERA Image Viewer™ with AVCHD Playback
  • VIERA Link™
  • 600Hz Sub-field Drive
  • 4 HDMI inputs

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Best black levels from any 2009 HDTV (plasma or LCD)
  • Very good video processing with smooth 1080p/24 playback
  • THX mode (accurate colors out of the box)
  • Plenty of connectivity options (4 HDMI connectors)
  • Beautiful slim design (2 inch)
  • Plenty of features and picture controls
  • Very good anti-glare performance

Cons:

  • Colors are not perfect if not in THX mode
  • Standard definition performance is satisfactory but not great
  • Being a high-end plasma TV, it is relatively expensive

Performance

Besides exhibiting the new NeoPDP panel type and the one sheet of glass design, Panasonic TC-P54V10 lacks nothing in terms of quality. Displaying great black levels and accurate shadow details, coming front with enhanced video processing, when using 96Hz mode, and great connectivity options, this model from Panasonic is rightfully considered one of the best plasma TV’s that were launched so far this year. It would not be a wrong thing to say that this nearly top of the line product should be listed on any videophile’s wishlist.

Exceptional Black Levels

Visual contrast is one of the best of Panasonic TC-P54V10 traits. Due to its exceptional black levels – even though specialists consider that the V10 series from Panasonic has yet to acquire the ink like blacks of the discontinued Pioneer’s Kuro -, the watcher will experience a realistic cinema experience, with great shadow details that makes for great picture quality.

Color Accuracy is Good

While color accuracy does not lack from Panasonic TC-P54V10, one needs to tweak with color adjustments, especially in non THX modes. If it is one point where this model from Panasonic has yet to achieve greatness, than this is the one. Yet, its ability to display great black levels does temper what it is lacking in color accuracy.

Video Processing

Video processing is one of the greatest features of Panasonic TC-P54V10. If you want to watch great quality 1080p/24 frames content, you will need to choose the 96Hz mode, as, with other modes, like 60Hz, or 48Hz, the flicker effect is prone to appear, ruining the watching experience. So, if your Blu player is set to provide this type of content, then it is recommended to use 96Hz frequency, for the best results; you will not be disappointed. If the characteristic called 600Hz subfield drive, then you should know this is merely a buzzword meant to attract more sales, while it does little to enhance motion resolution, which is already great with many plasma TV’s.

Standard Definition

To point a minus for Panasonic TC-P54V10, standard definition content is displayed satisfactorily, with solid noise reduction capabilities, but there are still jagged edges that may appear, dampening a little the praises the model receives for its capabilities.

The bottom line

While it performs better than its little brothers from G10 series, Panasonic TC-P54V10 has a few areas that not quite covered, like displaying great quality picture for standard definition content or the best of the best in terms of color accuracy. Yet, one can hardly hold these against the acclaimed Panasonic TC-P54V10, as it does have excellent black levels, and amazing video capabilities, which makes watching any Blu Ray content in 1080p/24 output mode a great realistic experience.

Want to Buy It?
This review applies to the following size variants:

  • 54″Panasonic TC-P54V10Buy on Amazon.com
    (the model reviewed here)
  • 50″Panasonic TC-P50V10Buy on Amazon.com
We recommend Amazon.com!

Because in our experience most of the time it has the best prices on HDTV, our recommended store is Amazon.com. Do look around for the best price, but make sure you don’t skip Amazon.com or you might miss a good deal.


Panasonic TC-P50V10 Review

Since taking over the empty space let by Pioneer in the plasma TV market, Panasonic has done well, focusing as much on products meant for the budget minded customer, as well as on plasma TV’s designed for those that crave for feature loaded gizmos, no matter the price tag attached. Panasonic TC-P50V10 from 2009 is still behind the Kuro PRO-111FD manufactured by Pioneer, but, since this one is no longer in production, this 50 inch plasma TV is aiming for the role of leader on the market. The Panasonic plasma TV line named V10 stands better than other counterparts, and even with other series coming of Panasonic production line, like the G10 series. Let’s see what’s the fuss about this specific product, that enjoys much praise both from specialists and general public.

While this specific review is based on the 50 inch Panasonic TC-P50V10, everything you read here also applies to the 54 inch variant Panasonic TC-P54V10. Both models are part of Panasonic V10 series and have the same features and performance. If you want to buy any of them, they are both listed at the bottom of the review.

Brief Specifications of TC-P50V10

  • Screen size: 50 inch
  • Resolution: 1080p (standard) / 1920×1080 (exact)
  • Panel type: NeoPDP
  • Contrast ratio: 40,000:1 (native) / 2,000,000:1 (dynamic)
  • Shades of gradation: 6144
  • THX certified: YES
  • Anti-glare filter: New AR Filter
  • 24p cinema mode: YES
  • Digital Cinema Color
  • VIERA CAST™
  • VIERA Image Viewer™ with AVCHD Playback
  • VIERA Link™
  • 600Hz Sub-field Drive
  • 4 HDMI inputs

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Exceptional black levels – best seen on a 2009 HDTV
  • Excellent video processing capabilities
  • Accurate colors, in THX modes
  • Great connectivity options
  • Slim Design – only 2 inch
  • Many features
  • Very good anti-glare performance. Some LCD TVs do perform better, however.

Cons:

  • Not so accurate colors, in non THX modes
  • Not so good at displaying standard definition content
  • Hefty price tag

What’s new

If compared with the less expensive G10 series from Panasonic, V10 has the same performance in displaying accurate black levels, but it also comes packed with some extra features. Its video processing capabilities are improved so they can handle nicely 1024p/24 mode, and the possibility to transcend even THX mode limitations, due to its many picture adjustments options. This 2009 line of Panasonic plasma TV’s has the new NeoPDP panel – which you will not find in the least expensive plasma models from Panasonic, even if they are released this year, as well (such as X1, C1 and U1 series). Other aspects to be noted about TC-P50V10 are its 40:000:1 contrast ratio and the new 600Hz sub-field drive (common to Panasonic 2009 plasma models), considered to be a contributor to fast video processing.

Features

A great thing about the plasma TV that seems to garner all the attention from public and critics altogether is that it comes fully packed with new and exciting features, such as Digital Cinema Color gamut, which allows for a wider color range than in other HDTVs. Let’s not forget about TC-P50V10’s interactive features, such as VieraCast, which can be used to watch YouTube clips, Picasa photos or news about the weather. Amazon Video on Demand via VieraCast is also available with this Panasonic plasma TV, allowing you to preview content before making a purchase, although you cannot use the THX mode to watch it at that stage. Although there are so many incredible features worth using, on the other hand Panasonic TC-P50V10 has others that are not that important, like 600Hz sub field drive (which does very little to improve an already awesome picture), and the Neo PDP panel, claimed to help saving energy. While this may be true, this Panasonic will still affect your energy bill, as it is one of the energy demanding HDTVs on the market right now.

Connectivity

With 4 HDMI inputs, 2 video inputs, one AV input, one optical digital audio output and one analog stereo audio output, it cannot be said that Panasonic TC-P50V10 lacks in terms of connectivity. You can also hook up your PC with your plasma, you can do so by using the VGA input, but it is recommended to use instead a HDMI source, and the THX mode for better performance, as the VGA input can stand a resolution of maximum 1,366×768, and the result is inferior to the one delivered via HDMI.

Design

Panasonic TC-P50V10 is only 2 inch thick and the glass extends over the entire screen, covering the bezel.

Panasonic TC-P50V10 is only 2 inch thick and the glass extends over the entire screen, covering the bezel.

The appearance of TC-P50V10 may be considered in itself a recommendation. It does impress with its sleek design – it is just 2 inch thick, as the G15 series from the same manufacturer – and the general look spells elegance. One trait that the company boasts about is the sheet of glass that covers the screen, passing over its borders, complementing the product with a seamless sophisticated look. Many consider the V10 design to be one step up from the G10 series, even though the one sheet design makes the models with the same dimension to weigh a little more when you opt for a V10.

Another thing that is largely appreciated by customers looking for a competitive plasma TV is the swivel stand that Panasonic TC-P50V10 comes equipped with, that cannot be found in less expensive products.

Performance

While some customers would look twice at the price tag for Panasonic TC-P50V10, the expense can easily be justified by the performance this 2009 model displays. The truth is that TC-P50V10 stays with upper level plasma TV’s and its place on the market is recognizable. It is famous for its excellent black levels and its accurate colors, as well as its performance in video processing. We will take a closer look at each of these traits, as follows.

Black Levels

Black levels represent an area where Panasonic TC-P50V10 performs very well, yet one can hardly tell the difference between the V10 and a representative of the G10 series. While it surpasses any LCD, as well as many plasma TV’s, this Panasonic plasma TV has yet to challenge the quality of black levels one still enjoys on a Pioneer. For what it is worth, seeing that the long appraised Kuro models from Pioneer are discontinued, this 50 inch plasma TV is as good as they get, in terms of black levels. This excellent black level quality is a warrant for a realistic cinematic experience, as the shadow details are displayed with great accuracy, and the blacks are the deepest seen in 2009 plasma TV models. Although, it is worth mentioning that, as far as shadow detail level goes, Panasonic TC-P50V10 stands on the same spot as the acclaimed Pioneer. It must be said, though, that black levels on a G10 representative are about the same quality, which is actually a big plus for the manufacturer as they succeed to promote such great products.

Color Accuracy

If someone were to have something to say against Panasonic TC-P50V10, then they would go for criticizing color accuracy. The overall quality of the colors displayed on the screen at any given time is very good, but not the absolute best, especially in non-THX mode. As a result, the users needs to tweak a little with the color saturation when in Custom mode, if they want to get rid of some reddish tinge to skin tones, or of too much green in other scenes. Due to these minuses, some images may not look as realistic and accurate as they should, but the great grayscale V10 is equipped with can compensate, providing the means to tweak the image until natural colors are achieved. Luckily, due to its perfect blacks, no bluish tinge can be identified in darker scenes, which makes for a great contribution in making Panasonic TC-P50V10 better than any LCD on the market.

Video Processing

In order to get the best of what Panasonic TC-P50V10 can do in terms of video processing, one needs to run their television in the hyped 96Hz mode. While many such marketing gimmicks usually fail to deliver, it is not the case with this one. If you want to see no flicker when running 1080p/24 frames content on your plasma TV, you need to switch to 96Hz mode, as it does deliver as promised. This is a must, as in 60Hz, or 48Hz modes, the watcher will notice hitching effects, also encountered in G10 models, that will ruin the whole movie experience. Panasonic TC-P50V10 handles well any kind of 1080p and 1080i content, so, all in all, at video processing, this model surpasses its competitors, hanging yet another tress on its shoulders.

Standard definition

When standard definition content is displayed on the screen, Panasonic TC-P50V10 fails to overcome the troubles genuinely attached with this type of video sources. While it does succeed to reduce noise quite well, experiencing jagged lines is not uncommon with this type of plasma TV. If you intend to watch DVD format content on Panasonic TC-P50V10, do not expect it to provide as much sharp details as other plasma TV’s that are currently sold on the market. One needs to tweak with the Video NR and MPEG NR settings for getting rid of the ‘snow’ effect from skies when such scenes are displayed on the screen.

Glare and Reflections

As many other plasma TV’s, Panasonic TC-P50V10 does not outperform LCD’s at this task. For V10, Panasonic did not come up with a new type of anti-reflective screen, which is the same we encounter in the G10 series. While it does a good job, it is hard to say that the black levels keep the same quality when we are watching our favorite programs on this plasma model, in a room scalded in light. It can be noted, however, that Panasonic is one step further than its counterparts designed by other manufacturers, except Sony and the discontinued Pioneer.

Conclusion

The V10 series from Panasonic shows plenty of goodies to go around. Yet, for now, Panasonic TC-P50V10 is not oriented to the budget minded consumer, but to the one that does not mind spending a little extra to complement their house with an elegant looking plasma TV, that also performs well; these lucky people can boast about having installed in their living room one of the best plasma TV’s that are currently sold on the market. While it does not perform off the scale at every performance aspect, if you have the money, Panasonic TC-P50V10 is worth a second glance, as, for the moment being, it can be said that this is, indeed, the best plasma TV on sale on the market.

Want to Buy It?
This review applies to the following size variants:

  • 50″Panasonic TC-P50V10Buy on Amazon.com
    (the exact model used for this review)
  • 54″Panasonic TC-P54V10Buy on Amazon.com
We recommend Amazon.com!

Because in our experience most of the time it has the best prices on HDTV, our recommended store is Amazon.com. Do look around for the best price, but make sure you don’t skip Amazon.com or you might miss a good deal.


Samsung PN50A650 Review


In this review we are going to take a look at Samsung PN50A650 plasma TV. In terms of overall quality, Samsung PN50A650 is somewhere between Panasonic PZ800U/PZ850U series and PZ80U/PZ85U series (also from Panasonic). It is a plasma TV that doesn’t excel in any area, while managing to be better than the pack. No matter what aspect we take into consideration, it will not be able to outperform Pioneer Kuro or the high-end models from Panasonic. That being said though, for its price it offers great value. It is cheaper than Pioneer and high-end Panasonic models, so for those of you who must keep an eye on the budget, it is a very good plasma TV to buy.

Specifications

  • Screen Size: 50 inch (designated by “50” in PN50A650)
  • Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)

Pros

  • Great color accuracy.
  • Good value for money.
  • Plenty of picture controls. Useful only if you want to change the picture to suit your taste, since it offers very good quality out of the box (no need for calibration).
  • Very good black levels. Not a match for Panasonic or Pioneer though (see below).
  • More than enough connectivity options.

Cons

  • Not to great anti-glare screen. You get reflections if you have a bright room. Panasonic and Pioneer have much better anti-reflective screens.
  • Black levels inferior to Panasonic and Pioneer models (though better than the rest).
  • The “red touch of color” is not optional. It might not suit your taste or room design.

With a Red Touch of Color

Normally, I don’t consider the looks of a HDTV important enough to mention in a review. However, in the case of this model I must point out a few things. Samsung PN50A650, as well as all the models in A650 line, comes with a very distinctive design feature: its frame has a red color. While this clearly makes it stand out, it will not be appreciated by everybody. If you don’t like its “Red Touch of Color” there’s not much you can do. It only comes in red, and if you prefer black you will have to look for other model. Closest in terms of performance is Samsung PN50A550. Though I understand Samsung’s strategy, wanting to differentiate themselves from other brands, I think it would have been nice to offer this model in the usual black as well.

Picture Quality

Picture quality is very good. Samsung PN50A650 has accurate colors out of the box. Unless you’re a pro, I don’t think there is any need to calibrate it. Just choose “Warm 2″ setting and you’re set. The colors, though very good otherwise, are lacking the punch specific to more expensive models like Panasonic TH-50PZ850U and Pioneer Kuro PDP-5020FD. When it comes to black levels, PN50A650 isn’t a match for Panasonic high-end models, and it is at a long distance behind Pioneer Kuro panels. Even so, it is much better than most of the other plasma TVs out there.

Video processing performance is also very good, Samsung PN50A650 doing a great job with both HD and SD content. When it comes to SD, the noise reduction feature does its job properly, improving the low quality picture. Its efficiency however, doesn’t quite seem to match the one of A550, Samsung or Pioneer.

(In)Efficiency of the Anti-Glare Screen

Compared to all the plasma TV models around, the anti-glare performance of PN50A650 is good. Compared to Panasonic and Pioneer models hoverer, is not that great. Though Samsung has improved the anti-glare coating, PN50A650 handling reflections better than PN50A550, it is still a long way behind the exceptional anti-glare screen of Pioneer Kuro models. If you don’t have much light in the room or you prefer to dim the lights when you watch TV, this won’t be a big deal. However, if you get a lot of sunlight through the window and it hits the TV, or the light bulbs will reflect from the screen, your viewing experience will be affected.

Connectivity and Features

Connectivity

Samsung PN50A650 covers all your connectivity needs. It has four HDMI connectors, one of them being on the side panel. It also has two component video inputs, two S-Video and two composite (one of each on the side panel), one RF connector for antenna or cable, VGA and audio input for computer connectivity and a digital audio output (optical). On the side panel it also has a headphone jack and a USB port.

Anti Burn-In Features

As most of the latest plasma TVs, Samsung PN50A650 has features to prevent it from developing burn-in as well as features to fix (or at least try to fix) burn-in. There’s the pixel shifting feature which moves the whole image around to reduce the chances of burn-in, the possibility to make the sidebars of 4:3 content gray instead of black and two variations of white wash. One of the white wash features completely fills the screen with white, while the other is moving gray bars around the screen (acting as a burn-in eraser).

Controls

PN50A650 has plenty controls for picture. It has three picture modes independent per input and three more which are not independent per input. It also has color temperature presets and white balance, noise reduction, gamma, dynamic contrast, black level adjustment and a color gamut control. You will probably not mess around with them, PN50A650 coming out of the box with very good picture quality. There are more controls than I enumerated here, but I won’t list them all. You can rest assured that nothing is missing, Samsung PN50A650 being one of the plasma TVs that come with a full set of picture controls.

Extra Features

On the side panel, there’s an USB port where you can plug in your memory stick and watch photos from it. It’s a handy feature, and those digital photos really look good on a 1080p display. Aside from watching your pictures you can also play MP3 music from the USB memory.

Compared to Other Plasma TVs

Samsung PN50A650 vs Samsung PN50A550

They are very similar, overall the picture quality being almost identical. The PN50A650 model has an improved anti-glare screen, and though not as impressive as the one in a Pioneer Kuro, it does handle reflections better than PN50A550. Samsung PN50A550 comes with the FilterBright anti-glare screen, while PN50A650 has the Ultra FilterBright. The PN50A650 also has a bit more connectivity options. On the back side it has a 3rd HDMI connector, with the one on the side having a total of four HDMI connectors. When it comes to looks, PN50A550 has a black frame, while PN50A650 has the red touch of color specific to latest Samsung models.

Samsung PN50A650 vs Panasonic TH-50PZ800U & TH-50PZ850U

Samsung PN50A650 is not a serious competitor to any of these high-end Panasonic models. The black levels are not so deep and the colors are not really as deep as the ones of TH-50PZ800U, nor as vivid as those of TH-50PZ850U. Regarding connectivity they are similar, offering plenty of connectors for any home theater setup. When it comes to features, though there are differences, in real life none of them weights enough to push you towards a specific plasma TV. Basically it comes down to picture quality and price – Panasonic looks better, while Samsung is cheaper.

Samsung PN50A650 vs Panasonic TH-50PZ80U & TH-50PZ85U

PN50A650 is overall a bit better than the two Panasonic models. Both TH-50PZ80U and TH-50PZ85U have deeper black levels and more vivid colors, but as a whole I am inclined towards Samsung’s picture. The colors are much better, with more natural tones, and even though the blacks are not as deep, PN50A650 looks better. You can also add to that the extra features that PN50A650 has, and that will weight the balance even more towards Samsung. The difference between Samsung PN50A650 and Panasonic TH-50PZ80U and TH-50PZ85U is not big though, all of them being in the same class.

Samsung PN50A650 vs Pioneer Kuro

There’s no reason in comparing them. PN50A650 is a mile behind Kuro PDP-5020FD from any perspective. If it isn’t a match for Panasonic you can bet it doesn’t have a chance against Kuro. Of course, on the good side, you are required to pay much less for a PN50A650. If it closely matches your budget, PN50A650 is going to be a great choice. Samsung PN50A650 is not the absolute best plasma TV on the market, but still, one of the best.


Panasonic Viera TH-50PZ800U Review

 

 

In this review, you get to read about a plasma TV that comes with both exceptional picture quality, as well as a very good price tag. Panasonic Viera TH-50PZ800U is not a cheap model, being one of the top models, but considering the quality it offers it makes the best deal. This combination of high quality and approachable price, will probably make Panasonic TH-50PZ800U one of the most popular plasma TVs of this year. In a nutshell, you get deep blacks, accurate colors, good anti-glare screen and plenty of connectivity options, all packed in a sleek design.

Specifications:

  • Screen Size: 50 inch
  • Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)

Pros:

  • Great value for the money.
  • Perfect colors thanks to THX mode.
  • No need for calibration, offering a great experience out-of-the-box.
  • Very good black levels and great detail in dark areas of the picture.
  • Sufficient connectivity options

Cons:

  • Black levels not as good as those of Pioneer Kuro models.
  • No fancy features like network connectivity or access to internet services.
  • No advanced picture controls, albeit it doesn’t really need them.

Picture Quality

THX Certification Brings Perfect Colors

I’m personally not very impressed by buzzwords, usually managing to go beyond all the fuss around them in search of a real benefit, if one exists. THX Certification is a buzzword, but fortunately it also has a real benefit to back it up; unlike other specs (e.g. huge contrast ratio numbers). With or without THX, what matters is the picture quality, so I will focus on that and try to put everything in context in order for you to understand why THX matters (or not).

THX is a standard and only a standard. Moreover, it refers strictly to color accuracy, which is just one of the many things that make up great quality. You see, obtaining a superb picture from a HDTV is a matter of getting many factors to work together in harmony. Color accuracy is just not enough by itself. Black levels, contrast, brightness, environment and even your very own eyes, are factors that determine the overall quality of the picture. That being said, a HDTV that complies with the THX standard is one that has the color factor covered up. Being THX certified means colors close to perfect and that is the reason THX certification is a benefit.

From a different perspective, not being THX certified doesn’t mean anything. You should not make the mistake of thinking that just because a TV isn’t THX certified it means its colors are not accurate. Also, you should also understand that you are a human being, and your definition of “perfect colors” might be different than the one experts came up with. This entire explanation of THX, is not to emphasize nor to put in a bad light the qualities of Panasonic models that have such certification, but to give you a heads up so you don’t fall in a marketing trap and disregard models without such certification. Remember, what matters is the actual benefit not the buzzword!

Now that I’ve gave you that heads-up, let’s cut to the cheese. Panasonic Viera TH-50PZ800U has perfect colors out of the box. You just select THX mode and you’re ready to watch your favorite movie at best quality. Is not much more that I can say regarding the colors of TH-50PZ800U – “perfect” sums it all up pretty well. However I do want to tell you how it compares against other plasma TVs in this area. Most HDTVs have a slightly wider color gamut than the HDTV standard. In layman terms, that means more vivid colors – tomatoes appear redder, grass is greener, etc. According to the HDTV standard, most HDTVs are not perfect. Some can be calibrated and get close to perfect, others not so close. To a certain extent this is a very subjective matter, some people liking more vivid colors while others prefer the accurate ones. From this point of view, Panasonic Viera TH-50PZ800, is superior to other models since it has accurate colors out of the box, and if you happen to want them more vivid you can calibrate it, or should I say “mess it up”, as you want.

Deep Black Levels

Pioneer is without doubt “king of the dark”. Panasonic, though not an equal match in this area, certainly deserves recognition. The black levels of TH-50PZ800U are very deep and from that results great quality. There are significant differences between the blacks of Panasonic TH-50PZ800U and a Pioneer model like PDP-5020FD, but when compared to other plasma TV brands, TH-50PZ800U rises above.

Many movies have night or predominantly dark scenes. That’s where you can see the quality of the black levels. TH-PZ800U has very deep blacks in areas like night skies or those dark corners in SF or horror movies. At the same time it maintains a great amount of detail in areas such as slightly lighter clouds on a dark sky or terrain contour at night. The gradients are also very good, with smooth transition from pure blacks to lighter colors.

SD Content

Standard definition performance of TH-50PZ800U is good. After all, you can’t expect miracles from poor quality material. Compared to its main competitors it has similar performances. Pioneer Kuro PDP-5020FD, Samsung PN50A650, Samsung PN50A550 and even his younger brother Panasonic Viera TH-PZ850U, all perform in a similar way when feed with SD content. The noise reduction is efficient, albeit common to all HDTVs, and comes very useful when watching SD content. Since this is a 1080p plasma TV, if you plan to watch mostly SD content you will probably get a better deal with the cheaper 720p Panasonic Viera TH-50PX80U, which is more suitable for SD content.

Connectivity and Features

Audio & Speakers

It has four speakers, two on each side. Two of the speakers are woofers, producing low frequency sounds (55Hz – 200Hz), while the other two speakers cover the higher frequencies (200Hz – 17kHz). The sound is more than decent for watching TV and is acceptable even for HD movies. Of course if you really want quality and power you better put some money aside for a serious home theater audio system.

Connectivity

There’s nothing extraordinary here. As with any top quality plasma TV, Panasonic TH-50PZ800U has everything you need to hook it up with other devices. It has the usual front door under the screen which covers a HDMI input, composite, S-Video and, as we’ve got used by now, a SD card slot. On the back you can find three more HDMI connectors, two component, one composite, one S-Video, digital (optical) and analog audio inputs, RF connector for antenna or cable and of course the VGA connector. Compared to its newer brother – TH-50PZ850U – it lacks the LAN and RS-232 ports.

Controls

Panasonic Viera TH-50PZ800U has all the controls you need. It lacks some advanced color controls but, even if it would have them, you would probably never use them since there’s no need to calibrate this HDTV. You will find a setting named C.A.T.S. which changes contrast dynamically. You will probably want to leave this turned off as it doesn’t produce a better picture. Actually, as it is the case with most “intelligent” settings that dynamically affect the image, C.A.T.S. will most likely do more bad than good.

Anti Burn-In Features

Panasonic TH-50PZ800U, as pretty much all of the latest plasma TV models, comes with the three usual features that protect it from burn-in. The pixel orbiter feature, slightly (and invisibly to your eyes) moves the whole picture around to wear out the pixels more evenly. To avoid burn-in generated by watching 4:3 content, you have the option to change the sidebars from black to gray. Finally, in the unlikely case that your plasma TV gets a burn-in, you can enable the white wash function. 

No Fancy Features

One of the main reasons Panasonic TH-50PZ800U has a more approachable price as opposed to TH-50PZ850U, it the absence of Viera Cast™. This feature present in the models from Panasonic’s newer PZ850U line gives you access to some internet services: YouTube, Google Picasa, weather and stock info, news, etc. As I pointed out in TH-50PZ850U review, the absence of Viera Cast™ isn’t a big deal however.

Its competitor, Pioneer PDP-5020FD also has a fancy feature that allows you to hook it up to a network and play media files from a PC. I find that to be a more useful feature than Viera Cast™ but you may have a different option. Eventually, the lack of such fancy features in TH-50PZ800U means a lower price, and that’s always good news. In the end, the most important thing in a plasma TV is the picture quality, features coming last.

NOTE: The following comparisons are partly on a subjective tone! I recommend you to do your own comparisons because I am sure your personal taste matters more than anything.

Panasonic TH-50PZ800U vs Pioneer Kuro PDP-5020FD

Many say that Pioneer PDP-5020FD isn’t worth the money. I dare to disagree. If you know how to use it and get the best of it, it does look much better. If the budget is an important factor for you, by all means go for a cheaper model like TH-50PZ800U. It will look great and you will still have money left for popcorn. If however, the $700 difference (October 2008) isn’t a huge deal by your standards and you prefer to watch movies in a room with dim light you will get a better experience from PDP-5020FD.

I agree, Panasonic TH-50PZ800U has more accurate colors, and the lack of color controls in PDP-5020FD disappoints me, especially that the previous Kuro generation had it. However, in real life it doesn’t bother and when it comes down to overall experience I think Pioneer Kuro models are still way above any Panasonic plasma TV. Those black levels really make the picture stand out and that issue with color accuracy is going to be a problem only for the extreme purist. Also Pioneer has a much better anti-glare screen and a few more fancy features, even if useless for some.

So basically it comes down, as usual, to how you intend to use the TV, what your personal preferences are, and of course, the budget. The price is really steep, and I would have found a $500 difference much more acceptable, but Pioneer seems to have a thing for huge prices.

Panasonic TH-50PZ800U vs TH-50PZ850U

For me this is a no-brainer. I would rather pay extra $700 for a Kuro than $200 for a TH-50PZ850U. The difference in quality is slim between TH-50PZ800U and TH-50PZ850U, the latter having more vivid colors, in a way like the Kuro but without being as impressive overall. But, I have no use of Viera Cast™ and that may not be the case for all. Some of you might actually find it a nice feature to have for just $200 more. In the end $200 isn’t much and if you happen to personally like the slightly more vivid colors too, TH-50PZ850U is going to suit you better. If you want to read a slightly deeper (and maybe more objective) comparison of the two models, go at the bottom of TH-50PZ850U review.

 


Panasonic Viera TH-50PZ850U Review

Panasonic Viera TH-50PZ850U is the 50 inch model of Panasonic’s high-end plasma TV line. As you would expect from a top-of-the-line Panasonic plasma TV, this model has 1080p resolution and offers very good picture quality. Though its black levels don’t match those of Pioneer models, they are still very good and provide great shadow depth and detail. The color reproduction of TH-50PZ850U is also very good, and together with the deep black levels it manages to offer excellent picture quality. This model from Panasonic comes with extra features like the ability to watch YouTube movies and Google Picasa pictures. Unfortunately, though these are nice features to have, they increase the price (update: at this date, many online stores have TH-50PZ850U at a better price than TH-50PZ800U).

Specifications:

  • Screen size: 50 inch (that’s what the “50” in TH-50PZ850U stands for)
  • Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p / Full-HD; All “PZ” models from Panasonic are 1080p)

For the full list of specifications see Panasonic Viera TH-50PZ850U product page on Panasonic site.

Pros:

  • Superb overall picture quality.
  • Great black levels and superb detail in dark areas.
  • Very good contrast.
  • Good anti-glare screen.
  • VIERA Cast™ gives you access to Internet services like YouTube, Google Picasa, Weather, etc.
  • SD card reader
  • If you like more vivid colors you will prefer it over other HDTVs that match the standard. Note that this is also listed in the “cons” section since it has a subjective nature.

Cons:

  • Doesn’t outperform its predecessor (TH-50PZ800U) though it costs more.
  • Color reproduction doesn’t match the HDTV standard, being more vivid. If you are a purist you might not like this.
  • Its performances and features don’t really match the price. The older TH-50PZ800U is a much better deal.

Panasonic Viera TH-50PZ850U Picture Quality

It is one of the top-of-the-line Panasonic models so it offers very good picture quality. As with any plasma TV, a great deal of this quality comes from having deep black levels. Pioneer is still visibly above any Panasonic model in terms of black levels performance, but Panasonic is well above the other plasma TV manufacturers and certainly above any LCD TV. In real life, when watching TH-50PZ850U, you will experience very deep blacks, with the shadow detail and gradient being very good and offering plenty of detail.

What, no THX?

Panasonic Viera TH-50PZ800U, the slightly older brother of the model we are reviewing here, is THX certified. Because of that, one might expect THX to be present in TH-50PZ850U as well. However, for some reason Panasonic decided not to include the THX certification in the PZ850U line.

So, is that a big deal? Not really. THX is a standard for HDTV content. That means it defines how exactly colors should look when actually watched on the HDTV. For some this might not make sense. Red is red and blue is blue, right? Not really. In real life, when watching two displays side by side, you may notice that the colors are not perfectly identical. One of the HDTVs may have the colors lighter or darker, some colors more vivid than others, etc. The THX certification basically tells us that a display reproduces colors according to the standard. However, not being THX certified doesn’t necessarily mean the opposite. For example, the best plasma TV in the world at this moment – Pioneer Kuro Elite PRO-111FD – is not THX certified but has the best picture you can get from a HDTV.

TH-50PZ850U, though lacking THX certification, produces a great picture with great dark areas and very good colors. It doesn’t always match exactly the standard but some people may actually prefer the wider color gamut of TH-50PZ850U which results in more vivid colors. For purists however, this could be a turn-off, especially since the cheaper TH-50PZ800U has accurate colors that comply with the HDTV standard. You can of course calibrate the TV to obtain the picture you want and by doing so you can come closer to the standard.

SD Content

Panasonic Viera TH-50PZ850U performs well when watching standard definition content. Its noise reduction is effective and manages to improve the low quality SD content. Compared to Pioneer Kuro PDP-5020FD, one of its main competitors, it performs similarly when is feed with SD content. Its less expensive and older brother, the TH-50PZ800U, is also in the same quality zone. As you see, if you are trying to make your mind between these three plasma TV models, the quality of the SD content will not help you decide. Of course, if you plan to watch mostly standard definition content instead of high definition 720p/1080i broadcasts or 1080p Blu Ray movies, you might also want to check out a 720p model like Panasonic TH-50PX80U, which will go easier on your budget.

Good Anti-Glare Screen

If you usually watch TV with lights turned off or you don’t have much light in your room this might not be important, but for many the effectiveness of the anti-glare coating can make a big difference. Panasonic TH-50PZ850U anti-glare coating performs admirably compared to other plasma TVs. If you have a very well lit room, you will get glare however. This plasma TV has a very good anti-reflective screen, being outperformed only by Pioneer Kuro panels. Unless you have a light source that hits the screen directly, you will get minimal glare. Hence, for most situations and the average room lighting, it will perform very well.

Features

Controlls

Panasonic TH-50PZ850U has five picture modes and each of them can be adjusted. If you use Custom mode you will be able to adjust it independently for each input. You will find a setting named C.A.T.S. which changes contrast dynamically. You will probably want to leave this turned off as it doesn’t produce a better picture. Actually, as it is the case with most “intelligent” settings that dynamically affect the image, C.A.T.S. will most likely do more bad than good.

VIERA Cast™

This feature allows you to watch YouTube videos, photos from Google Picasa, weather information, stock information and news. We can probably assume that in the future versions, Panasonic will add more services.

All interfaces are optimized for plasma TV so the backgrounds are dark. This eliminates the risk of Burn-In and is also easier on the eyes. When watching YouTube videos you can see them full screen, and if you thought SD content looks bad on a large screen wait to see that tiny YouTube video get resized to 50 inch.

While VIERA Cast™ is a nice feature if you don’t have a computer, for those who can quickly hook up a laptop to the TV it isn’t a big deal. If you have a computer, you can get a whole lot more flexibility from any HDTV without having to spend a dime.

If you have checked out Pioneer PDP-5020FD Review, you have probably noticed that it has a LAN port and also a feature called Home Media Gallery. VIERA Cast™ gives you access to some internet services while Home Media Gallery allows you to play content from a computer. Hence, they don’t offer the same functionality.

Connectivity

As with every high-end plasma TV, Panasonic Viera TH-50PZ850U offers complete connectivity options. Under the screen you will find a door that covers a SD card slot, one HDMI input, S-Video and one composite input. On the back side you will find three HDMI connectors, one VGA for PC connectivity, S-Video, Composite, two component inputs, RF for antenna or cable, optical and analog audio output. You will also find a LAN connector used by VIERA Cast™ to access the Internet and a RS-232 port.

Anti Burn-In Features

These days it is very unlikely to get burn-in on your plasma TV. But, just in case, Panasonic Viera TH-50PZ850U has all the anti-burn-in features we are used to find in a plasma TV. As a prevention mechanism you have the pixel orbiter function which shifts the image around. You also have the possibility to make the side bars of 4:3 content gray instead of black, thus “burning” the pixels more evenly. In the unlikely case that your plasma TV gets a burn-in, you can use the white wash function to eliminate it. Don’t forget that even though you have these features it is also a good idea not to abuse your plasma TV by leaving the DVD paused for hours or staying on the same channel all day long.

Audio

It has four speakers, two on each side. Two of the speakers are woofers, producing low frequency sounds (55Hz – 200Hz), while the other two speakers cover the higher frequencies (200Hz – 17kHz). The sound is more than decent for watching TV and is acceptable even for HD movies. Of course if you really want quality and power you better put some money aside for a serious home theater audio system.

TH-50PZ850U vs TH-50PZ800U

The most important difference between the two models (and generally between the two lines) is the presence of VIERA Cast™ in TH-50PZ850U. It is a nice feature to have, but only if it would have been for free. The bad news is that it will cost you more to have a PZ850U model, and frankly being able to play YouTube videos, watch your Picasa images or see weather conditions isn’t quite worth the money. If you have a computer you can do that (and more) for free with any HDTV, though it might not be as convenient.

In terms of picture quality, both TH-50PZ850U and TH-50PZ800U have similar performances. There are differences of course but of a subjective nature. Aside from the differences in how they render colors, all the other factors that determine picture quality are the same for both models.

The question that comes to mind is whether or not Panasonic Viera TH-50PZ850U is worth the extra money. While working on making the top with this year’s best plasma TVs, I tried to condensate in a short sentence the characteristics of each plasma TV. While for some models it was an easy task, for others like the TH-50PZ850U I ended up scratching my head because I had a hard time placing them in a clear category. The less expensive TH-50PZ800U offers best value for money in the 50 inch class and Pioneer Kuro PDP-5020FD is the best HDTV targeted at the average consumer. However, TH-50PZ850U isn’t that easy to categorize because it is more expensive than TH-50PZ800U without offering better quality. So, whether or not is worth the money comes down to how much you appreciate the features offered by VIERA Cast™ and what type of colors you personally prefer – more accurate or more vivid. Choosing between TH-50PZ850U and TH-50PZ800U is a matter of personal preference, the differences between the two models not being sufficient to consider one better than the other. Of course, your budget may push you in a certain direction more than performance and features do.

 

Update: at this date, many online stores have TH-50PZ850U at a better price than TH-50PZ800U. I have updated all price references that appeared in this review to be displayed as strikethrough text.


Pioneer Kuro PDP-5020FD Review

Pioneer Kuro models have been the best plasma TV models on the market for quite a while. They have the deepest black levels you can see in a plasma TV or any other type of HDTV for that matter. The side effect of having such deep black levels is a positive one: you get great contrast ratio and color reproduction and that means a superb picture. However, because they are the best they cost more money than other plasma TV models. Considering the quality it is worth it though.

Without putting much weight on the price factor and focusing instead on picture quality, we pick Pioneer Kuro PDP-5020FD as one of the best plasma TVs of 2008. As opposed to last year’s Pioneer Plasma TVs, this year Pioneer Kuro models are not lacking just some extra fancy features. The Elite models are significantly better, but if you are not ready to pay the price for them, the regular Kuro models – as PDP-5020FD – are the next best models you can buy.

Specifications:

  • Screen size: 50 inch (that’s what the “50” in PDP-5020FD stands for)
  • Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p / Full-HD – designated by “FD” in PDP-5020FD, the rule applies to all models, “HD” being used for Pioneer’s 720p displays).

For the full list of specifications see Pioneer Kuro PDP-5020FD product page on Pioneer site.

Pros:

  • Absolutely outstanding black levels and detail in dark areas. The black levels are very good even in well lit environments.
  • Very good contrast.
  • Great overall picture quality (even though base colors are not absolutely perfect).
  • Visible improvement in quality over its predecessor.
  • Very good anti-reflective screen.
  • Optimum Mode is a nice feature for the average user.
  • Network connectivity and ability to play content from a computer or USB memory.

Cons:

  • Fewer controls for fine tuning than its predecessor. The lack of color and temperature controls is the biggest minus for this plasma TV.
  • Slightly inaccurate color reproduction for base colors. This is however very hard if not impossible to distinguish with naked eye when watching real content (movies, TV).
  • Probably the price, though to be honest I think PDP-5020FD it’s worth the money. The MSRP might scare some people because it’s pretty high compared to top of the line Panasonic models but in practice the difference is not that big – you can find the PDP-5020FD at a good price if you look around.

Pioneer Kuro PDP-5020FD Picture Quality

Pioneer Kuro PDP-5020FD is one of the new models making part of Pioneer’s 2008 generation. Though the HDTV as a whole is new, the actual display (panel) isn’t. It is pretty much the same type of panel found in the older Pioneer models like PDP-5010FD. However Pioneer Kuro PDP-5020FD picture quality is much better than that of its older brother. This might make you raise an eyebrow but it’s true.

Five times deeper blacks

By developing better video processing and filtering electronics Pioneer managed to obtain better black levels without having to develop a new display. This is even more impressive when we take into consideration the fact that the new Pioneer Kuro HDTVs manage to produce five times (5X) deeper black levels than their predecessors. That is something pretty impressive especially that its predecessors ware the best HDTVs on the market last year.

Superb Picture Quality

Those deep black levels have the side effect to give better contrast ratio and color saturation. And like that wasn’t enough, Pioneer Kuro PDP-5020FD has one more ace in its sleeve: Optimum Mode – a setting that makes the Kuro dynamically adapt to the environment. More precisely, it has a built in sensor that detects the amount of ambient light in the room and automatically adapts the picture so it looks best in that environment. Same thing happens on the audio part. That is very convenient since you don’t have to manually change the setting to get the best picture. Of course, the purist among us will probably prefer to calibrate it by hand especially if they maintain a constant ambient light in the room – like it is the case with people who have a dedicated home theater room. By calibrating the plasma TV and using Movie Mode instead of Optimum Mode you can get more consistent picture quality. While Optimum Mode is a great feature for those who don’t want to bother much with calibration and the setting, it does mess up with the picture (something common to all automatic/inteligent modes of HDTVs).

SD Content

As one might expect from a top quality plasma TV as Pioneer Kuro PDP-5020FD, standard definition content looks good. Of course you can’t expect miracles but the video processing and filtering system of this plasma TV does a good job. In Optimum Mode it’s actually pretty good at eliminating noise and while you may prefer not to use Optimum Mode for HD content you fill find it a good choice for SD content.

Great Anti-Reflective Screen

Anti-Reflection or Anti-Glare is a characteristic of a screen that prevents it from reflecting light. This is usually achieved by coating the screen with an anti-reflective layer. Pioneer Kuro PDP-5020HD has a great anti-reflective screen – one of the best as a matter of fact. It is so good that even in a very well lit room you get minimal glare and the detail amount in dark areas is not affected. Just so you know, its predecessor has the same type of anti-reflective screen (which is natural since they share the same panel).

Keep the lights out!

If you really want to get the best from this TV you should know that you get the best picture from it in a low light room or even totally dark. As opposed to LCD TVs which look better in well lit rooms, Plasma TVs give you a better picture in a low light environment. By no means should you think that it performs badly in a well lit room because it’s not the case. Thanks to the very good anti-reflective screen it performs very well even when it is a lot of light. However if you watch it with lights turned off or with dimmed lights it’s absolutely fantastic.

Features & Connectivity

A New, Redesigned GUI

Other than the Optimum Mode, the new PDP-5020FD comes with a new GUI (graphical user interface) which Pioneer redesigned for improved ease of navigation. This is not something on which will base your buying decision but I guess it does add up to the other qualities of PDP-5020FD. Normally I would not have even discussed about this because I don’t find it important but it happens that I actually like it. Most HDTVs have a GUI consisting of an semitransparent overlay over the actual picture. Pioneer Kuro’s new GUI doesn’t have the semitransparent overlay but a filled black background which makes the text appear sharper.

Detachable Stereo Speakers & Audio Quality

Regarding audio, Pioneer Kuro PDP-5020FD comes with a detachable bottom speaker and integrated audio amplifier. The amplifier is a 2x18W which matches the two stereo speakers each hawing 18W. If you want to use a separate home theater audio system you can conveniently remove the bottom speakers. You can configure the sound settings per A/V mode or per input so for example you can have different settings for your Blu Ray player than the ones for TV.

The audio quality of the speakers, as you may expect, doesn’t match the one of a high-end home-theater audio system. However for watching TV is very good and if your budget doesn’t allow you to buy a separate home theater audio system I am sure you will find the audio quality good enough even for HD movies. If you’re a more serious movie enthusiast however I am sure you will want a 5.1 system or something that gives more spatiality to the sound.

Connectivity

On the connectivity part Pioneer Kuro PDP-5020FD has plenty. You get 4 HDMI inputs, 1 component, 3 composite, 1 S-Video, a PC connector and even USB and Ethernet (10/100 Base-T). That pretty much covers all your connectivity needs.

Home Media Gallery

Pioneer Kuro PDP-5020FD as I said above has an Ethernet connector. That is used in conjunction with Home Media Gallery which gives the plasma TV network compatibility (designed according to DLNA™ 1.5 guidelines). The Home Media Gallery can play some of the most popular audio, video and image formats. This feature of PDP-5020FD gives it a few of the features of a HTPC (Home Theater PC) which are quite nice to have. You will need of course a PC to which to connect it. It is not uncommon to want to watch the photos you have made in holiday on your Plasma TV and the USB support and Home Media Gallery allows you to do that very easy.

Built-in Tuner

Pioneer Kuro PDP-5020FD does come with an integrated NTSC (analog) & ATSC (digital) tuner with clear QAM so you can just hook up a feed and you’re ready to watch TV.

Tip:Usually if a plasma TV contains “HDTV” in its name it has a built-in tuner. For displays without a tuner, FCC requires the manufacturers to describe them as “monitors” instead of “HDTVs”.

Miscellaneous

It is thinner than it’s predecessors by about 20% – it is 3.7 inch deep. I don’t think it’s a big deal but it’s worth mentioning.

The usual anti burn-in features – pixel orbiter and white wash. Useful to keep the plasma TV burn-in free. Chances of burn-in are slim to none on such a new model. You would have to really abuse it to get burn-in. However such features are always welcome.

It also comes with a remote as you might expect. It is backlit and it has buttons on it. When you push the buttons it makes crazy animal noises like elephants, chimps, cows, etc. OK, I made that up but you have to admit it would be funny (for the first 2 minutes).

You have an opinion? That’s what the form below is for. Go ahead and write your thoughts. If you own one, I am sure your comments about it will be greatly appreciated by readers who are considering to buy one.