Editors' Note April 26, 2010: This post has been updated to reflect new pricing/availability information. CNET has not yet reviewed any of the models in this series, however.
Sony, Samsung, LG, Toshiba and Vizio all announced 3D-compatible HDTVs at this year's CES, but Panasonic has made the most noise about the technology. The company began touting an extra dimension at last year's CES, and this year it has finally announced a shipping date for its first 3D plasma TV. Dubbed the VT25 series, the 50- and 54-inch models are expected to be released in May 2010 (price as yet undetermined). They should be be among the first 3D-capable flat-panel HDTVs available for sale in the U.S.
The set will include one pair of 3D glasses--every other 3D set announced at the show, save Sony's XBR-LX900 series, lacks included glasses. Also, like all other makers, Panasonic will employ an active LC shutter system. The right and left lens in the glasses alternately darkens and lightens, too quickly to perceive, while the TV synchronously displays the corresponding right- and left-eye-specific images. The result is a stereoscopic 3D effect that, in the case of the VT25 mated to full-resolution 3D content, preserves all 1,920x1,080 (1080p) pixels for each eye--hence Panasonic's term "Full HD 3D."
Panasonic TC-P50 VT25
Toshiba and Samsung have announced 2D to 3D conversion systems with their sets, which purport to create a 3D effect with standard 2D material; however, Panasonic avoids such processing tricks with the VT25. The only way to get 3D out of this TV (at least until 3D-upconverting players come along) is to mate it to a true 3D source, which means a 3D-compatible Blu-ray player playing a 3D disc, or a cable or satellite box tuned to a 3D channel. Such hardware-content combinations are nonexistent today, but given the preponderance of 3D related announcements at CES--including Panasonic's own DMP-BDT350--they won't be for long. Check out the 3D FAQ for more information.
Aside from 3D, the VT25 is separated from step-down models in Panasonic's lineup by the inclusion of Infinite Black Pro, which we assume improves upon the already excellent black level performance found on current Panasonic plasma TVs. The company lists the same 5,000,000:1 contrast ratio (for what it's worth) for both the Pro and non-Pro versions of the feature, so we'll have to wait for a review sample to see how black this latest Panasonic can get. The demo we saw looked promising, however, and highlighted a couple of other potential performance improvements.
The VT25 also offers ISFccc, a protocol to help professional calibrators home in on the perfect picture, and an RS-232 port for custom installations. Much like the 2009 V10 series, the VT25 has a 96Hz option to better display native 1080p/24 content.
Aside from these differences, its feature set is similar to that of the company's TC-PG25 series, so check out that write up for more information on non-step-up features.
Panasonic TC-PVT25 step-up features:
- 3D compatible
- Includes one pair of 3D glasses
- 96Hz refresh option for 1080p/24 compatibility
- Short-throw phosphors
- Pro Setting user menu with advanced controls
- ISFccc mode
Panasonic TC-PVT25 series models:
- Panasonic Viera TC-P65VT25: 65-inch (June, $4,299)
- Panasonic Viera TC-P58VT25: 58-inch (June, $3,399)
- Panasonic Viera TC-P54VT25: 54-inch (May, $2,999)
- Panasonic Viera TC-P50VT25: 50-inch (May, $2,599)