Panasonic Viera TH-P50ST50A review: Panasonic Viera TH-P50ST50A

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
Pricing Unavailable
Reviewed:
Updated:

The Good Rich picture performance in 2D. Quite good 3D. Excellent price. Good tablet/phone integration.

The Bad Not the brightest picture. Colour has slight warm-brown bias.

The Bottom Line The Panasonic Viera TH-P50ST50A 3D Plasma TV delivers a smooth 2D picture, decent 3D and reasonable networking for a sub-AU$2000 price.

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System

Panasonic's plasma still provides one of the best pictures out there. And even today, each plasma dollar seems to provide more square centimetres of screen area than each LCD dollar. The 127cm screen packs the usual 1920x1080 pixels, and 3D is delivered using the active system. The eyewear (one pair of glasses is included) is synced to the TV using 2.4GHz band RF. That avoids line-of-sight problems, and interference with IF remote-control operation.

The panel is quite thin, at 45mm over most of its area. The area around the picture isn't the thinnest, though, coming in at 36mm at top and sides, so it lacks that thin bezel elegance. A neat swivel stand provides some day-to-day flexibility.

Connections are provided for composite and component analog video, plus there are three HDMI inputs and two USB sockets. There's an Ethernet socket, along with built-in Wi-Fi. You can use one of the USB sockets to plug in a hard disk drive to record and time shift live TV.

Picture

Panasonic plasma TVs generally provide glorious picture quality, and the new 2012 range has preserved this legacy. Smooth processing results in a clean, yet detailed, picture. Full free-to-air HD and SD TV are both presented essentially as well as is possible, and with a good Blu-ray disc, the results are magnificent.

Except for two things. The default brightness of the image just hovers on the edge of being a tad too dull — just on the edge. I suspect that Panasonic has been doing some balancing here, reducing the brightness a bit so there are plenty of stars on the Energy Consumption Label. This shows 5.5 stars, which our measurements confirm.

Even with our room lights out, the picture did not punch out quite as much as we expected it to.

The other thing was that the colour did not seem absolutely accurate, leaning a little towards a slight warm-brown bias. This actually made it nicer to watch, giving it a rich glow. But we doubt that it's the highest in picture accuracy.

With 3D, the results were impressive. Panasonic has basically eliminated black ghosting or crosstalk (in which darker objects over light backgrounds have ghosts), which deals with the bulk of the problem. However, it wasn't so good with white crosstalk (light objects on dark backgrounds). This was visible from time to time in actual program material, but was reasonably well controlled, and not too obtrusive. Nonetheless, it could be seen.

The static test pattern showed close enough to zero breakthrough for black objects in front of white, but a nasty 40 per cent for white objects in front of black.

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Where to Buy

Panasonic Viera TH-P50ST50A

Part Number: CNETPanasonic Viera TH-P50ST50A

Typical Price: $1,749.00

See manufacturer website for availability.