Panasonic Viera TH-P50U30A review: Panasonic Viera TH-P50U30A

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Typical Price: $1,099.00

Panasonic Viera TH-P50U30A

(Part #: CNETPanasonic Viera TH-P50U30A)
3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Bang for buck. Full HD.

The Bad Washed-out colours and blacks in a lit room.

The Bottom Line Unlike many modern plasmas, the TH-P50U30A craves a darkened room like a foodie does a 12-course degustation. That's the compromise you make if you want a 50-inch plasma screen for around a grand.

7.4 Overall

Design

With its plain black bezel, the TH-P50U30A does nothing to stir the pent-up emotion within us, but it also does nothing to offend. The only stylistic embellishments are the triangular cut-outs on the bottom corners, and a hint of silver colouring around the Panasonic logo.

The U30A comes equipped with the same remote that does service on the rest of the Panasonic range, and works well enough. Accordingly, the menu structure is a carbon copy of that seen in other 2011 models — in summary, it does its job without being too flash.

Features

Despite the low price, the U30A isn't left wanting for too much as far as its spec-sheet goes. At the back of the U30A, you'll find two HDMI ports, a set of component and composite inputs, an Ethernet port, a D-Sub VGA input and both digital and analog audio outputs.

To the side are the TV's physical controls, an extra HDMI input, two USB ports, an SD/SDHC/SDXC card slot, a headphone jack and a set of composite inputs. The unit's two 10W speakers provide a passable amount of fidelity. We were able to turn the volume up to the point where it filled our not-inconsiderably sized testing space without descending into a haze of fizz and crackle.

Via the Ethernet port or an optional USB wireless dongle, the U30A can connect to a DLNA media server. It can also view JPEG pictures and play music, as well as DivX and MKV movies stored on USB drives. Image quality on these highly compressed video formats is good, but if you quit playback part way through and then resume later, the file won't resume where you left off.

Performance

You can't buy a new Porsche for the price of a Yaris , and in the world of TV it's no different with the P50U30A. Even well away from the electricity grid, the screen has a pale, washed-out look in a lit room. Instead of being a resounding shade of black, the plasma screen is more of an alarming mid grey.

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