Panasonic TC-PVT20/25 series overview

There's plenty of hype surrounding 3D TV, much of it promulgated by the people at Panasonic, but the main reasons we like the TC-PVT20/25 series so much are contained by the traditional two dimensions. Yes, it beats the one other first-generation 3D-compatible TV we've tested, and yes, it actually includes 3D glasses, but with the scarcity of 3D content available today, the need to buy additional, expensive glasses for every family member, and the basic fact that 3D TV isn't for everyone, we think this TV's 2D prowess is the main reason to buy it.

Of course there are plenty of reasons not to as well, chief being the company's black-level loss issue with 2009 models. Until the results of our long term test of the VT25 are in we can't speak definitively to that, but in the meantime nay-sayers could also point to its hungry power use, some issues with 1080p/24 playback or the imperfection of its grayscale. But weighed against its excellent general color accuracy in THX, its improved anti-reflective screen and especially those inky black levels, the knocks against the initial 2D picture quality of the Panasonic TC-PVT20/25 series seem minor. Standard exceptions aside it's the best 2D TV we've ever tested, although we'll reserve final judgment until we can examine the competitors' best 2010 HDTVs.

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Corner detail

A subtly different bezel color separates the TC-PVT25's styling from the glossy black pack.
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Stand detail

The matching, silver-edged stand allows some swivel.
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Side view

At 3.6 inches deep the Panasonic plasma is still flat enough in our opinion.
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3D glasses included

Unlike 3D TVs released so far by Samsung, the TC-PVT20/25 includes the necessary glasses (model TY-EW3D10; $150 each per additional pair). Like all first-generation glasses, they will not work with other brands' 3D TVs.
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Back panel inputs

The requisite back-panel jacks, including three HDMI, are present and accounted-for.
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Side panel inputs

A fourth HDMI is located on the side. Few TVs have an SD card slot nowadays, but we'll warrant even fewer viewers care
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3D warning

Like Samsung, Panasonic shows you a warning when you engage 3D mode.
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Full HD 3D

An indicator in the upper-right specifies when an image is available in Full HD 3D.
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3D without glasses

Without glasses as shown here, 3D looks like doubled images. "Crosstalk" occurs when the double is visible even with the glasses on.
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3D settings

There's not much customization available in the 3D settings menu.
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Main picture menu

A different set of picture settings is engaged when you activate 3D mode.
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Pro settings menu

The Pro settings menu, with numerous additional tweaks, is only available in the Custom picture mode.
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96Hz mode

The 96Hz mode is designed to properly reproduce 1080p/24 sources, and works with both 2D and 3D.
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2D picture quality

Its solid 3D picture quality aside, the Panasonic VT20/25 is still among the best-performing televisions we've tested yet. It offers the standard uniformity advantages over LCD--excellent off-angle fidelity, uniform brightness and color across the screen--the best black level performance of any non-Kuro plasma we've tested yet, and highly accurate color overall. That said its color doesn't quite equal that of our reference, and we did experience some artifacts in the 1080p/24-friendly 96Hz mode, but the VT20/25 still outperforms the company's other plasmas, and just about every other TV you can buy today.
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