You can choose from five aspect ratio options with high-def sources, including a Zoom mode that allows adjustment of horizontal size and vertical position. The Full mode can be made to match the pixel counts of 1080i and 1080p sources, without introducing overscan, if you select the HD Size 2 option from the Advanced menu (in THX mode this option is called "THX" and you can't disengage it). We recommend using this setting unless you notice interference along the extreme edges of the screen, which can occur on some channels or sources.
Panasonic also offers ways to avoid temporary image retention, a.k.a. burn-in, and address it should it occur. A pixel orbiter slowly shifts the image around the screen, and you can elect to have it happen either automatically or in user-set periodic intervals. You can chose bright or dark gray bars alongside 4:3 programs. And if you do see some burn-in, chances are the scrolling bar function, which sweeps a white bar across a black screen, will clear it up after while. We appreciated that the VieraCast menu went into screen saver mode after a few minutes of inactivity.
While the company touts the V10 series' power-saving chops, thanks to its so-called NEO PDP panel, in reality this is still one of the more energy-hogging TVs you can buy (see Power consumption below). The set's ECO menu only allows automatic turn-off functions; it doesn't offer a specific power saving mode that affects power draw when the TV's turned on.
The TV lacks picture-in-picture and cannot freeze the image temporarily to catch a phone number, for example. It can, however, accept SD cards with digital photos into a slot on the left side, which allows it to play back the images on the big screen.
Connectivity on the TC-PV10 series is excellent, starting with four HDMI inputs, three on the back and a fourth on the side. Other back-panel connections include two component-video inputs, an AV input with composite and S-Video and an RF input for cable or antenna. There's also an optical digital audio output and an analog stereo audio output. In addition to the HDMI pot and SD card slot, the side panel offers a second AV input with composite video along with a VGA-style PC input (1366x768 maximum resolution).
In all the Panasonic TC-PV10 series delivers the best picture quality of any flat-panel TV we've tested so far this year. Its deep black levels are it biggest strength, and its color reproduction was accurate enough, especially given the extra controls, to satisfy all but the strictest videophiles. Said videophiles will also appreciate the V10's ability to properly handle 1080p/24 sources.
Setting up the TC-PV10 for optimal picture quality presented us a somewhat difficult choice: to THX or not to THX? As we noted on the G10 review, THX mode delivers more accurate primary colors than the company's other settings, along with very good gamma and grayscale performance. The downside of THX is a slightly dimmer image (25.75 ftl) and some color decoding issues that bring a greenish cast to the image. With our V10 review sample we actually saw worse picture quality in THX mode than we saw on the G10. For whatever reason the grayscale was quite a bit less accurate and too blue (we measured an average variation of 441K, as opposed to the 150K variation on the G10), and the primary color of red was also a good deal worse.
For those reasons, and also because the V10 allows significantly more picture adjustments than the G10, we decided to use the Custom mode, adjusted with our standard user-menu calibration, for our evaluation instead of THX. It delivered our preferred light output of 40ftl, accurate gamma (2.26 versus an ideal of 2.2--the same as we measured in THX and much better than Custom on the G10, which hit 1.86) and solid grayscale performance (which again surpassed the G10's overly blue Custom, thanks to the Pro adjust settings). Compared to THX, Custom on the V10 evinced less accurate green, yellow, and cyan colors and more accurate red and magenta (the color temperature and primary color numbers in the Geek Box are for THX, however, since it was still the most accurate preset overall before calibration). In case you're curious, we did measure the DCC mode and found it, as expected, highly inaccurate by HDTV color space standards, so we left it turned off for our evaluation.
Our comparison included the Samsung PN50B650, the Panasonic TC-P46G10 and the reference Pioneer PRO-111FD from the plasma camp, along with the Samsung LN52B750 and Sony KDL-52XBR9 representing LCDs. For most of our image quality tests we turned to "Baraka," which is among the best-looking Blu-rays on the market.
Black level: The V10 exhibited the best black level performance we've seen on any flat-panel HDTV aside from the G10 and the Pioneer. In extremely dark scenes, such as the partial eclipse and night sky at the beginning of Chapter 20, or the shadows along the twilight temples in Chapter 21, the black areas and letterbox bars were darker than any of the other displays in our comparison, with those two exceptions: blacks were basically the same on the G10 and visibly deeper on the Pioneer, and compared to the LCDs and the Samsung plasma the V10 was easily darker. As usual, with deep blacks came a picture with more pop, realism, and impact in both dark and brighter scenes, and the improved light output of the V10 in custom versus the G10 in THX made the V10 seem a bit more impactful in our darkened home theater.
Shadow detail was also excellent. Under the starlit sky in Chapter 21, the steps and statues of the temples, as well as the underside of the rock formations under the starlit sky, looked natural and no detail was obscured. The V10 was equal to the G10 and Pioneer in this regard, and again outdid the other displays.
Color accuracy: Overall color on the V10 was quite good, although by no means perfect. The color decoding of Custom mode over-accentuates red a bit, so we had to back the color control down quite a bit to compensate and prevent skin tones from looking too ruddy. As a result saturation wasn't quite as lush as on our reference Pioneer, but it was still as good or better than the other models, as evinced by the vibrant colors of the tribesmen in Chapter 7 for example. Skin tones like the faces of the subway riders looked natural as well, thanks in no small part to the V10's accurate grayscale. This scene also revealed the greenish tinge of the G10's THX mode, and in general we preferred the look of the V10's Custom.
The V10's primary and secondary colors in Custom mode were not perfect, and according to our measurements Green was the biggest offender--a difference that was visible in the rice paddies and grass in Chapter 4, which looked slightly more intense and less natural than we saw on our reference display (although the difference was subtle). The blue sky reflected in the lake in Chapter 8 also appeared a bit too dark, an issue we blame on the too-blue secondary color of cyan.
On big advantage the V10 showed over the LCDs in our comparison was its ability to reproduce a true color of black that wasn't too bluish. Its grayscale stayed true even in the darkest areas, even surpassing the G10 and the Pioneer in this regard.
Video processing: The V10 was superb in this category. Our first order of business was to confirm that the 96Hz mode worked as advertised. It did. We tried our favorite test for proper 24-frame cadence, the flyover of the deck of the Intrepid from "I Am Legend," and the motion looked as film-like as we've come to expect from displays that handle 1080p/24 sources correctly--just the standard rapid-fire judder of film without the hitching motion associated with 2:3 pulldown. We saw similar success in camera moving across the airplanes and oil fields in Chapter 16 of "Baraka." For the record, we engaged the 60Hz setting and the hitching returned, and when we switched to 48Hz the flicker seen on the G10 and other so-equipped Panasonic plasmas was in full effect. Maybe it goes without saying, but for the full videophile experience we recommend using 96Hz mode with your Blu-ray player set to output 1080p/24.
As expected the V10 resolved every detail of still 1080i and 1080p sources when its HD Size 2 aspect ratio mode was engaged. Motion resolution was the best we've ever tested and the equal of the G10, with the V10 resolving all 1080 lines of resolution in our test pattern. The display also successfully de-interlaced both film- and video-based 1080i sources. As usual, however, these excellent resolution characteristics were difficult to appreciate outside of test patterns.
Bright lighting: The V10 and G10 share the same antireflective screen. It did a solid job attenuating ambient light and glare in our bright room--not quite as good as the Pioneer or Sony, but clearly better than the highly reflective Samsung. The V10 did not preserve black levels in the bright light as well as any of the other non-Panasonic displays.
Standard-definition: The TC-PV10 series was a mediocre performer with standard-def material. It resolved every line of the DVD format, although details weren't quite as sharp as on the Samsung, for example. The V10 did a sub-par job with moving diagonal lines and stripes on the waving American flag, leaving plenty of jaggies along the edges. Noise reduction was solid, on the other hand, and both Video NR and MPEG NR settings contributed to removing moving motes and snow from low-quality shots of skies and sunsets. Finally, the set properly engaged 2:3 pulldown to remove moiré from the grandstands behind the racecar.
PC: With an HDMI source and set to THX mode the V10 performed perfectly, resolving every line of a 1920x1080 source, with no sign of edge enhancement or overscan. Via VGA the TV would accept a maximum resolution of 1366x768, as the manual indicates, and naturally test looked softer, blockier and generally worse than via HDMI. We'd love to see a full-resolution VGA input on a TV this expensive.
|Before color temp (20/80)||6805/6923||Average|
|After color temp||6464/6400||Good|
|Before grayscale variation||419||Average|
|After grayscale variation||101||Average|
|Color of red (x/y)||0.624/0.346||Poor|
|Color of green||0.298/0.624||Good|
|Color of blue||0.1518/0.0655||Good|
|Defeatable edge enhancement||Y||Good|
|480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps||Pass||Good|
|1080i video resolution||Pass||Good|
|1080i film resolution||Pass||Good|
Power consumption: We didn't test the power consumption of the Panasonic TC-P54V10, although we did test the TC-P50V10. For more information, please refer to that review.