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First Look: Panasonic Viera TC-PG20/25

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First Look: Panasonic Viera TC-PG20/25

2:54 /

Panasonic's TC-PG20/25 series offers a highly tempting mix of features, value, and initial picture quality, but long-term black-level performance is still an open question.

>>David Katzmaier from CNET here along side the Panasonic TC-PG20/25 series. This is the 50 inch G20. This review will apply to all sizes in both series. The only real difference between the two series is the compatibility with a networked camera on the 25 so for the rest of this review you can pretty much consider them interchangeable. This is Panasonics step down to the 3D TV you might have heard so much about recently. This one doesn't have 3D but it has a pretty good feature set otherwise we'll start with the styling however. It's pretty much all black around the edge of the screen here. Relatively think from the side compared to some of the other thinner plasmas we've seen from LG and Samsung this year. Has this kind of section on the bottom that's got this sort of ascent strip that's a different color but the rest of it is pretty much glossy black. There's also a swivel stand here so in all it's a pretty understated look. Speaking of the feature set the chief one is VieraCast on this TV which is Panasonic's internet services suite. It has Netflix coming in July as well as Pandora, Fox Sports, Twitter and a couple of other additions compared to last year. It also has this cool customization ability so you can go around and change exactly what order you want these things to appear in over three pages. So, that's a neat feature. On the minus side it's a little more archaic than some of the other guys and content selection is relatively thin but, hey, it will have Netflix soon. Input selection of this TV is a little bit light. There's two HDMI inputs on the back panel and a third on the side, a lot of TV's today have four total. There's also two component video inputs and a PCM input, although that PCM input is not compatible with the highest resolution signals. Picture settings on the G series have improved over last year and now they're competitive with a lot of the other higher-end TVs out there. It does have a pro-setting's menu that allows you to tweak color temperature and things like that. There's also a THX mode that's a little bit better than last year. Once we have selected the THX mode the picture quality in this TV was excellent. The black levels are good as they were last year and better than most of the other TVs on the market. Nice and deep inky blacks which are great for a home theatre picture quality. Shadow detail was pretty good, although just a tiny bit lighter than we'd like to see. There's also excellent color accuracy on this set in THX mode. The primary colors are great in the grey scale while a little minus blue is still overall very good so you get nice punchy colors and great skin tones. Panasonic also improved the anti-reflective screen on this TV so when you have the lights come up it actually does a better job of controlling reflections and keeping black levels nice and preserved. Of course, not as quite as good as some of the others we tested but have been improved over last year. Speaking of last year's models we did some testing long-term on 2009 Panasonic Plasma and found that they actually had worsen black level performance over time. We spoke to Panasonic about that and actually said that the TVs would be improved for 2010 so we're going to subject this guy to some long-term tests and let you know what happens. That's a quick look at the Panasonic TC-PG20/25 series and I'm David Katzmaier.

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