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Panasonic TX-P50G20 early review: Elegantly understated as ever

Us Brits appreciate a little modesty. And there's no consumer electronics company more discreet than Panasonic, both in its marketing and the cultured TVs it produces

Ian Morris
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Panasonic's new 50-inch TX-P50G20 is a terrific example of the company's natural modesty. We love its quiet, confident attitude to design and marketing that comes from its distinguished 92-year history of producing consumer electronics.

Although the P50G20 is as smart and understated as every other Panasonic Viera TV we've ever seen, this one has a new trick up its sleeve. The inclusion of a Freeview HD tuner means people in areas served by the new service can get BBC HD, ITV HD and from next month, Channel 4 HD.

You'll find a freesat tuner in there too, so if you've got a satellite dish sitting idle on your house, you can use that to get a few extra free channels. Panasonic doesn't make much of a song and dance about this functionality, but we're thrilled to have it along.

The company's VieraCast online service is also included, which you can access with the Ethernet jack on the rear of the TV, or via the optional Wi-Fi dongle that plugs into one of the two USB sockets on the side of the TV. Setting this up is really easy too. The TV will ask you what authentication scheme your router uses and guide you through the process.

It does a superb job as a TV too, funnily enough. The 1080/24p picture mode means movies will hit the right note, and Panasonic has also developed a 600Hz mode too, which it claims is especially useful for sport. The company's only really outrageous claim is that this TV can produce "infinite black". While we don't doubt Panasonic's new plasma-cell technology is impressive, 'infinite' seems rather optimistic. Still, if that's the only thing the company wants to exaggerate, we'll let it off.

The Panasonic TX-P50G20 is on sale now for around £1,400. We'll be donning a black suit and dark glasses to give it the thoroughly elegant review it deserves shortly. In the meantime, click 'Continue' for more pics and first impressions.

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freesat comes as standard on most of Panasonic's range these days.
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The usual array of sockets are present and correct -- a pair of Scarts for old stuff, and three HDMI inputs take care of HD equipment.
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The power cable locks in. This is an interesting development if, like us, you're obsessed with power sockets.
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The two USB sockets are designed for Wi-Fi dongles and removable USB storage for music, movies and photos.
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Here's the SD card sockets and the manadatory CI PC card slot.
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A fourth HDMI is provided on the side of the TV for easy connection of portable devices. There are also camcorder sockets for S-Video and composite video.
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Heavens, it's a real power button.
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Infinite black is the most outrageous claim this TV makes. And, while it's a steaming dollop of marketing hype, Panasonic reckons its new plasma-cell technology means this TV has the deepest blacks of any TV on the market.
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The P50G20 isn't the slimmest or most interesting-looking TV, but it does promise some incredible performance.
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Now in its 300th year of service, it's the same old Panasonic remote control. We jest -- it's old, but it works well and we're not ones to advocate change for the sake of it.
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The TV doesn't even brag about its HD channels when it's tuning itself in. You'll just see that channel 50 is BBC HD and 51 is ITV HD.
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Freeview HD supports 1080p, in theory, so we wonder if broadcasters will ever transmit movies in that format...
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Networking can use either wired or wireless to connect to your home network.
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The optional Wi-Fi dongle can be inserted into the USB socket at the side of the TV. An extension cable is provided if you want to use the second USB slot for a memory stick, as the dongle is quite large and might block other devices.
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Getting the TV on a Wi-Fi network is as easy as selecting your network from the list.
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Once you've got the Wi-Fi connected, you get a final confirmation screen, and you're good to go.

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