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Panasonic Viera TX-P50VT20 early review: 2D photos of a 3D TV

Panasonic's new high-end Viera features all three dimensions, costs £2,000 and promises some of the best-quality pictures yet to be seen on a TV

Ian Morris

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We've written an awful lot about the new Panasonic 3D TVrecently, but we think it's justified. The Panasonic Viera TX-P50VT20 is the first 3D telly to hit the market, and it's the most impressive we've seen in person. Costing £2,000, it has to at least meet the performance of other high-end televisions. The question is: does it?

The answer, luckily, is yes, with certain caveats. Firstly, you have to deal with glasses that aren't the most comfortable things you've ever stuck on your face. Secondly, you'll need to spend an undisclosed amount on a 3D Blu-ray player or 3D TV service. At its press launch yesterday, Panasonic did announce that it would be supporting Sky's 3D system when it launches later on this year.

You'll get two pairs of 3D glasses with this set, but additional glasses are going to set you back as much as £100 a pair. We think that kind of outlay is a little much for a family of four, all of whom will want to enjoy the experience of 3D.

Ignoring the 3D for a moment, this is an incredibly well specified TV. There are the usual inputs for connecting HDMI devices as well as analogue HD via component. Panasonic also supplies two USB sockets, intended to be used for connecting hard drives and USB memory cards. As usual, an SD card socket is also provided, for maximum capacity with still and video cameras.

The VieraCast Web service is reaching new heights too. Panasonic is promising more services to sit alongside its current offering of YouTube and Google's Picasa photo service. There's even a pay-per-view deal in place, with DRM'd premium content. No word, however, on when iPlayer might make an appearance.

Overall though, the Panasonic P50VT20 has a huge amount to offer, beyond just 3D. It promises the best black levels yet to be seen on any TV since Pioneer exited the TV market a couple of years ago. We're going to see wireless Internet access built in, with 802.11n and new online services to make this a TV for geeks everywhere.

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Loud and proud, the 3D credentials of this television are writ large across its bezel.
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Panasonic wants this TV to be considered as part of its 'Digital Hearth', which is supposed to be the central point of your home. Replacing your actual hearth, but not providing the heat needed to melt a yummy marshmallow.
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An SD card socket is provided to play MP3s, AVC HD video and digital photos.
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VieraCast is onboard, via Ethernet, with Panasonic promising to add even more services to its Web-based walled garden for video and information.
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HDMI 1.4 inputs are needed for watching 3D TV, but most of the connections are the same as any other TV.

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