Panasonic X5 series plasma TV disappoints (pictures)
In 2012, no other television can touch the dominating presence of the Panasonic plasmas. No matter whether you paid $800 or $3,000, I believe CNET's tests and observations have amply demonstrated that models across the entire range are the televisions to buy at their respective prices. But cracks had to appear somewhere, and in the Panasonic X5, they have. This is the only Panasonic plasma I don't recommend. Furthermore, I encourage you to actively avoid it.
The Panasonic smacks of a way to fill in a price point, and quality has ultimately suffered. While there are no features to speak of -- this is to be expected at the entry level -- it's the TV's picture quality that lets it down. Black levels are fairly average, but shadow detail would be good if shadows weren't so green. There is a green cast to everything that makes skin tones in particular look very sickly. This TV is unfortunately the opposite of accurate -- if you like watching rainforest documentaries, it might be fine, but for everyone else this is a pretty disappointing TV.
After hogging the headlines of our plasma TV reviews all year, the company's luck had to end somewhere, and that's here. When summing up a TV's picture quality, the two most important elements are black levels and color. When a TV isn't able to compete on those two things, it doesn't really matter how good its picture processor is, or how many features it has. The Panasonic, unfortunately, is mediocre. After good performance from the U50 I was curious to see how deep the rabbit hole went, and it seems in this case not that far -- it's more of a pothole here in Panasonic's "X" series.
While the company's competitors are able to engineer good value-for-money televisions at a sub-$500 price, this is seemingly beyond Panasonic's capabilities. The X5 is a cheap TV and it performs like one, but that's no longer good enough. Black levels were passable and shadow detail was good, but the TV's main problem can be summed up in one word: green. Green skin tones and green shadows. No, it doesn't look like the old CRT screens when they died (all green, all the time!), this is a more insidious green cast to objects. No matter its other attributes, this issue alone was enough to spoil the X5's picture.