Panasonic TC-PX5 review:

Panasonic TC-PX5

Black level: If there's one strength here, it's that shadow detail is very good. At the start of "Batman Begins," the cell walls were easy to decipher, and the only TV to better pluck details out of darkness was the U50.

The X5's black levels are about as deep as those of the LG PA6500, which is to say mediocre for a plasma TV, and both fell way short of the Samsung E450's black levels. In its favor, though, the Panasonic didn't have the same problem with image retention that the LG did, with little ghosting remaining of contrasting images.

Unusually, I found big differences between the Custom and Movie modes on this TV, especially in regard to black levels. I originally calibrated the TV in Custom mode but found it had some solarization issues (choppy rather than smooth gradations between colors and brightness intensities), which led to unnatural skin tones and crushed blacks. The Movie mode was better, but the "green shadows" problem was still there.

Color accuracy: The Panasonic continues its green stampede when it comes to color accuracy, and this especially extends to skin tones. Whether it was an incredibly sickly looking Harry Potter or a bilious Captain Kirk, the pale green effect it had on faces caused my fellow reviewer David Katzmaier to label this television a "Kermitron (TM)." We're used to blue shadows on LCD screens, but green looks terrible.

Looking at the RGB color chart (of which I've added a screenshot below and which is available in full at the bottom of the page) you can begin to see where the green problem comes from. See how that little green dot is way out in.. well... Green-land? That's bad, and unfortunately it's impossible to correct with the minimal controls this television offers. The TV's grayscale is another major contributor; while OK in the brighter areas, it's noticeably green in middle and darker areas.

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The green response is off the grid completely. Ty Pendlebury/CNET

This green mist sapped images of energy and particularly the reds of the Starfleet Academy cadets' uniforms, and while it boosted the naturalistic scenes of "The Tree of Life," Panasonic can't expect its users to just watch nature documentaries ad nauseam.

Video processing: The one highlight I alluded to earlier was that the picture processing was very good, but unfortunately this doesn't absolve the TV of its other sins. The TV was able to both pass the 1080i test and correctly translate a 24p signal which means it at least mates well with a Blu-ray player.

The TV had one trick left up its sleeve in that there was no solarizing (at least in Cinema mode) of colors as found on the other sets, even the otherwise godly U50. The sunrise during "The Tree of Life" looked the best on the X5 with no fake rings around the sun, just a smooth gradation of colors.

Like any 720p plasma at 50 inches, it can be possible to see pixel structure depending on your seating distance. At a distance of 8 feet it was easiest to discern the vertical structure on the X5 over any of the other 720p TVs in the lineup, which included a 50-inch Samsung and a 42-inch LG.

Bright lighting: While the Panasonic's blacks don't look as green in the light, they do look washed out compared with the twin LG televisions in our lineup. The X5, on the other hand, shows less contrast in the light, as is typical of budget plasmas and older models alike. Blacks typically turn to brown and perhaps it is this that counteracts the greenness.

Power consumption: While the Panasonic X5 is a 720p plasma, it didn't perform as well as the other similarly specified televisions in our power testing. I expect 720p plasmas to be more efficient than 1080p models because they have a third of the cells (2.1 million pixels versus around 780,000 for a 1,024x768 resolution). Instead the X5 used about the same amount of power as the 1080p PA6500 with 164W when calibrated.

Juice box
Panasonic TC-P50X5 Picture settings
Default Calibrated Power save
Picture on (watts) 81.102 164.08 n/a
Picture on (watts/sq. inch) 0.08 0.15 n/a
Standby (watts) 0.25 0.25 n/a
Cost per year $17.98 $36.17 n/a
Score (considering size) Average
Score (overall) Average

Annual energy cost after calibration

GEEK BOX: Test Result Score
Black luminance (0%) 0.0171 Average
Avg. gamma 1.9931 Poor
Near-black x/y (5%) 0.302/0.3385 Average
Dark gray x/y (20%) 0.3082/0.3342 Poor
Bright gray x/y (70%) 0.3089/0.3319 Average
Before avg. color temp. 6754.3846 Poor
After avg. color temp. 6709.4937 Poor
Red lum. error (de94_L) 3.4285 Poor
Green lum. error (de94_L) 9.1758 Poor
Blue lum. error (de94_L) 1.0272 Good
Cyan hue x/y 0.1887/0.2967 Poor
Magenta hue x/y 0.3308/0.1581 Average
Yellow hue x/y 0.4315/0.5269 Poor
1080p/24 Cadence (IAL) Pass Good
1080i Deinterlacing (film) Pass Good
Motion resolution (max) 650 Average
Motion resolution (dejudder off) 650 Average

Panasonic TC P50X5

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