The Good The affordable Panasonic TC-PST50 series exhibited outstanding overall picture quality, characterized by exceedingly deep black levels with great shadow detail, accurate colors, and solid bright-room performance. Unlike LCDs, as a plasma it has superb off-angle and uniformity characteristics. The styling is attractive and the feature set well-chosen, including excellent onscreen help options.
The Bad The ST50 uses more power than competing LCD TVs, and doesn't perform as well in bright rooms as those with matte screens. It doesn't come with 3D glasses, and it showed more crosstalk in 3D than some competing TVs. The ST50 is only available in 50-inch and larger sizes. Three HDMI inputs is one fewer than most midrange TVs offer.
The Bottom Line With flagship-level picture quality for a midlevel price, the Panasonic ST50 series sets the value standard among videophile-grade TVs.
Editors' note, April 17, 2013: The replacement for this TV, the
Last year after reviewing numerous TVs, my holiday recommendation for "bang for the buck" was the Panasonic ST30 series. This year I won't be surprised if -- after reviewing however many other 2012 TVs that come down the pike -- that recommendation will go to the ST50 series. Yes, you can get a cheaper TV, but the ST50 is pretty affordable even now, and worth the money for any buyer serious about picture quality who can't wait for holiday price drops.
The ST50 handily outperforms its predecessor, with deeper blacks, more accurate color, and an improved bright-room image. The picture is so good, in fact, that it scored the same as the flagship lauded last year, and in person it's tough to tell the two apart. If anything, the ST50 looks better. It sets a lofty standard for HDTV picture quality this year, and one I feel confident only a few TVs will approach. I doubt any of them will do it for less money.I
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