The Good Superb black-level performance; accurate primary colors in THX mode; great color saturation; effective antireflective screen; uses less power than previous 1080p plasmas; VieraCast provides access to select Internet services and improved customization.
The Bad Last year's Panasonic plasmas lost black-level performance over relatively short periods of time; cannot properly handle 1080p/24 sources; fewer streaming services and apps than the competition; uses more power than LCDs.
The Bottom Line Panasonic's TC-PG20/25 series offers a highly tempting mix of features, value, and initial picture quality, but long-term black-level performance is still an open question.
Panasonic Viera TC-PG20
A lot has changed since we gave the Panasonic TC-P50V10 our Editors' Choice award last year. The most relevant to the review you're reading now can be summed up with the eminently Google-able phrase "Panasonic black levels." The short story? Testing revealed that 2009 Panasonic plasmas lose their excellent black-level performance--the crucial ability to produce as dark a shade of black as possible--over less than a year of typical use. They become, literally, grayer, and lose the very edge that made them stand above the pack in the first place. As a result we lowered their picture quality scores across the board, and removed that Editors' Choice award.
According to our observations right now--which is the only way we can fairly review any product--the TC-PG20/25 series delivers superb picture quality. Its black level is among the best available today, matching what we measured on new 2009 models and surpassing any other (non-Kuro) plasma we've tested so far. The company has also improved the antiglare screen significantly and fixed THX mode, in addition to revamping its VieraCast Internet service with new content such as Netflix and Pandora. The result is an excellent-performing HDTV with a good blend of features for a highly competitive price. If the history outlined above doesn't deter you, plenty of good reasons exist for choosing this Panasonic plasma. If it does, check back in a few months for an update.
Editors' note, October 19, 2010: The Features rating on this review has been reduced from "8" to "7" to align more properly with other available products, including the new GT25 series. As a result the Overall rating fell from 7.7 to 7.4. Also, after about 2,400 hours the black level performance of our TC-P50GT20 review sample has risen, but not enough to affect the overall performance score.it should not increase much further.
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