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Panasonic TC-LDT50 review: Panasonic TC-LDT50

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The TV comes with four HDMI ports and two USBs. Sarah Tew/CNET

Picture quality
I'll start with what I liked about the DT50. Let's see now...3D is good for an LCD at this level, which isn't to say it has the crosstalk-free edges of LG's passive system, but it is better than most 2011 active LCDs for crosstalk. Processing is also good with rock-solid 24p support and an excellent ability to banish jaggies from 1080i content.

Picture settings: Panasonic DT50
Picture settings:
Panasonic DT50 series

The negatives far outweigh the positives, however. I'll touch on the black levels in depth shortly, but poor uniformity means that whatever blacks are there are mottled as well. Of our lineup of five TVs, the DT50 had the worst overall picture -- worse than the ultrabudget TCL L40FHDF12TA. Colors are drab, and any attempt to inject life into the pictures with the Color control makes everyone look like they're permanently blushing. (See How we test TVs for more info on our testing process.)

Click the image at the right to see the picture settings used in the review and to read more about how this TV’s picture controls worked during calibration.

Comparison models (details)
TCL L40FHDF12TA 40-inch LCD
Sony KDL-55HX750 55 inch edge-lit LCD
LG G2 47-inch edge-lit LCD
Panasonic TC-P55ST50 55-inch, plasma
Samsung UN46D6400 46 inch, LCD
Samsung PN59D7000 (reference) 59 inch plasma

Black level:
Simply put, the Panasonic DT50 had the lightest blacks in our lineup, which made its image look more washed out and lifeless in comparison. It suffers a lack of contrast so whites don't pop the way they do on competing TVs like the Sony HX750. Sure, you can engage the Dark black level control to give the illusion of deeper blacks, but this will only serve to crush them further and make the picture dimmer. I would personally opt for shadow detail over fake blacks any time.

Properly adjusted, there was very little shadow detail on the Panasonic, just an ashen mush that leaves three-dimensional objects -- with light and shade and shape -- looking almost like shadow puppets. On the other hand, the AI Picture setting does go some way toward enhancing shadow detail, but it does so unnaturally in comparison with our test TVs. It makes objects look even lighter than they really are.

Color accuracy:
A lack of fine color control means you get what the TV gives you out of the box, and this is not much. The color response is a seesaw with the heaviest color at one end being blue (blue shadows) and the lighter color dangling at the top being red (rosy skin tones). I experimented with the color control between a value of 44 (which looked the most natural) and 57 (which made the response graphs pretty, but the picture looked weird) and decided ultimately to leave it at the original. When viewed against a better TV such as the ST50, the LCD's lack of saturation is instantly noticeable. Color response is simply another thing this TV does poorly.

Video processing:
For a long time Panasonic lagged against competitors such as Sony in terms of video processing capabilities with jaggies and judder commonplace. About two years ago Panasonic caught up, and the DT50 at least bears this hallmark. On our 24p test the TV was able to smoothly replay a flyby of an aircraft carrier, and 1080i film playback was also finely resolved.

Uniformity is another area where this edge-lit TV falls apart, with large blotches across the right-hand side on the model I received. It may not have had the oil-slick appearance of the LG G2 but it was definitely more noticeable on the majority of content. At a preview some months ago Panasonic claimed the viewing angle of the DT50 was very wide and with the bright demo screens it was. But with normal, non-glaring colors the viewing angle is no better than most other TVs of its type with de-saturated blacks when viewed from the side.

Bright lighting:
The DT50 has a glossy coating, which is a trick usually employed on LCD screens to preserve black levels when seen under lights. But the gloss has a side effect: you can see yourself reflected in it during a dark scene. For brighter rooms we'd pick a TV that has a more matte finish, such as the HX750.

That the Panasonic DT50 performs better than the ST50 in 3D mode is the only surprise here. Throw on a pair of (optional) 3D glasses and the DT50 displays considerably less crosstalk than either the ST50 or the Sony HX750. The lack of black levels did mean that the image wasn't as believeable as that on the LG G2 or Samsung 6400, though. The extra cost of Panasonic's glasses is also an inhibiting factor.

Test Result Score
Black luminance (0%) 0.2397 Poor
Avg. gamma 2.2019 Good
Near-black x/y (5%) 0.2695/0.2723 Poor
Dark gray x/y (20%) 0.3058/0.3192 Poor
Bright gray x/y (70%) 0.315/0.3325 Average
Before avg. color temp. 6423.1051 Good
After avg. color temp. 6424.25 Good
Red lum. error (de94_L) 12.719 Poor
Green lum. error (de94_L) 6.6127 Poor
Blue lum. error (de94_L) 9.174 Poor
Cyan hue x/y 0.2262/0.3147 Average
Magenta hue x/y 0.3024/0.1516 Poor
Yellow hue x/y 0.4331/0.5065 Average
1080p/24 Cadence (IAL) Pass Poor
1080i Deinterlacing (film) Pass Good
Motion resolution (max) 1200 Good
Motion resolution (dejudder off) 350 Poor
PC input resolution (VGA) 1,920x1,080 Good

Panasonic DT50

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