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Panasonic TC-PGT25 review: Panasonic TC-PGT25

Panasonic TC-PGT25

David Katzmaier Editorial Director -- Personal Tech
David reviews TVs and leads the Personal Tech team at CNET, covering mobile, software, computing, streaming and home entertainment. We provide helpful, expert reviews, advice and videos on what gadget or service to buy and how to get the most out of it.
Expertise A 20-year CNET veteran, David has been reviewing TVs since the days of CRT, rear-projection and plasma. Prior to CNET he worked at Sound & Vision magazine and eTown.com. He is known to two people on Twitter as the Cormac McCarthy of consumer electronics. Credentials
  • Although still awaiting his Oscar for Best Picture Reviewer, David does hold certifications from the Imaging Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology on display calibration and evaluation.
David Katzmaier
14 min read

Panasonic's first 3D TV, the TC-PVT25 series, earned our Editors' Choice award for its 2D picture quality, and in our opinion is currently the best overall TV you can buy. It's expensive, however, so the company decided to release a slightly cheaper 3D-compatible TV later in 2010, the two-size TC-PGT25 series reviewed here. It can't quite match the picture delivered by its big brother in 2D mode, and in 3D it also has issues, but it's still an excellent performer. That said, it's still significantly more expensive than Panasonic's G20/25 models--which are basically the same, sans 3D. The GT25 occupies a place somewhere in the middle of the 3D plasma TV landscape, and while it may appeal to plasma fans looking for a cheaper alternative to the VT25 and/or 2D-to-3D conversion, Samsung's top plasmas are better overall.


Panasonic TC-PGT25

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; includes 2D to 3D conversion.

The Bad

Cannot properly handle 1080p/24 sources; loses some black-level performance over time; introduces artifacts in 3D mode; fewer streaming services and apps than the competition; uses more power than LCDs; does not include 3D glasses.

The Bottom Line

Although it does deliver excellent 2D picture quality, the 3D-compatible Panasonic TC-PGT25 series can't match the overall performance of the competition's best plasmas.

Series information: We performed a hands-on evaluation of the 50-inch Panasonic TC-PGT25, but this review also applies to the 42-inch TC-P42GT25. Both have identical specs and according to the manufacturer should provide very similar picture quality.

Models in series (details)
Panasonic TC-P42GT25 42 inches
Panasonic TC-P50GT25 (reviewed) 50 inches


There's nothing exciting about the GT25's exterior appearance.

Design highlights
Panel depth 3.5 inches Bezel width 2 inches
Single-plane face No Swivel stand Yes

The understated TC-PGT25 looks almost exactly like its non-3D brother, but instead of a grayish-blue horizontal accent strip in the midst of the lower frame, the GT25's strip is sort of bronze-colored. The stand also has a ring of silver around the bottom of its base. The 3.5-inch panel depth is chunkier than the 2010 plasmas of LG and Samsung, but plenty "flat" enough in our book.

The swivel stand and bottom of the frame have chrome- and bronze-colored accents, respectively.

Remote control and menus
Remote size (LxW) 9 x 2 inches Remote screen N/A
Total keys 50 Backlit keys 36
Other IR devices controlled No RF control of TV No
Shortcut menu Yes Onscreen explanations Yes

We appreciate the remote's extensive backlighting and well-differentiated layout. Its only downside in our view is an inability to control other gear directly via infrared. The company has updated its blue-and-yellow menus to include onscreen explanations and a persistent navigation column of icons on the left, and as a result they feel more modern and are easier to use than last year, if not up to the level of Sony or Samsung.

Panasonic's menu system is pretty basic by today's standards, but it gets the job done.


Key TV features
Display technology LCD/plasma LED backlight N/A
3D compatible Yes 3D glasses included No
Screen finish Glass Refresh rate(s) 60Hz, 48Hz
Dejudder (smooth) processing No 1080p/24 compatible No
Internet connection Yes Wireless HDMI/AV connection No
Other: Optional 3D glasses (TY-EW3D10; $150/pair); Optional Wi-Fi dongle (DY-WL10, $99); Optional network camera (wired BL-C210; $199; Wi-Fi BL-C230, $299)

While the TC-PGT25 series lacks the pair of $150 3D glasses included with the step-up Panasonic 3D TVs in the TC-PVT20/25 series, it does offer one option the VT25 does not: simulated 3D processing (Panasonic says it has no plans to add that feature to the VT25 via firmware or any other method). We're not big fans of the effect, but some people might enjoy the ability to add 3D to any 2D source--including (unlike with Sony's 2D-to-3D system) the built-in streaming video from Netflix, Amazon, and yes, YouTube. See Performance for more.

Aside from 3D the TC-PGT25 has the same feature set as the TC-PG20/25 series. It lacks true 1080p/24 compatibility (the 48Hz mode is unwatchable in our opinion), but options include the same kind of proprietary Wi-Fi dongle used by Samsung and LG. Naturally we'd like to see built-in Wi-Fi, a la Vizio and higher-end Sony sets, but again we're not surprised at its omission. We're also intrigued by the optional networked camera, which allows GT25 owners relatively cheap in-home monitoring capability. We didn't test either option for this review.

The GT25 offers a 2D-to-3D conversion system, an extra not found on the company's more expensive VT25 3D TV.

Streaming media
Netflix Yes YouTube Yes
Amazon Video on Demand Yes Rhapsody No
Vudu video No Pandora Yes
CinemaNow No DLNA compliant No
Blockbuster No USB No

This is the first Panasonic TV we've reviewed since the company added Netflix capability to its VieraCast system, and the ubiquitous streaming video service works fine. The standard horizontal Netflix interface is on-hand, with category browsing but no search. Video quality was as good as expected and we appreciated that full picture controls were available--they're labeled "VieraCast" to separate them from input-specific picture memory slots, and included every option noted below (aside from THX).

Even with Netflix the Panasonic lags behind Samsung, Vizio and Sony in the breadth of its streaming content offerings. DLNA streaming won't be missed by most buyers, however.

Panasonic has finally added Netflix to its VieraCast system.

Internet apps
Yahoo Widgets No Skype Yes
Vudu apps No Weather Yes
Facebook No News No
Twitter Yes Sports Yes
Photos Picasa Stocks Yes
Other: Customizable VieraCast home page; two German-language news widgets; Skype requires speakerphone accessory (TY-CC10, $169); compatible with USB PC keyboards

Panasonic's VieraCast system got a facelift for 2010, adding widgets like Fox Sports and Twitter, as well as a Skype option. Our favorite change is that the home page can be customized somewhat, allowing you to place the apps and streaming services you want on the first, second or third page in any of seven slots arranged around the central picture window. Most other TVs' Internet service interfaces, aside from Vizio and Yahoo Widgets, don't let you rearrange content to the same extent.

VieraCast still seems a bit archaic compared to the others, takes over rather than overlays whatever you're watching, and inexplicably lacks a nonbusiness (and non-German) News component, but we do appreciate the well-integrated feel, relatively snappy response time and the above-average functionality of the custom apps, namely Bloomberg and Weather.

We also like the option of using a standard USB keyboard to navigate the system, type passwords and yes, Tweet. The latest one we tested, a Dell RBP-DEL4, worked fine, although a couple older models we tried on previous VieraCast TVs did not.

You'll need an additional speakerphone/camera ($169) for Skype.

Picture settings
Adjustable picture modes 5 Independent memories per input Yes
Dejudder presets 0 Fine dejudder control N/A
Aspect ratio modes -- HD 5 Aspect ratio modes -- SD 4
Color temperature presets 5 Fine color temperature control 2 points
Gamma presets 6 Color management system No
Other: > THX mode is adjustable; On/Off "Blur reduction" setting; very basic 3D settings

Panasonic has equipped the TC-PGT25 series with an array of picture settings on a par with other makers' TVs, if not quite to the level seen on LG and Samsung's high-end models--although unlike on LG, the Panasonic's THX mode can be adjusted. The Pro Settings menu, available only in the Custom picture mode, offers further niceties like a fine color temperature menu (although it lacks an adjustment for green) and gamma choices--the latter is missing from G20/25 models. On the other hand the GT25 is missing the color management system found on the VT20/25.

The new-for-2010 "blur reduction" setting affects motion resolution, but doesn't introduce any dejudder processing. Unlike Samsung and Sony, which offer an array of tweaks to 3D, the GT25's sole nonessential adjustments are a provision for swapping the right and left eyes, and a simple On/Off diagonal line filter, described as something you "Select when diagonal lines appear jagged" and "Turn off when the picture looks noisy." Unfortunately it didn't work to curb some of the artifacts we saw in 3D (see below).

A smattering of options greets entrants of the Pro Settings menu.

Other features
Power saver mode No Ambient light sensor Yes
Picture-in-picture No Onscreen user manual No
Other: Two modes to combat burn-in

Watchers paranoid about burn-in (we aren't) will appreciate the scrolling bar designed to erase it, and the pixel orbiter intended to prevent it in the first place. We'd like to see a brightness-limiting energy saver mode, as well as an onscreen companion to the thick paper manual.

You can adjust the pixel orbiter or engage a scrolling bar to deal with burn-in, aka "temporary image retention."

HDMI inputs 2 back, 1 side Component video inputs 2 back
Composite video input(s) 1 back, 1 side S-video input(s) 0
VGA-style PC input(s) 1 back RF input(s) 1
AV output(s) 0 Digital audio output 1 optical
USB port 2 side Ethernet (LAN) port Yes
Other: Side SD card slot

Three HDMI inputs total falls one short of most 2010 HDTVs we've tested but should still be plenty for most setups. The SD card slot can handle video, photos and music, like the USB ports, and the second USB is a nice addition if you use the first for the optional Wi-Fi dongle.

Three total HDMI are available between the back and side input bays.
All told, the TC-PGT25 series delivers mostly the same high level of 2D picture quality as the company's G20/25 series, but can't match the 3D image of the VT25 or Samsung's plasmas. We noted excellent initial black level performance and solid color, as well as the usual uniformity benefits of plasma. The GT25's antireflective screen isn't as effective as some, however, and videophiles will not appreciate that black levels fluctuated somewhat.

TV settings: Panasonic TC-P50GT25

As we've seen on all THX-equipped Panasonic plasmas, that mode delivered the best out-of-the-box picture quality for our home theater environment. It wasn't perfect, however, with a somewhat reddish grayscale, especially in brighter areas, and gamma a bit lighter than our 2.2 target (2.15 average, but closer to 2.0-2.1 in the critical darker areas of the picture). For our calibration we tweaked THX as much as we could, upping the light output to our nominal 40ftl, and compared it to Custom mode after calibrating Custom's much more extensive options. As usual, THX was still better than anything we could achieve in Custom--the latter showed worse gamma, color decoding, and color accuracy, although grayscale was a bit more accurate overall.

Many of the image quality tests detailed below were conducted with the help of "Jonah Hex" on Blu-ray and the following lineup.

Comparison models (details)
Panasonic TC-P50G20 50-inch plasma
Panasonic TC-P50VT25 50-inch plasma
Samsung PN50C7000 50-inch plasma
Samsung PN50C8000 50-inch plasma
LG 47LX9500 47 inch full-array local dimming LED
Sony XBR-52HX909 52 inch full-array local dimming LED
Vizio XVT553SV 55 inch full-array local dimming LED
Pioneer PRO-111FD (reference) 50-inch plasma

Black level: Our Panasonic TC-PGT25 delivered excellent black-level performance, essentially equaling that of the VT25 and beating the G20 (both of which were aged; see below), the Vizio and both Samsung plasmas in many cases, and falling short of the Pioneer, the LG and the Sony. In dark scenes, like the nighttime gambling ring in Chapter 3 for example, its ability to reproduce a realistic shade of black was apparent in the letterbox bars, the night sky and the black clothes of the goons.

Our tests and Panasonic's own statements confirm that the black level of Panasonic plasmas will become lighter with age, to the point where we believe the GT25 will equal the aged G20 and be significantly lighter than the aged VT25. That said, if the G20 is any indication, the GT25 will still among the best available. Check out our latest long-term test results for details.

We noted black-level fluctuation--where "black" brightens more noticeably than usual depending on program content--in test patterns on the G20 review, but this issue was less obvious on the GT25. When the average picture brightness rose above a certain level (namely when a 100-percent window pattern was displayed) the level of "black" remained relatively constant compared to the sudden brightening we saw on the G20. In program material, as with the G20, fluctuations in the shade of black were difficult to discern outside of a side-by-side comparison--although according to our measurements, the Samsung plasmas did maintain a slightly more constant "black" in certain scenes, such as the letterbox bars near the bright, day-lit train ride in Chapter 2.

Shadow detail on the Panasonic was realistic in THX mode, although not quite as good as the Samsung C8000 plasma, the VT25, and the Pioneer. The shaded cage and fence at the 31:58 mark, for example, appeared a tad brighter than we'd like to see, although again the difference wasn't drastic.

Color accuracy: The GT25 scored very good marks in this department, although the reddish tint to its grayscale was a liability in our side-by-side compared to the most color-accurate TVs, including the LG, the Vizio, the Samsung C8000 and the Pioneer. The darkened-bedroom skin tones of Lilah in Chapter 2 and Chapter 6 for example, seemed more flush than on the other sets, although we appreciated that the slight greenish cast seen on the G20 wasn't evident. Speaking of green, it appeared somewhat oversaturated, along with red, in many brighter scenes, such as the shots of the field around the train in Chapter 2. Overall saturation was lush and vibrant, but the GT25's color balance wasn't as close to reference as some of the others.

Video processing: The GT25 performed exactly the same as the G20 in this area. Panasonic makes a lot of marketing hay out of its 600Hz subfield drive, but as we observed last year, its benefits (much like the antiblurring effects of 120Hz, 240Hz, LCDs, etc.) are exceedingly difficult to discern. When we engaged the Blur-reduction setting, our motion resolution test showed that the GT25 was delivering all 1,080 lines of the source. When we turned off the control, the result dipped down to somewhere between 700-800 lines. Although the difference between the two settings was impossible for us to see outside of specialized test patterns, there's no obvious reason not to turn the control on--it introduced no negative effects we could see.

As we noted above, the GT25 series is not blessed with the 96Hz refresh rate found on the step-up VT20/25 models, so as we observed with Panasonic's predecessor plasmas from 2009, the G models cannot properly handle 1080p/24 sources. We confirmed this with our favorite scene for such a test, the flyover of the Intrepid from "I Am Legend," where we observed the characteristic stuttering motion of 2:3 pull-down (as opposed to the correct cadence of film we observed on the V10) when the GT25 was set to its default 60Hz mode under "24p direct in." Switching to the other option, 48Hz, caused the display to flicker significantly and become essentially unwatchable, especially in brighter scenes.

In our 1080i deinterlacing test, it's worth noting that the GT25 only passed in film mode when we chose the "on" position for the 3:2 pull-down control. When the control was set to the default "Auto" position, the TV failed.

Bright lighting: The TC-PGT25 appears to have the same antireflective screen as the G20 and VT25, and it's a big improvement over what we've seen on earlier Panasonics. The screen preserved black levels relatively well and reduced the brightness of reflections, such as the faces of viewers or even lamps caught in the screen. It beat the LG LCD in this area and essentially tied the Samsung C7000 plasma, although it wasn't as good either the C8000 plasma or the Pioneer. Compared with the Sony LCD, the Panasonic's screen did a better job reducing reflections, but it didn't preserve black levels as well.

Standard-definition: Like the other Panasonics, the GT25 series is among the worst standard-def performers we've tested recently. It didn't quite resolve all of the horizontal detail of the DVD format, and the shots of the stone bridge and grass appeared a bit soft. Jaggies in moving diagonal lines and a waving American flag were more prevalent on the GT25 than on the Samsung or LG plasmas. Noise reduction was also less effective; in the Panasonic's strongest setting, we still saw motes and video noise in low-quality shots of skies and sunsets. The TV passed the 2:3 pull-down test in "On" mode, but the default "Auto" was again ineffective.

PC: Via analog VGA the TC-PGT25 accepted a maximum input signal of 1,366x768, which is disappointing for a 1080p TV. Text in that resolution looked relatively soft, and we missed having an autoadjust function to fill the screen properly, but after some tweaking it looked passable. Via HDMI the TV handled every line of a 1,920x1,080 source with no edge enhancement or softness and excellent overall quality.

Before color temp (20/80) 6263/6332 Good
After color temp n/a n/a
Before grayscale variation 163 Good
After grayscale variation n/a n/a
Color of red (x/y) 0.64/0.329 Good
Color of green 0.295/0.605 Good
Color of blue 0.15/0.059 Good
Overscan 0.0% Good
Defeatable edge enhancement Y Good
480i 2:3 pull-down, 24 fps Pass Good
1080i video resolution Pass Good
1080i film resolution Pass Good

Power consumption: We did not test the power consumption of the 46-inch TC-P46GT25, but we did test the 50-inch model. For more information, refer to the review of the Panasonic TC-P50GT25.

3D picture quality: Image quality in 3D on the GT25 was a mixed bag. It showed less-obvious crosstalk--ghostly doubles around 3D objects--than the LCDs but more than the other plasmas. We also saw some moving-line artifacts that didn't appear on any other display. For our 3D comparison we substituted in the LG PX950 plasma for the Panasonic TC-PG20, using the default picture settings of the TVs' Cinema (or equivalent) mode and switched between each TV maker's incompatible 3D eyewear as necessary.

We first noticed the unusual line artifacts on the GT25 when watching "Monsters vs. Aliens" for the Samsung PNC8000 review. When the General faces Ginormica in Chapter 4, for example, the weave on her orange suit pockets showed moire and moving lines, and we saw that horizontal lines in the following scene--when Ginormica is slid through the complex--also showed movement. We tried adjusting the "Diagonal Line Filter" on the GT25 but it had no effect we could discern.

In terms of crosstalk the GT25 was slightly worse than the plasmas in our lineup, but better than the LCDs. Watching "Coraline" we saw relatively bright, ghostly amber-colored doubles of the mice in Chapter 3, as well as along the edge of the doorway as Coraline crawls through the tunnel, but again they weren't as noticeable as on the LCDs.

The GT25 also showed a relatively bluish tinge to the image, especially compared to the accuracy of the THX-equipped LG and the Samsung plasmas--although it wasn't as obvious as on the VT25. Black levels on the GT25 were excellent, however, and provided the picture with plenty of pop in 3D.

To test the 2D-to-3D conversion system we checked out a few scenes from "Avatar" on the GT25, the Samsung PNC8000, the Sony HX909 and the LG PX950. The Panasonic's 3D effect was the most subtle of the bunch to the point of disappearing at times (except in Maximum mode which we found disorienting, difficult to watch and nauseating after a while). In general the look of scenes was relatively natural and didn't suffer from too many out-of-depth or moving-depth objects, like we saw on the Samsung. The biggest issue, however, was the prevalence of the same kind of artifacts we saw with regular 3D sources. In Chapter 4, for example, moire and moving lines were visible in the flooring and a computer console at the 12:16 mark. The LG PX950 showed similar artifacts during conversion, but they were much more subtle, whereas the Sony and Samsung were clean.

See our previous 3D TV reviews, or our writeup of the Samsung UNC8000 TV's simulated 3D and "Avatar," for more details. Earlier 3D TV reviews contain more notes on our testing methodology.

How we test TVs.


Panasonic TC-PGT25

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 8