Panasonic TC-PGT25 review: Panasonic TC-PGT25

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

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

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