Friday, August 27, 2010

Panasonic Viera TC-P50VT25

The good: Superior black-level performance and excellent shadow detail; accurate primary colors in THX mode; great color saturation; effective antireflective screen; reproduces 1080p/24 cadence properly; VieraCast provides access to select Internet services and improved customization; solid 3D picture quality; includes 3D glasses.

The bad: Relatively expensive; last year's Panasonic plasmas lost black-level performance over relatively short periods of time; nonadjustable grayscale in THX mode; some artifacts in 1080p/24 mode; fewer streaming services and apps than the competition; uses more power than LCDs and newer plasmas.
The bottom line: With both 2D and 3D sources, Panasonic's flagship TC-PVT20/25 series plasma TV delivers outstanding overall picture quality.

There's plenty of hype surrounding 3D TV, much of it promulgated by the people at Panasonic, but the main reasons we like the TC-PVT20/25 series so much are contained by the traditional two dimensions. Yes, it beats the one other first-generation 3D-compatible TV we've tested, and yes, it actually includes 3D glasses, but with the scarcity of 3D content available today, the need to buy additional, expensive glasses for every family member, and the basic fact that 3D TV isn't for everyone, we think this TV's 2D prowess is the main reason to buy it.

Of course, there are plenty of reasons not to as well, chief being the company's black-level loss issue with 2009 models. Until the results of our long-term test of the VT25 are in we can't speak definitively to that, but in the meantime nay-sayers could also point to its hungry power use, some issues with 1080p/24 playback or the imperfection of its grayscale. But weighed against its excellent general color accuracy in THX, its improved antireflective screen and especially those inky black levels, the knocks against the initial 2D picture quality of the Panasonic TC-PVT20/25 series seem minor. Standard exceptions aside, it's the best 2D TV we've ever tested, although we'll reserve final judgment until we can examine the competitors' best 2010 HDTVs.

Editors' note, August 19, 2010: After about 920 hours, which at the average rate of 5.2 hours of on-time per day works out to about 177 days of average life, the black level performance of our TC-P50VT25 review sample has not changed. Our long-term test of Panasonic's 2010 plasma TVs will continue throughout the year, and any changes will be reported here.
Series information: We performed a hands-on evaluation of the 50-inch Panasonic TC-P50VT25, but this review also applies to the other screen sizes in the series. All models in the series have identical specs and according to the manufacturer should provide very similar picture quality. The same goes for the 50-inch TC-P50VT20, a 50-inch model exclusive to Best Buy. Aside from its bezel color and the fact that it lacks an RS-232 connection.
 Reviewed by: David Katzmaier
Post: Panasonic Viera TC-P50VT25; Blog Gadget; Rating: 100%


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