Panasonic’s Viera TC-P50VT25 quickly demanded our attention with incredibly crisp, detailed images. In fact, to a person, the TC-P50VT25 wowed every member of our editorial team, and that was just in 2D picture quality when we turned on the TV for the first time. Later, in side-by-side comparisons, the Panasonic easily bested the Samsung PN50C800 we reviewed alongside it, producing a remarkably detailed, clean image with visibly greater color range in shadow and highlight content, and impressively deep blacks. Who knows, maybe we can give credit to Panasonic’s “Infinite Black Panel Pro” technology, which supposedly makes improvements to the pre-discharge state of plasma cells to reduce the graying of what should otherwise be pure blacks.
When 2D images look this good, 3D is just icing on the cake.
While the Panasonic boasts the same size screen as the Samsung, this husky giant outweighs its competitor by nearly five pounds (trust us, we’ve lifted it), and is significantly thicker as far as screen chassis depth. It offers four HDMI inputs and two USB inputs, as well as a PC Input and a LAN Port. The TC-P50VT25 also comes with a decent array of built-in Internet app offerings via VieraCast, its IPTV solution. Included are the usual suspects: YouTube, Picasa, Pandora, Netflix, Fox Sports, Twitter, and Skype.
When we positioned the TC-P50VT25 next to the Samsung PN50C800 and ran through a series of high-resolution still images, the Panasonic exhibited fantastic sharpness and color depth, showing us much better detail down to strands of hair and eyelashes. The TC-P50VT25 did trend toward a cooler color temperature, but still produced accurate colors in DisplayMate’s Color Purity and Uniformity tests. We were, however, a bit concerned by red-channel reproduction in color scaling tests, where reds, oranges and yellows could have used some adjustment.
But let’s get real: You’re not going to be sitting in a testing lab checking out still photos when you’ve got a 50-inch plasma in front of you. You’re going to be watching something with an explosion or a fight, like right now. So, how does the Panasonic actually perform while you’re, you know, watching it? In a word, beautifully. And while we did find ourselves upping brightness levels during V for Vendetta in order to see more detail in dark scenes, the Panasonic performed exquisitely overall. Also flawless was game play. We saw no ghosting or artifacts throughout our extensive testing of Call of Duty and Gran Turismo.
The TC-P50VT25 has a staid industrial design, but offers an extensive array of picture adjustment options—you know, so you can completely mangle your settings for a poorly calibrated, over-saturated image, if that’s what floats your boat. The rest of the onscreen controls and the remote are fairly basic and laid out in a straightforward manner.
Panasonic includes one set of 3D active shutter glasses with the TC-P50VT25, and oh, boy, are they ever ugly. Eyewear aesthetics aside, the 3D experience itself was excellent. The display produced almost zero 3D image cross-talk—that ghostlike image that appears when content intended for, say, your left eye is seen by your right eye. Off-axis performance in 3D was exceptional too.
Overall, the TC-P50VT25 is a hands-down winner, though we’d like to see a thinner screen profile, more exciting industrial design, and full integration of every Internet content service available today, tomorrow and forever.