Panasonic Viera TX-P50VT50 review
50in, Analogue, Freeview HD, Freesat HD, 1,920x1,080 resolution, 3D: yes, 4x HDMI
For this review we tested the 50in model in the VT50 range, but it's also available in in 55in (TX-P55VT50) and 65in (TX-P65VT50) screen sizes. All models have identical specifications except for their dimensions and power usage. We're confident that image quality will be practically identical across the range.
As soon as we lifted the monolithic VT50 out of its box, it was clear that the company has gone out of its way to impress. Its minimalist black bezel with contrasting silver trim is a huge upgrade from previous models and gives the TV a stunning yet simple appearance. The panel itself is covered by anti-reflective treated glass that Panasonic calls Infinite Black Ultra. It does a fantastic job of reducing light reflections, even in a brightly lit room. We looked at the 50in VT50, but you have the option of a 55in (TX-P55VT50, £3094) or 65in (TX-P65VT50, £4000) model if you prefer a larger display.
We immediately noticed the difference it made during our image quality tests. Standard definition footage looked reasonable thanks to some effective noise reduction, but high definition content was where it really shined. Colour detail was incredibly vibrant, even during darker scenes where we could always pick out minor details. Even when the rest of the scene was completely black, there was never any loss of definition. Brightness is still a little behind the brightest LCD displays, so you’ll want to watch in subdued lighting to get the absolute best picture, that said the VT50 is a noticeable improvement over last year’s model in normal lighting conditions.
3D pictures were unsurprisingly dimmer than 2D pictures, but this is to be expected when using active shutter glasses. Panasonic includes two in the box, with each extra pair costing £51. Motion was smooth and there were very few signs of crosstalk, with depth effects really jumping out of the screen.
Its I/O connectivity is also excellent. It has four HDMI ports, proprietary SCART, component and composite adaptors, digital and analogue audio outputs, Ethernet, three USB ports and both Freeview HD and Freesat tuners.
It also has built-in Wi-Fi, and you can stream content from a networked PC or NAS using DLNA. We had no trouble playing all our test files, including MKV and DivX files. You can also play media from connected USB drives and you also can turn it into a PVR to record programs.
VIERA Connect is the other reason to get your TV online, because it provides a huge range of internet-connected services, ranging from BBC iPlayer, YouTube, on-demand films and social networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook. It also has a web browser. Browsing the web with a remote control can be rather difficult, so Panasonic has bundled a second touchpad remote along with the traditional controller. It’s much simpler, with only a few buttons, but makes moving a cursor around the screen much more intuitive than using a directional keypad.
The VT50 is a phenomenal TV whether you stick with the out-of-box presets or take the time to properly calibrate the image. Its main competition comes from its own stable because the less expensive ST50 range - the Panasonic Viera TX-P42ST50B is simply much better value. Both sets have near identical features and connectivity, with only minor design flourishes and a few advanced picture modes separating the two. If money is no object, any sized VT50 is a fantastic buy, but an ST50 set is better value overall.