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Panasonic Viera TX-P50VT20B review

David Ludlow
11 Jun 2010
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
2,300
inc VAT

For the person that wants 3D, this is the ultimate TV. Stunning image quality, amazing contrast and smooth movement make it the pinnacle of home entertainment.

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Specifications

50in, Freesat HD, Freeview HD, analogue, 1,920x1,080 resolution, 3D: yes, 4x HDMI

For its first 3D TV, Panasonic has decided to do it in style with a top-of-the-range plasma panel. We've reviewed the massive 50in Viera TX-P50VT20B, but there's an even bigger 65in version available should you want even more screen space.

Underneath the sleek exterior sits one of Panasonic's V series televisions. This has a 600Hz panel and 5,000,000:1 native contrast ratio, plus the Infinite Black Pro filter. In terms of picture quality, it's absolutely breath-taking.

Blacks are pure and dark, while whites brilliant and white. The key thing is that the massive contrast ratio means that you get detail in all parts of an image. Testing with 2D footage, we were incredibly impressed. A night-time fly through of Tokyo managed to bring out the full detail of the lit windows and neon signs against the dark sky.

Panasonic Viera TX-P50VT20B

Playing Casino Royale, we were immediately struck by the impressive visuals of the opening black-and-white scene, which retained its full detail. The Parkour sequence is also incredibly impressive, with the set picking up the subtle dust cloud in front of Bond, and managing to produce the full colour range in realistic detail.

We set our set to THX mode, which turns off some of the processing and restricts the set to a colour more that's more in-keeping with the colours produced by film makers. However, if you want to play with the image, there are plenty of options to do so (once you've turned on the advanced menus). You can adjust the colour and gamma manually to get the right image, while the vibrant colour mode helps create punchier colours if you want them.

There are two smoothing modes that can be applied: 24p Smooth Frame, for 24fps footage, and Intelligent Frame Creation for all other sources. Purists won't like either, but the effect is subtle and doesn't make films look like cartoons, as with some over-blown versions on other manufacturers' sets.

Switching to 3D mode is just as impressive. For this you'll need to put on a pair of the active shutter glasses (two are provided in the box, and both have plastic protective cases) and turn them on. The glasses have two nose rests in the box, which can be placed in two positions for comfort. The lenses sit quite far forwards, which is good for people who already wear glasses, but they do let light in from the side.

Panasonic Viera TX-P50VT20B 3D glasses

You'll also need to provide a 3D input, as there's no option to convert 2D footage to 3D; we don't see this as a problem, as this kind of conversion never works that well and who wants to watch everything on TV in 3D anyway?

We tested using the 3D Blu-ray versions of Ice Age 3 and Coraline and a Panasonic DMP-BDT3000 3D player. The effect is very good and, most importantly, looks solid. With its lightning-fast panel, the Viera TX-P50VT20B doesn't suffer from crosstalk (where the image for one eye interferes with the image for the other eye), making the 3D effect more realistic.

Movement is very, very smooth and there's no jerkiness at all. If you want even smoother footage, there's an option for 3D frame creation, which creates extra frames to make motion look more fluid. There's also a Edge Smoother option, which is designed to remove jagged lines created by the 3D process.

In 3D mode there's no THX viewing option available and you're limited to other settings, such as the similar True Cinema mode. This isn't so much of a problem, as you'll want one set of image settings for 2D footage and one set of settings for 3D. This is because the 3D mode and the active-shutter glasses, make the image a lot darker and not as saturated. As such, you may want to boost image brightness and colour settings to partially negate this. That said, you don't notice the darker picture so much if you're sitting in a darkened room.

However, one thing you will have to consider carefully is the TV's placement. We recommend that you put it somewhere so that a window's not in your field of vision when you're watching. This is because the active shutter glasses make the light coming through a window look like it's flickering, which is very distracting - this is a problem with all active shutter glasses.

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