Panasonic TCP50S30 Price

Panasonic TC-P50S30 Plasma TV Review

Model: Panasonic Viera TC-P50S30
Description: 50" Panasonic Viera 1080P HD Plasma TV
Dimensions: 47.4" X 29.3" X 2.8" depth
Includes: Table Top Stand, Breakout Cables for Component/Composite
Reviewer: We
Date: Summer 2011

Panasonic TC-P50S30 Review
A shot from the Blu Ray of Wyatt Erp shows a some good light balance and color rendition


The S30 series replaces the best selling S2 line from last years Panasonic line up. This is a mid-grade lineup plasma that maintains some very good picture quality while foregoing many of the best and newest features such as 3D compatibility, Internet Apps, Wifi ready access, and the new louvered screen filter on the ST30 and up. Upgrades include better fast switching phosphors and a much thinner panel profile.

Picture Quality Rating (HD): 8/10

The TC-P50S30 enjoys a couple of the best improvements in Panasonic picture technology over the past couple of years. This It contains the Infinity Black panel (but not the black 2 panel of the ST30 and higher end lines) and it receives the best in Panasonic's new phosphor technology with 2011's fast switching phosphors. We highly recommend our picture settings listed on the next page for viewing this TV. We always judge and rate picture quality based on the best picture we can produce with our own D6500k calibration. However, it's worth noting that this TV would receive a very poor picture quality rating if we were to judge it based on the preset picture mode settings from the Standard or Vivid picture modes. First, the biggest drawback we noted in picture quality was instability in the picture. The whole picture moves slightly creating some motion artifacts that also register during our Film Resolution Loss test processor testing. The picture shift is subtle enough that many will not notice it.

Panasonic TC-P50S30 Review
Panasonic TC-P50S30 Review
These shots from the Blu Ray of Wyatt Erp show excellent dark shadow detail. In the second shot there is some light bleed evident in the middle back area of the picture.

After this tidying up is done we can enjoy the best of what the S30 has to offer. Colors really pop off the screen though they do not go far enough to be called over-saturated. With our picture settings, this TV has enough light flow through to be viewed in brighter rooms. Black levels are admirable and competent but not the best tested. The TV never gets that inky black appearance. However, dark shadow detail is superb on this TV especially for the price point. Overall HD picture quality is remarkable at this value price point.

Panasonic TC-P50S30 Review
This shot from the Blu Ray of Iron Man shows awesome detail and clarity.
Panasonic TC-P50S30 Review
Another shot from Iron Man shows good black level saturation.

Picture Quality Rating (SD): 8/10

Panasonic TC-P50S30 Review
A vibrant shot from the 480 DVD of Under the Tuscan Sun.

Post calibration, the Panasonic S30 series plasma puts forth a standard definition picture that might make you want to pull out some old DVDs and watch them again. The picture shift problem mentioned above remains through HDMI input, but largely disappears when viewing through the composite video input. The S30 is very good in the areas of motion lag and off-center viewing. Off-center viewing is about perfect with no contrast loss even at extreme side angles. Netflix, Amazon on Demand and other streaming content service providers often pipe through a signal that is lower on the resolution scale (often between 480 interlace to 720 progressive in resolution quality), so it's important for today's TVs to be tested with these lower end signals. Color rendition is still very strong on the S30 and clarity is good. Black levels moderate somewhat with lower signals.

Panasonic TC-P50S30 Review
This shot from the standard definition 480i version DVD of Seabiscuit shows how clear images can appear even from low end signals.

Features Rating: 7/10

Internet Options: The S30 series does not enjoy the more expansive Internet options and Apps available to the higher end Panasonic Plasma line up. However, it does have what Panasonic terms Easy IPTV which includes Netflix, Cinema Now, and Amazon Video on Demand for movies and TV programming, Pandora and Napster for music Internet programming, and Facebook for that all important social media wall. It's an abbreviated Internet options menu that gives you the majority of what most people actually use anyway – the most popular options. The popular options that it does not contain which are noteworthy are Hulu and Hulu Plus, You Tube, Vudu, and a variety of weather, news and sports programming channels. It also does not have the Skype option that the GT30 and ST30 contain.

TV Appearance: Design is not a strength of Panasonic's at present. The S30 design is a bit stuck in the mud from yesteryear. While the panel depth is thinner at 2.8" the black gloss bezel framing is still over 2 inches. It's a clunky, chunky design for 2011. The included table stand is much improved – it's rectangular, heavy, easy to assemble and very secure. Best of all it swivels left to right up to 10 degrees, which is not as much as most but at least it's something.

Panasonic TC-P50S30 Review

Remote Control/Menu Function: I like the new easier to use menu system on this year's Panasonic plasmas. It facilitates quick menu changes and the Viera Tools key on the remote control gives fast access to the Internet options. The included backlit matt charcoal gray remote control is boring but has all the necessary keys to make using the plasma easy. The format key on the remote accesses the aspect ration options for pictrue sizing which are: Full, Just, 4:3, and zoom.

Inputs: The S30 includes 3 HDMI inputs, 2 USB inputs, an SD card slot, an Ethernet connection, and composite and component inputs though you must use the included breakout cables for them.

Audio Output: Audio function is a much overlooked area in today's TVs. At this value price point TV, many owners will use the inbuilt speakers rather than a home theater surround system. It seems that many manufacturers are just purchasing the SRS Surround kit and not worrying about the quality of the speakers. The Panasonic S30 series plasma actually delivers on sound quality from the 2 inbuilt 10W speakers – and without paying out for the the SRS Tru Surround option. Panasonic even allows extra room in the TV for speaker housing which takes the TV from 2.2" panel depth to 2.8" depth at the bottom of the unit. There is a proprietary Panasonic built Surround Sound alternative which when turned on does not take away from voice quality enough to be a hindrance. On-screen background noise never overwhelms voice so we were much impressed with these improvements. Sound quality is generally richer than other manufacturers audio function we have tested.

Power Consumption: Yes, the S30 is Energy Star qualified, but Panasonic is making efforts here to fool you into thinking the energy that it takes to power the unit is lower than it really is. You could hardly watch this set on its Standard picture setting, from which it takes power consumption measurements. But let's get down to dollars and cents. How much more money does it take to view this plasma than an equivalent sized LED? About a buck a month. This is based on an estimate of the most cost effective led tv (Sony EX720) compared to this plasma ($2.40 per month compared to $1.40 per month).

Panel life is estimated at 100,000 hours to half life, which is about 56 years at 5 hours per day. This extension of lifespan is primarily due to the vast improvement in phosphors which Panasonic and other plasma manufacturers have accomplished in the past few years.

Lastly, the image viewer function allows picture and video display through the SD card slot.

This Video is of the ST30 which is similar in many regards as the S30. The bezel framing is an inch wider. There are no pro picture settings or 3D compatibility on the S30. The panel filtering is also slightly different.

see Value Rating and Overall Score on Page 2


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