Panasonic TC-P50VT25 Review - 3D Capable 1080p Plasma TV

Model: Panasonic Viera TC-P50VT25
Description: 54" Full 1080P HD Plasma TV 3D TV Ready
Includes: Table top stand and 1 pair of Panasonic 3D TV Shutter Glasses
Reviewer: We
Date: Late summer/fall 2010

Panasonic TC-P50VT25 Review

The TC-P50VT25 is the highest end top tier offering from Panasonic for 2010. The TV is 3D ready, has THX certifications, is Skype enabled (camera sold seperately), and contains Panasonic's new NEO PDP (plasma display panel). How do all of these new features and the accompanying picture quality add up?

Test and Optimum Viewing Distance: 12 feet

Calibration Notes: The VT25 was difficult to calibrate and get balanced and obtain a pure D6500K color measurement. This plasma TV calibrated more accurately with the Panel light at the medium setting. However, the medium setting reduced the measured contrast ration to below 1700:1 so we felt it necessary to go through an extensive calibration with the panel light on high.

Panansonic VT25 Series Post-Calibration Picture Settings
Picture Mode: Custom
Contrast +85
Brightness +72
Color +48
Tint 0
Sharpness 0
Color Temp WARM2
For Complete Panasonic TC-P50VT25 Picture Settings & Calibration Results Click Here

Processor Testing: For a top tier TV we expected a better processing chip set. There was significant background motion artifacts and noise as well as significant judder jerky effects with objects moving side to side. Though the VT25 scored well in a few categories, we were disappointed overall by what we saw. The artifacts and background noise also came through in the picture as noted below.

Panasonic TC-P50VT25 Review
This HD Blu Ray shot from Blood Diamond shows off the light throughput and vibrant colors of the VT25.

Picture Quality and Performance: With both HD sources and standard definition content the VT25 produced a very vibrant, colorful, vivid image even after being toned down during our calibration. This TV is like a difficult to control race horse, that doesn't know when and where to focus its energy. The panel light on the VT25 is extremely powerful. The plasma 3D TV has a tendency toward over saturation with tons of light flowing through color information – providing a bright picture. Motion artifacts and background noise are present, more with standard definition programming than with HD.

Panaosnic TC-P50VT25 Review
Notice the over saturation of color information in this shot.

With a standard definition picture we were impressed with how vivid colors were displayed. Darker scenes show up very well due to the exceeding brightness of the light throughput. However, there were visible motion artifacts, flicker and judder effects with much programming and we were not impressed by the processing quality. The picture (especially standard def) is frankly a little sloppy for this price range and tier level of TV.

Panasonic TC-P50VT25 Review
A shot from standard definition DVD Perfume shows very saturated color information.

Panasonic TC-P50VT25 Review
Notice the bars at top and bottom of this bright image are not completely saturated black.

If you love ramped up oversaturated color reminiscent of movies like The Fifth Element, 300, Kill Bill, Fox Sports Football in your TV picture even sacrificing accuracy and realism, then the VT25 may be the TV for you. Or if you have a large standard definition DVD collection and want to bring some pop to the old movies (and you don't mind extraneous motion artifacts), the VT25 may also be for you.

3D TV Viewing: It took us about 20 minutes to get used to wearing the 3D glasses. For one reviewer that wears prescription glasses it took longer and was never really comfortable. In the negative category, we experienced flashing from the glasses when there was room or ambient light present. This was apparently caused by the ambient light interfering with the infrared receiver on the glasses. Turning your head away from the TV can also cuase the glasses to shut off and turn back on again when you look back to the TV. Without other light sources in the room we didn't experience the issue. I also found that keeping my head still during viewing. Overall, after I got used to it, I enjoyed the experience and the movie (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs). The big question: Did the 3D movie, TV, and glasses enhance the experience? For me the answer is yes, it did, I felt that it enveloped me in the movie more. 3D TV is all about making the viewer feel more involved in the content and I would agree that it succeeded in that. On a critical note about the Panasonic VT25 I felt the edges were distractingly out of focus at times, in comparison to the Samsung which we were also reviewing.

Panasonic TC-P50VT25 Review
The VT25 includes one pair of battery powered 3D Glasses.

Panasonic TC-P50VT25 Review
A scene from the 3D Blu Ray of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.

Panasonic TC-P50VT25 Review

Dark Shadow Detail: Due to the high brightness of this plasma dark shadow detail is excellent.

Viewing Angle/Off Axis Viewing: The VT25 has perfect off angle viewing.

False Contouring/ Mapping: There was slight mapping and moire' during HQV processor testing which will also show up during content.

Panasonic TC-P50VT25 Review

Features: The Viera Cast feature enables Internet options which are a bit limited at the moment to Pandora, Bloomberg, Amazon Video on Demand, Skype, and Picasa. Fox Sports and twitter are supposedly coming soon. Notably, there is no Netflix feature. Skype is a highlight. When we hooked up the Internet options there had already been a software update, so it's good that Panasonic is actively supporting the Internet options feature.

Panasonic TC-P50VT25 Review

The ho hum Viera Link feature allows the user to control other Viera link capable outboard equipment. The VT25 has discrete picture settings for each input.

There is an important new aspect ratio feature on the VT25 located in the Picture Options section of the menu called HD Size. Setting 1 scans and displays 95% of the input image. Setting 2does the same for 100%. Set to HD size 1 if noise is generated on the edges of the screen. Normal ascpect ratio features are controlled by the format button on the remote control, do an adequate job of scaling and include: Full, Just, 4:3, Zoom.

To save energy the TV automatically turns off after 10 minutes if it can not detect a live input.

Aesthetic Considerations: Panasonic doesn't appear to have entered the contest when it comes to 2010's TV aesthetics. They answered, "not present," even with their top end entries. The VT25's looks hearken back to yesteryear. The bezel framing is black gloss plastic at 2" on top and 2.25" on the sides giving the TV a large frame with no real design quality. The dark teal color of the screen (when off) contrasts with the black gloss frame in an unappealing manner. Panel depth at 3.5" also ignores the trend toward thin and sleek.

Panasonic TC-P50VT25 Review
Left: The TC-P50VT25 employs a new oval stand allows a 17 degree swivel.
Right: We were not fans of the unattractive contrast between the wide 2.25" bezel and the dark teal green screen on the VT25

Video Aspect Ratio Sizing: The Format button on the remote controls this function with options: Just, 4:3, Zoom, Full, H-Full.

Inputs: About everything: 4 HDMI, 2 Component, 1 15pin PC, digital SD card slot, Ethernet connection for Internet, RS232.

Remote Control/Menu Funtionality: The menu is too unfriendly for this price level. One has too make an adjustment and go back to the main menu and then back to picture settings again. It's cumbersome to start over after each picture setting. Another slight annoyance is that the TV does not sense connected input cables so one has to scroll through from scratch to select which input. Many TVs today sense which input is hot and give you an option for just those. The remote control is gray, plastic, unappealing with a plastic white arrow key button top center. The backlighting when needed is all red light. The feel of the depressed buttons is also cheap. Can you tell I wasn't a fan of the remote for this tier of TV?

Panasonic TC-P50VT25 Review

Audio Output: The Panasonic VT includes 3 X 10W speakers in total. There is no voice enhanced feature option for sound though I found the volume to be sufficient. Sound quality is good, especially with music, but I would recommend every TV include a voice enhanced option as so much broadcast and film based material these days needs it. The A-I sound option equalizes sound as a compressor and is useful for watching TV by toning down volume increases in those annoying ads.

Picture Mode Options: There are plenty of preset picture mode options: THX, Game, Custom, Vivid, Standard. We believe our calibrated picture settings above will serve you better than any of these. The THX options serves as the movie mode option but we found it too dark and weak.

3D TV: Obviously the TV has 3D capability as an added feature. Our evaluation of the performance of the feature was satisfactory.

Though prices are a bit higher for 3D TV compatibility, Panasonic has not been able to keep the price too high due to aggressive moves by Samsung. The TC-P50VT25 is priced around $2400 and may come packaged with the 3D glasses and 3D Blu Ray player. This makes a big difference in the value due to the fact that the Panasonic 3D TV glasses are $249 and the 3D Blu Ray player is $349. Competition comes from the Samsung PN50C8000 3D plasma and the Samsung UN55C8000 which is the LED 3D version and sells for about $500 more for that extra 5 inches.

Rating scale from 70 (denoting poorest quality) to 100 (signifying the very best quality). Picture quality is double-weighted in the Overall Rating Score calculation.



 



Review Equipment Used: Sony Blu Ray BDP-S1 High Definition DVD player, Sony DVP-S50 DVD player, Sencore Color Pro 5000, Sencore Auto Cal Pro, Sencore signal generator.

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