Panasonic TC-P50S2 Plasma TV Review


Model: Panasonic Viera TC-C50S2
Description: 50" Full 1080P HD Plasma TV
Reviewer: Phil Conner
Date: Spring 2010

Panasonic TC-P50S2 Review

Test and Optimum Viewing Distance: 12 feet

Calibration Notes: Overall, calibration to D6500K was very easy with this TV. Though there are no white balance adjustments available on the menu without entering the service menu, the 50S2 calibrated so close to D65 from the start that it would have improved the TV inappreciably. We started our calibration from the custom setting in the Warm 2 color temperature position. The S2 series TV does not contain the THX picture setting option. Follow the following settings to calibrate to a nearly perfect D65. These picture settings are best viewed in a controlled light environment fairly dark room:

Picture Mode Custom Color Mgmt: OFF
Color Temp Warm2 x.v.Color: OFF
Brightness +74 C.A.T.S.: OFF
Contrast +75 Video NR: Weak
Color +45 Block NR: Off
Tint -2 Misquito NR: Off
Sharpness +15 Black Level: Light
    3:2 Pulldown: Off
    HD Size: 2

Picture Presentation from 480i signals: We always test every TV with a 480i resolution. It is a great test of a TVs upconversion and processing chip sets. The signal may be likened to what you would see with your normal digital cable or satellite signal.The TC-P50S2 series plasma contains the new an updated version of the NEO PDP (i.e. plasma screen) from Panasonic. This is the same screen used in some of the higher end Panasonic series which should make this model a good value if picture quality is your primary objective. We find the picture quality overall improved from the prior S1 series. The drives do a little better job of eliminating motion artifacts than the S1 series did. Color rendition is still with black levels being the primary progress area of the S2 series delivering more depth and solidity. As was the case on the S1 series, brightness is a strength of the these newer Panasonic plasma models.

1080p HD Picture Quality: The picture presentation of the from the 50S2 is still very bright and with the improved black levels much improved. Black levels are deep and strong with an HD signal input through HDMI. While not the best we've seen lately, they lose the dark gray haziness that the S2 can display with a 480i signal. Color is plenty saturated and dark shadow detail remains excellent.

Panasonic TC-P50S2 Review
This shot shows a nice bright background with realistic flesh tones and vibrant color

Black Level/Contrast: Black levels were an area that the S1 series needed a makeover on. They got it with this S2 series. These are not going to be the best black levels we see this year and we dont anticipate them coming close to some of the Samsung plasma black levels. However, Panasonic has brought black levels back into welcomed focus. Final ANSI contrast measurement was 1261:1 which is a nice improvement over last year but far from what we want. One of the TVs greatest strengths lies in its white brightness which measured an average luminance of 31.50. This result nears LCD TVs in brightness and points to Panasonic's desire to compete with LCD TVs in this area.

Dark Shadow Detail: Partly due to the high brightness of this plasma dark shadow detail is excellent. Panasonic plasma TVs have long been a favorite of ours in this important area.

Color Rendition/Color Accuracy: Color rendition is much more saturated with HD content. The TV excels with HD content and is much more subdued in presentation with lower signals. Colors can seem a little weak and hazy at times with lower end signals. I will give them the thumbs up on reality however.

Panasonic TC-P50S2 Review
Color background information appears super saturated in this brightly lit HD image of singer/guitarist Orianthi.

Viewing Angle/Off Axis Viewing: The 50S2 displayed perfect off axis viewing of 90 degrees without degradation of contrast.

Motion Lag: There was no motion lag apparent in any content viewed.

False Contouring/ Mapping: We noted very little banding around images like the sun or rounded objects in dark scenes.

Features: One of the key feature differences of the S2 series with the G20 series of plasma by Panasonic is the absense of The Viera Cast feature set, which enables online content via a web interface. As a result, there is also no Ethernet port. The included Viera Link feature allows the user to control other Viera link capable outboard equipment. Viera Image viewer is the Panasonic compatible technology which enables use of SD memory card viewing via the SD card slot.The S2 has discrete picture settings for each input as well as Panasonic's new "600 Hz" specification for blur reduction.

This TV is Energy Star compliant due to an energy saver feature option. Power consumption for the S2 has been reduced from the S1. This is one of the main feature differences aside from improved black levels. Panasonic started improving efficiency in their plasma TVs in 2007 and have improved it 400% with this S2 model. They are now close enough to LCDs in energy efficiency that is should not matter.

Aesthetic Considerations: The black gloss bezel framing is a little wide for my taste at over 2 inches. Panasonic designates the design of the new S2 series as the "Clean Touch Bezel Design". At first glance it appears there are speaker perforations throughout the bezel, however upon closer inspection they are are not speakers but just raised vertical tabs. It's an average, fairly plain looking screen, not in any way refined or unique. The TV depth is average for a 50" screen at 3.7".

Video Aspect Ratio Sizing: The Format button on the remote controls this function with options: Just, 4:3, Zoom, Full, H-Full. Panasonic's Just aspect ratio setting does a great job of displaying an algorithmically balanced picture image.

Inputs: 3 HDMI, 2 Component, 1 15pin PC, digital SD card slot.

Remote Control/Menu Funtionality: The menu is very simple and straightforward but with ample options except white balance controls. Picture settings are discrete per input which is always a plus. The remote is functional, easy to use and rather plain.

Audio Output: There is no voice enhanced feature option for sound though I found the volume to be sufficient. Sound is a little muddy and I would recommend every TV include a voice enhanced option as so much broadcast material these days needs it. Speakers are 10W X 10W. 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.

The 50S2 is priced at an attractive $1169. The main two features of the G20 over the S1 is inbuilt Internet compatibility and the THX picture setting. The newer NEO PDP screen and other features are basically the same and so is the picture quality. Competition from other manufacturers in the plasma arena will be the Samsung PN50C6500 and Samsung PN50C7000. LG contends with the LG 50PK550 and the LG 50PK750 which is THX certified, has Netcast, and TruBlack features to boot.

Rating scale from 70 (denoting poorest quality) to 100 (signifying the very best quality). A rating in the 60s for any particular category of a product review indicates a serious defect which causes the product not to operate properly. 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 (480i), Digital Broadcast Television, Sencore Color Pro 5000, Sencore Auto Cal Pro TWC6500, Sencore signal generator.

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