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Panasonic TX-P50VT50B review

Is this the ultimate home cinema screen?

Our Verdict

For

  • Intense black
  • No motion blur
  • Peerless 2D and 3D Blu-ray
  • Viera Connect interface

Against

  • Dated TV user interface
  • Limited digital file support
  • Touchpad feels first-gen

So what is the Infinite Black Ultra filter in the Panasonic TX-P50VT50? It's all about contrast boosting - the bedrock of a good plasma picture - and, in this case, the lack of light.

Plasma panels are made up of cells that light up only when an electrical current is passed through; the Panasonic TX-P50VT50's success hinges on the use of a filter that blocks any external light from diluting the darkness that results from a cell not being lit while others around it are.

It's something LCD TVs can't do at all - they use a backlight that is always on - hence the birth of LED-backlighting, which essentially lessens those side-effects by using lots of little backlights.

Panasonic TX-P50VT50 review

It's not necessary to get into the engineering politics behind Panasonic's claim that the Panasonic TX-P50VT50 offers a 2,500Hz Focused Field drive.

But know that it ought to enable this plasma TV to show a far smoother, more fluid moving picture than any TV yet seen - and primarily that means 3D that's more comfortable to watch.

However, the Panasonic TX-P50VT50 isn't just for AV nerds. There are plenty of apps on Panasonic's VieraConnect smart TV interface, including catch-up TV via BBC iPlayer, and movie streaming services Netflix, Acetrax, YouTube, Daily Motion, Vimeo, Viera 3D World and FetchTV.

Panasonic TX-P50VT50 review

Social media in the form of Twitter and Facebook is present, as is a web browser.

News offerings include BBC News, Euronews and CNBC Real-Time, and live sport services include BBC Sport, MLB.tv and the new - though subscription-based - Eurosport Player app.

Music is catered for by TuneIn Radio, SHOUTcast radio, Aupeo and iConcerts apps.

Gaming apps include Brain trainer (£1.14), Apple Muncher (£1.14), Let's Golf (£3.44), Asphalt 5 (£3.44), Star Battalion (£3.44), Chess Challenge and Penalty Shootout.

Panasonic TX-P50VT50 review

Other apps include the excellent Rovi TV guide and Picasa. Happily, all are quick to load, shutdown and swap between by dint of a dual core Pro4 processor.

Tuners for both Freeview HD and Freesat HD are present, while four HDMI, an SDXC card slot and three USB slots should suffice for connecting other AV equipment.

We also counted composite video, component video and a single RGB Scart (all three use in-the-box adaptors) and a choice of audio outputs consisting of a headphones slot, some phonos and a digital optical audio port.

Panasonic TX-P50VT50 review

Powered by either wired LAN or Wi-Fi, the Panasonic TX-P50VT50 can stream myriad files - including, in our test, MOV, MP4, AVC HD and AVI video, JPEG photos and MP3 and FLAC music, from a PC, NAS drive or even a Mac (running UPnP software, such as TwonkyMedia).

Those who lament the lack of MKV support over a network will rejoice at the news that it is supported from a USB-connected flashdrive or HDD, as is the WMA music format.

Note that those USB slots - as well as the SDXC card slot - can also be used to make recordings from the Freeview tuner, though without a second tuner it's a case of 'watch one channel while you, err, record it.' Useful if you have to leave the house suddenly, but it's otherwise dreadfully limiting.

Panasonic TX-P50VT50 review

The Panasonic TX-P50VT50 also has a Bluetooth module that's primarily for use with 3D spectacles, though it also enables you to hook up a wireless keyboard or headphones.

There are two pairs of 3D glasses included in the box; additional pairs of the Panasonic TY-ER3D4ME specs can be purchased for around £50/AU$100/US$56 and, crucially, have worked with both Samsung and LG 3D TVs in our tests this year.

The last hardware offering is theoretically the most exciting; the touchpad remote, a 4.5-inch long, matt black plastic device that looks and feels like a disregarded prototype of a phone from the late 1990s.

Panasonic TX-P50VT50 review

Featuring a circular touch-sensitive (though not very) pad above, the more slender lower part contains volume and channel changer rockers alongside Menu and Back buttons, though frustratingly it's not always obvious how to use it to operate all of the TV's on-screen menus.

Thankfully there's also a traditional remote control included in the box, which emits red backlighting when the bulb-labelled button is pressed, lasting around 10 seconds; great news for those watching in a blackout, which is where this plasma TV truly belongs.

Panasonic TX-P50VT50 review

Tech Specs

Product TypePlasma TV
Scan Format1080p
Standard Refresh Rate50 Hz
Digital TunerDVB-S2, DVB-T (MPEG4)
Analog TunerPAL
Video Signal StandardHDTV 1080p
Number of HDMI Ports4
Product FamilyViera
3D Type3D
EU Energy LabelC
Brand NamePanasonic
Screen Size127 cm (50")
Aspect Ratio16:9
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityREACH
Memory Card ReaderYes
BluetoothYes
EthernetYes
Wireless LANYes
Ethernet TechnologyEthernet
USBYes
HDMIYes
Weight with Stand (Approximate)29.50 kg
Operating Power Consumption410 W
Standby Power Consumption300 mW
Dynamic Contrast Ratio6,000,000:1
Electronic Program GuideYes
DLNA CertifiedYes
HeadphoneYes
Digital Audio OutputYes
Height with Stand754 mm
Width with Stand1171 mm
Depth with Stand335 mm
CI+Yes
Composite VideoYes
Component VideoYes
Teletext Memory1500
Network (RJ-45)Yes
Number of USB Ports3
3D TechnologyPolarized
3D ConversionYes
Energy Consumption per Year270 kWh
3D Glasses RequiredYes
Enhanced Refresh Rate2.50 kHz
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD), Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC)
Height706 mm
Width1171 mm
Depth50 mm
Sound SystemVirtual Surround Sound, Dolby Pulse, Dolby Digital Plus, DTS
Maximum Resolution1920 x 1080
FeaturesPC Streaming, Web Browser, Teletext, Picture in Picture, Picture and Text (PAT), Picture and Picture (PAP), Media Player
ManufacturerPanasonic
Product ModelTX-P50VT50
Product NameTX-P50VT50B 50" Smart Viera Plasma TV
Product LineViera
Manufacturer Part NumberTX-P50VT50B
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.panasonic.co.uk
Marketing Information

50" Smart VIERA Plasma TV - A Reference Model in Both Functions and Picture Quality (Energy Efficiency Class C)

The display alternately shows images for the left and right eyes. The left and right lenses of the eyewear open and close in sync with this display timing to show separate images to the left and right eyes. By repeating this action at high speed, the brain perceives 3D images. And because this method displays FULL HD 3D images just as they are, both eyes receive 3D images in high, full-HD quality.

This original Panasonic technology detects image movements like the human eye, and optimises the drive accordingly. By achieving instantaneously powerful light emission rather than finely divided emission, it reduces the afterimages that cause blurring. As a result, fast movement is reproduced with excellent clarity.

Package Contents
  • TX-P50VT50B 50" Smart Viera Plasma TV
  • Remote Control
  • 2 x 3D Glasses
SpeakersYes
Limited Warranty1 Year
Weight (Approximate)25.50 kg