Review Price £1,495.00
Panasonic Viera TX-P50VT20B 50in Plasma 3D TV - 3D Downsides and 2D Heroics
However, the P50VT20B doesn’t have everything its own way in 3D mode. For starters, its 3D images, once you have your glasses on, are substantially darker than both the set’s 2D images and the 3D images from Samsung’s LED 3D sets. Panasonic itself has suggested that the brightness reduction could be as much as 80 per cent.
This isn’t as much of an issue as it sounds in a dark room, except for the way the darkness actually pushes out of the visible spectrum a degree of shadow detail during particularly dark scenes. But if your viewing room is very bright, the lighter LED approach might suit you better.
The P50VT20B’s colours with 3D footage, meanwhile, look muted versus the strikingly vibrant ones of the Samsung C8000 3D TVs, a fact which also means that the Panasonic’s colour tones look slightly less natural at times.
In fact, thanks to these brightness and colour vibrancy issues, we found ourselves surprisingly inclined to use a tweaked version of the P50VT20B’s Dynamic picture preset for 3D rather than the Cinema or THX modes we tended to use during 2D viewing.
Panasonic has repeatedly claimed that the panel technology it’s devised with 3D in mind will also help the P50VT20B’s 2D performance. And actually, this seems to be true.
Particularly startling is the TV’s contrast. For alongside the brightest (minus 3D glasses) and most vibrant light image content Panasonic has produced to date sits the deepest, most natural and involving black level Panasonic has produced to date. In fact, the richness of its black level - a crucial component in any home cinema TV - even clearly surpasses that of the brand’s already impressive G20 plasma series, leaving it offering the best black level response found on any TV available today.
Its colours during 2D viewing are superb too, combining levels of dynamism, tonal accuracy and blend subtlety never before seen on a plasma TV. Or at least that’s the case with HD and high quality standard def fare; colours do lose accuracy and vibrancy with grubby, low-quality standard def broadcasts. But this is common in the flat TV world.
Another great strength of the VT20 is the sharpness of its HD 2D pictures - and its HD 3D ones for that matter. The screen makes all of our favourite HD sources look effortlessly crisp, immensely detailed, and full of texture without being in the least bit noisy.
The clear motion noted with 3D holds true with 2D too, especially if you engage the Intelligent Frame Creation or 24p Smooth Film modes (though only use their lowest power settings if you want to avoid processing side effects).
Joining the P50VT20B’s stellar picture performance is a decent audio effort. The bamboo speakers the set uses deliver more distortion-free power, dynamic range, clarity and detail than other TVs we’ve heard from Panasonic’s new range. There’s still room for improvement, though, particularly at the bass end of the spectrum.
The P50VT20B is comfortably the finest mainstream TV Panasonic has ever produced, and one of the finest TVs ever seen period. And that’s even before taking its 3D talents into account.
These 3D talents aren’t perfect, and leave Samsung’s LED alternative with enough wriggle room in the brightness and colour departments to make them seem merely a different option for different tastes/room environments rather than actually inferior.
But if you put a gun to our head and asked us to choose which 3D experience we personally prefer, bearing in mind our dark rooms and love of gaming, the answer, due almost exclusively to its impressive freedom from crosstalk noise, would be Panasonic’s.