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Panasonic's 3D TV First Impressions

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Earlier this week Panasonic unveiled its first line of 3D capable plasma TVs, along with an accompanying 3D capable Blu-ray player, at its annual European convention, which this year was held in Munich. We were on hand to take a look, have a play with the new tech and also to get some details on how it all works.

The new 3D TVs make up the VT20 range and there are just two models, the 50in TX-P50VT20 and the 65in TX-P65VT20 both of which use 1080p, Full HD panels. You may see the model numbers suffixed with a B or possibly some other letters but these just refer to the finish of the frame and stand. We were told the TX-P50VT20 will cost £2,000 and be available in April while the 65in version will demand a rather more considerable £4,000 and will arrive in June. Obviously these are fairly large chunks of money but when you compare the prices to previous high-end plasmas like the Pioneer Kuro KRP-500A and take into consideration the amount of new tech on offer we think they're perfectly acceptable.

3D without the glasses

To create a 3D effect these TVs use what's called the 'sequential-frame method' whereby the TV alternately displays frames for you left and right eyes. These are then separated out by a matching pair of glasses that incorporate LCD shutter lenses that rapidly open and close 60 times a second in sync with the images on screen, which run at 120fps. The overall result is each eye receives 60 Full HD frames a second. You get two pairs of glasses with each TV and further pairs will cost around £100. Sadly the build quality of the glasses wasn't all that great and one fellow journalist managed to break the nose bridge of one pair. They were also nearly impossible to wear with glasses and generally weren't all that comfortable. Then again, the latter points are just as applicable to the 3D glasses I used when seeing Avatar at the cinema, though they were ever so slightly more comfortable.

The 3D glasses certainly looked better than some we've used but they weren't all that well built.

Of course, the key question is did the tech work and the quick answer is yes it did, it worked very well. On a technical level we really can have no complaints. The 3D effect was just as convincing as at the cinema, the image was smooth without even a hint of flicker, and the picture quality, which we'll talk more about later, was fantastic.

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