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Panasonic TX-P50ST50 review

John Archer




  • Recommended by TR

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Panasonic P50ST50
  • Panasonic P50ST50
  • Panasonic P50ST50
  • Panasonic P50ST50
  • Panasonic P50ST50
  • Panasonic P50ST50
  • Panasonic P50ST50


Our Score:



  • Outstanding cinematic picture quality
  • Stable and attractive online system
  • Fair value


  • Requires more power than LED equivalents
  • Not ideal for bright rooms
  • Could do with a few more online video services

Key Features

  • 50in plasma screen
  • Active 3D
  • Full HD resolution
  • Viera Connect online service
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Manufacturer: Panasonic
  • Review Price: £1,049.00

These are tough times for plasma technology. From one side it’s getting attacked by the latest LED and, soon, OLED screen technology, while on its other flank it’s having to fend off the draconian ramifications of the latest round of energy consumption rules from the EU and parts of America. It’s fair to say, then, that there’s a fair bit of pressure on the shoulders of Panasonic’s first plasma TV of 2012, the 50in P50ST50.


It’s good to find the Panasonic P50ST50 getting off to a decent start courtesy of a rather pleasant design. The bezel’s deep grey colour is distinctive and eye-catching, and its glass-like finish and 6mm or so of transparent outer trim are both very pretty. The chassis is exceptionally robust too, and while its rear depth is a bit more substantial than you get with some edge-LED models, it’s actually more than slim enough to allow you to easily wall-hang the set.

Wall hanging is further supported by the way the set’s AV connections are accessed from the side or below. Rather bizarrely, though, the kettle lead power socket sticks right out of the back of the TV, and although the provided cable is designed to let it hang down at right angles from the rear panel, there’s still a fairly substantial chunk of protruding ‘plug’ for prospective wall hangers to have to work around.

Panasonic P50ST50


The AV connections are solid rather than scintillating. Our main issue is that you only get three HDMIs when most TVs deliver four these days. But you do get a respectable two USBs for multimedia playback and an Ethernet port for networking the TV to a DLNA-enabled PC or broadband router. What’s more, Panasonic has put right a notable wrong of many of its 2011 TVs by building Wi-Fi into the P50ST50’s chassis. Hallelujah.

The multimedia playback mentioned earlier includes JPEG, AVCHD, SD-Video, MOV, AVI, DivX, MKV, ASF, MP4, FLV, 3GPP, MP3, AAC, WMA, FLAC, PS, and TS file formats (though some of these can only be played when using Windows 7 as a media server). This marks a pleasing growth in Panasonic’s file format support from 2011’s TVs.

We should add too that as well as playing back multimedia files from USB sticks (and, actually, SD cards), you can also record to them from the TV’s built-in Freeview HD tuner.

Key Screen Specs

Turning to the Panasonic P50ST50’s other key specs, the single most important one is that it uses one of Panasonic’s new NeoPlasma panels (TVs lower down the range use previous versions of the technology). This means that the ST50 series models benefit from the latest phopshor and power efficiency improvements - in fact, the ST50 series is reckoned to use 30 per cent less running power than last year’s equivalent models. Even so, though, the screen only bags a ‘C’ rating using the new TV energy grading scale. Panasonic’s recently tested L42ET5 LED TV, by comparison, scored A .

Panasonic P50ST50

Personally, we don’t have a problem with the P50ST50’s slightly higher power consumption if the result is better picture quality. But it’s a fact we feel duty bound to report.

The P50ST50 boasts ‘2000Hz’ sub-field driving (a big rise from last year’s 600Hz figure) to boost motion reproduction and image stability, as well as enjoying a high contrast filter and a new, improved audio system comprising eight micro speakers firing through a narrow opening across the bottom of the TV.

The P50ST50’s screen enjoys a full HD resolution, naturally, and it’s equally as inevitably equipped with Panasonic’s active 3D technology. It’s a pity you don’t get any active shutter glasses included for free, mind you. After all, the TV isn’t really a 3D TV until you’ve bagged at least one pair of glasses.

Then again, Panasonic would doubtless argue that they’d rather make the P50ST50 as affordable as possible for people who might not care about 3D rather than force everyone to pay for a feature they might not intend to use. And in any case, we've seen the necessary TY-ER3D4ME glasses going for as little as £50 a pair.

While we’re on the subject of the P50ST50’s optional 3D glasses, the pair we obtained for this review are yet another new design. Crucially they use RF technology rather than the previous infra-red system, and they’re considerably lighter than Panasonic’s previous efforts - just 27g. They also thankfully sit lower on your nose than the previous models, handily reducing the need to tilt your head down to watch 3D.


September 22, 2012, 12:24 pm

I bought this TV 2th September, really like the picture quality especially in 2D because of its outstanding black level but i'm not really impressed with the 3D as the image does not jump out like it does on most LED, although the content that watched are 2D images converted to 3D


September 24, 2012, 11:16 am

Hi. I have dilemma. Is the GT50 worth the extra over the ST50?

I know all technical details from data sheet and I have read almost all reviews from web. But it is still not absolutely clear for me what this features means in practical use:
GT has in addition:
- more steps of gradation (picture quality is visible better?)
- DVB-S / S2 tuner (do I need it now or in future?)
- THX and PRO modes (If I calibrate ST50, do I still need THX?)
- 2500 FFD (is motion visible better?)
- Smart VIERA engine PRO (what is it? What visible benefit I can expect?)
- Pure image creation (what is it? What visible benefit I can expect?)
- facial retouch (what is it? What visible benefit I can expect?)
- 1080p pure direct (what is it? What visible benefit I can expect?)
- bluetoth connectivity
- multitasking (what is it?)
- DLNA - DNS (what is it?)

GT models have these features, ST not. Still one question: [b]Is the GT50 worth the extra over the ST50?[/b]
Thank you very much.



September 24, 2012, 3:39 pm

Hi Pavol

The short answer here is that in our opinion the GT50 is worth the extra over the ST50.

For starters, the GT50s suffer much less with crosstalk when watching 3D than the ST50s.

The GT50s also render motion slightly more effectively, with less judder, and there's more subtlety and precision in their rendering of colour and greyscale gradation, which gives the picture a markedly more accurate and precise look.

In terms of some of the other specific questions you ask, the DVB-S tuner is only useful if you intend to use Freesat as your main broadcast source. Freesat is less critical now that Freeview HD is so widespread, and isn't the most practical option unless you've already got an old Sky dish already installed. But if you still struggle with Freeview reception then clearly Freesat is well worth having.

Freesat does offer some channel differences too - for instance, it carried extra Channel 4 Olympics channels not available on Freeview. But the Freesat decision is ultimately a personal one.

The THX and Pro modes are arguably not as important to people happy to tinker with picture settings themselves as they are to people who like things to be set up 'professionally' for them. That said, the THX day mode is a useful shortcut, and you need the Pro modes if you want to pay to have your TV calibrated by an ISF engineer.

The Pro version of the Smart Viera engine applies more picture processing algorithms in real time than the ST50s version, delivering more accurate results. This is especially useful when upscaling standard def, but also plays a part in the TV's superior HD colour and grayscale subtleties...


September 24, 2012, 3:39 pm

Pure Image Creation is chiefly for use with standard def, and essentially decreases compression noise and jagged edges. Its impact is subtle but nonetheless visible on at least some standard def content, so it's worth having.

Facial retouch lets you adjust skin tones independently of the other colour tones in the image. This wasn't a feature we felt the need to use, but it also doesn't do any harm if you treat it carefully.

The 1080p Pure Direct feature, meanwhile, turns off as much processing as possible when showing 1080p Blu-ray films. This will appeal to image purists, and although its impact seems restricted to slightly richer colours, it's a good feature to have.

The GT50's Bluetooth connectivity allows you to use Bluetooth keyboards and external speaker systems with the TV.

The multitasking feature lets you have open up to six apps simultaneously, and we actually found it so useful that it almost revolutionises the multimedia TV experience.

Finally, the DMS addition to the GT50's DLNA capabilities lets the TV stream from Digital Media Servers as well as PCs, USB devices and SD cards.

To conclude, while both ranges are excellent in their own right, we'd recommend the GT50 over the ST50 on both performance and feature grounds if you can afford the step up.

Good luck with whatever TV you ultimately go for!

John Archer


September 24, 2012, 9:41 pm

Hi John,

thank you very much for very useful answer. It hepls me a lot.

There is no GT model in our stores (Slovakia). So I can not compare it. There are only ST50 and VT50. VT50 looks great, I really like it, thanks its filter. In the lit environment it is better then ST.

Finnaly it will be question of money. I will try to find GT model somewhere.




December 23, 2012, 7:20 pm


I do not think you should compare the plasma with LEDs because they are two different entities. Plasma draws average more energy, but the image quality is usually better than LCD / LED. If you can darken the room, usually plasma better than LCD / LED, otherwise not.

It would be better if you could compare other plasma screens with this so we'll see how much more (or less) energy efficient it is.

Dennis Vos

May 21, 2013, 2:58 pm

Hello John,

I am trying to make a decision regarding this GT50 and the ST50 based on the reviews on this site. I understand the answer you gave to Pavol, but what if I only care about the picture quality in 2D? Then what TV would you choose?

I don't care about smart options (I have a laptop and iPhone if I need internet, I have a mediaplayer to play movies, concerts etc etc and I have a digital cable recorder to record TV shows I will miss), I care even less about 3D. I almost choose a LED TV (LG50LM760) but by closing the blinds I think I can make my room dark enough to make sure direct sunlight is not an issue anymore.

Maybe it helps to mention I mostly watch football (the european kind :P), movies, series and concerts.

The reason for almost choosing the LG was the borders of the TV, but I guess that Plasma still has superior image quality.

I hope you can make my choise a bit easier, or would you choose even another TV since the only demand I have is image quality (and good looks will help as well) thanks for your time :)


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