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Panasonic TX-P65ST50 - 2D Picture Quality

John Archer

By John Archer

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

9

User Score:

The marketplace Panasonic has created for selling optional apps and even hardware accessories is well-developed and impressively organised too, but we still find the main Viera Connect menus a little cumbersome in their handling of growing lists of content.

Hardcore AV enthusiasts may be a little disappointed by the amount of video calibration aids on offer with the P65ST50; there isn’t a full colour management system, for instance, and the set doesn’t carry the THX endorsement and THX presets carried by the GT50 and VT50 series. But if the P65ST50 delivers out of the box the sort of picture quality we’re hoping for, most people probably won’t feel like the need to tinker with much anyway.

HD glory

Firing the TV into life initially with a mixture of Sky News HD and the Blu-ray release of Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, the test room was in serious danger of fusing from the amount of drool dribbling from our agape mouths. This is not, we’ll grant you, a pleasant image. But its viscerality hopefully gives you a tangible sense of just how extraordinary the experience of watching the P65ST50 strutt its stuff can be - especially with films.

Panasonic TX-P65ST50 3

The absolute star of the picture quality show, inevitably, is the screen’s exquisite black level response. The P65ST50 arrived on our testbenches directly after Panasonic’s own L55WT50 flagship LCD TV, and ironically it only served to underline the LCD model’s weaknesses where black level reproduction are concerned.

For as well as the P65ST50’s reproduction of black colours looking much deeper and more natural, there’s also absolutely no issue with backlight uniformity at all. Basically, every part of the picture - and we’re talking right down to pixel level - appears to enjoy exactly the right amount of illumination, with no ‘accidental’ lighting anywhere to be seen.

Immaculate black levels

The depth and purity of the black level performance from the P65ST50 feels pretty much in line with if not slightly better than the black level performance of last year’s flagship VT30 Panasonic plasmas. Plus it beats the black level efforts of any LED TV into a cocked hat and even, yes, its blacks appear to get deeper than that of Pioneer’s final released KURO generation.

With such a perfect black to work with, it almost goes without saying that colours look wonderfully nuanced and intensely natural on the P65ST50 - especially as Panasonic largely avoids the slightly green undertones noted with some previous plasma generations.

The extent of the colour nuancing is such, meanwhile, that the P65ST50 also avoids the tendency towards striping when showing colour blends that has tended to be at least a minor problem with many previous plasma screens.

The truly outstanding black level response of the P65ST50 is made all the more incredible by the fact that its pictures are in fact quite a bit brighter than those of the past couple of Panasonic plasma generations, ensuring that bright scenes look unexpectedly punchy and vibrant, while bright bits of predominantly dark images look rich and entirely uncompromised by the darkness around them. This latter trait is pretty much exclusive to plasma, given the technology’s self-emissive pixel nature.

Panasonic P65ST50

All this and we still haven’t mentioned the incredible, mesmerising sharpness of the P65ST50’s portrayal of HD sources, or the way the clarity isn’t compromised in the slightest when there’s loads of motion to show - a talent the vast majority of LCD TVs would give their souls to match.

The P65ST50 additionally shows the door to LCD technology with its viewing angle, allowing you to watch it from a much wider splay of viewing positions than you can any LCD screen.

The catch

At which point we guess we’d better get to the catch. Which is that while brighter than last year’s Panasonic plasmas, the P65ST50 still needs to be watched in a dark or at least ‘light-controlled’ room if you’re going to get the best out of it. This is partly because its brightness still isn’t enough to combat ambient light in the same way most LCD TVs do routinely, but also partly because the screen on the P65ST50 is quite ‘glassy’, and thus reflects bright objects in your room more overtly than a typical LCD TV.

Panasonic TX-P65ST50 4

Even the little red LCD ‘standby’ light on a projector we had sat opposite the P65ST50 in our test room was reflected so clearly on the P65ST50 that it became sufficiently aggravating that we had to unplug the projector.

Of course, it’s to some extent a testament to the cinematic majesty of the P65ST50 that we should get so irritated by the appearance of such a small blob of red light over its pictures. But it’s also clear that the brightness and reflectivity issues - and possibly its size!! - arguably make the P65ST50 a better fit for a dedicated movie room than a sun-drenched living room.

Beaky69

February 26, 2012, 3:19 pm

Low power? I'd be amazed if this thing uses less than half a kilowatt of electricity. For me this just rules out plasma technology for a TV, which is likely to be powered on for a fair few hours each day. Of course you could argue that if you can afford to spend £2k on a TV, you're not going to worry about your electricity bills, but that's not the point; my 50" LED LCD uses less than 100W...

Ed

February 26, 2012, 4:30 pm

It won't be as much as that. More like 200-300W - bare in mind it's bigger than your TV. Last year's range topping Panasonic VT30 50in plasma only just went over 200W in 3D mode.

bjorn

February 27, 2012, 10:34 pm

Ed is more or less right here. Consider that the 65VT30 was rated at 500w max and the 50VT30 at 410w, a difference of less than 25%. The ST line is rated lower with the 50ST30 rated at 355w max. If we infer similar difference in power rating as the VT line and then calculate the added efficiency of the 2012 models we arrive at less than 400w max output. This would be someone watching a white screen in torch mode. Real world scenario would be 50-70% of that according to Panasonic's site and test sites.
Still a lot more than LED, but you get the added bonus of amazing picture quality and vast screen size :)

Martin 6

May 29, 2012, 6:37 pm

@Beaky69 I always thought that to get the picture quality and fluid motion handling of a Plasma on an LCD TV you have to pay about 50% more than the plasma so the cost is negated if you cycle your TV every 3-4 years at 65 inch there is no real LCD option other than a plasma. Just my opinion not based on fact!

ToRJS99

May 29, 2012, 7:35 pm

Just think how big the BBC News logo will be when its burnt into your screen!!!

AJ

May 30, 2012, 5:00 pm

Really, the best comment regarding this 2012 monster you could come up with was a screen-burn dig for 2007 ? :-)

AJ

May 30, 2012, 5:07 pm

Love the sound of this TV and I am royally tempted. Just purchased my first LCD screen for the "snug" but this monster could be perfect to replace my 50" Panasonic that's 4 years old in the main room. Problem is that I know 55" will fit, 60" could be a push, 65".... Not sure.

Can you comment on how much "buzzing" this TV made ? Would I hear it from 10ft away ?

How much is 3D on this TV effected by sitting slightly above eye level ? I know that LCD 3D can suffer quite badly.

Any comment on how much (in real terms) this TV might be better / worse than my 4-year old 50PZ70 ? Appreciate the thoughts.

ToRJS99

August 3, 2012, 1:44 pm

AJ, I own the 2011 monster 50VT30 so my comments come from 2012 and having the bbc news logo burnt into screen from watching the Leveson Inquiry.

Steve Clegg

December 21, 2012, 10:38 am

This TV is not for people who want to use it as a computer
monitor

I bought to replace a 52in Samsung LCD which was used as my
primary computer monitor

The picture quality on the Samsung was excellent but the
blacks where poor especially

While Windows was booting up.

However this TV flickered from the moment it was turned on
even while tuning the channels

The flicker was even worse when connected at 60htz windows
desktop.

This is not a problem with the set but a general problem
with plasma sets (just Google it)

The picture quality on the TV side are excellent as long as
there is movement.

Lakshmanan Chandran

February 1, 2013, 11:06 pm

After reading lots of praises, I tested one of these at a Panasonic Brandshop... It did impress me, but no to the point making me buy it... I tried some chroma patterns from the lagom lcd test... this television did not pass the contrast & black level test

http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/c...

It was not able to differentiate between 1,2 & 3... They were all black...

http://www.lagom.nl/lcd-test/b...

This disappointed me the most, it couldn't differentiate between the first 8 boxes... They all looked same black to me...

I tried all the modes normal, dynamic, cinema and true cinema. With every mode tried adjusting contrast, brightness, gamma. Didn't help...

Tried playing transformers & avatar Blu-Ray, blacks were ink deep, extremely deep to the point its missing some shadow details and that explains why this panel failed to pass the contrast & black level test. why is this issue not mentioned by any reviewer?

Is this how the panel really is, or am I missing something?

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