If the £3500 needed for Panasonic's flagship 65in TV, the P65VT50, is too rich for your blood, then the thousand pound cheaper P65ST50 may be just what the doctor ordered. With the same enormous 65in screen size, you get all the same visual impact and view filling splendour as you do with the flagship model, and all the core features are there too. It has Full HD active 3D, you can record TV to USB drives and there's a host of online features too. But inevitably some corners have been cut. The most immediate difference is the chassis design. Whereas the VT50 has a flat, bezelless design, the ST50 has an inch or so thick grey bezel that projects about a 1cm from the front of the screen. It's not overly obtrusive but certainly isn't as elegant. As with most plasmas, the overall thickness of the panel isn't all that slim either but this is only a fashion concern rather than any thing practical to worry about. A few savings have been made when it comes to connections too. You only get three, not four, HDMIs, two, not three, USBs, and it doesn't include a Freesat tuner. All minor issues for the majority but factors worth bearing in mind. At least all the connections face either down or out to the side so wall mounting isn't an issue. Perhaps the most important missing feature, though, is the Infinite Black Ultra filter as used on the VT50 series. Filters are used to block out ambient light to ensure the screen has as good a black level response as possible, and while the ST50's filter is very good, the VT50 is that bit better making it better to view in rooms that aren't completely blacked out. The key to the ST50 range, though, is it's as cheap as you can go while still getting Panasonic's 2012 generation plasma panel, with all lower range models using previous generation technology. The latest tech is more power efficient which allows Panasonic to boost the image's brightness significantly over previous generations without drawing crazy levels of power. The result – a truly stunning picture, in the vast majority of conditions. Being a plasma it also has flawless viewing angles, copes with fast moving images without issue, and has no issues with inconsistent backlighting. It really is a stunning watch. It also holds its own in 3D mode, though you don't get any glasses included, so you'll need to factor in £60-£80 per pair for those. The overall interface is very easy to get to grips with and is fast too, though not quite as nippy as the VT50 series. You also get a decent selection of online features so you can easily watch a youtube clip or catchup on iPlayer. The remote isn't all that fancy considering this set's two and a half thousand pound price but it gets the job done. So there we have it, the Panasonic P65ST50. You won't get better pictures at this screen size and for this price.
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