With Panasonic’s 3D TVs having apparently been delayed by a week or two, we thought we’d fill the slot this week where we’d hoped to bring you a review of one of Panasonic’s VT20 3D models by looking at the brand’s 50in P50G20B instead.
This model sits squarely in the middle of Panasonic’s new plasma range, yet actually it feels more like a high-end model in many ways.
Our reasons for saying this kick off with its tuner situation. For its HD broadcast cup truly runneth over thanks to its carriage of both Freeview HD and Freesat HD tuners. Panasonic is the only brand we’ve seen so far offering both free-to-air HD broadcast platforms on a single TV.
Also potentially hugely important to the P50G20B is the panel technology at its plasma heart. For it’s built using the brand new version of Panasonic’s NeoPDP technology - a revision of last year’s NeoPDP debutante that seems to improve on the original in just about every department. The phosphors are better, the discharge gas is more efficient, there’s a new filter in the screen, and even the core cell structure has been altered. Which is all pretty exciting considering how impressed we were even by last year’s NeoPDP system!
Another ‘premium’ aspect of the P50G20B is its built-in recording feature. This allows you to record video from the set’s HD tuners onto a USB hard disk drive attached to one of the set’s two USB sockets. And since the system records the direct digital bit-stream, the recordings the TV makes are seemingly identical in quality - in HD or standard def - to the original broadcasts. Excellent.
Also catching our eye and helping make the P50G20B’s sub-£1,200 price tag look extremely reasonable are a newly refined version of Panasonic’s already impressive V-Real Pro video processing; official quality approval from the independent THX group; and endorsement by the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF).
The ISF, if you’re not familiar with it, was set up to offer serious AV consumers with an easy way of improving the picture quality of the TV or projector they’ve just splashed so much cash on. All you have to do is contact the ISF, and provided your TV or projector is deemed flexible enough with its adjustments (the P50G20B crucially adds a decent colour management system to its menus versus last year’s G10 models), an ISF engineer can be paid to come round and professionally calibrate your screen to deliver the optimum picture quality for your room.
It’s actually long overdue, in our opinion, that a brand as accomplished as Panasonic got involved with the ISF, as the sort of astute buyer likely to home in on one of its step-up plasma models seems just the sort of person who might be interested in investing a bit more to get the very best out of their screen.
Other attractions include Panasonic’s 600Hz processing; four HDMIs (of which one is a v1.4 affair, offering an audio return channel); video, photo and music playback from both SD cards or USB storage drives; optional Wi-Fi functionality via a sold-separately USB dongle; and an Ethernet port permitting wired access to Panasonic’s VieraCast online service, as well as a means of accessing content on DLNA PCs, or potential future services that might launch on the TV’s HD broadcasting platforms.
We can’t be specific on what these interactive broadcasting services might be, but it’s a pretty safe bet to say that the BBC and ITV players will be among them eventually.