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Panasonic Viera TX-P50G20B review

John Archer




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Panasonic Viera TX-P50G20B
  • Panasonic Viera TX-P50G20B
  • Panasonic Viera TX-P50G20B
  • Panasonic Viera TX-P50G20B
  • Panasonic Viera TX-P50G20B
  • VIERA TX-P50G20B 50" Plasma TV (1920x1080, 600Hz, HDTV)


Our Score:


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.


May 12, 2010, 11:56 am

What about the rising blacks and IR( image retention) issues? Cant you guys keep this TV for 2 months always on and every 2 weeks measure the black level and image retention to see if any of them got worst?

Really like to hear TrustedReviews and its users opinion on this, as this is to me a major concern regarding panasonic plasmas.

Thank you!


Charm El Snake

May 12, 2010, 3:08 pm

I was rather under the impression that plasma was a dying breed, and that LCD would replace it, yet there seems to be new plasma screens released every week.

I thought the disadvantages of plasma (high power, heat, screen burn in) would have killed it off, but obviously not. Do they provide better pictures than LCD?

To me, plasma screens are a bit like valve amplifiers - beloved by purists, but probably not worth the extra money to most people.

I'm sitting tight, waiting for the 3D stuff to settle down a bit before I buy a new telly (I'm still using my old but excellent CRT), and all the 3D TVs seem to be LCD. I was hoping to have been considering an OLED TV by now, but short of selling my house to pay for OLED, I think I'll be looking at either LCD or plasma.


May 12, 2010, 3:23 pm

Any news on if there will be a 54inch or 58inch version of these? 50inch is a bit too small but 65inch is a bit too big! Need something in between.


May 12, 2010, 4:08 pm

Can't wait for your review of the VT20!! Glad to hear this is so good as it hopefully means the VT will be that much better.


May 12, 2010, 4:10 pm


I haven't had an image retention issues with my Panasonic G10 after nearly 6 months of use.


Compared to my (admittedly cheap) two LCD screens the image quality on my G10 is far far superior. The blacks are in a different league and it doesn't suffer from the motion blur which my LCDs are prone too. I'm no TV expert like John but to my untrained eye the difference is night and day.

Also, in terms of price when I was looking for my G10 I found it was far cheaper than equivalently sized and rated LED LCDs.


May 12, 2010, 5:23 pm

Looking forward to the V20 and VT20 reviews now. If these TVs are as barnstorming as they're shaping up to be, then I'll be happy to dump the requisite wad of cash...


There are still things that plasma TVs do better than LCD. Black levels and near-black detail are the most obvious aspects, with the best sets boasting a complete absence of that horrible grey haze that often blights the 'blacks' of average LCD sets. I'm yet to clap eyes on an LCD TV that produces pure blacks as well as a decent plasma. If you're coming from a CRT then black levels might not be an issue for you yet, but some LCDs may actually be worse in this regard than what you currently have. I was initially disappointed with my Samsung 6 when I made that transition, and that was considered a great TV 2 years ago. Also, considering their advantages, I think plasmas are actually cheaper than their LCD equivalents.

What I'd love to know is how these TVs compare with the latest crop of impressive high-end LCDs from the likes of Philips. I'm yet to see one of those in action...


May 12, 2010, 6:18 pm

Also surprised no mention of rising black levels, i hope Trusted Reviews will update review after a good run in to see if this occurs in due course. Also I hope vt20 review will check for flicker, observed by other users on other forums, as this is holding me off purchasing.


May 12, 2010, 6:51 pm


In terms of pure picture quality, I think plasma is still the technology to beat. However, my Panasonic plasma, although 3 years old now, does suffer from image retention and some "uneven cell decay." What I mean by this last statement is that some cells seem to burn brighter than others, which you can notice when viewing a solid colour. I also use my TV as a large monitor, so that might be the cause of my image issues. By the sounds of things, I don't think the new Panasonics suffer from these issues.

IMO, each TV technology has its strengths and weaknesses. If you energy consumption is your top priority and you have a room with lots of ambient light, then I'd recommend you consider an LED LCD. If you have wide viewing angles and you're only concerned with the best picture quality and best black levels, go with plasma.

Charm El Snake

May 12, 2010, 6:59 pm

@ravmania and @Chris - thanks. But unless I see some plasma 3D TVs released, there won't be any debating what to buy.

I can understand that TrustedReviews concentrates on reviewing tech as it is released, but I agree with @Chris and would like to see a comparison test of rival plasma/LCD models. The same for other rivals, such as iPhone and HTC Desire. There are certain items, such as TVs, smart phones, blu-ray players, etc. that are improving so quickly that a 9 out of 10 rating from a year ago might be only worth 7 out of 10 today, and we therefore need periodic round-ups to show who currently has the upper hand.


May 12, 2010, 8:01 pm

@Charm: Well you shouldn't have long to wait. Panasonic's VT20 series of 3D plasmas should be just around the corner...


May 12, 2010, 8:18 pm


How is your experience using a plasma as a pc monitor? Can browse the net without image retention or even do programing?

I would love to hear from your personal experience, about what can and cant you do or anything else you feel like its worth mentioning.




May 12, 2010, 8:52 pm

@ Gen

The experience is quite good, with the exception of the pixel decay I mentioned earlier.

There is some image retention when viewing web pages, writing emails, etc. Again, I need to stress that my TV is about 3 years old and I hear that these issues have been fixed/greatly in the later models, but my advice to you, or anyone else, is to buy from a store that has a generous return policy, just in case.

I guess the best thing I can say is that I'm now looking at new TV technologies for my HTPC. In my opinion, having great black levels is a nice thing, but not having to be worried about/distracted by image retention is also important. I think that LED LCDs are probably getting close to plasmas in terms of black levels, and image retention isn't an issue at all.

After my experiences, I would not recommend plasma as a TV for a HTPC. If all you are doing is watching TV/movies, then I'd continue to recommend plasma. However, image retention bothers me too much. Perhaps someone with a newer plasma can comment on the IR issue.

As a final thought, there may be other factors I haven't considered. I have the brightness turned up quite high, and perhaps this contributes to the image retention. I'll adjust this when I have some time and see if it makes a difference.


May 12, 2010, 10:15 pm


Thank you so much for your time.



May 13, 2010, 12:07 am

For those looking at the plazma or lcd quandry, dont forget to figure in the plazmas ability with motion. LCD (especially with all the gizmo tech turned up) looks very unnatural to my eyes, cheap LCDs look positively spooky when they crank down the background resolutions.

One more thing, I hear that plazma screens (panny in particular) are better for gamers. Hopefully someone can add their 2p worth regarding response times. I'm an avid super street fighter4 player so I hope the panny will help give me the edge:)


May 13, 2010, 2:58 am

I was hoping for the price indicated (which means one could find it for under a £1K) as it puts pressure on the likes of Sharp Aquos LC-46LE821E 46in LED-Lit LCD TV (rightly got a 7/10 for value for money) and just basically makes Philips' tv pricing look ridiculous.

I don't think styling is that bigger deal for this set.

Charm El Snake

May 13, 2010, 11:38 am

@DrMaustus and @Lamboy - thanks for your insights into plasma TVs.

My biggest concern with plasma is image retention - I want my next telly to last many years, and I'd be really cheesed off if I stumped up two grand on a telly that only lasted three years. And the problem is that we won't know for another three years whether the current batch of plasma TVs have overcome the problem.

I'll have to test drive some TVs at my local dealers, but at the moment I'm leaning towards LED LCD.

Dusty M

May 13, 2010, 1:32 pm

Hi All,Having owned a pana 42px70 plasma since jan 07 and i always have it on dynamic setting the tv has performed without problems i.e. no image retention, dead pixels.

Having also owned a 32 lcd I would not at this present time go back to that tech even after looking at some high end led/lcd although in my opinion the philips new range is very good but I do belive that plasma is not nearing the end of it`s life and there is still great things to come.


May 14, 2010, 8:24 pm

I had the same problem with a new Seagate Expansion 1T USB external hard drive with the 42in version of this TV and eventually telephoned Panasonic's customer service department.

They immediately checked it out on their own system and the solution is simple (even more so if you read the superb manual and ignore a particularly poor line break regarding this subject).

When you call up the Timer Programming menu from the Guide, the USB HDD (at least in my case) is listed at the top of the screen and "Ext Rec" in the first column. It is, therefore, very natural to assume that this refers to the HDD.

In fact it's for use with a DVD recorder or similar and you have to scroll down from "Ext Rec" through "Reminder" to "USB HDD." After that just set the timer programming as required...:-)


May 14, 2010, 11:17 pm

I'm looking around to get a TV (have never owned one really) and the Panasonic plasmas was high on my list until I say them in real life. They look better on picture in my opinion... :(

What also surprised me when it come to plasmas is that to my eyes there's a slight flickering bright areas of an image.

I first thought some setting might take care of that, but it seems that's the way they behaved.

I search the web and I'm not alone: http://forums.whirlpool.net...

It seems most people don't notice the flicker (my girlfriend didn't) so I guess for most people this isn't an issue.

C Hatfield

May 15, 2010, 10:55 pm

I have the 42" version, you should be warned that it is not possible to record to an external source with either the Freesat or Freeview tuner and watch the TV.

Yes that means if you are recording a programme and want to watch another at the same time it is not possible even using the other tuner.

Panasonic think this is perfectly acceptable.

I consider that it make the complete range not fit for purpose.

Other than that it is a very impressive television.


December 18, 2010, 3:50 am

Warning: Slot for SD card does not play video files. (No jpeg2, mp4 or AVI files).

Video files need to be in sepcial Panasonic Viera format that only other Panasonic devices will produce. Therefore, if the user wished to record media from another popular market device (Casio camera, a Nokia mobile phone etc...) then they will have to convert the file format to the bespoke Panasonic format.

jpeg files work, so the bare minimum is covered.

ps. Panasonic does not provide the file conversion tool either. Users wishing to do this will have to aquire this seperately (paid / freeware).


June 18, 2014, 8:45 am

The slight flickering only present in certain modes (I am very sensitive for that and shocked to discover it when the TV was new) however it can be easily tweaked by using cinema, THX or PRO modes and avoid the Dynamic mode which converts this set into a quasi LCD TV.... So, just go ahead and get one...


June 18, 2014, 8:47 am

Dynamic mode is horrible except for sports. It presents that dreadful LCD coloring. Blahhhh


June 18, 2014, 8:51 am

No flicker in Cinema, THX and the two pro modes.


June 18, 2014, 9:02 am

Plasma is better and cheaper than LCD. The main difference that it is a tech where every single pixel emits its own light while at LCD TV there is a backlight behind the panel and the pixels are masking out the light coming trough the LCD panel. An OLED TV is similar to plasma in this sense as it works with pixels individually as there is no backlight behind the panel. As the tech will be cheaper and they will solve blue Organic LED decay it will be the way to go. In a sense OLED has more common with PLASMA than LED (LCD)!

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