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Panasonic Viera TX-P50VT20B 50in Plasma 3D TV - USB Recording, Features & First 3D Moments

John Archer

By John Archer

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Panasonic Viera TX-P50VT20B 50in Plasma 3D TV

Summary

Our Score:

9

One final connection-related feature we must mention is video recording to HDD via the USB sockets. As we’ve noted with other reviews of current Panasonic TVs, this recording ability is limited in that you can only watch what you’ve recorded from the HD tuners on the same TV you recorded it on. Plus you are severely restricted over which USB HDDs to use; only Buffalo’s JustStore Desktop HD-EU2-UK series are confirmed to work.

But the quality of the recordings you can make is excellent - they’re identical, so far as we can tell, to the original broadcasts.

A voyage through the P50VT20B’s rather bland but straightforward onscreen menus uncovers a number of interesting points. Starting with the provision of both a THX picture preset, and two 'professional' presets that can be used for calibration by an expert from the Imaging Science Foundation.

Also worth a mention are a Vivid Colour option that does exactly what it says on the tin (but which will likely be avoided by AV purists); a colour management tool allowing you to tweak the gain and cut-off settings for the red, green and blue colour components; six gamma presets (of which you should stick with the 2.4 or 2.2 settings for the most part); and Panasonic’s 600Hz Sub-field drive Intelligent Frame Creation judder reduction processing.

The technology inside the P50VT20B is important too, for as well as the latest Panasonic NeoPDP design with its improved gas, phosphors and cell design, the set enjoys new high-speed driving circuitry. This is potentially hugely significant, because it substantially reduces each plasma cell’s 'decay time' - the time, in other words, that it takes for a cell to finish showing the content for one frame of the image and get on to showing the content for the next frame.

This matters because it should reduce the crosstalk 3D phenomenon, where you can see ghostly second and even third images around bright, contrasty or very linear 3D content.

Finally, despite our healthy mistrust of manufacturer’s quoted contrast ratios, we can’t help but feel impressed by the 5,000,000:1 native (as in, without dynamic contrast processing) contrast ratio claimed by the P50VT20B’s Infinite Black Pro technology.

And so, finally, we get to the moment of truth. Will the P50VT20B’s 3D performance live up to all of Panasonic’s relentless hype?

The first thing to say about the P50VT20B’s 3D experience isn’t positive. For we really don’t like Panasonic’s 3D glass design at all. For starters, the lenses are set quite some distance from your eyes, without any 'boxing', which lets in all kinds of distracting light unless you’ve got your room almost completely dark.

We also didn’t find the glasses as comfortable on our noses as the Samsung ones, making the thought of watching, say, a four hour tennis match in 3D a potentially painful experience.

Next, we found the set’s 3D options a touch odd. First, there’s no 3D control button on the remote control, meaning you have to head into the onscreen menus just to switch the TV to different 3D modes. Silly.

Michael McG

June 1, 2010, 12:17 pm

seen it on demo over the weekend.. thought it was amazing.. especially the 3d content on demo.. i wear glasses so the fact the lens on the panasnic pair are a little further out actually made them more comfortable for me to wear.. cant imagine kids wearing them though as they seem a little cumbersome..

Ripsnorter

June 1, 2010, 1:29 pm

I saw this set on display yesterday in a Berlin branch of electronics retailer Saturn, where it was playing a HD music channel, or maybe it was a demo disc. Either way, the 2D picture was absolutely superb and blew away the surrounding competition, both LED and plasma, by miles. I didn't get a chance to check its 3D capabilities but I've no interest in that anyway. Although the design is a definite step up on Panasonic's previous efforts, it still lags quite a way behind others, especially Samsung and LG. The Supreme Arbiter of what crosses the threshold, my girlfriend, was not impressed. My words, such as "But plasmas need a thick bezel" fell on deaf ears!

Chris

June 1, 2010, 4:51 pm

I'm currently torn between this and the Philips 9704:


http://www.trustedreviews.com/...





Problem is with such glowing reviews of both sets, particularly their black levels, it's hard to glean a comparison. Anyone seen both these TVs in action?

Geoff Richards

June 1, 2010, 5:27 pm

@Chris - I envy your choice of a new TV for £2,300! :)





I haven't seen either set in action with my own eyes, but your predicament does raise an interesting issue. The Panasonic is bigger than the Philips (50" vs 46") and supports 3D where the latter does not. The VT20 is Plasma while the 9704 is LCD, albeit with direct-LED backlighting with local dimming. The Philips also has Ambilight.





As John says "The P50VT20B is comfortably the finest mainstream TV Panasonic has ever produced, and one of the finest TVs ever seen period. And that’s even before taking its 3D talents into account." High praise indeed, given Panasonic's past stars, like the G20.





If it was my money, I would take the larger size and "future proofing" of 3D and get the Panasonic. I'm no fan of 3D myself, but by the sound of it, the VT20 is no slouch in 2D either. By all means get a 3D demo in-store somewhere, but consider the cost of 3D Blu-ray, and the roadmap for 3D TV broadcasts.





If you prefer the less in-your-face impact of 46" and / or like the subtlies of Ambilight, go Philips. And move to 3D in a few years.





I think you will be a happy chappy with either choice, depending on what you have right now.

Emile

June 1, 2010, 6:59 pm

@ cris.. just wait a few months and get the philips 46pfl9705... this TV will be the toprange 2010 e.a. 400hz contrast 10.000.000-1 etc with optional 3d (active) just youtube it.

Chris

June 1, 2010, 7:29 pm

@Geoff, @Emile: Thanks for the pointers, much appreciated. 3D is not really my concern, but the capabilities of the VT20 seem excellent, 3D notwithstanding. Perhaps the V20 would be a better fit.





"I envy your choice of a new TV for £2,300!"


*cough* yes, well. Above my usual budget for sure, but it's only the second TV I've bought for myself in 15 years, so I figured I'd make it a good one. I rate the image quality of most LCD sets as disappointing, particularly the murky blacks. Plus, I'd find one for less :)

ronesh amin

June 1, 2010, 8:55 pm

Has TR considered reviewing the Samsung PS50C7000 TV as it is also a plasma, and a 3DTV for almost £1000 less. It could be a good opportunity to compare two similar TV's which are most likely to become the first 3DTV buyers will purchase.

davidcrofter

June 1, 2010, 9:33 pm

Just be aware that the Panasonic VT20 will still suffer from the "falling black levels" bug or feature lol that will reduce the black level after 1,000 hours. Panasonic have said it is not going to be so badly implimented as the 2009 models but it will still happen.





Really this should be mentioned on all Neo PDP Panasonic Reviews imho and nobody knows how it will affect this new 3d technology developed for the VT20.

Daryl

June 2, 2010, 3:08 pm

Looking at buying this TV today, possibly on my lunch break. Mentioned in the review was that it's the one you'd chose for gaming and that you played Avatar in 3D on it. Is this TV also going to be compatible with the PS3 games and blu-ray 3D update arriving shortly and also possibly with nVidia's nVision?





Many thanks

Charm El Snake

June 2, 2010, 3:41 pm

I had a look at this telly in the Panasonic shop, and was both impressed and disappointed. The picture quality was excellent, but the 3D effect was a bit dodgy - it was showing live tennis, and the crowd looked like lots of flat layers rather than a smooth transition from foreground to background. I assume this was down to Eurosport's broadcast, but I can't for the life of me understand why it rendered like that (unless it was trying to keep everything in focus when real-life isn't always like that).


This doesn't put me off 3D though, as I'm not going to discount a technology just because of one poor implementation of it. I need to see more...

ronesh amin

June 2, 2010, 7:37 pm

Any news on whether TR is considering reviewing the only other 50" 3DTV for comparisons' sake - the Samsung PS50C7000. I thought it would have made a good article. Especially on how ugly Panny TV's are compared to Sammy's and if an £800-£1000 drop in price on the Sammy makes this TV worth it.





I am really stuck between which one to get between the two!

HisEnormity

June 9, 2010, 11:31 am

I don't care how good it is, I'm NOT wearing stupid 3D glasses to watch TV in my own home. End of.

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