Its black level response is markedly richer and deeper than that of the vast majority of other TVs out there, especially once you’ve taken into account the amount of shadow detail the set can portray within its reasonably inky black colours. This is a clear advantage of plasma’s direct, emissive technology versus LCD/LED’s ‘backlight’ technology, since it allows each pixel of the picture to be illuminated largely independently of every other pixel.
Plasma’s approach to lighting its pictures also means you don’t have to worry about either the viewing angle restrictions posed by LCD technology or the backlight consistency issues that can be such a problem with edge LED TVs.
Next, while the P50G30’s colours might not look as explosively vibrant as those you’d see from an LCD/LED TV, they are nonetheless very natural in tone, extremely subtly delineated when it comes to blends, and impressively well balanced, with no significant sign of the tendency to push greens and oranges that plasma can suffer with.
HD pictures on the P50G30 look blisteringly detailed and crisp, especially with the excellent native contrast response allowing even details in dark areas to continually add depth to the image. There’s no blur over motion either, thanks to plasma’s innately excellent response time versus LCD TVs, and with Blu-ray HD sources, while there is judder to contend with, it’s not severe.
If you’re a particular hater of judder, though, again Panasonic’s got your back with its IFC system, which smooths judder away a little (on its mid setting) or a lot (on its max setting), without generating as many artefacts as many rival motion processing systems. Personally we generally chose not to use IFC, as it can turn films into videos. But we’re always in favour of brands offering end users plenty of choice over how their pictures look, so long as any processing options don’t throw up too many ugly side effects.
The P50G30 proves very able with standard definition pictures too, upscaling them to the screen’s full HD resolution with decent if not earth-shattering levels of sharpness, and keeping a firm lid on source noise.
We also spotted practically no trouble from plasma-related foibles such as image retention, ‘fizzing’ over the picture if you watch from too close, and exaggerated fizzing over skin tones.
The net result of all this is a 50in 2D picture that’s hugely engaging in either standard def or HD mode – provided, at least, that you’re not using it in the sort of high-brightness room that might be better served by an LCD/LED screen.
It’s a fine gaming monitor if that’s your bag too, delivering an impressively low input lag measurement (using its Game mode) of just 25ms.
The P50G30’s sound, meanwhile, is also a cut above that of most flat TVs. There’s slightly more power and mid-range openness around, which means that soundtracks sound more detailed, well rounded and clear. That said, we’re not talking about anything truly spectacular – merely above average.
Surprisingly, the P50G30 isn’t quite just the the P50GT30 minus 3D we’d expected it to be; it’s also got a chunkier design than its 3D brother, and features a watered down Infinite Black variant versus the P50GT30’s ‘Pro’ version. And it doesn’t have the GT30’s built-in Freesat HD tuner.
But despite these compromises, it’s still a very fine 2D TV indeed, and can be considered great value to boot.
Score in detail
Image Quality 9
Sound Quality 8