If we had to be picky with the P50G20’s feature count, we’d have to say we were disappointed by how few USB HDDs seem to be compatible with the TV’s recording system. None of the drives we already owned did the job, and the only models recommended as guaranteed to work by Panasonic are Buffalo’s latest JustStore Desktop HD-EU2-UK series.
But this aggravation is quickly overwhelmed by our exceptionally positive reaction to the P50G20B’s picture quality – especially with high definition material.
Fed ”Avatar” on (no, not the 3D) Blu-ray, the image positively brims and sparkles with cinematic confidence. As usual with Panasonic plasmas, the main reason we say this is that it delivers such exceptional black level response. There’s practically no trace at all during the dark interior lab scenes of the greyness that underpins black colours to some extent on practically all rival technologies, leaving such scenes looking rich, dynamic, layered and natural.
Even better, since the P50G20B can deliver its inky blacks without having to sacrifice brightness to anywhere near the same extent LCD TVs have to when they try to do dark colours, the screen is able to present exceptional amounts of shadow detail, so that dark scenes avoid that ‘empty black hole’ appearance so commonly seen on flat TVs.
The P50G20B is also a polished presenter of fine detail generally, thanks to a combination of factors. First, its Full HD native resolution in conjunction with its accomplished video processing engine ensures that every pixel of data is transferred to the screen without distortion or fuss, and without being accompanied by processing noise – so long, at least, as you’re careful not to set the TV’s Intelligent Frame Creation and 24p Frame Insertion processors too high.
The image’s sharpness also owes much to the screen’s near-immunity to motion blur, especially with the 600Hz engine doing a more than solid job of reining in the sort of judder that’s traditionally been one of the few serious weaknesses of Panasonic’s plasma screens.
The new NeoPDP platform, meanwhile, seems to have greatly improved the P50G20B’s colour response versus last year’s equivalent G10 models, with richer and more aggressive tones, but also a more generally natural palette.
This is particularly true with HD footage from the tuners or our ”Avatar” Blu-ray, the colours of which really do look superbly credible and subtly rendered. However, standard definition images improve, too, with far fewer serious colour ‘slides’ than we noted with some of last year’s Panasonic plasmas.
Yet more good news finds the P50G20B’s pictures retaining all their contrast and colour over a much wider viewing angle than the vast majority of LCD-based screens could even dream about; a generally higher level of brightness than the majority of plasma screens can boast; and far fewer on-screen reflections than we’ve seen with many previous Panasonic plasmas.