469 of 478 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2012
In my opinion, this tv is the best to be had at this time. To provide some background for that opinion, I have tried the following sets while I still had my Kuro 5020: The VT30, D7000 and the 80" Sharp 632U LED. The Sharp was something I had to try based on some reviews but it really was quite disappointing and never even made it onto the wall. For further information regarding my opinion of the Sharp, please read the comments section where I have answered a question regarding my expereince with this set. The VT30 was quite good but had color issues, uniformity issues and large bezel syndrome. The D7000 was far better than I had expected after reading the nasty comments about it. But none of these sets allowed me to feel good about sending my 9g Kuro packing.
With much anticipation, I ordered the 65VT50 from Amazon. The entire process was painless and quick as per usual. Delivery was sooner than expected and professional. They did send only one driver, so be prepared for that. But we managed just fine. I quickly inspected the set and immediately mounted it and got things setup. Everything went smoothly.
I did download and install an available update. The only new "feature" I noticed after the update was a fairly long duration banner at TV startup. This is defeatable within the settings, so fear not.
**** A second update had been released and is mentioned at the end of this review.
****** 09/28/2012 update #3 version 1.17 is out. This may effect a calibration
Now for my impression of this television.
This VT50 is simply beautiful. The smaller bezel and overall aesthetics are quite excellent. Gone are the days of "but LCD's are so much slimmer and/or less bulky". This set looks great turned off. I am happy to pay a premium for the single sheet of glass design even if that was the only difference over the GT, but its not.
Some complain about the silver trim, but you will be hard pressed to find an owner that does not like it. Personaly, I really like the look. I think the TV would look rather run of the mill and boring without it.
The touchpad was easy to pair with the television. I do not imagine myself using the touch pad much, but it does work as advertised. If you use your television to browse at all, you may find the touchpad quite useful. I had no issues navigating with it at all.
It is also worth mentioning that this set is also quite a bit lighter than the VT30.
To my eye, the blacks are right there with the Kuro I just sold. A meter may say otherwise but it takes a trained eye to see the difference if not side by side. The blacks are inky and satisfying and do not leave me wanting in any way. My eyes are pretty damn good and all I can say is that I do not miss my Kuro one single bit. And the extra real estate is quite nice as well.
Equally as impressive is the increased brightness of this panel. If you find that you are really drawn to the brightness of an LCD, but prefer the motion of a plasma, this set should fit your bill perfectly. I have two large windows in my living room and never feel like I need more out of my set in terms of brightness. The anti-glare works excellent as well.
If I was forced to come up with a gripe, it would be the red LED that comes on when the set is on. This was poor planning on Panasonics part but I am not losing any sleep over it. A little well trimmed piece of electrical tape takes care of that if it really bothers you.
Everything works as it should. HDMI control works perfectly on mine. I can hit the power button once on my Directv remote and everything turns on as it should (STB, TV, and AVR). ARC (Audio Return Channel) is also nice. This allows the audio from the TV to play through your home stereo while utilizing the same HDMI cable that feeds it content. To utilize this feature, you will need to plug your HDMI cable into HDMI #2 on the television. This is great for when you are watching Netflix or something emanating from the TV itself. All this functionality is assuming that you have an AVR that is up to date and HDMI 1.4a compliant as well as your HDMI cables. I use these cables Mediabridge Ultra Series - High Speed HDMI Cable with Ethernet - (6 Feet) - Category 2 Certified - Supports 3D & Audio Return Channel [Latest HDMI Version Available]. They have worked perfectly for me every single time and the price is nice. I still feel compelled to interupt when I see an employee at a Big Box store trying to convince an unknowing person to spend over $100 on a Monster cable.
You will notice that the HDMI ports are extremely close to the edge of the set. If you have rigid cables, it can present a problem and possibly cause them to protrude past the edge. There are several fixes for this. The one I chose was to use two of these connectors Cable Matters Gold Plated HDMI Male to HDMI Female 270 Degree Adapter. Together they create a 180 degree bend to allow your cables to be neatly installed.
Bluetooth is a great feature that this TV has. I can place my receiver in standby (bypass mode) and listen to TV at night with my wireless blutooth headset. I will take a quick moment to endorse this headset LG Tone - HBS-700 Wireless Bluetooth Stereo Headset - Retail Packaging - Black/Orange. They work flawlessly on everyting I throw at them from working out, talking on the phone while driving to listening to a TV show while eating a midnight snack. They are ultra comfortable and sound excellent. At any rate, I am unsure why this feature gets such little attention. But keep in mind that you do need to verify that your AVR will pass through sound via HDMI or there will be no sound at all when the AVR is off or in standby mode. This is assuming that you pass your content through a receiver. You can't fault the tv if no sound is getting to it.
I have had many high end TVs over the years but this one takes the cake for me as an overall package. No offence to anyone intended, but you could not pay me to place an LED TV in my living room. Sure the Sharp Elite looks great head on, but try going off to an angle, and not even an extreme angle and watch the PQ fall off a cliff. Looking at a plasma from any angle is like looking through a window. Not to mention that motion is far more natural looking on plasma in general.
As far as sound is concerned, I personally place very little time in this area. Many people may use the built in speakers for night viewing. I would say that these speakers are quite capable for that purpose. If you are looking for this TV to have a capable 24/7 sound system, then you will probably be let down with this and pretty much any other flat screen offering. If you are going to lay down the funds for this beauty, you should also be ready to invest in a descent sound system if you do not already have one.
*** Amended 3D glasses info.
Considering how passionate some folks seem to be about the exclusion of 3D glasses, I will only say this: This set does not come with 3D glasses. I am fine with that. You may not be.
Now lets talk about breaking in your plasma and some of the myths that go along with that. Many people will religiously use what are called break-in slides for the first 100 hours that they own the television. There are good reasons for this and there are misguided reasons as well. These slides are full screen color slides that you would run at 100 contrast for 100 hours as a slide show. This allows the phosphors to age evenly in there more fragile and impressionable state that is the first 100-200 hours. Now it is just as reasonable to simply watch mixed content for the first 100 hours instead of using slides. You just want to be sure to avoid letter box material or leaving stations on with static logos for long periods of times. The only downside of using content instead of slides is if you plan on using offered calibrated settings from someone like D-Nice on AVS. He has been kind enough in the past to offer calibrated settings to folks in an attempt to help out the community. He will break-in a set with the slides and then calibrate it. He will then post these settings for others to get at least close to a calibrated look. The best way to mimic his results is to break-in your set with the slides as he did. He will also be the first to tell you that panels vary and you may or may not benefit from his offered settings. If you do not use the slides as he did, then you will have less of a chance of benefiting from his settings because the panel will have been aged on a far less consistent scale. At this point in time, D-Nice has not posted settings for this particualr set. So keep this in mind, as there are questions as to whether or not he will at all.
Personally, I am not using slides anymore other than for use to inspect my panel for problems. Nobody wants to have a brand new set off limits for 4 days. I know I don't. This time round, I have not used slides and all is well in the world. If I want to get the set calibrated, I will.
Running slides in the hopes of matching the exact characteristics of someone elses panel is a gamble that may or may not pay off, and how would you really know if you were getting the most out of these "Free" settings without meters and training to tell you?
But, it is fair to say that you will have the least chance for any type of IR in the first 100+ hours by running the slides. There are no logos or bars or HUDs to worry about. I stress the point that they will not CAUSE IR but they will not help remove it. So it is a personal choice and there is most definately no reason not to run the slides other than it makes the set unavailable for 4 days.
As a side note, these slides are excellent tools to inspect your new screen for issues such as dead or stuck pixels, micro cracks in the glass and hot spots or uniformity issues. The trick here is to use this tool when you get your set and then leave it alone. If you constantly use these slides to look for issues, you will eventually find one and it will drive you crazy. And in most cases it will end up being something that you will never see while viewing normal content.
Slides can be downloaded by searching for "Plasma Break-In DVD Images" . Just select the "Plasma Break-In DVD Images" link. Once downloaded, unzip and place on thumb drive.
So there you have it regarding break-in. Use slides or mixed content for the first 100 hours or so and relax.
One more thing worth mentioning to those that are unaware. The picture on your set will continue to improve over the first 300+ hours. So please do not base your impression of the set on the picture that comes out of the box. Blacks settle in a touch lower and the picture quality in general will become a bit richer and vibrant.
Another common misconception is that slides should be used to help remove IR or image retention. This is simply not the case.
Here is an excerpt of something I wrote on AVS:
You will never be told to use slides to remove IR. Breakin slides are for breaking in the panel, period. Think about it this way. If you look at your IR while running the slides, you will see that the IR is flashing exactly the same each time. You are simply baking the IR in as far as I am concerned. You are maintaining that exact image over and over again. Now start a pixel flipper or mixed content for that matter. In this case, every pixel involved within the area of the IR is being given it own unique workout independent from the surrounding pixels. This random aging of the pixels will allow the offending pixels involved within the area of IR to hopefully slowly blend in better with the surrounding pixels.
Sure, there is an anti-retention tool that is built into the sets software, but do not let that fool you into a false sense of security. If you leave on a station with a static logo for two days straight, the tool will do no more than make the edges of the logo image blurry rather than defined.
I should also mention that I have had no hint of IR on my set to date (besides on slides). This is after days of watching Discovery channel who is one of the worst offenders of the infamous logo. They should be sued with other channels that wreak havoc on plasmas with these logos. I almost have to think they have stock in LED technology! lol
Settings: The following are the settings that I am currently using post Luminance patch. They are a combination of my own and others. I feel I have struck a very nice balance without having had an actual calibration performed. This is in no way intended or claimed to be professional calibrated settings. I would be happy if they work for you though. So it definitely does not hurt to give them a try. If you find colors to be off on your particular panel, simply disregard the Pro settings and only use the Basic settings.
Picture Mode: Custom
Contrast: 82 "Bright Room" Setting 98
Brightness: 52-54 "Bright Room" Setting 70
Sharpness: 14-24 *If you have an external VP you may want this at zero
Color Temp: Warm 2 (or Warm 1) * Warm 1 will not be as accurate, but you may prefer it anyway as it will spruce up the whites a touch.
Video NR: Off
Aspect adjustments submenu
Screen format: Full
HD size: Size 2 (Size 1 will perform a 95% overscan. Can be good to get rid of scan lines at top of screen for sat/cable content as well as video noise that can be seen on edges of some content)
H size: [grayed out]
Zoom adjustments: [grayed out]
3D Y/C filter: Off [grayed out]
Color matrix: HD [grayed out]
These next two settings may or may not help poor content and should have little to no effect on quality content.
Block NR: Off
Mosquito NR: Off
Weak or Off: For most content. Pans will still be messy but no SOE
Medium: Clean Pans but with SOE. Great for animated content
High: Introduces far too many artifacts and motion issues
1080p pure direct: On
Black level: Light
3:2 pulldown: On
24p Direct in: 60Hz * 60Hz seems to function as 96Hz does without introducing artifacts that may or may not be detected. But 96hz mode does provide slightly better blacks. So use 96hz if you do not perceive artifacts.
Color space: Normal
W/B high R: -1
W/B high G: 0
W/B high B: 0
W/B low R: 0
W/B low G: -4
W/B low B: -1
W/B detail adjustment menu: (listed as Red, Green and Blue gain, respectively)
100 IRE: -1, 0, -1
90 IRE: -2, 0, +1
80 IRE: 0, +1, -1
70 IRE: 0, 0, 0
60 IRE: 0, 0, +1
50 IRE: +1, +2, +1
40 IRE: 0, 0, -1
30 IRE: +1, -1, 0
20 IRE: +2, -0, +1
10 IRE: -1, -0, +1
Red hue: 0
Green hue: +4
Blue hue: 0
Red Saturation: -5
Green Saturation: -4
Blue Saturation: 0
Color detail adjustment menu:
Yellow hue: 0
Cyan hue: 0
Magenta hue: +2
Yellow saturation: -2
Cyan saturation: 0
Magenta saturation: 0
Red luminance: 0
Green luminance: -12
Blue luminance: -2
Yellow luminance: 0
Cyan luminance: +4
Magenta luminance: +4
Black Extension: 0
Gamma adjustment: 2.4
Panel Brightness: Mid
Contour Emphasis: Off
AGC: Off or 0
Gamma Detail Adjustment Menu
100 IRE Gain: 0
90 IRE Gain: 0
80 IRE Gain: 0
70 IRE Gain: 0
60 IRE Gain: 0
50 IRE Gain: +3
40 IRE Gain: 0
30 IRE Gain: 0
20 IRE Gain: -1
10 IRE Gain: 0
Now a closing moment for the topic of BUZZING. All plasmas buzz....period. It is an inherent aspect of the technology. A perfect way to hear how this buzzing is effected by what is on the screen is by using the slides we talked about. Typically, the buzzing will be loudest on an all white or very bright screen. As you flip through the different colored slides, you will notice the buzzing changing in its intensity. Now some sets will obviously buzz more than others. You may have two identical sets that are side by side and one may be louder than the other. So if you have a set that you feel buzzes too much for you, an exchange may be in order. But be ready for no change, less noise and possibly more noise. But please do not base your impression while you are standing in a silent room with your head behind the TV. Listen to the TV sitting in your normal viewing location with volume at what you would consider "normal" or slightly below that. Then see if you can even hear it at all. Personally, I have to have my volume very low to hear it at all. Under my normal listening conditions, I NEVER hear my set buzz. There are many other factors involved that can contribute to the buzzing. Some of which include proximity of TV to the surrounding walls, room acoustics, sensitive hearing, furniture in the room, carpet, etc.....
I hope this information helps you in your decision. I know the feeling of being overwhelmed when you are are trying to make an educated choice amid a sea of conflicting information.
When all is said and done, I feel great about my purchase and highly recommend the television.
Panasonic has released another update. This update resolves the issue with CMS color Luminance not functioning. ;-)Picture settings are reflected and noted above.
In order to put minds at ease, I begrudgingly put the colored slides up after about 750 hours of use to see if I have any IR. I expected to at least see some minor IR but the fact is that I have ZERO IR! If you are worried about IR, stop. Follow my instructions and advice and it will be a non-issue.
And btw, my picture quality has steadily improved over the entire 700+ hours it has been running. What a gem.
103 of 113 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2012
Pilot freight services delivered my unit May 8th, 3-days sooner than advertised. While I was apprehensive about set-up, an HDMI (not included) and power cord were all that was needed to start watching programs through my receiver. I'm a big guy, so hefting the TV onto its base wasn't such an ordeal, but I will note that most people will need help with this chore. I opted not to put it on the wall due to its weight and my living room's space restrictions (not to mention the extra price/non-availability of a wall bracket). The pedestal required a Philips screwdriver to construct and does not swivel in the slightest. Upgrading to 65-inches, I don't miss that feature.
The viewing experience is as advertised. Out of the box, the VT50 is set very dark. Unless the unit will be placed in a home theater, you will need to use a custom or the "THX Bright Room" setting. At any setting, however, you will note the incredible degree to which blacks are displayed. I tested some modifications while watching a MLB game broadcast in HD. Its difficult to describe the "new" shades of black and grey that I could discern on this set, but I can say that I never saw them before. Every detail that I thought of or tried to see was simply: there. The one sheet of glass addition is gorgeous, though when the TV is on it kind of disappears. Simply put, I've never seen a better looking plasma display.
VIERA functionality is running wirelessly and almost seamlessly through my Netgear N900. Every app I've tried (I'm not a subscriber to anything like Netflix, so I don't know how well pay apps function) loads quickly. The on board browser is ever so slightly slower than one on a dated laptop I've got, but every web-page loaded without issue. I found streaming videos from a networked PC not to work unless I ran them from a my X-box 360. I can only assume that this is a codec issue.
The speakers are "Meh". At this level of monitor, you better already have standalone speakers running through an amp or your missing out. Form factor-wise, the included speakers and woofer melt into the VT50's body. Frankly, I wouldn't have known they were there had I not read the specs. Additionally, and this probably can be attributed to my Pioneer receiver or an HDMI bug, you cannot listen to the set's speakers and your externals at the same time.
The touch-remote is a nice addition, but responsiveness and fine movement leave a little to be desired. It's not a laptop/ipad... er, pad. I've got an android smart phone that quickly synched with the VT50 and functions better during internet browsing. Media transfer from the TV to the phone was a button click away, however, going the other way around has escaped me for the moment. Attempts to "flick" a pic or .mov from my phone all end in a triangle inset with an "!" on the TV. There's probably a work around, but I'm a little disappointed it didn't work out of the box.
On the disappointment front, I feel obligated to express mine at the lack of 3D glasses included at purchase. I knew that going in, but never the less, it still stings not to have the ability to test such a significant function of the VT50. At around $3,800 I think I've earned at least one pair. Additionally, don't let some idiot at your local big-box store attempt to sell you last years glasses (not that this happened to me, even though it did). The VT30 & VT50 are incompatible.
Finally, I live in Colorado and my front door opens at 6,170 feet-ish. My previous plasma was built in 2003 and did not like this altitude. It ran hot and buzzed incessantly. 15-min of use and you can feel the heat escaping the top of the VT50's rear vents with a wave of your hand. It doesn't heat my living room after being on for an hour or buzz at all like my previous set, but I'll be sure to update this review if anything changes. Panasonic's own tech support sent me an email before I purchased it, ensuring me the all their plasmas were rated to 8,000ft, and a local specialist told me that I'd be safe up to 11,000ft.
To be clear: I took a star off my review due to the lack of included glasses at this price. It's like buying a pick-up truck and being told that the lever/toggle switch for your included 4-wheel drive is an extra. Bad marketing Panasonic, bad. Other than that, and the odd Android functionality, I cannot recommend this Plasma any more than if I were to post a picture of me hugging it. The P65VT50 is truly fantastic. While I cannot speak for a comparison between this set an a comparable LED, I would figure the LED to be brighter. But if you do most of your TV watching at night, as I do, I'd stick with the Plasma.
66 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on May 24, 2012
My VT50 arrived a little over two weeks ago and I feel that I'm now familiar enough with it to write a review. This review is for the 55" model.
The VT50 replaced my 50" G-Series Panasonic plasma from 2010. While I liked it just fine, it was a tiny bit too small, had a bezel that got uglier over time, and suffered from floating blacks, which was very annoying since my primary use of the display is watching Blu-Ray content in the dark. I had been anxiously awaiting the release of the VT50 - so much so, that I ordered one without seeing it first, reasoning to myself that if I didn't like it, then I wouldn't be satisfied with any TV this year.
The VT50 arrived. Once unpacked and set up, I marveled at the TV before I even turned it on. Was this TV really made by Panasonic, the company known for being helplessly behind the competition is terms of industrial design? The svelte single sheet of glass design is beautiful. The VT50 takes the design introduced with last year's clunky VT30 and trims it down to perfection. The bezel is much smaller than Samsung's E7/8000 and much more attractive in my opinion. It features a nice silver trim around the edges and a classy stand with a silver/black gradient. I can see how the silver edge might be a problem in a very bright room, but I really like it.
But design is secondary, isn't it? Picture quality is why anyone buys a flagship model and the VT50 more than delivers. Panasonic has made major improvements over 2011 models, with a new driving method, redesigned panel, and improved filter. Once initial set-up is done, the TV defaults to standard mode, which looks awful - dull and lifeless with egregious line bleed. Thankfully there's an easy fix - this a THX certified display, and new for 2012 Panasonic includes two separate THX modes for 2D viewing - THX Cinema and THX Bright Room. These modes look great out of the box. THX Cinema is what I mainly watch with, although I sometimes use Bright Room mode, albeit with contrast scaled back to 80. Compared to the THX mode on my last Panasonic, the mode here is much improved and lacks the greenish push that I noticed before. I think rather than try to eyeball it, since I'm not a calibrator, I'm going to leave it in THX mode sans any adjustment and pay someone to calibrate it later this year. Compressed satellite HD actually looks surprisingly great, image processing is top notch here and is good at masking artifacts from less-than-stellar feeds. Definitely better than my old Panny. The picture also has a characteristic that is hard to describe - perhaps "smoother" is the word I'm looking for here; it just looks incredibly natural and effortless in subtle color transitions and gradients. I suppose that can be attributed to Panasonic's claim of improved shades of gradation.
The real test, however, was when I turned off the lights and fired up the Blu-Ray player. The home menu on my Sony Blu-Ray player is a light gray, which is great for testing panels for flaws in uniformity. Knowing problems with banding, blobbing, and splotching Panasonic had with last year's model, I nervously inspected every part of the panel. No anomalies to be found, whew. I pressed play and ended up sampling a variety of content, and the VT muscled through all of it with incredible prowess. The black level here is impressive - I've seen a VT30 in the dark and this rightfully trounces it. I've also seen an E8000 in the dark and it can't get quite as dark as the VT. Letterbox bars blend into the bezel. Thanks to the deep, dark blacks the VT50 is blessed with incredible contrast. Images have an abundance of pop and lifelike depth, and recall the tangible realism produced by later-generation Pioneer plasma panels. Motion is natural, cinematic, and artifact-free when the 4:4 pulldown 96Hz mode is engaged. I do not notice any flicker either. It should also be noted that I have watched enough on it to verify that the image is rock-solid - no floating blacks, fluctuating brightness, no distractions. Just a beautifully rendered, film-like image that pulls you in.
3D performance: Using THX Cinema 3D mode, the 3D image looks great. This is the first 3D TV I've owned but I've seen plenty of 3D on other flat panels and some projectors. 96Hz is unavailable here. Great sense of depth and minimal crosstalk, although I do notice some in higher contrast scenes. This can be somewhat remedied by switching from 60 to 48Hz mode, but it introduces some annoying flicker. I tested using Blu-Ray content like Ultimate Wave Tahiti 3D, Hugo, Tron:Legacy, Arabia 3D, and the Adventures of Tintin 3D. 2D>3D conversion is still unimpressive, even after making 3D adjustments, but I suppose it's not too bad considering the display is doing the conversion on the fly. Not a big deal. Please note that Panasonic does not include glasses in the box for North American sets this year. Yeah, it's a bummer, but the good news is that this year Samsung's cheap SSG-4100 glasses are fully operational with the VT50. I own a pair and a pair of the official Panasonic-made TY-ER3D4MU glasses, and performance is identical, although I find the Panasonic glasses have bigger lenses and are more comfortable.
One thing I did not test much is the Viera Connect platform. I poked around a bit, and it seems largely identical to the interface on my BDT310 Blu-Ray player but with the addition of the web browser. Since the VT50 has a dual-core processor it is quite a bit snappier loading apps and navigating between them, however. Panasonic includes a touchpad remote to make web browsing easier but I found it a bit awkward to use, and while the web browser is decent, I don't see myself ever using it. I don't want to browse the web on my TV, but for those that do, it's not bad.
So while I generally try to shy away from giving products five-star reviews, I have a hard time finding anything bad to say about the VT50. The only thing I can really knock it for is the anti-glare filter - while it's incredibly effective, it does compromise the vertical viewing angle of the TV. I'm assuming it functions by absorbing ambient light from above and below the panel and rejecting it, resulting in a darkened image from above or below. The horizontal viewing angle is not compromised, so I certainly don't think it's worth taking a point away, especially considering that neither I nor anybody I know watches TV sitting below the screen or standing above it.
All told, the VT50 is, simply put, the best plasma Panasonic has ever made, and represents more than a minor improvement over the VT30. Panasonic has set the bar not only for themselves, but has left Samsung in the dust this year. While Panasonic focused on drastically improving image quality this year, Samsung seems content with making minor improvements while adding a camera and frustratingly stupid gesture control to their plasmas. Highly recommended!
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on June 24, 2012
Prior to purchasing this set, I was fortunate enough to own the PZ700 50" Panasonic Plasma from 2007, which Consumer Reports named the best flat panel TV they ever tested. I loved this set, but after reading some overwhelmingly positive reviews and a sweet price point from Amazon, I decided to take the plunge. Certainly not an easy decision, given my love for the PZ700. After some early frustrations, I can say without question, the upgrade was a worthy one.
So what has Panasonic done right with their flagship plasma series in the last five years? Here's my take:
First the obvious; the set is a lot lighter! My old Panny was a monster clocking in at just under 100 lbs, but this one weighs about 66lbs with the stand. The set has a very elegant look with a black border that is about an inch wide, and a silver bezel on the outside which is about a quarter of an inch. On the back, the set sports inputs for 4 HDMI, 3 USB, 1 PC, and 1 component/analog input. There's also inputs for cable coax, digital audio out, and ethernet. Interesting how Panasonic has completely de-prioritized the component/analog settings. My old set had 3, this has one. Also, if you use a component cable, Panasonic has included an adapter which you plug all 5 cables into, with a tiny plug that goes to the TV. Certainly a con to take note of if you have a lot of component/analog devices.
Video is a nice step forward; additional detail in high def viewing is readily apparent; imperfections on people's faces can be seen with much greater clarity; blacks, while very good on the PZ700, are much inkier and darn near perfect now. Colors are accurate and pop in a way my older, dimmer set could not. Let me mention my favorite enhancement; the set is MUCH better than my old one at shielding glare. I have a tall lamp in the corner of my house that I refuse to move. Problem is, it situates itself on the top right corner of the screen. While I can still see it through the TV, the glare is reduced to such a level that I don't even notice it's there most of the time.
3D viewing: a nice feature, but still pretty gimmicky (and costly). Not a lot of adult content out there, as most 3D movies are kids movies. I have viewed 3D versions of Avatar and Toy Story 3, and although the set does a commendable job, I do find 3D viewing to be a bit straining on the eyes. Certainly not a fault of the set, as it produces a quality 3D image, but I don't believe 3D will truly take off until manufacturers find a way to ditch the glasses. It also doesn't help that Panasonic does not include any glasses here, and they're $50 a pop.
Audio: quite frankly, not as good as my previous set. Some reviewers have complained about it sounding a bit tunnel-like, and while listening to some baseball broadcasts, I would agree; but overall, I think it sounds respectable. It's a speaker/size trade-off; in order to keep a slim profile, Panasonic needed to install smaller speakers. My old set had around 3 inches of black space on each side to accommodate the larger speakers- this one has just over an inch on each side. I believe the tv speakers fill my room quite nicely, but I have a small place. Those with larger living room environments will surely want to complement with some home theater.
Ok, let me get my Comcast detesting rant out of the way. Those who are blessed and do not use Comcast, feel free to skip this paragraph. I hook up three devices to my set -a Comcast DVR, Panny Blu-Ray, and PS3, all via HDMI. However, I would say about 80% of my viewing is for cable. That said, I was having some serious buyer's remorse with this set, later determining it was of course, Comcast's fault. When I first set this up, I was primarily watching cable. And my early impressions were dwelling on an inconsistent image. Still pictures with little movement looked amazing. But a number of background images either looked blurry or pixelated, and motion fluidity was less than desirable. An analogy would liken this to my brief stint in PC gaming; buying a computer with a great display and video card, but with no processing power to move the action along as it pushes the CPU. Long story short, cable viewing was a big step down from my old set, which was previously connected via component. But alas, I started to get wise, because when I watched blu-ray in 1080p, there was nary a picture problem to be found. With the aid of some Google research, I came up with the following for Comcast users who connect via HDMI: power your DVR off, then press the menu button. Go to "HDMI/YPbPr Output" and change to 720p. That's it, problem solved on cable viewing! No more pixelation or focus issues. The downside, of course, is that you're no longer viewing the maximum resolution your new TV can accept. But in my humble opinion, 720p looks nearly as good as 1080p, and certainly better when the Comcast crapbox is involved.
Some more setup pointers. When adjusting your picture settings, use Custom. The presets like THX bright room can give you a decent start, but if you like to do some armchair calibrating, use Custom. What I painfully discovered, is that even if you have the same settings on two different modes (i.e. THX Cinema and THX Bright Room), the picture will look drastically different! If you want to experiment, adjust THX Cinema to have the same exact picture settings as THX Bright Room; you'll discover that THX Cinema will still have a much dimmer image.
I don't mess with the additional picture settings too much, but I'd recommend changing these two: change HD size to "Size 2" from Aspect Adjustments as this will display the entire image. Also, I recommend going to Advanced Picture and adjusting the motion smoother down to "weak." Panny states that this setting reduces motion blur, but I was having some movement stuttering problems with this setting on medium.
Finally, a word on Viera Connect. This set has built-in wireless internet for viewing "channels" such as Amazon, Netflix, MLB TV, Skype, and Facebook. I have checked out the first three mentioned and the performance is pretty good. I like that Panasonic has updated this set with a respectable processor, as navigating around Netflix and Amazon VOD is much snappier than their dreadfully slow blu ray players. A word for those with dual band routers. My experience has been that this set will show BOTH bands when you do a scan for wireless network. And my unprofessional diagnosis is that when your router decides to use the other band (as mine frequently does), the Panny will drop your current connection, and you will be forced to select the other band (and re-enter a password if your network is encrypted). Once I connect and use a channel, streaming works very well, but if I exit Viera and try to come back in, I get a connection error message. Feel free to contact Panny support on this one, but after harassing them, I've been told it's a known issue; the set needs to figure out that there's two bands, but one network, and accommodate them simultaneously; hopefully, this will be addressed in short order with a firmware update.
Kudos to Panasonic for offering flagship quality performance at a competitive price point. Sound and Viera Connect quibbles aside, the VT50 offers superior value.
Edit: thanks to all for your Comcast suggestions. I understand many of you have a decent 1080p setup. I actually have a newer model DVR, model # RNG200N that Paul mentioned. I'd be interested to hear from other users with this box, and whether you have a video beef when 1080p resolution is used. Also, my router is a Linksys 4500.
64 of 79 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2012
This is essentially the best Plasma TV Period for last year updated for the year 2012. Panasonic has taken the same model the "VT30" and made it better and faster largely improving the smartTV aspect.
Upgrades over "VT30":
Touch pad controller. This is obviously designed to combat LGs motion remove (like a Wii controller) and Samsung voice controls. Out of all of these I dislike Panasonic the most. Unless you love laptop mouses, you probably will too.
Web-browser. This is not were it needs to be as far as usability, but they are definitely going in the right direction. I still find that I use my computer for web browsing as it performs more and does it quicker. Also along the same lines though the VT50 now has built in WiFi which I prefer over the wasted external connection of last year.
The new color filters and processing. The color and black and whites on the VT30 were already to die for, this series does it even better. In a time when TV are slowly becoming computers, the VT50 has endless software/hardware to help fine tune all your images to crystal clear quality. The blacks somehow get blacker than black, the white are so clean, and it works well in low or high ambient lighting. The sound is even great for a pencil thin TV.
It makes YouTube videos smoother. It make splits 24p frames to make the transition of imagines cleaner. It does everything better.
The VT30 is by no means a bad TV. It is still a great TV and definitely worth buying. The VT50 is just the younger brother that came along and broke all of VT30 records.
My positives on this TV are almost everything.
The touch pad controller. It takes the worst part of a lap top and brings it to your home TV.
The price obviously is hard to take down.
The web-browsing and smartTV is getting better, but they still operate slower and less adequate then they should be. Maybe another year or two and this technology will be refined.
I will say that I was too negative of the touch pad remote. Although I still stand by the statement that it was not the best TV remote, It does make web browser much more familar and operate smoother than a traditional remote.
I also have now played a little bit of Call of Duty on the PS3 on this TV, and let me say it performs fast and beautiful. Did a little research and found out that this TV has 1080 resolution in motion which is why it looks so much cleaner than any TV I have ever seen.
I never commented on the sound before because I instantly hooked up surround sound without a second thought. The built in sound is to weak for a TV of this size as the TV will fill the room with picture but not with sound.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2012
This summer I decided to upgrade to a 3DTV and bought an LG 47LM7600, but it's "Cinema 3D" didn't live up to the hype, so I returned it. To replace it I ended up buying a Panasonic TC-P55VT50, which at the time was exactly double the price of the LG. I had never owned a plasma before and I wouldn't normally have considered one, but as I researched which TV to buy I consistently saw reviewers saying that this TV had the best picture quality of any TV on the market. And they were right.
This TV produces the best-looking picture that I have ever seen on any TV anywhere, period. I am not talking about subtle differences that only a pro would notice--it is a completely different viewing experience. Despite all the research that I did, I did not really appreciate the difference until I had the TV in my living room. Basically, when you watch a movie on this TV, you are seeing it the way it was intended to look. The colours are vibrant without looking fake, the black looks black instead of dark grey, and there is no motion blur at all. In many ways it recreates the picture of a movie theatre. My Sony XBR4 that I used to think highly of now looks washed-out and dull to me. The Panasonic's 3D--the feature that I actually bought the TV for--is also amazing (I only rarely see crosstalk or flicker) and also the best on the market according to some experts, but its high quality is overshadowed by how impressive the overall picture quality is compared to competing TVs.
Another reviewer mentioned that he disliked this TV because the whites weren't bright enough. It is true that the whites are not as bright as on an LCD, but I LIKE the way they look. In the real world, white objects do not have an otherworldly glow like the bright white of an LCD screen, so when you see those objects in a movie they shouldn't look like that either.
Drawbacks? There is really only one major one, which is that this TV does not work very well as a computer monitor. The reason is that to prevent image retention (a.k.a. burn-in) it chops off 5% from the edges of the screen, which is where all of the important buttons and icons are on a computer desktop. You can disable this feature, but that makes the TV very susceptible to image retention, so it's not a good idea. So if you are planning to use your TV as a computer monitor then this TV is probably not a good choice for you. For everyone else, it's the best.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on December 24, 2012
Don't take what I write in this review too personally, it's just my opinion!
I worked in AV for a few years, installed professional AV systems, always bought the best, and taken a deep interest in technology in general, so my thought process may well differ from the casual viewer and TV buyer. I'm used to a really good picture and thats what I crave. If you've had an average TV for years and are replacing that, you're going to be impressed by just about any of the TV's I mention here and in fact probably going to be just has happy with models lower down the food chain. Lucky you. In some ways I wish my eyeball 'tastebuds' had never gotten used to the sweet nectar that is a really great TV. If you look at any TV and really like the picture, buy it, forget reviews and price. However, if like me, you are really fussy about picture quality, read on.
So it was with a heavy heart and much scepticism of the current TV market that I found myself having to wade through online reviews, interviewing retail sales people and talking to tech savvy friends who had kept an eye on the market, that I finally narrowed it down to a few contenders. Of course I started where I had left off, with Sony (i bought Sony's first 1080p TV and it was a dream TV, had to sell it when I moved from the UK). I took a long hard look at the XBR series which they claimed was there "best picture ever". I hadn't seen my old Sony in a few months when I went into various stores with well setup examples to look at it, but it only took a couple of minutes of viewing for me to disagree with the Sony marketing team, it wasn't as smooth or 'creamy' as my old X series was, and it just didn't look as 'believable' and the fact that I could notice it just started bugging me. Moving on.
Next up, I really liked the look of the Samsung e8000 (the 9000 was too big for me) its a pretty TV, but it took a whole 2 seconds of looking at the picture to figure out - no way. I really don't understand how anyone who has spent any time with decent quality TV's can look at that picture and not be quite frankly disturbed. It's just not even close, it's quite inferior to other TV's at the same price range. Lots of toys doesn't make a better picture and its the picture that matters most, right?
Onto the Sharp. I'd always had a soft spot for the old Pioneer Kuro, and if you believe what you read the Kuro team was absorbed into Sharp and they benefited from the technology. Certainly the Kuro was the only other TV that I ever looked at beside my Sony and thought 'nice picture'. So surely the Sharp Elite would have it. It cost more than the XBR or Samsung, which while not always a guarantee of better quality is generally a good indicator. I was impressed, it looked good. But just good. Maybe I was expecting too much? I really was hoping to be just sucked into a picture and so blown away that I couldn't be torn from the TV, that I would just hand over the cheque book and have them fill it in while i continued to watch. I just wasn't seeing where the extra money had gone. But I didn't cry, no, I remained strong. It was good enough, I could always 'settle' if need be and I could learn to be happy. But I had one chance left..
I'd kind of dismissed Plasma, I'd just assumed things had moved on technology wise and it'd all be LED, so I was intrigued by all the great reviews the Panasonic was getting, as it was actually cheaper than the TV's I had been looking at it, I kind of thought I was being silly, but what the heck, right? Can't do any harm to take a look.
And to my surprise, what I saw was really good. I still wasn't 'blown away', but I kept looking, and looking, and checking. I was looking for the flaws, there must be something wrong with it, it's cheaper. And there must be something wrong with it being a plasma, it must have flashing, or burn in or some other defect. But after 10 minutes or so, I realised I was just happily watching the movie now and not really thinking about the picture any more - bingo! And so it was with my TV buying experience. I have come to realise that looking to be wowed by a TV now is just not realistic if you're used to good TV's. Technology continues to improve, but it's not like the HD TV's now are ten times better than the ones from a few years ago, it's just incremental.
However, having lived with the Panasonic for a number of months now, I am really happy with it. Not only is it really 'easy' to watch, it's nice to use, the controls are simple but effective, the hulu and amazon apps give a great picture, the TV itself looks really great.
The one down side I have found with ALL TV's now, is that because they are so thin, which I love, it does mean the built in sound is pretty sketchy. It's ok. But if you are any kind of AV purist you're not going to rely on TV speakers anyway, so i do think it's a bit of a moot point. I don't really count the TV's audio quality in my factoring, if anything not investing in the TV's audio is a good thing as I want the money in the picture.
So I do think this TV is not only one of the very best pictures available today at any (realistic) price (I don't count the 'tens of thousands of dollars' TV's as I didn't even look at them, I'm not spending that much on a TV), it also represents by FAR the best 'bang for the buck'. I would have happily spent twice as much if a TV _really_ justified it, but I'm happy to say I don't think there is a need, Panasonic have really gotten it right with this panel, it's a TV you can really live with and enjoy.
PS. Do what the others here suggest and buy a setup DVD and invest the time to fine tune it. BUT use the THX setting out of the box and watch it for at least a week first, THEN do the setup. It's pointless doing the setup when it's brand new. And yes, it's a Plasma so it DOES get 'burn in'. I use the intune app to listen to radio and it left a logo in the top of the screen after many many hours of use, only faint, but really annoying. But I used the built-in scrolling bar tool a few times and by the next day it was gone, back to fresh.
PPS. I bought my TV from Pauls TV in California. Their salesmen are slimy and I wish I hadn't, once I had made a decision I just had to have it that day, and Pauls did get me that, but the delivery guys were not really into it and offered only minimal assistance, I really wanted proper setup. They talk about matching prices but they really didn't try with this TV, and then only added sales tax on right as they swiped my card, which meant a different price came up on the checkout till than we had discussed - which was just underhand to me. Amazon is a better deal and you pay the price it actually says at check-out. I have bought sooo much stuff from Amazon and they have always been amazing not only with delivery but if there are any issues. My recommendation: buy it from Amazon, wish I had.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2012
*** FYI, I have included a 1-year ownership update at the end of the review.
Before I begin, it may be helpful if I quickly summarize what I believe to be true in comparing a plasma and LCD. This way, you have an idea of where I'm coming from. In short: plasma has more natural color reproduction, better black levels, no motion blur, greater viewing angle, and better light uniformity. LCD, on the other hand, uses less energy, produces less heat, does not suffer from burn-in/image retention (IR), much brighter picture, and sharper text. Some specific information that I knew about the VT50 before making my purchase: no bundled 3D glasses, expensive, no built-in camera, reflective screen.
Here's why I went with the VT50:
1) color reproduction, like other plasmas, is fantastic. Blacks are extremely dark, and I read many reviews mentioning the great black levels of the VT50.
2) the front glass panel is beautiful. GT50 and ST50 do not look as clean.
3) my room is not very bright, so I do not need a light torch of a display.
4) support for 24fps -- I watch a lot of movies.
5) the reviews have been very very good, and having owned a Panasonic projector in the past, I've had good experiences with Panasonic equipment.
I purchased the TV from Amazon, so with included Enhanced Delivery, getting this up and running was a breeze. It's beautiful, and it delivers on its promise of displaying an excellent picture. I was a little worried about burn-in, but I have yet to see any kind of image retention. While I do watch channels with those stupid static logos and play games with static images, I take breaks and am conscious about leaving a static image up for more than 10-15 minutes. I'm quite happy with the set, but there is some room for improvement.
Five things I would have liked:
1) navigating the 'smart' feature is a little slow. This is a common complaint I have across the board (Samsung, LG, etc). I wish it were as responsive as, say, an iPad.
2) it'd be nice to easily get to the Scrolling bar anti image retention feature (it's deeply buried in the menu system).
3) yes, it's clear this set does not come with 3D glasses, but really? At this price-point, it should come with 3D glasses or at least vouchers for 3D glasses.
4) would have been nice to have some kind of cable management built into the back of the set.
5) no headphone jack (with DAC) on the set, only support for Bluetooth headset.
With that said, so far so good! Even the sound is remarkably clear -- caveated with 'for built-in TV speakers'. Only time will tell if image retention is an issue or black levels rise over time. Both are supposedly fixed, but we'll see!
Other helpful notes:
- I noticed that my TV was leaning to the left when using the included stand, i.e. the left side of the panel was lower than the right side of the panel. It turns out this can be adjusted by loosening the four screws that hold the stand to the panel (the last four screws that are tightened in the instructions on page 9). I slightly loosened the screws, then moved the panel slightly until I measured each side to be even. Then tightened.
- It may not be completely obvious that under the Menu -> Picture adjustments, there are more options after Sharpness. One option that I find annoying is C.A.T.S., which adjusts brightness and gradation based on ambient lighting.
- The rear fan is inaudible from a foot away from the panel. I could only hear it if I put my head in the back of the panel. Also, I hear no humming coming from the TV, so if you experience this, you may have a defective unit or a ground loop.
*** UPDATE (1 YEAR LATER)
It's been one year since I received this TV, so I can give a little more detail on the ownership experience. I have never once experienced any buzzing with this TV. Permanent burn-in? No problems. HOWEVER, this set does retain images for days if you abuse it. I know this because I played a video game (Dishonored) that had static images on the screen. It certainly retained the image for several days. I ran several cycles of color cycling videos across 24 hours, and although it helped a lot, I could still barely make out some images. I thought I was doomed by my mistake, but luckily, over time, the image went away on its own.
I also would like to say that the sound is not as "remarkably clear" as I once thought. It's certainly good enough for a small, quiet room, but it is lacking. I am continuously finding myself increasing the volume during certain parts of movies and TV shows. I am looking into adding a soundbar in the future, but something of interest if you're in my situation: audio out passed from an external HDMI source and back out via HDMI (ARC) is not passed through unaltered. It is mixed down to stereo. For example if you were considering using the VT50 as a HDMI switcher, had a PS3 connected to HDMI-1, and wanted to use HDMI-2 (ARC) to connect a soundbar, anything coming from the PS3, such as 5.1, would be converted to PCM 2.0 and sent to the soundbar. It would not be 5.1. Something to consider.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2012
When I decided I was ready to buy a new television, I knew I had a lot of options. The VT50 by Panasonic is the best TV on the market today. I got some incredible expert advice after reading reviews and owner's opinions at HighDefJunkies. They have two of the best professional calibrators in the country who post about and discuss televisions. One of them even provides members with settings to get the most out of their new diplays!
32 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on May 22, 2012
First off, I ordered the 65" VT50 from Amazon, and the delivery process was as smooth as the one sheet of glass that covers this TV. Simply put, it was flawless: the delivery occurred precisely at the time stated, the television was unpackaged (to confirm no cracks or other visible damage), turned on (to confirm that it worked and that all pixels were firing). This is the second television in this price range that I have purchased from Amazon, and both experiences have been excellent. I would not be surprised if every other TV I buy going forward will come from Amazon.
With respect to the TV itself, the housing of the television is aesthetically pleasing. In an ideal world, there would not have been the metal strip around the bezel, but I understand that Panasonic has to dress up their flagship model to differentiate it from the ST50 and the GT50. They wanted to give the television a sense of occasion, and I get that. At the end of the day, it is not very noticeable and is not really an issue. The one-sheet-of-glass design looks great and really makes the television look impressive, even when it's not powered on. The profile of the TV is also very thin and sleek. All in all, it makes a fine aesthetic addition to any room.
The real question, of course, is how is the picture? The picture is beautiful. My last television was a Pioneer Kuro 6020, and so my review of the VT50 is basically a comparison of the two sets. I cannot A/B them side by side because the Kuro stayed with a house I just sold (the buyer smartly insisted on keeping the Kuro as part of his full-price offer on my house, so I couldn't say no), but, working off memory, I think the VT50 compares favorably to that most legendary of television sets. Does it match the Kuro's picture? Honestly, I don't think I can say it does. There was just something very special about the Kuro's black levels, its detail, its ability to both present a natural picture that also had "pop." The VT50 comes very close to this, and I would say it's about 95% there. The Panasonic's blacks are excellent, and the colors are vibrant and natural. Echoing a previous review on this page, I agree that a bright room does present a glare challenge for this TV, and my room unfortunately places a wall of windows facing the TV. I will keep the VT50, however, because I mainly watch TV at night and I just hate LED/LCD televisions (it's just a personal preference). I think one can believe the hype that the VT50 provides the best overall picture of 2012. The 3D picture is also very good.
The extras on the TV all seem nice, but I didn't buy the TV for them, so I haven't explored them too much. The menu and settings are all pretty intuitive and easy to navigate and control. Panasonic did a very good job with this TV.