Customer Review

699 of 705 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars *IMPORTANT* SETUP INFO! PREVENT HEADACHES, January 13, 2013
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This review is from: Panasonic VIERA TC-P50UT50 50-Inch 1080p 600Hz Full HD 3D Plasma TV (2012 Model) (Electronics)
Read Here! Important Setup Info to ensure you don't ruin the screen, picture calibration (default is for energy savings, not good pic), $19 Active 3D glasses, $30 wall mounts, removing ads & youtube settings.

Hey all, if you are reading this, means you already want this plasma, or started off like I did, confident that you were looking for a new edge-lit LED tv, but after days of research shocked to see yourself purchasing a plasma! The better picture, for 1/2 the cost, with plasma-ish issues (heat, burn-in, etc) now mostly a thing of the past, makes you wonder why people are snapping up LED's (I got this for $699 at a local box shop, would've done Amazon at same price but didn't want to wait).

Note: *3D GLASSES* You do NOT need to spend $50 each on glasses. Last year the major brands agreed on a universal active 3d standard via bluetooth. You can buy the new $19 Samsung SSG-4100GB glasses here on Amazon(Samsung SSG-4100GB 3D Active Glasses 2012 Models - Black), and they work great on this TV (I have 2 pairs). If you don't believe this, google "3D active glasses CNET" and find their article confirming this. I'm sure other active glasses will soon be available as well. CNET has a good article on the difference between Active & Passive pros & cons as well if you're still on the fence; IMO, the 3D on this TV with the $20 Samsung's is awesome.

Anyways, you know the pros/cons already of this TV (if not, I put my PROS/CONS as a comment/reply below); this article is to save you 10 hours of reading on how to set it up and enjoy it. The following suggestions should apply to any UT50 or Panny Viera plasma (except the calibrations are only for the 50" I would assume).

1. BREAK-IN PERIOD: Even though this is mostly a thing of the past with newer plamas, you'll see everyone with an opinion on this topic, yet its clear that plasmas are still *NOT* yet IDIOT PROOF (just use easy rules below & you'll be fine). You'll see the plasma gurus of years past insist that you need to run a video file of "slides" repeatedly for 100 hours minimum to evenly break-in the screen, or you'll end up with "IR" (image retention) & "burn in" images on your display. Even though newer plasma tech is now much more forgiving, for the first couple weeks (100 hours) you should *not* play the same video game (fixed icons/menu), or watch TV in a 4:3 format (that has black bars on the side) or wide-screen(black bars on top) or the same TV station (NBC with their logo on the bottom right). There's a pretty good chance you'll end up with something burned into the screen, and you won't be happy, and your dog or wife will hate you. You'll hate yourself. Google "Cnet Do I Need to Break In New Plasma" for a more informed article on this, but basically, stick to 16:9 video (fills the entire screen), if it doesn't, hit the "FORMAT" button on the remote to FILL the screen so you don't have black bars, and don't stick on channels with static logos (ESPN with the news ticker! NG with their logo, etc) for hours on end. ALSO, apparently a good idea to keep your CONTRAST settings below 100% for the first 100 hours or so (80 or below is the word, I'm a risk taker, think I'm at 85). Just watch full-screen content without stationary logos during the break-in period as much as possible, or don't stay stuck on any one channel/logo/ticker. Me, I just put a DVD/on-demand movie on repeatedly when I was doing other stuff around the house (find the longest movie you've got). If you are reading this after the fact & already hate yourself, go to Youtube and google "fix plasma" etc there are some videos that may be able to burn it out, or apparently Disney made some "WOW CD" that is a plasma staple, google it, lots of people useit, I can't comment on it not having used it.

2. BREAK-IN PERIOD (2nd): There is a built in "Anti-Image Retention" scrolling bar (under Menu>>Setup>>Anti Image Retention). I run this after watching a movie or say at halftime & afterwards of watching an NFL game (just being paranoid probably, but its easy so why not). At least initially...if you go onto Youtube there is a 5 minute video clip called "Plasma HDTV Burn-In Clip" (starts with pink spirals). There's a link on that page you can download the video & put it on a USB stick and then tell your TV to run it in a loop overnight for a few nights (if you were motivated) as others suggest, I decided I'd just run the scrolling bars in between viewings, from what I've read the new plasma tech is forgiving enough as long as you don't push it too far.

3. CALIBRATION: I would put this 1st, but figure its more important not to screw up the screen. The TV comes in an "Eco" friendly setting so they can get that $21/year energy cost sticker. This is a garbage picture. You'll end up spending $46/year or so according to CNET in reality once you adjust the TV for a good picture (and I'm assuming your getting the plasma for a good picture, not to save $25/year on electricity). You can google "CNET TC-P50UT50 CALIBRATION" and find their suggested calibration settings, or if you really want to get into it, google "AVSFORUM TC-P50UT50 CALIBRATION" and there's a 20 page thread titled "The Official Panasonic UT50 Settings/Issues Thread", and the 2 main contributors (PathofNeo & anikun07) suggest similar but slightly different settings than CNET. If you jump to Page 9 (post 250) of that thread, you'll find anikun07's settings for both CINEMA mode and also 3D MODE. If you want to know "why" these settings are best (including why you should use CINEMA mode, not CUSTOM mode for better blacks), read the first 9 pages. I'll cheat & post anikun07's current settings below for you, but if he changes them in the future I wouldn't know, you'd have to check the thread. I didn't bother getting into the custom RGB color settings, just the main easy-access settings.

4. REMOVE ADVERTISEMENTS / DISABLE ADS (seen on startup & in the Internet menu): For the ads displayed on startup, go to MENU>>SETUP>>ADVANCED SETTINGS>>VIERA CONNECT BANNER (and set to OFF). For the ads displayed as one of the apps, just unselect that app from being displayed in the app/store settings (uncheck it). If you are confused how to move an app from the 1st screen to the 3rd, there's a FAQ on Panasonic's site for this TV that explains the steps in detail.

5. YOUTUBE: The app allows you to link your phone or tablet to your TV (so you don't have to painfully type in search terms using that remote from the 90's). It gives you a PIN to enter into your device, then whatever you type into the device & hit play, ends up playing on your TV, pretty neat.

6. VIDEO SETTINGS FOR 3D, NORMAL TV & INTERNET APPS (NETFLIX ETC) ARE ALL SEPARATE: These are all controlled separately, so once you find the right settings for your cinema mode, you have to play a 3D movie, then open up the picture menu again and make the settings per below, and same for Internet Apps, go into youtube or netflix & edit the picture settings there as well (I used same settings for both TV & internet apps). I guess each input has its own setting, so HDMI1 & HDMI2 you have to make the different picture settings (see comments below page 3)

7. MOTION SMOOTHER (Soap Opera Effect): Everyone will tell you the first thing you need to do is disable the digital manipulation of the video, turn off the "Motion Smoother" (see full settings below). Basically, you'll turn off all digital manipulation, as they (according to the experts) just bog down the picture quality. This is confusing to me; why would *all* of the TV manufacturers spend money adding digital manipulations of the picture that no experts want? Perhaps the features fluff up some settings/images, while ruining others, I don't know enough to speculate, however even on LED's everyone says to turn off these digital "enhancements" as well.

8. WALL MOUNTS: You do *not* need to spend $100-200 for a wall mount! Only $28! Check out "Cheetah Mounts APTMM2B Flush Tilt Dual Hook (1.3" from wall) Flat Screen TV Wall Mount Bracket for 32-65 inch Plasma, LED, and LCD TVs Up To VESA 700x400 and 165lbs, Including 10' Braided High Speed with Ethernet HDMI Cable and 3-Axis Magnetic Bubble Level" here on Amazon, $27.99 (Prime) and its 1.5" from the wall & includes tilt (my old mount had swivel but I never used it). Holds up to 165lbs, nearly 5 stars from 2,000+ reviews, nice (remember to drill into a stud!). Also, if you tilt the TV downwards a smidgen, then the overhead room light doesn't reflect on the screen when you are sitting down, if glare's an issue at night, cheap fix.

1/21/13 Updates:
9. Android App: There is a Viera droid app in the Play store (can't comment on Apple IOS), works on tablets & phones. However, as of 1/21/13 its pretty annoying that you can't use the app to "type" into the search bars on Netflix or Hulu (why else would I use the app over the remote?). Youtube's sync let's you type in the search bar, hopefully they fix this bug. I note that there are bluetooth mini-keyboards that you can buy for ~$40, I haven't looked into this yet though. For now I'll probably make due with the clunky non-qwerty remote.

10. I really wish the remote could be programmed to control my cable box as well; I'm not sure I want to spend $100 for a Harmony remote, and I'm not sure if a Harmony remote would handle all the custom internet functions anyways (navigating the Viera Netflix & Hulu apps etc), looks like I might be stuck with a few remotes for now at least; the Android app & non-programmable remote are really my only (minor) complaints on this TV, which is still a 5-star bargain at the price I got it at though.

1/23/13 Update:
11. Wireless Dongle: if you don't have an ethernet cable nearby, instead of buying the Panny wireless adapter Panasonic TY-WL20U Wireless Adapter for Panasonic 2012 Internet Ready TVs, something to consider instead would be one of these "Powerline" adapters that are slightly less in cost, but something you could use for other purposes later on, and/or be able to add other adapters to your house for other internet devices (I did a very QUICK search, these ZyXEL adapters seemed the best bang for the buck (Logitech's HD Powerline 200a is $105), there could be a better brand/price you'd have to check but these are $43 on Prime currentlyZyXEL PLA401v3 HomePlug AV 200 Mbps Powerline Wall-plug Adapter (Starter Kit - 2 units):

Here are Anikun07's 2D & 3D calibration settings from the AVSforum thread I mentioned above (apparently these settings target a neutral D65 coloring, you may find you like TV's with unnatural heavy red hues, to each their own?):

***2D CINEMA MODE*** (not custom, not vivid, not standard)
______________
Contrast: +90
Brightness: +49
Color: +48
Tint: 0
Sharpness: 0
Color Temp: Warm 2
Color Mgmt.: Off
C.A.T.S.: Off
Video NR: Off
______________
Aspect Adjustments

Screen Format: Full
HD Size: Size 2
H Size: Size 1
______________
HDMI Settings (*edit, CNET says the following, which is what I did as well: -- HDMI settings: [no change from default]. Don't change to 16-235 or the other option unless you are positive which color settings your video source sends the signal in, example if you know your PS3 sends in 16-235 then sure you can select that, but otherwise just leave it at default)

HDMI/DVI RGB Range- HDMI 1 & HDMI 2: Standard 16-235
Content Type - HDMI 1 & HDMI 2: Off
______________
Advanced Picture

3D Y/C Filter: Off (Grayed Out)
Color Matrix: HD (Grayed Out)
Block NR: Off (Grayed Out)
Mosquito NR: Off
Motion Smoother: Off
Black Level: Light
3:2 Pulldown: Off
24p Direct In: 60 Hz (edit, you won't be able to edit the 24p unless you are using a video source sending a 24p signal)

***3D CINEMA MODE***
______________
Basic Settings

Contrast: +85
Brightness: +57
Color: +48
Tint: 0
Sharpness: 0
Color Temp: Warm 2 (Calibrated to D65)
Color Mgmt.: Off
C.A.T.S.: Off
Video NR: Off
______________
Aspect Adjustments

Screen Format: Full
HD Size: Size 2
H Size: Size 1
______________
HDMI Settings (*edit, CNET says the following, which is what I did as well: -- HDMI settings: [no change from default]. Don't change to 16-235 or the other option unless you are positive which color settings your video source sends the signal in, example if you know your PS3 sends in 16-235 then sure you can select that, but otherwise just leave it at default)

HDMI/DVI RGB Range- HDMI 1 & HDMI 2: Standard 16-235
Content Type - HDMI 1 & HDMI 2: Off
______________
Advanced Picture

3D Y/C Filter: Off (Grayed Out)
Color Matrix: HD (Grayed Out)
Block NR: Off (Grayed Out)
Mosquito NR: Off
Motion Smoother: Off
Black Level: Light
3:2 Pulldown: Off
24p Direct In: 60 Hz (edit, you won't be able to edit the 24p unless you are using a video source sending a 24p signal)
______________
System Menu Settings =>3D Settings

Auto Detect 3D: Auto 1
3d Signal Notification: On
2D => 3D Depth: Medium
3D Adjustment: 0
Left/Right Swap: Normal
Diagonal Line Filter: Off

I'm sure I missed something, but tried to condense hours of reading for others, or at least a jumping off point. Google is your friend if you have any other questions.

Enjoy! PS, hit "Yes" if this review was helpful, "No" if not. Pros/Cons of the TV are below in the comments.
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Comments

Tracked by 11 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 69 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 15, 2013 6:57:49 AM PST
ffabric says:
This is about the most complete review I have ever seen... Thanks. I am conflicted between a LED/LCD and this. Is there any real benefit if getting a Plasma? What is the projected longevity of this unit in your estimation? I sure think you have given me a new perspective on Plasma
TV's

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 15, 2013 8:03:12 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 16, 2013 7:54:49 AM PST
Nbot says:
Like I said, I was shocked to watch myself order a plasma, I'd disparaged them in the past, when I really didn't know anything about them, and had already been daydreaming of that super thin LED on my wall...well, knowing IS half the battle.

Go to *ANY* TV reviewers Top 10 list for the past 5 years, and you'll see maybe 1 LED on each list, all the other Top 10 TV's are always Plasmas! Find Cnet's Top 5 list put out 12/21/2012 by David Katzmaier, 3 of top 5 are Panny plasmas (including #1). The only LED on the list costs THREE TIMES more than plasmas, and TWICE the cost of the #1 plasma. Plasmas dominant all the TV guru's Top 10 lists, and Panny plasmas dominate the plasma Top 10 lists. Period. The fact that they cost less than LED's makes you wonder why everyone hates plasmas (probably b/c for years they required you to think and not burn in an image, also, they used to be incredibly hot to the touch, both are apparently issues of the past).

Really, I'm just regurgitating what some of the experts out there have said. Google "cnet plasma vs led" and there are at least 2 great articles on this topic by their main TV guy. Regarding lifetime, he said Plasmas would outlast the LED's, but he also said, who cares if your TV dies in 5-7 years, you'll want a new one by then anyways if it dies anyways (guess if you wanted to put it in the kids room etc you might not be happy, so, he did say plasmas last longer). I didn't research the longevity issue longer than this 1 article though, so there could be other arguments to be made.

Plasma Pros:
1. Better picture quality
2. Better picture quality (deserves 2 mentions)
3. 2/3 to 1/2 the cost of comparable LED's
4. 600hz vs "digitized" 120hz (600 is better for sports, which is what I mostly watch)
5. Active 3D is better picture quality than passive 3D (again, google "Cnet active vs passive 3d" there are pros & cons for both, but now that you can get $20 active glasses, which was one of the main arguments against active 3d...)

Plasma Cons:
1. There is some glare issues on screens that do not have the "anti-glare" screen. This is a contested issue though, some experts say the anti-glare on the SV50 ruins (mutes) the picture quality. Cnet loves the SV50 and says the extra money is worth it. For me, the UT50 was $699, and cheapest I could find the SV50 was $1099, just didn't feel the $400 was worth it. I have shades in my living room that is otherwise well lit during the day. I work during the day, so weekends if I'm watching a movie, easy to close the curtains. If you can't close curtains, well, LED may be for you (careful though, some LED screens have just as a reflective panel as plasmas, the higher end LG's I was looking at were more reflective than the middle-road ones). I've watched some casual TV with curtains open & yes you can see the glare pretty good, but its not a huge issue, you get used to it. At night, you may have to reposition a lamp so its not directly in line-of-sight reflection-wise (move a little higher or more to the side etc). People that say you have to watch plasmas in "complete darkness" I don't agree with; I have 2 small lamps & my overhead light (which has a dimmer on it so its not too bright) on at night without big problems. Plus, if you wall-mount it'll be downward angled so overhead lights shouldn't matter much.
2. Not idiot proof (but doesn't take a genius not to screw them up either, just don't play 1 video game for 2 weeks straight out of the box)
3. 1" thicker than LED's (if 2.5" vs 1.5" thick is a "huge" deal for you, so be it). There are some thinner plasma's hitting the market as well
4. Slightly heavier (but not much, this Panny is 50lbs, a comparable LED is 34lbs) Most wall mounts will handle 100lbs easy
5. When moving, need to keep them upright (were you really laying your old LCD screen sideways in the back of the moving truck?? NBD)

Its frustrating watching cable TV on this thing, I still see images that are not "perfect" (sometimes its grainy). I don't think I can blame this on the TV though, as Charter cable only sends signals in 1080i, not 1080p (like everyone else I believe). Pretty sure if I put in a Bluray disc or rented a 1080p movie from the marketplace I'd be blown away. I think I'm just being overly critical, looking for any imperfections, my last 40" Samsung LCD 60hz was way worse of an image, but after a few months on it, I didn't even notice.

To be honest, if you are sold on an LED, I'd check out the newer "IPS" LED's that are not "edge lit" (lamps on the edge of the TV). They are more money, but better performance than edge-lit LED's from what I've read. Panny makes this one that you can see on Amazon now for $849: Panasonic VIERA TC-L47ET5 47-Inch 1080p 120Hz 3D Full HD IPS LED-LCD TV with 4 Pairs of Polarized 3D Glasses.

To me, I know I'll be buying a newer TV again in some years, I don't need the "best of the best" I just wanted to keep my costs down while getting near top of the line. The plasmas were the most bang for the buck. The only real reason I was getting rid of my old 40" was because my mother wanted a newer TV, and so thought I'd upgrade mine:) I wanted to keep it cheap, $500-700. I paid $1100 for my old 60hz 40" LCD, and $1500 for my 32" LCD years before that, so $699 for a 50" 3D SmartTV plasma that's considered one of the best bangs for the buck of 2012 by CNET? Yah, that'll work.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 15, 2013 2:36:53 PM PST
You took a lot of time to write this review, so wanted to drop a note that Amazon dropped this TV to $599. If you are within 14 days of this getting shipped, you should be able to claim $100 back.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 15, 2013 4:20:30 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 18, 2013 9:35:17 AM PST
Nbot says:
Doh...this is one time where I didn't get something from Amazon, although with my Prime acct I even usually order my cereal here. I got it at BB b/c it was same price and I didn't want to wait (can't do overnight delivery, perhaps b/c its plasma and they don't trust UPS not to lay it sideways?) not sure. I'll have to hope BB drops price in 30 days, they also price match for 30.

*edit* Ha...2 days later, this TV is $850...$599 was a steal for the lucky few that wiped out Amazon's stock. I wonder if they'll get more, might be time for the 2013 TV's?

Posted on Jan 16, 2013 4:38:35 PM PST
R. Stearns says:
Wow....THANK YOU FOR SUCH A GREAT POST....my daughter purchased this tv yesterday and was so upset with the quality of the picture she was going to take it back today but lucky for us we found your review and all the of your great information. We calibrated the tv as you stated in the post and she is very happy now. It amazes me that the default setting could be so off.
Thanks again

Posted on Jan 16, 2013 5:14:13 PM PST
R. Stearns says:
Wow....THANK YOU FOR SUCH A GREAT POST....my daughter purchased this tv yesterday and was so upset with the quality of the picture she was going to take it back today but lucky for us we found your review and all the of your great information. We calibrated the tv as you stated in the post and she is very happy now. It amazes me that the default setting could be so off.
Thanks again

Posted on Jan 16, 2013 5:14:28 PM PST
R. Stearns says:
Wow....THANK YOU FOR SUCH A GREAT POST....my daughter purchased this tv yesterday and was so upset with the quality of the picture she was going to take it back today but lucky for us we found your review and all the of your great information. We calibrated the tv as you stated in the post and she is very happy now. It amazes me that the default setting could be so off.
Thanks again

Posted on Jan 21, 2013 9:02:28 PM PST
cosmicmes says:
Great post. Greatly appreciated!!! And may your plasma run long ;)

Posted on Jan 23, 2013 12:11:24 PM PST
Wow, if Amazon gives medals for reviews, you deserve one! This was far and away the most informative and thorough review I have ever read on Amazon. Anyhow, your review saved me a bunch of time wading through the esoterica of AVS forum, CNET, etc., re: the best settings, avoiding burn in, etc. Thanks alot. I do have one question: I was surprised and dismayed at how much the dongle costs to facilitate internet access. Are you aware of a cheaper generic alternative to the panasonic adapter? Thanks again.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 23, 2013 12:32:45 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 23, 2013 12:54:19 PM PST
Nbot says:
Hello James, thanks for the compliment...to be honest, I didn't read/see anything about anyone using a generic wireless dongle. You'd think that anything that plugged into a RJ45/ethernet port and wirelessly picked up a signal would work, eh? I don't have anything like this laying around though so not sure how to test that. The only comments I saw in different reviews was about where they found the dongle for cheapest (think I saw $45 mentioned somewhere). Luckily the PO of my house ran CAT5 cable to a bunch of rooms so I didn't need to worry about this.

Now that I'm thinking about it, instead of spending $45-$65 on a dongle, I'd maybe look into one of these "Powerline" adapters that sends your internet signal thru your AC lines. Logitech makes one that's $100, but this ZyXEL brand is $43 for the starter kit, then if you needed/wanted wired internet anywhere else in your house, you could just add another adapter? Something to consider at least (or, say you used the powerline adapter on this TV but your next TV has built-in wifi, you can still use this adapter elsewhere whereas the Panny dongle wouldn't be as valuable to you, unless you were of course selling the TV to someone without internet close by)

ZyXEL PLA407 - $43 on Prime currently: ZyXEL PLA401v3 HomePlug AV 200 Mbps Powerline Wall-plug Adapter (Starter Kit - 2 units)
Logitech's (not sure why you'd pay twice as much, but just for reference, both of these products seem to work well: Logitech HD Powerline 200a Starter Kit for Logitech Revue & Internet-Connected Devices (930-000131)
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