Top positive review
308 people found this helpful
Staggeringly good picture
on April 8, 2012
UPDATE - September 29, 2012
So, it's been a few months since I wrote my initial review of the GT50 and I wanted to give another update.
Overall, the set is working great. I have not gotten it professionally calibrated, I want to do that next month, but the picture still looks fantastic, both for 2D and 3D content ("The Avengers" looks amazing!). Interestingly, I find myself using the THX-Cinema settings just as often, if not more often, than the custom settings I had generated using the various calibration discs. That may be more out of laziness than anything else, to be honest.
A few things:
1 - If you have a lamp or a window in your room that you think will reflect on the screen, be aware that the anti-glare coating will not cut it during the day. You'll need heavy drapes for the day and use a dimmer or just turn off the lamp at night. It can be distracting.
2 - My biggest frustration is that I am noticing some degree of line bleed, which I guess is a problem with plasmas in general -- I noticed it with my old Samsung but find myself noticing it a lot more with the GT50. I am very frustrated to have to report this to you all and I am going to see what I can do about it, if anything -- again, this is something that happens on all plasmas, apparently, I just wanted to make sure you all knew that I was finding it somewhat distracting.
(Line bleeding is when a "ghost" version of another element on a screen actually appears on part of the screen where where it shouldn't -- for example, a character's face might be in front of a window sill -- the "ghost" of the sill continues across the character's face. There is some discussion of line bleed on the GT50 here:[...] )
I am not going to change my star rating for my review based on what I am perceiving as a limitation of the technology (as opposed to the set) but it's something to keep in mind. I will be doing some research to see what, if anything, I can do to address the situation and let you know what happens.
Finally, I have received a few email inquiring which kind of TV stand I have (in the pictures section). I got the stand in 2007 from IKEA -- sadly, I do not think they make it anymore. It's a pity, it's kind of a perfect TV stand.
After six years, it was time to replace my aging 42" Samsung plasma (during which a circuit board died, which ended up requiring an all new screen to be installed--thank goodness I had the extended warranty). At first, I went with the UN55D8000, which was a good looking set, granted, but just didn't have the picture quality I wanted, so I ended up returning that less than a week after it arrived. Then I heard about the new Panasonic models coming out, and realized that the GT50 looked like a promising candidate.
I have had the TV for less than a week, and there is no way I am returning this incredible plasma television. I will share some initial thoughts (and have submitted photos as well), and will update my comments later as a kind of progress report.
If you care about picture quality and don't feel like waiting for the VT, look no further. This set has one of the best pictures out of the box I have ever seen, with deep, silky blacks and vibrant (not never overly so) colors. My "go-to" test for black levels is the first scene of Episode 9 of the first season of "Game of Thrones," which takes place entirely in the shadows. Quite frankly, I didn't know blu-ray could look so good. The details in the bricks and the clothing, all illuminated by a flickering torch, were astounding. There was a real sense of depth and clarity, even with this very dark scene--incredible. I dialed in my own settings using the Spears and Munsil disc, but the settings included in the THX- Cinema mode worked really well and are a great starting point.
The color controls for this TV are very extensive, and I think a professional calibrator could really make this set sing. I will get a real calibration done in a month and let you know how it goes. Suffice to say, once I dialed in the proper brightness and contrast and turned pretty much everything else off (and making sure to turn the "panel brightness" to low)--the set was great.
I watched "Tron" in 3D using the Oppo BDP-93, and was very impressed with the 3D and the clarity of the picture. I don't have a lot of 3D content, so I will make sure to add more comments once I see more films. The glasses, which are not cheap, are light and quite comfortable, though it's annoying you are supposed to charge them via the TV--when the TV is on. It would be nice if they came with little carrying cases or bags, but no such luck.
I have DirecTV and the 1080i picture looks fantastic, as does the AppleTV's 1080p. It is with Blu-ray, however, that this set really feels most at home. I cannot overstate how rich the contrast is; my wife continues to comment on how much she notices the better picture, which is a great sign!
I have this plugged into my sound system, so I haven't even heard the speakers, really, so I can't comment on the sound quality.
As I illustrate in the pictures, the HDMI ports are very close to the side of the cabinet, so if you have thicker HDMI cables, you really need to coax them, gently, down the side so they don't poke out behind the set. I have a set of Bluejeans cables, which work just fine, but my Better Cables HDMI is definitely very close to the edge. Speaking of cables, while the set does come with a cable stay, there is only 1 (though there are four places to put it)--Panasonic really needs to included another.
The bezel is very thin and the set is not that much thicker than the Samsung LCD I had just a few weeks ago. I really like how it looks in the room. The screen swivels about 10° either direction, which is nice. It's also much lighter than I thought it would be; I was able to put the stand on and lift it into place by myself (though, clearly, you should have someone help you--I was just excited).
This is a really great set. I haven't seen the ST50, but I can't help but feel that the extra 24,000 shades of grey really push this TV to a higher level of picture quality. I am extremely, extremely pleased so far, and I am looking forward to putting it through its paces--and will let you know how it goes!
I started playing with the Internet Apps last night and wanted to add a few notes:
1 - Every time I press "Viera Tools" or "Internet" I am kind of shocked how fast the interface comes up. This is, by far, the fastest interface I have ever used, thanks to the dual processor. It's so fast that you start to get the feeling that you might actually USE the Internet on this thing!
2 - Panasonic does have a web browser (App Store:LifeStyle) but it's a pain to download (you have to enter in your credit card information even though the application is free); I just wish it was included. I am going to fill out my credentials on the vieracast website because it's kind of annoying to enter in the data using the remote.
3 - The YouTube interface is actually pretty nice. The text is displayed larger than on the AppleTV and you can sort by HD Content only, which the AppleTV does NOT let you do--so that's very cool.
4 - I still need to check out Netflix, Hulu +, Vudu and other applications. The GT50 offers a very comprehensive assortment of online services and, like I said, it's very easy and intuitive to get to.
1 - Clicking on Viera Tools brings up a toolbar on the lower part of the screen from which you can access various items:
- 3D options
- THX options - basically, switch from THX Cinema to THX Bright Room and one other THX mode. Pretty good for testing out your custom settings with the THX ones.
- Viera Connect - pretty much the same as pressing the "Internet" button on the remote
- Media Player
- DLNA - wasn't applicable to my system
- Viera Link - not really sure what the difference is between Viera Connect and Viera Link; I will check it out and update this post
- Eco - adjusts the auto-brightness features
- eHelp - access to the 208 page manual via a specialized interface
2 - There IS an iOS app (and I would assume an Android App) that can take the place of the supplied remote control. Useful, I guess, for Harmony users who may need specialized controls from time to time. This seemed to work well for the most part but I have some thoughts:
- The app makes ridiculous sounds when using the remote. You can turn the sounds off. Really silly.
- The trackpad controls are the default screen, but you cannot control the TV with them. You need to swipe to another pane to get to the arrow keys to navigate the menus. This was confusing at first and then just kind of irritating, because you have to go to one page to call up "Options" then swipe to another page to interact with the options.
- The reason why I gave up entering my credentials to get the web browser was because the keyboard on the iOS app was NOT sending text to the TV. This is clearly a bug, but once it is fixed, this will work like the AppleTV, where you can use your iOS device to type into the TV, which is obviously much better than using the remote. Lame it's not working for me, though.
- There is an iPad specific app which I have looked at but I haven't used with the TV (I don't know if it consolidate the various panes, will update).
So, I dunno how important these services and Internet features are to you. I really like my AppleTV, so I already have most of them, but am curious to see Vudu's video quality and check out how Dolby Digital Plus sounds--I hope it works the Toslink output. I personally will be using my iPad or Phone to deal with Facebook, twitter, etc -- even though image retention and burn-in are much less likely to be a problem on modern plasmas, I don't really feel like tempting fate with having a static web browser interface on the screen while I am surfing the web.
hope this update helps!
4/15/23 Quick update
Tried the 3D. Here's what I got:
1 - 2D-3D conversion was nothing to write home about. I didn't know if it was working half the time. Maybe I did something wrong, but it just gave me a headache.
2 - Straight up 3D is awesome. Watched beginning of Hugo and found it hard to press "Stop". If you are into the 3D, you MAY want to get the 55" for a more immersive experience, but the 50" was fantastic, regardless. I still think the glasses make your eyes get tired, but still--the depth is really great, and the sense of immersion with "floaty-bits" was really top notch, at least in "Hugo". Look, 3D might look brighter on the LED/LCD set I had before, but there was a sense of depth here that I felt lacking in the Samsung I tried out.
3 - I have a few "THX" Blu-rays. I watched them in "THX Cinema" mode and they looked awesome. Maybe THX is not necessarily just hype?
4 - Demo'ed the streaming services. Vudu's HDX format is no joke--it looks incredible, close (from my viewing distance) to Blu-ray, totally. HOWEVER, I could not get Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 (which is supposed to sound GREAT) output from the Toslink output on the TV. I am pretty sure DD+ requires HDMI, so that explains it. Still, DD+ includes the DD 5.1 mix and that sounded great. I was really impressed with the Vudo service and I think I will use it. Amazon and Netflix both looked great as well. I still like the AppleTV UI, but this ain't half bad.
Note: I talked to someone on the Panasonic "Raise the Bar" tour and she acknowledged that the iOS remote control app had some issues (the Android one is supposed to work fine) and that my problem (the keyboard not working) was going to be fixed soon. It was kind of cool that she knew about that.
Finally, I put up some new photos showing a few off-axis viewing examples, a bird's eye view of the swivel angle, and some shots showing Vudu and Amazon content.