Panasonic Viera TH-50PX70A
- Excellent performance across all modes, Wide array of connection options, Great PC connection performance.
- Some minor noise issues in PC mode and minor over-sharpening at SD and HD resolutions
The Panasonic TH-50PX70A is an excellent all-round high-end Plasma panel that performs well across standard and high definition resolutions.
Price$ 3,629.00 (AUD)
The Panasonic Viera TH-50PX70A is a 50in Plasma display panel with a native resolution of 1366x768. It has a great range of features, including the ability to accept and scale a 1080p signal. During our tests, we found very few problems with this unit that would stop us from recommending it to the average consumer.
We ran gaming tests and a series of HD video tests in 720p mode, in order to gauge the panel's high definition output. Using an Xbox 360, connected to the panel via HDMI, we ran Tony Hawk's Project 8 and BioShock. The panel's results were impressive. Colours were reproduced with precision; its black levels were exceptional, and there was no contrast stepping. We did have to turn down the sharpness, as there was a noticeable level of over-sharpening, which produced a halo effect around objects. Once turned down to the lowest level, this effect was drastically reduced, but it was still present to a minor degree. Thankfully, it wasn't noticeable from a comfortable viewing distance.
We came across a minor level of pixelation on curved edges and diagonal lines in the image. However, this wasn't a major problem and probably won't be noticed by the majority of users. Motion was handled without any major ghosting. There was a slight latency in movement, but it was no more than any other Plasma panels we have reviewed.
The high definition video tests produced similar results. Colour, contrast and motion were handled well and there was no noticeable image noise. Since this unit is capable of scaling 1080i and 1080p images, we ran the same tests at high resolution and once again saw the same results. The level of pixelation increased by a very slight margin, but on the whole, the unit displayed the HD resolution well. Gamers and HD movie enthusiasts will no doubt be impressed with this unit.
Since so many people own DVDs and DVD players, the standard definition performance of a panel is vitally important. We ran movie tests using the The Matrix DVD, and technical tests using Digital Video Essentials.
In the lobby scene from The Matrix, we were pleased to see very few problems with the scaling to 576p. While there were the usual interpolation artefacts and a general lack of definition associated with DVD, there were no excessive noise or interpolation problems. There was a small amount of stepping in background textures and the over-sharpening was a little more noticeable on the edges of clothing. However, there was no discolouration and the motion was handled rather well. These results were mirrored in the Digital Video Essentials tests, where we found very few problems. The only issues worth mentioning are the minor level of noise in high grey levels, during our grey block tests, and a moderate level of pixel fluctuation in cyan, during our colour block and SMPTE bar tests. Based on the results of our DVD movie tests, these problems don't appear to impact on the overall picture quality. When you also consider that the greyscale tests showed no stepping or discolouration, the standard definition capabilities of this panel are quite good overall.
Using DisplayMate Video Edition, we tested the PC connectivity and image quality of the panel. Using the D-Sub port at the highest stable resolution of 1024x768, we ran of series of still-image test patterns to check for any errors at a fundamental level. The desktop and icons were rendered well, with no untoward blemishes. There was no over-sharpening and the colours were excellent. The DisplayMate test results showed noise in mid-to-low grey levels and even in blue and green, but this noise wasn't replicated during regular PC use. There was also minor pixel fluctuation and banding in the vertical resolution tests but this was most likely caused by the interpolation from 1366 lines down to 1024. Plasma panels are notorious for poor PC performance, but we were most impressed with how well the TH-50PX70A handled the signal. If you're looking for a plasma panel that will also work well with a media centre PC, this unit will do the job nicely.
The TH-50PX70A features two HDMI connections, two Component, two S-Video, four composite, optical audio out and a D-Sub port for connection to a PC. Panasonic rates the contrast ratio at 10,000:1 with 3072 Equivalent Steps of Gradation and 28.9 billion colours, a claim which seems in keeping with our test results.
The panel and stand are both black and, unlike many modern TVs, there is a panel on the front of the unit for easy AV port access. On the whole the unit is fairly attractive, although those with children may want to avoid the front port as they could quite easily be destroyed by curious hands. The unit also comes with an integrated HDTV tuner, which worked well in our tests with a relatively short channel seek and set up time.
We quite liked the TH-50PX70A. It performed beautifully across all modes and gave us very little to be concerned about. If you're looking for an excellent all-round high-end panel, you won't be disappointed.
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