See All Plasma TV

Panasonic Viera VT50

*Est. $2,500 to $3,700
Reviewed
October 2012
by ConsumerSearch
Panasonic Viera VT50 Review

Pros
  • Best blacks of any plasma TV
  • Highly accurate colors
  • Excellent features
Cons
  • Costs more than any other same-size plasma TV
  • 3D glasses not included
  • Some ghosting when watching 3D

Bottom Line

If you want the best picture money can buy, look no further than the Panasonic Viera VT50. Although it's very pricey for a plasma set, it's still a bargain compared to equivalent LED TVs and a better performer, as well. There are two screen sizes in the VT50 series, the 55-inch TC-P55VT50 (*Est. $2,500) and the 65-inch TC-P65VT50 (*Est. $3,700).

Performance

The best you can get, at any price. There's no shortage of high praise for the picture quality of the VT50. CNET calls it the best TV since Pioneer's legendary Kuro sets were discontinued, and Sound+Vision magazine concurs. Based on objective and subjective testing, TelevisionInfo.com adds that Panasonic swung for the fences and hit "a home run."

Performance-wise, the VT50 is one exceptional TV. Blacks are extraordinarily deep -- equaled or slightly bested only by the long discontinued Pioneer Elite Kuro plasma sets and Sharp's budget-busting LED-based take on the Elite introduced last year. The contrast ratio is "awe-inspiring," says Sound+Vision. Geoffrey Morrison writes: "Bright parts of any image explode off the screen, while the dark parts sink into infinity. When you watch a letterboxed movie, the black bars disappear into the room. This is the brass ring, folks, the Grail itself." Keep in mind that the VT50 is still a plasma, however, so it won't get quite as bright as a good-performing LED set.

When it comes to colors, accuracy is excellent; the VT50 outperforms virtually every other TV, past and present. Experts who conduct bench tests have a couple of complaints, but each says they're so minor as to not be observable during viewing of program material. CNET compares the VT50 to a host of sets, including the Pioneer Elite Kuro PRO-111FD as a reference, and says the Panasonic is the best set in the room in this regard.

Unlike plasma sets of both years past and current TVs from other makers, Panasonic's higher-end 2012 plasmas do a pretty good job of holding their image quality under bright lights. Black levels are well maintained and reflections, if not eliminated, are well controlled. Viewing angles are excellent, as is screen uniformity.

One non-highlight is 3D performance. It's not bad -- in fact, many call it adequate or better -- but it's not a notable improvement over more pedestrian sets. Ghosting, a typical bugaboo in active-shutter 3D TVs, can be fairly noticeable unless a default picture setting is changed. See the CNET review in Our Sources for details.

Like many plasma TVs, the VT50 consumes a bit of power, certainly more than its LED counterparts. No set in the series is Energy Star qualified.

Features

3D and Internet streaming, too. These are now almost obligatory features in high-end and even midrange sets. We addressed 3D performance above, but it's worth mentioning that if you care at all about 3D, you'll need to spend extra for the glasses because none are included. Panasonic's specs will likely set you back about $50 per pair. Since these TVs are compatible with glasses from other makers, however, options as low as $20 each are available.

Panasonic's Viera Cast streaming platform is fairly robust, with most major and minor Internet content providers available. Performance is better than on some of Panasonic's step-down efforts, most likely thanks to a more powerful processor, CNET says. Wi-Fi and DLNA compatibility for streaming content from a personal computer are also on board.

Panasonic rolls in some advanced picture features targeted toward videophiles, as well. Those who like to play with image settings will find controls to fiddle with to their heart's content, and two hidden Imaging Science Foundation modes make the calibrator's life a bit easier. The set is THX certified, and includes a THX mode that automatically adjusts settings to mimic what you'd see in a THX-certified movie theater. In other sets, THX settings aren't always accurate or adjustable, but reports say the THX modes here are quite good, and can help the viewer get the best 3D picture.

Design

Panasonic's best-looking plasma TV ever. That's the verdict of several reviewers, including CNET and PlasmaTVBuyingGuide.com. A thin bezel with an even thinner sliver of metal is fronted by a pane of glass that goes edge to edge. The stand, however, isn't as well liked. "One flaw is the comparatively cheap-looking two-tone stand…which provides more motivation than usual to simply have your VT50 wall-mounted," says CNET. Connectivity is robust with four HDMI inputs. Panasonic includes a touchpad remote in addition to the standard TV clicker, which can make getting around all of the on-screen menus a little easier.

Value

You knew there had to be a catch. When compared to sets that perform on par or better -- arguably limited to the LED-based Sharp Elite efforts -- the Panasonic Viera VT50 looks like a mighty good bargain. However, many experts say that while the series' picture quality is better than any other plasma TV, the difference is a fairly small step that in many cases carries a substantial price premium. For picture perfectionists, that could be money well spent. For everyone else, it might be better spent elsewhere.

Where To Buy
Black Tilting/Tilt Wall Mount Bracket for Panasonic Viera TH-50PZ80U (TH50PZ80U) 50" Plasma HDTV Television/TV

 
5 New from $34.92

In Stock.

 

Our Sources

1. CNET

Review credibility: Excellent
CNET tests lots of plasma TVs, including the Panasonic Viera TC-P65VT50. Some quibbles are noted and value is questionable, but picture quality is unsurpassed.

Review: Panasonic TC-P65VT50 Review, David Katzmaier, June 5, 2012

2. TelevisionInfo.com

Review credibility: Excellent
The Panasonic TC-P65VT50 is the second highest rated TV of any technology at TelevisionInfo.com. Its image quality and attractive design easily overcome small complaints like 3D performance, leaving price as this set's biggest drawback.

Review: Panasonic Viera TC-P65VT50, Lee Neikirk, June 13, 2012

3. ConsumerReports.org

Review credibility: Excellent
Although the results of testing are described in less detail than at some other sites, ConsumerReports.org conducts its own evaluations and reports on more TVs, including plasmas, than any other review source. Discussion is expanded over what we've seen here previously, and all TVs are rated and ranked.

Review: Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT50, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, Not dated

4. Home Theater Magazine

Review credibility: Excellent
The Panasonic TC-P65VT50 earns a Top Picks rating from Home Theater magazine. Again, picture quality is why, with black level and shadow detail said to approach "reference quality."

Review: Panasonic TC-P65VT50 3D Plasma HDTV, Thomas J. Norton, Aug. 3, 2012

5. Sound & Vision Magazine

Review credibility: Excellent
Contrast is called "awe-inspiring," while color performance is "near-perfect." It's no wonder, then, that the Panasonic TC-P55VT50 earns a Certified & Recommended award here.

Review: Test Report: Panasonic TC-P55VT50 3D Plasma HDTV, Geoffrey Morrison, Sept.18, 2012

6. PlasmaTV Buying Guide.com

Review credibility: Very Good
This site also has very nice things to say about the Panasonic VT50 series. While the authors concede that other sets might be better values or have enhanced features, "Panasonic carries the day" when it comes to picture quality.

Review: Panasonic TC-P55VT50 Review, Jack Burden, Robert Wiley, Not dated

7. Amazon.com

Review credibility: Very Good
More than 60 owners post opinions on the 55-inch Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT50 and 65-inch TC-P65VT50; reviews for both sets are grouped and can be accessed from this page. The overwhelming majority gives it a perfect score, resulting in an overall rating of 4.7 stars out of 5.

Review: Panasonic Viera TC-P65VT50 65-Inch 1080p Full HD 3D Plasma TV, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of October 2012

Plasma TV Runners Up:

Samsung PN51F8500 Est. $1,900

10 picks including: Amazon.com, CNET…

Samsung PN64F8500 Est. $2,800

10 picks including: Amazon.com, CNET…

Panasonic Viera TC-P65ZT60 Est. $3,000

9 picks including: Amazon.com, CNET…

Panasonic Viera TC-P50ST60 Est. $1,500

9 picks including: Amazon.com, CNET…

Panasonic Viera TC-P55ST60 Est. $1,500

9 picks including: Amazon.com, CNET…

Panasonic Viera TC-P65ST60 Est. $1,500

9 picks including: Amazon.com, CNET…

Panasonic Viera TC-P65VT60 Est. $2,300

8 picks by top review sites.

Panasonic Viera TC-P60S60 Est. $700

5 picks including: Amazon.com, CNET…

Panasonic Viera TC-P65S60 Est. $700

5 picks including: Amazon.com, CNET…

Samsung PN51F5500 Est. $850

3 picks by top review sites.

Samsung PN51F5300 Est. $650

3 picks by top review sites.

LG 60PH6700 Est. $1,000

3 picks by top review sites.

LG 50PN6500 Est. $600

2 picks by top review sites.

LG 60PN5300 Est. $700

2 picks by top review sites.

image
Samsung PN51F8500 51-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $2,699.99   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
image
LG Electronics 60PH6700 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz Active 3D Plasma HDTV with Smart TV (Black) (2013 Model)
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $1,599.99   
Average Customer Review:  

Back to top