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2012 Panasonic VIERA TC-P50ST50 Review

I've been viewing our ST50 for the past few days I have not noticed any green blobs or fluctuating brightness. I've enjoyed watching this TV with quite a bit of varied content, DIRECTV, BD, and lots of streaming. Today I invited my very good friend Ed Johnson to do the calibration and take all of the measurements.

Pre-Calibration, in the Custom mode we made one small adjustment to set the color temperature to "Warm 2" and the gamma was 2.1 and pretty flat with a slight bump at 90 IRE and the color temperature was 6874K, not bad for one small adjustment, however MLL, color accuracy was not great before calibration. To the eye with BD content color saturation was good.

Post-Calibration this baby peaked its performance very nicely. I'm so happy to say we achieved a solid 2.2 gamma and as flat as a pancake across all IREs. With the contrast properly adjusted to 80 we measured the peak luminance *44fl without clipping! Bravo Panasonic Japan! With the dynamic contrast white clipping chart we could barely see the 250 scale, which is very good. And the MLL measured *.0047fl, also very good.

Download File: View attachment ST50_Calibration_Day_Mode_40fL.pdf

Then we generated the ANSI 16 square checkerboard and calculated ANSI contrast ratio of 5350 : 1.

*With the ANSI checker board peak luminance measured 29.4fl, .005fl mll. W/pdp a drop in luminance and black level is normal

Color temperature was a near perfect 6549K.

Quick review and statistics: Panasonic's TC-P50ST50 has very good overall picture quality. After calibration we measured the black level at .0047fl and peak luminance is improved this year. We were able to calibrate our first ST50 to 44fl with no clipping. Color accuracy and color saturation is above average. The built-in video processing is effective with all content.

Panasonic did a good job in redesigning the 2012 ST50 compared to the 2011 ST30 series. In particular, I like the increased brightness, built-in Wi Fi and web browser. Another design change this year is the detachable power cord! I have been very vocal about this with Panasonic engineering and management in all of my discussions so I'm glad to see them follow some of my suggestions.

The second generation louver filter is nicely improved so the black level is maintained slightly better this year when the room lights are on so the contrast ratio is acceptable, which is a welcome improvement over previous plasma generations.

1080p/24 Blu-ray sources delivers a beautiful picture. The ST50 exhibited excellent screen uniformity. Thankfully this year Panasonic's UT50/ST50/GT50/VT50 features integrated Wi Fi and all VIERA Smart series TVs come with web browsers. I love the Internet suite of apps and the easy to navigate GUI makes the apps easy to access and use.

Refresh rate is selectable in 48Hz or 60Hz, but again this year the ST50 did not perform well at 48Hz as the judder (flickering) was too much to handle so again I suggest using 60Hz for all content. The 3:2 pull down works well so even BD 1080p 24 looks stable and clean at 60Hz.

I can't say this enough... a flat 2.2 gamma looks absolutely stunning when viewed in a super high contrast display. Simply as near picture perfect as possible and dramatically stunning. A large pure dynamic tonal range is what videophile's dream for.

I can easily predict excellent 3D. And tons of Internet usage.

Here's what I did not like: The ST50 design is not as modern and sleek as Samsung's, LG's plasma TVs or the ST50's big brother GT50 and VT50 series. The ST50 has fewer picture controls than the competition and doesn't include 3D glasses. My other complaint is that you can't properly set-up a day-time and night-time modes as only the Custom mode has enough settings to peak the contrast ratio performance. The VT50 will solve this by offering ISF day and ISf night modes and give us 10 point settings.

In the Custom mode you have the most settings available, but they are limited to; gray scale control you only have two point adjustments RGB high or Low, gamma are 1.8, 2.2, 2.4, 2.6 and S curve, we selected 2.6 and ended up with a flat 2.2. Although the color points are close I would like to see a color management system on the ST50 and GT50. However another nice upgrade this year is the three-step Motion Smoother de-judder control. Last year they only had two levels of Motion smoother adjustment. While we're on design upgrades; kudos for giving us a swivel pedestal stand.

Available connections are less than I would like. For video they left out VGA and only 3 HDMI inputs. The optical Tos Link output unfortunately limits the surround sound to 2 channel audio. Two USB and one SD card slot are located on the rear left side.

Finally, although priced well, Samsung and LG still offers more features at even a lower price tag.

Regardless of the reliability of this review I'm anxious to do our Shoot-out so we can compare all of the panels next to each-other and determine who truly makes the best display. Mid April we're doing a mini pdp 2012 Shoot-out event with Samsung's E8000 series, Panasonic's GT50 and LG's PM9700. Let the games begin!

Hope you enjoyed my review. Any questions or comments?

Please use the 2012 Panasonic VIERA TC-P50ST50 Review Discussion Thread for questions and comments.

-Robert

Calibration Images:

ST50_Calibration_1.jpg ST50_Calibration_2.jpg

ST50_Calibration_3.jpg ST50_Calibration_4.jpg
 
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