Panasonic has a reputation for producing high-quality plasma televisions, and with its newest models the company has only strengthened this. The new lineup has single-handedly changed the level of quality we now expect from entry-level televisions. The Panasonic TC-P55ST50 is a barnstormer that has redefined the picture quality/value equation, and the TC-P50UT50 is very close behind it. The UT50 is positioned as the value option and misses a couple of features the ST50 has, but it boasts picture quality that's almost as impressive.
So what's missing on the UT50? Two main things: the UT50 doesn't have the ST50's louver filter and so isn't as talented when the lights are on; and it only has three video inputs in total, including two HDMI ports, so if you have lots of outboard gear you may need to trade up to the ST50.
Black levels on the UT50 are the same as the VT30's were when it came out 12 months ago, which is almost unbelievable in such a cheap TV, and while the lack of color controls gives little wiggle room, the picture is still bright and colorful.
Which should you choose between the UT50 and ST50? Do you watch TV with the lights off all the time? I don't, and you probably don't, either, but you might find a $300 savings could be enough incentive to put up with the UT50's slightly reduced picture quality in a lit room. We'd still give the nod to the ST50 since it doesn't require you to pull the shades, but on its own merits the UT50 is an excellent TV.
May 3, 2012 3:41 PM PDT
Photo by: Sarah Tew/CNET
| Caption by: Ty Pendlebury
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