I'll start with what I liked about the DT50. Let's see now...3D is good for an LCD at this level, which isn't to say it has the crosstalk-free edges of LG's passive system, but it is better than most 2011 active LCDs for crosstalk. Processing is also good with rock-solid 24p support and an excellent ability to banish jaggies from 1080i content.
The negatives far outweigh the positives, however. I'll touch on the black levels in depth shortly, but poor uniformity means that whatever blacks are there are mottled as well. Of our lineup of five TVs, the DT50 had the worst overall picture -- worse than the ultrabudget TCL L40FHDF12TA. Colors are drab, and any attempt to inject life into the pictures with the Color control makes everyone look like they're permanently blushing. (See How we test TVs for more info on our testing process.)
Click the image at the right to see the picture settings used in the review and to read more about how this TV’s picture controls worked during calibration.
|Comparison models (details)|
|TCL L40FHDF12TA||40-inch LCD|
|Sony KDL-55HX750||55 inch edge-lit LCD|
|LG G2||47-inch edge-lit LCD|
|Panasonic TC-P55ST50||55-inch, plasma|
|Samsung UN46D6400||46 inch, LCD|
|Samsung PN59D7000 (reference)||59 inch plasma|
Simply put, the Panasonic DT50 had the lightest blacks in our lineup, which made its image look more washed out and lifeless in comparison. It suffers a lack of contrast so whites don't pop the way they do on competing TVs like the Sony HX750. Sure, you can engage the Dark black level control to give the illusion of deeper blacks, but this will only serve to crush them further and make the picture dimmer. I would personally opt for shadow detail over fake blacks any time.
Properly adjusted, there was very little shadow detail on the Panasonic, just an ashen mush that leaves three-dimensional objects -- with light and shade and shape -- looking almost like shadow puppets. On the other hand, the AI Picture setting does go some way toward enhancing shadow detail, but it does so unnaturally in comparison with our test TVs. It makes objects look even lighter than they really are.
A lack of fine color control means you get what the TV gives you out of the box, and this is not much. The color response is a seesaw with the heaviest color at one end being blue (blue shadows) and the lighter color dangling at the top being red (rosy skin tones). I experimented with the color control between a value of 44 (which looked the most natural) and 57 (which made the response graphs pretty, but the picture looked weird) and decided ultimately to leave it at the original. When viewed against a better TV such as the ST50, the LCD's lack of saturation is instantly noticeable. Color response is simply another thing this TV does poorly.
For a long time Panasonic lagged against competitors such as Sony in terms of video processing capabilities with jaggies and judder commonplace. About two years ago Panasonic caught up, and the DT50 at least bears this hallmark. On our 24p test the TV was able to smoothly replay a flyby of an aircraft carrier, and 1080i film playback was also finely resolved.
Uniformity is another area where this edge-lit TV falls apart, with large blotches across the right-hand side on the model I received. It may not have had the oil-slick appearance of the LG G2 but it was definitely more noticeable on the majority of content. At a preview some months ago Panasonic claimed the viewing angle of the DT50 was very wide and with the bright demo screens it was. But with normal, non-glaring colors the viewing angle is no better than most other TVs of its type with de-saturated blacks when viewed from the side.
The DT50 has a glossy coating, which is a trick usually employed on LCD screens to preserve black levels when seen under lights. But the gloss has a side effect: you can see yourself reflected in it during a dark scene. For brighter rooms we'd pick a TV that has a more matte finish, such as the HX750.
That the Panasonic DT50 performs better than the ST50 in 3D mode is the only surprise here. Throw on a pair of (optional) 3D glasses and the DT50 displays considerably less crosstalk than either the ST50 or the Sony HX750. The lack of black levels did mean that the image wasn't as believeable as that on the LG G2 or Samsung 6400, though. The extra cost of Panasonic's glasses is also an inhibiting factor.
|Black luminance (0%)||0.2397||Poor|
|Near-black x/y (5%)||0.2695/0.2723||Poor|
|Dark gray x/y (20%)||0.3058/0.3192||Poor|
|Bright gray x/y (70%)||0.315/0.3325||Average|
|Before avg. color temp.||6423.1051||Good|
|After avg. color temp.||6424.25||Good|
|Red lum. error (de94_L)||12.719||Poor|
|Green lum. error (de94_L)||6.6127||Poor|
|Blue lum. error (de94_L)||9.174||Poor|
|Cyan hue x/y||0.2262/0.3147||Average|
|Magenta hue x/y||0.3024/0.1516||Poor|
|Yellow hue x/y||0.4331/0.5065||Average|
|1080p/24 Cadence (IAL)||Pass||Poor|
|1080i Deinterlacing (film)||Pass||Good|
|Motion resolution (max)||1200||Good|
|Motion resolution (dejudder off)||350||Poor|
|PC input resolution (VGA)||1,920x1,080||Good|
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