Pros Picture quality for mid-range set is great
Motion is extremely quick and smooth
Black levels are very good
Viewing angle on the ST50 is superb
Remote has been improved, backlit and buttons feel good
Very easy and simple set up
TV stand is sturdy.
Cons Only 3 HDMI Ports.
Summary So far, it looks like Panasonic has really nailed their plasmas for 2012. After seeing the glowing reviews and checking it out in store, I recommended the ST50 to a family member and they purchased the 55" model the next day. After seeing and calibrating this set, I have great hopes that the VT50 will finally equal the Kuro Elites from 4 years ago. I agree with other reviews that this set is just as good as the flagship VT30 from 2011 and I can also say it matches or even exceeds my Kuro 5020 from 2008.
First off, the styling of the Pannys this year has greatly improved. Except for the flagship, they had always had kind of a `homely' design but that has changed. For the ST50, they have added transparent plastic around the angled black bezel that slightly resembles Samsung plasmas from years past. The set is nice and thin at 1.8" and has a very modern looking silver stand. Overall I really like the appearance even though I'll bet it will not be quite as slick as some competitors. The remote has also been improved a bit and I like it. It is backlit and the buttons feel good while being nicely sized, but for some reason not all the buttons are lit. That is a drawback but really, very people actually use the TV remote for anything other than settings.
One big improvement was the screen filter. This set is in a room that has quite a bit of daylight and the ST50 preserved blacks quite nicely with just a little washout and subdued reflections nicely, even when at extreme angles. It also handles night reflections from lights very well for a plasma. Apparently this set has a `louvre-type' filter that helps block reflections from above, and it is quite effective.
As with Panasonic plasmas from years past, this model lacks the 96 Hz refresh rate to properly handle 1080p/24, but for the vast majority of users this is no problem. This set still handles movies very well and I did not see any artifacts. If you don't know what I'm talking about here, you will not miss this feature. Blu-rays are absolutely gorgeous on this set and upscaled dvd's are not far behind.
The ST50 has active 3D, but does not come with glasses. However, it does support the new universal standard which means more glasses should work this set. One pair of glasses was purchased so I briefly tested out the 3D with Bolt. I'm not too fond of 3D, but the quality was very good and there was minimal crosstalk. I haven't watched too much 3D, but this set was really no worse or better than any others I've seen and perhaps it was just my lack of active 3D experience, but this one didn't seem to darken the image as much as others.
The VieraCast `Smart TV' remains highly unchanged from last year. Overall it's easy to use and you can adjust items' locations, but occasionally it can be a bit slow to navigate. Not a big deal, but something to be aware of. The selection is good with the usual ones: Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Vudu, YouTube, Skype, Facebook and many others. Besides the typical ones, there are many more available in the Market where you can browse while still seeing what you were watching. I believe there is a web browser also, but I haven't tried that yet. I will update the review once I get to checking that out.
This set has 3 HDMI inputs which should be fine, but if for some reason you have more than 4 HDMI devices and don't use a receiver it's something you should be aware of. The GT50 adds a 4th input. It also uses breakout cables for composite and component input due to the thinness of the set, and has 2 usb ports and a SD card slot which has always been a nice feature on the Panasonics.
The picture setting options remain like they have in the past. You get the basic settings with Cinema having the most accurate default settings and all the other worthless ones (no THX on the ST50). One thing to note is that there is a motion smoother setting set to on by default. I would recommend turning this and other worthless options like black extension off for the best quality, as when on they can cause some funkiness. The Custom option offers a few more `Pro settings' with some gamma presets and a 2-point grayscale control. Using this and the Cnet settings as a starting point, I was able to tweak the set to an excellent picture.
The quality of the ST50's picture for a mid-range set is great. The black levels are very good and on par with my Kuro 5020 from 2008. The letterbox bars, while still visible on dark scenes will blend into the bezel on bright scenes. The Elites: the 08 Kuro and last year's Sharp, will still best the blacks on this set, but not my much. That gap has shrunk significantly with these 2012 Panasonics. The shadow detail was excellent on this set as I did not witness any black crush within the dark scenes. There are some night scenes in Band of Brothers I use to test shadow detail and contrast and the ST50 performed great.
Panasonic also finally eliminated that green push that has tainted their non-flagship models for the past few years. Using the HD Essentials BR and the redhead scene, she looked incredibly natural with no reddish hue. For not having a CMS, I was very impressed with the color accuracy of the ST50. Nature scenes appear natural and flesh tones are almost spot on - not perfect but darn close.
As with all plasmas, the viewing angle on the ST50 is superb. You can literally be looking at this screen from the side and still see the picture as bright and natural as being straight on. This is still the one area where LCD's aren't even close to being on the same playing field as plasmas.
The set does run warm, but not quite as bad as years passed. Even though they will never match LCDs, they keep on improving the energy efficiency of these plasmas. As far as buzzing, this has the one of the lowest buzz levels of plasmas I've heard. Usually in dead silence you can hear the buzz quite clearly, but on the ST50 you can only hear it if you're looking for it.
Everything thrown at this set has looked great. Several Blu-rays, quality HD programming on Smithsonian and HDNET, PS3 games and upscaled dvds. Of course even though most cable/satellite channels are very poor quality, the `flaws' on these channels didn't seem as pronounced on this set and actually looked halfways decent.
As with all flat screens, the audio quality is nothing to write home about but I would say the quality on this one is better than most. If you just want to just hear the audio, the built-in speakers will suffice as the volume can go quite loud and the dialogue is clear. Obviously for the best experience, a separate sound system will be best.
Value and Overall Thoughts
I think the ST50 is a superb value. Even at the retail price it is a good value and this will only keep improving as prices drop. I can't say how it compares to the GT50, but I'm guessing there won't be too much difference between these set's PQ, if any at all yet the GT50 runs several hundred more. It will probably lag behind the flagship VT50, but will also be about half the price of that set.
As I and the owners use this set more, I will report back with any more issues that may come up or further feedback on the set. With all that, I can say with confidence that this may be the best performance-to-value set of 2012. There is very little not to like with this set and overall, it is a superb display for anyone but the pickiest of videophiles.
Oh!, for best deal of this pany, I suggest you have to check before you buy it at: 3dplasmatv2012.wordpress.com/panasonic-tc-p55st50/
I highly recommend the ST50.
Pros Very good picture quality and color accuracy and viewing angle. It Produces some of the best black that I see so far. I highly recommend you get this if you plan to watch movies during nighttime.
Cons The screen have glare if you watching it at during daytime which is kind of annoying. The sound quality not as good as home theater system.
Summary I am an electronic sales and I say this is a excellent HDTV choice if you like to watch movies during nighttime. I also recommend you to check out http://www.squidoo.com/best-hdtv for information on what best HDTV to get this year.
Pros Black levels are AMAZING
Excellent color quality and features
Lots of picture customization options
Viera Link lets you control Home Theatre audio with one remote
Good web browser
Easy to use App interface
Cons Not a whole lot of smart-tv apps, but the list is growing
Summary I waited about a month before writing a review so that I can get a good feel of the TV. I got the 50" and mounted it on the wall. I use it primarily for gaming on the XBOX360, watching Netflix and occasionally using other smart-tv apps (youtube, browser, etc). Out of the box the picture was good but screen was a bit dark. After applying the customized settings from this site, the picture is amazing. It really stands out when I play xbox or watch HD movies on Netflix. The TV is easy to use and the remote is very decent.
The stock TV speakers are enough for regular TV watching or even netflix however I found it wasn't quite enough for gaming. I ended up getting a panasonic soundbar+subwoofer and was quite satisfied. I connected it via ARC and I didn't have to use the small remote that came with it because it supports Viera Link. That means I can use the TV remote to automatically control the soundbar/subwoofer.
Overall, the TV is excellent for the price and out-performs many other more expensive plasmas.
I would especially recommend it for hard core console gamers (although you'd want to get a second sound source) who don't want to spend the money on the VT50.
"Awesome TV"on by ruzzal
Pros PQ, Styling, built in wireless for Web Apps, Panasonic reliability
Cons none that I can find
Summary Great TV, had GT30, was OK, but was not supper happy with the PQ, traded for this this and it is great. Third Panny and no problems with any of them. Best PQ,reliability and value out there.
Pros Great Picture
Love the smart part of the tv
Cons Actually none yet.
Summary I have been very pleased with this tv. The smart apps/features are amazing and easy to use. If you use Pandora, Netflix, Hulu,; you need to have a smart tv, and the price for this model (I actually got the 50"), you can't lose.
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