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Panasonic TH-50PZ750U 50" 1080p Plasma Television Tests and Calibration

Tests and Calibration

You can't calibrate each color temperature option separately for each input, so I calibrated the Warm setting to the correct D6500 values for HDMI and the Normal setting to D6500 for component. While the calibration wasn't the easiest or most painless I've ever performed (the measurements sometimes changed when I dropped out of the service menu, requiring cut and try interpolating) I ultimately arrived at a good result (see chart).

The warm setting, which was the best pre-calibration selection, had an excess of green. After calibration, the result was very close to the target D6500 white point but a little less so than the best we have measured. It was, however, still within 0.005 of the correct x/y coordinates at every measured point from 20IRE to 100IRE.

The set's resolution on multiburst patterns was good, but not the most flawless I've seen. In HDMI, the 1080i luminance response held up well to the highest frequency, burst at 37.1MHz, though it was a little uneven at that frequency. The 720p HDMI response was similar. In component, the 1080i response was down just a little at the maximum frequency, and while the 720p resolution was excellent to 18.5MHz, the resolution lines were nearly gone by 37.1MHz.

The Panasonic's black level and peak contrast ratio, however, were the best I've yet measured on a flat panel display. The peak contrast ratio, taken by using a 100IRE white window for the peak white reading, measured 2,041:1 (36.74fL peak white and 0.018fL video black).

I also measured the peak contrast in the more conventional way, by using a full screen 100IRE white field (rather than a window). In this situation, the peak output measured about half of the above, which still resulted in a peak contrast ratio of 1,024:1. And these numbers were conservative; I could have pushed the white level a little harder before it clipped, but opted for a level that produced the most watchable image in a room with very dim (or no) ambient lighting—the arrangement I prefer for movie watching.

(All plasmas put out a higher peak white level with a window pattern than with a full white field, due to power supply limitations. This is a major reason why LCD displays are usually brighter than plasmas—often too bright, in my opinion. The window pattern is probably closer to real program material than a full-screen peak white, but a window pattern measurement can't be directly compared to the peak contrast measured in displays like LCDs and DLPs, whose full screen and window pattern brightness levels are nearly the same.)

Just as a comparison, here is a summary of the black levels, white levels, and peak contrast results I obtained on the Panasonic compared to those we've measured in other recent plasma reviews:

Panasonic TH-50PZ750U
Window: 2041:1 (36.7fL/0.018fL
Full Screen: 1024:1 (18.44fL/0.018fL)

HP PL5060N
Window: 580:1 (40.05fL/0.069fL
Full Screen: 283:1 (19.51fL/0.069fL)

Vizio P42
Window: 1260:1 (71.8fL/0.057fL
Full Screen: 496:1 (28.3fL/0.057fL)

Pioneer Elite PRO-1130HD
Window: 1532:1 (52.1fL/0.034fL)
Full Screen: 539:1 (18.3fL/0.034fL)

Pioneer Elite PRO-940HD
Window: 1568:1 (64.27fL/0.041fL)
Full Screen: 561:1 (22.99fL/0.041fL)

The Panasonic's overscan averaged about 2.5% in both HDMI and component, at all resolutions apart from 480i. (480i is unusable in HDMI on this set. While it will display an image, it is not properly scaled and proportioned.)

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