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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 03, 2011 0 comments
Price: $1,100 At A Glance: Bright, pleasing picture • Crisp detail • Poor contrast • Highly reflective screen

We’re reasonably certain that most folks looking for a budget HDTV probably aren’t poring through the pages of enthusiast publications like Home Theater for advice. If they’re researching at all, they’re studying the easy-to-digest bubble ratings in Consumer Reports or Which Video, or Googling generic consumer-help Websites.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Aug 11, 2009 0 comments
This review is part of a five-way Face Off. Read the introduction and conclusions of the Face Off here.

Price: $1,300 At A Glance: Excellent blacks and shadow detail • Superb off-axis performance • Performs best in subdued lighting

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jun 28, 2010 0 comments
toppick.jpgPrice: $1,500 At A Glance: Superb resolution • Accurate color in THX mode • Black level disappoints, but still solid • 2D only

Price and Performance

LCDs are now soaking up a larger and larger percentage of the market, and it’s been hard slogging for plasma displays. But that doesn’t faze Panasonic. As the sole remaining major Japanese plasma manufacturer, it offers a huge range of models. Yes, Panasonic also does LCDs, but only in smaller sizes. If you see a Panasonic HDTV that’s 46 inches or larger, it will be a plasma.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 16, 2011 2 comments
Price: $2,100 (3D glasses: $150/pair) At A Glance: THX certified for 2D • Accurate color and superb resolution • Near reference-level blacks and shadow detail

Deep Impact

Plasmas have gotten a bum rap in the market for all sorts of nutty reasons. They break when shaken? No, not unless you’re talking about dropping them off the delivery truck, or them falling off the wall in an 8.0 trembler. In either case, you can kiss any flat-panel set goodbye. They leak plasma gas and need to be recharged frequently? A big-box retailer reportedly started this rumor several years ago, apparently in an effort to sell a special power conditioner that was said to eliminate the need for regular plasma transfusions.

Scott Wilkinson Posted: Nov 28, 2011 1 comments

Price: $1000 At A Glance: Beautiful color • Sharp detail • Reasonably good blacks • Outstanding value

Panasonic is well known for its high-quality, high-value plasma TVs, but how good can its $1000 50-incher be? Really good, as it turns out. The TC-P50S30 offers nearly identical performance to the highly rated TC-P50ST30—the only real difference is that the S30 has no 3D capabilities. If you're looking for a 50-inch flat panel with only $1000 to spend, look no farther.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Jul 19, 2010 0 comments
toppick.jpgPrice: $2,600 At A Glance: Precise color gamut in THX mode • Near reference black level • Sparkling 3D—and 2D—performance

Walking the 3D Talk

You might think that reviewing—and reading about—one flat panel after another would get boring, if not downright numbing. And it would, if the technology were static. Fee-fie-ho-hum, a new flat panel joins the scrum.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 07, 2009 0 comments
Price: $2,700 At A Glance: Best blacks yet from Panasonic • THX certified • Excellent value • Superb off-axis performance

Plasma Brings the Juice

For many reasons, not the least of which is the sheer brightness that grabs eyeballs on the showroom floor, LCD HDTVs now outsell plasmas by a significant margin.

Rob Sabin Posted: May 24, 2013 13 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Price: $1,699 At A Glance: Top-tier black levels and color accuracy • So-so 3D • World-class value

Last year, the number-one TV I recommended to friends, family, and anyone else who would listen was Panasonic’s ST50 series plasma. Although a serious enthusiast might have appreciated the superior black levels and more extensive picture controls of the company’s then top-line VT models, 2012’s ST50, like the ST30 models of the year before, delivered most of the VT’s performance and easily beat out all but the most expensive LED LCDs. It was simply an incredible value and was recognized as such in Home Theater’s Top Picks of the Year.

Geoffrey Morrison Posted: Sep 20, 2011 0 comments

For a time, there was Kuro, and Kuro was king. Kuro made other TVs envious of its awesomeness. Then. . . there was no Kuro. TV reviewers wept; everyone else bought LCDs. Under-intelligenced “pundits” foretold the end of plasma TVs — but Panasonic, Samsung, and LG quietly coughed and politely said, “Umm, we still make plasmas.”

Al Griffin Posted: Dec 28, 2011 0 comments

Much of the R&D effort for Panasonic’s TVs gets funneled into plasma technology — with excellent results. (Check out the TC-P55VT30 in our Editors’ Choice Awards here.) But as we found out this time last year upon reviewing the company’s TC-L42D2, it also makes sets of the LCD persuasion. Quite a few of them, in fact.

Al Griffin Posted: Sep 20, 2011 0 comments

While Panasonic plasmas traditionally excel on the picture-quality front, they’ve lagged a bit behind other flat-panel TVs when it comes to style. Take last year’s VT25 series. The picture on those sets was hard to fault (the 50-incher we reviewed won our 2010 Video Product of the Year award), but when positioned alongside new, ultra-slim plasmas from companies like Samsung, the Panasonic’s 3-inch panel depth and thick gloss-black bezel rendered it caveman-like by comparison.

Al Griffin Posted: Aug 29, 2011 0 comments

While 3D movies haven’t totally taken over the multiplex, the format remains a force to be reckoned with. Michael Bay just released a new Transformers installment in 3D (Transformers: Dark of the Moon), James Cameron is at work on Avatar sequels, and the entire Star Wars saga is being formatted for 3D release.

Al Griffin Posted: Nov 01, 2013 5 comments
2D Performance
3D Performance
PRICE $9,000

Exceptional contrast
Bright, crosstalk-free 3D
Uniform picture at off-axis seats
Upgradeable One Connect box
Geometric distortion due to curved panel
Slight tinting from anti-reflective screen coating

While the curved screen prevents it from being our dream OLED, the exceptional performance of Samsung’s set points the way toward TV’s future.

Nothing elevates the pulse of an A/V enthusiast more readily than the prospect of new video display tech. I may be showing my age here, but I remember when the first plasma TVs made the rounds for review. Looked at next to today’s models, those sets were bulky (4 or more inches deep) and had poor contrast compared with the tube TVs they replaced. Many were plagued by banding artifacts that made pictures look like a paint-by-number kit.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Sep 14, 2009 3 comments
Price: $2,400 At A Glance: Excellent resolution and color • Full adjustability • Blacks could be better • Ultra-thin 1.2-inch profile

Plasma Soldiers On

LCD televisions are everywhere these days. They fill the back walls of Best Buys, are lined up like hedgerows near the entrance of Costco, and fly out the door at Walmart. Even at this moment, they’re undoubtedly being flogged out of the back of a fleet of white vans in parking lots across the land.

Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 21, 2012 1 comments

2D Performance
3D Performance
Price: $1,200 At A Glance: Compelling color and resolution • Superb value • Middling black level

Psst, buddy. Wanna buy a cheap plasma?”

You don’t often hear this from your friendly neighborhood white-van salesmen; they’re more into selling cardboard speakers. $1,200 HDTVs, no matter how good, just aren’t their thing.

They aren’t always ours, either, but when Samsung offered us the chance to have a look at its $1,200, 51-inch (diagonal) PN51E550D1F plasma, we couldn’t resist. That may be a lot of green for a public that once considered $300 a fair price for a new television, but today it falls solidly in the lowmid price range for a namebrand flat-screen HDTV in this size category.