January 13, 2012
| by Grant Clauser
Yesterday I reported on the full line of Panasonic’s LED LCD TVs, including the company’s new passive polarized 3D LED TVs. Despite that interesting news, let’s not forget that Panasonic is primarily a plasma company—and for good reason. Plasma is awesome.
So this year, instead of building on the very good VT30 line sold last year, Panasonic says the engineers went back to the drawing board for the new plasmas and designed the current panels from scratch. The company says it created a new panel structure and pre-discharge control method to increase contrast. Last year the company used a technology it called the Infinite Black Filter. This year it’s the Infinite Black Filter Ultra—I know they thought real hard about the new name.
A new feature called the 2,500 Focused Field Drive is used to reduce motion trailing and 3D ghosting.
To show off the new picture, Panasonic took me to the viewing room behind a curtain where a 2011 VT30 was shown side-by-side with a 2012 VT50, both 55 inches. The images on the screen were colorful kaleidoscope-like fractals and swirls on a black background. Next to the new TV, the blacks on the 2011 model looked almost gray, certainly not the inky black of the 2012 model. Assuming both TVs were on the same settings, the new model blew away last year’s TV. The demonstrator said the new models include 240,576 steps of gray ensuring that gradations in shades looked incredibly smooth.
Unfortunately, the demo showed only prepared material, not Blu-ray movie footage.
After this, I moved over to view more VT50s which were showing prepared footage and movie trailers in 3D. Panasonic’s plasma TVs use active shutter glasses, so you get a full 1080p image for each eye. Crosstalk (also called ghosting) appeared to be completely eliminated. The 3D depth effect was not as pronounced as I’ve seen in other TVs, but that may have been the content more than the TVs.
The VT50 lines includes all of Panasonic’s new smart TV features under the VIERA Connect service which places all the smart TV apps or widgets on the cloud. They include Netflix, Amazon VOD, You Tube, Pandora, Twitter, Bloomberg News, a weather channel, Skype, CinemaNow, Hulu Plus, Napster, Facebook and sports sites including MLB.TV, MLS Matchday Live, NBA Game Time, and NHL Game Center.
Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had audio training from Home Acoustics Alliance and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.