A Review Of The Panasonic TX-P50S20

Published: 05th August 2010
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Panasonic's new Viera TX-P50S20B plasma TV fits between their G20 and G20 lines. It offers a mix of price and performance that makes it competitive with both plasma and LCD competitors.

The biggest feature of the Viera TXP50S20B is its Freeview HD tuner. This is the first time Panasonic has offered built-in compatibility with the service in one of their sets. Currently, HD broadcasts are limited to BBC HD and part of ITV, with Channel 4 HD on the way. Some areas got the service in 2008, although the roll-out won't be complete until 2012. You can find out when your area will get Freeview HD at http://www.freeview.co.uk/availability/main/indexhd/

The TXP50S20B has a 50" screen with a dynamic 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio. On-board sound is handled by two small 10 watt speakers, but the sound quality is still quite good. Supported video formats are limited to PAL and DVB-T/T2, the current digital TV broadcast video standard.

While the Panasonic TXP50S20B's NeoPDP technology vastly improves image quality compared their previous low end models, it isn't the current version used on Panasonic's pricier sets. This display technology also lowers power consumption to a more LCD-like 201 watts.

Most of the ports are located on the back, making stand mounting difficult, although composite audio and video as well as an HDMI port are side-mounted for easy connection with game systems. On the back you will find an additional two HDMI ports as well as plugs for SCART, optical video out, and RCA video and audio inputs. Unlike most new TVs, Internet broadcasts aren't supported, but there is an SD memory card slot to view video and picture files including AVCHD, SD-VIDEO, and JPEG formats. The bezel has a fine texture preventing the fingerprint smearing seen in flat plastic models.

The Panasonic TX-P50S20's quoted 600Hz refresh rate isn't true frame-by-frame refresh. Panasonic's Intelligent Frame Creation morphs the displayed image between frames, changing parts of the screen that have motion. The true refresh rate is 100Hz, or twice the PAL standard, with an additional ten partial frames between each full frame. There is also a 24Hz mode to match the frame rate of movies, although most users will opt to leave the set in 600Hz mode. With each refresh taking only 0.001ms, these redraws are much faster than any comparable LCD screen.

The TV's Resolution Enhancer doesn't scale up SD video as much as its competitors, but it also doesn't have the video noise problems the other systems have. Unfortunately, SD broadcasts have poor colour quality when compared to HD modes.

The TXP50S20B's low power consumption makes it a worthy contender for those looking for either LCD or plasma sets. The Freeview HD tuner will let you get the most from your TV license, and the HD quality is superb considering the set's low price. However, if you still watch a lot of SD content or you want Internet support you will need to look elsewhere.

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