What Hooked Us:
- Lovely, realistic colors and a natural, contrast-rich image.
- It has everything you might need, including an SD card reader.
- Pixel-perfect full HD resolution.
Why We Grumbled:
- The picture is not very bright.
- Although 24p format is supported, it judders perhaps just a little too much.
The Final Verdict:
This impressive 50 inch beast from Panasonic has a contrast-rich, perfectly adjusted full HD screen and performs as well as significantly pricier models, for example the Pioneer 5000 EX. As well as its truly impressive contrast range, it boasts pixel-perfect handling of 1080p signals, but unfortunately the 24p mode does not deserve quite the same praise.
Also, as is typical with plasma screens, it’s not that happy in brightly lit rooms. Nevertheless, the value for money is excellent, as are its specifications. We felt that the slightly inferior reproduction of standard TV signals was hardly worth complaining about.
Panasonic grabs the bull by the horns – the TH-50 PZ 700 E is cheaper than LCD models of the same size and even in terms of Panasonic’s own product range, this big screen model is really quite a bargain. At the time of testing, its big brother, the TH-65 PX 600 E (at a whopping 65 inches), would have set you back almost 9,000 GBP.
“G10” Panel and Movie-style Film Display:
Panasonic has fitted its 50 inch TH-50 PZ 700 E with a home-grown “G10” panel complete with an anti-reflective coating. This giant claims to be able to display 1080p films from current Blu-ray players in movie-style 24p format.
The Panasonic is fitted with both analog cable and DVB-T receivers, and attempts to store TV stations from both sources during initial setup. This is a rather pointless exercise, since without a second antenna input you can only ever use one tuner at a time. A second input would also add versatility to the picture-in-picture function, which would then be able to show the pictures from both inputs simultaneously. This is, however, our only connectivity-related criticism.
Just as with its big brother (the 65 inch model) you simply could not ask for better connectivity. As well as the two rear-mounted HDMI inputs, the front interface panel also provides you with a third HDMI input, along with an SD card slot. Photos and videos in AVCHD, MPEG2 or HD-JPEG format can be read directly from the SD card and displayed at HD quality. Home slideshows or HD camcorder movies are also easily displayed without the need of a PC. That said, SD-HC cards aren’t supported, meaning it only accepts SD cards up to a 4GB capacity.
Not bad at all:
You can really glide through what’s on offer with the two independent rocker buttons on the handset – one for channel up/down, the other to select the program. Switching between analog channels takes just 1.5 seconds – even DVB-T is pretty nifty at 2 seconds. This TV is a channel surfer’s dream.
TV and DVD Picture Quality
Plasma TV manufacturers often try to represent grayscales more finely by introducing artificial noise (known as “dithering”). There is none of this to be seen on the TH-50 PZ 700 E, and false contouring is also not evident. The Panasonic makes easy work of standard TV signals, where it actually tends more to expose any flaws in the quality of the content it is displaying. You will of course get the best TV picture with an external satellite receiver.
The analog YUV input delivers a significantly more detailed picture than the RGB Scart connection. But better yet, if you feed the signal in through an HDMI input (which has rapidly become the standard HDTV interface), you can really transform a night in front of the TV into a proper movie-theater experience. This Panasonic delivers such a deep and rich black that very few other plasma screens have ever come close. With a contrast range of 3,400:1, it lends pictures a pronounced 3D effect, while dark scenes revel in the perfect grayscale reproduction and spot-on color temperature.
With good DVDs such as “King Kong” or “Cars”, sharpness and detail are of the highest quality. Here it does become obvious, however, that a good player such as the Denon DVD 2930 is much better at de-interlacing movie-style content than the Panasonic’s internal video signal processing. There is an interesting 50Hz setting hiding in the Setup’ menu, which allows you to switch from the usual flicker free 100Hz picture display to a slightly flickering 50Hz mode. Moving objects are displayed much more precisely in this mode, making it particularly good for sports broadcasts.
Another good argument for using the HDMI interface is that it allows overscan to be turned off. The TH-50 PZ 700 E displays DVDs in the best possible quality without any forced cropping/zooming.
Thanks to the diffuse, anti-reflective glass screen, there is hardly any irritating glare to disturb the Panasonic’s natural and never overstated picture. A light interference pattern does, however, become visible at short viewing distances. This superposition does not occur on other plasmas with glossy screens, but due to its limited brightness, the Panasonic does not perform well in bright ambient lighting. For this reason, you should probably turn the contrast up to almost “Maximum” throughout the day. For a plasma of this size and resolution, the TH-50 PZ 700 E offers finely detailed pictures with this setting.
HDTV Picture Quality
With overscan turned off, all three 1080p compatible HDMI inputs give pixel perfect pictures from any high-res HDTV format in both 50 and 60 Hz. It looks appropriately impressive when the animals recapture the magical forest landscape in the Blu-ray version of the animated adventure “Open Season”.
In full 1080p resolution, the Panasonic conjures up this fantasy world in a breathtaking blaze of color. Even the nighttime scenes, in which director Jill Culton’s animal characters are often found, come across very impressively. In order to see this three-dimensionalism in full effect, we recommend you switch off any interfering light sources, ideally giving the room just sensible background lighting. When set up in this way, almost no other screen can compete with the Panasonic’s deep black, with only the possible exception of the Samsung LE-52 M 86 BD. The Panasonic displays dark sequences easily better than any current LCD models. What’s more, the contrast and brightness of the screen do not vary with viewing angle, an important advantage over LCD flat-panel TVs.
This plasma does accept 24p signals, but seems to convert them internally to a 60Hz signal, as it clearly exhibits some 3:2 pulldown judder. This comes as a slight disappointment as HDTV enjoyment would otherwise have been absolutely perfect.
The TH-50 PZ 700 E’s built-in loudspeakers give homogeneous sound with astonishing amounts of bass. Nevertheless, as is often the case, this TV sounds better connected to an external AV receiver and a good pair of speakers. To this end, Panasonic provides you with both analog and optical digital audio outputs.
Settings for the best home-theatre performance*
Preset Mode: Cinema
Brightness: 15 cm
Color: 14.5 cm
Sharpness: 19 cm
Color Tone: Normal
Color Management: Off
MPEG NR: Off
Mosquito NR: Off
Energy Saving Mode: Off
Picture Refresh Rate: 100 Hz
* applied to realistic playback from HD DVD/Blu-ray material through the HDMI interface in a darkened environment. Manufacturing and HDMI playback device deviations may necessitate slight adjustment. The centimeter (cm) setting refers to the length of the bar that appears in the menu.
- Input Video Formats : 576i/p, 720p, 1080i/p
Dimensions & Weight Details
- Dimensions & Weight Details : Panel with stand – 126.49 cm x 13.71 cm x 80.264 cm x 48 kg
Digital TV Tuner
- Digital TV Tuner : analog, DVB-T
Test Lab Data
- Color neutrality : 7
- Brightness – maximum : 144 cd/m2
- Picture-quality with DVDs : very good
- Picture-quality with HD-Signals : excellent
- Motion-errors : good
- Black level : 0.04 cd/m2
- Picturecropping (overscan) using HDMI : 0%
- Televisions.com rating : 7.7
- Contrast – maximum : 3600:1
- Brightness – average : 50.3 cd/m2
- Contrast – ANSI : 497:1
- Homogenity of picture : 95%
- S-Video : 3
- HDMI : 3
- VGA : 1
- Digital Television Certification : HDTV
- Video Interface : HDMI, Scart, Component, VGA, S-Video, Composite
- Width : 126.49 cm
- Weight : 48 kg
- Depth : 13.71 cm
- Height : 80.264 cm
- Power Consumption Stand by / Sleep : 0.1 Watt
- Power Consumption Operational : 417 Watt
- Diagonal Size : 50″ – widescreen
- Image Aspect Ratio : 16:9
- Resolution : 1920×1080
- Brightness : 144 cd/m2
- Image Contrast Ratio : 3600:1
- Composite video : 4
- YUV : 1
Test Lab Data
- Linearity errors on greyscale : 3.52%