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Philips 52 Plasma

Price per Unit (piece): $2,231.00
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This 50-inch (1.27-meter) TV belongs to Panasonic's equivalent of the Volkswagen "Golf class" - that is, the lower mid range. If you know about cars, you'll know what this means: This class provides the best price-for-performance ratio. For TVs of this size, the Japanese manufacturer uses plasma technology, and the TX-P 50 G 10  uses the twelfth generation of this type of flat-panel - this generation claims to consume significantly less power than its predecessors.

Panasonic refers to the screen type as "Tough Panel", since it unflinchingly withstands the impact of a ball bearing, for example. In the G series, the manufacturer concentrates on the basic feature list - you won't find extras such as network capabilities here. In the later part of this article, we take a look at what the competition has to offer in the same size and price class.


Picture Technology

The TV's 50-inch (1.27-meter) screen displays HDTV pictures in maximum sharpness, with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels ("full HD") - with a screen of this screen size, you'll be able to detect the additional sharpness even from the living room couch.

Panasonic seems to want to join in Sony's "how many Hertz" number game: Panasonic is currently advertizing "600 Hz Intelligent Frame Creation Pro". If you look closely at the corresponding logo, you'll notice the affix "sfd" - this stands for "Sub Field Drive". Because of the way plasma screens display images, the individual pixels run at a rate of 600 Hertz. In practice, however, the TX-P 50 G 10 is a 100-Hertz TV. The "Intelligent Frame Creation" promises fluid motion.

Potential buyers should resist these attempts to impress with figures and technical terms - the more important thing to consider is the actual picture. Smaller brother the TX-P 42 GW 10 already impressed with its picture quality. The "Cinema" picture preset gives an almost ideal setup. Experts go on to set the "Gamma" to 2.2 and switch off the picture cropping (overscan) in the menu. With these settings, the 42-inch plasma's impressive, extremely detailed picture outstrips most of its LCD rivals.

With special test patterns, we did notice a bit of flicker on this relative of the TX-P 50 G 10, but this doesn't irritate during everyday TV viewing. DVD movies still show a little flicker along fine, diagonal lines - unless the DVD player itself is able to eliminate this so-called line flicker.

The 42-inch GW-10 model displays HDTV signals with perfect pixel mapping, but interlaced signals (sports broadcasts or concert recordings, for example) again show some flicker along diagonal lines. With a 24p movie signal from a Blu-ray disc, the TX-P 42 GW 10 reproduces the usual movie-theater judder correctly.

Colors only deviate slightly from the ideal, and the picture's contrast is perfect. Furthermore, the picture impression remains the same from every viewing angle - typical for plasma technology. can highly recommend the TX-P 42 GW 10 - and therefore its almost identical British cousin, the TX-P 42 G 10 - as a home-theater display.


Additional Features

In this model, Panasonic concentrates more on the basic virtues of a TV. The TX-P 50 G 10 has a slot for SD and SDHC memory cards, allowing it to play back digital JPEG and AVCHD video clips, but this plasma offers no other multimedia extras.



The TV receives analog cable TV and - where still in use - analog terrestrial TV, as well as DVB-T, DVB-C, and DVB-S. It also supports HD for all digital standards. In principle, therefore, the TV is equipped for all current reception methods - all that remains is the pesky question of digital-cable access systems. Some cable networks have decided to use CI Plus to control access - but this is not supported on the TX-P 50 G 10.

Channels using CI encryption, as opposed to CI Plus, will still display without problems, but future Pay-TV channels may require an additional set-top box. For this reason, Panasonic doesn't advertize the TV's digital cable tuner in all countries. Satellite TV viewers have everything they need on this TV - except in the case of some pay-TV channels.

The UK version of the TV is adapted to the UK's cable services and supports the freesat services that began in 2008. The TV's analog inputs accept video signals in the PAL, Secam, and NTSC formats.



The TV has a practical set of connections: Two Scart sockets (both RGB capable, one S-Video capable) should be enough to accommodate older devices. The rear panel's two HDMI inputs aren't luxurious, but should be enough for typical usage - there's a third HDMI input on the front of the TV, under a small flap.

The flap also conceals a camcorder connections panel with a Mini-DIN socket for S-Video signals and a cinch input for composite video signals. Here you'll also find the SD-card slot and a 3.5-millimeter-jack headphone output.



The remote control and on-screen menu are identical for all TV sizes in the G 10 series, so our observations of the 42-inch version should also apply to the TX-P 50 G 10. Although a little on the heavy side, the remote sits comfortably in the user's hand. The buttons are, for the most part, clearly laid out, and the most-used buttons - for volume and channel changing - are sufficiently large.

One irritating aspect: The "N" button, used to return all picture settings to their factory values, is immediately next to the menu button - it's easy to press the wrong button by mistake.

The simply laid out on-screen menu is easy to read, and even inexperienced users will be able to keep track of where they are. The channel search sorts the channels into the usual order for the user's country.

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