Panasonic Viera TC-P55ST50 3D Plasma HDTV

Plasma TVs of yesterdays have gone astray as to what brings better, what are those to be considered innovative, and what suits best for top picture quality. Panasonic had its own slot last year, and continued to bring out newer and more versatile options for the said category. In today’s case, we have the new plasma HDTV system that features stereoscopic active 3D system, Viera Connect, great contrasting grayscale and color scales, all in $1,700 package: the TC-P55ST50. (This review applies to all sizes of the same model—50”, 55”, 60”, and 65”.)

The ST50 shares almost half or more the design features of its equivalent GT50. While the latter has a very modern edge-to-edge glass design, the Panasonic TC-P55ST50 has a bordered design with relatively narrow bezels, but terminates in a seemingly acrylic or plastic edge that frames the whole device. The whole TV is incredibly thin without any protruding mechanisms, but the silver-finished steel hinge and foot is swivel-proof, making the viewing experience more as a set-once view-forever theme.

Luckily, the Panasonic TC-P55ST50 is not short also with ins and outs. Found on the right, we have the basic TV controls for power, channel, and volume, plus an input or source selector, which a lot of modern TVs have omitted even on handheld remote controls. The said selector button also serves as a menu key when held for a short amount of time, giving you a full list of things you can tweak on without going too far. At the back, we have a fair list of things like three HDMI ports, two USB ports, a SD card slot, an Ethernet port, antenna port, audio connections, and some video input ports.

Unlike some modern remote controls, I see the Panasonic TC-P55ST50’s handheld control to be more like a classic experience except the 4-way dial with an ‘enter’ button at the center. Remarkably, the 43-keyed control has some backlighting effects for visual reference when watching at lights-off. Adding to the control’s accessibility are three dedicated keys for going into the menu, the web, or the Viera Tools, of which the latter is but a pack of web-based apps and features. Lastly, the 3D button, which in this case is situated among the top buttons is sweet enough for users to easily toggle the conversion even for input data that doesn’t support such.

Furthermore, like any modern TVs, the Panasonic TC-P55ST50 is not short when it comes to personal picture retouches. There are actually some preset picture modes, namely standard, cinema, custom, vivid, and game, but you can add your own settings for an instant jump based on your preference. However, one problem I saw is that the steps to which the settings can be tuned are a bit lower compared to the TV’s predecessors, but it is nevertheless a big problem unless you’re a pro and want superb technical reconfigurations.

The ST50 features Panasonic’s (first) NeoPlasma Panel and improved screen filter, which are both regarded as a great jump to greater picture quality with just the right amount of saturation and contrast. Adding to this is the local dimming technology that spices up the blacks from the whites, and concurrently, reduces glare and reflection even in a brightly lit room setting. Being certified also with THX, the ST50 has already outdone its predecessors’ THX modes, but this should not bother since users can get all their way to finding the best settings for them.

As a 3D-capable TV system, I find the Panasonic TC-P55ST50 to do well with converting 2D pictures into 3D. However, in this model of Panasonic, 3D content requires an active pair of 3D glasses that induces a little amount of strain because of the flickering (one disadvantage also is that you have to top up each pair of glasses with batteries). All these said, it is quite assuming that picture quality may be dimmer when with glasses worn, but details aren’t compromised but are to be enjoyed more in a cinematic setting.

Two things more, the Panasonic TC-P55ST50 has the said Viera Connect feature. What this does is that it showcases a suite of apps and links to standard TV goodies like Hulu, Netflix, and even to social media sites and apps like Skype. Though some pre-loaded apps seemed invaluable, preferred apps are always available; thanks to the TV’s built-in Wi-Fi. The last one is the boasted 8-Train speaker with real 3D-surround. As tested, I still find adding an external component or entertainment system valuable than relying on the built-in speakers because the audio, though a bit wider in range and richer in dimension, sometimes sounded too hollow or lacking in substance.

Overall, the Panasonic TC-P55ST50 brings together a real good taste to Plasma TVs of today. The bunch of technologies plus the web-based features bring together a massive surround of choice for modern users. There’re still some things Panasonic could improve though, and one great downside for this package is that you have to purchase the 3D glasses separately. Nevertheless, picture quality with great blacks and color saturation are truly promising for its fairly set market price.

Panasonic Viera TC-P55ST50 3D Plasma HDTV Price in Singapore Dollar (SGD): Approximately S$ 2,100.00

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