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PANASONIC TC-P65VT50 PDP. Best HDTV on the market? Print E-mail
Written by Kevin Miller   
Thursday, 28 June 2012

panasonic-tc-p55vt50.jpgPROS: Improved black level and color accuracy, and 50% brighter than last year’s VT30 series panels. Color decoding is now accurate in both the Custom and THX modes.

CONS: The CMS (Color Management System) is not fully functional with the Luminance control not working. The Luminance of Red, Green, and Magenta are a little too high.

To Buy or Not to Buy: Currently the best performing flat panel on the market. Available on line at well under $3,500, this 65-inch panel is very reasonably priced considering its performance and features. Highly recommended!

 

ISF ccc implementation was done using ControlCal software. Pre and Post calibration and Color Tracking reports were created with CalMAN Pro versions 4.2.6 and the beta version of 5.0

 

Panasonic’s new TC-P65VT50 flagship plasma panel is the company’s best effort to date. It recently won the Annual Flat Panel Shootout at Value Electronics in Scarsdale, NY that I am the keynote speaker at every year. And for good reason as the company fixed the color problems that I identified during last year’s shootout with the TC-P65VT30; namely the inaccurate color decoding.

 

Panasonic also managed to increase the panel’s light output significantly. The company claims a 50% increase in brightness. I am now able to get about 42 to 43 fTL. of peak light output in the ISF Day mode with a gamma curve of 2.0 on the 65-inch model while last year that number was down around 32 fTL. This equates to approximately a 25% increase in usable light output when properly calibrated. Blacks are substantially deeper than last year’s VT30, but still not quite as low as the vaunted Pioneer 9G Kuros from 2008/09. As far as performance and overall picture quality is concerned, this is the best flat panel currently on the market, period.

 

CONTRAST RATIO: Blacks on the VT50 series are considerably lower and better than on last year’s VT30 series. This improvement of course means its contrast ratio is also considerably higher.  MLL (Minimum Light Level or video black) measured .002. With peak white set at 33 fTL. on the TC-P65VT50, the onscreen contrast ratio using an ANSI checkerboard pattern measured an impressive 16,500:1 at this year’s flat panel shootout. Of course, the off screen measurement with a point and shoot meter like the Minolta CS200 or a Photo Research PR655 or 670 would have yielded a much smaller number, which would be more realistic as this is the way CR is measured in a movie theater. By way of comparison, in movie theaters, off screen measurements for projected film yield are somewhere between 150 and 180:1. I believe this method to be a more valid measurement as it emulates the way the human eye sees a picture. In any case, the VT50 is second only to the Elite Pro-70X5FD full array LED in black level and contrast ratio performance. Its superior color accuracy is what won the day at the shootout, and what tips the scales for me in terms of overall performance and picture quality.

  panasonic-tc-p65vt50-remote.jpg

 

COLOR ACCURACY: The color decoding in both Custom and even in the THX picture modes were not correct on last year’s VT30 series PDPs. In the Custom mode, which is the mode that the ControlCal software interface for ISF ccc implementation addresses, the VT30s pushed red heavily, and forced us to de-saturate color significantly. However, this issue has been completely corrected by Panasonic, and I applaud the company for their efforts.

 

Gamma and grayscale tracking are also significantly improved over last year’s models. For ISF Night mode a perfect 2.4 gamma curve is now easily achievable. The one flaw in the overall color accuracy of the VT50 series is in the CMS (Color Management System). It turns out the Luminance control in the CMS does not work on any of the colors. This might have been a fatal flaw, but my field experience having calibrated about a dozen VT50s, both the 55 and the 65-inch models is that the luminance is fairly close to where it should be on all of the primary and secondary colors. It is not perfect though, and I hope that Panasonic will address this issue with a simple firmware update as soon as possible. Red, Green, and Magenta could all use the benefit of a Luminance control.

 

Specifically, I consistently measure low luminance levels on green, and cyan, and slightly high luminance levels on red prior to calibration of VT50s. Fortunately, in the process of calibration, these inaccuracies usually resolve themselves, and the end result is that luminance of all of the colors is within an acceptable delta error of below 3%. Still, this issue should be fixed as this may not be the case with every VT50 panel. It is odd that last year’s luminance control worked just fine, and that it is non-functional in this year’s VT50 series.

 

Finally, I was able to measure the panel’s ability to accurately track all of the primary and secondary colors. SpectraCal provided me with a Beta sample of their 5.0 version of CalMAN Pro, which measures color tracking at 20,40,60,80, and 100% luminance levels. The VT50 was the only panel at this year’s Annual Flat Panel Shootout that tracked all the primary and secondary colors really well. See the PDF file for the technical details.

 

Scenes from the excellent “Art of Flight” Blu-ray looked absolutely stunning. This documentary about snowboarding has a lot of bright white content when the snowboarders are doing their thing in the Andes and the Colorado rockies. The VT50 delivers a good snappy amply bright picture, which was not the case with last year’s VT30 series. The increase in brightness is a major plus to this panel that lacked sufficient light output last year. Other more colorful scenes on this disc show off the awesome color fidelity of the VT50, as well.

 

VIDEO PROCESSING: The Panasonic TC-P65VT50 VT50 de-interlaces 1080i film based content from broadcast sources like cable and satellite well as evidenced by the fact that it passes the Video Resolution Loss test on the Silicon Optix HQV Blu-ray test disc. The Panasonic plasmas have had problems with how they handle 1080p/24fps content from Blu-ray for years now. Last year’s VT30 series exhibited severe jitter when the 96Hz feature was engaged for Blu-ray playback. This year’s VT50s handle 1080p.24fps much better, but still not perfectly as there is still some jitter visible. I personally would use the 60Hz setting because the jitter is noticeable, but some will find this minor issue acceptable, and may want to use the 96Hz setting. The panel did not pass the Spears & Munsil 1080p/24 Wedge test exhibiting significant tearing and moiré artifacts.

panasonic-p65vt50-ports2.jpg

 

CONCLUSION: Better blacks, higher contrast ratio, increased brightness, and extremely accurate overall color accuracy all help make the TC-P65VT50 a top performing flat panel HDTV for 2012. I do think that Panasonic needs to address the Luminance control issue in the CMS (Color Management System). While it seems to be a non-issue on the few panels that I have calibrated that does not mean that some of the VT50s wouldn’t benefit from luminance correction on some of the colors. Black level while not quite as good as the reference Pioneer Kuro plasma from several years ago is nonetheless very close to that mark. That coupled with a significant increase in the brightness capability of the new VT50 gives it significantly better contrast ratio over last year’s VT30 series as well. Panasonic’s TC-P65VT50, and its smaller 55-inch cousin, are the best performing flat panels as of this writing. I highly recommend either of these panels.

 

Panasonic TC-P65VT50 VT50 color tracking (PDF format)

 

 

Panasonic TC-P65VT50 VT50 pre calibration (PDF format)

 

 

Panasonic TC-P65VT50 VT50 post calibration (PDF format)


 

 

 

 


 

 

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Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved.

Last Updated ( Sunday, 01 July 2012 )
 
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