Review: VIERA P50VT20A TV

By Branko Miletic

Plasma is my favourite TV technology and the VIERA P50VT20A from Panasonic is up there with the best.

It’s not that Panasonic are the be-all and end-all in terms of home AV, and if I was talking LED-LCDs, Panasonic wouldn’t be in the picture, however, when it comes to plasma, the case for Panasonic is easy to see.

Every time I get a TV sent to my house to review, there is this strange feeling of both excitement and trepidation. Excitement, because I am getting a new piece of tech; and trepidation as I always worry about having a difficult set up.

However the set up with this unit was so quick that I actually thought I must have done something wrong. But not to worry the 4 (yes, four!) HDMI ports worked a treat and as such I managed to set up my DVD, Blu-ray, sound system and Foxtel in a flash, along with my satellite receiver and a Yamaha amplifier.

The TV comes with some built-in smarts so as you turn it on, it recalibrates all your new peripherals, lists them under a particular HDMI port number and viola – you are in business. Your new home entertainment system is only a button click away.

If you like using other peripherals such as media players, or even a Soundbar, there are 2 USB ports available along with a component video array, VGA port and an Ethernet port. This will ensure that your flatscreen will quickly and seamlessly become the centre of your home entertainment array.

Now when it comes to picture output quality, the folks over at Panasonic know their stuff.  The VIERA P50VT20A is a 1080p, has a 16:9 aspect ratio, is 3D-capable, wall-mountable and a pleasure to watch. No surprise there – a couple of years ago when Pioneer shut down its Kuro TV division, which arguably pumped out the best TVs this side of the Milky Way, some of their tech gurus went to Panasonic to ply their trade, with the viewing public have come out winners.

And it’s not just the 3D capability that is good – which coming from someone who thinks 3D is a sales gimmick is quite a platitude – but so is the 2D Blu-ray and/or DVD.  The picture is clear, smooth and sharp.

From what I could see there was no shadowing at the edges and even whilst watching sport (The English FA Cup final in this case), there was no fuzziness in the action.

The blacks, are, well, very darn black and there was no noticeable colour issues that I could see. Unlike many people that seem to like to watch their TV in pitch-black darkness, I like to have the lights on full blast when doing my viewing and in both cases, this TV was a pleasure to watch.

As for the real picture quality – and by this I mean watching bog-standard TV – there was certainly no complaints and only compliments on that front.

Being a VIERA model means that not only will this TV connect to other Panasonic peripherals but you can download heaps online goodies and to be able to browse the Net, Skype as well as play some really cool tracks.

The TV also comes with its own HDD for recording and even though I did not test this, it was good to know that I had the option if I chose to.

For those that like to view their digital camera pictures, home movies or even listen to some iPhone music, this plasma is a great choice.

It was hard to find something negative about it. Maybe a couple more USB ports and extra HDMI wouldn’t hurt and the in-built speakers are certainly not something that I would brag about. At just under 28kg, it’s not the lightest nor the heaviest 50-inch plasma panel, which means, wall mounting here we come.

Pros: great screen, easy set up, no dodgy picture issues
Cons: would be nice to have some more ports, better in-built speakers, and a bit more swivel on the stand.

4 Shacks out of 5