- Active Shutter Progressive 3D
- 2,000Hz Focused Field Drive
- NeoPlasma 3D Panel with Infinite Black Pro
- Enjoy online content on VIERA Connect with Web Browser
- Freeview HD Built-in
- Available from April 2012
The first of the 2012 Panasonic lineup that we’ve analysed, the TX-P42ST50, is an outstanding Plasma TV which sets a high bar for the GT50 and VT50 series still to come. Its deep blacks are not just the best we’ve ever measured at this price point, they’re some of the best we’ve ever seen, full stop: the contrast performance shown by the ST50 is the closest thing we have today to a large-screen, affordable OLED display. The new “2000hz Focused Field Drive” has brought about a visible decrease in fuzzy dithering artefacts during fast motion scenes. As it did last year, the “Infinite Black Pro” screen coating affords the picture a beautifully lucid appearance, managing to make images glossy while somehow keeping screen reflections to a bare minimum. The extensive picture setup controls allow the already very good “True Cinema” picture mode to be taken to a near-perfect level of accuracy.
It’s a rare case of an HDTV which we’d recommend to just about anyone. Film lovers will appreciate the judder-free reproduction of 24fps content from Blu-ray, and the natural and accurate reproduction of colours and grey shades. Video gamers can enjoy very low input lag and ultra-crisp motion rendition, which only a Plasma television can provide simultaneously. What’s more, the motion, as we discussed at length, is more artefact-free than ever before. And everyone will appreciate the ST50′s incredibly deep black level, which, unlike an LED LCD or LCD display, is achieved naturally, without sacrificing brightness.
The only down-sides we noticed with its 2D image quality included some very mild posterisation during motion, as well as some very subtle screen non-uniformity (which we only observed with certain test patterns). The only people we’d not recommend it to are users who, for whatever reason, simply don’t like Plasma display technology, or users who live in sun-drenched rooms with huge windows (the anti-reflective panel coating does work wonders, but the gigantic amounts of light that an LCD-based display can pump out are still a better match for fighting off lots of sunlight). This year, we were beginning to wonder if Panasonic would forfeit their #1 spot in the Plasma market by allowing competitors to catch up, and we’ll reserve judgment until we see what other brands can do (something we look forward to doing). However, it’s going to take a hell of a lot to beat this.
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