Review Date: November 11, 2007
 Last Updated: June 25, 2013

2007 Panasonic Plasma HDTV Guide
Panasonic TH-50PZ700U 50-inch

1080p Plasma HDTVs


The Panasonic TH-50PZ700U forms part of the latest 2007 premium series of Panasonic 1080p plasma HDTVs. Relatively affordable for a 50-inch 1080p plasma television, the TH-50PZ700U promises excellent picture performance and comes in a trendy all-black high gloss finish.

This 1080p plasma HDTV has been labeled as the best plasma HDTV by 'Consumer Reports' in a study on brand repair rates. It is also one of the few flat-panel TVs that succeeded to earn consistent top ratings among user feedback at major stores. More in this plasma TV review article.


Panasonic VIERA TC-P55ST60 55-Inch 1080p 3D Plasma HDTV Panasonic VIERA 55-inch TC-P55ST60
...first HDTV to ever gain a 5-Star rating
in a Cnet review!

If the ST50 from 2012 did prove to be the HDTV to deliver the best value for your money, this new 2013 TV from Panasonic is even better - delivering a picture you would generally expect from a more expensive flagship model. Though its 3D picture is not among the best, the ST60 is capable of amazing picture quality at a price that is well within reach of the average budget.

Panasonic Plasma 1080p TVs: 2007 Line-up

Panasonic's line-up of plasma HDTVs for 2007 offers one of the vastest selections of plasma TVs we have ever seen from any major plasma TV maker.

This is no surprise. Panasonic is the number one plasma display manufacturer. A study by DisplaySearch revealed that during the second quarter of 2007, Panasonic had a 33.5% market share in unit sales world-wide.

This year line-up covers a total of 16 different models. In addition, Panasonic is also offering  two 'framed' plasma HDTV monitors - the 42-inch TH-EBP42F9 and the 50-inch TH-EBP50F9, for which the user can select one of eight different frames. The idea is to transform a wall-mounted plasma into a picture-like artwork that better matches the rest of the room decor.

As stated, the standard line-up of Panasonic plasma HDTV sets for this year comprises 16 different models; these are all based on Panasonic 10th generation plasma display technology.

More than half of these (nine) are 1080p HDTV sets. The 1080p-resolution versions cover plasma HDTV screen sizes from 42-inch up to 65-inch. Interesting is that Panasonic has come with not one but two 42-inch 1080p plasma HDTVs. These are the TH-42PZ700U 1080p Plasma HDTV which is the smaller brother of the TH-50PZ700U on review here, and the Panasonic TH-42PZ77U, which forms part of Panasonic plasma HDTV entry-level series of 1080p HDTVs. These 42-inch sets are the only 42-inch 1080p HDTV plasmas presently available on the market.

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Plasma is still king in the 50-inch domain in terms of sales, but this is not the case at the smaller screen size. This is an obvious attempt on part of Panasonic to keep up with the LCD competition in the smaller segment, when it comes to the hot spec of the moment - 1080p HDTV.

However, as stated elsewhere on our site, we believe that irrespective of technology, 42-inch is too small a screen size for one to really enjoy the benefits associated with the 1080p pixel count.

The TH-PZ77U entry-level 1080p Panasonic plasma HDTV series already referred to above, includes also the TH-50PZ77U 50" Class 1080p Plasma HDTV. The TH-PZ77U is basically the 1080p version of Panasonic lower resolution TH-PX77U series. Both come with what Panasonic defines as anti-glare coating instead of the ant-reflective coating found on the more expensive TH-PZ700U and the TH-PZ750U series.

The TH-PZ700U range is the step-up version over Panasonic 1080p entry series. It comprises the 50-inch Panasonic TH-50PZ700U 1080p Plasma HDTV featured in this article, the 42-inch TH-42PZ700U Plasma HDTV already referred to above, and the Panasonic TH-58PZ700U 58-inch 1080p plasma TV. The TH-PZ700U shares basically the same specs sheet as the entry series. The key differences relate to the use of an anti-reflective coating instead of the ant-glare coating found on the entry model, a slightly better audio, and the availability of a PC input. As expected, there is a slight premium that you have to pay - approximately $200 more - over respective models in the entry series.

Panasonic is also offering another mid-level 50-inch 1080p plasma HDTV, the TH-50PE700U. This 50-inch plasma comes with the same specs sheet as the TH-50PZ700U and except for an insignificant difference in style, there is no other difference that we can perceive between the two models.

The remaining 1080p Panasonic plasma HDTV series, the TH-PZ750U represents Panasonic top-of-the-line 1080p plasma HDTVs. This series comprises the 50-inch TH-50PZ750U 1080p plasma HDTV, the 58-inch TH-58PZ750U 1080p plasma TV and Panasonic's flagship in the 2007 line-up, the massive 65-inch TH-65PZ750U 1080p Panasonic plasma TV.

Models in this series shares similar functionality with the less expensive (approx $400 to $500) TH-PZ700U series. In fact, picture wise, these two series enjoy the same specs sheet with the real significant difference between the two being the presence of a third HDMI input on the TH-PZ750U series. This is also the only series within the 2007 Panasonic plasma HDTV range that carries three HDMIs; all other models come with two HDMI ports. Rather surprising considering that the present trend with major display manufactures is to include three HDMI inputs on most of their 1080p sets.

Introducing the TH-50PZ700U 1080p Panasonic  Plasma HDTV

As indicated earlier on, the Panasonic TH-50PZ700U forms part of Panasonic mid-level series of 1080p plasma HDTVs. This Panasonic plasma HDTV set has brought about a lot of positive feedback by many customers at major online stores. It is also one of the few HDTV plasmas that consistently have been rated highly by many critics in the electronics industry. In addition, the Consumer Reports magazine cited the TH-50PZ700U as the plasma HDTV set with the lowest average repair rate.

It does not come cheap, yet with a reduced on-line price tag of around $2,200, this Panasonic plasma HDTV offers a strong blend of performance and value. More specifically, the TH-50PZ700U has managed to find the right balance between price, overall picture performance, and the hot spec of the moment... 1080p HDTV.

However, this success is not just a matter of a reasonable price tag or the higher 1080p pixel count. The TH-50PZ700U plasma 1080p HDTV is capable of reproducing a deep level of black, and while not as deep as the substantially more expensive Pioneer KURO PDP-5080HD, yet this is still among the very best. Furthermore, overall color rendering is clean and there is plenty of contrast and shadow detail.

It do lack a few conveniences like picture-in-picture or a third HDMI as found instead on many 2007 plasmas. Also, it does not support the same level of user picture controls and ant-burn in settings as found on the Samsung FP-T5084 reviewed on our site. However, these alone are not enough to tarnish an otherwise solid picture performance that is able to stand up against the tough competition in the 1080p plasma HDTV market.

Main Features

The Panasonic TH-50PZ700U Plasma HDTV can resolve full 1080p content thanks to a screen resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.

Enhanced picture clarity with a clean image that exhibits excellent deep blacks while still maintaining exceptional shadow detail even in dark scenes.

Relatively natural looking colors and accurate grayscale.

The set  anti-reflective coating - found on the TH-PZ700U and TH-PZ750U Panasonic premium plasma HDTVs - while not among the best, yet it significantly reduces reflections from room lighting.

Though it does not come with the same extensive array of user picture controls as is the case with some major brands, yet the set pre-set settings are relatively accurate.

A trendy simplistic design characterized by a high-gloss overall black finish and side-mounted hidden speakers.

Despite the lack of a third HDMI input, this Panasonic plasma HDTV still comes with a good assortment of digital and analog connectivity options both on the rear as well as on the front.

A well designed remote control with relatively large buttons accompanies the TH-50PZ700U.

The 50-inch TH-50PZ700U Panasonic Plasma HDTV in Detail

The Panasonic TH-50PZ700U falls within that class of relatively affordable 50-inch 1080p plasma HDTVs. However, despite the not so expensive price tag, this Panasonic plasma HDTV is surely one of the best-performing flat panel 1080p HDTVs.

Panasonic 50-inch TH-50PZ700U 1080p Plasma HDTV

 

Panasonic TH-50PZ700U 50-inch 1080p Plasma HDTV

Main Design: As with most 2007 flat-panel TVs, the Panasonic comes in an all glossy black finish. Overall design takes a rather simplistic yet trendy approach that would surely blend with most room decors.

A relatively thick frame surrounds the 50-inch display panel; the top and bottom edges of the frame are angled slightly towards the back for a sort of a beveled look.

The sides of the surrounding frame houses the set super slim inch-wide speakers; a total of four speakers come with the TH-50PZ700U. These are positioned behind tiny perforations on the sides for improved sound performance. The set front controls and connections are positioned along the bottom edge - concealed behind flip-up doors. The center door hides the main control buttons - menu and submenu controls, TV/video selector, volume and channel selection. There are also the S-video and composite video A/V inputs. A smaller flip-up door to the right conceals the memory card slot. The power button, remote control sensor and the C.A.T.S. (more on this latter), resides on the left hand side.

A matching table-top stand is included with the set. With the stand in place, this 50-inch Panasonic plasma HDTV measures approximately 49.9(W) x 14.6(D) x 33.5(H) inches; without the stand, the Panasonic TH-50PZ700U measures just 49.9 x 5.5 x 31.6 inches. Overall weight including the stand is 123.5lbs.

Power Consumption: This Panasonic plasma HDTV is relatively power hungry at a rated maximum power of 695W. However, under default settings, the set consumes some 580W; this falls to less than 400W when properly calibrating the set brightness to better match the room lighting.

Product Features: The PT-50PZ700U Panasonic plasma HDTV comes with a native pixel resolution of 1920 x 1080. This means that it can resolve every detail of 1080i and 1080p HDTV content; other content is scaled accordingly to fit the set native pixel resolution.

One might expect that this higher pixel count means a sharper picture. However, as already expressed elsewhere on our site, at this screen size it is hard to discern any significant benefits of a 1080p-resolution when TV viewing takes place from a normal distance. (More on viewing distance in our TV Viewing Distance guide).

This Panasonic comes with a rated dynamic contrast ratio of 5000:1 and a total of 4096 shades of gradation. These figures are a far cry from the 15,000:1 and the 18-bit video processing of the Samsung FP-T5084 we reviewed on our site. But as stated in the Samsung review, it is not the big numbers that make the picture. The TH-50PZ700U simply confirms that statement in that despite the lower ratings, yet it is still capable of delivering solid picture performance.

Picture performance aside, this Panasonic plasma HDTV carries the typical feature set one would associate with standard flat-panel HDTVs. It does not incorporate the rich feature set found on the Samsung FP-T5084, yet it still provides the user with a good number of picture adjustments. However, you would not be able to fine tune the color temperature beyond the set preset values - 'Warm', 'Normal', and 'Cool', nor to enjoy picture-in-picture, a common feature on a number of HDTVs.

On the other hand, there are a few advanced picture controls which can be enabled - if desired - through the set menu. These include:

Color management - to enhance the green and blue in outdoor scenes.

C.A.T.S., or contrast automatic tracking system, optimizes the contrast by adjusting the brightness and gradation on the fly to better match the ambient light level.

Three different video noise reduction settings to reduce noise commonly referred to as snow, reduce HDTV flicker noise - also referred to as mosquito noise, and block noise reduction associated with DVD and STB digital signals.

Color Matrix setting to choose between standard definition and high definition signals when using component video devices.

Black level setting - light or dark - when viewing content carried over the set HDMI inputs.

Independent input memories allow for one of the three picture preset modes, 'Vivid', 'Standard', and 'Cinema', to be customized for contrast, brightness, and the like. There is also a fourth adjustable mode, labeled 'Custom' that can be set independent for each input. This means that the custom settings for each input remain associated with that input.

To complement this range of picture controls, the TH-50PZ700U provides a full set of aspect ratio settings or picture size adjustments, for both HD and standard definition video content. There are four choices for standard definition 4:3 content and another five for HD material. Setting the HD size in the picture menu to size '2' and leaving the default Full Mode setting would produce an image without any cut-off when viewing 720p/1080i/1080p HD content via HDMI. This is equivalent to the 'Just Scan' setting on the Samsung FP-T5084 1080p Plasma HDTV.

Disappointing is the fact that the user does not have any screen anti-burn remedies should this occur. OK, all Panasonic plasma HDTV sets  incorporate standard pixel-shift technology as found on modern plasmas whereby the image shifts one pixel at a time to avoid burn-in. This in itself should prove enough in that with proper use, burn-in is a non-issue. At the same time, it is always re-assuring to have some additional remedy at hand in case the need arise.

From an audio perspective, the Panasonic TH-50PZ700U delivers a total of 15.5W RMS per channel - 13W over the sub-woofer and the remaining 2.5W over the set 1-inch thick full-range speaker.

The sound system uses Panasonic BBE ViVA HD 3D sound technology. BBE ViVA aims to re-create more authentic-sounding 3D effects through the set built-in stereo speakers to produce a more immersive sound-stage, while still maintaining speech intelligibility.

However, irrespective of any virtual sound technology, overall sound quality is not among the very best. Rather, we say forget the TV speakers altogether. This is typical with any TV sound.  The present trend with TV makers to use the smallest, cheapest speakers possible is not helping in this respect. The result is a TV sound that does not match today's 1080p HDTV picture quality.

Convenience features: The supplied remote with this Panasonic plasma HDTV comes with relatively large buttons that are well places. It does not include any illuminated keys, yet the keys are logically placed and easy to locate by feel. This remote can also serve as a universal remote, controlling up to three other devices (VCR, DVD, and a cable or satellite STB).

The TH-50PZ700U also comes with what Panasonic refers to as EZ-Synch. This is Panasonic's implementation of CEC (Customer Electronics Control) over HDMI. The latter allows the user to control multiple CEC-enabled gear with one remote control through an on-screen interface. CEC also allows CEC-enabled boxes to control each other without user intervention. The only gimmick here is that the other HDMI connected devices have to be other Panasonic devices equipped with the same EZ-Synch support.

Connectivity: The TH-50PZ700U comes with a generous array of A/V connections on the rear panel. However, contrary to the present norm with similar high-end HDTVs, this 1080p Panasonic plasma HDTV comes with just two instead of three HDMI inputs. To get a third HDMI (fitted on the front) you will have to step up to Panasonic premium line of 1080p plasma HDTVs, the TH-PZ750U; as indicated earlier on, this also comprises a 50-inch version, the TH-50PZ750U.

Audio and S-video/composite video connectors are available both on the front as well as on the rear panel. There is also a VGA-style PC input that can resolve up to 1280x1024 maximum resolution, a pair of component-video inputs on the rear panel, and an optical digital output for the ATSC tuner. A memory card slot is also included on the front to take SD, SDHC, and miniSD (adaptor required) cards; this will allow you to display JPEG still images on the Panasonic plasma HDTV screen.

Performance: There is no doubt that the Panasonic TH-50PZ700U is one of the best 1080p plasma HDTVs. And stated earlier on in the article, more than being the result of the larger 1080p pixel count, this is all thanks to the set deep blacks, excellent shadow detail, and clean image. A deep shade of black helps improve the realism of dark scenes while making colors look richer and more saturated. This renders the TH-50PZ700U among the best affordable 1080p plasma televisions for those who want to enjoy the most in home theater image quality.

Image on this Panasonic plasma HDTV is clean and relatively free from video noise and false contouring. Color accuracy is not among the very best due to a slightly inaccurate primary color of green, which is a bit too yellow. Color decoding also introduced a small amount of red push.

In any case, this slight color inaccuracy is surely not enough to tarnish the otherwise overall excellent picture quality. Backing off slightly the saturation level would solve the problem while still rendering accurate-looking skin tones. At the same time, overall color rendering still looks clean and well saturated - partly thanks to a rather accurate grayscale and the set deep level of black.

The TH-50PZ700U is also one of the few plasma HDTV sets that are capable of doing a fine job even with good quality standard definition material.

We would have liked to see more user fine picture controls as found on the competition. On the other hand, the average user would not be missing much in that the preset picture settings are quite close to the ideal settings. In particular, the Cinema mode with its 'warm' color temperature setting and preset brightness level would  provide the best setting when viewing take place in a darkened environment.

As to the anti-reflective coating found on premium 1080p Panasonic plasma HDTV sets, while capable of attenuating reflections off the screen surface, yet relying on the anti-reflective coating alone is not enough. This is typical of all plasmas and the latest glossy screen LCD HDTVs. Controlling the room lighting therefore is essential if you want to enjoy the best picture possible from this high-end 1080p plasma television.

As a PC monitor, using this Panasonic plasma HDTV VGA input would lead to a maximum screen resolution of 1280 x 1024 pixels. However, at this display resolution, the desktop would appear a bit too stretched since the image is then scaled to fit the entire plasma display area; this leads to rather soft text presentation. Try using higher resolution over VGA and the image would not scale correctly over the set 1080p pixel screen. Instead, full 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution is possible when connecting the PC DVI/HDMI output over one of Panasonic plasma HDTV HDMI inputs.

Conclusion

Affordable price tag and superb picture performance make the TH-50PZ700U Panasonic plasma HDTV a sure winner among the latest 1080p flat-panel HDTVs. Overall, the Panasonic delivers good picture performance. Clean colors, accurate grayscale, and deep black levels characterize the TH-50PZ700U. The set black level is among the deepest we have ever seen.

The TH-50PZ700U 1080p Panasonic plasma HDTV is also capable of delivering good shadow detail even in primarily dark content.

As expressed earlier on, this superb picture performance is not the not result of the higher pixel count associated with 1080p-resolution displays. At the 50-inch screen size, the advantages of 1080p resolution are not that evident. However, the benefits of the higher pixel count associated with 1080p HDTVs would surely start to show up on the larger screen of the 58-inch PT-58PZ700U in this same series of Panasonic plasma HDTVs.

While we did not review the other 1080p Panasonic plasma HDTVs within the TH-PZ700U series, namely the 42-inch Panasonic TH-42PZ700U and the 58-inch Panasonic Th-58PZ700U, yet we expected these to perform very much the same. This in view that  except for a difference in screen size, all models in this series share the same specs sheet.



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