Last Updated: June 25, 2013
2005 Panasonic Plasma Television Sets
Panasonic TH-PX50U Series
Affordable Plasma HDTVs with a Great Picture
Released in May 2005, the TH-PX50U series of Panasonic plasma televisions is turning out to be one of the top-selling plasma TV line-ups for 2005.
We take a detailed look in this plasma TV review article to see what's on offer from a leader in the field.
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.
The TH-PX50U Series
Affordable Panasonic Plasma Televisions for the serious HDTV buyer
Panasonic has consistently proven itself to be a leader in the industry and one of the top manufactures of raw flat-panel plasma displays.
Since 2001, Panasonic has managed to maintain a competitive edge with respect to image quality; in particular, black-level and gray scaling performance of its plasma display panels is something other top manufacturers are still struggling to achieve. And this year lineup is no exception to the excellent image quality Panasonic plasma displays are renowned for.
The TH-xxPX50U series of Panasonic plasma television sets represents Panasonic's consumer lineup for 2005. It comprises three models - all of which share the same feature set except for a different screen size and display native resolution.
The largest set in this series is the Panasonic 50" TH-50PX50U Flat-Panel HD Plasma TV; this set has a pixel native resolution of 1366x768. The other two models, the 42" TH-42PX50U Plasma HDTV and the 37" TH-37PX50U Plasma HDTV, both have a display native resolution of 1024x768. All models in this series come with a relatively affordable price tag. Prices online vary from the $2,200 for the smallest set in the range to $4,000 for the 50" model. The most popular set in the series - the 42" TH-42PX50U Plasma HDTV - is presently selling online at just under $3,000.
The only real competition that the TH-xxPX50U Panasonic plasma televisions face when it comes to picture quality, come from within Panasonic itself - more specifically from the company's TH-PD7UY industrial series released in Nov 2004 and which has recently (Sept. 2005) been replaced by the company's TH-PHD8UK product range.
Mind you, the TH-xxPX50U series of Panasonic plasma televisions is still a solid performer in just every aspect and is the range to go for if in addition to an excellent picture, you are also looking for additional features such as integrated speakers, built-in tuners, and a few extra inputs to suit your needs.
The TH-xxPX50U Series of Panasonic Plasma Televisions
A Detailed Analysis
Look and Feel
The look of the Panasonic TH-xxPX50U series is reasonably stylish and unobtrusive. The display features a black alloy frame surrounding the screen's glass. This black frame around the display area helps the eye perceive stronger contrast than the silver frame most models employ. And aesthetically, it results in a more appealing design.
The speakers are mounted below the screen rather than on the left and right sides; this results in a smaller footprint than most other sets of the same screen size. The legs and the speaker grille below the screen are finished in silver.
Dimension wise, these sets are among the most compact presently available. The table below gives the relevant dimensions and weights for each of the models in the TH-xxPX50U series of Panasonic plasma TVs:
|TH-37PX50U 37" Panasonic Plasma Television||38.1"||25.2"||3.8"||66.1|
|TH-42PX50U 42" Panasonic Plasma Television||42.1"||27.6"||3.8"||76|
|TH-50PX50U 50" Panasonic Plasma Television||49.5"||32"||3.8"||99.2|
|* Without stand; depth of unit complete with stand is 12.5"|
The remote control accompanying this year product range is a little different from last year. It's fully backlit - this makes it much easier to use in a darkened home-theater environment.
Product Feature Set
General: As already indicated, except for the 50" model - which has got a native resolution of 1366x768, the other two sets in the series support a native resolution of 1024x768 pixels. This means that though all models qualify as HDTVs, yet the 37" and 42" sets still wouldn't show all detail in a fully resolved 720p HDTV source. At the same time, it is worth keeping in mind that at present, there aren't any plasma TVs in the sub-43" category that support a native resolution of more than 1024x768 pixels. (For more information on HDTV, please check our HDTV guide).
The TH-xxPX50U scales all incoming material, including 1080i and 720p HDTV, DVD, and standard-definition TV, to fit the available pixels.
An interesting upgrade over last year models is that the TH-xxPX50U series of products can accept 720p sources. 2:3 pull-down is included in the video processing to help combat motion artifacts for film-based video from standard-definition cable, satellite, and antenna sources.
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; these settings remain associated with the last-used input. This means that you can pre-set three different inputs. Additionally, all models come with selectable color temperature settings - 'Warm', 'Normal', and 'Cool.'
Sound: The TV's internal stereo speakers provide 8 watts per channel of quality sound. Channel separation is very good. Special surround processing creates spacious 3D effects from stereo speakers and a selectable audio leveler automatically adjusts the volume level on your TV to prevent wide variations in sound between different TV stations and types of programming.
Other features: Other features include V-Chip Program lockout, on/off sleep timers, a remote control, and closed-caption decoding.
Connectivity: From a connectivity issue, this series of Panasonic plasma televisions do come with an adequate list of inputs and outputs:
2 x Composite video/audio input (RCA phono x 3) - Rear,
2 x S-Video input (4 pin mini-DIN) - Rear,
1 x Composite video/audio output (RCA phono x 3) - Rear,
2 x Component video input (RCA phono x 3) - Rear,
3 x Audio line-in (RCA phono x 2) - Rear,
1 x HDMI (19 pin HDMI Type A) - Rear,/p>
1 x Digital audio output (optical) - Rear
1 x CableCARD slot is also provided.
Product Pros and Cons
Cons: Unfortunately, Panasonic failed to include a PC-style VGA input; this would have made connecting a computer much easier. This series of Panasonic plasma televisions also lack front or side-panel A/V inputs for convenient camcorder or video game hookup.
The TH-xxPX50U series of Panasonic plasma television sets do not support the picture-in-picture feature found on many other TVs, so you can't watch two programs at once. Similarly, a memory card reader has not been included.
Strictly speaking, the above limitations are not relevant to watching TV and so the lack of any of the said features is not much of an issue. A more series constraint in our opinion relates to the possibility to alter aspect ratio.
Although this series do support three aspect-ratio choices with standard-definition 4:3 video sources in order to display standard video content on the set 16:9 screen, yet it is not possible to change the aspect ratio with high-definition sources. This may be a handicap in that some digital broadcast stations put black bars around 4:3 sources and broadcast them at 1080i or 720p. In these circumstances, you will have no option but to watch DTV content with black bars on the vertical edges.
Pros: The TH-xxPX50U series includes a built-in quality ATSC tuner for receiving off-air HDTV broadcasts, a QAM tuner for cable, and an NTSC tuner for regular antenna reception. The built-in tuner in these Panasonic plasma televisions utilize what is referred to as graceful degradation. A tuner that gracefully degrades, like that found in the TH-xxPX50U series, will allow the viewer to continue to see a picture when a small amount of interference in the over-the-air transmission arises. A tuner that doesn't gracefully degrade, will suffer total dropout if the signal weakens.
The set's authorized CableCARD port means the set will also receive digital cable television systems services directly from a compatible cable operator without requiring a bulky, external cable box.
Overall performance is impressive. Video processing is clean, and once properly set, the TH-xxPX50U series of Panasonic plasma televisions can display a true-to-life picture that you will enjoy for hours without suffering of eyestrain or headache.
The TH-xxPX50U series feature a contrast ratio of 3,000:1, and a fine dot pitch that yields exceptionally smooth detail.
Black level and grey scaling performance is astounding and close to CRT level. This in reality is one of the areas in which Panasonic plasma TVs has surpassed all competition. Deep black levels are extremely important for home-theater viewing in dim light because they lead to better color saturation, improved perceived contrast ratio and crispness. The result is a picture with more impact.
Brightness tends to be extremely uniform across the whole surface of the plasma screen. In addition, thanks to the Panasonic deep black levels, the TH-xxPX50U series has no problem in displaying bright images over a dark background.
Quite a number of brands fail in this respect. Some companies simply increase the perceived contrast by increasing the brightness level. However this approach tends to de-saturate picture colors, increase low-level noise and video artifacts, and hence lower the overall picture quality.
The TH-xxPX50U series of Panasonic plasma television sets - like all plasma in the 'value' category - are not cheap, but still come with an affordable price tag.
It is true that these plasmas lack features often found in cheaper models - like picture-in-picture, PC input, and a memory card reader. However, these nice-to-have features are irrelevant to normal TV viewing, and even more so, to home theater entertainment.
If you want a quality stylish plasma HDTV that would not break your bank account, yet is capable of delivering great contrast, black level, and color fidelity, and that excels in overall performance, then the TH-xxPX50U series of Panasonic plasma Televisions is surely worth considering.