The P50T501 is a 50-inch plasma TV with a 1280 x 1080 resolution. As opposed to a true 1080p TV, this model uses a special panel technology called Alternate Lighting of Surfaces (ALiS) in which only alternate rows are illuminated at the same time. Consequently, the TV performs more like a 1080i panel. The connection panel includes three HDMI and two component video inputs, as well as a single RF input to access the internal ATSC, NTSC, and ClearQAM tuners. The HDMI inputs accept 1080p/60 but not 1080p/24, and one is located on the front panel for easy access. There's no PC input, but an RS-232 port is available to integrate the TV into an advanced control system. An SD card reader on the front panel allows you to view JPEG photos.
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The menu offers a solid amount of picture adjustments, including three picture modes and three color-temperature options, but it lacks advanced white-balance and gamma controls. The menu includes a timer that allows the TV to automatically switch between day and night picture settings. Six aspect-ratio options are available, including the ability to view 1080i/1080p sources with no overscan, and automatic aspect-ratio detection is offered. The P50T501 features a split-screen viewing mode, and Hitachi includes features to prevent or counteract short-term image retention, a common plasma concern.
On the audio side, adjustments include bass, treble, and balance controls, as well as a generic surround mode, a Bass Boost function, and a Perfect Volume setting to even out volume level between channels and inputs.
• The P50T501 has pleasingly natural color and a solid amount of detail with both high- and standard-definition sources.
• Since this is a plasma TV, it does not suffer from motion blur or viewing-angle limitations.
• Its black level isn't as good as the better plasmas on the market, so images don't look as rich in a darkened room.
• The P50T501 does not have a 1920 x 1080 resolution, so the picture isn't as sharp as you'll see on other HD panels.
• Plasma TVs generally aren't as bright as LCDs and therefore are not the best choice for a really bright viewing environment.
The P50T501 offers generally solid performance and a healthy connection panel. The ALiS design costs a bit less than a true 1080p panel, but you can find better all-around performance if you're willing to go with 720p or move up a little in price for true 1080p.