Today's subject is the Panasonic TC-P50GT25, the first of several 3D-capable plasma TVs Home Theater Review has lined up over the next few months. This 50-inch, 1080p, plasma TV is technically 3D-ready because, unlike Panasonic's top-shelf VT25 Series, it doesn't come with the active-shutter glasses required for 3D viewing. Each pair of glasses will cost you about $150. Like most of the new 3D-capable flat panels, the TC-P50GT25 uses frame-sequential 3D technology, in which the TV alternately flashes a full-resolution left-eye and right-eye image. The shutters in the glasses open and close in sync with the signal to direct the appropriate image to each eye. The IR emitter that syncs the 3D glasses with the TV is built into the TC-P50GT25's front panel, so you don't have to purchase that module separately, as is the case with some 3D-ready displays. The TC-P50GT25 supports 2D-to-3D conversion to produce a simulated 3D image from standard 2D content, a feature that's not available on the step-up VT25 models.
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The TC-P50GT25 is actually quite similar to the TC-P50G25 2D television that we recently reviewed--in its appearance, features, setup options, and performance. So, instead of repeating many of the same specs and observations, I'm going to refer you to that review first and focus here on the ways in which the TC-P50GT25 differs from its 2D-only predecessor. The quick summation of the G25 review goes a little something like this: It offers very good HD performance and a thorough assortment of features for a solid value. Both models offer THX certification (for 2D content), 600Hz Sub-field Drive to improve motion resolution, the Infinite Black Panel to reject ambient light and improve black-level performance, and EnergyStar 4.0 certification. Both include the VIERA CAST Web platform, with access to Netflix, Amazon VOD, YouTube, Pandora, Twitter, and Skype (with the addition of an optional Web camera). The 2D model has an MSRP of $1,495.99, while the addition of 3D capability ups the TC-P50GT25's MSRP to $2,095.99. Although the GT25 doesn't come with 3D glasses, Panasonic is currently offering a bundle promotion: Buy any Panasonic 3D TV, and get two pairs of glasses, two movies (Coraline and Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs), and the DMP-BDT100 3D Blu-ray player for free, in the form of an instant rebate.
The TC-P50GT25's appearance is practically indistinguishable from that of the TC-P50G25, except for a few subtle accents and the inclusion of two new logos on the front bezel: the "3D Full HD" logo is located at the top right, and the RealD 3D logo sits near the integrated IR emitter located in the center of the bottom bezel. The connection panel, dimensions, gloss-black finish, oval-shaped base, and backlit remote control are identical between the two TVs. Highlights of the connection panel include three HDMI inputs, two component video inputs, one PC input, and one RF input--as well as an SD card slot for media playback, an Ethernet port for network connectivity, and dual USB ports that support the addition of the optional WiFi adapter ($99.95), the Web camera ($169.95), and/or an external keyboard for easier text input.
Likewise, the TC-P50GT25's setup menu includes the same options in the video, audio, aspect ratio, anti image retention, and power-saving categories as those found in the 2D model. Among the TC-P50GT25's preset picture modes, you'll find both a THX mode and a Custom mode. The THX mode offers the most accurate, natural-looking image out of the box, and Panasonic does allow adjustment of basic image parameters within the THX mode. However, if you want to perform a full calibration, the Custom mode is the only mode that provides access to advanced white balance controls (high/low red and blue only), gamma adjustment (six presets), contour emphasis (edge enhancement), and panel brightness (with low, mid, and high options).