Part of Panasonic's early crop of 2010 plasma TVs, the S2 Series falls in the middle of the 2010 lineup. It uses higher-end technology than the lower-priced U2 and C2 Series, but it lacks the advanced features you get in VT25, G25, and G20 Series--such as THX certification, 3D capability, and VIERA Cast. The S2 Series includes six models, with screen sizes of 42, 46, 50, 54, 58, and 65 inches. We have not performed a hands-on review of the TC-P50S2, but here is an overview of the TV's features. This 50-inch, 1080p plasma uses Panasonic's NeoPDP panel and 600Hz Sub-Field Drive and claims a full 1,080-line motion resolution. It has EnergyStar 4.0 certification and sports Panasonic's new CleanTouch bezel with a smudge-resistant finish.
• Read more plasma HDTV reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com.
The TC-P50S2's connection panel includes three HDMI and two component video inputs, as well as a single RF input to access the internal ATSC and Clear-QAM tuners. This model does not include a PC input. The HDMI inputs accept both 1080p/60 and 1080p/24 signals, and one HDMI input is located on the side panel for easy access. Also on the side panel is an SD card slot through which you can view digital photos; this model can't play MPEG-2/AVCHD video through the SD card reader, a feature that is available in the step-up lines. The TV lacks an Ethernet port and does not support the VIERA Cast Web platform through which you can access Amazon and NetFlix VOD, Skype, YouTube, and other Web features. It also lacks advanced control ports like RS-232 and IR.
The TC-P50S2 has a solid assortment of picture adjustments but lacks some of the advanced options you'll find in other displays. Picture settings include five picture modes, three color-temperature options (but no advanced white-balance controls to fine-tune the color temperature), video and MPEG noise reduction, blur reduction to improve moving-picture resolution, and a C.A.T.S. feature that automatically adjusts the picture based on ambient light. This model does not have the 24p Direct In mode found in the higher-end models, which lets you dictate whether to output 24p film content at 60 Hz (which involves 3:2 pulldown) or 48 Hz (which involves 2:2 pulldown and produces less judder). The TC-P50S2 has several features to prevent or counteract the effects of short-term image retention (a common plasma concern), including a pixel orbiter, a scrolling bar, and the option to use gray sidebars instead of black. There are five aspect-ratio options, and you can configure the TV to display a 1080i/1080p image with no overscan.
The TC-P50S2 has a straightforward design, with a black bezel, a detachable square base, and speakers incorporated into the bottom panel. The audio setup menu includes bass, treble, and balance controls, as well as an option to enable basic surround processing and a volume leveler that deals specifically with reducing level variations between the external inputs. Energy-saving features include the ability to set the TV to shut itself off after 10 minutes of no signal or three hours of no activity.
Read about the high points and the low points of the TC-P50S2 plasma on Page 2.