The GT50 Series is one of Panasonic's higher-end 2012 plasma lines, falling just below the top-shelf VT50 Series. The GT50 models share a lot of performance technologies with the VT50 Series, as well as the step-down ST50 Series that I recently reviewed. The series includes screen sizes of 50, 55, 60, and 65 inches. This write-up will focus on the 55-inch TC-P55GT50, but the information applies to all the screen sizes in the lineup.
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Comparing the TC-P55GT50 with the TC-P55ST50, both use the Infinite Black Pro panel with a new Louver filter and 2500 Focused Field Drive technology to improve motion resolution. The GT50 Series adds THX certification and consequently a set of THX picture modes that should provide the most accurate image out of the box. One of my few issues with the TC-P55ST50 was that the picture had more digital noise than I'd prefer. That model has 12,286 steps of gradation, whereas the GT50 and VT50 models have 24,576 steps--which should make for a slightly cleaner, less noisy image with more even light-to-dark transitions. Both series incorporate active 3DTV technology, but neither series provides 3D glasses in the package. Both series also offer the VIERA Connect Web platform with built-in WiFi, a Web browser, and DLNA media streaming, but the GT50 sports a dual-core processor for improved speed and multitasking.
In the design department, the GT50 and ST50 models look similar: Both have a reduced bezel size with a glossy black frame and matching stand, but the GT50 replaces the clear acrylic border found on the ST50 for a metallic silver accent. The TV measures 1.7 inches deep and weighs 62.9 pounds without the stand. One of the ways Panasonic has reduced overall depth is by redesigning the TV's speakers: The new 8-Train system features eight dome-type microspeakers that run along the bottom of the front panel, plus a 22mm-thick subwoofer that's mounted to the rear panel. New "sound lifting" technology is designed to more effectively redirect the sound to the center of the screen.
The connection panel includes four side-facing HDMI inputs, a PC input, a wired Ethernet port, an SD card slot, and three USB ports that support media playback and the addition a USB camera or keyboard. (The ST50 model omits one HDMI in, one USB port, and the PC input.) This TV also adds built-in Bluetooth to wirelessly connect a keyboard or headphones.
The video setup menu includes the necessary adjustments but isn't as thorough as the competitors' offerings. As I mentioned, this model is THX-certified, so you get THX picture modes for both 2D and 3D content, including THX Cinema and THX Bright Room options for 2D viewing. Other picture modes include Standard, Game, Vivid, Cinema, and Custom. As in past models, only the Custom mode grants you access to advanced options like RGB high/low controls for white-balance adjustment, panel brightness (low/mid/high), gamma adjustment (six presets), black extension, contour emphasis, and AGC. The biggest omission is an advanced color-management system that allows you to individually tailor the six color points. The TC-P55GT50's "1080p pure direct" mode enables support of a 4:4:4 digital video signal with 1080p HDMI content. Panasonic's Motion Smoother function is available to improve motion resolution and produce smoother motion with film sources, and you can choose to output 24p film sources at either 48Hz or 60Hz. (This model doesn't include the more desirable 96Hz mode that's offered in the VT50 Series.) The 3D setup menu includes 3D Adjustment to adjust the left-eye versus right-eye depth to produce a more desirable 3D effect; the ability to swap the left/right images if it seems like the depth perception is off; a diagonal line filter to remove jaggies; and the ability enable 2D-to-3D conversion and adjust the depth in three steps.
The audio setup menu lacks any preset sound modes or advanced equalization. You get bass, treble, and balance controls, as well as a basic surround mode. The AI Sound feature is designed to equalize the volume level across all channels and inputs, while Volume Leveler deals specifically with reducing level variations between the different inputs. Panasonic has added a Distance to Wall setting to adjust the low-frequency level based on whether the TV is on a stand (over 1 ft) or wall-mounted (up to 1 ft).
You can add the TC-P55GT50 to your home network via a wired or wireless connection. This year's VIERA Connect platform uses a cloud-based architecture, so there are no memory limitations to the amount of apps and services you can add via the VIERA Connect Market. Apps that come preloaded on the TV include Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu Plus, Skype, YouTube, CinemaNow, and the full sports suite (NBA TV, MLB.TV, MLS, and NHL). For a full review of the 2012 VIERA Connect platform, as it appears on this and other new Panasonic TVs, click here.
Panasonic recently updated its VIERA Remote app for iOS and Android devices. The new v2.02 offers a game-pad layout for VIERA Connect games, an integrated Web browser, and a media viewer. It also allows you to flick content from your mobile device to be displayed on the TV (and vice versa). The app includes a virtual keyboard for easier text input.
Read about the high points or low points of the GT50 on Page 2.