Product: Panasonic TH-50PZ77U 50" 1080p Plasma HDTVManufacturer: PanasonicMSRP:
$2,799.95Lowest Historical Price:
Buying a new television these days can be a tough job. There has been a definite shift from Plasma to LCD, with some manufacturers
exiting the Plasma arena entirely. However, if you're looking for a TV above 42-inches, Plasma can still be a regret-free choice. Here we review one of Panasonic's latest entries into the large Plasma marketplace, the Panasonic TH-50PZ77U 50" 1080p HDTV.Specs50" Class (50.0" diagonal), 1080p 1920 x 1080 Full HD Resolution
1080p/1080i/720p/480p Compatible, Up to 10,000:1 Contrast Ratio
Integrated ATSC Tuner, SD Card Slot for Photos, EZ Sync HDAVI Control
Inputs: 2 HDMI, 2 Component, 3 S-Video, 3 Audio. 20W Stereo Speakers
Plasmas are generally known to be more capable of reproducing deep black levels that are a challenge for LCDs. The Panasonic TH-50PZ77U is no exception, as it has exceptional blacks that enhance the look of other deep, dark colors. [Wikipedia]
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Shiny Screens = Bad
One of the main concerns that we had while shopping for the television was that the TV should have a capable anti-glare filter, as there are windows in the back of the room. Few things are as annoying as having your viewing obscured by the reflection of your own gut. The Panasonic TH-50PZ77U sports an Anti Glare Filter that virtually eliminates reflections from the backlighting in the room. The screen itself has a somewhat matte texture, more akin to LCDs than to shiny glass Plasmas we've seen in the past.
A full compliment of inputs, both HD and SD, allow you to hook up your home theater & entertainment devices to the TH-50PZ77U. Video delivered over HDMI was glorious at full 1080p 1920x1080 resolution, and upconverted videos were handled easily as well. While we usually avoid SD programming (something perhaps learned from our previous HDTV that didn't fare so well with SD signals), we were pleasantly surprised by how the TH-50PZ77U handled these low resolution signals. You can adjust the display mode to appropriately stretch the displayed image to eliminate letterbox bars, etc.
The Panasonic TH-50PZ77U also sports a nifty new initiative called HDAVI Control. Aside from being a scheme to get you to buy all compatible Panasonic products for your HT, it allows you to control your entire HDMI interconnected system with one button. Think of it as Harmony functionality natively integrated into the components. Like most users, we do not have the compatible equipment and so this feature went untested.
The TH-50PZ77U comes with a basic tabletop stand, but we opted to wall-mount the TV for a more integrated look. It weighs over 100 lbs (111.3 lbs according to Panasonic) so you're going to want to have at least two guys to move it around, or three if you plan to hoist it up for wall mounting. The display itself is about 4" deep so it does protrude from the wall quite a bit, especially if the wall mount you choose adds significant offset.
This TV happened to be an exceptional price ($1599) when we picked it up, and the regrets are really non-existent. When compared to the TV it replaced, the 3-year old Panasonic TH-50PHD6, the upgrade factor is immediately apparent. The blacks are deep, contributing to excellent contrast unseen in LCDs, the anti-glare filter greatly reduced reflections from the screen, and the black bezel gives it a contemporary, sleek look. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this set to anyone who is over their fear of Plasmas and is looking for a 50-incher with full 1080p capability.