Product Review

Panasonic 50PV700 (TH-50PX700U) 50" 1080p Plasma TV

Part I

September, 2007

Ofer LaOr



Diagonal Size: 50" (127 cm)
Formats: 1080p (including 24fps), 1080i60/50,
   720p60/50, 480i/p, 576i/p

Front: Five Control Buttons, Headset Jack, HDMI, S-
   Video, Composite Video,  Stereo Analog Audio, SD
   Card Slot

Rear Inputs: Two HDMI, CI Slot, RF, Two
   Component, Two Composite, S-Video, VGA
● Rear Outputs: Toslink Optical, Composite Video,
   Audio Monitor

Video Processing: PNR, MPEG NR
Zoom (x3), Auto, Cinema, Normal
Audio Amplifier Power: 31 Watts x 2
Dimensions: 31.6" H x 49.9" W x 5.5" D
Weight with Stand: 123 Pounds
● MSRP: $2999.95 USA



Panasonic's new 50PV700 (TH-50PZ700U in the US) Viera series plasma is one of a new batch of 50" 1080p plasmas coming from Japan's Mitushita corporation.

Panasonic has made a few interesting choices with these models, including a very high contrast ratio, SD memory card support, and CI slot.

The Design

The outer display bezel is black and sleek, but not shiny, bordered by two aluminum strips above and below the screen. The lower strip is wider and hosts the On/Off button, as well as hiding a panel (holding control buttons, a headset plug, S-Video/composite and HDMI inputs mostly useful for HDV video cameras) and the well designed luminescent SD card slot.

Whereas plasma panels traditionally use a shiny glass display, LCD panels usually have a defused softer front. The reasons for this are technical plasmas need a hard clear frontal surface and glass was a natural solution. LCD's diffusion of light often gave the viewer the appearance that it handled light reflections better, and so was less affected by ambient lighting. In a way, this was true softer ambient lighting reflected from the entire surface, while plasmas often produced a mirror effect that caused the entire room to be reflected to some degree back onto the viewer.

So, here is an interesting turn of events the 700 Viera series is the first to use a diffused front surface to significantly reduce light reflection (ironic, since companies like Samsung have changed their high end LCDs to be "shiny" and look more like a Plasma all the time). The effect is someone LCD-esque. Undoubtedly this is what Panasonic intended blur the technologies and let customers choose the product based on how it looks and not by what their friends might have said. While this will have a more significant impact on the viewer in a TV store, it took a while for me to get used to this in my home. The shine from the display had a calming impact on me before, and I missed it now. See the following link:

While the outer filter has been changed, looking at the image from the side, while using a window IRE test pattern, it was easy to see that the same type of internal glass/air filter was still in use. These cause a repeating image to be seen when viewed from a particularly acute angle, indicating that Panasonic still has some catching up to do in this respect.

This image below attempts (it's hard to pass the full effect through a digital camera) to show these items:

  1. The bigger circle outlines how an object would appear when reflecting off the new 700 series filter.

  2. The long oval shows a brighter area "double image" as light reflects internally from an internal glass/air filter and bounces out. This is hard to see under normal conditions.

The two sides of the panel hide two invisible ultra slim speakers, mostly suitable for smaller rooms and "talking heads" style shows (news, talk shows, etc.), but are not as effective for music or movies. Apparently, the entire bulk of the chassis serves as the resonance area for twin passive subwoofers within the set.

Front panel inputs are shown below.

The back panel of the display provides quite a few inputs for the display: One PC VGA input (with two RCA audio inputs), twin composite inputs, an S-Video input, two component inputs, and two HDMI inputs. Each S-Video or component input also has a composite input, so the set can actually accept a maximum of four composite inputs, two S-Video inputs, and two component inputs but not at the same time. The unit also decodes HDMI audio and provides a digital (optical) audio output, as well as monitor out, consisting of stereo RCA audio outputs and a monitor video out (not really sure who would need to use that).

This model lacks an HDMI 1.3a input, which is a bit disappointing, but also not really as useful for displays as it would be on a receiver (unless you consider Deep Color/XVYCC support critical).

An RF input coupled with the optional CI input will mostly be useful for Europeans needing DVB-T support or for DTV support in the US market.

Go to Part II.

Copyright 2007 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity

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