To maintain a standard across our review units, we calibrated the Panasonic VT50S with Datacolor's Spyder3TV Home Theater Color Calibration kit prior to our visual tests. This is to ensure we assess the HDTV based on optimal display settings, and not on visual estimation alone. Using the TV's Normal preset, we've also disabled all the necessary enhancement features. Here are the recommended calibrated picture settings using the THX Cinema preset - Brightness: 9, Contrast: 50, Color: 59, and Tint: 0. Black and white luminance were recorded at 0.020cd/m2 and 85.630 cd/m2 respectively. What we can gather from these results is that the THX folks got it right with their Contrast and Tint calibrations. Slight adjustments were required for Brightness and Color, but they aren't a major deviation from the picture settings out of the box. Black luminance levels are noticeably lower (which is good) than the VT30S, which yielded a reading of 0.116cd/m2. However, keep in mind that the Normal preset was used instead of the THX mode during the calibration process for the VT30S.
DisplayMate is an application which generates a sequence of test patterns to determine the capabilities of imaging devices, like color, uniformity, and gray-scale accuracies for example. For our tests, we've hooked up the Viera VT50S to our display test-bed system via a HDMI connection. Similar to our calibration setup, we have also disabled all visual enhancements on the TV to reduce the variables involved. Here are some of our findings.
|Dark Screen||There's no hint of "clouding" around the white text when it was introduced on the all-black test pattern. It's a plasma screen we're dealing with after all. Black tones were nice and even throughout the screen.|
|Dark Gray Scale||Contrast levels were splendid and so were the deep blacks. This ensured the darker gray blocks were visible. Color tracking errors were absent as well, judging by the relatively neutral and achromatic grayscale.|
|Color Scales||Excellent color gradations and accuracy. The same applies to the VT50S' generous horizontal viewing angle too. The darker bands are slightly "clumped" but less so than Samsung's Series 8+ E8000 PDP.|
|256-Intensity Level Color Ramp||The four bands - white, red, green, and blue - were reproduced true to form, from the brightest to the darkest zones (see picture above) without traces of color deviations. Slight compression issues, but they're negligible.|
IDT's HQV Tests (on Blu-ray) are designed to assess image quality and handling of digital displays through a variety of video signal processing tasks which includes decoding, de-interlacing, motion correction, noise reduction, and film cadence detection. We've programmed the Blu-ray player to playback in 1080i to test the TV's de-interlacing capabilities. Here are the results we noted on some of the more crucial HQV tests:-
|Digital Noise Filtering||Small levels of noise were removed when P-NR (Panasonic's noise reduction feature) is set to Max without any adverse deterioration in the video quality. Otherwise, the Min and Mid options were ineffective mostly.|
|Diagonal Filter Test||Panasonic's video processor handled the moving interlaced image effectively, without signs of feathering or judder on the rotating bar.|
|Film Resolution Loss Test||Results deteriorated after Film Cadence Detection was enabled. Although the VT50S is able to decode native 24p content without 2:3 pull-down involved, it has issues decoding original 1080p24 material from this particular 1080i60 video which simulates typical broadcast sources.|