CES 2010 Report and Analysis-Part 2 Panasonic

January 26th, 2010 · 28 Comments · 3D HDTV, LCD Flat Panel, LED LCD Flat Panels, News, Plasma

TC-P46G25 420

Panasonic unveiled its new line of 3D plasma HDTVs, along with its 2010 plasma and LCD flat panels at International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month.

3D demo 420

3D Plasma

Panasonic’s record setting 152″ 4K (4,096 x 2,160 pixels)  prototype plasma panel, fresh from its new plasma factory, made an impressive 3D demonstration. In addition, Panasonic displayed a number of 50″ 1080p plasma Full HD3D (FHD3D) TVs around its booth.

Without providing a release date or pricing, Panasonic supplied specifications and features of its four screen size 3D offerings within the top-of-the line VT25 series. All employ frame sequential 3D technology used in conjunction with shutter type glasses. Panasonic served a variety of 3D content including clips from Avatar as well as a demo loop from DirecTVs 3D satellite channel.

Directv 3d

Panasonic’s 3D sets wowed CES attendees with their impressive 3D presentation, free of visible crosstalk (ghosting), motion blur or flicker. The V25s and glasses sync up the left and right eye views via an infrared beam from the TV at a refresh rate of 120 Hz (60 frames per second per eye).

Panasonic boasts a number of picture improvements in its plasma technology that help produce  outstanding 3D images. They include:

High Speed Drive

To achieve 120 fps rate with the same brightness as earlier generation 60 Hz displays, Panasonic developed high drive speed, which enables more rapid panel illumination while maintaining image brightness.

Crosstalk Reduction Technology

New phosphors and circuits allow the red and green phosphors to shorten their decay time by 66% preventing overlap of the left and right images (crosstalk), which is seen as ghost images.

High Precision Eyewear Control

A Panasonic sync circuit momentarily closes both shutters on the 3D glasses, while simultaneously creating a blanking interval (black screen) on the plasma TV to eliminate alternate eye light leakage, thus producing clearer 3D images.

Plasma HDTV

In addition to its VT25 and VT20 3D series (more below) Panasonic introduced five other plasma series: G25, G20, S2, U2 and C2. The top four series (VT25, VT20, G25, G20) get Panasonic’s newest Neo PDP plasma panel, which boasts a 5,000,000:1 contrast ratio. The panel construction is very similar to Pioneer’s Kuro design and is the first Panasonic plasma design aided by former Pioneer plasma engineers.

2010 neopdp420030408pioneer420

Improvements include: four times the luminous efficiency compared to Panasonic’s 2007 panel, meaning it requires just one-quarter the power to produce the same brightness level. This development results from a new, deeper cell design, revised electrode placement, new gas mixtures and faster decay phosphors. Panasonic adds a new black layer too. Examining the photos (above) of the Panasonic (top) and Pioneer (bottom) plasma cell structures, one can clearly see the similarity.

Other features for 2010 include:

VIERA CAST internet connectivity widgets and content now adds services from Netflix, Pandora, Twitter and Fox Sports to its Amazon Video, Picassa, YouTube, Bloomberg and Weather Channel offerings. In addition, Panasonic’s new entries now permit use of an optional wireless LAN adapter via the USB inputs, as well as the ability to make Skype video calls with an optional video camera. Buyers can also add a keyboard for easier Tweets. ISFccc picture calibration capability is also included in select models.

THX 2010 model

THX Certification assures exacting standards are met for uniform luminance (brightness) and color, low black levels, real world high contrast ratios, accurate HD color gamut, proper gamma, full HD resolution and high quality scaling.  Below are Panasonic’s descriptions of the new models and associated features, with new information culled by HD Guru.

VT25 Series

Includes four screen sizes ranging from 50-inches to 65-inches – the TC-P65VT25 class (64.8″ measured diagonally), the TC-P58VT25 class (58″ measured diagonally), the TC-P54VT25 class (54″ measured diagonally) and the TC-P50VT25 class (49.9″ measured diagonally). One pair of 3D Eyewear is included. In addition to providing 3D viewing, the VT25 series features the enhanced VIERA CAST service with Wireless LAN Adaptor ready on its USB port, video call capability, VIERA Image Viewer to view JPEG digital still images and HD video recorded on an SD Memory Card; VIERA Link, a PC input, two USB Ports, THX certification and THX Movie Mode, 24p cinematic playback, 600Hz Sub-field Drive (produces 1080 TV lines of moving picture resolution), Infinite Black Pro display with 5,000,000:1 native contrast, high efficiency Neo PDP plasma panel,  four HDMI connections a RS232C connection and ISFccc capability. In addition, these TVs incorporate new phosphor science that allows the TV to switch more quickly, to produce a smoother 3D image. As with all the Panasonic Plasma HDTVs, the Full HD 3D models have a panel life of up to 100,000 hours and are mercury and lead free.

The VT25 series, like the now discontinued Pioneer Kuros and the 2009 TC-P54Z1 has just two sheets of glass, instead of three (a second top sheet) found in all other previous plasma HDTVs. This new configuration cuts down on image degrading internal reflections while increasing contrast. The VT25s also add a new anti-reflective coating bonded to the top glass that dramatically reduces glare from external light sources hitting the screen. (see graphic below).

New Panasonic AR Coating

The V25s allow the judder free viewing of 1080p/24fps 2D sources (Blu-ray and some satellite programs) at 96fps (frames per second). No word yet on the display rate of 48fps 3D movies on new Blu-ray discs.

VT20 Series

The VT20 Series is available in the 50″ screen size as the TC-P50VT20. It is 3D capable and like the VT25 models includes one pair of 3D eyewear. All features and specs are identical to the VT25 except the omission of ISFccc capability and the RS232 interface.

G25 Series

The VIERA G25 series includes the TC-P54G25, a 54-inch class HDTV (54″ measured diagonally), the TC-P50G25, a 50-inch class HDTV (49.9″ measured diagonally), the TC-P46G25, a 46-inch class HDTV (46″ measured diagonally) and the TC-P42G25, a 42-inch class HDTV (41.6″ measured diagonally). The G25 series features improved VIERA CAST functionality, video call capability(2), THX certification and THX Movie Mode, and VIERA Image Viewer for playing back digital still JPEG images and AVCHD videos recorded on an SD Memory Card and VIERA Link for improved networking. In addition to allowing the user to utilize all VIERA Link capable components (including an optional Panasonic security camera) with a single remote, the G25 line features a PC input and two USB ports, allowing for Wireless LAN Adaptor connectivity and the addition of a keyboard. The G25 series provides 1080p resolution, Infinite Black display with 5,000,000:1 contrast ratio (using the same two sheet Neo PDP glass design found in the VT25 and VT20 models), full-time 1080 TV lines of moving picture resolution, 600Hz Sub-field Drive and like all Panasonic 2010 VIERA HDTVs, contains no lead or mercury and has a long panel life – up to 100,000 hours before achieving half brightness.

G20 Series

The VIERA G20 series includes the TC-P54G20, a 54-inch class HDTV (54″ measured diagonally) and the TC-P50G20, a 50-inch class HDTV (49.9″ measured diagonally). Like the G25, the G20 series features improved VIERA CAST functionality, video call capability, THX certification, and VIERA Image Viewer for playing back digital still JPEG images and AVCHD videos recorded on an SD Memory Card and VIERA Link for improved networking. In addition to allowing the user to utilize all VIERA Link capable components with a single remote, the G20 HDTVs feature a PC input and two USB ports, allowing for Wireless LAN Adaptor connectivity and the addition of a keyboard. The Neo PDP 2 sheet plasma glass design of the G20 series provides 1080p resolution, Infinite Black display with 5,000,000:1 native contrast, full-time 1080 TV lines of moving picture resolution, 600Hz Sub-field Drive and like all Panasonic 2010 VIERA HDTVs, contains no lead or mercury and has a long panel life – up to 100,000 hours before achieving half brightness. The sole difference between the G25 and the G20 series is the omission of the ability to connect a Panasonic security camera.

S2 Series

The VIERA S2 series consists of six models , a 58-inch class model (58″ measured diagonally) – TC-P58S2 and a 65-inch class model (64.8″ measured diagonally) -TC-P65S2, in addition to the TC-P54S2, a 54-inch class HDTV (54″ measured diagonally), TC-P50S2, a 50-inch class HDTV (49.9″ measured diagonally), TC-P46S2, a 46-inch class HDTV (46″ measured diagonally) and the TC-P42S2, a 42-inch class HDTV (41.6″ measured diagonally). Key features of the S2 series include 1080 TV lines of moving picture resolution, which eliminate traditional HDTV motion blur. The S2 series also includes VIERA Link and the VIERA Image Viewer. Other features include 1080p Full HD resolution, 2,000,000:1 native contrast using a three sheet (top cover glass) Neo PDP panel, 600Hz Sub-field Drive and an anti-reflective filter. The S2 series contains no lead or mercury in the panel and the TVs have a lifespan of 100,000 hours. The S2 series feature Clean Touch bezel,*designed to keep the TV bezel looking its best with less fingerprints.

The 42″ and 50″ S2 models have a depth of 3.7″.
(* except for 58 and 65 inch class.)

U2 Series

Panasonic’s VIERA U2 series will be available in two screen sizes – the TC-P50U2, a 50-inch class HDTV (49.9″ measured diagonally) and the TC-P42U2, a 42-inch class HDTV (41.6″ measured diagonally). The U2 line of VIERA Plasma HDTVs feature 600 Hz Sub-field Drive, VIERA Image Viewer for viewing digital still JPEG images, three HDMI connections, VIERA Link and 1080p Full HD resolution. The panels are lead and mercury free and are rated up to 100,000 hours, at which time they will achieve half brightness. The U2 and C2 series do not use the new Neo PDP panels

C2 Series

The C2 series presents a line of 720p plasma HDTVs that help Panasonic deliver on its promise to satisfy consumer demands for differing HDTV resolution options. The TC-P50C2, a 50-inch class HDTV (49.9″ measured diagonally), TC-P46C2, a 46-inch class HDTV (46″ measured diagonally) and the TC-P42C2, a 42-inch HDTV (41.6″ measured diagonally) offer spectacular picture performance with a 600Hz Sub-field Drive that delivers razor-sharp resolution, VIERA Image Viewer for viewing and sharing digital photos with friends and family, music slideshow functionality, and VIERA Link. Like the other members of the 2010 Panasonic VIERA HDTV line the C2 series contains no lead or mercury in the panel and the TVs have a lifespan of 100,000 hours.

LED LCD

LED LCD D2 Series

Panasonic’s top of the line VIERA LED-LCD D2 series features two 1080p Full HD models – TC-L37D2, a 37-inch class (37” measured diagonally) HDTV and the TC-L42D2, a 42-inch class (41.6” measured diagonally) HDTV. The LED method of backlighting the LCD panel allows for the HDTVs to become extremely thin and offers a wider color gamut than traditional back-lit LCDs, which use fluorescent bulbs to provide the light source. Combined with the IPS panel, the viewing angle is improved, contrast is also improved and there is lower power consumption. The D2 series also features the proprietary Universal Dock for iPod®; the VIERA Image Viewerâ„¢ to view digital still JPEG photos; VIERA Linkâ„¢, – a technology that utilizes HDMI-CEC (Consumer Electronics Control) and allows a consumer to operate all VIERA Linkâ„¢ compatible A/V components using only the TV’s remote control; a PC input; 24p Smooth film; 120Hz motion picture Pro 4; four HDMI connections and Clear Panel.

All the following LCD series use CCFL backlights.

U25 Series

Panasonic’s TC-L42U25, a 42-inch class (42.0″ measured diagonally) HDTV, is a 1080p Full HD Resolution HDTV whose features include 120 Hz Motion Picture Pro 4; 24p Smooth film; VIERA Image Viewer to view digital still JPEG images; VIERA Link; three HDMI connections and a PC input.

U22 Series

This series presents three screen sizes – the TC-L42U22, a 42-inch class (42.0” measured diagonally) HDTV; the TC-L37U22, a 37-inch class (37” measured diagonally) HDTV and the TC-L32U22, a 32-inch class (31.5” measured diagonally) HDTV. The U22 series of LCD HDTVs features 1080p Full HD Resolution; VIERA Image Viewer to view digital still JPEG images; VIERA link; three HDMI connections and a PC Input.

X2 Series

This series are all 720p resolution displays and include the Universal Dock for iPod in its three screen sizes and introduces a new 22-inch screen size – TC-L37X2, a 37-inch class (37”measured diagonally) HDTV; TC-L32X2, a 32-inch class (31.5” measured diagonally) HDTV and TC-L22X2, a 22-inch class (21.6” measured diagonally), HDTV. In addition to the Universal Dock for iPod, the X2 models include the VIERA Image Viewer to view digital still JPEG images; VIERA Link; three HDMI connections and a PC Input.  Improvements to iPod Dock make it easier to use with iPhone and iPod Touch. TC-L32X2 and TC-L22X2 feature Clean Touch bezel, designed to keep the TV bezel looking best with less fingerprints.

C22 Series

Consists of two screen sizes – the 37-inch class (37” measured diagonally) TC-L37C22 and the 32-inch class (31.5” measured diagonally TC-L32C22. Both are 720p HDTVs and feature VIERA Image Viewer to view digital still JPEG images; VIERA Link; two HDMI inputs and a PC input

Edited by Michael Fremer

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28 Comments so far ↓

  • TechnologyMonitor

    then you are owners for cnet

  • Rodney

    I don’t care about 3d, I don’t care about new brighter screens, and I don’t care about the new encased cell structure; unless it puts the Black Level Rising to a halt. At the very least no more than 1-2%. For The longest time, I was in denial over this issue, but not anymore. Panasonic Please get your act together I love your overall reliability.

  • Bob

    CNET’s latest “Best 5 HDTVs” and why Panasonic has been removed comment…

    http://reviews.cnet.com/best-hdtvs/

  • Bervick

    Go to youtube and search the following

    SOMEONE IS ANGRY AT PANASONIC

  • Bervick

    CNET’s LATEST REPORT ON BLACK LEVEL FINDINGS

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-10462105-1.html?tag=mncol

  • mike

    Any updates on the black level issue?

    No. We are waiting for the test results from David at CNET. We will post his results or information from any reliable, trusted industry reviewers and sources if and when it is published.

    We removed another comment regarding this issue because it was ad for another website (one that happens to prohibit these comments) and a possible copyright violation.

    HD Guru

  • Doug

    Hi, this is a rather urgent question. I have a S1 being delivered soon and with all this talk about the black levels, I am really worried.

    Should I return it and choose something else? If I do keep it and this reduction does occur, will the picture quality still be decent (comparable to LCD sets?). This is my first HDTV and I am worried I made the wrong choice. Thanks for your help and advice. Doug

  • Wes Sokolosky

    Gary,

    Thanks for your comments regarding the increasing idle drive voltage and increasing MLL issue in Panasonic plasma sets from 2008/2009. Though I realize the AVS forum thread is quite daunting in its length, the first post is updated regularly.

    Apparently accurate measurements have documented these changes in the G series, at least 1 V model, and 1 X1 model. measurements on an S1 model are pending. It is less clear exactly what effect the changes have when viewing actual program material.

    Thanks again for you comments.

    Wes Sokolosky

  • etype2

    It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

    Some company’s have a tendency to ignore or deny a problem until it becomes a firestorm.

  • Tzedekh

    Has Panasonic released a firmware fix for their botched THX implementation in the 2009 models?

    Some users reported a green shift in the color balance on some of the THX certified plasmas within 2009 HDTVs. HD Guru and other reviewers did not see this issue using our review samples, a sign that only part of the production run was affected.

    Panasonic has created a firmware upgrade to correct the issue in affected panels. Here is the link for the download.

    HD Guru

  • Wes Sokolosky

    Gary,

    Could you comment on the likelihood that the increasing MLL over time documented by AVS Forum members, and as reported by CNet and EndGadget might be an issue with the 2010 models?

    It appears that the new models will have different cell structure, phosphors, and different gas mixtures (at least certain of the the G and V series). Is the programmed increase in idle drive voltage, even though more gradual than the 2008/2009 models, likely to cause these panels to lose their ability to display blacks over time? In other words, will the out of the box MLL as much as quadruple over time, as has been shown on at least some 2008/2009 panels?

    I understand this is a thorny issue, but would appreciate any insight you can provide.

    Thanks,

    Wes


    For readers not familiar with the situation, a number of AVS Forum member posts have referenced a black level change over time (black levels get lighter) on 2008 and 2009 Panasonic plasmas, compared to their “out of the box” performance.

    On January 3rd, 2010, my CNet friend David Katzmaier asked Panasonic to comment and explain. On Feb. 4th, Panasonic acknowledged the voltages do indeed increase over time as part of the panel’s built in aging circuit. This will result, Panasonic explained, in an increase in the minimum black level. Panasonic also states the increase in black level in the upcoming 2010 models is more gradual over time than the previous year’s models. Here is the link for David’s post and Panasonic’s response.

    David added he has two Panasonic plasmas on hand and will begin measuring the minimum black level the panel is capable of reproducing over time. We have a lot of respect for David’s work and methodical testing techniques and are 100% confident that he will produce reliable answers to the question of how much of an increase there is and over how long a period of time.

    Because of this, we feel that duplicating David’s tests would be redundant and not the best use of our time and resources. Therefore HD Guru will instead concentrate on reviewing as many of the most review-worthy 2010 models as we can.

    Since we don’t yet have test results, and considering that this problem’s severity is currently based on hearsay from an unknown person(s) reporting on a forum, we do not feel it would be responsible to change or withdraw our recommendation of Panasonic plasma HDTVs at this time.

    However, because we felt Panasonic’s response was incomplete; we posed some additional questions to Panasonic and await their response.

    We asked Panasonic if there might be an upgrade designed to slow or diminish the acknowledged black level increase. And if so, when it might be instituted. Because David K asked similar questions first, he may receive and report Panasonic’s answer before we do.

    In addition, we asked a THX spokesperson about the duration of the THX certification guaranty, which includes luminance measurements.

    Is the certification guaranty good over the life of the product, only out of the box, or for a specific number of hours and if so, how many hours?

    The THX spokesperson said the company would try to supply the answers to HD Guru next week. We will report the response and provide a comment. Thanks for writing.

    HD Guru

  • etype2

    The moniker, ” New king of HDTV ” is now seriously questionable.

    One more problem for plasma. Sony, Fujitsu, Vizio, Philips and Pioneer have pulled out of plasma production. Who will be the next.

  • Tzedekh

    Sorry — I accidentally clicked the “Submit Comment” button before finishing, which I do below.
    ——–
    This is a serious a black eye, akin to Toyota’s problems (although obviously lighter blacks endanger no one), and Panasonic doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to commit to rectifying it in existing sets. So that means that the reliability of Panasonic plasmas is now questionable. And even image retention might conceivably be heightened by the problem, as more than a few annecdotal reports indicate.

    Samsung plasmas have their problems — buzzing (which Panasonics apparently do, but to a lower degree and incidence), audio unsynching with Blu-ray, somewhat higher out-of-the-box image retention, and raised black levels when the 96-Hz Cinema Smooth mode is engaged (and the difficulty restoring black levels). But at least they offer 96-Hz 24p support in a midlevel model and significantly better image controls. Not Panasonic — they had black levels, lower IR, and reliability. And now they might not even have those advantages.

  • Tzedekh

    While it is true that no TV is perfect, the news of the significantly lightened black levels — confirmed a glib response from Panasonic characterizing the flaw as a feature — undermines two of the three reasons to get a Viera plasma, namely, reliability, deep black levels, and insignificant image retention. As there appear to be no report of raised black levels with respect to Kuro, Samsung, or LG plasmas, I have to infer that either Panasonic’s explanation is BS or their technology is so bad that they had to resort to this solution. This is a serious a black eye, akin to Toyota’s problems (altho

  • etype2

    Recommended reading for those considering the purchase of Panasonic plasma.

    Link: http://www.engadget.com/2010/02/04/panasonic-cops-to-rising-black-levels-in-its-plasma-hdtvs-but-q/

  • Jeff

    @skipp

    Actually Panasonic just released a response saying that it indeed has a “feature” that makes the panel brighter over time.
    They deliberately play with the voltage after a certain amount of time which brightens the panel.

    Right now we don’t know if we’ll get a firmware update or if panny screwed us with good black levels that go (maybe) bad after a few months.

  • skipp

    @ death cardo,

    scandal, huh? take your posts back to avsforums with the rest of the conspiracy theorists who like to goof around in their service menus and take black level measurements 7 times a day with cheap colorimeters.

  • Stanton

    Outstanding website and great CES reviews. Do you have the OUTSIDE dimensions for these HDTV’s? Specifically, I would like to know the full height and width of the 42″ LED/LCD version.

  • DarthCardo

    I have a Kuro but I’ve been following Panasonic’s plasmas for some long time. The VT25 series looks pretty promising but recently I became aware of something that’s pretty much a scandal: 2009 Panasonic’s plasmas tend to LOSE by 50% their black levels when the panel reaches 1000 hrs of use!!! It seems that something went wrong in the software that controls pixels voltage. And also it opens the door to the old screen burn effect. Panasonic show some respect to your customers!

  • HDTV Outlet

    Really awesome pics of the new 3D HDTV. I wonder how long an average person will be able to afford one. Maybe it will only take a few years with the speed of hardware and technology is going.

  • JAM

    The Panasonic VT25 series has won 2 awards at the CES 2010 given the CES show organizers together with cnet. The 1st is for the the best TV in the TV category and the 2nd for the all inclusive “Best in Show Award”. Looks like these sets are going to be pretty appealing in 2010 and a top pick for well informed buyers.

  • Tzedekh

    I hope Panasonic has done the decent thing and added a 96-Hz refresh option and finer-grained image controls (without requiring the user to enter the service menu) to the G20 and G25 series. The European versions of the 2009 G series had these features. Why is Panasonic deliberately screwing U.S. customers?

  • Steve

    Ben – yes the 3D Blu-ray Discs will have 1080p24 per eye – the VT25 will use 3:2 pulldown to provide 60 fps per eye or 2:2 pulldown to provide 48 fps per eye, this is what Merson is referring to here as it isn’t clear if Panasonic will only offer 60 fps per eye using 3:2 pulldown for 3D or if they will add a 48Hz option. The latter should be possible given that the panel is capable of 96Hz (4:4 pulldown) for 1080p24 sources.

    Although I’m curious why they didn’t just go 5:5 with a 120Hz panel.

  • Ben

    NIce work, but Andy Parsons told me that only 1080p24 per eye was included in the Blu-ray spec. So no 48 or 60 fps per eye.

  • FM

    Lately I’ve been reading about issues that occur with Panasonic Plasma displays after 1000 hours of use. This includes a 50% decrease in black levels and easier image retention.

    I hope Panasonic has addressed these issues with this new 2010 series.

  • Mike

    Since the VT25 has removed a layer of glass like the previous Pioneers, can you comment on panel buzz from them? I know this was an issue with some Pioneer owners.

  • Clint

    Mr. GURU:

    Thanks for this long awaited analysis. Can you share YOUR PERSONAL IMPRESSIONS of the VT25s particularly the 3D performance and black levels?

    Many thanks……

  • starX

    awesome

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