Panasonic recently introduced V10 series, the next level up from its well received G10 plasma line (recently reviewed on this site), uses the same NEO PDP panel but adds significant features including three color modes (up from two), user-controlled gray scale setting, 96Hz refresh rate for 24Hz sources and a thinner profile. The set is now available in 50,” and 54″ diagonal screen sizes, with the 58″ and 65″ versions due sometime in August.
Both the TC-P54V10 reviewed here and the 50model use an attractive one-sheet front anti-reflective glass, that extends from edge to edge covering the bezel to produce a very slick appearance. The V10s sport a silver accent along the display bottom. The TC-P54V10 has a stepped rear panel that is about 1″ deep at the top and 3.3″ in the middle,Ã‚Â almost an inch thinner G10 4.2″ overall depth.
The V10’s jack pack adds a fourth HDMI input (side mounted) compared to the G10’s three, plus two component video inputs with L/R audio; one S video with L/R; two composite AV inputs (one side-mounted); RS-232 control jack for Crestron Type remote control systems and a side mounted sub-D PC input. There is also an Ethernet port for connection to Panasonic’s Viera Cast Internet functions.
The remote control is similar to the one found with the G10 and easy to use, though it lacks a backlight. The On Screen menu uses a typical layered structure with the more advanced features (described below) in sub-menus. However, there is a Viera Tools button that allows direct access to a number of functions including picture mode (such as THX). The 54″ comes with a fixed non-swivel stand. Like the G10, it has downward firing oval coned speakers that provide adequate volume but not high fidelity sound.
As previously noted, the V10 adds a number of performance oriented features the G10 series lacks, including Digital Cinema Color (DCC), which emulates the color gamut of the Digital Cinema Initiative (DCI).Ã‚Â While the HDTV standard used on Blu-ray movies and theoretically broadcast HDTV (usually not though, because of a number of variables in the broadcast chain) has a restricted gamut called Rec. 709, Blu-ray discs (and Sony Playstation video games) have the ability to display a wider color gamut via meta-data as part of the HDMI 1.3 standard called xvYCC. Unfortunately, no discs to date have it, but if they ever do, the TC-P54V10 will be able to use the data to map out the colors as the film studio intended. In the meantime, you can choose to have the V10 simulate a wider color palette by engaging the DCC feature. The TC-54V10 features two other color modes: standard and THX. The THX mode closely follows the Rec. 709 HDTV standard (see the Performance section for details).
As with the G10 series, the TC-P54V10 has effective noise reduction for analog (called Video NR) and digital based signals (Block and Mosquito NR). A control for Black level makes darker objects black or near black (choose the “Light” setting to avoid crushing black detail), while C.A.T.S adjusts picture brightness with the level ambient room light (we recommend leaving it in the off position).
Like the G10 models, the V10 can connect via an Ethernet jack to services including Picasa (photo uploads and downloads), YouTube, Amazon Videos and Bloomberg News. Unlike a number of other TV vendors, Panasonic’s VieraCast is upgradeable, meaning new services will be offered as they become available in the future.
Unique to the V10 series (and the single model TC-P54Z1) is 96Hz display. When fed a 24 Hz signal (movie film based content), from a Blu-ray player or (limited) DirecTV HD content, the V10 provides the option of choosing 48 Hz, 60 Hz or 96 Hz display. With 96 Hz, film based content is presented as 4-4, meaning film frame 1 repeats four times, followed by frame 2Ã‚Â repeated four times, followed by frame 3 repeated four times and so forth. Other plasma TVs and LCD flat panels use a less sophisticated system called 3-2 pulldown, which repeats (film based content) frame 1 three times, followed by frame 2 two times, followed by frame 3 three times and so forth. This uneven pace, (necessary to fit 24 frames per second into a 60 Hz display) sometimes produces jerky horizontal pans called Ã¢â‚¬Å“film judder.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Technologies developed by LCD TV makers can also eliminate film judder, using higher refresh rates of 120 Hz and 240 Hz. Repeating film frames 5 times (120 Hz) or 10 times (240Hz) eliminates judder. However, most 2009 LCD sets also use a system called motion compensation/motion estimation (MC/ME) that makes motion smoother by creating synthesized frames between the actual film frames.
Unfortunately, the MC/ME circuits also create artifacts that make film based content appear as if it was recorded as video rather than transferred from movie film. There is a reduction or elimination of the appearance of film grain and other unwanted visible image changes. Some LCD HDTV makers claim this function can be deactivated while others brands and models don’t offer the choice. For example, the recently reviewed Samsung UN46B8000 continued to make film based content “video like” even though the ME/MC circuit was set to the “off” position. The video “look” has been called by some the “soap opera effect” or SEO.
Various home theater forum contributors opine about the effect, with some liking it and others (including the HD GuruÃ‚Â®) not. In our opinion, when displaying a movie (whether at a theater or home) the medium should preserve the film look, including the grain associated with chemical photography. The V10’s system eliminates film judder while maintaining the film look. To date, LCD displays with MC/ME frame insertion don’t.
LCDs need 120 or 240 Hz to reduce motion blur. 60 Hz LCDs display about 300 out of 1080 lines per picture height (PPH) during motion, while 120 Hz LCDs max out at around 600 out of 1080. The V10 reproduces full 1080 PPH motion resolution, confirmed using the FPD test disc.
With the G10 setting new plasma standards in energy consumption, out of the box color accuracy, white level uniformity and image brightness, the expectation was for similar performance with the equally spec’d TC-P54V10.This was confirmed in our video processing trials with the V10 also acing the standard definition HQV Benchmark tests and the HD Benchmark’s Noise Reduction, Video Resolution and 3:2 tests. (See the G10 review for more details Here)
Taking primary color points measurements in THX and Custom modes (with DCC on and off), the results are as follows, with the Rec. 709 coordinates for red, green and blue in parentheses. THX R= x.634, y.333 (x.64, y.33) G= x.305, y=.613 (x.30, y.60) B= x.153, y.064 (x.15, y.06). These numbers mean the V10 closely reproduces the HDTV standard when set to THX.Ã‚Â Custom with DCC “Off” measured R= x.664, y 3.23; G= x.280 y=.644; B= x.151, y.057. With DCC “On” R= x.669 y.321; G= x.257 y.671; B= x.151 y.057
Image brightness was excellent. Maxed out (factory default) “Vivid” mode measured a blazing 87.9 ft. Lamberts.‚Â With all the user settings calibrated for maximum accuracy “Custom” mode measured a very bright 47.6 Ft Lamberts level comparable to many calibrated LCD flat panels. The THX mode came in at 33.5 ft lamberts, bright enough for most viewing environments, but not as punchy as when viewing in the brighter “Custom” mode.
Energy consumption was low. Using factory default home “Standard” mode the TC-P54V10 requires just 216.5 watts using the IEC industry standard DVD test material. Calibrated in “Custom” mode consumption came in at 240 watts, which is not at all shabby for a 54″ display.
Gray scale was measured in THX mode with the “Color Temperature” user setting at “Warm 2” (there is no other adjustment for THX mode). Measurements recorded were 6626K (20 IRE) and 6594K at 80 IRE. Custom mode allows gray scale to be-user calibrated. Again, using Warm 2 color temp mode, post calibration at the 20IRE level recorded a color temperature of 6448K and 6424K at 80IRE.Â Skin tones appear quite natural.
The Gamma user control, set to its numerically highest level (“Normal”), measured 2.25 average. There is no service level or user gamma tracking adjustment available, an omission we would like to see remedied in a display of this caliber. Blu-ray discs are mastered for a 2.5 gamma display.
The TC-P54V10 really excelled overall in visual contrast, consistently creating more “pop” to the image than our reference Pioneer Elite Pro-141FD monitor.Ã‚Â The Pioneer Elite is still the champ when it comes to black level, with deep inky blacks, which is most noticeable in a completely dark room. However, the Pioneer sometimes obscured dark details that the Panasonic presents. For example, the clouds of smoke clearly visible on the Panasonic during the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks broadcast in high definition on NBC, sometimes melted into black on the 141FD.
Most surprising was the significantly lower black level of the V10 when compared side-by-side with the TC-P50G10 (see photo). Even though the two have the same contrast ratio specifications, the V10’s blacks were far deeper than the G10’s. Too low to measure with our meter, we guesstimate the blacks are about one half as dark on the V10, which is a significant and worthwhile improvement.
Black Level Comparison-
TC-P54V10 Top TC-P50G10 Bottom
The TC-P54V10 is Panasonic’s best plasma HDTV to date.Dealers and videophiles have been lamenting Pioneer’s withdrawal of the revered KURO plasma HDTVs from the market. Panasonic’s V10 provides comparable or better performance in nearly every criteria of image quality, at less than half the retail price (50″ vs. 50″) and can be regarded as a worthy successor.
Readers have been asking whether they should purchase a G10 or V10. Both are superb displays and either (under reasonable room ambient lighting conditions) will provide overall a more accurate image with far wider viewing angles than any LCD tested to date.
The TC-PV10 betters the G10 in black level, “pop”, judder free film reproduction and user accessible gray scale adjustment (though one needs an expensive meter to obtain accurate results). HD Guru believes the relatively small cost differential ($400 retail/~$300 street) is well worthwhile, especially forÃ‚Â viewers interested in obtaining the most accurate home movie experience. The TC-P54V10 retails for $2599.95.
The TC-P54V10 so significantly raised the performance bar, HD Guru feels it necessary to widen the rating scale from this review forward from four to five hearts.
The HD Guru awards the Panasonic TC-P54V10 its highest rating.
-HDGuru with Michael Fremer
Have a question for the HD Guru?
Copyright Ã‚Â©2009 HD Guru Inc.Ã‚Â All rights reserved. HDGURU is a registered trademark.Ã‚Â The content and photos within may not be distributed electronically or copied mechanically without specific written permission.Ã‚Â The content within is based upon information provided to the editor, which is believed to be reliable.Ã‚Â Data within is subject to change.Ã‚Â HD GURU is not responsible for errors or omissions.