Panasonic Viera TH-P50U30A

Unlike many modern plasmas, the TH-P50U30A craves a darkened room like a foodie does a 12-course degustation. That's the compromise you make if you want a 50-inch plasma screen for around a grand.


7.4
CNET Rating
1.5
User Rating

View more from Panasonic »

About The Author

CNET Editor

Derek loves nothing more than punching a remote location into a GPS, queuing up some music and heading out on a long drive, so it's a good thing he's in charge of CNET Australia's Car Tech channel.


Design

With its plain black bezel, the TH-P50U30A does nothing to stir the pent-up emotion within us, but it also does nothing to offend. The only stylistic embellishments are the triangular cut-outs on the bottom corners, and a hint of silver colouring around the Panasonic logo.

The U30A comes equipped with the same remote that does service on the rest of the Panasonic range, and works well enough. Accordingly, the menu structure is a carbon copy of that seen in other 2011 models — in summary, it does its job without being too flash.

Features

Despite the low price, the U30A isn't left wanting for too much as far as its spec-sheet goes. At the back of the U30A, you'll find two HDMI ports, a set of component and composite inputs, an Ethernet port, a D-Sub VGA input and both digital and analog audio outputs.

To the side are the TV's physical controls, an extra HDMI input, two USB ports, an SD/SDHC/SDXC card slot, a headphone jack and a set of composite inputs. The unit's two 10W speakers provide a passable amount of fidelity. We were able to turn the volume up to the point where it filled our not-inconsiderably sized testing space without descending into a haze of fizz and crackle.

Via the Ethernet port or an optional USB wireless dongle, the U30A can connect to a DLNA media server. It can also view JPEG pictures and play music, as well as DivX and MKV movies stored on USB drives. Image quality on these highly compressed video formats is good, but if you quit playback part way through and then resume later, the file won't resume where you left off.

Performance

You can't buy a new Porsche for the price of a Yaris, and in the world of TV it's no different with the P50U30A. Even well away from the electricity grid, the screen has a pale, washed-out look in a lit room. Instead of being a resounding shade of black, the plasma screen is more of an alarming mid grey.

Consequently, images are bleached of their natural colour and warmth if the screen is being used in a room with either natural or artificial lighting. Compounding this failing, the glass screen is highly reflective, and its fondness for impersonating a mirror is rather distracting.

Close the curtains and flick the lights off, and things improve immeasurably. Gone, naturally, are the annoying reflections. Blacks are — well, black — and colour, contrast and brightness can all be set to a reasonable resemblance of reality.

Given its bang-for-buck factor, it seems almost petty to criticise the unit's image quality, but quibble we must. Viewed in isolation, and in something approaching pitch black, the U30A is decent, if not outstanding.

Placed side by side with the older and considerably more expensive VT20, it's obvious that there's more artefacting when watching high-def sport, such as Formula One. In detailed and relatively static scenes, there's a certain softness to the U30A, allied with a noticeable lack of smoothness in many panning or high-action situations. A higher level of graininess is evident in often poorly lit realms of, say, Gotham City.

Conclusion

Unlike many modern plasmas, the TH-P50U30A craves a darkened room like a foodie does a 12-course degustation. That's the compromise you make if you want a 50-inch plasma screen for a shade under AU$1100.



Add Your Review 3


* Below fields optional


Post comment as
Summit
2
Rating
 

"Cheap but nasty"

Summit posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Price

The Bad:Broken in 2 years

I purchase the unit in around May 2011 and it died November 2013. The same familiar "7 blinking red lights of death" that these TVs have become famous for. Not good enough.

GursharanS Facebook
1
Rating
 

"Major Problems afer a year"

GursharanS posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Price

The Bad:Stopped working

I purchased this TV in Dec 2011 and had a mejor problem in March 2013, it's out of warranty now and will cost me around $350 to fix the problem. It won't turn on and the power light flashes seven times.
Very Disappointed

 

RonnieS posted a comment   
Australia

I'm a bit confused... the review of the 42 inch makes me want to buy it

http://www.cnet.com.au/panasonic-th-p42u30a-339321757.htm

and then I read this review of the 50 inch and it's like 2 different TVs.

Seen some user reviews and it seems like this reviewer failed to tweak the settings




Sponsored Links
CNET's latest

User Reviews / Comments  Panasonic Viera TH-P50U30A

  • Summit

    Summit

    Rating2

    "I purchase the unit in around May 2011 and it died November 2013. The same familiar "7 blinking red lights of death" that these TVs have become famous for. Not good enough."

  • GursharanS

    GursharanS

    Rating1

    "I purchased this TV in Dec 2011 and had a mejor problem in March 2013, it's out of warranty now and will cost me around $350 to fix the problem. It won't turn on and the power light flashes seven t..."

  • RonnieS

    RonnieS

    "I'm a bit confused... the review of the 42 inch makes me want to buy it

    http://www.cnet.com.au/panasonic-th-p42u30a-339321757.htm

    and then I read this review of the 50 in..."

CNET Speedtest

Recently Viewed Products