Panasonic TC-P54G20 54 inch 1080p Plasma TV Review
Panasonic TC-P54G20 Review by Mike English - December 17th 2010
VERDICT: BUY!!! Panasonic covers its bases with a fantastic industry standard for high quality wide contrast televisions. The TCP54G20 offers incredible blacks and rich, subtle shade of color. The SD card slot is, as always a favorite feature on these TVs. Also, this model offers a wide variety of on-line content, either wired or wirelessly with an add on dongle for the TV. Picture controls are easy to use with a surprising range of adjustability.
The Panasonic TC-P54G20 By The Numbers:
Panasonic TC-P54G20 Review– 1920x1080P, G20 Series Neo-PDP, 1080 Lines Moving Picture Resolution, “Infinite Black” 5,000,000:1 “Native” Contrast (Panasonic’s specs), 24P, 600Hz, THX, 20W Full Range Audio, Viera Cast IPTV
Unmatched black level
Blacks are so black it’s easy to get carried away with picture adjustments – more below
Full 1080P HD Moving picture resolution. Rock steady, locked in HDTV quality picture.
IPTV functionality will vary with your location. Canadian customers are still limited to fewer programs and services.
SD Card Reader an excellent way to share pictures and videos around the holidays
Decent, not great, audio. An issue with all flat panel TVs.
Excellent, easy to use menu interface
Great connectivity Lots of inputs of all sorts.
Skype built into the TV is a great way to stay in touch, with an add-on camera
Energy Star 4.0 for low power consumption
Mercury and lead free
100K rated lifespan
This is a very good TV, from a company that’s made a lot of very good TVs. The TCP54G20 does everything very well. Priced below the VT series of TVs, the major difference is that the Gs do not support 3D. In most other respects it’s an identical display with a few small differences. The 54G20 offers simply amazing black levels, with rich vibrant color. Menus and commands are easy to navigate and adjust as well. Power consumption is down as well, with this TV earning an Energy Star 4.0 rating. Integrated speakers today are much smaller and energy efficient than in days past. This means they sound, well, small, and the TCP54G20 speaker set was no exception. It’s passable mind you, impressive for what it is, but make no mistake, you should have a good receiver / speaker combo.
This isn’t your run of the mill HDTV. It’s flat, sure, but there are flatter. Like virtually every other TV out there, it’s gloss black. What sets this TV apart is everything else – the whole turning it on and watching a movie part. Right out of the box the blacks were nothing short of stunning. Note however, that while this is not an “Infinite Black” display, there simply isn’t a display that can match its black levels. “Infinite Black” is marketing gobbledygook.
It’s a colorful TV as well, with amazing subtleties and gradations. Panasonic makes a big deal about “Moving Picture Resolution” and they should – it’s an important distinction between good TVs and great TVs. Combined with the incredible blacks and color resolution, the full 1080 lines moving picture resolution provides for a rock solid, top of the line picture that’s clear, beautiful and bright. Combined with the right picture source, like Blu-Ray, it can be a very educational experience – you will see what you’ve been missing.
The Pioneer influence is felt here as well, and not only relating to black levels. Get at a really bad angle to the TV, so you’re more beside it than in front of it. Look at a title sequence let’s say, something with a lot of contrast. On this TV everything looks pretty much like you’d expect it to. On pretty much every other plasma on the market you’ll see reflections on the inside of the front glass, because there is a space between the plasma module and the front glass. This is a Pioneer patent that Panasonic has been able to exploit in the years following the Pioneer debacle.
I like Panasonic remotes. Button arrangement is very intuitive and well laid out. The backlight is bright, perhaps too bright for dim light rooms.
Gone are the days where you plug something in and go though. Like other feature rich TVs from other manufacturers, there’s a bit of set-up required. At a minimum you’re setting the time, at most you’re getting into the network configuration settings. So it’s a little more involved in getting it on for the very first time. You can skip certain Setup items, like Networking, and come back later, if at all.
I’m not going to go into any detail on VieraCast in this review. We’ll be taking a more involved look at VieraCast in the not too distant future. Here’ I’m looking at the TC-P54G20 more as a TV than a digital media device. Strange concept in the day of digital convergence I know.
In fulfilling its main intent, this is a very good TV, but you know this if you’ve read this far. What we haven’t discussed though is the VIERA Image Viewer.
Admittedly a secondary design feature, but still one of the most underappreciated functions of this and pretty much every other Panasonic TV out there. Simply put, this TV (among other Panasonics) has an SD card slot. Grab one from your smaller LCD picture frame, or drop one in from your digital camera.
Set it up as a slide show and go. My experience with this feature was over Thanksgiving at my in-law’s house. Lots of grandchildren running around, doing awesome kid stuff, and getting their pictures taken. We all ended up inside, in front of the TV, a 37 inch Panasonic LCD, taking turns with the memory cards from our digital cameras. It was a hoot, especially for the kids who got to see themselves on television.
Think about this – TVs, especially big ones, are only cool when they’re on. When you’re not actually using it, your TV is doing its best bad furniture imitation. Instead, turn it into the worlds biggest, most versatile electronic picture frame.
The Bottom Line
The TC-P54G20 is an excellent TV. It meets the goal of bringing a quality cinema experience into your home, and pushes the envelope of functionality with a surprisingly useful SD card reader built right in. The picture quality is great, among the best I’ve seen in a TV. Blacks are deep and silky smooth. Colors pop with an amazing subtlety that has to be seen to be believed. If you’re looking for a quality big TV (biggish, by today’s standards!) get somewhere and take a look at this one.