CES is always the time when Panasonic announces its new, top of the range plasma TV. And this year, the screen it's promoting is the VT50. There are two possible models, one is the 55-inch P55VT50 and the other is the 65-inch P65VT50.
Both sets will have the company's "infinite black ultra panel", which should offer some of the most impressive black levels ever seen on a plasma TV. Well, apart from the Kuro, of course. But Panasonic does get ever closer to the Pioneer standard with every passing year. A specially-designed filter prevents external light getting in and messing up the image too
When you buy a VT50 you also get the "touch pad controller". This device is designed to make navigating around internet-based content a little bit easier. There are some hard buttons too, for accessing Netflix and Skype, which is quite a telling sign of where TVs are heading as a technology.
Panny is also boasting 24,576 steps of gradation, which should mean that images with subtle tonal changes between shades are properly represented. This is crucial, especially in plasmas, as the first generations of screens look dreadful because of poor gradation.
Also new are Panasonics 8-train speakers. These are very thin, but offer a lot of power and a wide and clear soundstage. There is also a 22mm thick subwoofer at the rear, which helps provide low-end sounds and give the TV a nice wide sound. This is great news, because all too often thin TVs have dreadfully weedy sound.
The TV is also THX 3D certified, and is capable of converting 2D to 3D. 24p 3D is also smoothed, using Panasonic's new "3D 24p cinema smoother" which also must get some credit for being the clumsiest name for anything ever.
Panasonic also seems to have pulled out all the design stops. The Kuro might have been the best performing plasma of all time, but it was never a looker. Panasonic has a single piece of glass here, which gives the VT50 a style and beauty that is sure to impress those who see it in shops.
Which would you rather have, a plasma or an LED backlit LCD?