Panasonic Plasma in 2010

Panasonic makes the best plasma TVs money can buy, at any price range. Here's a quick look at their 2010 product lineup, from the cheap C2 series and middle-of-the-road U2 and S2 series, up through the slick G25 and the VT25, the best 3D TV on the market.
By , Last updated on: 12/3/2014

Now that the Pioneer Kuro is out of production, Panasonic is the undisputed leader in plasma television. The five lines on offer in 2010 touch all the bases for any consumer looking for a smoother, sharper picture than anything that LCD has to offer, usually for a lower price.

Before we get started, it's worth noting that Panasonic caught some flack recently because last year's G10 and V10 models were subject to an automatic increase in background brightness after so many hours of use. That is, blacks start to look a little gray after several months of regular use. This is an automatic process triggered by the TV software to "achieve the optimal picture performance throughout the life of the set," Panasonic says, but it's left some viewers pretty perturbed. Panasonic apparently heard those complaints, and promises that this year's models will get brighter more gradually. Onward:

C2 Series: Bigger and Cheaper

You'd be hard pressed to find any TV larger than 40 inches in just 720p these days. You'd also be hard pressed to find any 50-inch television for under $1,000. Thus is the paradox of the Panasonic C2 series: huge plasma displays, low resolution, bargain basement prices. If you absolutely must have a large TV for a small amount of money, these will get the trick done. And honestly, since it's plasma, it probably looks better than some of the bush-league 1080p LCDs at the same size.

U2 Series: Skip It

So the U2 series is better than that band from Ireland, but we're aiming low. Even my Irish grandma thinks Bono is a clown and his music is pretentious dreck. Anyhow, this series claims to be a 1080p model, but it only has 900 moving lines on its screen. Huh? I'm a man of letters, but I don't need a physics degree to do this math. Most of the specs are identical to the S2 series (below), but it's missing a few features, like about 180 vertical lines and a bright NeoPDP panel compared to the model below (and costs about the same). This is a no-brainer: skip it. It seems the U2 name is cursed.

S2 Series: That's More Like It

The lowest-cost "full" 1080p set in Panasonic's 2010 lineup looks to be a steal. The S2 sets come in the widest range of sizes of any Panasonic plasma line, from 42 inches up to a burly 65 inches. The 50-incher is currently (late April) available for just a shade over $1,000 at Amazon -- about the same price as the inferior U2 series, with better performance. Those looking for a smooth picture and deep blacks at a reasonable price, can stand to live without some bells and whistles like Web connectivity, and don't mind paying an extra couple of bucks on your power bill, would do well to take a hard look at the S2.

G25 Series: The Best Value In Plasma

Still relatively affordable as far as big-screen TVs go, the Panasonic G25 tacks on a handful of luxury features like the inky Infinite Black panel and Viera Cast service (Netflix, Skype, Twitter, Pandora, Fox Sports, so on and so forth). What else can we say? This looks to be a phenomenal TV from the leader in plasma, better than any LCD and cheaper than most. Go wild.

VT25 Series: 3D For The Masses...With Lots of Money

The VT25 is regarded as the best 3D TV on the market. It's pricey -- well over $2,000, not including the 3D Blu-ray player and stereoscopic glasses -- but that extra dimension costs more. And when you look at it compared to some similar 2D-only sets from just a few years ago, it's actually cheaper. Unfortunately, Panasonic has decided to sell this series exclusively through brick-and-mortar retailers for the time being, so you'll have to get out and go buy it at a Best Buy. Enjoy the sun on that trip, because you won't be leaving the house for a while when you have this beauty.

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