Big doesn't have to mean ugly, as the Panasonic Viera TH50PX600 proves. If you're looking for a large-screen television, and have the room for an enormous 50-inch display, then you'll almost certainly want to consider this stunning set.
If there was a showcase of the best plasma screens, this TV would almost certainly be there, and leading the pack to boot. The blacks are black and the contrast is excellent. Even the picture from the built-in Freeview receiver is reasonable -- although a screen this size can't help but show the flaws in the Freeview signal.
The £2,300 price tag on this set might put some people off, and it doesn't support the 1080p format, but if you decide to shell out for it, you'll be assured amazing picture quality. Plus it will look really cool in your front room. If you can't quite afford this 50-inch set, consider Panasonic's 42-inch version, the 42PX600, which offers the same amazing performance, for under £1,500, or maybe even think about getting a projector.
Our review sample came with the pedestal stand (model TH50PX600PED). You can also get it with a wall bracket (TH50PX600W, around the same price), or a full AV cabinet (the TH50PX600CAB, which is around £400 more, and is the version pictured above). If you're going for the pedestal option, you'll need something sturdy to put the TV on -- it weighs a hefty 43kg.
If you are paying well over £2,000 for a TV, you want to be sure it's going to look the part in your front room. Rest assured, this is a stunning television. It's finished in both matte black and silver. The attached speakers are well concealed too, only visible at very close range.
The front panel includes a cover that hides some basic input sockets for connecting a camcorder or other equipment. There are both composite video and S-Video inputs, as well as stereo audio in. An SD card slot is provided, allowing you to use the television as an oversized digital photo frame. There are also simple controls for adjusting the channel and volume, as well as cycling through the various inputs.
At the rear, the set has a decent range of connections, including two HDMI sockets, component video in, RGB PC input and three Scart inputs -- two of which are RGB-enabled for the best quality video signals from standard DVD players and Sky or cable set-top boxes.
Selecting the correct input source can be annoying, as the remote's TV/AV button doesn't cycle through every input -- it only toggles between the built-in Freeview receiver and AV in. To pick the input you must switch to AV in and then use the four coloured buttons towards the middle of the remote. This is a little clumsy, but not a deal-breaker.
One of the Panasonic TH50PX600's interesting features is its ability to record to and playback from an SD card. The TV can record the programme you are watching to an SD card, and there are various quality options that enable you to squeeze the most out of your card.