Cosmetics and Features
At a glance, Panasonic's PDPs tend to look alike across their VIERA range. From their current flagship V-series to the more affordable X-series, there're little cosmetic traits to distinguish one over the other. The P50V11S (henceforth referred to as V11), comes styled in a black frame with silver-gray accents just below its bezel. The TV also sports a relatively slim two-inch girth, thanks to its newly dieted NeoPDP panel. To better understand the technologies that go behind the NeoPDP panel, we refer you to our earlier regional launch coverage article where we've got all the details.
What's most distinguishable, however, is Panasonic's "One Sheet of Glass" design found on their prized V-series. The glass sheet is mainly incorporated to exude a seamless design on the TV's front. It's arguable, but this stylistic implementation has made the V11's screen more reflective than desired. Its ellipse stand swivels as well, at approximately 20 degrees in either direction.
Panasonic has abided with a safe formula for its remote. The stick is concisely labeled but the television's UI isn't perfect though. For example, it isn't quite smart enough to sense active AV inputs if any. Meaning you'd have to toggle through its selection just to get to your device of choice. Also, Panasonic's decision to include a "menu" and "option" button on the remote can get a little confounding. Most of the display and audio tweaks are found under "menu" by the way, while the "option" key acts as a quick access to its audio setup.
The V11 is also engineered with a "tough panel" designed to be less susceptible to knocks and scratches. We didn't want to risk our jobs by putting this to the test so we can only tell it as it is. Ports wise, the V11 comes with four HDMI ports; three at the rear and one at the side. As for the others, expect no less that four composite jacks, two component inputs and a digital audio optical outlet. Its SD card slot is mounted at the side panel for easy access. Don't expect any USB ports though.
Aside from their NeoPDP panel, Panasonic is banking on their 600Hz Sub-field drive technology to sell their latest plasma troops. This feature isn't a Panasonic exclusive by the way, since rivals like LG and Samsung are also known to package a similar perk. What is a Sub-field drive anyway? Simply put, Panasonic has bumped up their refresh rates from 8 to 10 sub-fields per frame to cover the 1080p spectrum. Thanks to its reworked video processor. So how did Panasonic derive that 600Hz frame-rate anyhow? Simply put, assuming you have a 60Hz (or 60 frames per second) source, the TV would yield a result of 10 sub-fields x 60Hz, which brings you to 600Hz. Alternatively, it's 12 sub-fields x 50Hz if you are dealing with a 50Hz signal.
With the V11, Panasonic has combined the perks of their G12 Progressive NeoPDP panel and Real Black Drive technology to deliver an eye-popping dynamic contrast ratio of 2,000,000:1 and a wider color
gamut. Another relatively new inclusion is the VIERA Image Viewer function, formally known as Photo Viewer. This feature allows you to read a bunch of media formats such as H.264/AVCHD, MPEG2 and JPEG files via its SD card slot. We tested this with a few large scale JPEGs with impeccable results. We also located a dedicated green "VIERA Tool" button on its wand. This feature consists of various operations like the VIERA Link Control, Pause Live TV, Direct TV Recording etc. However, do note that the latter two features only apply if you have a Panasonic DIGA Recorder to do the job.
One thing did stand out from the VIERA's specs sheet though, and that's its power consumption ratings. Panasonic's NeoPDP panel is poised to reduce that number by a fair bit. The TH-50PY850's ratings stood at 555 watts, compared to the V11's reduced 530 watts rating. In reality, numbers from our tests indicated a power draw between 100 to 500 watts, and this is also dependent on the video image. Last but not least, Panasonic's V11 has also won a nod from THX and their Certified Display certification program.