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Panasonic TC-P55UT50

We haven't had a chance to fully test this product yet, but we've assembled this helpful overview of relevant information on it.

Boom! Panasonic drops a standard HD plasma television in the TC-P55UT50 that comes with a 55-inch screen. Watchin’ 1080p quality images on a screen with an 16:9 aspect ratio with a 24p cinematic playback of 48 Hz. The set comes with 3D capabilities and the  set is capable of active 3D and 2D-3D conversion. Audio comes from two 10-watt speakers on the bottom of the TV. Connect accessories via the 2 HDMI ports and 2 USB 2.0 ports. There are also a few RCA in/out ports. Watch home videos using the SD card slot. The set comes with an ethernet port and is Wi-Fi ready. It doesn’t allow for web browsing but it does come with VIERA Link which has apps for things like Skype, YouTube and Flickr.

Features List:

- 55-inch screen

- 1080p HD

- 16:9 aspect ratio

- 48 Hz cinematic playback

- 3D capable

- 2 HDMI, 2 USB, SD card slot

- VIERA Link

- Wi-Fi ready, ethernet port

Digital Trends’ Television Buying Tips:

Do I need an ATSC tuner?

If you plan on watching, free, over-the-air programming, then yes. As of 2009, all over-the-air broadcasts use the ATSC standard. Pretty much all HDTVs manufactured over the past few years will include this feature.

Which other panel specs should I pay attention to?

In short: brightness, contrast, and refresh time.

Brightness is measured in Candelas per square meter, or cd/m2. A typical figure, for instance, might be 500 cd/m2. More is always better, especially if you plan to plant your TV in a bright room where the screen will have to overcome other light sources.

Contrast is measured as a ratio of the brightest white a TV can produce, over the darkest dark. For instance, Insignia’s NS-L42X-10A offers a 4,000:1 contrast ratio. More is also better, but beware of “dynamic contrast ratios,” which use unrealistic measurement conditions (the brightest white is measured with the backlight set to full, and the darkest dark with the backlight to minimum, even though those levels could never occur side by side on the same screen) to inflate the number to levels like 2,000,000:1.

Refresh time is measured in milliseconds, such as 5ms. Lower is always better, and will prevent the “ghosting” that can sometimes be seen in fast-motion video.

What inputs should I look for?

A final consideration when buying a new HDTV is what you can connect to it. Make sure there are ample HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) ports to connect multiple components, such as a cable/satellite receiver, video game consoles, DVD/Blu-ray player, camcorder, and so on. At least three or four such ports is a must. A convenient bonus is when the TV also offers a USB port to connect a Flash thumb-drive or external hard drive full of music, photos and videos, or a SD or Memory Stick card slot that lets you insert a compatible card that contains photos and videos. If you think you’d like to connect your computer to the television for big-screen web surfing, look for one with PC connectivity. Many TVs today offer these additional features.

What are widgets?

Many of the top television manufacturers – including Sony, Sharp, Panasonic and Samsung – include Ethernet jacks on the back of their premium televisions for high-speed Internet connectivity (or in some cases, have integrated Wi-Fi for wireless connections). TV viewers will then use the remote to select “widgets,” graphicalicons on the screen that plays relevant (and customized) content ranging from YouTube videos and Flickr photo galleries to local weather, news, sports updates and stock quotes, usually delivered by Really Simple Syndication (RSS). Even more exciting is the partnership between Netflix and various TV companies, such as LG and Sony, allowingtelevision viewers to access tens of thousands of movies on-demand, many of which are in high-definition.

Should I worry about viewing angle?

Absolutely. All LCDs will distort when viewed from extreme angles, but the degree of distortion and the angle it starts to occur at varies from TV to TV. If you plan to pack a dozen people in front of a single TV for entertaining, viewing angle will make a huge difference for the unlucky few who get scattered off to the sides. Most manufacturers will state viewing angle in degrees (for instance, 160) in the specifications for a TV, but be warned: methods for measuring this very subjective figure vary, and we can guarantee most companies opt for the most generous figures. When possible, try to evaluate it yourself in person, or read hands-on reviews that can offer anecdotal evidence, rather than relying on easily-manipulated numbers.