The Panasonic TX-P50GT50 suffers from the same problem as all of the brand's 2012 TVs; while its user interface is relatively straightforward to use, it's long-winded and old-fashioned-looking, and not a patch on the likes of LG, in particular.
Take media playback. The Panasonic TX-P50GT50 supports MOV, MP4, AVC HD and AVI files over a network, adding MKV and WMV support if you use a USB flash drive. MP3, WMA and FLAC music files are also supported, as are JPEG photos.
Not a bad effort, but actually accessing these files from a Mac is a terribly manual process, and poor when compared to LG's SmartShare idea.
That said, it's not a difficult or complicated TV to get on with, largely thanks to its excellent preset picture modes. Kudos goes to the THX Cinema mode in particular, though there are two spaces – Professional 1 & 2 – on which to save calibrations; the Advanced Menu (once activated in the set-up menu) contains tweaks for white balance, gamma and colour management.
Dual-core processing makes Viera Connect a joy to use, and it remains one of the easiest to use smart TV platforms around, despite its separation from the GUI as a whole.
A final gripe about the user interface involves the grid-like electronic programme guide for Freeview HD; it contains two hours' of schedules for 10 channels, but both audio and picture of the channel you're on are cut while you inspect it. It badly needs a live TV thumbnail.
As a result of the Panasonic TX-P50GT50 being relatively slim, audio is nothing to get excited about.
We failed to hear much difference between V-Audio and V-Audio Surround, and though there's just enough mid-range to cope with most dialogue-dominated TV programmes, the onboard sound never does justice to the on-screen awesomeness.
We think the Panasonic TX-P50GT50 is excellent value, considering its high-end performance. Still, we do think that any plasma TV costing this much that purports to be a 3D TV – and a stunningly effective one, at that – really should have at least a couple of pairs of 3D glasses in the box.
All use Bluetooth or radio to link to the Panasonic TX-P50GT50, so no line of sight is required, though that does have the unfortunate effect of making 3D specs from Panasonic's previous 3D TVs, such as the Panasonic TX-P50VT20 obsolete. Who'd be an early adopter?
Although the step-up VT50 version of this TV includes a slightly more advanced black filter, some 3D glasses and a touchpad remote control, the latter, in particular, isn't worth paying extra for.