Already named the European Plasma TV of the year 2012-2013 by the European Imaging Sound Association (EISA), the Panasonic TX-P50VT50 comes with a big reputation.

In testing, the TV delivers in spades, with that new black-boosting panel filter a key - if niche - piece of tech that will be lauded in home cinemas across the land.

We liked

Picture quality - loved it - the THX Cinema preset worked wonders with everything we threw at it amid some startling contrast and awesome upscaling.

Despite fluid, naturally coloured 2D and 3D images, inky blacks and detail throughout, perhaps what's most impressive is that this plasma's obsession with perfection isn't at the cost of versatility; it handles poor quality sources of video just as well.

We also liked its SD XC card slot, a rarity on flatscreen TVs, while the red-backlit remote is also bang on the money for life in a home cinema environment.

We disliked

If we had to nit-pick, we'd say that this plasma is not as bright as an LCD TV, though that's only likely to be noticeable in a brightly-lit shop environment.

Far more of an issue is a poor Freeview EPG that lacks even a live TV thumbnail, let alone audio, the rather old-fashioned core user interface, and the lack of MKV support while networking.

The touchpad controller is a matter of taste, though it feels like what it is; faltering first-gen tech. At this price, we feel there should be a 'proper' touchscreen remote.

Final verdict

We'd say that Panasonic's even larger TX-P65VT50B takes the crown of the brand's - and the flatscreen TV industry's - king of plasma TVs.

But at the arguably more important 50-inch size, this sumptuous Full HD plasma TV barely puts a foot wrong.

Still, unless you're a perfectionist, it's worth considering a more affordable plasma, and buying the 3D glasses yourself - but stick with Panasonic and you'll retain the core brilliance of the Panasonic TX-P50VT50.

Also consider

If you want a Full HD, 50-inch plasma TV and care more about networking, streaming and general digital frippery than pitch-perfect pictures, head immediately for the thoroughly good value LG 50PM670T plasma.

There are no 3D glasses included and the Freeview EPG isn't much better than on this Panasonic, but otherwise the user interface is peerless. The drawback is a thoroughly average black level that doesn't get anywhere near this plasma.

Samsung also does a decent line of plasma, such as the 60-inch Samsung PS60E6500, which also comes in a 51-inch Samsung PS51E6500 flavour.

Both Freeview HD and Freesat HD tuners are included, though once again it lacks ultimate contrast compared to the Panasonic reviewed here.

Although LG and Samsung do make good value plasmas, it's the Panasonic TX-P50GT50 and Panasonic TX-P50ST50 that are the Panasonic TX-P50VT50's two main competitors.