Which 3D TV is better? Samsung versus Panasonic

We compare the 3D performance, features and design of Panasonic's VT20 plasma television and Samsung's Series 7 LED TV

Samsung's Series 7 LED panel is one seriously sexy television.

Samsung's Series 7 LED panel is one seriously sexy television.

The mainstream availability of 3D TV sets marks a big step forward towards bringing the cinema experience into living rooms. Two of the main players in the Australian 3D TV market are Panasonic with its VT20 plasma TVs and Samsung with the Series 7 LED models.

Like other top-end plasma and LED televisions, both TVs deliver great 2D image quality — but which produces the best 3D effect, and which model is best overall?

Samsung vs. Panasonic: Design

When it comes to design, we think the Samsung 3D TV wins out by a wide margin — it is thinner, it has a more attractive and slimmer bezel, and it can be mounted almost flush to a wall thanks to an innovative Samsung-designed mount. Even if you're not wall-mounting it, it wins out thanks to its very stylishly designed swivelling base.

The Panasonic TH-P50VT20A has a rather generic bezel design. That's not to say it's unattractive. It's built with high quality materials and has a glossy finish, but we think it would have benefited from a more striking design. It's also thicker than the Samsung television and doesn't have a slim wall-mounting option.

Samsung vs. Panasonic: Power consumption

Although it's made significant strides over the past few years, plasma television technology is still more power-hungry than LED-backlit LCD TVs. With a four-star energy rating the 50in Panasonic TH-P50VT20A is no slouch when it comes to efficiency: the company puts the TV's power consumption at 192 Watts during regular home usage. To put this into perspective, this is less than a 46in Sony HX700 LCD TV.

However, LED-backlit LCD televisions are the current winners in the power consumption arena. Since there's no 50in model to directly compare, we looked at the stated power consumption figures of both the 46in and 55in Samsung Series 7 LED TV models. The 46in consumes a maximum of 170W during operation, and the 55in consumes only 180W. So, even if you buy the 5in larger Samsung UA55C7000, it will still consume less power than Panasonic's 50in TH-P50VT20A plasma. It gains a whopping six-star energy rating.

2D and 3D image quality

Both televisions are exceptionally good at displaying regular television and 2D Blu-ray video content. They can both display video with an impressive level of contrast, with deep black levels and plenty of detail in bright areas. Panasonic's TH-P50VT20A edges out Samsung's LED model though, with superior viewing angles as well as superior detail in dark areas of the screen. It is a close call, though — unless you see the two side by side, it's hard to quantify the difference.

The kind of 3D effect you can achieve with these TVs depends in part on the content you're watching: films that have been shot with 3D cameras will look more impressive and offer more realistic depth of field than films that have been converted from 2D after filming. This is one of the reasons why the four currently available 3D Blu-ray movies (Monsters vs. Aliens, Ice Age 3, Coraline, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs) are all animated — computer-generated movies are easier to recreate in the 3D format than live-action films.

For the most part, Panasonic and Samsung's 3D televisions both do a good job of creating a 3D effect. We only had a limited amount of content to try on both panels, with some FIFA World Cup and State of Origin 3D sports footage from the 3D trial digital television channel our main source. We also compared Ice Age 3 in 3D on both sets.

In a few instances we did notice occasional crosstalk when viewing footage on the Samsung TV, with the edges of 3D objects exhibiting ghosted and indistinct edges once brightness was raised above its standard setting. Tilting your head to the side while wearing the 3D glasses reduces the Samsung Series 7's screen perceived brightness, and eventually leads to blackout — this is due to the polarisation from the glasses interfering with the polarised LCD screen.

This problem does not exist on the Panasonic TV, with brightness remaining consistent even if you tilt your head to the side. Panasonic's plasma 3D television also has better viewing angles, with no loss of contrast or brightness when watching from off to the sides. Images on the Panasonic TH-P50VT20A were free of ghosting or crosstalk at every brightness level, so it is a clear winner in these tests. If 3D video performance is your main concern, the Panasonic plasma is the superior choice.

Samsung does have an extra advantage, however: the Series 7 sets are able to interpolate normal television and movie footage into 3D. This adds a small amount of extra depth to regular television or Blu-ray video, allowing you to get more usage out of your 3D glasses. 3D glasses are also cheaper if you're buying a Samsung, with pairs for adults and children costing $129 and $99 respectively. Panasonic's one-size-fits-all glasses are $199 each.

While the Samsung 3D TV comes with two pairs of glasses, the Panasonic only comes with one.

IPTV features

IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) is a term that refers to receiving video on your television that's streamed directly from a broadband network. Both Samsung and Panasonic's top-end televisions have IPTV features that allow viewers to access the Internet without leaving the comfort of the couch.

Both sets have access to Twitter and YouTube, as well as support for Skype video-calling through optional $199 TV-mounted webcams. BigPond Movies on demand will be available on Samsung's TVs in the future, while Panasonic sets will gain access to the Yahoo!7 Plus7 content library. Both sets are full of features in this area, so we wouldn't pick one over the other.

Conclusion

It's a close call when it comes to choosing between these two TVs. In our opinion, Samsung has the edge when it comes to design and power consumption, while Panasonic steals the crown when it comes to outright image excellence. If we were pressed we'd probably buy the Panasonic plasma for better movie-watching, but we'd spend sleepless nights pining for the Samsung's sexy curves and greener electronics. We're waiting keenly to test Samsung's Series 7 and Series 8 plasmas to see if they deliver the best of both worlds.

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Tags Samsung Series 7Panasonic Vieraplasma tvshome entertainmentLED TV3d TVLCD tvled tvs

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Campbell Simpson

Campbell Simpson

Good Gear Guide

7 Comments

sean

1

I have the samsung 58" 3d plasma and it has very good viewing angels and it cheaper then the 46" lcd led 3d tv and the australian models dvb-t mpeg 2 and mpeg 4 and dbt-t2 compatable as well and samsung 3d plasma tv's are just as good as panasonic 3d plasma but the samsung 3d glasses are more comferable to ware the the panasonic 3d glasses

sean

2

It's funny they don't talk about the samsung 3d plasma when they did the reviews and it has pixel rolling to provent burn in on the screen and a hard drive can be plugged in for recording and i have a usb 1.5 tb powered hard drive and it is incripted so if you know someone with the same tv i wont play back on it but your own it will and the plasma looks better then the led more plastic looking

steve

3

That sammy plasma series 7 looks like the baby for me!!

Jeff Samuels

4

Just wanted to poijnt out that you quote a wrong price for the Panasonic glasses- They are $149.95 a pair, not $199.95.

Mutee

5

Since about 80 days I've bough a Samsung 3d 7 Series, assuming it was on of the best, but I had the first one defective, the 3D feature was simply not working. After one month of reporting the issue, and about 100 calls to Samsung and the distributor, Samsung decided to send me a technician to assess the TV, he confirm what I've been telling then, therefore they decided to replace it with another, which also happened to be defective as well. After going through the same headache I got a technician coming to my house confirming it's also defective. Yes it maybe hard to believe, but I eventually got a call from the distributor who agreed to give me another brand, I don't want Samsung any more. to cut the story short...........Bad product and even worst service. I sincerely advice no one to buy this product. Ah by the way haven't yet got the 3D blue ray bonus which meant to come with the TV. And I also bought WiFi which has to be 3-4 meters next to the router to detect the signal, apart from not being able to watch TV channels if you have the Wifi on, the screen keeps breaking....... and the list goes on.

Don

6

I'm a professional film editor. The trend towards 3D content has forced me to re-tool my edit studios to handle real-time 3D editing and we are now on our 5th 3D film. There are many problems with the technology today and small steps are being taken to overcome these. The new Panasonic 3D Pro level cameras are interesting and make decent 3D pictures but leave little for correction in the finishing process. But the biggest issues facing us all today is which format to use, how to view it and how to deal with the ghosting. I started with the 50 inch Samsung high end 8000 series plasma right above my head in my studio. After two service calls and one service center saying they came out when in fact they didn't , we got Samsung to refund our money (a decent portion of it anyway) and just bought the Panasonic VT25 series monitors. Though they have their own issues, the 3D is much much crisper and deeper and the burn-in is factors less. I know from insiders that new monitors are a few short months away that really make strides in correcting the current issues but I'd stay away from the Samsungs unless you're not a discriminating viewer. I can tell you that if you do your research, the prices are within and 150 dollars of each other. Now about that terrible DirecTV 3D quality......

Happy viewing...

Tim

7

To be honest I really don't care about 3d. I will stick with my 2d television set. As far as the thin led tv's , who cares!!!!! Easier to steal . I checked out tv's for months and the led was quite new to the market,well they are on there 2nd generation. I might buy me a small 20 inch model for the bedroom, however the panasonic plasma g25 out shined the led's that I had seen, especially the 1000 dollar price difference. I'm not saying led in a few years want surpass the plasma's in price or picture quality. I checked out the 3d t'v sets as well and was not real impressed especially the 150.00 glasses. I had to stand back and ask my self is this worth the extra price difference and I told my self, no it is not. The g25 plasma does not have a shinny screen like some other model, this really caught my attention. Yes it does have a glass screen, but it is dulled down 30%

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