Panasonic deserves a lot of credit for continuing to improve plasma TV picture quality while simultaneously lowering prices. If you compared this TH-50PZ85U side by side to a 50" plasma from a few years ago, you'd probably be quite surprised at the difference. These "PZ85" models deliver high-impact images with velvety blacks and an ultra-high contrast ratio of 30,000:1. And that's the "native" contrast ratio, which is a better indicator of real-world performance than the more common "dynamic" spec.

Why 1080p matters
If you look at all of the high-definition programs available from broadcast, cable, and satellite TV sources, you'll find that most of them use 1080i format — 1920 x 1080 pixels. The TH-50PZ85U's screen is a pixel-perfect match so you won't miss any details. High-def video looks stunningly crisp and clear even as close as five or six feet away. By comparison, "720p" TVs must downconvert 1080i signals, throwing away a significant amount of picture information. The downconverted image still looks very good, but there's definitely less fine detail.

Built-in tuners for over-the-air reception
The TH-50PZ85U's built-in analog/digital tuner can pull in every type of over-the-air TV broadcast, including gorgeous, free HDTV (antenna required). In addition, the set's "QAM" tuner conveniently allows cable TV subscribers to watch most unscrambled channels without the need for a set-top box — including local network HD channels in many areas.

Hook up all your high-def sources, and plug in your PC
Audio/video connections include five HD-capable inputs: three HDMI and two component video for the latest high-def components. The TH-50PZ85U accepts 1080p video signals through the HDMI inputs — handy for connecting a Blu-ray player. A standard PC input lets you connect your computer for those times when you want a bigger view for work or play.

Learn about the ins and outs of HDMI connections at the Crutchfield Learning Center.
Shop our selection of HDMI cables.

Tip: For a list of over-the-air digital TV stations you can receive, as well as antenna recommendations for your location, enter your zip code in AntennaWeb's mapping tool.

FREE scheduled delivery to your door: This item will be delivered to the door of your house or apartment. Available to physical addresses in 50 United States only. Limited delivery available to Alaska and Hawaii for $99 per item — call 1-888-955-6000 for more details. Sorry, we can't ship to P.O. Boxes or freight forwarders. Delivery takes 5-7 business days once your order has been processed. Extra charges may apply to items that must be carried up more than 5 flights of stairs. Allow extra time for delivery to remote addresses.

Product Highlights:

  • 49.9" screen (measured diagonally)
  • widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio
  • built-in digital (ATSC) and analog (NTSC) tuners for over-the-air TV broadcasts (antenna required)
  • built-in QAM cable TV tuner receives unscrambled programs without a set-top box (cable service required)
  • 1920 x 1080 pixels
  • 30,000:1 contrast ratio (1,000,000:1 dynamic)
  • 480Hz Sub-field Drive anti-blur technology
  • Deep Color and x.v.Color™ support
  • built-in stereo speakers (10 watts x 2)
  • multibrand remote control
  • VIERA Link™ simplifies remote control for compatible Panasonic components (HDMI-CEC)
  • picture settings memory for each video input
  • 7 A/V inputs, including:
    • 2 composite video (1 rear, 1 side)
    • 2 S-video (1 rear, 1 side)
    • 2 component video (accepts signals up to 1080i)
    • 3 HDMI v1.3 (2 rear, 1 side) — accepts signals up to 1080p (60Hz, 24Hz)
  • PC input: analog RGB (D-Sub 15-pin)
  • RF input for antenna/cable signals
  • optical digital audio output for Dolby® Digital
  • side SD™ memory card slot for digital photo playback
  • Energy Star® compliant
  • detachable stand (stand "footprint" is 18"W x 15-1/8"D)
  • wall-mountable (bracket not included)
  • 49-3/8"W x 31-1/8"H x 4-5/8"D (32-3/4"H x 15-1/8"D on stand)
  • weight: 88.2 lbs. with stand; 83.8 lbs. without stand
  • extra-long-life panel (100,000 hours)
  • warranty: 1 year parts & labor — in-home service or pick-up for service
  • Our 60-day money-back guarantee

The pros of plasma

If you're into picture quality, and you want a cinema-like home viewing experience, you owe it to yourself to check out plasma for your next TV. Plasma holds the edge when it comes to smooth motion and rich colors — high-def movies and TV shows look effortlessly real. Plasma's superior picture contrast and deep black levels are best enjoyed in rooms without a lot of windows or lamps, where you can dim or darken the lights.

Panasonic TH-50PZ85U Reviews

Average Customer Review:

3 reviews
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Written By Chris, Allentown, PA on Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

This Plasma is absolutely fantastic. Very good color, contrast, and very good brightness. The screen tint really cuts down on reflection and does not hinder the visual quality one bit.

Definitely recommend!


One of the best out there

Written By IGO, Las Vegas on Sunday, December 14, 2008

Simply one of the best products of its kind.


Written By Ed, Myrtle Beach, SC on Thursday, November 13, 2008

Crutchfield Customer Review (What's this?)

This product meets all the expectations that I had for a 50" Plasma TV. Crutchfield personnel professionally discussed my buying options and presented a recommendation that met my requirements exactly. The order was handled quickly and professionally. The Television arrived in perfect condition and was installed to my specifications. The quality of the product and the picture is exceptional. I highly recommend this product to someone looking for a wide screen Plasma.

Hands-on research

What's in the box?

Download owner's manual

  • 50" Widescreen plasma TV
  • Wireless remote control (N2QAYB000220)
  • 2 "AA" batteries
  • 6.5' AC power cord
  • F-type antenna adapter for 5C-2V
  • Pedestal base
  • 2 Pedestal poles
  • 4 Machine screws (M5 x 18mm)
  • 4 Machine screws (M5 x 25mm)
  • 2 Cable ties
  • Cleaning cloth
  • Operating Instructions (Eng/Span/Fren)
  • HD setup guide (Eng/Span/Fren)
  • Plasma Concierge brochure
  • Product Registration card
  • Panasonic Customer Care Plan card (extended service plan)
  • "How to secure the AC cord" sheet
  • "Maintaining the shiny parts" sheet
  • Pedestal base assembly diagram

Features and Specs

Screen Size 50"
Screen Design Flat
Aspect Ratio 16:9
Screen Resolution (pixels) 1920 x 1080
Screen Refresh Rate N/A
Backlighting Type ---
3D ---
Instant Internet Movie Streaming ---
Wi-Fi No
MHL-compatible ---
Picture In Picture No
Parts Warranty 1 Year
Labor Warranty 1 Year
Type of Warranty Service In-home
Total Video Inputs 7
HDMI Inputs 3
Component Video Inputs 2
Composite Video Inputs 2
RF Inputs 1
PC Input Yes
Ethernet Port No
USB Port Yes
Optical Digital Audio Output 1 Rear
Coaxial Digital Audio Output None
Analog Audio Output 1 Rear
Power Consumption
Estimated Yearly Electricity Use (EnergyGuide) Not Given
Estimated Yearly Energy Cost (EnergyGuide) Not Given
Dimensions & Mounting Information
Width (inches) 49-3/8
Height with Stand (inches) 32-3/4
Height without Stand (inches) 31-1/8
Depth with Stand (inches) 15-1/8
Depth without Stand (inches) 4-9/16
Stand Width (inches) 18
Weight with Stand 88.2 lbs
Weight without Stand Not available
Wall Mountable Yes
Wall Bracket Included No
Pedestal Stand Assembly required

Product Research

Remote Control
Input And Output Notes


Increased Contrast Ratio: The Panasonic TH-50PZ85U Widescreen VIERA plasma 1080p HDTV has an increased native contrast ratio of  30,000:1 and dynamic contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1.

Anti-Reflective Filter: The TV's flat panel features a new AR (anti-reflective) screen coating that acts as a filter to reduce annoying reflections and improve picture quality.

Built-in Tuners: The TV has both analog (NTSC) and digital (ATSC) tuners, as well as a QAM tuner for unencrypted cable signals. With these built-in tuners, you don't have to purchase a separate digital set-top box to receive and decode HDTV/SDTV signals.

68.7 Billion Colors: From deep blacks providing excellent shadow detail to vibrant colors rendering brilliantly bright scenes, the TH-50PZ85U displays an incredible 68.7 billion colors.

4,096 Shades of Gradation: Plasma displays can suffer from an artifact called false contouring, where transitions between different shades of the same color are too sharp. These transitions can appear as distinct lines between the different shades of color. Having 4,096 shades of gradation helps minimize the false contouring artifact so color transitions take on a smooth, natural appearance.

Deep Color/x.v.Color Compatible: This unit is compatible with the Deep Color and x.v.Color technology that corresponds with the HDMI Version 1.3 specification. This technology supports higher bit rates and more color possibilities than previous HDTV signals.

Native Resolution: The TH-50PZ85U has a display resolution of 1920 x 1080. All incoming signals are converted to this native resolution. The HDMI digital and component video inputs will accept 1080i, 720p, 480p, and 480i, and will display them as 1920 x 1080. The HDMI inputs will also accept a 1080p signal.

Aspect Modes: Depending on the input signal, you can choose one of the following aspect modes:

  • 4:3: displays a 4:3 picture at its standard size with bars along the sides
  • Zoom: magnifies the picture uniformly (vertically and horizontally) to fill the screen, so the top and bottom are cut off (recommended for letter box sources)
  • Full: stretches the picture horizontally to fill the screen (recommended for anamorphic sources)
  • Just: stretches a 4:3 picture to fill the screen but with aspect correction applied to the sides of the screen so that elongation is only apparent at the left and right edges of the screen (recommended for normal TV broadcasts)
  • H-Fill: enlarges the 4:3 picture horizontally to fill the screen, the side edges are cut off

Picture Menu: The Menu list allows you to make the following adjustments in picture quality:

  • Picture Modes: You can choose one of the following picture modes:
    • Vivid: provides enhanced contrast and sharpness when viewing in a well lit room
    • Standard: recommended for normal viewing conditions with subdued room lighting
    • Cinema: for watching movies in a darkened room, provides a soft, film-like picture
    • Custom (Photo): adjust picture, brightness, color, tint, and sharpness
    • Game: for playing video games. The mode will be set automatically if "GAME" is selected from the input label setting.
  • Picture Adjustment: Several picture settings can be individually adjusted, including Picture (white areas), Brightness (dark areas), Color, Tint, and Sharpness.
  • Color Temperature: This feature selects the level of warm colors (red) and cool colors (blue). You can choose from a Cool, Normal, or Warm setting.
  • Color Management: When turned on, color management enhances green and blue color reproduction. This is especially useful for outdoor scenes.
  • x.v.Color: When set to Auto, this setting provides the appropriate picture when images corresponding to "x.v.Color" are input via HDMI or component input of this TV.
  • C.A.T.S. adjusts the brightness and gradation accordingly to optimize contrast.
  • Zoom Adjust: adjusts the vertical alignment and size when aspect setting "Zoom" is selected.
  • PC Adjust: sets the PC display for sync, dot clock, H-position, V-position, clock phase, input resolution, and Horizontal (15-110kHz) or Vertical (48-120Hz) frequency.
  • Advanced Picture: Some advanced picture settings include:
    • Video NR: Video Noise Reduction removes snow from a weaker analog TV signal.
    • Digital Comb Filter: The motion adaptive 3D-YC comb filter minimizes noise and cross-color in the picture when the composite video input is used.
    • Color Matrix: When viewing a signal input through the component video inputs, this TV will automatically optimize the color parameters based on the color matrix setting:
    • MPEG NR: Reduces the block noise specific to digital signals from DVDs, STB's etc.
    • Black Level: You can adjust the TV's black level to Dark or Light.
    • HD Size: This mode selects between 95% or 100% for the scanning area of the HDTV. This allows you to move any edge noise out of the viewable area.

Anti-Image Retention Features: The TV's Pixel Orbiter feature helps to prevent image retention (burn-in) by shifting the display image. You can set the feature to automatic or force, and designate the time interval for the "Force" setting as 1, 2, 3, or 4. You can also change the brightness of the side bars that appear in 4:3 mode, or start a scrolling white vertical bar across the screen to prevent burn-in.

VIERA Link: VIERA Link HDAVI Control lets you operate all of your Panasonic "HDAVI Control" compatible home theater components connected by HDMI by pressing a single button on your TV's remote control. Panasonic equipment with the "HDAVI Control" function enables the following operations: Automatic input switching, Power on link, Power off link, Speaker control, and One-touch theater playback. Equipment with HDAVI Control 2 (or more) function enables the following operations: Providing the setting information, Automatic lip-sync function, and Direct TV recording. Note: VIERA Link is the new name for "EZ Sync."

SD Card Slot: The SD card slot on the side-panel of the TH-50PZ85U allows you to view JPEG photos from an SD, SDHC or miniSD card. An adapter is required to use a miniSD card. The maximum capacity for each type of media are: SDHC (16GB), SD Card (2GB), miniSD card (1GB). You can view images as thumbnails (up to 12 images), view them individually allowing you to rotate the image 90-degrees clockwise or counter-clockwise or view them as a slide show, with adjustable picture duration. You can adjust the time duration for the slide show between 1-10 seconds, 15, 20, 30, 45, 60, or 120 seconds. You can also adjust the TV's picture settings for your still photos.

Audio Menu: In addition to bass, treble, and balance, the TV's audio menu includes the following advanced features:

  • AI Sound: This audio feature equalizes the overall volume levels across all the channels and external inputs.
  • Surround Function: The surround function enhances audio response when listening to stereo programming. This function is active only for the TV's built-in speakers.
  • Audio Leveler: The Audio Leveler monitors the difference in audio levels between inputs and minimizes the change in volume when you change inputs. This function is active only for the TV's built-in speakers.

Closed Caption: The television includes a built-in decoder that is capable of providing a text display of the audio. The program being viewed must be transmitting Closed Caption (CC) information. The TV features analog and digital close captions:

  • Analog:
    • CC 1-4: displays information related to pictures (appears at bottom of screen)
    • T 1-4: displays textual information (appears over entire screen)
  • Digital: The digital Closed Caption menu lets you configure the way you choose to view the digital captions when viewing a digital station with (CC). You can adjust size, font, style, foreground, opacity, background and outline settings.

Input Labels: Each input can be labeled to reflect the source connected. The label options are Skip, VCR, DVD, Cable, DBS, PVR, Game, Aux, and (blank). If "Skip" is selected, the TV/Video button will skip the input.

Station Caption: You change a channel's station name to a custom seven character name.

Favorite Channels: Channel numbers can be registered as Favorites and displayed in the TV's Favorite Tune menu for easier access.

Sleep Timer: This television features a built-in sleep timer, set by remote control, that turns the TV off automatically after 30, 60, or 90 minutes.

Programmable On/Off Timers: The programmable timers allow you to program the TV set to turn itself on and off at designated times, on designated days, tuned to designated channels. Up to 5 events can be programmed using the timers. An event can have multiple episodes (Daily, Mon-Fri, Every Wed, etc).

Lock: The Lock function has four settings to block viewing of particular channels or inputs. You create a 4-digit password that's required to bypass the lock. The available settings are:

  • Off: nothing is locked
  • All: all channels and external inputs are locked
  • Game: channels 3 and 4 and the video inputs are locked
  • Channel: locks up to seven specific channels
  • Program: block programs based on their TV or movie rating

Remote Control

Multibrand Remote: The supplied remote is pre-programmed to operate this unit and a number of functions on other brands of components; including VCRs, DVD players, DVD recorders, personal video recorders (PVR), cable boxes, combination cable box/PVRs, DBS receivers, and combination DBS receiver/PVRs. The OK button and directional keys allow you to move the on-screen selector, making menu navigation simple and efficient. The remote control will also operate certain functions of Panasonic equipment with "HDAVI Control" connected by HDMI automatically through the TV's VIERA Link feature.

Input And Output Notes

HDMI Inputs: The TH-50PZ85U has 2 rear-panel HDMI inputs and 1 side-panel HDMI input. Either HDMI1 and HDMI2 on the rear panel can be used with an HDMI-to-DVI adapter and the left and right RCA audio jacks (for the audio portion of the signal) of the TV's video input, if necessary. The side-panel HDMI input does not support HDMI-to-DVI conversion. All of the HDMI terminals can accommodate copy-protected digital signals (HDCP) from other devices (such as digital set-top boxes) that have compatible interfaces. The HDMI inputs will accept 1080p, 1080i, 720p, 480p, and 480i inputs.

Component Video Inputs: The two component video inputs will accept 1080i, 720p, 480p, and 480i inputs.

Digital Audio Out: The rear-panel optical digital output allows you to send a Dolby Digital bit stream to a Dolby Digital receiver or decoder. If the program doesn't include a Dolby Digital soundtrack, a 2-channel PCM bit stream is output.

Side Panel Input: The TV's side-panel input includes an HDMI input, left and right RCA audio connections, RCA composite video, and S-video connections.

SD Card Slot: The television features a side panel SD-card slot for viewing JPEG images stored on an optional SD-card (sold separately). The SD-card slot is compatible with SDHC cards up to 16GB, SD cards up to 2GB, and miniSD cards up to 1GB (miniSD cards require a miniSD card adapter).

PC Input: The TV is equipped with an RGB (15-pin D-Sub) input for connecting your PC. A 3.5mm mini-jack is provided for PC audio.


Pedestal Base: The TH-50PZ85U includes a pedestal base for cabinet-top mounting. The base comes unassembled, and unattached to the TV, so assembly is required. With the pedestal base the TV weighs 88.2 pounds.

Wall Mounting: On the back of the TV are four threaded inserts to attach an optional wall mount bracket. The inserts require M8 (8mm) machine screws, the horizontal hole spacing is 26" and a vertical hole spacing of 12-5/8". Without the pedestal base attached, the TV weighs 83.8 pounds.

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