I got the 50" UT50 in today and posted my review and pictures of it in comparison to the 55" ST30 over at ....another forum. Here's what i said.
Okay, so far my overall impression of the UT50 are pretty positive. One thing that I think we'll all appreciate is that I HAVE NOT SEEN LINE BLEEDING! I watched for it in a lot of our content and then hooked up a bluray player and waited for the famous green screen "The Following preview has been approved..." line bleed and did not see any. I even cycled through all picture modes including cinema and did not see it!
After getting the TV booted up and after going through the setup options, the TV starts off in standard mode. Realistically the picture actually didn't look that bad in standard aside from being really really dark (gotta love energy star mode). A quick change to any of the other screen modes (Vivid, Cinema, Game, Custom) and the image instantly becomes much brighter.
I will say the ut50 is noticeably bright for a plasma. It reminds me of the brightness of samsungs PND7000. I may move the 7000 over by it for a brightness comparison later if i have the time. The current comparison models I have near it are the PND530 samsung, D6000 LED, and 832u sharp. Obviously the full screen brightness of the Panasonic is not going to match an LED, but it did easily beat the D530 in vivid. When I put the d530 into "movie" mode and that panasonic in cinema the brightness was pretty close, with the panny winning with certain content playing. I'm certain calibration at least in custom mode will be able to take advantage of the new brightness levels. It is worth noting for retailers Vivid mode this year does look a lot better than previous years in that peoples faces do not look like they're emitting their own rays of light. I may for once leave a panny in Vivid here in store instead of customizing my own settings.
Overall the panel itself is a slightly darker on the ut50 vs the D530 giving a less washed out appearance even though neither have any filters on the screen so it will be easy to expect a lower MLL on the UT50. The panny also just seemed sharper and clearer than the samsung when comparing each mode between eachother even w/ motion smoother on/off.
For those who like motion smoother as well, this year there are 3 settings weak, medium, and high. No custom mode, but 3 settings are better than 2. By default the TV is in "MEDIUM".
The menu system looks identical to last year, but a bit cleaned up. I do like how 3D options do not show up in the menu unless 3D is turned on. IIRC 2011 models always had the 3D options showing, but were greyed out if 3D content was not playing.
The frame of the TV IMO looks great, especially for a panasonic entry level model, or really any manufacturer for that matter. Physical buttons are on the left side...side of the the tv, which i prefer over the common touch controls. Connectivity is my only complaint, but again it's entry level. 2 HDMI +ARC (HDMI 2), 1 composite or component, 1 cable/antenna, Ethernet port, 2 USB (On side and will stick out w/o angle adapter), and optical output.
I'll post some pictures later on. My phone isn't on a strong enough connection to upload files and the kiosk i'm using won't connect to my phone. I'll update this as well if anything else comes to mind.
UPDATE: UT50 vs ST30
Well i got an idea and ran with it. Forgot i have 2 copies of transformers 3 that i brought with me this morning so i moved some tvs and BDPs around for a comparison. Overall, the UT50 is definitely noticeably brighter over the ST30. One of my guys in the back room came out to drop off another tv for display and asked me what i was doing. I told him i was comparing TVs and the first thing he said was "the top one [ST30] is a lot darker." Both TVs were in the default Cinema setting (motion smoother off) playing through panasonic bluray players (i swapped connections just to confirm the players did not contribute to the differences). I even noticed the default brightness setting on the ST30 is 58 where it is at 50 on the UT50. Colors also looked a little more accurate on the ut50 over the ST30. The ST30 appeared to have a little more greenish tint in faces and such. Overall, I liked the ST30 a little more primarily because the louvre filter makes a HUGE difference here in retail and the image just looked too washed out on the UT50. At the same time though, i don't know if the filter on the ST50 and above will lower the output some? I got some pics of the comparison so everyone can see the brightness difference. I should have them up within the next 2 hours after I get home.
I have very high hopes for the higher end series after seeing how impressive the UT50 is!