Panasonic Viera 1080P Plasma HDTV Review Great Sound Excellent Pictures Perfect Price (2)
Panasonic Viera 1080P Plasma HDTV Review Great SoundExcellent Pictures Perfect PriceThe Panasonic Viera 1080p Plasma HDTV can play music and videos off a flash drive, an SD Card,or your computer (via your home network). It provides a broad selection of streaming Internetprogramming. Its audio capabilities are a feast for the ears (by television standards, at least). And this42-inch HDTV does all of that while using very little electricity. But much of its behavior feels rougharound the edges, as if Panasonic hadnt quite thought things through. And frankly, this sets imagequality isnt exceptional enough to justify the $1299 (as of February, 2012) estimated price.The Panasonic Viera 1080p Plasma HDTV received an unexceptional score of 81 in our image-quality tests, doing particularly poorly in color and skin tones. One judge strongly disliked the color,finding it greenish and murky. Other judges objected to flat and muted hues.
In my own capacity as a judge, I found this HDTV at its most disappointing with Blu-ray discs,perhaps because of the more complicated images it had to process. In a bright daylight scene fromMission: Impossible III (chapter 7), the contrast was so extreme that faces looked as if they had beenphotographed at night, while the sky blazed white hot.Motion also caused some problems. The judges noted shimmering and other artifacts in our footballtest, in a brick wall that the camera panned across in Mission: Impossible III (chapter 7), and in ourdiagonal-panning test movie.Whatever faults the picture had didnt extend to the sound. Television audio has its compromises, andI always recommend that people who want the full home theater experience invest in a separatereceiver and external speakers. But the Panasonic Viera 1080p Plasma HDTVs sound system isgood enough to help you delay that purchase. In our tests the sound was deep and rich, and I noticedsubtle effects from our Phantom of the Opera Blu-ray disc (chapters 1 and 2) that I hadnt caughtbefore. Even with the volume turned all the way up, I heard distortion only once, and that was duringa very loud organ blast. The simulated surround wont fool you into thinking that speakers are situatedbehind you, but it will help you feel immersed.This is a reasonably easy HDTV to set up and use. The main on-screen menu is legible andattractive, and it includes some short but useful descriptions. It isnt always intuitive, however. Forinstance, pressing the right-arrow button wont take you to the next submenu; you have to press the
OK button for that.Neither button is convenient to press. Panasonic designed the remote control in such a way as tomake the circle of arrows - with the OK button in the middle--too high for easy reach. On the otherhand, the volume and channel controls are perfectly placed for quick access, and the numbers arereasonably handy, as well. A black ridge on the back gives the remote an unusually good grip. Theremote isnt programmable, but almost every button on it is backlit.When you press the remotes Input button, up comes a scrollable list of inputs to help you move theTVs attention from your DVD player to your game console to broadcast or cable channels. Nothingunusual about that, but the Panasonic Viera 1080p Plasma HDTVs Input screen has some nicetouches. From this screen, you can assign labels that will help you identify whats connected to eachinput. You can also select a Not used label, which will save you from having to scroll past thatparticular input.A separate Viera Tools button on the remote gives you a handful of convenient options. You can use
it, for instance, to go to the HDTVs media player (more on that below), change the video mode, orturn on the Eco option, which can shut off the TV after 10 minutes of no signal or 3 hours of noactivity.Speaking of saving power, this Energy Star HDTV sips an astonishingly low 42 watts when on. (ManyDVRs consume that much when off.) This result constitutes a PCWorld record, as the PanasonicViera 1080p Plasma HDTV is the first HDTV to receive a PCWorld Green Score of 100. As with mostmodern sets, the amount of juice it drank while off was so small that our meters couldnt record it.Perhaps the lack of Wi-Fi helps keep the power consumption down. Youll need to buy an ethernetcable or use a separate Wi-Fi adapter to get Internet access on your HDTV. But once you do getconnected, youll find a nice batch of streaming video, audio, and data options. Among them areFacebook, Netflix, Pandora, Picasa, YouTube, two pay-per-view services (Amazon and CinemaNow),and weather and sports channels.You can use the same network connection to enjoy photos, music, and videos off your computer--assuming that your computer is running a DLNA server. Thats not much of a problem: WindowsMedia Player will work fine. If youre not network-savvy, the Panasonic Viera 1080p Plasma HDTValso comes with both USB and SD inputs. That way, you can copy media files from your computer toa flash drive or SD Card, carry the small device into another room, and plug it into your HDTV.Whether you use USB, SD, or DLNA, the Panasonic Viera 1080p Plasma HDTV does an exceptionaljob with photos. It finds all the.jpg files on your media, displays them in thumbnails, and lets youselect one to view, or start a slideshow. You get plenty of slideshow options, including varioustransitional effects and musical choices.It isnt so versatile with video or music, however. Rather than displaying all of the appropriate files, itforces you to drill down into folders to find movies and tunes. The only audio format it plays is.mp3. Itlisted but couldnt play the.mp4 files I gave it, and it didnt even see my test.avi and.mpeg files. ThePanasonic Viera 1080p Plasma HDTVs specs page promises support only for"AVCHD/MPEG2/JPEG/MP3 playback."Panasonic doesnt give you much information online; as I write this, you cant even download a PDFversion of the manual. Luckily, the print version that comes with the TV is well written and nicelyillustrated, with a FAQ page and an index. The colorful quick-setup guide does a lot to help you getplugged in and going. The Panasonic Viera 1080p Plasma HDTV does many things well.Panasonic viera 1080p plasma hdtv