Panasonic Viera Plasma TH-42PV80D

Quite a sturdy performer, despite some minor glitches in the detail department.

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Panasonic Viera Plasma TH-42PV80D


This is not just another TV review. Nope; these past three days have been different. The brand in question is Panasonic, which hasn't sent us a model for almost a year. Yet we faithfully followed up and covered whatever we could about their releases. Now they've sent us not only an LCD but also one of their famous plasmas, both form the Viera clan. Currently our focus is on the 42-inch Viera Plasma model (TH-42PV80D), and this time we have also included a small video at the end.

 Panasonic Viera Plasma TH-42PV80D

Aesthetics
The TV has an almost minimalist design, with the focus on the bottom panel. This part of the bezel is arched oh-so-slightly to make it look interesting. A scooped-out concave section has the speaker grilles on its ends, all this on the bottom panel itself. A single power button sits flush in this curved surface, slightly on the left. Next to it is the remote sensor. The manual say it’s thin and light, but in actuality it’s quite sturdy and broad in comparison to some models today.

The back panel is vented profusely, exposing some of the inner circuitry and aiding heat dissipation. The connection window is positioned in the bottom half of the back panel, falling more on the right side. A small strip of connections exists on the side: a common feature these days. Yes, this TV is subtle and handsome.

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Features and Specifications
This TV is not as feature-packed as current LCD TVs, though it does have the basics required to be a strong contender. The connections include the three stooges known as HDMI, along with composite, component and PC-in (VGA). One unique (but not too brilliant) connection is an SD card slot, so watching those all important JPEGs on the TV can be done in a slightly different way.

The contrast ratio is really rated high at 15,000:1. Hopefully this should prove itself in the performance section. The screen is 42 inches with a native resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels.

The software section is simple, with limited options and controls. There are the contrast, brightness and color faders, along with sharpness and hue. Surprisingly, there's more to do in the audio menu section. This is surprising, because TV audio has not yet reached quality levels where it deserves such attention.

One thing you do not find too often in TV menus is a scan rate choice, but it's present in this Viera. You can select between 50Hz and 100Hz, but the latter's better if you're viewing interlaced signals. The manual claims "4096 levels of gradation", something not found in other brands. I suspect this is a marketing trick.
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Performance
Contrast
The first thing the TV had to go through was test and calibrations. These included contrast/brightness bars, 256 levels of gray, blinking 100% white bands on full black screens etc., and the TV passed effortlessly. The blacks were deep and bandwidth was not clipped at extremities. Different levels of black were quite well-graded too, though towards full black it was not so refined. The sheer difference in levels between white and black can put some LCDs to sleep.

Colors
Color reproduction was impressive. The saturation in the reds and warmer hues was emotionally soothing. Besides straight-up color stuff, we played Pain and Ninja Gaiden to test how the TV handles colors, and it was alive in full bloom. I don’t mean the negative factor of contrast bloom; the colors were pretty much in their borders, with no real bleeding. It wasn’t 100% accurate though.

Detail and Motion
This region suffers. The edges are not refined; it’s quite saddening to see such vibrant colors and realistic skin tone and vivid images take on feathery edges. I guess since the TV is HD-ready and not full 1080 native, the scaling effects have more impact, even of pure high-def content. After all, the TV will downsize the image to map its pixels. I switched to 720p and noticed a slight improvement, but it wasn't a proper solution. Dot crawl, a bit of blur, noise etc. are all present in small amounts.

Conclusion
The TV costs Rs 67,400 (lowest retail), while MRP is Rs 74,990. This is a plus point, because a recent 32-inch LCD I reviewed cost Rs 50,000. Do bear in mind this is a classic large-screen plasma TV offering deep blacks and vibrant colors. Detail does suffer to an extent, so it loses some marks there. I'd recommend it, especially for movie buffs.

See below for a video link of the review, as an add-on to this article. Please note that visual artifacts or beauty won’t come across adequately in a 444 pixel wide .flv file, so please don't rely on it to judge the caliber of the TV.

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