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Panasonic TH-37PX80B 37in Plasma TV review

John Archer

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Awards

  • Recommended by TR

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Panasonic TH-37PX80B 37in Plasma TV
  • Panasonic TH-37PX80B 37in Plasma TV
  • Panasonic TH-37PX80B 37in Plasma TV
  • Panasonic TH-37PX80B 37in Plasma TV
  • Panasonic TH-37PX80B 37in Plasma TV

Summary

Our Score:

9

User Score:

In our review of Panasonic's 32LZD80 last week, we said we were looking forwards to getting our hands on one of the brand's new plasma TVs. Well, we didn't expect that moment to arrive quite so soon as it has. But as we place the 37in TH-37PX80B plasma model carefully onto our test benches, we're certainly not complaining.

Considering that it's relatively affordable by flat TV standards, the first thing to note about the 37PX80B is that it feels surprisingly robust and substantial - even though its bezel is actually unusually slender compared with Panasonic plasmas of the past.

It's nice to find, too, that the TV helpfully sports three HDMI inputs that can all receive the trendy 1080p/24 fps HD format currently enjoying so much popularity since it became the de facto standard for mastering films on to Blu-ray discs. Please note, though, that the HDMIs are v1.2 in nature, and so can't cope with the Deep Colour format now viewable via new JVC and Panasonic camcorders.

Other notable connections include a component video input for analogue progressive scan and HD sources, a dedicated PC input and unusually, considering the 37PX80 is actually Panasonic's new entry-level plasma, a built-in SD card slot that you can use to play digital photos directly onto the TV's screen.

One thing that does live down to expectation, given that the set resides toward the bottom of Panasonic's new range, is its native resolution. At 1,024 x 720 it's only an HD Ready model rather than a full HD one. Mind you, since no manufacturer has yet managed to fit 1,920 x 1,080 plasma cells into a screen as small as 37in, we guess it wouldn't have been fair to expect full HD on the 37PX80B even if it had been a flagship model.

The set's claimed contrast ratio is up a little from Panasonic's previous plasma range, peaking now at a figure of 15,000:1. This bodes well for a continuation of the near-legendary black level prowess that has served Panasonic so well with plasma technology over the years. That said, we should add that the 15,000:1 figure pales rather when compared to the one million to one figure being bandied around for Panasonic's flagship PZ85 plasma range, due to launch in the not too distant future.

jonti

July 15, 2008, 1:17 pm

I purchased this TV on the back of this and another positive review on the internet. After considering what has been said here I would say that to the best of my knowledge the review seems accurate. The one problem I have is that the review has an important omission.





That omission is buzzing coming from the TV. Apparently plasma's are renowned for this, I have only owned traditional CRT TV's and TFT computer monitors before this set so had no idea.





Knowing what I know now I think buzzing should be mentioned in every plasma TV review, not only for people like me who didn't know, but for people who do know and want to know how comparatively bad it is.





Personally I would say that unless you're viewing your TV from at least 10ft away the buzzing noise coming from this set is really quite distracting during quiet moments of viewing or if you have the volume on low.





If you're going to go to such depths as comparing very specific image details and sound qualities (which I think is a good thing), you have to at least devote a paragraph to buzzing.

Chris 2

July 15, 2008, 5:25 pm

Jonti, There is a Panasonic technical bulletin about the buzzing noise. It's caused by some internal cables which are vibrating against the back panel. There is a simple mod to cure this, but it must be carried out by an approved engineer. Contact your dealer and ask for it to be done under the warranty.

jonti

July 16, 2008, 5:39 pm

Chris thanks very much for the reponse, I will get in touch with my supplier.

KEITH

August 13, 2008, 6:39 pm

After your review went to purchase the 37" plasma or lcd lzd85 panny. Want big screen to watch sport.


Found both disappointing when watching Olympics. There appears to be considerable movement (distortion) around the figures of the players which would annoy us. Would this be normal when viewing plasma/lcd against what we have crt? Also found the plasma dull when compared directly against lcd although the distortion was worse on the lcd. Have we got to wait for better and more stable pictures or consider getting bigger screen?


many thanks your help.

tractorboy

August 14, 2008, 4:44 pm

Keith


Where did you see the screens? If you are just doing a walk-by in the store then it is very hard to judge sets objectively under the harsh lighting and with the variable quality of signal fed to the sets + you don't know how they have been set up.


That dullness that you have perceived in the plasma could also be a more accurrate colour palette compared to the brash LCD. The other day I tried walking back and forth between a Panny plasma and a Samsung LCD. At first the Samsung seemed sharp and enticing but after a few minutes I became aware of some very weird colours (blue-green grass?) compared to the 'duller' but more natural plasma. I think LCDs are better at sucking people in as they seem brighter & more colourful but would be hard to live with.


Oh well, just my thoughts.

KEITH

August 15, 2008, 10:51 pm

Many thanks tractorboy.


Your right it was in local store we viewed, not ideal but suspect they won't let me borrow one!


Is the distortion (pixalation)a norm for plasma/lcd and is it getting better?


Really disapppointed not to have one for the Olympics and the coming footie season but would the right set-up eliminate most of the problem on the plasma?

KEITH

August 23, 2008, 3:05 pm

Re message 15th would very much appreciate your further thoughts as still keen to get a big screen but should I wait?

Mark 8

August 24, 2008, 6:34 pm

I'm trying to choose between the TH-37PX80B and the same in 42 inch or possibly the pz version of the 42. I've been advised to get a plasma because of it's ability to handle movement and like previous contibutors i want the screen for the new footy season! My problem is that I have a small lounge an will be about 7 to 9 feet away from the screen. Sharpness of image is something that i would like to have. Any advice would be very welcome!!





Cheers





Mark

kinveredge

September 7, 2008, 3:02 am

If you have SKY Digital and like sports & movies, this is the definitive TV to buy.You won't need to upgrade to SKY HD because the picture is truly stunning. The picture quality via the SD card reader on the front is breathtaking.Don't bother looking at anything else.What a bargain.𧼏.00 plus free 5 year guarantee from Empire Direct.

Harry 3

December 23, 2008, 11:28 pm

Can you play avi movies via an SD card?

Toby Jugg

March 21, 2009, 7:00 pm

I have the 42px80b and my girlfriend has just got the 37px8ba, which I believe is the same as the 80b but a couple of connections less. We have experience of a number of LCD and a couple of Plasma screens which we can compare the Panas to.





The 37 is a stunning piece of equipment for the price and the picture for none-hd sources is actually better than my 42, almost certainly as it is the same resolution and physically smaller. Pictures and refresh are nothing short of excellent and the sound is far better than adequate.





I see many different views regarding none hd channel picture quality. I have both a VM cable box + a none-hd sky box, both connected via scart. The picture quality from the sky box is vastly superior to the same channels from the VM cable box. This could explain the variability of folks perceived SD channel quality. The on-board tuner on my pana is less than impressive, but I don't use that anyway.





We have noted that in many cases a superficial view is highly deceptive and only normal usage can really show the strengths (more accurately weaknesses) of units.


With only Sony and recent Samsungs as the exceptions, these 8 series Panasonic Plasma's are head and shoulders above all LCD's we have compared them with including LG's, and Toshiba's. We consider the Panasonics to equal or exceed most of the Samsungs and Sony's in all but but HD performance and then only with some of the more expensive LCD's possibly looking better (Far more expensive than the Pana's).


I have not heard any buzzing from either Panasonic unit, although admittedly my hearing is no longer acute





I would recommend these 8 series Panasonics to anyone. In my opinion, the prices they are now available at make the purchase of budget or mid-range LCD units a complete waste of money.





Regarding size, the 42 is actually too big for my 12 * 12 room and is overpowering. The 37 is the perfect size for the 12 * 12 room with viewing distances from 6 - 10 feet, the 42" is really only suitable for 10' + viewing distances.





Hope these comments from a normal user help others in their choices

Ben H

May 27, 2009, 5:02 pm

I've had our TH-37PX80B for about a year now, and have been really impressed, particularly with the picture quality. It is worth spending a little bit of time setting up to get the best out of the unit (see www.hdtvtest.co.uk/Panasonic-T... for the picture settings I use). I agree with Toby's comments about viewing distances (you need to be at least 6ft away from the set, and preferably about 10ft).





I've got the Panny hooked up to a Humax Freesat+ HDR (connected via HDMI), and the picture quality is fantastic - great for SD sources, and amazing for HD sources which are really crisp, colourful and detailed. No smearing or motion blur that you get from LCD panels. Upscaled DVD through HMDI is also great (I've not yet invested in a bluray player). The review is right about the sound quality - this, for me, is the only area where the Panny is let down. It is perfectly fine for regular day-to-day viewing, but I'd recommend an AV setup for watching movies (also as BBC HD and Sky HD broadcast in 5.1 surround).





I've used several LCD panels before, and spent quite some time researching the options before purchase, and I must say that I'm a complete convert to plasma. The only downside with Plasma is that energy consumption is higher than LCD.





In terms of picture quality and value for money, this panel rocks.

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