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Panasonic Viera TH-46PZ81 46in Plasma TV review

John Archer




  • Recommended by TR

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Panasonic Viera TH-46PZ81 46in Plasma TV
  • Panasonic Viera TH-46PZ81 46in Plasma TV
  • Panasonic Viera TH-46PZ81 46in Plasma TV
  • Panasonic Viera TH-46PZ81 46in Plasma TV
  • Panasonic Viera TH-46PZ81 46in Plasma TV
  • Panasonic Viera TH-46PZ81 46in Plasma TV
  • Viera TH-46PZ81B 117 cm 46" Plasma TV (DVB-S2, DVB-T MPEG-4 - HDTV 1080p - 16:9 - 1920 x 1080 - 1080p)


Our Score:


Rather handily, just as I was about to write this review Sky did something it seldom does: it dropped one of its prices. And that price, tellingly, was for its HD receiver, which, from July 1st, will be available to new and existing Sky subscribers alike for just £150 (vs the current price of £250).

Why use this information to kick off a TV review? Because it suggests - if not actually proves - that the recent launch of the Freesat service is proving enough of a success to cause at least a few ripples in the normally placid surface of Sky's previously exclusive satellite broadcasting pond. And on the evidence of the first UK TV with integrated Freesat tuner, Panasonic's TH-46PZ81, I can't help but think that those ripples are only going to get bigger…

But I'm getting ahead of myself. For even though Riyad has thankfully made my job easier by doing an in-depth preview of this TV a few weeks back based on time spent with a preproduction model, there's still a lot to get through.

For starters, as we said in our preview, the 46PZ81 is an attractive bit of kit, combining a gloss black finish with sleek lines. There's not the overt, attention-seeking glamour of one or two of today's ‘supermodel' TVs, but if you prefer the strong, silent type, this Panasonic fits the bill.

Don't forget, however, that the TV chassis is just part of the story, as you'll also need to have a satellite dish installed on the outside of your home. If you already have a Sky dish then you're laughing, as the Freesat service comes from the same satellites as the Sky service. If you don't already have a dish, though, you'll have to add £80 to the cost of the TV to get one installed.

The effort of getting a dish does, I have to say, cause me to question slightly Freesat's claimed target market; namely all the people who haven't yet ‘gone digital' with their TV in any way at all. For it seems to me that anyone yet to at least get a Freeview box just can't be interested in TV very much, and certainly won't want to bother with getting a satellite dish put up to receive dozens of channels they couldn't care less about.

But while I'm not sure Freesat's right with its main marketing targets, I'm certainly not saying it doesn't have a market. The fact that the Freesat receivers can work with existing Sky dishes certainly opens the door to lots of people ditching Sky's expensive subs in favour of Freesat's subscription-free offering. Plus, of course, there are many people out there who simply can't receive a good Freeview signal, and so are crying out for a ‘free' expansion of their channel choice. Riyad himself struggles to receive Freeview despite living in Surrey - hardly a provincial backwater!


June 21, 2008, 11:25 pm

Alas great news for those like myself who want to get the best out of their high-definition set-ups yet without wishing to pay a penny to the Dirty Digger for his Sky service

Mark Booth

June 23, 2008, 2:45 am

Great to see an HDTV actually coming with HD viewing built in at last. Now just add twin tuners and a hard disk recorder ala Sky+ and I'm sold! Fed up paying Sky so much for so little.

On a slightly different note, when will you start including power figures in your TV reviews? I quite fancy a 46 inch plasma but not if it's going to use more power than an iron. I know plasmas are heavier on power than LCDs but any idea how much? Standby power figures would be useful too.

Great review btw!

Hans Gruber

June 23, 2008, 11:38 am

Couldn't find details for the 46" version but Panasonic do have power consumption figures for the 42" model. Power consumption figures of 324W (actual use) doesn't look too good really (assuming it's same model line then powering a larger screen will eat up even more energy). Standby use figure is 0.4W "without DVB Tuner Lock On" (presumably without EPG updating itself overnight).

Links to Panasonic's model specification for 46" (TH-46PZ81B) and 42" (TH-42PZ85B) models:



The dynamically adjusting backlight 'eco' mode might help save on the 'leccy' bill though. Essentially turning down the brightness and especially contrast levels should help shave off a few watts as well as prolonging the panel's life. Daytime usage with strong ambient daylight would use more power than watching the screen at night/in dark surroundings.

Matthew Bunton

July 5, 2008, 10:22 pm

Power consumption figures?

If you worry about that then perhaps it would be best looking at smaller screens, or an old CRT.

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