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Panasonic Viera TX-P46Z1 46in Plasma TV review

John Archer



  • Recommended by TR
Panasonic Viera TX-P46Z1 46in Plasma TV


Our Score


Review Price free/subscription

We've danced around a number of relatively low-rent Panasonic TVs in recent times, generally liking them - well, the plasma ones, anyway! - but more often than not also finding ourselves pointing out that Panasonic's higher-level TVs seem to have quite a bit extra to commend them if you can stretch your finances far enough.

So today we're pretty excited to have our hands on the ultimate expression of Panasonic's high-end prowess: the TX-P46Z1.

Everything about the P46Z1 screams 'flagship'. Starting, it has to be said, with its price; £5,400 is by any stretch of the imagination a huge amount to cough up for a 46in TV, especially from a brand selling 42in plasma TVs further down its range for less than £700.

As soon as you open its box, though, the P46Z1 starts to justify its premium price. For despite being an inordinately large box, it's absolutely stuffed to bursting point with stuff. A pair of detachable speakers, a large detachable desktop stand, an external AV receiver/tuner box, the broadcasting and reception modules for a built-in wireless video transmission system and, of course, the 46in screen itself.

Much if not all of the stuff we've just found crunched into the P46Z1's box needs more explanation, with the screen component probably being the most logical place to start. For this is, at long last, one of those ultra-slim plasma screens Panasonic has been demonstrating at shows for years now, but which we'd almost given up on ever seeing in the UK. It's just 24.7mm deep for the vast majority of its body, making it far and away the slimmest plasma TV we've tested to date.

Obviously there are one or two LED TVs out there coming in even thinner, and there's a small portion of the P46Z1's rear that extends the depth to a less impressive 48.5mm. But this central section isn't visible at all unless you're stood practically behind the TV, so it doesn't really diminish from the truly impressive aesthetic punch the set's slenderness delivers.

Regular readers will know that I'm actually something of a ‘skinnysceptic' when it comes to TVs, not really understanding the obsession with making TVs a few cm thinner when I'd rather everyone was putting all their efforts into making their screens better performers. But slim TVs really do seem popular with the public at large, so even I have to acknowledge the importance of plasma technology proving that it can ‘do slim' like its arch-rival, LCD.

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Simon J

June 8, 2009, 7:39 pm

Hmmm, very interesting review but that price is a big surprise. The best news is that Panasonic has finally manufactured a plasma, which matches if not betters in some areas the Pioneer Kuro. Whilst the lack of ultimate customisation will annoy the real enthusiasts, for my untrained eye, I just want a TV that does a great job straight out of the box and it seems this set just does that. The biggest disappointment for me, (especially when you consider the price) is the fact that the wireless modules are plug in accessories rather than built in units? I wonder what Panasonics reason for this was? Could it have been that the technology standards were not signed off in time to be build them in?

The fact that this wireless functionality is so bolt on, can you connect the media box to the TV with a cable such as a HDMI lead?

I now look forward to the TX-P50V10 review, which seems to have all the same technology as this panel but in one neat (if not slightly chubbier) package.

John Archer

June 8, 2009, 8:00 pm

Hi Simon

In Panasonic's defence, while it is irritating in some ways that the wirelessHD transmitter and receiver aren't built in to the multimedia box and screen respectively, I suspect it's because the system uses a beam-based delivery approach which needs to be able to beam and receive signals over a wider angle than would probably be possible using built-in components.

On other matters, since writing the review I've had further correspondence from Panasonic seemingly confirming that the issue I had whereby the picture dims unless you touch the remote every few minutes is a specific problem with my test unit, possibly caused by it not having the very latest firmware. At any rate, Panasonic's own engineers haven't been able to replicate the problem with any of the sets they have.


June 8, 2009, 8:25 pm

Nice review guys. Will you be testing a V10 set shortly?


June 9, 2009, 5:06 am

A silver TV? How very 1990s.


June 10, 2009, 8:33 pm

@ Stephen Allred. It might be very 1990s but as someone who's had enough of shiny black bezels of varying thickness, I think it's nice to see Panasonic do something different. I will take a look at this set first chance I get, but the price is a deal breaker for me, no matter how good the quality. It's the same with Sharp's 56" set. It looks amazing, even when switched off. But £9k? No way! Unless I win the £50m Euromillions this Friday, of course.


June 13, 2009, 10:43 pm

@Ninjakettle: According to Panasonic's press release, "In picture quality, the V series stands at the top of the VIERA 2009 product line." The panel technology and image processing in the V10 and the Z1 are the same. The Z1 is differentiated by speakers, cabinet design, and wireless HDMI. If TR gives the Z1 10/10 for image quality, then the V10 at 1/3rd the price should be a no-brainer! (Although I'd still be interested to see what they write.)

Rupert Henson

June 21, 2009, 2:22 am

From what i can make out apart from nicer styling and the wireless media box this tv is the same as the V10.

Picture quality is no different. Save your money people this is no Kuro beater.

If you're lucky you may be able to get a 9G KURO for less than half the price of this and it's a 50 incher.

If money is tight you can still get the fantastic V10 for less than a third of the price of the Z1. Panny has dropped a real clanger here!!


July 23, 2009, 1:39 am

I've seen this TV on a few sites and the best price so far is 2k, at this price I would expect the review would have scored higher than 6/10.

One TV in 2009 that may catch the eye of a few people is the new Philips 56PFL9954H. Philips have gone for a 2560x1080 pixel panel with 21:9 format. Not sure if the picture quality will match that of the panny or the KURO and I believe HD films are encoded at 1920x1080 pixels so may be a downside to this TV.

Geoff Richards

July 23, 2009, 4:15 am

@KDY - where have you seen a Z1 for £2,000?? It's quite a bit more than that.

We have already reviewed the Philips you mentioned: http://www.trustedreviews.com/...

Incidentally, KURO's are back in stock (despite being discontinued, which is a bit weird) http://shopping.trustedreviews...


July 23, 2009, 4:52 pm

It's on 1st audiovisual but not in stock until 27/07, considering buying one - http://www.1staudiovisual.co.u...

Jan Andersen

August 13, 2009, 5:44 pm

Nice review, but missed the rantiglare - how is the % of reflektion on this plasma ?

Can one use it in daylight, or is it a night-only TV set ?

Ulrik Rasmussen

August 20, 2009, 6:47 pm

I just saw the 46" Z11 in the shop (Z11 is the same tv but w/o the wireless feature which don't need and I don't like the look of the little attachment to the TV). Must admit I was sold by the picture and looks of the TV, my only question is whether Panasonic have made a 'slim' wall mount for the TV to do the slim design justice? (like Samssung have done for their ultra slim LED's)

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