Panasonic Viera TX-P46Z1 46in Plasma TV - Panasonic Viera TX-P46Z1

John Archer

By John Archer



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


Our Score:


Focussing now on the AV receiver/tuner box, it's a pretty well connected affair. Highlights include four HDMIs (one under a flap on the front), an SDHC card slot capable of playing photo or video files, a PC port, and a satellite LNB input. This is there because, as we'd expect of a premium Panasonic TV, the P46Z1 carries a Freesat as well as a Freeview tuner as standard.

One other jack that warrants closer attention is an Ethernet port. This allows you to jack the TV into Panasonic's online VieraCast service, or to access files from a networked, DLNA-capable server.

We'll have a look at what VieraCast has to offer in a moment, but first we've got a few more key screen specifications to cover. First of all, as you'd expect the P46Z1 is a Full HD screen. More unusual, though, is its claim of a 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio, delivering what Panasonic likes to call an ‘Infinite Black'.

More unusual still is the fact that the TV carries THX certification, having satisfied THX engineers that it has the black level, resolution, contrast and colour gamut talents necessary to deliver a sufficiently excellent cinematic display. This bodes extremely well for the TV's performance, of course - though I have found that for better or for worse, my own views on picture quality don't always completely coincide with those of the THX people!

Still more justification for the P46Z1's soaring price tag comes with the discovery of Panasonic's 600Hz Sub-field Drive Intelligent Frame Creation Pro video processing system (try saying that with a mouthful of Mars Bar). This interpolates so many extra image frames in a bid to tackle plasma's traditional problem with judder that it ups PAL playback from the usual 50 frames per second to a huge 600fps. And we've seen it deliver some very impressive results previously, on Panasonic's P46G10.

Since we haven't had the opportunity to see the VieraCast online platform in action before, it's worth devoting a moment or two to seeing how it stacks up against rival systems from the likes of Samsung and Philips.

Actually, it's not bad at all. It's effortless to get up and running (though it can't be accessed wirelessly like Samsung's online platform), and the opening screen is excellently presented, with graphical links to Panasonic's preferred content providers as well as quick weather and finance reports appearing around a small version of the TV picture you were watching when you hit the Viera Cast button.

Unfortunately, at the moment there are only three key content providers available via VieraCast - there's even a space in the bottom left corner for another provider to be added when Panasonic manages to sign one up, reminding you immediately of how the service is still in its infancy.

On the upside, the three main content providers are all pretty respectable: YouTube, the Picasa picture platform, and Eurosport. The YouTube system seems to let you access pretty much every file on its servers, while Eurosport offers a surprisingly diverse, extensive and regularly updated collection of video news options.

The interface for all these services works nicely too, with intuitive access to everything via the remote, good screen organisation, and a respectable text input system. Stuff loads in quickly, too.

As with all the ‘ring-fenced' online systems I've seen so far, it's important to stress that what you get with VieraCast is probably best seen as a (big!) extension of digital teletext rather than a full-blown internet service. And I did experience the occasional streaming problem with YouTube. But it was impossible to tell if this was down to YouTube's servers, the online handling of the TV's tuner/media box, or the wirelessHD system. All in all, though, VieraCast is a good first try by Panasonic, and it can only get better as more content deals get done.

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:

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 -

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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