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

John Archer

By John Archer

Reviewed:

Awards

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

Summary

Our Score:

9

So much for the rather vast background to the P46Z1. Now it's time to finally find out if its performance delivers on all the promise.

Actually, it does. Arriving on the heels of a cluster of decent but not awe-inspiring plasma screens from the lower reaches of Panasonic's latest TV range, the P46Z1 delivers exactly the sort of AV punch we'd hope for from a flagship model from one of plasma technology's most experienced devotees.

The first thing to stress is that the slender chassis has squeezed in one of Panasonic's new NeoPDP plasma panels, meaning that its pictures are capable of being markedly brighter than those of the brand's cheap models. And since this extra brightness is delivered without seemingly compromising Panasonic's famous black level response in the slightest, the P46Z1's pictures enjoy a stunning level of dynamism, even during dark scenes (scenes where most LCD-based rivals tend to hit a brightness-reduced, greyed-over brick wall…).

It's great to note, too, that the P46Z1's black levels don't drop off at all if you watch the TV from the side, unlike the vast majority of LCD screens.

Also worth pointing out is that if you happen to be using a P46Z1 in a very dark room, the screen carries the flexibility for you to massively reduce its brightness while still ending up with a very enjoyable picture, if you'd rather save money and be ‘green' by keeping its power consumption down.

Arguably the most pleasing thing about the P46Z1's pictures, though, is their colour handling. Tones generally, with both standard and high definition, look much more natural than they do with Panasonic's cheaper models, especially where rich reds and subtle skin tones are concerned. Colours look more dynamic and expressive than I've seen them on a Panasonic plasma too.

It's also a relief to find the considerable processing power of the P46Z1 helping it upscale standard definition pictures with much more sharpness and conviction, but less noise, than I've noted with Panny's cheap plasmas.

Of course, though, the screen's sharpness and clarity are really at their most potent when watching high definition. And they really are very potent indeed, helping the screen produce pictures of mesmerising, intoxicating detail, texture, dynamism and subtlety. What's more, with the exceptional clarity being joined by black levels at least rivaling those of Pioneer's KURO plasmas, and much brighter, more natural peak whites than you get with previous Panasonic plasma generations, you really do have an image that's truly cinematic in a way most ordinary TVs can only dream about.

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.

Ninjakettle

June 8, 2009, 8:25 pm

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

stephenallred

June 9, 2009, 5:06 am

A silver TV? How very 1990s.

Ripsnorter

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.

simonm

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!!

KDY

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...

KDY

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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