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

The slimness of the P46Z1's screen explains another of the components in the box: the external tuner/receiver box. For tuners can be bulky old things, so Panasonic presumably had to move them to the external box to keep the screen slim.

Also, of course, really thin TVs appeal to people keen on hanging their screens on a wall, in which case having less cables spewing out of the screen is clearly a very good thing.

Which kind of leads us to the wireless transmission and reception units we mentioned earlier. For in order to keep the cables going into the P46Z1 to an absolute minimum, Panasonic has included with the TV its brand new ‘WirelessHD' cable-free AV broadcasting system, so that you can send audio and video from the AV receiver box to the screen without a cable in sight.


What's more, unlike the wireless AV connection Sony supplied with its 40ZX1 TV, the P46Z1's beam-based WirelessHD system - created in conjunction with a consortium of brands including Samsung, Sharp and Yamaha - can support 1080p HD as well as 1080i. This is a potentially crucial point for Blu-ray fans.

The only downside of the P46Z1's wirelessHD engine - ahead of actually seeing if it works! - is that it's not all built in to the screen and media tuner box like it is with Sony's 40ZX1. Instead, you have to put up with a funny little plasticky transmission lump sitting on top of your kit pile, and worse, a little black receiver hanging off the bottom of the screen. Since the screen is resplendent in a sumptuous silver metallic finish for the top and bottom sides of its bezel, and perfectly symmetrical in its lines, there's no doubt that having a bit of black plastic hanging off the left-hand underside stands out like a sore thumb.


The slenderness of the screen possibly explains why Panasonic ships detachable speakers with the P46Z1 too, since it might have been too difficult to integrate any into the frame without drastically compromising their performance. Plus, of course, the fact that they're detachable means you don't have to use them at all if you've got a separate sound system - something that's entirely possible if you can afford to splurge £5400 on a telly…

One more thing to say about all the separate bits that go into the full P46Z1 package is that they do make it much tougher to set up than your average TV, with loads of different sized screws to get your head round. It doesn't help, either, that the sockets on the wirelessHD transmitter unit seem to have been designed by a sadist, so bloody awkward are they to get the cables into.


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