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Panasonic Viera TX-P54Z1 54in Plasma TV review

John Archer



Our Score


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If you're still in any doubt as to the massive impact the recession has been having on AV prices lately, check this out. Back in June, we reviewed Panasonic's 46in P46Z1 flagship plasma TV with a quoted price of £5,400. Today, two and a bit months later, we're looking at the 54in version of the Z1, and have found it going for £4,500 - a cool £900 less than the old price of the P46Z1. Groovy.

Well, sort of. For there's still no doubt that £4,500 is a mightily large amount to pay for a TV, no matter how large and cutting edge that screen may be. So the P54Z1 is still going to have to go some to keep us sweet in these ever-more-competitive times.

The set still makes quite an impact aesthetically, at any rate. The distinctive metallic finish to its top and bottom sides ensures it looks every inch the TV flagship, and the contrast the metal makes with the bezel's black, glassy-finished side strips is deeply attractive.

And then there's the small matter of the TV only being 24.7mm deep for the majority of its body. Yes, I really did say 24.7mm. For Panasonic has been able to retain the extraordinary, groundbreaking (by plasma standards) slimness witnessed with the P46Z1 - and actually, because the slimness sits behind an even larger screen, its impact is even greater than it was on the smaller model.

The only flies in the P54Z1's aesthetic ointment, in fact, are the supplied WirelessHD system and the external multimedia/tuner box. Both of which clearly warrant further explanation!

The P54Z1's extravagant thinness means Panasonic hasn't been able to squeeze its usual Freeview, analogue and Freesat tuners into the main TV body. Hence the presence in the package of the slightly dour-looking external multimedia box.

The WirelessHD system, meanwhile, comprises two components: a receiver that fastens to the underside of the screen, and a transmitter that attaches to and, rather vaguely, sits somewhere near the multimedia box, sending audio and video information to the screen without the need for a direct cable connection.

Still, while having the WirelessHD receiver hanging off the screen isn't ideal, it doesn't actually make quite as much of a negative aesthetic impact as it did on the smaller P46Z1. And although I might wish that Panasonic had built its wireless transmission system into its screen and multimedia box like Sony did with the 40ZX1, rather crucially the P54Z1's beam-based HD transmission system supports 1080p/24 Blu-ray playback, whereas Sony's system tops out at 1080i.

As you'd expect of Panasonic's flagship plasma TV, the screen at its heart is one of the brand's latest NeoPDP jobs, offering you the choice of either brighter pictures or much reduced running costs compared with the older-style plasma screens populating the bottom end of Panasonic's plasma range.

Another feature that clearly marks the P54Z1 out as a screen aimed at someone as obsessed with video quality as fancy design is its THX certification. This proves that the P54Z1 has sufficient picture prowess and adjustment flexibility to satisfy the independent THX team's stringent demands. And this approval is backed up by a THX picture preset in the TV's menus, which enables you to watch pictures using the settings THX has determined to be the best for movie viewing. Folk usually too scared or too lazy to get involved with fine-tuning picture settings themselves could find this preset very useful indeed - provided it's actually been calibrated well, of course!

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August 26, 2009, 12:52 pm

I totally agree with your verdict.

Is any TV worth £4,500?


August 26, 2009, 1:54 pm

@Techno22: Worth £4,500? Not when the vastly cheaper V10 series has the same panel and image processing. You are paying a huge premium for a flagship TV with fancy styling, not for technical advances.

But... the fact that the V10 delivers the same picture quality for a fraction of the price certainly makes the V10 look a bargain!


August 26, 2009, 2:05 pm


I thought the Sony 55" X4500 was expensive, but even that can be found for £3500-3700 depending on where you look. That also received 10/10 for PQ no?

I hope Sony have a new RGB LED TV in the works, I know white LEDs are cheaper, but I would love to see a G3 RGB LED TV from them, the improvement from G1 (Qualia 005) to G2 (X4500) was massive. It would be a shame for them to drop the only display tech worth a damn, but I suppose the recession effects even the best of intentions...


August 27, 2009, 2:18 am

Panasonic's 46in P46Z1 price of £5,400.

two months later,... the 54in version it going for £4,500 - a cool £900 less

Makes you wonder what better interest rates might have done. Still, we now unemployed look on in dismay at the savings our glorious government and banking system have encouraged on our behalf. Still- I always did like window shopping!


August 27, 2009, 5:19 pm

Why the same score for value when the price is lower for a bigger screen?


September 20, 2009, 10:11 pm

Hi mr. Archer

First of all i want to thank you, for your splendid reviews.

I had the set installed a week ago. After having read your review here.

I thought my Sharp Aquos 46in XL1 LCD was good, only too small.

Now i know better. Never saw any Picture like this. Blu-Ray with such detail, the Picture so clear und still (judderfree) all the time. In my opinion the set is worth each penny, but unfortunately also too small for me. Actually the set is a temporary replacement for the 65in P65V10 until that becomes available at my local dealer. As the Picture should be the same i am really looking forward to this oversize joy of the 65in. I must say i wonder why you mr. Archer are displeased with the SD Quality of the 54Z1.

SD is not HD (wiseguy i know ;-) but at 54in i am more than pleased with the quality of the SD Picture. The channels which have higher bitrates are looking very good indeed.

The channels with the lowest bitrates are still enjoyable.

And of course, feeding a display like this with analogue SD is like a pizza without cheese. Both are big misundertandings.

Had to express how pleased i am with this set, as i think the review sounds a tad to negative for the outstanding performance i have been withnessing so far.

Best Regards

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