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Panasonic Viera TX-L42D25B - Black Level Concerns and Verdict

John Archer

By John Archer

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

User Score:

You can, of course, turn the IFC system off completely when watching films if you find that having it active makes proceedings look a bit too smooth and video-like for comfort. But actually, with 1080p/24 Blu-rays, we personally felt the judder on the L42D25B without IFC in play was at times a little too extreme to create a truly cinematic experience. But that’s the beauty of having the choice to go with what suits your tastes the best.

The L42D25B’s flare for colour and brightness helps typical images look impressively dynamic, by which we mean there seems to be a really wide visible luminance range between the brightest and darkest parts of a single image.

Switch to a predominantly dark scene with just a few lighter elements, though, and the L42D25B doesn’t fare quite so well. The deepest black colour the screen is able to reach looks slightly milky compared with the best edge LED and especially direct LED and plasma TVs we’ve seen.

The screen also has to sacrifice a little more brightness with the lighter parts of predominantly dark scenes than we’d like, and there’s some slight inconsistency in the brightness level across the screen during dark shots.

Before anyone gets too upset about this latter point, though, the brightness inconsistencies are much more subtle than recent examples of the problem witnessed on Toshiba’s 40SL753 and LG’s 37LE5900. So much so that you’ll only occasionally be even slightly aware of them, in our opinion.

So that we can finish our assessment of the L42D25B’s pictures on the high note they overall deserve, let’s conclude by pointing out that its Game mode appears to limit input lag to a very acceptable level, while the L42D25B’s use of an IPS (In-Plane Switching) screen means that its images hold up in colour and contrast terms much better than most rivals when viewed from wide angles.

The L42D25B’s sound is fair enough. As with most slim TVs it lacks the bass bite to really do the business with action movies, but it handles trebles with confidence and without sibilance, and the mid-range seldom feels compressed even when pushed hard. The soundstage the set produces is slightly wider than we get with many slender TVs too.

Verdict

However painful a decision it might have been for Panasonic to turn to LCD technology for a 42in TV, the fact remains that the L42D25B is a very accomplished 42in LCD debut. There are times, indeed, when its pictures look spectacularly good, with only some gentle weaknesses with dark scenes preventing it from sneaking up into whole-hearted recommendation territory.

Earth Voyager

October 5, 2010, 1:23 pm

I have a Panansonic G20 and can confirm that the WD 250GB MyBook works with no problems recording programmes.

Michael McG

October 5, 2010, 1:50 pm

i looked at the D25 side by side with a v20 plasma and difference in black level was very obvious. The v20 was miles ahead of the d25 at least in this respect. So if black level is your goal, then i wouldnt pick this over a plasma..

Ripsnorter

October 5, 2010, 2:39 pm

I think Panasonic will 'get there' with LED eventually, but something has to be done on the design side as, whichever technology, their sets looks horrible and horribly dated.

Callum

October 5, 2010, 3:10 pm

i currently own the 37" model of this TV, and one of the things you failed to mention (as far as i saw) is the fact that the D25 series use IPS screens, which gives them excellent viewing angles and colour quality, and is what made me choose this TV over many others!

Callum

October 5, 2010, 3:41 pm

whoops i read it again and turns out it was mentioned!

Neil McG

October 5, 2010, 4:47 pm

Great review as always. BUT, the crucial questions is: TX-L42D25B or TX-P42G20B? LCD vs Plasma ? Otherwise, specs look similar...

GoldenGuy

October 5, 2010, 5:24 pm

@Ripsnorter





Agreed. Samsung have Touch of Colour, LG have the one-piece Infinia, Phillips have that whole silver and Ambilight system going on, and Panasonic, um, uh... ugghh. It's not a generic box (like that Asus O!Play streamer) where the unsightliness matters not since it gets shoved under the telly - it IS the telly. This is a case where the Wife Approval Factor is probably the last line of defence against someone placing a ruddy great tacky plastic structure in the middle of the room. What the hell are Panasonic still doing wrapping their class leading screens up in such cheap Christmas paper?

Ripsnorter

October 5, 2010, 10:03 pm

@GoldenGuy


It's not just the WAF in this case. Panasonic achieve a degree of fugliness of design that offends even my eyes! As much as I love the pictures their plasmas achieve, I keep being drawn to that thick, heavy, large, battle grey bezel!

GoldenGuy

October 5, 2010, 11:32 pm

@Ripsnorter





CNET were just talking about how Panasonic are getting into the portable gaming market, and my first thought was, "Dude! Screw that! Market's overcrowded with the DS and iOS anyway. Your TVs are you flagship products. Throw all your money into a new design team that'll make the aesthetics look presentable by late 2000s standards."

Ripsnorter

October 6, 2010, 2:39 am

@Golden Guy


There is a photo of Panasonic's portable player, called the Jungle, doing the rounds:


http://www.techradar.com/news/...


It looks like someone at Panasonic discovered they had a warehouse full of grey plastic going unused and then hired the people whose TV designs were considered too ugly even for them!

Kaytorch

October 6, 2010, 7:20 pm

the review is completed different from that of CNET who rated this TV with 5 stars. i watched this TV side by side with Panasonic V20 plama and the difference is very clear, the plama is far better. but this TV is featured packed and better than LED from other makes. Great TV

GoldenGuy

October 6, 2010, 8:57 pm

@Kaytorch





You sure about that? CNET don't hand out 5 star ratings easily. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen them go beyond their 4½ Outstanding rating for anything - not even for a Pioneer Kuro. Perhaps it was a user rating instead of the editor's one?

Pbryanw

October 6, 2010, 9:37 pm

@GoldenGuy - Interesting, I also haven't seen Cnet give out many 5 star ratings, so did a quick search and it appears this TV did get 5 stars:


http://reviews.cnet.co.uk/tvs/...





Even more spooky is that it was apparently reviewed by the same person who's just done a iPhone app piece for TR. Although I can't see how anyone can call this TV stylish, as the Cnet review did. And @Kaytorch, 8/10 is a very good score and the two reviews (TR and Cnet) aren't a million miles apart.

RazorA

October 6, 2010, 10:12 pm

Mirroring others in terms of the design of their sets. I can understand them going for a minimalist design but their design team need only look at the Pioneer Kuro to understand how to keep aesthetics simple but still project class to customers. It's the only hurdle they face otherwise their sets are always top class.





I think not until we get OLED sets will Plasma be finally usurped for picture quality.

GoldenGuy

October 7, 2010, 4:19 am

@ Kaytorch, Pbryanw





Sorry guys. I was looking at and commenting upon the US site. Forgot about the UK one - I rarely check it. I don't know how strict they are with their star ratings there.

soldierboy001

November 24, 2011, 12:33 am

Whilst I may be a bit late with this comment I would like to say that I have had the european version of this set for about a year now, this has a sat receiver rather than a freesat with cam slots. I had at the time reviewed and chosen a different TV but when I went to purchase saw the Panny and fell in love with it instantly. I took it home and have loved it ever since even the SD pictures are close to HD clarity. The only problem I have is the sound from the built in speakers but use Pioneer headphones or soundbar mostly.
The style I LIKE and I realise everybody has their own style taste but I hate those so called edge TV's they look so flimsy and like somebody has left a blacked out car window on the wall or TV cabinet.
Just to endorse my view anybody that comes to my house when the TV is on always comment on the brilliant picture, but I have changed the factory settings. All in all I am very satisfied with the set.

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