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Panasonic Viera TX-P46G20 - Core Features and Contrast

John Archer

By John Archer

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Panasonic Viera TX-P46G20

Summary

Our Score:

9

User Score:

The P46G20’s other multimedia jacks comprise a D-Sub PC port, an SD card slot for direct playback of multimedia files stored on SD cards, and finally two USB ports. These USB ports can play multimedia files, as you would expect, and allow the TV to go Wi-Fi if you stump up extra cash for Panasonic’s USB Wi-Fi dongle. More unusual, though, is the way the TV lets you record from the HD tuners to a USB HDD drive - provided that drive happens to be one of Buffalo’s JustStore Desktop EU2 models!

The recordings made using this system are excellent - as you’d expect considering that the TV simply records the direct digital bitstream.

As we’ve noted in other G20 series reviews, the P46G20 finally sees Panasonic getting up to speed with the calibration needs of today’s discerning consumer by adding a colour management system. It’s not exactly the most comprehensive colour management tool in the world, but it does the job, and in conjunction with other tweaks like a gamma adjustment has proved sufficient to bag the TV endorsement from both THX and the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF).

Other key features of the P46G20 include a Full HD resolution, a huge claimed contrast ratio of 5,000,000:1, Panasonic’s Intelligent Frame Creation (IFC) system for calculating new frames of image data, and Panasonic’s 600Hz sub-field drive, which pulses the plasma cells faster in a bid to improve image stability, richness and fluidity.

Panasonic’s plasma TVs used to be the leaders of the pack where contrast was concerned until Pioneer rustled up its Kuro masterpieces. But with Kuro dead and the latest NeoPDP system in play, the P46G20 confidently reasserts Panasonic’s claim as the producer of the most convincing contrast performance currently available in the TV world - at least when it comes to reproducing a credible black colour.

Dark material such as the Xbox 360’s Alan Wake or the night time scenes in Avatar (the Blu-ray, not the rubbish console game) looks not only completely convincing but also unusually immersive, thanks to both the naturalism and depth of the P46G20’s reproduction of black, and the amount of shadow detail the screen produces.

This latter achievement is particularly striking versus the majority of LCD/LED models, which have to reduce their brightness in order to reproduce a good black colour, and in doing so can 'crush out' significant amounts of the sort of subtle grey and muted colour detail that helps give dark scenes a sense of depth.

Michael McG

August 17, 2010, 1:11 pm

Hi John,





Did you see any instances of flucuating black level on the tv? on my Panasonic V20, when watching 2:35:1 material in a dark environment - the brightness level clearly flucuates up and down a couple of notches quite frequently. For example I watched Fight club on blu-ray last night, and i could see the picture brightness rise and then settle back down several times during the film. Its the same effect as using the brightness control and notching it up a couple of clicks, then notching it back down.. only it happens very quickly and is very noticable - expecially on material with black bars and in darker viewing conditions. I am using the THX setting on the tv, with CATS disabled





Cheers,


Mick

MarioM

August 17, 2010, 1:31 pm

Come on Panasonic, get on with it and get those 46VT20s and 42VT20s in the shops now! Or I'm getting a Sony. The Sony's online connectivity and slimness vs the Panasonic's better pic and sound. Hmmm...

Joey

August 17, 2010, 5:04 pm

@MarioM


As a TV is bought to watch stuff on only a fool would buy one with inferior picture quality for the sake of some online connectivity and slimness. I don't really get the whole slimness thing, when you're actually watching it you can't tell how slim the tv is.

Chris

August 17, 2010, 5:31 pm

Does anyone have an opinion on whether these new Panasonic plasmas have caught up with Pioneers of old yet?





@Joey: While I agree with the sentiment (picture quality above all else), if you're the kind of person who would use the Sony's iPlayer features every single day, you'd be pretty miffed if you had to make do without it. You may even forgo a bit of picture quality for the sake of that convenience...





I'm just saying, having different priorities to ours doesn't make someone a 'fool'.





But yes, I don't get the slimness thing either, particularly when the difference is only an inch or two.

Michael McG

August 17, 2010, 6:33 pm

@ chris - apparently the black level isnt quite as good as Kuro yet.. and the pansonic range has a couple of very annoying issues for me at least 1) my v20 has a high pitch buzz, and 2) flucuating black levels.. google 'panasonic floating blacks' lots of issues reported in Uk/US but panasonic dont seem to acknowledge it as a fault

Chris

August 17, 2010, 7:04 pm

@Michael McG: The V20 is the model I was looking at, thanks for your input. Between the issues you mention and the possibility that these sets might suffer from a loss of brightness after a couple years use, I think I'll wait and see what happens.

RazorA

August 17, 2010, 8:44 pm

I'm surprised the Panasonic plasma range hasn't matched the Kuros yet for black levels. Didn't Panasonic buy the technology from Pioneer when they decided to stop making TVs?

Dibblodocus

August 17, 2010, 8:52 pm

@Michael McG: I noticed an annoying buzz with my G20 - turned out to be interference with my subwoofer (ground switch in wrong position) - once diagnosed and rectified the TV is spot on. Are you certain the buzz comes from the TV? Worth checking your other connections / units.

Michael McG

August 18, 2010, 12:35 pm

@Dibblodocus: interesting.. i wll try the tv with everything else switched off tonight.. the buzz is from the tv alright - and its intensity changes based on screen content.. i played around again with it last night, and when i plugged out the aerial.. screen goes blank.. no buzz.. plug back in aerial.. buzz.. same with any source.. i dont think its aerial interference either.. but thanks for the suggestion i will try again tonight!

Mike Bramley

August 18, 2010, 3:42 pm

I have this set. My only criticisms are colour banding, which is noticeable on HD as well as SD broadcasts, and a greenish cast on facial shadows, also the rear connections will make it difficult to wall mount.


Otherwise it is amazingly good. I have my computer connected via HDMI, and gaming is simply stunning, and totally immersive.


I don't think your review mentioned the fact that the TV is SDXC compatible, which will be great for playing HD content in future.


Note that the TV gives off quite a bit of heat, so might use quite a bit of juice!

Stuart

August 20, 2010, 7:56 pm

>>provided that drive happens to be one of Buffalo’s JustStore Desktop EU2 models! >>





As I keep pointing out in the earlier reviews (such as that for my 42in version) you can use any external hard drive to the best of my knowledge - in my case a Seagate Expansion 1T model.

Michael McG

August 24, 2010, 7:41 pm

Hi John - any chance you could respond to this?





Hi John,





Did you see any instances of flucuating black level on the tv? on my Panasonic V20, when watching 2:35:1 material in a dark environment - the brightness level clearly flucuates up and down a couple of notches quite frequently. For example I watched Fight club on blu-ray last night, and i could see the picture brightness rise and then settle back down several times during the film. Its the same effect as using the brightness control and notching it up a couple of clicks, then notching it back down.. only it happens very quickly and is very noticable - expecially on material with black bars and in darker viewing conditions. I am using the THX setting on the tv, with CATS disabled





Cheers,


Mick





p.s. the effect is unmissable on 'The Matrix' blu-ray. If you watch the opening scene with Trinity in the room where the cops burst in.. if you watch this in a darkened environment.. My problem is i cant determine if this is a case of a few set exhibiting this behaviour or all? I checked two v20s at the shop i bought mine from and they all exhibited it.. i would hope any reviewer would bring this to the attention of Panasonic if they could see it happening?

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