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.