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Panasonic Viera TX-P46G20 review

John Archer

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Panasonic Viera TX-P46G20

Summary

Our Score

9/10

User Score

Review Price £980.00

With Pioneer’s Kuro models no longer available it looks like you need to turn your attention to the latest incarnation of Panasonic’s NeoPDP technology if you’re looking for the current state of the art plasma TV.

As found in Panasonic’s new plasma range from its G20 series upwards, the latest NeoPDP engine introduces a really extensive suite of improvements to anything Panasonic has managed before. For instance, there’s now a new filter built into the screen structure for reducing reflections and increasing discharge efficiency; new improved phosphors have been introduced to boost colour reproduction; and the gas used in each plasma cell has been made more efficient.

In fact, Panasonic has pretty much reinvented the wheel in terms of its plasma cell design. And as confirmed by the 46in G20 model we’re looking at today, the results of all Panasonic’s efforts really are very impressive.

Not that the P46G20 gets off to a particularly great start. For the set sadly sports the same rather dated-looking, mostly black (with, here, a touch of blue) chassis we’ve moaned about for at least a couple of Panasonic generations now.

Its rear is actually more attractive than its front, thanks to the appearance there of a pretty substantial set of connections. Four HDMIs lead the way, one of which is built to the v1.4 specification so that it can offer an audio return channel with suitable AV receivers.

Arguably more noteworthy, though, is the set’s carriage of a satellite LNB connection as well as the more predictable RF input. This LNB input is there because, in keeping with all Panasonic’s mid-range to premium plasma sets, the P46G20 carries a Freesat HD tuner as well as the more expected Freeview HD one.

This might seem like unnecessary repetition to folk lucky enough to live in an area of the UK able to receive Freeview HD broadcasts. But for large tracts of the UK, the Freesat HD tuner will represent the only free-to-air way of getting HD broadcasts for quite a few months, at least.

As we’re coming to expect of relatively high-spec TVs from the big brand names, the P46G20’s connections include plenty of multimedia support too. Particularly significant is an Ethernet port, which has no less than three purposes. First, it’s there as part of the Freesat HD/Freeview HD spec, so that the platforms can provided potential future interactive services.

Second, it can be used to connect the TV to a DLNA PC, for streaming in photo, music or video files you might have stored there.

Finally, it can be connected to your router, so the P46G20 can get online with Panasonic’s Viera Cast 'Internet' platform. This ring-fenced corner of the Web houses a decent amount of content and features these days, including Skype, the AceTrax movie streaming rental/purchase site, Eurosport News, access to your Picasa photo web albums, Twitter and YouTube.

There’s no getting round the fact that some rival platforms offer slightly more content, but Viera Cast will doubtless grow in the coming months, and also features an unusually simple and effective interface.

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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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