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Panasonic Viera TX-P46VT20 - Calibration & First Picture Thoughts

John Archer

By John Archer


  • Recommended by TR
Panasonic Viera TX-P46VT20


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User Score

Review Price £1,399.97

Also on board is the highest level of Panasonic’s V-Real Pro processing technology, and the brand’s ‘600Hz’ Sub-field Drive technology for increased stability, solidity and judder reduction. But likely of more interest to readers is a decently well-stocked suite of picture adjustments.

Panasonic has been notoriously tardy about putting control of the subtlest picture adjustments in the hands of the general public, but it’s finally got with the programme, bagging endorsements from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and THX in the process.

Among the most significant of the tweaks Panasonic has opened up on the P46VT20 are a colour management system (even though there’s room for improvement with this in terms of both flexibility and presentation) and a handful of gamma presets.

Also tucked away in one of the P46VT20’s rather obscurely organised onscreen menus is a facility for adjusting the potency of Panasonic’s motion smoothing system, Intelligent Frame Creation. We appreciate that some of our readers won’t touch this with the proverbial barge pole, at least with Blu-ray movies. And it’s true that on its higher settings it does make film look like video, and can generate a few processing artefacts. But on its lowest setting it can also slightly diminish the issues with judder that are one of the only consistent bugbears we have with Panasonic plasmas, so we’d suggest you at least try it out. If you hate it, then just leave it off!

Starting out with the P46VT20’s 3D pictures, our response to them is immediately slightly different to what it has been before. Not because we don’t still think they’re mostly excellent, but because the imminent arrival of the first true 2nd-generation 3D TVs has given them a slightly more transitory feeling that makes us more conscious of their failings.

These failings are centred around two areas: the image’s brightness, and Panasonic’s glasses. Regarding the first of these issues, Panasonic readily admits that its 3D images lose as much as 80 per cent of their brightness when you’ve got your active shutter glasses on - a fact which can result in some lost shadow detail and slightly crushed dark colours, as well as a slightly muted general look to 3D pictures - even when the set has pumped up its brightness and contrast levels to counteract the impact of the 3D tech. The lack of brightness is all the more striking now we’ve seen what’s incoming from some of the new LED 3D screens.

However, provided you can watch them in a reasonably dark room, the brightness reduction caused by the 3D glasses isn’t intolerable by any means, and doesn’t diminish from the natural, sharp, and clean look of the P46VT20’s 3D playback - or its deep black level response. These strengths underline what remains the key and for us deciding factor about the P46VT20’s 3D efforts: their almost complete freedom from the dreaded crosstalk noise witnessed on all LCD 3D TVs (CCFL and LED) to some extent.

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Paul Dickinson

February 3, 2011, 2:58 pm

Good review. I have the PV0VT20 and I concur with everything in this review. The 2D (especially in HD) image is the best I've seen on any TV in this price band. I agree with the comments about the glasses - they are the weakest point. I hope Panasonic improve them going forward - holding your head in the right position for 2 hours can be a pain (literally).

Crash Biker

February 3, 2011, 3:39 pm

Agreed - good review, thanks. I know it's a matter of personal taste but I find it curious TR regularly critisizes the Panny set design, I happen to like it. I tend to think anything "fashionably smart" tends to look "unfashionably out of date" 2 yrs later. For a mobile phone no problem, I'm buying a new one then. I tend to keep expensive TVs like this 5 yrs so understated suits me fine, but there again I also love Thinkpad design.

One other point. I don't own this set, but having tested a pair of Panny 3D glasses in a shop I was grateful for the open sides. I wear spectacles and it seemed to make the 3D glasses sit in front of my normal specs much easier. No argument with the narrow lens point though. Cheers.

Simon J

February 3, 2011, 5:47 pm

Great and honest review, which means I will definitely not buying a new telly any time soon. Anyone know when or if there will be a 2011 range update for Panasonic plasmas? and if so will they address any of the following?

1) Aesthetic appearance of the range.

2) Update the panel technology to finally reproduce / improve on the black levels / picture quality last seen on the mighty Kuro

3) Update their 3D technology and hopefully their uncomfortable glasses


February 3, 2011, 6:10 pm

Forget about 3D and buy the TV now, dont let tech journo's drag you into the 'next big storm' its a TV and a very well connected one for all your multimedia needs. I bought one for its HD 2d performance alone, I think I tried the glasses once out or curiosity, and sold the blu-rays on ebay, i might sell the free blu-ray player I git whith it too! should bring the price down by at least 200 squids making the tv around the £1300 mark - whats not to like!


February 3, 2011, 7:21 pm

Well I find myself in a bad place with Panasonic TV's. I presently own 3 and was planning on replacing my 50" panel this year with a 2011 larger model. My first 2 panels are perfect, but...

My most recent panel, a 42" G20 Buzzes. Not just normal low plasma noise, but a slightly higher pitched noise that "echos" in the small space it is in. Because it's a higher pitched noise I can hear it above any normal sound levels and is distracting during most of the TV I watch.

Panasonic have had the TV at their service center are are saying :-

1) It's within tolerances - so bad luck

2) This isn't a known issue.

Well. 1) Tolerances must be very high. 2) Just doing a fast google shows that this is a widely known issue.

So I'm going to have to sell the TV at a huge loss and can really never consider a Panasonic Plasma again. This is really gutting.!


February 4, 2011, 12:14 am

@AJ, I suggest a letter to the company director. I bet you would lose more selling it on than paying for new gubbins to really get it sorted. The fact you are a multi TV buyer from Panny should serve you well. Dont give up after being fobbed off by Panny service - make some noise!


February 4, 2011, 1:54 am

Thank you for the review.

Any plans to start including power consumption figures when you review these sets? Perhaps you could play a scene from a specific Blu-ray and then record the power consumption with a kill-a-watt or similar device. I suppose you'd have to calibrate each set first as well. At any rate, I, and possibly many others, would find this information very useful.


February 4, 2011, 2:05 pm

@Lamboy. Appreciate the idea, but I've already spent ages writing to Panasonic, calling them (took 3 weeks to get through as they were so busy in the new year) and then been through the whole deal with the service guys - who were excellent.

Hardcore Panasonic customer or not I really can’t see them giving me any preferential service. I’m just another number in the system unfortunately.

The service centre have replaced my power supply already, but that seemed to make no difference at all.

The noise sounds small in a big room and I guess if this were in a large front room then Panasonic may well be right about it being not that intrusive. However in a smaller space the noise is audible above almost all TV. Because the noise is high pitched it's far more annoying than a small plasma "hum".

I also seem to be more susceptible to this high-pitched noise than others. It doesn't bother my girlfriend half as much as me. I guess I’m also a perfectionist and the fact I paid so much for “premium” TV and then have this issue grates as much as the noise.

In comparison my other 2 (2 and 3 years old) Panny Plasmas are absolutely and totally silent. There's not even a whisper from them with the sound off and your ear flat against the screen. Older panels, both perfect.

Not sure I can be bothered to do any more. It's already cost me time working from home to let people in and out and a lot of hassle calling, explaining, starting again and again.

I think it’s time now to walk away from Plasma and get an LCD that shouldn’t have this issue. Unfortunately Panasonic lose a customer for their Plasmas and I won’t be buying on of their new 54” models in Spring, but I doubt they’ll care too much.

All still a bit gutting though. Have loved my Plasmas since the first one I bought almost 10 years ago.

Paul Cambridge

February 5, 2011, 8:10 pm

All seems good from this review.......but not quite so good at thia review


would the trusted reviews reviewer comment

also has anyone tried PS3 games on this TV the hdtvtest review notes large 41 ms lag


February 7, 2011, 10:40 pm

@Simon J:

To answer your questions, yes, Panasonic do have a new 2011 range, going from top to bottom.

1) The aesthetics will be a HUGE improvement, with the top-end plasmas featuring a 'borderless screen' (i.e. with a single sheet of glass across the entire front) a la LG's top-end models.

2) Going by specifications, contrast/black levels should indeed be slightly improved, but we'll see how they hold up.

3) 3D will now be featured across most of their models, so hopefully the glasses will have been improved and most of the kinks ironed out. :)


February 8, 2011, 12:10 am

excellent TV, the reduction in brightness using the 3D glasses makes the picture cinematic. contrast & colour details are outstanding. i wouldl like to know if plasma tv losses their picture quality with time?

Kelly Waters

February 21, 2011, 6:03 pm

I have this TV and it's really great. Shame there's only one 3D channel and most programmes on it are pay-per-view! Extra 3D glasses are very expensive...

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