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Panasonic Viera TX-P46VT20 - Good 3D, Great 2D

John Archer

By John Archer

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Panasonic Viera TX-P46VT20

Summary

Our Score:

9

User Score:

While Panasonic’s 3D brightness issues now look more damaging than they did before the CES, we’re certainly not sure yet if the new spate of non-plasma 3D TVs will solve their crosstalk issues. And we find crosstalk so distracting that the relative lack of it on the P46VT20 is still extremely persuasive.

Doing its best to undermine all the good 3D work being done by the screen, though, are Panasonic’s 3D glasses. You get two pairs included free with the TV, which is nice, but while the new design Panasonic has gone for with its latest glasses is a minor improvement on the awful things the brand rolled out alongside its very first 3D TVs, they’re still pretty poor. The basic problems are a) that the lens section is too narrow, so you have to perch them at the end of your nose and turn your head down to get the whole 3D picture in view, and b) that the curved, open sides can allow light to reflect from the room on to the lenses.

The P46VT20’s 2D performance is exemplary. Black levels, for instance - while still not managing the old Pioneer KURO levels of excellence are nonetheless natural, rich in detail and accompanied within the same frame by bright whites and vivid colours in a way no LCD screen can match. The best direct LED sets perhaps deliver an even greater sense of dynamism, but they always lose shadow detail along the way.

HD pictures on the P46VT20 look superbly crisp and detail, meanwhile, without this sharpness being accompanied by noise or over-sharpening. The set’s a good handler of standard definition too, upscaling it with a sharper finish and more natural colours than we see with some of Panasonic’s cheaper plasma TVs.

The self-emissive nature of plasma TVs further ensures that a) the P46VT20’s pictures withstand scrutiny from much wider angles than those of any LCD TV, even Panasonic’s own IPS Alpha models, and b) there are no brightness ‘hotspots’ to worry about.

Motion is handled well as noted earlier, and finally the range and subtlety of the P46VT20’s colours is a sight to behold - even if the overall colour push isn’t as aggressive post-calibration as it is on some LCD/LED TVs.

The P46VT20 joins the other VT20 models we’ve seen in delivering Panasonic’s best plasma picture quality to date - and that’s saying something.

Panasonic has had numerous stabs at boosting the sound from flat TVs in the past, with its latest efforts being the use of bamboo speakers in the P46VT20. These do actually deliver a noticeably natural, uncluttered sound by flat TV standards, with some good treble precision too. However, it would appear that even bamboo can’t guarantee much in the way of bass...

Verdict

While Panasonic’s 3D glasses do their best to sabotage the P46VT20’s 3D performance, and the imminence of some 2nd-gen competition might persuade you to wait a while, the fact remains that simply by suppressing crosstalk so effectively, the P46VT20’s 3D performance is the most engaging we’ve tested to date.

It’s also a stellar 2D performer, and not bad on the multimedia front either, even if its Viera Cast online system is slightly off the pace of some rival platforms.

All in all the P46VT20 a very fine TV - albeit one that’s now living in the long shadow of a potential incoming TV storm...

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

Lamboy

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!

AJ

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.!

Lamboy

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!

DrMaustus

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.

AJ

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





http://www.hdtvtest.co.uk/news...





would the trusted reviews reviewer comment





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

TechVegan

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. :)

kayode

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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