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Panasonic Viera TX-P46VT20 review

John Archer



  • Recommended by TR
Panasonic Viera TX-P46VT20


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User Score

Review Price £1,399.97

Regular readers will know that we’ve already seen most of Panasonic’s ground-breaking VT20 3D plasma TVs. But the one that’s slipped through the cracks has the potential, in our opinion, to be the most popular model of all.

That model is the TX-P46VT20: arguably the perfect combination of an easily manageable but still large 46in screen size with a reasonably approachable £1,550 price tag. This makes it a good £250 cheaper than the 50in VT20 - a substantial saving for the sake of 4in of picture.

Given how impressed we’ve been by previous VT20 TVs, the P46VT20 clearly arrives with some excellent heritage. However, it’s also the first Panasonic 3D TV we’ve tested in the wake of all the new 3D tech on show at the CES, so with some of that CES 3D tech due to emerge here in the next month or so, we’re intrigued to see if the VT20 series still impresses us as much as it once did.

It certainly doesn’t get off to a great start. For if anything the P46VT20‘s well-built but dour aesthetics look even less glamorous than they used to now that we’ve seen the upcoming, ultra-sleek 2011 designs from the likes of Samsung and LG. Panasonic appears to believe that its target audience is by its nature conservative - but we’re not sure this is true. Especially when you’re talking about the early adopter market likely to be buying a 3D TV already.

Anyway, the P46VT20’s rear is actually more attractive, at least to the extent that it has pretty much all the connections you could hope for. Four HDMIs provide inputs for HD and full HD, active 3D signals; two USB inputs allow you to play back photo, video or music files from USB devices and/or make the TV Wi-Fi ready via an included dongle; an SD card slot provides an additional direct way of playing back photos, music and video files (including DivX HD); an Ethernet port permits wired access to DLNA PC files or Panasonic’s Viera Cast service; plus you get a satellite connection as well as an RF input, reflecting the fact that the P46VT20 has a built-in Freesat HD tuner as well as a Freeview HD one.

This is, of course, very handy for people living in areas not yet served by Freeview HD, and in fact it’s a policy that other brands are adopting too with their upcoming 2011 ranges. One last trick to do with the P46VT20’s connections is the ability to record from the HD tuners to USB storage devices. Or to be more precise, Buffalo JustStore HD-EU2-UK USB storage devices. We’re sincerely hoping Panasonic broadens its compatibility ‘church’ where USB recording devices are concerned if the recording feature persists through the brand’s 2011 range (kicking off in March).

The plasma screen driving the P46VT20 is the best Panasonic currently has to offer outside of its ‘pro’ business, using the latest iteration of Panasonic’s NeoPDP technology together with an Infinite Black Pro filter not found on sets further down Panasonic’s range. Plus you get Panasonic’s ‘fast-decay’ technology for reducing that dreaded active 3D phenomenon of crosstalk (double ghosting) noise.

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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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