Panasonic TH-42PX8A

The Panasonic TH-42PX8A is a marked improvement on the 700 series, which is quite an achievement for a budget plasma. Pity it's not true HD, though.


8.2
CNET Rating
9.8
User Rating

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Ty is a journalist with 15 years experience in writing for IT and entertainment publications. He is in charge of the home theatre category for CNET Australia and is also a PC enthusiast. He likes indie music and plays several instruments. Twitter: @tpendlebury


In the past month, Panasonic has been busy ramping up its high-def ranges in preparation for "its" Olympic Games. While the TH-42PX8A doesn't really fit within the company's 1080p ethos, it's a significant inclusion for bargain hunters. The price may be the lowest we've seen for plasmas of this size, but how's the performance?

Design
The company has ditched the boomerang stand of the previous range in favour of a sturdier plinth. Panasonic has bucked against the piano brigade and chosen gunmetal for its colour scheme.

The controls on the television are hidden behind a flap and may appear complicated at first, as instead of separate Ch and Volume buttons there is an "F" key to toggle the +/- keys between the two functions.

The rear inputs are designed with tabletop-mounting in mind as they all face towards the user rather than the floor — as with wall-mounted TVs. This makes it easy to connect new peripherals but could obviously make wall-mounting difficult.

The remote control is chunky and reasonably well-designed — with big friendly buttons. It will also control other Panasonic components via the Viera Link, but we think other brands such as Sony do HDMI control better.

Features
The new TV has not only enjoyed an AU$1,000 price drop, but also a boost in specifications on the outgoing TH-42PX70A. The most obvious is the amount of black present in the image — an increase from 10,000:1 to 15,000:1. This results in an impressive amount of contrast and image depth.

Another impressive specification that is obvious over even Panasonic's 1080p model of last year is the 4,096 steps of gradation which results in an incredibly smooth colour palette. The TV also features a 100Hz mode, which in typical Panasonic fashion can't be tweaked or turned off, but it does lend a lot of solidity to moving images.

The number of inputs remain relatively similar, though, with only two HDMI ports, two component, a PC input, two S-Videos and four composite inputs.

If you're looking for an HD panel then it's best to consider an LCD over plasma at this size — despite the Panasonic's HD Tick, this is not an HD panel in the true sense. Its resolution is 1,024x768 — yes that's right, the same as many 4:3 computer monitors. To get the extra horizontal resolution, the panel scales your 1,280x720 content to fit. This is what you might call "cheating". To avoid any scaling errors being introduced into your picture, it's ideal if the resolution matches that of the content, but in budget plasmas of course that's rare.

Performance
For a not-quite HD screen we were very impressed by its performance across both standard-def and high-def content. Only occasionally did the screen's relatively low resolution result in a little bit of fly-screen effect — particularly noticeable in the vertical.

Viewed against our studio plasma, the PDP-5000EX, the Panasonic exhibited better blacks and contrast on the No Country For Old Men Blu-ray, though the picture lacked the Pioneer's solidity. This is due in part to the Panasonic's tendency to fly-screen and cause jaggies on horizontal edges. But this is still impressive for a TV that's a sixth of its rival's original asking price. We also found that the 100Hz filter reduced much of the judder from the movies long panning scenes as well, making for a much more natural picture.

The TH-42PX8A also performed reasonably well in the synthetic HQV tests — especially in the diagonal jaggies test. This is good news as due to the reduced resolution the plasma needs to scale most content. Noise was also much reduced due to the screen's inbuilt mosquito noise reduction.

When we tested the Panasonic TH-42PZ700A only three months ago, King Kong and its troublesome Empire State building sequence had its merry way with it. Colour gradations were rendered as discrete colour bands — which is bad — and the panel was generally noisy. Imagine our surprise then, when the budget TH-42PX8A outperformed it in both respects. For a relatively low cost television, the picture processing is outstanding.

Though we'd be wary of using a plasma screen as a PC monitor on a regular basis, the VGA input worked quite well. Using Windows Vista at 1,024x768 resolution resulted in clear and readable text. However, using an HDMI connection instead refused to scale correctly. This is a potential issue if you only have a DVI-out on your PC (HDMI and DVI are directly compatible).

If there's any faults with this plasma, the ones you'll encounter with the most are: off-axis viewing can result in image doubling, due to the outer glass screen reflecting the images underneath; and less-than-optimal performance in a bright room as the panel lacks the anti-reflective coating of the more expensive models.

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Kutiel
10
Rating
 

"Good buy."

Kutiel posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Clear picture, excellent sound, reliable, perfect.

The Bad:The viera link button doesn't work,

Have this tv 3 years (close to the date) and cannot fault anything wrong with it. Best $1200 I spent. Love watching my movies and tv shows

 

Daniel posted a comment   

The Good:Super Clear, Deep Black, Perfect

The Bad:Not full HD, but you wouldn't know unless you were told.

Seriously, this is by far the best Plasma/LCD I have ever seen in my life. We got it for $900 dollars a year ago, and no-one I know has an LCD/Plasma that is better, whether they are Samsung, Sony or anything else.

Even though it's a superceded model, if you can find one, snap it up.

P.S. We've never even had one fault with it, still has 100% pixels. I LOVE THIS TV!!!

BIGDAN
10
Rating
 

BIGDAN posted a review   

The Good:Picture processing and colour depth

The Bad:none to speak of

Brilliant panel easily beats sony full 1080p LCD panel for pure picture processing and colour depth. Too much made of native resolutions these days (1080 V 768) but truth be told contrast, speed, colour are all much more important in a television and this outperforms most. It handles full 1080p content flawlessly. Great panel great price

beetle juice
10
Rating
 

beetle juice posted a review   

The Good:I hate typing so i will leave it short "AWSOME"

The Bad:All i do is watch it.

very clear picture
looks good
user friendly remote
and all of the above comments

JohnnyB
10
Rating
 

JohnnyB posted a review   

The Good:Image, Price, Colour depth

The Bad:Not Full HD - But read review..not really a con..

**Review for the PX10A - Newer model**

First of all this whole HD, Full HD thing has gone a bit too far I think. Let me explain.
Remember those eye charts they have in doctors clinics ? You know - the ones where you stand on a line from a set distance and read the small letters. Well this may be news to some, but at 2.5 meters from a 42 inch screen - the human eye cannot tell the pixel separation difference between a full HD and HD screen - If people say they can, they are trying to justify spending that extra $1000 on Full HD of which only Blu-Ray is able to obtain.

This TV is not Full HD - nor does it need to be at normal viewing distances. This is simply stunning watching at a really great price. Pictures move clean and fast with the 600Hz sub field processor and all TV shows in HD (TV shows are NOT broadcast in full HD, would take up more bandwidth and cost more) are great. Have had the Panasonic for 2 months without fault. The only thing that went wrong is that I flattened the batteries on the remote because it got stuck between the couch cushion and held several keys down draining the battery.

Overall, you will not be disappointed buying this 42 inch Plasma. The only thing you have to overcome (As I did) is the market hype to make you spend more money for a Full HD set of which
1. You will watch in Full HD less than 2% of the time with your BluRay Player and that is only if..
2. You sit closer than 2.5 meters away from the screen.

Yes - The TV is Really that good and No, I don't work in Harvey Norman or have Panasonic tattooed in my forehead.

 

joseph posted a comment   

The Good:excellent picture, excellent price

The Bad:displaying computer?

Excellent value.

I have had a problem in displaying my computer (especially home video). Not sure if it is the fault of the computer.

mhnww
9
Rating
 

mhnww posted a review   

The Good:Great Picture!

The Bad:Plain looking TV

Had this for 6 months now, and just think it has an excellent picture. Simple as that. For the money spent (I spent $1250...but I expect you can get them for

wil075
9
Rating
 

wil075 posted a review   

The Good:Panasonic's reputation
Great Picture
Cheap - only paid $985
100Hz AND 24 frames/second

The Bad:Hard to fault - had mine for a few months now
Should have really got the 50inch!!

Probably the best entry level plasma. It's 100Hz and 24 frames/second - The base LG and Samsung don't offer both of these together

Panasonic
10
Rating
 

Panasonic posted a review   

The Good:Excellent picture, it performs better then most high end plasma panels even though it come in entry level plasma.

The Bad:For that price i don't think any.

Great TV, It is the best plasma tv under 1500 dollars range.

chris
9
Rating
 

chris posted a review   

bought this model a few months ago very happy, good quality tv and a good price


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User Reviews / Comments  Panasonic TH-42PX8A

  • Kutiel

    Kutiel

    Rating10

    "Have this tv 3 years (close to the date) and cannot fault anything wrong with it. Best $1200 I spent. Love watching my movies and tv shows"

  • Daniel

    Daniel

    "Seriously, this is by far the best Plasma/LCD I have ever seen in my life. We got it for $900 dollars a year ago, and no-one I know has an LCD/Plasma that is better, whether they are Samsung, Sony ..."

  • BIGDAN

    BIGDAN

    Rating10

    "Brilliant panel easily beats sony full 1080p LCD panel for pure picture processing and colour depth. Too much made of native resolutions these days (1080 V 768) but truth be told contrast, speed, c..."

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