Panasonic TH-42PZ800A

If sport or movies are your aim then plasma is still the king, and the Panasonic TH-42PZ800A offers a great picture for a great price.

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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

It's hard to say what our first impressions of the Panasonic TH-42PZ800A were: the south end of a north-bound robot? Darth Vader with a moustache? The Panasonic is certainly a futuristic looking telly. And its gloss-black finish and subtle bottom bezel help it stand out from all the other rectangular "window frames" out there.

Unlike Pioneer's glass-less (and more expensive) Kuro the Panasonic still uses a glass outer layer. The only disadvantage to this is that high-contrast images — credits for example — can "double up" when viewed off-axis. Also, the TV lacks the anti-reflective coating of the previous 700A generation which means you'll need a darker room to watch this one in.

If you want access to the controls on the TV itself they're located along and under the silver bezel. To the left sits the hard power button and in the middle of the bezel there is a fold-up flap. Inside are a minimum of controls including volume and channel buttons, but no menu controls. Beside it sit the SD card input and a further HDMI input, as well as an AV input.

At the rear you'll find the "lock-in" power plug, and a series of rear-facing video and audio inputs. A separate bracket is available for wall-mounting purposes.

The remote is the same we've seen with the Panasonic TH-42PX8A and it's quite friendly. It has dedicated Play controls at the bottom which makes it interoperable with other Panasonic equipment or HDMI-CEC compatible gear.

The Panasonic TH-42PZ800A is Panasonic's flagship and this means it boasts the most features of the range. You get:

  • 1920x1080 resolution,
  • Intelligent Frame Creation 100Hz mode,
  • 30,000:1 native contrast,
  • Integrated HD tuner with seven-day EPG, and
  • Sub-Pixel Controller for reducing jagged edges.

In addition you also get three HDMI ports, which is about average now, with the (dis)advantage that one is front mounted. Good because you can plug and unplug a PS3 easily, bad because it would look ugly if you need the third slot on a permanent basis. In addition you get two component inputs, two S-Video ports, and an overkill of four AV inputs.

In comparison to some of its LCD competitors though, it's not exactly cutting edge. The Philips 42PFL9703D boasts an Ethernet connection and a USB port, while the forthcoming Samsung LA46A750 sports those in addition to on-board yoga exercises and stock updates! But what really matters is the picture right? ...

... Which is a good thing because the Panasonic TH-42PZ800A has picture quality in spades.

The most striking thing about a TV at this price is the amount of black in the image. While it's not the pure black of the experimental Pioneer we saw at CES it's very impressive nonetheless.

Even on an SD recording of David Attenborough's The Life of Mammals black levels are deep and give a 3D quality to the image. Unlike LCD, there's no need to "suspend your disbelief" due to backlight clouding or off-axis fading — the blacks are solid from one side to the other. In addition, detail levels are strong with fur, hair, and skin rendered realistically.

The Panasonic also excelled in our Silicon Optix HQV tests. The TV displayed excellent noise-cancelling capabilities — even with noise reduction off — with no mosquito noise at all. The jaggies test also came out with full marks.

The TV tuner was also good, with HD broadcasts having plenty of zip and believability. Only when watching the Great Outdoors in "HD" on 7 HD did we see some jagged edges get through the TV's processor.

DVD replay was also excellent — even King Kong's opening "opinions are those of the authors..." screen looked deep and black, while it had looked frayed at the edges on the Sharp LC-46D83X LCD before it. Play the movie proper, and the Panasonic was able to track the planes in the opening shots of Kong's Last Stand better than any LCD we've seen. Plasma simply handles motion better than LCD because there's no lag, and it may always be the case.

However, the same scene did show one small flaw: though the screen is big on detail, sometimes this can be at the expense of smooth colour gradients. Contrasting scenes looked a little over-sharpened in Normal — though this effect was lessened in Cinema mode. One thing we couldn't get rid of was the slight fizzing effect that occurred when the Panasonic tried to reproduce clouds.

Well, we'll take that back. We could get rid of this gradation problem by activating 100Hz, but then we created even issues. The "fizzing" disappeared but then areas of sky got a "striping" effect on DVDs and Blu-rays alike. In general, the Intelligent Frame Creation mode created some unnatural movement but no obvious haloing in most content, but we still preferred to leave it off.

Sound quality was generally good: speech was coherent and explosions had a good deal of force behind them. We've heard better TV speakers though, as there was no real stereo separation and it was lacking the treble response of the Philips 9000 series.

PC output was also good, although we encountered initial problems with the screen over-scanning the desktop. However, unlike the budget 8A we were able to turn Overscan off which meant we could see the Vista screen in full. Colours were accurate and text sharp.

Despite putting in an exemplary performance there are a couple of things that stop it from receiving full marks. Like the 8A and many Panasonic screens before it, the TV lacks a "user" colour mode, which means that you may have to stick with one of the presets as the TV has an uncanny knack to "forget" individual adjustments.

Though the retail price may be AU$2,899 we've seen it retail for about AU$500 less than this. The lead-up to the Olympics and the Christmas rush should mean this model hovers around the AU$2k mark by the end of the year. This price would make the TH-42PZ800A a magnificent bargain.

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Stevo79 posted a comment   

The Good:Superb picture, true blacks, great colour, works well with ps3, good looking tv, great price

The Bad:Power consumption, reflective, speakers don't like bass, no lan or dlna

Never missed a beat, so glad i bought this tv.


fisher posted a review   

The Good:picture and easy to use

The Bad:remoye would like nav at bottom . veria link falls out

Great tv better then any other i have seen .only proble is the veria link with my home thearter keeps falling out and i am not a big fan of the remote lay out .


MikeBrown30 posted a review   

The Good:-Fantastic picture
-Channels don't take long to change unlike other tv's i've seen
-Decent sound
-Sleek looking, and matches perfectly with the cabinet I purchased along with it

The Bad:-None yet, I may follow up on my rating in 6-12months. I got a 5 year warranty on it, so this should be around for a long time

Just purchased one yesterday for my bedroom (I'm only 21) and i'm glad the salesman I was dealing with showed it to me. Even my parents are jealous of it and want to swap with the TV in the family room (42 Inch Panasonic, not sure what make/model).


madcar posted a review   

The Good:The picture quality of the 850A but with a sharper image

The Bad:Only had for a month, so none found yet

The 850A may be the flagship but picture wise the 800A was my choice. It definitely has a sharper image (or the 850A has a softer image which is what the reviews say). Go to David Jones at Doncaster Shopping Centre in Melb where you can see a side by side comparison of the two 50" models and make your own mind up...I did!


Vorpal_Silence posted a review   

The Good:-Black levels and picture quality in general.
-Many inputs (esp great if you own lots of gaming consoles like i do,).
-The OSD menu for swapping between AV inputs is great.
-Easy to setup and tune, EPG works automatically.
-1080p gaming is amazing on this, no lag or burn-in issues that I have seen.

The Bad:-Glare would be an issue if you had only brightly lit rooms to work with.
-Some of the picture settings are either weird, like IFC (sometimes sucks, sometimes its great) or don't seem to actually do anything at all.
-Having the component-in limited to 1080i is a little annoying.
-Remote isn't great, but it does the job.
-Seems to lock itself to just flipping though analogue tv channels sometimes, then I need to enter the EPG to select a DVB channel, probably just a setting or something I haven't found yet.

Amazing TV, I picked up the 50" model, I use it primarily for gaming and Blu-Ray movies and the quality of both is a cut above others in its price range.


jahawk999 posted a review   

The Good:picture all round good

The Bad:petty stuff

great all round tv, took back a toshiba lcd and got this, the diferance is embarrasing for toshiba, altho its also 50hz against 100hz plazma.


davido posted a review   

The Good:Pic quality is superb.

The Bad:Glare is strong but not a prob in my room.

Seriously the best picture quality i have ever owned.


gill posted a review   

The Good:Great value for money Plasma from a quality brand & with a bonus product.
Swivel stand a great idea.

The Bad:No picture in picture ability.
No anti-glare filter on this model. Was told by the retail outlet the model with anti-glare filter was not being released in Australia. ???

I got the 50inch & could not be happier. Could not justify the price for the Pioneer plasma.

For 'Bearview' who commented that while watching sports he finds "the ball seems to blur at times".
I had same issue initially.
After a quick call to Panasonic help desk they solved the problem over the phone in less than 1 minute. You need to change one of the 'Picture settings' & the problem will besolved - no more ball flutter/ghosting.
I'm not at home at the moment, & I can't quite remember what the actual picture setting was that needed changing, but the help desk knew straight away when I descrbed the problem.

(So far) Happy Panny owner

(So far) Happy Panny owner posted a review   

The Good:- Excellent value for money (eg much cheaper to equivalent size LCD offers from Sony, Pioneer, even Samsung)
- Fantastic colour and decent contrast
- Good blacks (though not as good IMHO to the recent Samsung LCD screens that seem to have set a real benchmark).
- Superlative, fluid, cinematic experience when watching a movie in the dark. Can't imagine any LCD (pricier or otherwise) being as good as this TV for movies in the dark.
- Suprisingly good sound quality.
- Ability to change aspect ratio and to zoom in on each different source.
- Great aesthetics. Glad that Panasonic chose to retain some silver on the telly as an all black tv would not go to well with all my existing silver components. And I hate the latest trend to black appliances!
- SD card slot handy

The Bad:- The anti glare filters don't work that well. There is a lot of glare if placed opposite a window or near a light source. An LCD would likely give a better experience in sunlight (but not in the dark).
- Remote a little tacky.
- No PIP. Would have been nice to have but can live without.
- Would have been nice to have THX calibration as in USA market. (However, "cinema" option works well)
- Have not worked out how to rotate photos on SD card (Is it possible?)
- Have to jump hoops to claim pre Christmas redemption offer. Fingers crossed, I should receive my wii in February 09.

I recently bought the 50" version of this TV (i.e 50PZ800A) and I have to agree with most of the reviewers comments. It was probably the best value 50" inch on the market (particularly with the pre Christmas offer of a free wii by redemption) when I purchased and has been a pleasing purchase. One thing I am curious about though. There is a "shop" vs "home" setting when you initially set it up. I have tried both but could not really see the difference. Anyone out there know what the different settings do? Eg is one more energy efficient than the other?


MM posted a review   

The Good:Will let u know once it arrives and i have played around with it for a bit.

The Bad:Very little from all reports but at the moment just having to wait for this awesome tele.

After spending countless hrs reading reviews including CNET's thorough report i ordered the 46".

Got it for $2199 after visiting a few diff outlets.No doubt the best tv you can buy in this price range.
Amazingly one of them was willing to offer the 42" for $1399.Was tempting but i knew i would regret not picking up the 46".

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User Reviews / Comments  Panasonic TH-42PZ800A

  • Stevo79


    "Never missed a beat, so glad i bought this tv."

  • fisher



    "Great tv better then any other i have seen .only proble is the veria link with my home thearter keeps falling out and i am not a big fan of the remote lay out ."

  • MikeBrown30



    "Just purchased one yesterday for my bedroom (I'm only 21) and i'm glad the salesman I was dealing with showed it to me. Even my parents are jealous of it and want to swap with the TV in the family ..."

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