With its 2010 range Panasonic has moved away from the gloss black colour schemes of past years, but the results haven't always been successful. For example, the company's flagship television, the VT20, is an unusual shade of metallic brown, and this particular television is what you might call metallic purple. It's a "love-it-or-hate it" colour, for sure.
The television is thin thanks to some recent technology improvements. And for added convenience, it's mounted on a swivel stand.
The remote control? Well, what do you want to know? It's black. It's oblong. It's easy to operate.
The D25 is the most promising LCD range from Panasonic due to the number of features on offer, but it does attract a significant premium. At AU$1700, The 37-inch offers us a full high-definition screen with 100Hz processing, plus it's illuminated by an LED backlight.
But ... the features!!! You get: USB HDD recording and playback; IPTV content with the sparkling new addition of Plus7; and network streaming. You also get two USB ports to which can be connected to USB disks for media playback, a Wi-Fi dongle or even a Skype cam.
The D25 allows you to plug even more things into it. You get three HDMI ports, a component, three AV inputs, Ethernet, digital out and a PC port.
Panasonic is the only company that lists the "moving resolution" of its panels. And while this is actually very helpful to the consumer, it's not a selling point in this case. Moving resolution is how many lines the screen can display when there's movement on the screen. The TV has an 800-line moving resolution, which is a little shy of 1080, but given the size of the screen we doubt this will be a problem. On the flipside, the company applies some "truthiness" with its claims of a two-million-to-one "dynamic" contrast ratio. You couldn't measure that level of contrast — even with a space telescope. And besides, the Hubble guys are too busy finding aliens before they find us and trash New York. Again.
Panasonic has been focused on plasma for many years, and LCD has always been its "other white meat". Yet, with the arrival of the D25 the company has seemingly put the smarts of its top-of-the-range plasma into an LCD. A great idea, but has it worked?
We began with our synthetic HQV 2.0 test disc and found that the processing is very similar to other Panasonic TVs. That's to say that it readily displayed both the company's traditional strengths and weaknesses. The TV was particularly good at eradicating the most annoying artefacts — mosquito noise and blockiness — from video sources, can handle most jaggies, and is also able to display scrolling text quite well. It didn't perform as successfully with 24p material showing a tendency for "moiré".
Replacing the test disc with Mission Impossible III on Blu-ray we found that the TV was able to keep a hold on the smooth-tracking shot at the beginning of the bridge scene but again showed a tendency for moiré with the railings of the bridge. Detail was very good with skin looking natural, but we did find a tendency for over-sharpness which introduced some fake detail.
Swapping to Batman Begins we then tested the manufacturer's claims on its ability with black levels. Unfortunately, and not surprisingly, the TV wasn't up to the task. Though deep for an LCD the blacks were inconsistent with streaks of purple appearing across the screen in a darkened room regardless of the source type. Watching the same scene from the side of the screen also resulted in a significant loss of contrast, though this is to be expected from the technology.
Replacing the Blu-ray with a DVD such as King Kong the TV exhibited the same problem we saw with the VT20 plasma with Bruce Baxter's eyelids appearing "grilled". This aside, colour performance was excellent and noise was shooed quickly from the room as before.
USB recording is a relatively new feature on televisions and is a welcome, bare-bones stop gap before going to an actual personal video recorder. Hooking up a USB drive allows you to pause live TV or record the channel you're watching. It's a bit clunky in action, and there's no recording scheduling, but not bad for free. We also found that there was a loss in picture quality with jaggies appearing in recorded content. The ordinary off-air picture was very good though.
Sound quality was decent for a "speakerless" design, though voices were a bit throaty. Heavy compression was audible during action sequences leading to a loss of impetus and drive.
Lastly, we tested the new VieraCast feature, Plus7, and found the experience to quite enjoyable if a little lacking in content compared to other services such as ABC's iView. That said, we found ourselves sucked into The Amazing Adventures of a Nobody, which follows a host's travels through Europe on five euros a day. Audio quality was sharp and there was a lack of any jaggies or blockiness during the stream.
At the recommended retail price of AU$1700 this TV is quite a big ask, though we've seen it online for as low as AU$1100. It does offer some decent screen technologies and could suit purple-loving folk on the lookout for a feature-packed, smaller TV.
However, when stacked up against the company's own 50-inch V20 at the same price there is simply no contest. Plasma demonstrates its superiority at this price, because not only do you get a bigger screen but a better picture as