Panasonic Viera TH-P42V20A

The Panasonic Viera TH-P42V20A is a steal at half the price of the company's flagship and features a better picture to boot!


8.7
CNET Rating
8.1
User Rating

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CNET Editor

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 our opinion, Panasonic released the best TV in 2010, the G10, but unfortunately its victory was soured by controversy over user complaints of a sudden increase in the brightness levels. To us as owners of the G series, we believe the Australian models were affected as there was a measurable change, but the issue was pretty much a storm in a teacup. Despite the slight lack of contrast, the TV remains impressive to this day.

Just as the G series managed to out-trump the more expensive V series last year, it seems history is repeating itself with Panasonic's latest TV.

Design

Panasonic televisions tend to tread on the polite side of design, and so to see something emerge from the newest carton that's not piano black is a welcome change. The V20 features a silver-coloured plastic bezel whose colouring extends to the swivel stand. It's a little thinner than last year's G series, which may be important to you if you're looking to mount it on a wall.

The remote control is a familiar one: chunky, friendly and, though vaguely quirky, it is easy to use.

Features

Connectivity has been a focus of Panasonic's set-top boxes for a number of years and with the 2010 range the feature has spread to a significant number of TVs s well. The V20 sports all of the features a modern, "smart" TV should have. These include wired and wireless internet connectivity with DLNA and video-on-demand, Twitter access, Skype calls (with the addition of a AU$150 camera) and a USB recorder.

The TV boasts a screen with a "glassless" front with a louvre structure, which not only eliminates reflections off-axis but gives the set a dynamic contrast of 5,000,000:1. While this impressive number is a relative indication of black levels one should take it with a grain of salt. Further picture enhancements include a 600Hz sub-field drive and a 1080-line moving picture resolution, which mean movement should be crisp and without ghosting artefacts.

Connectivity is helped along with four HDMI ports, two USB slots, two components, four AV inputs and a VGA connector.

The V series available in Australia is based on the G series, which is sold in the US and elsewhere. Why no V series here? We haven't been able to get a definitive answer from Panasonic, but we would hazard that the 2010 range has been designed to appeal to the bargain hunter with models such as the X20 and S20 making for the bulk of offerings.

Performance

As we've already alluded to, the V series is a serious performer, and was able to outdo its big brother VT20 in all but the "most important" test: black levels. The VT20 was a little better here, but only just.

We've recently upgraded our synthetic tests to the tougher HQV 2.0 test discs, and the results were a little hit-and-miss, especially when measured against the signal processing kings: Sony. Noise was well handled with images boasting defined edges and a lack of blocking. But the set wasn't as successful with jaggies, and this is something that carried through to watching the off-air tuner. White lines and text tended to glisten, and this seems to be a Panasonic trait. While it may clean jaggies up, it's not in the same league as image processing king Sony.

This tendency for sloppy image-handling extended to DVD playback, which, while it performed much better than the VT20, was unable to clean up a 576i image from our King Kong test disc. But in other areas — detail, colour uniformity and black levels — it is the master, and if the Sony HX800 wasn't so darned good we would be hoisting the Pana on our shoulders instead.

But as with most native 1080p screens its talents lie with high-definition content. Mission Impossible III may not be the best movie around but it's good at sorting the short pants from the trousers. The intro to the bridge scene was smooth and despite the TV's poor showing at the jaggies test earlier it actually performed quite well here — the railings were solid and free of moire. The screen also did a good job of cleaning up the noise inherent in the sky shots while also maintaining facial detail in close-ups. Switching to the night-time shots, black levels were also deep and the picture had ample amounts of contrast.

Sound quality was also acceptable and while not stunningly crystal clear dialogue was easily intelligible. Explosions had heft and you could hear the chaos going in a complex scene such as the MI3 bridge attack.

Aside from the VT20, this is Panasonic's most feature complete yet, and using the Viera Cast function was straightforward. It may not be as attractive as Sony's XMB or LG's NetCast, it is configurable so you can place the app "tiles" anywhere you wish.

We tested the AU$150 Skype camera and found it blended seamlessly with the application — even if the app itself wasn't that responsive. Additionally, YouTube worked as well as you could expect but the Twitter app wouldn't. Even if it did work, we don't know anyone who would rather tweet from a TV when they could more easily use a smartphone instead.

Like the VT20 the TV lets you hook up a USB hard drive and use it as a PVR, albeit a handicapped one. You can't use it to schedule recordings — only record current programs, and the "rewind live TV" controls are a bit screwy. They use the D-pad instead of the dedicated playback (Play, REW, FFW) controls on the remote.

Conclusion

With the increasing prevalence of "LED" TVs it seems that plasma's dominance is no longer assured. While the V20 and VT20 are superior to 90 per cent of the models on the market they are no longer "the best". But if you're a fan of plasma's key strengths — unrivalled viewing angles, deep black levels, truer colours — then this TV is still AU$1000 cheaper than the equivalent Sony TV and sports an older, "proven" technology.

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manphil
9
Rating
 

manphil posted a review   

The Good:Picture quality in HD, fully adjustable colour settings

The Bad:Above avg with SD but not the best

THe grey-metal colour surround on the screen blends in to a room much better than I originally thought. Easy to set up, the wife had it up and running in a few minutes after I screwed on the base.
Once I turned down the over done standard colour settings, used a TV setup disk, the colour and definition is superb. The swivel base is convenient in our room, as we sit at a slight angle to wall. The multiple inputs allow, STB, Media player, Blu-ray and Wii, with still a couple free. Off angle view still good pic quality, much better than LCD screens. Power uasge is comparable or better than old 81cm CRT screen it replaced. Surprisingly the sound output is good, even though I have a full surround system, this is not always needed to be turned on. Did not expect this! DLNA is average, does not support many codecs. A separate media player does better.

Richard
4
Rating
 

Richard posted a review   

The Good:Picture

The Bad:Internet "Viera Cast" function

We bought one of these a few weeks ago. Good picture, however, the Internet "Viera Cast" function has not worked. Panasonic help desk have been of little help, the one suggestion they made did not resolve the problem.
If the Internet function is important for you I would recommend looking elsewhere.

Brown Dog
8
Rating
 

Brown Dog posted a review   

The Good:Great Color Reproduction of Pictures Straight Out of The Box, With a Price You Cant Beat!

The Bad:Not Sure Yet

Im loving this model. Bought 2 at 50". My wife is a pro photographer and she is amazed at the color reproduction and still image quality straight out of the box compared with many other models the color reproduction just dosnt look as fake as many others. Hooked up Apple TV and all good. Very Very Happy!

Pan
10
Rating
 

Pan posted a review   

The Good:Excellent HD quality pictures. Less power consumption , Sleek Design, Have media server playback and IPTV,

The Bad:USB cannot read HDDs and read only Flash memories, Cannot play .mkv, SD quality not so good.

I think at USD1200 it is an excellent buy as compared to LCD and LED tvs. P42V20 rocks with Blueray DVDs

 

shray posted a comment   

Ty,
I'm currently in the market for a TV. Basically, my choice is between this the V20 or an LED from either Sony or Samsung. I saw all these TVs side-by-side in some store and though I really did like the PQ of the V20, when it comes to displaying HD content. I do have a concern as when I played non-HD video(through a pen drive) the colors really did seem to be dull. What are your views, do you think the colors appeared dull because the Store Lighting was too bright or is brightness an issue with this TV? Also if you can, give me your opinion on which TV I should go for (considering my budget is around the same as the price of this TV and I'm lookin to wall-mount it).
thanks

Jim
9
Rating
 

Jim posted a review   

The Good:Great picture, dlna video off my pc, sound very good for TV

The Bad:Cnet complaining about Panasonic remotes, you are nuts. Wants PIP.

I dumped my home theater PC. Now stream from my main PC. It plays everything I have thrown at it. Some recordings do not respond to FF and RW but that must be the way they were recorded. Dumped my Sony Sound system and use the Panasonic Bluray amp now, only one remote does it all, from 5 before.
It is about time Panasonic did something re the content available via vieracast it is a joke seeing pages of "more coming" They must have gone through several marketing managers by now and still nothing. But that does not detract from the individual ability of the TV.

Jim
9
Rating
 

Jim posted a review   

The Good:Great picture, dlna video off my pc, sound very good for TV

The Bad:Cnet complaining about Panasonic remotes, you are nuts. Wants PIP.

I dumped my home theater PC. Now stream from my main PC. It plays everything I have thrown at it. Some recordings do not respond to FF and RW but that must be the way they were recorded. Dumped my Sony Sound system and use the Panasonic Bluray amp now, only one remote does it all, from 5 before.
It is about time Panasonic did something re the content available via vieracast it is a joke seeing pages of "more coming" They must have gone through several marketing managers by now and still nothing. But that does not detract from the individual ability of the TV.

 

VC posted a comment   

The Good:Ease of use, no reflection, fast refresh, configuration options (Skype, USB drives, divX, etc

The Bad:Preferred to have pic in pic...but would have to upgrade for this

Definitely did not expect it to be "not hot" - tried touching a few other models and damn nearly burned my hand -> less power consumption. Can't fault it after a few weeks. Menu's are easy and logical. Would have preferred the 'info' button closer to the channel up/down on the remote...but I bought a TV, not a remote control !

 

plasma posted a comment   

have had my th54v20a for two weeks and am gob smacked with the picture quality.This model is made in japan and as i sell this product as well as all other major brands had a good chance to spend lots of time comparing this screen with lots of others.
i have had samsung six series lcd and while happy with that the pana leaves it for dead.
Love this product!!


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User Reviews / Comments  Panasonic Viera TH-P42V20A

  • manphil

    manphil

    Rating9

    "THe grey-metal colour surround on the screen blends in to a room much better than I originally thought. Easy to set up, the wife had it up and running in a few minutes after I screwed on the base.<..."

  • Richard

    Richard

    Rating4

    "We bought one of these a few weeks ago. Good picture, however, the Internet "Viera Cast" function has not worked. Panasonic help desk have been of little help, the one suggestion they made did no..."

  • Brown Dog

    Brown Dog

    Rating8

    "Im loving this model. Bought 2 at 50". My wife is a pro photographer and she is amazed at the color reproduction and still image quality straight out of the box compared with many other models th..."

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