Panasonic Viera TH-P46G10A

The Panasonic Viera TH-P46G10A is the best plasma we've seen in the past 12 months, and is perhaps the best TV on the market.


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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


There's no doubt about it: plasma has been taking a licking. Not only have manufacturers been falling by the wayside, but with "LED" and its sound-alike "OLED" nipping at its heels, the future of plasma is by no means certain. With Pioneer now gone, we look to Panasonic to perpetuate the plasma species. And you know what? With the new G series we may have found the best TV left on the market. Perhaps.

Design

Depending on who you ask, this TV is either "subtle" or "plain". It's a predominantly glossy black television with the silver arc across the bottom bezel that previous models had — only this time it's a little less obvious. The design certainly doesn't give Samsung or Sony televisions any reason for pause. Being a mid-range plasma, it's not as thin as Samsung's flagship 8 series or Panasonic's own Z1, but we're sure that most people won't be wall-mounting this anyway.

The TV features a swivel stand which is circular this time rather than rectangular. And frankly it's also a bit uglier.

Here we usually talk about the remote, but as with previous models it's large and friendly. If you have a universal remote — which is one of the first items you should purchase if you're serious about your home entertainment — you'll most likely chuck it in a drawer anyway.

Features

Sensibly, Panasonic has decided to hold back on the extraneous features of rivals like Samsung's 8 and concentrate on picture quality. The G10 is Panasonic's 12th generation plasma, which is a brand new design it calls "NeoPDP". It supersedes the Viera TH-46PZ800A of last year and bests it in every possible way for feature count. It boasts a better contrast level, slightly lower power usage, and a much higher 6144 steps of gradation, up from 5120. Steps of what now? Gradation is where a colour blends into another, and being able to portray more colours means images look smoother and more lifelike — there's no "stepping" involved.

While it may be a little light-on for "wow" it has everything you'll need: a full 1080p resolution, digital tuner, three HDMI ports and a card reader. The only thing we miss is Ethernet connectivity and the extra HDMI port. However, if you really need a media streamer then the PS3 isn't really that much more at AU$699 — plus you can play games and Blu-ray discs.

The TV also features a 600Hz sub-field drive, if that's important to you. This is different from 100/200Hz technologies because it's integral to the operation of the panel — we discuss it here. The Panasonic also includes a 100Hz mode called Intelligent Frame Creation, but like most of these things it's best turned off — especially on a plasma as lag is not an issue.

While the G10 features an Eco mode, it's not the best in terms of energy use: it manages two Energy Stars out of six. If you're looking for better energy efficiency then the V series may be more to your liking. It gets three out of six, which is pretty decent for a plasma.

Performance

If you're looking at buying a TV for sport don't muck around — get a plasma. The Panasonic quickly showed us why. With an antenna cable shoved in the back of the unit we sat and watched ONE HD and found the Viera coped very well. The differences between ONE HD and SD while watching a baseball game were immediately obvious. For instance, we were able to see the individual threads in the players' uniforms. This TV is able to take a HD signal and present it beautifully — images are sharp and detailed, although some may miss the clinical precision of an LCD.

Next, we fired up the DVD player and plonked on a copy of Batman Begins. While the blacks aren't as inky as the Blu-ray version, this disc is still a good all-round test of your television's capabilities. The Panasonic replayed the disc flawlessly, with no noise, good colour and the best gradations on any plasma we've seen since the Kuro. As Bruce Wayne climbs the mountain to the monastery, the ice and clouds usually sparkle on a plasma in a way they shouldn't, but the Viera was able to reproduce these textures smoothly and faithfully. For the price, there is simply no plasma (or LCD) that can beat it here.

The television is also a champ in HD, as it demonstrated with the Mission Impossible III disc. Film-based judder was virtually non-existent, thanks to the TV's support for the 24p standard, and detail and image artefacts were undetectable. The only thing we did notice, though, was that it looks a little more "grainy" than on some other sets.

Unsurprisingly, the TV also performed well in the synthetic HQV tests — passing every one except the film-based test, which is odd given our findings in the previous paragraph. The upshot is, however, that the image processing on this TV is excellent and it will handle anything you throw at it.

Like most plasmas, the Viera performs better in the dark, with excellent black levels and shadow detail across all content types. In the light, it's still very watchable, and blacks don't have the "brown" tinge of the competing LG plasma. It also includes a helpful anti-reflective filter.

Lastly, we come to sound, and again we were excited by the Panasonic's conduct. The TV gives you the choice of either Music or Speech mode, and while the Speech mode is good for the news, Music sounds best for everything else. While voices had a tendency to sound a bit chesty, they were still very understandable. Bass response — usually a problem for TVs — was excellent. And this is important if you're watching action movies. Further to this, the V-Surround effect is quite good at creating an enveloping sound field. You won't get a convincing surround effect ala a 7.1 system but it does help create a larger than life effect.

Conclusion

While we didn't see last year's equivalent model, we did see the smaller 42-inch and gave it our nod as our favourite TV of 2008. We're very happy to say that the G10 is better in every way. Unless something miraculous happens — say like the V10 is even more awesome — we think we may have already found 2009's best TV.

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blumania
3
Rating
 

"Good picture,poor quality."

blumania posted a review   
Australia

The Good:blu ray performance,watching sport.

The Bad:Quality issues,made in china.

purchased TV july 2010,very happy until dreaded red light flashing fault occurred (wont turn on).Panasonic Australia no help,dont care.
Web search reveals a common problem with panasonic plasmas.
I will buy something made in Japan at least and no more panasonic for me EVER!

 

The Wills posted a comment   

New settings for after 1500 hours.
I had forgotten that I had changed them.
contrast 46
brightness 0
colour 43
sharpness 100
colour balance cool
for hd viewing

 

The Wills posted a comment   

By the way, I wore in my plasma for the first two months. So I get no image retention. Trying to watch all content at full screen, so 4:3 content I aspect ratio'd it to full screen.
I kept it on a low setting for picture brightness.
contrast 40
brightness 0
colour 40
colour balance warm
gamma 2.5

and now
contrast 43
brightness 0
colour 43
colour balance cool
gamma 2.2

works for me and people seem to like it

I view my tv with many different lighting conditions, as I have two sets of windows near the tv. I accept the little limitations that this television has. To watch movies, I have a small cool light, lamp turned on and normal lights off. Gives better blacks.

 

The Wills posted a comment   

The Good:great picture quality

The Bad:? may have slight increase in black levels

I purchased a 46 inch g10 October of 2009.
Great picture. About this black level increase after 1000 hours or so. I can say that I watch my tv every single day and including hd transmissions and on weekends, blu-ray movies. No doubt an outstanding television. Over a 1000 hours so far, but I feel if these black levels have set in, then I really don't see it, maybe as I should. I am an amateur photographer, so I look at colours and images quite a lot. I calibrate my friends' new tv's for them by eye. I go by blonde hair on caucasians.I get it pretty spot on. So I guess what I am trying to say, is that not everyone can see this change in black levels. I may be one of them as well ofcourse. Everyone who sees my tv compliments on its quality picture.
I just hope that it maintains its picture, from the dreaded black level rises so infamous with the Panasonics.

 

not concerned about blacks posted a comment   

The Good:great pq, excellent value for money

The Bad:nada

There are a lot of ppl on AVS forums who have experienced the IR increase but after running snow or scrolling filter for 10 minutes the IR is gone! i.e: not burn in! After all I paid $1450 for a Full High Definition 1080P 50" G10A, and returned an non Full High Definition 42" LG LCD that had clouding and motion problems that I paid $1250 for, which was on sale at H.N! People need to stop complaining about an issue that you can't even notice unless the room is pitch black and even then is barely noticeable. When you also consider that after the rise these sets still provide better blacks than both LG and Samsung. I'm still happy with my tv and when or if this rise happens I will not worry about it and if i notice IR i will simply run snow for ten mins and keep enjoying what is still an excellent television. But if your really worried about this issue then you could go and spend double or triple your money on what is probably an inferior LCD.

 

Prospective TV Buyer posted a comment   

I agree with Rez - was about to buy the TV on the back of this review (which heaps of people do) and luckily did a bit of research and found this problem is not isolated and very real. CNET - unless you are being paid by Panna, you should at least WARN people about this problem if you wish to remain a trusted information source.

Rez
1
Rating
 

Rez posted a review   

The Good:Awesome tv until the blacks turn grey after 500 hours

The Bad:SEVERE BURN IN AFTER THE BLACKS TURN GREY!!!

Got a 50G10 last November and it was absolutely awesome. Until about a month ago when the blacks doubled in brightness literally overnight. I watch in near or total darkness a lot and the difference is blindingly obvious (almost literally - a "black" screen lights up the entire room). Now I also have severe burn in. Anything static on the screen for more than a minute will burn in and take ages to fade.

Panasonic have screwed these tvs up badly and refuse to issue a fix. They are now being sued in America over this. Cnet you should pull your recommendation for this tv, and investigate this issue yourselves on 2009 tvs (any G or V series in particular) with 500-1500 hours usage like the American site did.

People deserve to know about this before dropping thousands of $ on these defective tvs. Buyer beware.

 

Berwick Perth posted a comment   

The Good:overall quality of picture; stability while watching high speed motion; value for money

The Bad:Design is so....*yawn*; energy consumption :(

Picked up the 50" version of the G10 a few days ago from Rick Hart, Perth for $1900. This is our second Panasonic fullHD plasma (other one is a 42 inch, 18 months old which is now the 'kids TV'). Love the plasma image but not so impressed with the styling. I think Samsung have it over Panasonic in that regard. But as for the picture, particularly in the 50" version, it is spectacular. By the way, after 18 months the image on the older plasma is still excellent; no discernible difference from new.

 

Mondorock posted a comment   

The Good:Natural looking color, just good.

The Bad:Energy consumption is much better the older generation but not quite matching the LCD

And regarding this new hysteria on blackness going grey after 400 hrs, I have probably clocked in over 1000 hrs and its looking as good as new. Panasonic says the TV tune up the voltage slightly when the Plasma characters stablise over time. What does that tells you? Beat up the story all you like, it tells me what's happening to the plasma character over time is no surprise to Panasonic. They would have tested it, understood to characters and built in automatic calibration. If its going to be crap after 1000 hrs or so don't you think they would have known? You think they would tune up the voltage in purpose just so people will be crying crap and return the TV?


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User Reviews / Comments  Panasonic Viera TH-P46G10A

  • blumania

    blumania

    Rating3

    "purchased TV july 2010,very happy until dreaded red light flashing fault occurred (wont turn on).Panasonic Australia no help,dont care.
    Web search reveals a common problem with panasonic plas..."

  • The Wills

    The Wills

    "New settings for after 1500 hours.
    I had forgotten that I had changed them.
    contrast 46
    brightness 0
    colour 43
    sharpness 100
    colour balance cool
    for..."

  • The Wills

    The Wills

    "By the way, I wore in my plasma for the first two months. So I get no image retention. Trying to watch all content at full screen, so 4:3 content I aspect ratio'd it to full screen.
    I kept ..."

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