Pros Sharpness, 3-dimensional quality to images, naturalness of colors, excellent brightness, black levels and white levels
Cons Standard-definition picture, built in speakers and anti-reflection screen are adequate, but not great.
Summary We purchased the 42” 2008 Panasonic plasma 1080p model TH-42PZ85U about a week ago, after about 2 weeks of almost non-stop comparing of different sets at various stores. We’ve watched it during bright glary daytime conditions and dark room evening hours. We’ve watched HD channels and SD (standard-def) channels, and HD-DVD movies. We’re familiar with the amazing picture quality of High-Def because we’ve had a Fujitsu plasma for the last 5 years, which was excellent. The Fujitsu developed an un-repairable problem with it’s power supply circuit panel.
To summarize, the picture quality of the Panasonic TH-42PZ85U plasma is absolutely outstanding! It is stunning! It’s mesmerizing. It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It was great in the store, but even much better under home conditions, without bright store spotlights, with good cable HD service, and without having to share a TV signal with 83 other sets.
In doing the visual research at various stores, I was attracted to LCD sets because of their incredible brightness and bright colors. Under the bright store lights, the poor plasmas looked like dim, lost souls next to the super-nova LCD’s. However it soon became evident to me that LCD’s had more of an artificial look to the images, especially the human face. Faces on LCD sets looked more plastic and flat, without real-world color gradients. They looked more like a poster. Faces on plasmas looked real, with real texture and color gradations, with a 3 dimensional quality. Other scenes on LCD’s also looked more 2 dimensional. On plasmas, the same scene had depth and a 3-D quality. I had read about this, but didn’t understand what it meant until I saw it with my own eyes.
The TH-42PZ85U is more than bright enough at home, even during a bright sunny day with lots of direct light coming in from our patio. The brightest picture mode, called “vivid” is too bright for even those conditions under its default settings. The default color setting is also way too strong and a bit too green. But after adjusting down the brightness and color strength, and adjusting the color tint a little away from green to red, the picture is truly outstanding. In the evening we use a picture mode called “cinema”, which is soft yet sharp, beautiful and so real you think you are in a movie theater. When “cinema” mode is not bright enough for our inside lights, we change it to a mode called “standard”. Each of the modes can be adjusted as you wish, and then retains that adjustment when that mode is chosen later.
Regardless of the picture mode, with an HD signal, the picture is incredibly sharp, smooth and non-grainy, and the quality of the colors is great and realistic. I see no motion artifacts, even when watching fast moving action such as in a basketball game. The blacks are super black, there are lots of gray shades in the dark areas, and the whites are very white. To make blacks even blacker, there is a "black level" setting under the "advanced picture" menu. It gives a choice of "light" or "black". I like it better set to "light" because "black" takes away a little from the gray shades. Even on "light", the blacks look almost as black as the bezel that surrounds the glass panel. This plasma TV has a 3-dimensional quality that just seems to make images pop out.
We have a small room (about 14x10). Two of the chairs are within 4-5 feet of the TV. The 1080 resolution screen resolution really pays off from this close distance. Even from 4 feet, when we are on channels with strong HD signals, the screen is totally smooth, with no graininess, screen-door effect, or ghosting or other artifacts.
As good as a general cable 720p signal looks, even more outstanding is the signal from our (now obsolete) HD-DVD player, which actually puts out a 1080p signal. I was watching Planet Earth on the new Panasonic plasma. The picture quality is incredible.
There are a few things about the TV that are not outstanding. Standard definition programming is very ordinary, not very exciting. I wonder if the 1080 screen resolution of the TV makes standard definition signals look even worse? The built in speakers are so-so, not great. It doesn’t matter to us because I put the audio through a surround sound receiver and external speakers. The anti-glare capability of the screen is average. During sunny days we can see some glare from the sunlight outside our patio sliding doors, although the reflection is muted and dimmed.
Overall we are thrilled with this plasma TV. Even though we have had a plasma before, the picture quality is so outstanding we can’t seem to pay attention to the program we are watching. We are just mesmerized by the quality of the picture we are seeing.
Pros Great contrast and black level
Cons Average color and features
Summary I compared the classy Panasonic TH-42PZ85U with the curvaceous Samsung LN-T4065F in the comfort of my home. Far from the maddening crowd and terrible lighting found in your typical big store we have a better chance of objectivity. After carefully calibrating both units with a Digital Video Essentials DVD and then adjusting to taste with typical material, it was a hard call to say which set was better. Under normal conditions, they were both awesome. I expected no less after reading reviews on CNET, Consumer Reports and elsewhere.
The Sammy LCD had amazingly perfect color and all my video sources worked great without any effort. Unfortunately, the backlight was a bit too noticeable in dark scenes and changed with the angle of view. If you're picky watching something dark like Alien or the new Battlestar Galactica series, you don't want to see the picture change as you move a foot or two along the couch. As a photographer used to analyzing the technical quality of images on a CRT display, I was annoyed. The Samsung HDTV was fine with normal brightness material like broadcast DTV.
The Panny plasma looked great from any angle and was 1.6" larger for the same $1400. Unfortunately, there were still compromises. I believe the best system is the one where the right compromises have been made, so let's see where this goes.
The first issue with the Panny was a soft SD picture from our oldie but goodie DVD player (Pioneer DV-563A). I used a high quality 50' component video cable, same as with the Sammy. The issue showed up right away as a slight horizontal smearing of the Pioneer logo in the screen saver. Also, the Panny couldn't display my Home Theater PC (connected using a DVI to HDMI adaptor and a high quality 50' HDMI cable). In contrast, the Sammy "just worked" with all this stuff, despite the long cable runs required by my wife. "Honey, go ahead and buy a new TV, but please hide all the gear in the armoire and route the cables where I can't see them." Yea right, let's rearrange the entire living room and try out six colors of paint while were at it. That is another story for another time. Be sure what you know what you are getting into with a seemingly simple home theater upgrade!
What really drove me nuts was the Panny OTA ATSC tuner would say there was no signal when the PC was turned on. ***!? This is 2008 and HDMI is not exactly a new spec. Also, we have line of sight to the San Francisco Sutro Tower broadcast location only three miles away from our rooftop antenna.
I discovered I could only get the PC to show up if I used my Mac laptop first, than switched the HDMI cable. Shame on Panasonic for such cheap input section electronics. Korea is giving a schooling to the US and Japan electronics makers (think LG vs. Motorola cell phones). For professional installers or those who value usability over cost, this could be a deal breaker. Ultimately, image quality was the deciding factor so I needed to solve these specific problems without spending too much more. This was the perfect justification to buy a nice new DVD player with HDMI (Oppo DV-980H) to avoid the analog input issues and put off Blu-ray a bit longer. Also, I moved the HTPC so a shorter HDMI cable could be used (both a high quality 10' and a mediocre 15' cable worked perfectly). Everything looked great and worked fine. Yay, I can keep the Panny.
Your mileage may vary. Maybe you want your PC text to be super sharp and maybe you can get the 2007 model Sammy real cheap now. Another great 1080p HDTV that might be cheap now is the 2007 Panasonic TH-42PX700U. I just saw one at Costco for $1300. Plasmas are more shatter resistant than LCD's, too. If you worry about burn in, you really need to get out more. See http://www.stubhub.com/ for starters.
One final point is an LCD will use a lot less power than a plasma. I measured the Panny at about 300W while the Sammy came in at about 100W with both calibrated to the same brightness. If you only watch a few movies or occasionally start up iTunes, who cares? But if you watch a lot of TV, this could make a difference of about $100 a year.
"Impressive"on by average_consumer
Pros Picture and sound
Cons trying hard to find one, but so far cannot....
Summary After 2 years of lcd hdtv ownership, this is my first plasma. I did quite a bit of research before purchasing this set, and I must say I am very pleased with the purchase. HD signals and ps3/xbox360 are outstanding. SD looks fine, better than lcd for sure, but so far I am only watching full screen hd content because I am in the 'break-in' period. Actually the only downside to this tv is the lack of clarity and consensus as to whether break-in is even necessary in this generation of plasma technology. The manual makes no mention whatsoever as to break-in.
All that aside, this TV is great, the only reason I don't give it a ten is because I don't have enough experience to know what perfection entails.
Pros Too many to list
Cons None yet so far
Summary This really isn't a review but something I noticed in CNET's write-up of the 2008 Panasonic line-up. CNET failed to mention that the TH-42PZ85U (as well as the 80U series) is in fact capable of the 24p (24 frames per second) benefit as found on the more expensive 800U series. Even Panasonic's website states this, not sure if this was just something overlooked, or perhaps I am missing something...
Pros Was good till died
Cons DO NOT BUY PANASONIC PRODUCTS
Summary DO NOT BUY PANASONIC PRODUCTS, IF anybody know case against Panasonic and power supply fail please post links, I will join it