|Panasonic TH-42PZ80U Plasma HDTV|
|Home Theater Flat Panel HDTVs Plasma HDTVs|
|Written by Thomas Spurlin|
|Monday, 26 January 2009|
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It’s impossible to quantify an absolute opinion on Panasonic’s TH-42PZ80U without first considering the outstanding price. Thinking back two or three years, it’s incredible to consider what $1,300 can net you now in the television market– 40+ inches of screen, 1080p resolution, and solid specks to boot. The TH-42PZ80Umakes the most out of this investment, as it provides a gorgeous image for gaming, film, and television sources. Color levels and high-definition “pop” really accentuate how sumptuous this set can look under the proper conditions. The 20,000:1 contrast level also serves itself well here, crafting stark black levels and fluctuating palettes that adjust with its sources well. When compared with other strong-performing HDTVs in the size and price range – such as the Toshiba REGZA LCD series and several Sharp models – it renders black levels with deeper, inkier substance, while fighting tooth-and-nail to parallel them in detail and color range. Matched with two rear HDMI ports and one to the front, it’s got enough inputs to use without seeming like overkill for receiver-using individuals. Along with that, the set seems built for a mid-sized room (tested in a room roughly 13x13), as the viewing range is extremely wide at around 150-155 degrees without any ugly internal screen reflections. Plus, it’s an attractive addition to any room, sporting a beautifully designed chassis that looks a lot pricier than it really is.
The TH-42PZ80U ’s attractive looks can also be a slight deterrent, as the glitzy gloss picks up any form of light that pours into the room. Along with that, there are only a few negatives to attach with the set’s overall performance. As with Panasonic’s past plasmas, two picture issues arise that you had to adjust to while warming to the PZ80U: green trail, and a mild red push. The green trail grows less noticeable with your time with the set, though it still becomes strongly apparent in high-motion instances in films, television shows, and especially games. But it remains to a mild degree, something that drove me mildly crazy as I followed the Wii’s hand pointer around on-screen. With the red push, it’s an element that renders slightly embellished pinkish-reddish skin hues from time to time, depending on the source. Picture adjustment can handle a large portion of it (lightly adjusting the tint with some color guidance), but it’s a necessary evil to preserve natural shades with the rest of your colors. Now, regarding image retention, it’s an omnipresent concern when considering a plasma television purchase – one that the PZ80U suffers from to a certain degree. No damage could be discerned from the numerous hours of testing that the set underwent, but bits of mild retention could be spotted – and rectified, once the source either reset internally or shifted to another feed. Also worth considering is the fact that the PZ80U doesn’t contain either a PC-input or the heightened 30,000:1 native contrast ratio like its slightly more expensive brother, the TH-42PZ85U, or THX certification like its near-identical twin, the TH-42PZ800U.
Given the value underneath the hood of the sub-$1,300 Panasonic TH-42PZ80U’S , it’s a wholly worthwhile purchase for those in the market for a 42” 1080p plasma television set. Some might argue that the screen size doesn’t quantify a necessity for the higher-resolution progressive technology, but that will actually depend on visual sensitivity for the viewer and sitting distance from the set. Still, the ability to handshake more aptly with sources at the 1080p setting gives this set an extra boost over 720p alternatives, all the while providing a substantially solid image that concentrates on contrast differential and color saturation as its key assets. Panasonic continues its legacy of being one of the best budget-minded plasma producers around, crafting an admirable piece of equipment with their TH-42PZ80U that fits the bill for anyone shopping for a mid-range 1080p set. Some might want to consider the TH-42PZ85U for its additional boost in contrast ratio and PC-inputs for an extra $100 or so; but if computer integration isn’t an issue, then flip for a few classy Blu-ray discs – or even a player -- to watch on this gorgeous plasma instead.