Rock legend Bruce Springsteen knew it already: “57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)”. The song is showing its age – the number of TV channels has gone up a bit since then – but the title definitely still rings true. Panasonic’s G 15 series, however, means this no longer poses a problem.
Thanks to a network connection and Internet-access, this TV aims to bridge the worlds of TVs and computers. The TX-P 42 G 15 has a 42-inch screen and belongs to the mid-range of Panasonic’s catalogue. But Panasonic isn’t the only manufacturer to offer these extras – we end this article with a detailed list of competing models.
Like all Panasonic TVs of this size, the TX-P 42 G 15 uses a plasma screen. In fact, this TV uses the twelfth generation of this type of screen – the “12G” panels claim to consume significantly less power than their predecessors. Panasonic claims that the “Tough Panel” will also comfortably withstand the impact of a ball bearing, for example.
Almost no TV will show its face on today’s market without full HD resolution (1,920 x 1,080 pixels), even though this resolution isn’t always sensible at typical living-room viewing distances. The 42-inch class is on the limit – on a screen smaller than this, if you’re sitting on the couch, you’ll hardly be able to distinguish the extra sharpness. You can find details on the ideal viewing distance and optimal screen size in our “TV Buying Guide”.
It’s not only the resolution that invites absurd one-upmanship: Sony’s introduction in August 2008 of the first 200-Hertz TVs galvanized competing manufacturers into action. Panasonic refuses to be left behind: The Japanese company advertizes the TX-P 42 G 15 as having “600 Hz Intelligent Frame Creation Pro” technology. If you look closely, however, the name carries the affix “sfd”, which stands for Sub Field Drive.
For a CRT television to shine more brightly, it simply has to apply a greater voltage to its electron gun. Liquid-crystal screens also use differing voltages to turn the liquid crystals into the desired positions, so allowing the correct amount of backlighting to pass through. The pixels in plasma TVs only know two states: on or off. Plasmas therefore produce different degrees of brightness by rapidly switching their pixels on and off at varying rates – the relatively slow human eye doesn’t perceive this switching.
How plasma screens drive the individual, colored sub-pixels is a story for another day – it suffices to say that, on the pixel level at least, this TV runs at a rate of 600 Hertz. In practice, however, the TX-P 42 G 15 is a 100-Hertz TV. In addition, the “Intelligent Frame Creation” system promises fluid motion. Potential buyers should take always big numbers and fancy jargon with a pinch of salt – it’s the picture you actually see on the screen that’s most important.
The picture quality of a sister model from the GW 10 E series has already impressed Televisions.com. The “Cinema” picture preset gives an almost ideal setup. We then went on to set the “Gamma” to 2.2 and switch off the picture cropping (overscan) in the menu. With these settings, the 42-inch plasma’s impressive, extremely detailed picture outstripped most of its LCD rivals.
With special test patterns, we determined a bit of flicker on this relative of the TX-P 42 G 10, but this didn’t irritate during everyday TV viewing. DVD movies will still flicker slightly along fine, diagonal lines, unless the DVD player itself is able to eliminate this so-called “line flicker” – this requires a player with “progressive” playback. The 42-inch GW-10 model displayed HDTV signals with perfect pixel mapping, but interlaced signals (sports broadcasts or concert recordings, for example) again showed some flicker along diagonal lines. With a 24p movie signal from a Blu-ray disc, the TX-P 42 GW 10 reproduced the usual movie