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Panasonic TX-P 46 G 15 46″Plasma Review

Panasonic TX-P 46 G 15 46 inch Plasma Review

Introduction

Looking for a TV that gives you more? If the answer is yes, then Panasonic’s G 15 series might be just what you’re looking for. With these plasma TVs, the Japanese manufacturer caters for users that aren’t content to just watch TV; thanks to a network connection and Internet access, this TV hopes to serve as a stepping stone between the PC and TV.

The TX-P 46 G 15 has a 46-inch screen and belongs to the mid-range of Panasonic’s catalogue. But Panasonic isn’t the only manufacturer to offer multimedia extras in this price and size class – we end this article with a detailed list of competing alternative models.

Picture Technology

As we’ve already mentioned: This Panasonic uses a plasma screen, namely the twelfth generation of this type of panel – the “12G” panels claim to consume significantly less power than their predecessors. Panasonic claims that the “Tough Panel” screen will also comfortably withstand the impact of a ball bearing, for example.

The TX-P 46 G 15’s 1.17-meter screen displays HDTV images with maximum sharpness in full HD resolution (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) – with a screen of this size, you should be able to see the extra detail of full HD even at normal viewing distances. Our “TV Buying Guide” gives details on the ideal viewing distance and optimal screen size.

Sony’s introduction of the first 200-Hertz TVs in August 2008 forced competing manufacturers into action. In a counter offensive, Japanese company Panasonic is advertizing the TX-P 46 G 15 as having “600 Hz Intelligent Frame Creation Pro” technology. But if you look closely at the corresponding logo, you’ll notice the affix “sfd”, which stands for “Sub Field Drive”.

Plasma screens produce a visible image in a different way from CRTs or LCD TVs, resulting in a rate of 600 Hz at the level of individual pixels. In reality, however, the TX-P 46 G 15 is a 100-Hertz TV, and the “Intelligent Frame Creation” promises fluid motion. Potential buyers should always take 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 the GW 10 sister-series has already impressed Televisions.com during testing. 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 outstrips most of its LCD rivals.

With special test-patterns, we did determine a bit of flicker on this relative of the TX-P 46 G 15, but this doesn’t irritate during everyday TV viewing. DVD movies show a little flicker 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 displays HDTV signals with perfect pixel mapping, but interlaced signals (sports broadcasts or concert recordings, for example) again show some flicker along diagonal lines. With a 24p movie signal from a Blu-ray disc, the TX-P 42 GW 10 reproduces the usual movie judder correctly.

Colors only deviate slightly from the ideal, and the picture’s contrast is perfect. Furthermore, the picture impression remains the same from every viewing angle – this is typical of plasma technology. This smaller relative of the TX-P 46 G 15 is ideal for the home-theater.

Additional Features

Panasonic sets this series off with a bang, providing both a network connection and an SD-card reader: The TV will play back pictures and sound across a PC network – for example, from a PC in another room. To allow this, you must have a PC running DLNA server software. On Windows PCs, the latest version of the free program Media Player will already do this job. You can also use commercial programs such as “TwonkyMedia Server” (about 18 GBP), for example, which offers more convenience and more flexibility in terms of operating system.

According to Panasonic, the TV will play back DivX and MPEG-2 videos over the network, as well as digital photos in JPEG format. The TV also plays back pictures and video via its SD-card reader (also suitable for SDHC cards).

Using the network connection, the TV’s “Viera Cast” system can also access an Internet portal organized by Panasonic. Here, depending on the country of access, you’ll find mainly videos and photo content. Panasonic doesn’t produce the content itself; rather, it makes the platform available to various Internet sites. In the United Kingdom, for example, current offers include YouTube, Eurosport and Google’s Picasa photo service.

Philips and Samsung offer similar services in their current, Internet-capable TVs – they don’t produce the offers themselves, but offer other online services the opportunity to present themselves on the portal. For all such services, you need to supply the TV with a broadband Internet-connection. Sadly, the TV lacks a USB connection – this is a shame, since USB storage devices are more common than memory cards.

Tuner/Video-processing

The TV receives analog cable TV and – where still in use – analog terrestrial TV, as well as DVB-T, DVB-C, and DVB-S. It also supports HD for all digital standards. In principle, therefore, the TV is equipped for all current reception methods – all that remains is the pesky question of digital-cable access systems. Some cable networks have decided on using CI Plus to control access, but the TX-P 46 G 15 does not support this standard. Channels using CI encryption, as opposed to CI Plus, will still display without problems, but some future commercial channels may require an additional set-top box. For this reason, Panasonic doesn’t advertize the TV’s digital cable tuner in all countries.

Satellite-TV viewers, on the other hand, will have everything they need with this TV – an external receiver will only be necessary for Pay-TV channels. The digital tuners already recognize the new audio format Dolby Digital Plus. It may be of interest, more from an academic point of view, that the TV also supports DTS sound, should a TV station choose to use this format. DVDs and Blu-ray discs (and movie theaters) do occasionally use a DTS soundtrack, but Televisions.com knows of no TV station that uses DTS.

The UK variant of the TX-P 46 G 15 supports the free-to-view satellite service “freesat”, which began operating in 2008. The TV’s analog inputs accept video signals in the PAL, Secam, and NTSC formats.

Connections

The TV offers a practical set of connections: Two Scart sockets (both RGB capable, one S-Video capable) should be enough to accommodate older devices such as a VHS recorder or DVD player. The three HDMI inputs on the back of the TV are already a decent setup, and there’s a fourth under a small flap on the front of the TV, along with a camcorder connections panel offering a Mini-DIN socket (for S-Video) and a cinch input (for composite video). The flap also conceals an SD-card slot and a 3.5-millimeter-jack headphone output.

Operation

The remote control and on-screen menu for all screen sizes in the G15 series are largely identical with those of the GW 10 series – Televisions.com’s experiences with the 42-inch related model will therefore also generally apply to the TX-P 46 G 15. Although a little on the heavy side, the remote control sits comfortably in the user’s hand. The buttons are, for the most part, clearly laid out, and the most-used buttons – for volume and channel changing – are sufficiently large.

The positioning of the “N” button, which returns all picture settings to their factory values, could have done with a bit more thought – the button is immediately beside the menu button, so it’s possible to press it by mistake.

The simply laid out on-screen menu reads easily, and even inexperienced users will easily keep track of where they are. The channel-search process sorts the channels into the normal order for the user’s country.

Design / Model Variants

The TX-P 46 G 15 only comes in black.

Optional Accessories

Panasonic gives instructions for wall-mounting the TV using an optional tilting bracket, the TY-WK 4 P 1 RW, but doesn’t list the product on its UK website. Display-mounting manufacturer dekomount offers a universal tilting bracket (DM102, 39 GBP) that should fit the TX-P 46 G 15.

Alternative models: A brief comparison

LCD TV LG 47 LH 5000 Front

LG 47 LH 5000

Even the most expensive flat-panels from Korean giant LG Electronics are significantly cheaper than this Panasonic. It’s not just the one inch (2.54 centimeters) extra screen-diagonal that separates this LCD from the TX-P 46 G 15. The 200-Hertz “TruMotion” technology is supposed to provide accurate motion with clearly defined edges – particularly important in sports broadcasts, of course.

The built-in tuners receive digital signals, but only DVB-T – this also in high-definition where such broadcasts exist. Apart from that, this Korean TV will only accept analog cable signals; if you want to watch digital signals via cable or satellite, you’ll need an additional set-top box.

The 47 LH 5000 also tempts with some tasty multimedia extras: MP3 music and JPEG photos will play back from USB storage devices, as will a variety of video formats. The LG accepts DivX (versions 3.11 to 6), XviD, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4 (H.264, AVC).

The LH 5000 lacks the LAN socket necessary for connecting to computer networks. Still, the connectivity is anything but sparse: With four HDMI inputs and two Scart sockets, the Korean and Japanese rivals are equally matched. The 47 LH 5000 will not, however, accept S-Video signals – neither by Scart nor via the side-mounted AV input – so this TV can’t get the best quality playback out of older camcorders. LG has also neglected to fit a headphone socket.

LCD TV Philips 47 PFL 7403 D Front

Philips 47 PFL 7403 D

Philips also opts for 47 inches – the 47 PFL 7403 D is, like the LG above, one inch larger than the Panasonic TX-P 46 G 15. Recommended pricing puts little distance between these Dutch and Japanese rivals – the Philips may well retail for less, however, since it comes from the 2008 model-year, and its tuners receive only analog cable and digital terrestrial TV (DVB-T).

The eye-catching, sturdy frame is more than just a design feature – it houses a cunning sound system that claims to sound much better than the thin whining of most flat-panel TVs. Televisions.com has already tested a number of models that are related to the 47 PFL 7403 D, and can indeed testify to their above-average, if a little diffuse, sound.

Philips has tried to pep up the picture impression with its Pixel Plus 3 HD technology, so the image should appear crisper. Of course, it’s not technically possible to conjure up fine details that aren’t present in the original picture, but a TV can convey a greater subjective impression of detail. Furthermore, the “HD Natural Motion” system aims to make moving pictures look fluid and crisp. The 7403 D can use Dolby Virtual technology to produce virtual surround sound from movie soundtracks encoded in Dolby Surround. In our experience, however, this is never particularly effective.

This Philips TV’s multimedia capabilities are a bit weak: The TV will play back JPEG photos, MP3 music files, and MPEG-1/MPEG-2 videos from USB sticks. Showing its age, the Philips lacks the necessary technology for accessing PC networks or the Internet. With four HDMI inputs and two Scart sockets, the TV offers the same number as the Panasonic.

LCD TV Philips 47 PFL 7404 H Front

Philips 47 PFL 7404 H

This Philips is available from summer this year, and has a markedly stronger feature set than the 2008 model. In June 2009, the 7404 H will replace the 7403 D. The up-to-date tuner with CI Plus technology allows reception of digital cable TV without a set-top box. In countries that intend to introduce CI Plus, the Philips’ support for this standard puts it ahead of the Panasonic. Analog cable TV and DVB-T are also welcome here, the latter also in HD resolution. Satellite viewers will still need an external receiver.

The display runs at 100 Hertz, the “Pixel Plus HD” system is supposed to make pictures look crisper, and the TV can play back music files (MP3 or LPCM), photos (JPEG), and video clips from a USB stick. The following video formats are supported: MPEG-1, MPEG-2, and MPEG-4 (H.264/AVC).

In terms of multimedia, therefore, this forthcoming rival from Holland will easily outgun the Panasonic TX-P 46 G 15. Like the Panasonic, however, the 47 PFL 7404 H cannot access a PC network. In consolation, you get four HDMI inputs, two Scart sockets (both RGB capable), and a side-mounted connections panel that offers a headphone output and S-Video input for camcorders. That’s basically the same setup as the Panasonic, but this Philips TV gives you an inch (2.54 centimeters) more picture and more sophisticated multimedia capabilities.

LCD TV Philips 47 PFL 8404 H Front

Philips 47 PFL 8404 H

Available to preorder online for around 200 GBP less than the Panasonic, this TV is available from July 2009. First, let’s have a look at the most impressive – and most eye-catching – extra of many Philips TVs: the high-tech TV lighting system “Ambilight Spectra 2”. This illuminates the wall behind the LCD TV with the colors of the current picture – in a football game, for example, the grass seems to spread beyond the edges of the screen.

The screen uses a conventional cold-cathode fluorescent tube (CCFL) as a backlight, and refreshes at 100 Hertz – the HD Natural Motion system aims to keep the edges of moving objects sharp. Thanks to Pixel Precise HD, the pictures are also supposed to look extraordinarily crisp.

Like its smaller brother the 7404 H, the 8404 H supports the forthcoming CI Plus encryption system for digital cable TV, and also receives DVB-T. Satellite-TV viewers will still need an external receiver with this TV.

In terms of multimedia, the Philips offers more than the Panasonic: The 47 PFL 8404 H will play back a variety of file formats over a PC network or from a USB storage device, including MP3, PCM, and WMA music files, JPEG photos, videos in MPEG-1/-2/-4 formats, AVI clips with DivX content, and H.264/AVC. Last but not least, the TV also handles Windows Media Videos (WMV 9/VC 1) and MPEG program streams.

A network interface allows this Philips model’s “Net-TV” system to access an online portal – similarly to the Panasonic. This TV, however, also has a built-in Internet browser, so the user can view any normal website. Televisions.com has already tried out this function: It can be a little awkward to tap in Internet addresses using the TV’s remote control, but it’s do-able.

The TV can’t display Flash videos and some other multimedia content on websites, but the function works fine for just checking something quickly on the WWW during an ad-break. And, no matter what the limitations are here, you have to bear in mind that other Internet-capable TVs don’t even have a browser at all.

LCD TV Samsung LE 46 B 650 Front

Samsung LE 46 B 650

This LCD TV from Korean manufacturer Samsung costs slightly less than the Panasonic. Nevertheless, its multimedia and network capabilities are a fair match for those of the TX-P 46 G 15.

Like the Panasonic, this Samsung can play back video and audio data from a PC in the home network. To allow this, the PC must be running DLNA server software. Samsung supplies a suitable program (PC Share Manager 2.0) for Windows PCs with the TV as standard.

The Samsung LE 40 B 650 supports the following file container formats: .avi, .mkv, and .asf. These container formats, in turn, support various codecs: DivX 3.11, 4.x, 5.1, and 6.0, XviD, H.264 (BP/MP/SP), MPEG-4 ASP, and Motion JPEG. The 650 series only supports DivX up to a resolution of 800 x 600 pixels. It’ll also play back Windows Media Video (.wmv), .mp4, .3gp, .vro, and .mpg files. Last but not least, the TVs can handle MPEG program and transport streams (.ps/.ts) with MPEG-2, H.264, or VC1 encoding.

For audio formats, this Samsung accepts AAC, HE-AAC, AC3 (Dolby Digital), Dolby Digital Plus, LPCM, MP3, and ADPCM (μ-law, A-law). JPEG photos with up to 15,360 x 8,640 pixels should also display correctly.

The 650-series TVs can also access certain types of Internet content. These appear on a portal either from Samsung itself (“Internet TV”) or from Yahoo. Offerings currently include the video portal YouTube and photo service Flickr. In this respect, the Panasonic and Samsung TVs have comparable features.

It’s not only via a network that this Samsung can play back multimedia: It also accepts videos, music, and photos via storage media connected to one of its two USB sockets – according to the manufacturer, it’ll even access hard disks.

But the Panasonic’s tuner is slightly ahead: The LE 46 B 650 offers a tuner for digital terrestrial signals (DVB-T), as well as digital cable (DVB-C). Like the Panasonic, however, the Samsung’s cable tuner does not support CI Plus, so you may require a set-top box to view some future commercial channels. The lack of a satellite tuner, however, means the Samsung falls behind the Panasonic.

The LE 40 B 650 runs its display panel at 100 Hertz, and the Motion Plus system aims to reduce blurring on moving objects. Four HDMI sockets form a decent squad of high-definition connectivity, and are joined by two Scart sockets for analog SDTV signals. This Samsung model also offers a headphone socket, but this is hiding on the back of the set.

LCD TV Sharp LC 46 DH 77 E Front

Sharp LC-46 DH 77 E

This LCD TV from Sharp offers many of the same, up-to-date features as the Panasonic, but its tuner is inferior. Even in the year 2009, Sharp still only offers tuners for analog cable and DVB-T. Televisions.com has already had a chance to test a smaller brother, the LC-42 DH 77 E. Pictures from the DVB-T tuner are impressive, but the analog tuner’s pictures lack some detail and show more noise than on other TVs. On the other hand, the TV’s sharpness is perfect via Scart.

One remarkable feature of the 42-inch model: For an LCD, it displays a very rich black. Movies in the original 24p frame rate display accurately, but the 100-Hz technology has little effect in pictures recorded on a video camera, such as sports broadcasts. In test patterns containing large white areas, we noticed a slight, patchy, lilac tint, but this isn’t obvious in normal use.

The remote controls are identical for the LC-46 DH 77 E and LC-42 DH 77 E, so our observations will apply to both. The handy remote control’s buttons are clearly arranged, but are a little too small. Various buttons crowd important controls, such as those for volume and channel changing. The tiny menu text is almost impossible to read from normal viewing distances.

With three HDMI inputs, the Sharp has decent connectivity, but the Panasonic goes one better and gives you four. Like the Panasonic, the Sharp has two Scart sockets, along with an S-Video socket for conventional camcorder signals. and a headphone socket. The analog component video input (YUV), however, is forced to share the VGA socket (via an adapter) – this isn’t always practical. The LC-46 DH 77 E can display digital photos via USB, but offers no other multimedia or network functions.

LCD TV Sony KDL 46 W 5500 Front

Sony KDL-46 W 5500

This 100-Hertz LCD TV from Sony has been available since April 2009. The tuners in this Sony and its Panasonic rival each have strengths and weaknesses. Both accept analog cable TV and DVB-T, the latter also in HD where broadcasts exist. Thanks to CI Plus technology, the Sony’s tuner is ready for future digital cable broadcasts – the Panasonic’s is not. On the other hand, the Panasonic’s satellite-TV receiver nudges it a step ahead of the Sony – satellite viewers opting for the KDL-46 W 5500 would still need an external receiver.

The TVs also differ in terms of Internet functionality: The KDL-46 W 5500 can integrate your choice of Internet news tickers (“RSS feeds”). When activated, the so-called “AppliCast” function displays the RSS feeds in small windows on the TV screen. This doesn’t have to be just text; if the feeds contain images, the TV displays these too. This is great for news junkies, but most Web-loving TV users will be more interested in video content à la Panasonic’s “Viera Cast” service. The Sony and the TX-P 46 G 15 have similar abilities with PC networks: The Sony can also play back audio, video, and photo files from a DLNA server. Thanks to a USB socket, it also accepts files stored on a memory stick.

AV connections are largely the same on these TVs: The Sony lacks an S-Video socket for camcorder signals, but otherwise both candidates offer a large number of practical connections.

LCD TV Toshiba 46 ZV 635 Front

Toshiba 46 ZV 635

Toshiba’s new top series puts emphasis on different aspects from the Panasonic. The 46 ZV 635 cannot, for example, access a PC network, but offers extras such as 200-Hertz technology. The 200-Hertz system aims to improve picture quality, keeping, for example, the ball and players clearly visible during football broadcasts. In addition, the “Resolution +” detail-enhancer attempts to process fine details more accurately than seen in earlier models.

The tuner accepts analog TV, DVB-T, and digital cable TV. The 46 ZV 635 does not, however, support CI Plus, so it’ll need a separate receiver in order to display cable channels using this encryption. The Panasonic is only ahead with its integrated satellite receiver.

On the other hand, the Toshiba’s audio setup is well ahead of the Panasonic’s: With the new “Dolby Volume” technology, the TV will attempt to eliminate irritating volume changes between movies and ad breaks, as well as the volume differences between individual TV channels. The Audyssey equalizer, revered by home-theater fans, is supposed to produce top sound from this flat-panel TV.

The connections panel on this Toshiba TV lacks none of the important features: It has two Scart sockets (one RGB capable, the other S-Video), four HDMI inputs, and a side-mounted connections panel. The side panel hosts cinch and Mini-DIN sockets for composite or S-Video signals from a camcorder, as well as a headphone output – all of these features are basically the same on the Panasonic.

As mentioned earlier, however, this Toshiba lacks network access. In consolation, its multimedia functions are comparable with the Panasonic’s: JPEG photos, MP3 music files, and DixV videos will play back via USB or from an SD (or SDHC) memory card.

For perfectionists, this TV offers excellent options for accurate adjustment: You can set the TV to display only one of the three primary colors (red, green, and blue). With corresponding test DVDs or Blu-ray discs, therefore, even novice users will be able to set up the colors perfectly – unless they’re color blind, of course.

About our product previews

Experienced experts produce these product preview pages using manufacturers’ specifications, along with test data we’ve produced for other models and subjective assessments of the product’s market chances.

We comprehensively research the information we use, but data of this kind quickly becomes out of date as a result of day-to-day variations in the market and the appearance of new products.

The information in our own tests is more reliable, especially statements relating to quality or comparisons with other TVs. Since we cannot test every single device, however, and because we’re interested in your opinion, we’re grateful to receive any user ratings or user opinions for this TV – especially if you own the model yourself, but also if this preview provided enough information for you to form your own judgment.

Full Specifications

Dimensions & Weight Details

 

  • Dimensions & Weight Details : Panel with stand – 113.18 cm x 40.08 cm x 76.58 cm x 32 kg

Video Features

 

  • Input Video Formats : 480i/p, 576i/p, 720p, 1080i/p

Connections

 

  • Composite video : 1
  • S-Video : 1
  • VGA : 1
  • HDMI : 4

Display

 

  • Resolution : 1706×960
  • Dynamic Contrast Ratio : 2000000:1
  • Image Contrast Ratio : 40000:1
  • Diagonal Size : 46″ – widescreen
  • Image Aspect Ratio : 16:9

Power

 

  • Power Consumption Operational : 240 Watt
  • Power Consumption Stand by / Sleep : 0.4 Watt

General

 

  • Depth : 9.67 cm
  • Height : 72.18 cm
  • Width : 113.18 cm
  • Product Type : 46″ Plasma TV

Digital TV Tuner

 

  • Digital TV Tuner : DVB-T

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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