What Hooked Us:
- Contrast-rich picture, and full black.
- The menu and remote control are clearly laid out.
- Accepts movie frame rate content (24p format).
Why We Grumbled:
- Unsophisticated – fine details in HDTV are suppressed.
- No connections on the front – camcorder input and headphone jack are missing.
The Final Verdict:
An excellent big screen, with full black, at budget pricing. If this is what you are looking for, then you’ve struck gold with the TH-42 PV 71 F. Detail-obsessed HD fans should watch out though as ultra fine detail is not one of its strong points.
Panasonic is up for a fight. The brave defender of plasma technology is not impressed by cheap LCD manufacturers, and instead offers good-value and large-screened plasmas. Are these the last ditch efforts of a dying technology or will LCD fail to make the grade? That is the all-important question.
Competitive prices have their disadvantages – the TH-42 PV 71 F’s features are fairly run-of-the-mill. With two Scart sockets, two HDMI inputs and one set of RCA connectors, the connectivity is rather sparse. Also, bad news for amateur Spielbergs, a front-mounted input for video/audio is missing, as is a headphone jack. In addition, the built-in tuner only receives analog cable TV. The Panasonic does, however, provide an analog VGA computer input.
Both Scart sockets accept the best possible signal type – RGB – and Socket 2 can also accept S-Video. Both sockets allow “Link” compatible devices to match their stations list to that of the TV for recording – provided that both TV and video recorder are receiving their signal from analog cable.
“Consumer Electronics Control” (CEC):
Even better, when video sources are connected to the Panasonic via HDMI, a system called “Consumer Electronics Control” (CEC) allows you to control the most important functions of the external devices with the TV’s own remote control. This process is further streamlined (even allowing programming of recordings) if you use current “Viera Link” compatible Panasonic devices.
April showers bring May flowers. With this generation of TVs, Panasonic has totally overhauled its old, functional-yet-ugly on-screen menu. We were pleased to see that the same Panasonic quality remains intact – the new interface is very user-friendly.
The somewhat lengthy remote control scores highly with its large, clearly labeled, and well laid out buttons, and channel changing occurs in a nimble 1.1 seconds. The only things the testers felt were lacking were an easily accessible channel list and a “Back” button to jump between the current and last program, e.g. during ad breaks.
For long-term Panasonic fans, there is a pleasant improvement. The TV can now store separate picture settings for each input and each channel, so after the auto-search process is finished, you can set each channel up with its individual ideal settings.
TV and DVD Picture Quality
TV Picture Quality:
Pictures from the analog cable tuner are clean, detailed and not over emphasized. Tricky details such as skin, hair and textiles are correctly reproduced, and the sharpness looks spot on even in action sequences. Only the very quickest of movements give some colored false contouring, and very occasionally some edges are a little blurry. To minimize this effect, you can switch the TV over to 50Hz mode, but this will give a slight flicker.
We measured the luminance to be around 80 Candela/m2 with large bright images, making this plasma significantly darker than typical LCDs (150 – 300 Candela/m2). As long as there is no direct sunlight on the screen, the Panasonic’s brightness will be sufficient for contrast-rich, daytime viewing. Just put the unit in a dark corner of your room and everyone will be happy. If, on the other hand, you want it for your sun drenched penthouse apartment, you had better shop around for an LCD set – it might be the better choice.
The Panasonic is one of those TVs that gives you a great picture with hardly any adjustment. It works best if you feed it 576p or 1080i/p via HDMI, and although it does accept 576i format, the resulting picture is weaker than if you had just used Scart-RGB.
This is exactly how we set the TV up for our DVD test runs, and right from the very start of “Lord of the Rings”, it gives a natural image, with great sharpness and detail. Dark moving camera sequences from “Panic Room” are presented in good detail, with hardly any noise and a lush, deep black. Plasma quirks, such as color fringing and gradation patterns occur only rarely, and do not affect the overall impression.
DVD Picture Quality:
With progressive HDMI signals from a Denon 2930 DVD player, the image quality is much more balanced. By supplying this kind of video, it is possible to bypass the Panasonic’s built-in de-interlacer, which has a tendency to introduce a stepping effect to moving vertical details.
The Panasonic’s color balance is fairly consistent from the darkest gray to bright white; black and white movies, therefore, will look neutral and correct. Skin tones always look natural, and the slight blue-violet cast (color temperature 6,900 compared to 6,500 Kelvin) can only be noticed in a direct comparison with a calibrated laboratory monitor.
HDTV Picture Quality
The natural look that we saw in the standard PAL tests continued with high resolution Blu-ray movies played back on a Panasonic DMP-BD 10. The TH-42 PV 71 F gives a balanced, sharp and cinematic picture. The difference in sharpness between the Blu-ray and DVD versions of the Adam Sandler movie “Click” is plain to see.
However, the relatively low-resolution panel (1024 x 768 pixels) does hold back on some HD details. The fine noise (graininess) observable in this movie on a full HD display is not as visible on the Panasonic. It is nevertheless future-proofed, as it readily accepts 1080p signals at the movie frame rate (24 Hz) via HDMI (the format used in Blu-ray) – something few of its rivals can boast. The advantage of the 24p format is that, with some playback devices (e.g. current Blu-ray players), motion looks just as fluid as at the movies.
Computer Operation and Sound Quality
The TH-42 PV 71 F is only suitable as a stand-by if considering its use as a PC monitor. It does accept 4:3 PC signals up to a 1024 x 768 pixel resolution. This is indeed the native resolution of the screen, but the problem is that, while pixels on a PC are usually square, the Panasonic’s pixels are rectangular. In other words, even at the native resolution, text is hard to read.
If the PC output is in the 1366 x 768 pixel widescreen format, then the TV will display videos and photos in the correct format and with the same excellence as with other playback sources. Text, however, is almost impossible to read, leaving websites looking blurry.
Panasonic has put the speakers below the screen on the TH-42 PV 71 F. Speech is clear, and bass-heavy soundtracks have punch, but the high tones in music sound a little dampened. This plasma does not require a cooling fan, and is therefore as quiet as a mouse.
Settings for the best home-theatre performance*
Viewing Mode: Cinema
Contrast: 11.8 of 23.1 cm (ca. 51%)
Brightness: 11 of 23.1 cm (ca. 48%)
Color: 11.8 of 23.1 cm (ca. 51%)
Sharpness: 11.5 of 23,1 cm (ca. 50%)
Color Balance: Warm (6,900 K)
Color Management: Off
MPEG NR: Off
Power Save: On
Refresh Rate: 100 Hz
* applied to realistic playback from HD DVD/Blu-ray material through the HDMI interface in a darkened environment. Manufacturing and HDMI playback device deviations may necessitate slight adjustment. The centimeter (cm) setting refers to the length of the bar that appears in the menu.
Quick Points Summary
Despite the bargain price: The Panasonic looks really classy with its high gloss foot and anthracite casing.
A bit scanty: Two Scart sockets and two HDMI inputs are just right for today’s multimedia demands, but a headphone jack and front-mounted AV inputs are missing.
Clearly laid out: The buttons are logically grouped, but at 23 cm, the remote is possibly a bit on the long side.
Afterburner: The red and green color space corners are slightly exaggerated on the TH-42 PV 71 F. Saturated colors therefore look a little more intense.
- Composite video : 2
- Input Video Formats576i/p, 720p, 1080i/p/24p
Dimensions & Weight Details
- Dimensions & Weight Details : Panel with stand – 102.10 cm x 9.65 cm x 68 cm x 34 kg
Digital TV Tuner
- Digital TV Tuner : analog
Test Lab Data
- Color neutrality : 8
- Picture-quality with DVDs : very good
- Picture-quality with HD-Signals : very good
- Motion-errors : good
- Televisions.com rating : 6.8
- Contrast – ANSI : 358:1
- Brightness – maximum : 117 cd/m2
- Contrast – maximum : 2340:1
- Black level : 0.05 cd/m2
- Brightness – average : 84.8 cd/m2
- Homogenity of picture : 92%
- Linearity errors on greyscale : 1.25%
- HDMI : 2
- S-Video : 1
- Video Interface : HDMI, Scart, Component, VGA, S-Video, Composite
- Product Type : 42″ Plasma TV
- Weight : 34 kg
- Width : 102.10 cm
- Depth : 9.65 cm
- Height : 68 cm
- Power Consumption Stand by / Sleep : 0.2 Watt
- Power Consumption Operational : 150 Watt
- Diagonal Size : 42″ – widescreen
- Image Aspect Ratio : 16:9
- Dynamic Contrast Ratio : 10000:1
- Resolution : 1024×768
- Brightness : 117 cd/m2
- Image Contrast Ratio : 2340:1
- YUV : 1
- VGA : 1
Test Lab Data
- Picturecropping (overscan) using HDMI : 11%