Panasonic Viera TC-P42X1 Plasma Review


Panasonic TC-P42X1 Review

Model: Panasonic TC-P42X1
Description: 720p resolution HD plasma TV
Resolution: 1366 X 768
Reviewer: Jack Burden
Date: Summer 2009

We accurately predicted back in March 2009 that the price on the X1 720p models would be compelling. The TC-P42X1 can be purchased for around $750 at Best Buy or Amazon as of June 2009. The 50X1 is only a couple hundred dollars more so we were somewhat disappointed by the 42X1 price. We suspect Samsung's PN42B450 model is a better performer at a slightly lower price. The LG 42PQ30 also shows promising features in the 42” size at around $700.The 42” size range for plasma is really seeing a lot of competition from LCD TV models.

We expect much more from a plasma than this. We expected this model to roll in with incredible value offering with a top rating. Instead the quality consideration just takes too much away.

Test and Optimum Viewing Distance: 12 feet

Calibration: Follow the following picture settings to dial in the TC-P42X1 very close to D6500.

Picture Settings: Starting from the Warm picture setting option:

Picture: +80
Brightness: +68
Color: +47
Tint: -4
Sharpness: +15

Picture Notes: Up conversion from 480i and 480p was rough overall. As reflected in our HQV processing testing results the Panasonic had a difficult time adequately up converting from 480i source material. Scenes from The Three Amigos appeared grainy and the dark scenes just did not have enough brightness to come through well. Blacks were washed out.

Panasonic TC-P42X1 Review
Notice the hazy appearance over the black hats in this scene from The Three Amigos.

HD Picture Quality: Blacks continued to struggle even with HD material. There was a “milky” appearance to them as one reviewer commented. Color information was adequate and realistic with HD material.

Panasonic TC-P42X1 Review
The scene from the new Blu Ray release of The Road Warrior shows a vibrant background blue and good definition in the faces of Mel Gibson and accomplice

Contrast Ratio: This was a shocker. We were underwhelmed by the black levels and brightness on the TC-P42X1 from the start. Black bars top and bottom on DVDs were the first tell tale signs that there might be something unpleasant occurring here. Indeed, the black levels were milky and hazy with much of the material. What happened to those great Panasonic black levels on this model? Contrast measured a weak 871:1 post calibration.

Panasonic TC-P42X1 Review
Blacks appear washed out in this shot of Shawn Young in a scene from Blade Runner

Dark Shadow Detail: There was insufficient dark shadow detail in many scenes from Risky Business and Rocky. Scenes appeared darker than they should have, blacks were washed out and detail was lacking.

Color Rendition/Color Accuracy: The X1 calibrated well to D6500 considering the limited menu options. See full calibration information here. The TV does a good job with HD material but color is too soft with lower content.

Panasonic TC-P42X1 Review
If the scene is gray then let it be gray. I like the way Panasonic colors do not interfere as in this shot from Rocky. Sometimes, however the color information from the panel does underwhelm.

Viewing Angle/Off Axis Viewing: Plasma TVs rarely have any problem with side angle viewing and the X1 plasma TV is no exception.

Motion Lag: There is no motion lag to note.

False Contouring/ Mapping: There was lots of grain with 480i content and as our HQV processing tests showed there was mapping and moire patterns evident in stadium seating and other content until the internal processors caught up. The X1 was very average in this area.

The Panasonic 42X1 has a standard feature set for a TV of this price and quality range. You get a decent but not thorough calibration menu, 3 HDMI inputs and an SD card slot, a flimsy table top stand, a non-backlit remote, good sizing algorithms for video aspect. The unit does have discrete picture settings for each input which is an upgrade feature. There is but not great sound quality and aesthetics.There is no computer input.

Panasonic TC-P50X1 Review

For a more complete rundown of features and other considerations click here.

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Rating scale from 70 (denoting poorest quality) to 100 (signifying the very best quality). A rating in the 60s for any particular category of a product review indicates a serious defect which causes the product not to operate properly. Picture quality is double-weighted in the Overall Rating Score calculation.


Review Equipment Used: Sony Blu Ray BDP-S1 High Definition DVD player, Sony DVP-S50 DVD player (480i), Digital Broadcast Television, Sencore Color Pro 5000, Sencore Auto Cal Pro TWC6500, Sencore signal generator.

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