Panasonic TH-42PD25 Plasma HDTV What Do You Think?
This was one truly fascinating Face Off. I didn't expect such a variety of visual differences among the displays. Each one did something right, and each one did something wrong. My overall favorite was the Panasonic. It did a superb job on the blacks; but, in order to achieve such great blacks, the overall picture appeared a little darker. You also need to use a progressive-scan DVD player with this plasma. The LG was about the most even of the three, with good whites. It's the Cheesecake Factory of plasmas: It's a good basic value, and you know what you're going to get. The V, Inc. had the most discernible jaggies, and boy was it bright. Some readers might like that much brightness out of the box. Despite the color temperature, I thought the fleshtones looked particularly warm. The bottom line is that, if you're on a serious budget—and yes, three grand is still budget for plasmas—you're going to have to live with some anomalies.—Maureen Jenson
Each of these plasmas did something very well and something very wrong, and that's what makes this Face Off decision so dang difficult. The LG was a bright display that didn't impress me at first, but it ended up being my favorite after calibration and with Discovery HD material. The V, Inc. had the best detail with high-definition sources, but the waving-flag test was a disappointment. The Panasonic had a nice balance of detail and color saturation with DVD material, but it left something to be desired in the processing department. However, this drawback is somewhat compensated by the included HDTV tuner, which the other two lack. This Face Off basically proves that, if you're in the market for a $3,000 plasma, you're unlikely to find one that does everything perfectly. In fact, you'll most likely end up settling for a monitor that does only a few things well.—Amy Carter
Plasma fever is in full swing, and consumers have been waiting for the prices to fall to reasonable levels so they can finally afford one. While these three plasmas are attractively priced, I have a difficult time wholeheartedly endorsing any of them. Each does a few things well and some things very poorly; you can get much better video quality for the same price by looking at different technologies. At the least, save a bit longer and buy a more-expensive plasma that performs better. If I've failed to convince you, then I suppose the LG plasma is the safest bet for the average consumer's living room. It doesn't shine in any one category, but it doesn't fail, either—it's wonderfully average. The Panasonic is a better choice if you want to watch DVD and HDTV material in a light-controlled theater, but you need to get it calibrated and add a good progressive-scan DVD player.—Adrienne Maxwell
In the September 2004 issue, we did a budget projector Face Off. My feeling was that you got a tremendous amount of picture and picture quality for the money with each of those projectors. For twice the money, you get very little of either here. If you must have a plasma and you want decent picture quality, you're going to have to save up. There are good-looking plasmas out there, but you can only make a plasma so cheap before picture quality suffers. That rant out of the way, the LG is probably the best overall bet, but the Panasonic was my pick. You just can't beat black level. Can I have the LG's processing and the Panasonic's glass for the V, Inc.'s price? Maybe next year.—Geoffrey Morrison
None of these plasma displays performed adequately enough to warrant my unreserved recommendation. The LG had the best processing but the worst apparent black level, whereas the Panasonic had the best black level but the worst processing. Both the LG and Panasonic looked quite veiled when displaying DVD material, while the colors on the
V, Inc. looked garish, almost cartoony, and it exhibited the worst false contouring. With HDTV, the situation was completely different, with the Panasonic looking very oversaturated but sharper than the other two (which is weird, since it was the softest of the three with DVD). The LG looked the best of the bunch with DVD but the worst with HDTV, and the others were similarly variable. If I had to buy one of these plasmas, it would be the Panasonic, but only if I had a good progressive-scan DVD player to mate with it.—Scott Wilkinson